Getting from Cancun to Tulum is super easy, and whatever your budget is, you will have no trouble getting from Cancun Airport to Tulum.
Tulum is a popular tourist destination in Mexico; the perfect place to conclude a glorious trip around the country.
It has gorgeous beaches; one of the most fascinating Mayan ruins in Mexico; home to some of Mexico’s best cenotes (in fact, some of the most impressive cenotes are near Tulum); lots of good restaurants and accommodation options make it quite the perfect holiday spot. You really should include Tulum in your Mexico itinerary!
If you are landing in Cancun and Tulum is the first leg of your Mexico trip, you will also be looking for information on how to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum. You are in the right place!
I have done the trip myself many times and will tell you exactly what you need to know and detail the various available options.
How To Get From Cancun To Tulum
Tulum is about 131 kilometers (81 miles) from Cancun. The airport is actually a bit closer – 118 km (73 miles). The trip from the airport can take between 1.5 and 2 hours, depending on traffic. You have several ways of traveling between the two.
Take the bus from Cancun to Tulum
For the absolute cheapest way to get from Cancun Airport and Tulum, opt for the ADO bus. This is the main bus network operator in Mexico, and it’s well known for its high level of service.
The ADO buses in the Yucatan Peninsula are no different, connecting all the main towns with well-maintained, air-conditioned buses and thus being well-loved by travelers.
If you want to take the bus from Cancun Airport to Tulum, ADO is actually your only option – it’s the only bus network that runs to or from the airport.
ADO bus from Cancun Airport to Tulum prices and frequency
The bus takes around two hours and 5 minutes to connect the two cities, which is, admittedly, a little longer than a taxi or private transfer may take. However, it is very cheap in comparison to other options, costing 400 Mexican Pesos (MXN), or $24 USD per person (one way).
There are 7 departures leaving the airport to travel to Tulum, meaning you can find a bus that will take you there pretty much no matter what time you land. The bus timetables vary depending on which terminal you arrive at, so it’s worth doing some research on that before you touchdown.
How to get ADO bus tickets
Tickets for the ADO bus can be purchased at one of the dedicated ADO bus counters in the airport. You will see them among the other collection of counters as you come through arrivals, near other transfer options like car rentals and tour companies.
You can buy tickets online on the ADO website here – though the site is only available in Spanish.
The only downside of bus transportation from Cancun to Tulum is the lack of convenience. Other than having to figure out the timetable for yourself, once you’re in Tulum, you’ll have to work out how to travel from the bus terminal to your accommodation. Depending on where that is located, that is less than fun!
ADO Bus Station in Tulum
The bus station in Tulum is located in Tulum Centro. This is where you’ll also catch the bus to travel to Cancun Airport on your way back home. If you’re staying in Tulum town, your accommodation may be nearby, but if you are staying in Tulum Playa (the beach area), you’ll need to get a taxi.
Don’t worry, though – there are usually plenty of taxis waiting around the bus station in Tulum, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Just make sure to agree on a price before hopping on the taxi.
Take the bus to Tulum from Cancun via Playa del Carmen
If, for any reason, you can’t find a direct bus from the airport to Tulum, you have the option of taking the bus to Playa del Carmen ADO bus terminal on Fifth Avenue and changing there for another bus to Tulum.
There are 30 daily buses connecting Playa del Carmen to Tulum, so you really won’t have an issue finding one!
For an even cheaper option, once in Playa del Carmen, you can get on the second class Mayab bus to Tulum – though I should warn you, it’s not as comfortable as the ADO bus, and the trip will inevitably be even longer because the bus makes several stops along the way.
Come to think of it. This bus doesn’t actually have fixed stops, so depending on where you are staying in Tulum, you can ask to be dropped off even before reaching the bus station!
For more information, check out my post How To Get From Cancun Airport To Playa Del Carmen.
Hop on the shared Cancun to Tulum shuttle
Traveling via shuttle is a good way to get to Tulum from Cancun Airport. This is ideal for solo travelers since taking a taxi or private car will cost more, and you have no one to split the entire fare with.
To put that into more relative terms, taking the shuttle is cheaper than a taxi but more expensive than the ADO bus.
The shared shuttle service is professionally run, and it will take you from Cancun Airport to Tulum and anywhere else in the Riviera Maya area. Each shuttle is organized so that passengers are all going in the same (or similar) direction.
Most conveniently of all, this shared shuttle will drop you off right at the entrance to your accommodation. You won’t have to lug your bags around in the heat trying to find out where you’re staying.
The only downside to the shared shuttle is that it can take a little while. Indeed, the Cancun to Tulum shuttle has to make multiple stops along the way. If your destination is one of the last on the list, then your trip could end up taking a lot longer than you’d wish.
How does the shared shuttle work?
The shuttle vehicle itself is usually a large, modern, and air-conditioned VW van. The drivers will speak English, and the quality of service is pretty high. The shuttles usually leave once every hour from Cancun Airport, so you will never have to wait around for too long before you find a van to take you to your accommodation.
The departure point varies depending on the actual terminal you arrive at. The customer service team at the airport will be able to point you in the right direction or deal with any other of your queries.
The price of the shuttle to Tulum from Cancun starts at roughly $33 USD per person (one way).
This is great if you’re traveling solo, as I said, but if there are two of you, booking two seats on the shared shuttle isn’t actually cost-effective. You’d be better off hopping on the bus or even booking a private car instead.
You can book your shuttle here.
Take a private shuttle from Cancun to Tulum
If you want something that is totally stress-free, easy-breezy, and absolutely no worries, then booking a private transfer is the way to go.
This way, you will get your own personal driver who will whisk you all the way from Cancun Airport to the doorstep of your accommodation in Tulum. This is a good option if you are traveling with a group of friends or as a family, as the cost is for the vehicle itself rather than per person.
Another great reason to book an airport transfer from Cancun to Tulum is that you don’t have to wait on other people – there are no stops along the way for other passengers – and the driver will be there waiting for you at the airport.
It’s also more time effective and way more hassle-free than renting a car. You won’t have to stand in line at the rental car company, sign papers and everything else, and then have to get to grips with driving in Mexico.
How does the private shuttle work?
There are several options when it comes to private transfers. It all depends on your budget and what is most convenient for you.
Firstly, you could pre-book a transfer through your accommodation. This is probably the best option, as it’s often a complimentary service. A car will arrive from your accommodation to pick you up from the airport and take you back – it’s as easy as that. However, not all accommodations will offer free airport transfers, and some may not offer them at all.
You can also book a private transfer from Cancun Airport to Tulum online. This makes it one of the quickest ways to get from the airport to your hotel.
The standard private transfer is around $121 USD per person. If you are traveling in a group, splitting the cost makes it very affordable: the more people you have with you, the cheaper it is per person too. If you opt for a round trip, it becomes even more cost-effective.
For something a little more stylish, there are luxury airport transfers from Cancun to consider too. This means you can cruise like a celebrity to your accommodation in a high-end vehicle. It’s more costly, but then again, if you split the cost, it’s not so bad. If you really want to push the boat out, you can even get a limousine airport transfer.
You can book your private transfer from the airport to Tulum via Welcome Pickups here.
Drive from Cancun to Tulum
The Cancun to Tulum drive might seem a bit daunting if it’s your first time in Mexico, but for the most savvy travelers, this could be the dream, especially if you get to do it during the day – my sister and I did it during our first trip to Mexico and loved it (well, except in Chiapas, that is!).
If you’re a confident driver and you’re planning on seeing more of the Yucatan Peninsula than just Tulum, having your own set of wheels could be a very good option. You can explore at your own pace, get to your accommodation quickly, stick to whatever itinerary you plan, and travel the way you want to.
You can rent a car directly at the airport. It is best to book in advance before you arrive so that you’re not disappointed by not being able to get the car you want or being bamboozled by insurance policies and added extras.
There are some scams that happen with car rentals – booking in advance can stop this from happening.
Renting a car in Cancun Airport
There are loads of car rental booths at the airport, so if you didn’t book in advance, shop around to find the best deal. Just make sure you take pictures of any existing damage on the car before you leave the airport, so you won’t be charged for damage you didn’t cause when you returned the car.
You can check out the prices of car rentals in Mexico here.
Important things to know if you’re driving
There are a few downsides to renting a car and driving in Mexico in general.
Depending on where you are going, it can be difficult to park your car – this is especially the case at some cenotes and far-flung beaches. If you are planning to drive from Cancun to Tulum, you should check in advance with your accommodation to see if they have parking available and if this costs extra on top of your room rate.
Renting a car also means you won’t be able to drink alcohol. Unless you’ve got a designated driver, this fact essentially rules out any drinks with dinner or afternoon beers at the beach or partying too hard the night before you embark on a road trip. I guess this doesn’t strictly apply to the trip from the airport to Tulum, anyways – unless you downed a few during your flight!
And then there are police checkpoints. These are often situated on the highway between Cancun and Tulum. These checkpoints are there to see if everything is in order – they may pull drivers over just to check their papers if they’ve got a license or if they’ve been drinking. It’s not too much to worry about, and it is really all part of getting used to driving in Mexico.
Take a taxi from Cancun to Tulum
Of course, like at almost every airport in the world, there are always taxis at Cancun Airport waiting to pick up customers. I honestly only recommend getting a taxi from Cancun Airport as a last resort, a last-minute way to get to Tulum. In fact, they can be even more expensive than a private transfer.
How much does a taxi from Cancun to Tulum cost?
The Cancun to Tulum drive from the airport to Tulum takes between 1.5 and 2 hours and is along a single, well-maintained highway. While it’s quick and a relatively hassle-free process, a taxi from Tulum to Cancun can be expensive, with prices starting ranging between 1800 and 2700 MXN ($110 and $160 USD).
As with a private transfer, the cost is for the car, not per person. Therefore, if you are traveling with a group of friends or you are splitting the cost with your partner, this can make it much cheaper.
Cars are usually nice and well-maintained. However, I must warn you that most taxi drivers won’t carry more than four passengers, and some only take three – if there are more of you traveling together, definitely arrange a private transfer.
Important things to know if you’re taking a taxi
Before getting on a taxi, you’ll actually need to get a ticket from one of the booths in Terminals 2 and 3. You should be able to pay by credit or debit card.
If you want to pay in cash and don’t already have Mexican Pesos on you, you can either withdraw from one of the ATMs at the airport (there are Santander ATMs in Terminal 2 and Banamex in Terminal 3 and 4) or use the money exchange (there should be a couple inside Terminal 2 and 3 and one near the gas station).
After you pay, you join the line of other passengers waiting for a taxi just outside the terminal. If you are traveling from Terminal 3, you’ll find taxis 24/7. At Terminal 2, taxis only run from 7:00 am to 11:30 pm.
All in all, a bit of advanced planning is recommended to save some money and have a less stressful experience once you get to Cancun.
What is the distance from Cancun to Tulum?
Tulum is about 131 kilometers (81 miles) from Cancun. Cancun International Airport is a bit closer, 118 km (73 miles) from Tulum. The drive time is about 2 hours.
There’s one major highway that connects Cancun and Tulum, Highway 307 (Carretera Federal 307).
What is the best way to travel from Cancun to Tulum?
The best way to travel from Cancun to Tulum is with the large private bus company, ADO (Autobuses de Oriente). You can take the ADO directly from Cancun International Airport or from downtown Cancun.
The ADO bus takes approximately 2 hours to go to Tulum from Cancun, although traffic can lead to much higher travel times. The ADO bus is comfortable, oftentimes with an onboard bathroom, chargers at all the seats, lights, and other small touches that make the drive feel like a breeze.
If you want some more freedom, the Cancun to Tulum drive is also very easy. If you decide to rent, you’ll be able to drive around and visit other places without any hassle.
Where is the Cancun bus station?
There are two main ADO terminals in Cancun; one at the airport and one near downtown Cancun. The ADO at the airport can be easily accessed from all terminals.
The ADO bus station in Cancun is very close to downtown, near Avenue Tulum and Avenue Nader.
Where is the Tulum bus station?
The ADO makes two stops in Tulum from Cancun, first at the Tulum Archeological Ruins and then at the central ADO bus station in downtown Tulum.
You may want to check your hotel or accommodation booking to find which is closer to you. However, transportation is pretty straightforward, and the distance is pretty small between the two destinations.
Is it safe to drive from Cancun to Tulum?
Generally, transportation to Tulum from Cancun is safe. There is just one main highway (Highway 307) that connects the two cities. It’s a populated road with tons of traffic throughout the day and very few problems, especially if you’re on the bus or with a shuttle.
However, if you’re driving, make sure to have all your documents and necessary paperwork. Also, make sure to follow the rules of the road carefully. There are a lot of police on this route who enjoy any reason to pull over unsuspecting tourists (yep, they pulled us over too!). As long as you’re driving carefully and following speed limits and such, you should be fine.
Is there Uber in Cancun?
Uber has had an on-and-off relationship with Cancun. The ride-sharing service has had a particularly tricky time with Cancun Airport and its fleet of taxi drivers.
While technically, Uber has been given the green light to operate in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, the taxi drivers are not receptive and have become hostile towards the very few Uber drivers.
It’s best to avoid taking an Uber until things become safer.