Getting from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen is super easy, and whatever your budget is, you will have no troubles finding a suitable way.
Playa del Carmen is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Mexico; a good place to unwind for a few days at the end of your trip. Beautiful beaches; easy access to a lot of attractions in the Yucatan Peninsula; a selection of excellent places to stay; a number of fantastic restaurants make it a perfect holiday spot.
However, this veritable holiday spot doesn’t have its own airport: Cancun International Airport is the main airport in this area, with millions of people flying in every year and lots of connections to North America, Central and South America, and Europe.
If you are landing in Cancun and Playa del Carmen is the first stop on your Mexico itinerary, you will probably be looking for information on how to get from from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen. I have good news for you: I have done that trip myself a bunch of times and I am here to share all the available options – suitable for all budgets.
How To Get From Cancun Airport To Playa Del Carmen
By ADO bus
The airport and Playa del Carmen are connected by the reliable and well-trusted ADO bus company. This is the cheapest transportation from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen. ADO is the only company that serves Cancun Airport and connects up routes throughout the Mexican Riviera. It’s not very tricky to use at all – you can actually book your ticket online ahead of your arrival and pre-select your seats too.
The buses themselves are very comfortable. They’re air conditioned (perhaps a bit too cold!), have enough space to store your luggage, and usually run on time.
Once you’re through customs and baggage claims, you’ll find the ADO bus counter in the arrivals hall of Cancun Airport. This is where you can check timetables and purchase your ticket if you have not already done so.
It’s a direct service (meaning there are no stops along the way) that drops passengers at the ADO bus terminal in Playa del Carmen. The bus leaves around every half an hour, but departure time does vary depending on which terminal you land in – it’s probably best to check ahead of arrival.
When you want to return, it’s also pretty straightforward to catch the ADO bus from Playa del Carmen back to Cancun.
A one-way ticket costs MXN 230 at the time of writing (that’s around $12 USD) and the ride takes around one hour and 10 minutes.
If you want you can get tickets for the bus from Cancun to Playa del Carmen via Bookaway website – it’s slightly more expensive, but at least the website is entirely in English. You can check it out here.
Alternatively, you can buy tickets on line on ADO website here – the site is only available in Spanish, but it’s rather self explanatory.
Where is Playa del Carmen bus station?
The main Playa del Carmen bus station is situated at Fifth Avenue and Juarez Avenue. This is where most long-distance bus services, ADO included, will arrive in town. At this bus station you can find luggage storage, currency converters, ATMs, and toilets.
From there, you can take a taxi or walk to your accommodation. They’re easy to find, and you’ll be at your accommodation in minutes. If you want extra convenience – and you’re planning on catching an ADO bus from Cancun to Playa del Carmen – you may want to book accommodation near the bus station (in which case you can quite easily walk).
By Cancun Airport Shuttle to Playa del Carmen
While the ADO bus service from Cancun Airport will take you to the ADO bus terminal in Playa del Carmen, that may not be the most convenient option for you. If you prefer to be dropped right at the doorstep of your hotel or accommodation in Playa del Carmen, take the Airport Shuttle from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen.
This shared minivan service is professionally run with English-speaking drivers and well-maintained vehicles. It’s a good option if you are a solo traveler, because not only does it keep the transfer cheap, but it also means you don’t have to deal with taxis or walk around with your suitcase once you get to Playa del Carmen. You’ll be grouped with other travelers who are going in the same direction as yous.
The only real downside are the lack of legroom between seats and the fact that the Airport Shuttle can take a very long time, as it makes multiple stops along the way.
It is cost effective though – you’ll pay around $25 USD for this door to door service, which isn’t bad at all, especially if you just don’t want to deal with public transport. It’s probably the best way to get from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen.
To catch a ride in one of these, you can actually book the service in advance online here. Alternatively, you can head to the Airport Shuttle counter in the arrivals hall when you touchdown.
By private transfer
Similarly to the Airport Shuttle, opting for a private transfer means being able to get dropped right at your accommodation. The main difference is that you don’t have to share it with anybody else.
You can arrange a private transfer ahead of time, and the driver will meet you at the airport. This saves time and hassle – plus, the knowledge that you have someone waiting for you at the other end really adds peace of mind after a long flight.
The main downside to taking a private transfer from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen is the cost, as this is one of the most expensive ways to travel between the two destinations.
However, if you are in a group of three or more, it actually works out cheaper than taking the shared shuttle. The private service starts from around $60 USD, so if you’re in a larger group, it really is best to book yourself a private transfer service.
As with all private companies, make sure to do some research, and only go with reputable, well-reviewed business. I wholeheartedly recommend Cancun Airport Transportation for their reliable service and value-for-money rates. You can book your private transfer from the airport to the city via Welcome Pickups here.
By airport taxi to Playa del Carmen from Cancun Airport
Getting a taxi from an airport is a very normal way to travel. Thankfully, for those who like tried and tested taxi, you can catch a cab from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen. The road between the two is a straight, well-maintained highway and is often plied by taxis.
The route takes around an hour and will cost you around $75 to $ 80 USD. It’s definitely not the cheapest mode of transport, but then again, like private transfers, if you are traveling as a group, and there’s say, four of you, this is a pretty cost effective method.
To catch a taxi, all you have to do is go to one of the counters at the arrival hall and purchase a ticket for your destination. Only these official airport taxis are allowed to pick up passengers at the airport.
While expensive, one upside of taxis is that you don’t have to wait for vehicles to get full or wait for them to arrive in the first place. Another thing to note is that taxis are almost always available 24 hours per day, whereas buses don’t run the whole time.
Is there Uber in Cancun or Playa del Carmen?
Firstly, Ubers are not allowed to enter Cancun International Airport. There’s also no Uber service currently available in Playa del Carmen. The relationship between these towns and the ride sharing company is rocky and subject to change, so it’s best not to rely on this service to get around.
By hotel shuttle
If you’ve booked yourself into one of the many resorts situated around Playa del Carmen, chances are that your hotel will offer transportation from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen.
This service is just one of the (many) perks of staying somewhere a little more high end. This usually means the driver will be waiting for you at the airport and will allow you to be whisked in comfort to your hotel without having to wait around at all.
Sometimes this service may not be included in the price of your booking, so it’s worth inquiring at your accommodation to see if they do provide an airport shuttle service and, if so, how much it is. Other times it’s totally free – just make sure you tip your driver after you’ve been driven safely to your accommodation.
Check out my post A Guide To Tipping In Mexico.
Rent a car at Cancun Airport
If being driven around, or examining bus timetables, or even sharing space on airport shuttles is just not your style – or quite simply you are planning a road trip around Yucatan – then you’ll probably be looking at renting a car at Cancun Airport. Driving from the airport to Playa del Carmen is totally doable, and in fact, it’s quite straightforward. I have done it myself a few times and never had an issue.
There are many international rental car companies at Cancun Airport – you’ll find these at the arrivals hall among all the bus counters and tour companies.
Although you can pick up a car on the same day, it’s actually a better idea to book one in advance. By doing this, not only will you have a better choice of car, but you can also usually secure a better price by booking in advance.
You can check out the prices of car rental in Mexico here.
The drive from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen takes about one hour, depending on traffic. The highway is easy to navigate. You may have to pay for parking when you reach Playa del Carmen (unless your hotel provides that free of charge).
If getting in a car and driving along a road you’ve never driven in before, in a country you’ve never have been to before and (depending on where you are coming from) after a long flight may be the last thing you want to do as soon as you arrive. In this case, if it’s mainly for day trips, you may want to rent your car in Playa del Carmen instead.
Best Way To Get From Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen – Frequently Asked Questions
How Far Is Playa Del Carmen from Cancun Airport?
While Playa del Carmen and Cancun are 68 kilometers (42.2 miles) apart, Cancun Airport is actually closer – it’s just 55 kilometers (little over 34 miles) away. So that means, no matter what transport you take, it won’t take forever to reach your accommodation in Playa del Carmen.
What is the cheapest / best way to get from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen?
It depends! If you’re in a larger group, then a private transfer is definitely the cheapest option since you can share the cost of the ride between you all. Alternatively, if you’re just a couple or a solo traveler, then the best way to get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun Airport has to be the ADO bus.
If you’re lucky enough to have booked accommodation that offers free airport transfers, then that is obviously the most cost-effective mode of transport from the airport to your hotel. You may want to consider booking somewhere that offers this service (free of charge) to save on any hassle at the airport.
How can I get from Downtown Cancun to Playa del Carmen?
If you want to spend some time in Cancun before you head off to Playa del Carmen you will probably be wondering if there are transport options from Downtown Cancun to Playa del Carmen.
Yes! There is a range of options at your fingertips here.
First of all, there’s the ADO bus. This takes around an hour and 15 minutes and costs MXN 230 (little over $12 USD). You can also count on even more affordable second-class buses that ply the route to Playa del Carmen frequently throughout the day.
Next up is the colectivo. Cheaper than buses, taking a colectivo from Cancun to Playa del Carmen costs in the range of MXN 50 ($2.5 USD) and takes around an hour and a half. The colectivos are definitely the cheapest way to get between the two destinations, and they depart from just across the road from the ADO bus station.
The downside is that colectivos can take a little bit longer, and they can be uncomfortable and cramped (especially if you’ve got large luggage).
Another option is taking a shared minivan. This door-to-door service is much more convenient and comfortable than a colectivo, but it is somewhat expensive, costing MXN 450 (around $24 USD). You can organize this service through a private company, but just make sure you go with a reliable company with good reviews.
For more ideas for your Playa del Carmen vacation, make sure to check out these posts:
- The Best Things To Do In Playa Del Carmen
- The Best Day Trips From Playa Del Carmen
- The Best Cenotes Near Playa Del Carmen
- The Best Beaches In Playa Del Carmen
- Where To Stay In Playa Del Carmen
- Is Playa Del Carmen Safe For Tourists?