How To Get From Cancun Airport To Playa Del Carmen

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 quite the 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.

From Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen

How To Get From Cancun Airport To Playa Del Carmen

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. In fact, 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, 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 216 at the time of writing (that’s little over $10 USD) and the ride takes around one hour and 10 minutes.

You can buy tickets on line on ADO website here – the site is only available in Spanish, but it’s rather self explanatory. If you want though, you can get tickets via Bookaway website – it’s slightly more expensive, but at least the website is entirely in English. You can check it out here.

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, so it’s not like you’re arriving somewhere without any facilities at all.

From there, you can take a taxi 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).

Quinta Avenida
@Pierdelune / Depositphotos.com

Taking the 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. Instead, if you would prefer to be dropped right at the doorstep of your hotel or accommodation in Playa del Carmen, you can opt to take the Airport Shuttle.

This shared minivan service is professionally run with bilingual 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 at the other end (if you take a bus). You’ll also be grouped with other travelers who are going in the same direction as you, so it’s a chance to make friends before you’ve even arrived.

The only real downside – apart from maybe the lack of legroom – is that the Airport Shuttle can take a very long time, as it makes multiple stops along the way. While it’s great that you get ferried right outside your accommodation, it does take a while.

It is cost effective though – you’ll pay just $20 to $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 one of the best value-for-money options in terms of getting 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.

from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen

Taking a private transfer from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen

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 through a company of your choice 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, however, you should 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 check out their prices and book your transfer here.

Best Beaches in Playa del Carmen

How to get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun Airport via airport taxi

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 in a taxi and will cost you around $75 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.

What to do in Playa del Carmen
Photo by Sergio Sala on Unsplash

Taking a hotel shuttle from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen

If you’ve booked yourself into one of the many resorts situated around Playa del Carmen, chances are that your hotel will offer transport from Cancun Airport to your accommodation.

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 some cash after you’ve been driven safely to your accommodation.

Check out my post A Guide To Tipping In Mexico.

Playa Mamitas
Alfonzo Buscemi, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Self-driving: Renting 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.

There are many international rental car companies located 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 your vehicle 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.

On the other hand, 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 – may be the last thing you’d want to do after a long flight! This obviously depends one where you’ve flown in from. In this case, if it’s mainly for day trips, you may want to rent your car in Playa del Carmen instead.

If you do want to drive, however, it takes around an hour. The highway is easy to navigate. Note, however, that you may have to pay for parking when you reach Playa del Carmen (unless your hotel provides that free of charge).

Make sure to read my posts A Guide To Renting A Car In Mexico and What You Must Know About Driving In Mexico.

Downtown Cancun

How 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 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 cheapest 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?

Those who want to spend some time in Cancun before they head off to Playa del Carmen will probably be wondering if there are transport options from Downtown Cancun to Playa del Carmen. The answer is yes, there is a range of options at your fingertips here.

First of all, there’s the bus. This takes around an hour and 15 minutes and costs from around MXN 65 (little over $3 USD). Buses are cheap and convenient from Cancun – as well as more affordable second-class buses, there is an ADO bus service that runs 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 MXN 45 (little over $2 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 $20 USD). You can organize this service through a private company, but just make sure you go with a reliable company with good reviews.

Further Readings

For more ideas for your Playa del Carmen vacation, make sure to check out these posts:

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Learn about the best way of getting from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen - via @clautavani

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