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Choosing transportation from Cancun to Tulum is not an easy task. There are tons of options, and with so many factors like timing and prices, navigating all of it could take you a while.
Tulum, a former fishing village that has become one of the most popular places in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. This photogenic town is a clear favorite among thousands of people who come here to enjoy its white sugary beaches, swim in turquoise waters and explore the ancient Mayan ruins.
I’ve taken this route many times and in this article, I’m going to share my top travel tips with you.
✅ Read: How to rent an ATV in Tulum?
How far is Cancun from Tulum?
Cancun is 81 miles (131 kilometers) from Tulum.
Here are some of the distances depending on where you are in Cancun:
- Downtown Cancun to Tulum – 81 miles (131 kilometers)
- Cancun Airpot to Tulum – 73 miles (118 kilometers)
- Cancun Hotel Zone to Tulum – 85 miles (137 kilometers)
How long does it take to get from Cancun to Tulum?
It takes between 2 and 2,5 hours to get to Tulum from Cancun, depending on traffic and the type of transportation.
A brief summary of transportation options
There are several ways to travel, depending on how much time and money you have. In this article we will take a look at some of the best options for transportation, and compare their pros and cons.
|Method of travel||Length of time||Average cost||Where to buy|
|Private shuttle||1,5 hours||$100 per person||book here|
|Rental car||1,5 hours||$30-45 a day||book here|
|ADO bus||2-2,5 hours||$15 per person||book here|
|Colectivo||3,5-4 hours||less than $10 per person||on the spot|
|Taxi||1,5 hours||$80-$100||on the spot|
|Guided tour||1,5 hours||$60-100 per person||book here|
How to get from Cancun to Tulum: a complete overview
1. Cancun to Tulum shuttle
If you would like a more comfortable ride, take a paid shuttle.
A shuttle is a small van that transports up to 8-10 people. They pick up travelers at the airport and drive them to Tulum. These shuttles are faster than regular buses, so expect to be in Tulum in about 1,5 hours.
Paid shuttles are great for travelers who are looking to save money, but don’t want to go through the hassle of catching a regular bus.
ETransfers, one of the best transportation companies in Cancun provides an excellent option. If you want a more comfortable ride with, give it a go.
GOOD TO KNOW: Shared shuttles take longer than private ones as they have to pick up passengers at all terminals in Cancun airport and make additional stops to pick up more people along the way.
2. Private transportation
If you want to travel in comfort, book private transportation is the best option. It’s also the most convenient way to travel without having to rely on public transportation and spending even more time on the road after your flight.
Although it might cost most than other options, the time you save is well worth it!
✅ To help you out, eTransfers offers a 20 percent discount!
Pros of private transportation
- Unlike with taxis, you don’t have to negotiate the price. It’s already set and you don’t need to worry about getting ripped off.
- An English-speaking driver will prick you up at the airport and walk with you to the car. It’s a great option if your Spanish skills are limited, and you don’t feel like buying tickets and dealing with all the logistics.
- If time is short and you want to get the most out of your time, private transportation IS the best option.
- Private transportation is also the quickest option if you want to save a few hours and want to get your hotel as quickly as possible without having to deal with the public transportation.
3. ADO bus
Traveling by bus is one of the most popular options, especially among budget travelers. ADO is the main company that serves the region, and you can catch a bus from downtown Cancun or from Cancun Airport.
Ticket prices fluctuate depending on the season and timing of your trip.
Tips for taking ADO bus
- Wait until you arrive in Cancun – You can purchase ADO tickets online, but if you are traveling internationally, wait until you arrive and get through the customs, since you can always buy tickets on the spot. There are multiple ADO buses per day.
- Bring your headphones – ADO buses have TV’s that sometimes play movies a bit too loud. Bring your headphones or earplugs if you want to take a nap during a trip.
- Wear layers – AC can sometimes be on during the whole trip, so consider bringing some layers, so you don’t feel cold.
- Keep your luggage tag secure – When you get on the bus, you will give your luggage to an attendant who will put your suitcase in the luggage compartment of the bus and will give you a small paper slip in exchange. You will have to give this slip back when you get off the bus and ask for your luggage.
- Always carry cash – If a ticket office is closed, you can buy ADO tickets on a bus. Bring cash though as credit card are not accepted.
Are ADO buses safe?
ADO buses are safe, reliable and clean, and unlike chicken buses in Central America, they come with AC and extra space that you can use for your luggage. You can relax and take a nap, if you feel tired after the flight.
Where to find ADO bus stop at Cancun Airport?
ADO bus stop is outside the terminal at Cancun Airport. You can purchase ADO bus tickets inside the terminal after you clear the customs. ADO ticket office is located along the row of other services such as car rentals, currency exchange and others.
Where will ADO bus drop me off in Tulum?
If you decide to take ADO bus, you can get out either near Tulum ruins or at the main bus station in Downtown Tulum (or Centro). If you get off at the main bus terminal in Downtown Tulum, you can catch a taxi to your hotel outside the bus terminal.
PRO TIP: Negotiate your rate upfront when you take a taxi! Taxis in Tulum are usually not metered and drivers can give you a pretty bad rate, especially if you pay in U.S. dollars and not in Mexican pesos.
Things to know about taking a bus to Tulum
There are a few Cancun to Tulum shuttle buses per day, but make sure to always check the schedule ahead of your trip, as they can change. You could also take a bus to Playa Del Carmen, and take a colectivo to Tulum from there.
✅ Since ADO buses make numerous stops along the way, they are a better option if you have extra time. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office, or online. ADO also has its own app which can be used to download your tickets to show them to your driver before you get on a bus.
Taking a colectivo from downtown Cancun
If you are in downtown Cancun and need a quick ride, look for a colectivo, a small shared van that offers a quick and reliable transportation between major destinations in the region.
Colectivos run from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen and from there to Tulum, so you will have to make a change.
Colectivos stop when a passenger flags them down, but the best spot to catch them is across the main bus station in Cancun. Prices are on the lower end and you can expect to pay about $10 USD for your trip – a great option for budget travelers.
ADO bus from downtown Cancun
Another option is to take ADO bus from the main bus station in Cancun. Keep in mind that ADO buses are slower than colectivos, and the same journey could take close to 3 hours.
PRO TIP: If you are going to take public transportation in Mexico, learn some Spanish, as not every bus driver and ticket agent speaks English.
How to get from Cancun Hotel Zone to Tulum?
4. A car rental
The best way to travel to Tulum is by a car rental.
When you rent a car for your trip, you can travel at your own pace, and explore the area without having to rely on buses.
Prices for renting a car in Cancun fluctuate depending on the season and location, so expect to pay an average of $30-40 USD a day for a car with a full insurance coverage.
What road do I need to take to get from Cancun to Tulum?
Take Highway 307, the main tourist corridor in Mexico’s Caribbean that goes all the way down to Chetumal, the capital of Quintana Roo state near Mexico’s border with Belize.
Why rent a car for your trip?
Visiting these places by public transportation is possible but it often takes a very long time, compared to getting there by car. If you plan on to explore less visited destinations, renting a car is the BEST option.
I think that places like Izamal, a small town painted in yellow are worth a stop because it is incredibly photogenic and full of history. Located in the heart of the Yucatán, it’s one of those places that make renting a car totally worth it.
To book your car in Mexico, check out Discover Cars, where you can find many car rental companies.
Another option is to book your car with City Car Rental, a local car rental company that has an office just 5 minutes away from Cancun Airport.
I booked my car several times with this company, and always had a great experience. You get picked up at the airport and drive to the office where you sign papers and get an explanation of the process works.
Tips for renting a car in Mexico
While there are dozens of car rental companies, Mexico has specific rules when it comes to car rentals, and if you decide to rent a car in Cancun, you should get familiar with them.
When you look for your rental car online, you should watch out for extremely low bait-and-switch rates as they typically involve a high insurance which is not disclosed.
Things to know about renting a car in Mexico
If you decide to rent a car, there are a couple of things you should know. Renting a car in Mexico is a straightforward process, but it comes with a couple of caveats.
- Car insurance is mandatory for car rentals in Mexico – However, you DON’T have to purchase from your car rental company, so don’t let anybody pressure you into doing it.
- Avoid super low rates like $5-10 per day – Third part companies who advertise these “deals” often hide various fees, mandatory insurance and everything in between. Their goal is “to get you” and when you show up at the office, they present a much higher bill that could be up to triple of the normal rate.
- Don’t forget to take photos of your rental car before driving off – Let your agent know if you find any scratches, bumps or any other damage before leaving. Unfortunately, there have been some stories with travelers having to pay for scratches and other damages that they haven’t done.
Tips for driving in Mexico
- Watch out for speed bumps (topes in Spanish) – Speed bumps are common in many parts of Mexico especially around pedestrian crossings and bus stations. Some of them are very tall, and can damage your vehicle if you hit them at full speed. There are usually road signs warning you about speed bumps ahead, but always make sure to slow down when you drive around cities and towns in Mexico.
- Don’t pump your own gas – Mexican gas stations have attendants who put gas in your car when you get to the pump. Specify the amount of gas that you need and make sure that the pump is set at zero.
- Leave a tip – Many of the people who work at gas stations make only minimum wage, so you could also leave a little tip before leaving. And pay close attention to how much money you are giving to a gas pump attendant to make sure you get the right amount of change and not get ripped off.
- Be prepared to stop at check points – Check points are not uncommon in Mexico, even around the country’s tourist corridors like Highway 307. Be prepared to stop and open your vehicle for inspection, if you are asked to do so.
- Mexico uses kilometers not miles – In case you are coming to Mexico from the US, you might want to know that Mexico uses kilometers, not miles. One mile equalss to about 1.6 kilometers, but when it comes to driving, your best bet is to just follow the posted speed limit to avoid the trouble.
5. A guided tour
If you are staying in Cancun, a guided tour is your best option.
Some of the best tours include stops in Tulum, as well as nearby cenotes and other archeological areas like Coba. These tours eliminate all of the legwork, as they pick you up and drop you off, and provide a nice reliable transportation.
This popular combo tour includes Tulum ruins, canoes and snorkeling.
Book it here.
Best guided tours of Tulum
Some companies even offer private tours which are more expensive but will give you a more exclusive experience. Others sell packages that include skip-the-line access to Tulum ruins which allow you to enjoy the incredible Mayan ruins before the crowds arrive.
6. A taxi
Taxis are the most expensive transportation. Unless you are in a hurry, skip it, because you it will cost you a lot of money. Taxis provide door-to-door services, so you will get picked up at the airport and dropped off at your hotel.
Most taxis in Cancun use pesos, but some accept U.S dollars. Credit cards are rarely accepted, so do carry cash with you. You can exchange pesos at the Cancun International Airport, although rates are not the best. If you have a debit card, you can get cash from one of ATM’s at the airport.
How much is a taxi from Cancun to Tulum?
A taxi to Tulum can be up to $100 USD one way. If you speak Spanish and have good haggling skills, you can lower the rate, but you will still pay more than for any other transportation.Taxi prices are negotiated upfront, and you are expected to pay full amount once you arrive.
GOOD TO KNOW: Taxi drivers offering their services outside the Cancun International Airport are also notorious for doing anything they can to get you in their car and make money!
Do not fall for whatever they tell you, and always check the bus schedule first!
PRO TIP: To save money, take a taxi from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen and catch a bus or colectivo from Playa Del Carmen. Make sure to negotiate the price though, as you can typically lower if by a few hundred pesos, especially if you can speak some Spanish.
How to get from Tulum to Cancun?
To make your way back to Cancun, you can take an ADO bus, take a private transfer or get a car rental.
ADO bus from Tulum to Cancun
Taking ADO bus is the cheapest way to get to Tulum and you can get your tickets online or at the ticket office. Purchase your bus tickets ahead of time, especially if you are visiting during the high season from December through March. This way, you don’t have to wait in line to get your tickets and can head straight to the bus when you get to the ADO bus terminal.
Private transfer from Tulum to Cancun
Taking a private transfer to Cancun Airport is the best way to save time and have a comfortable ride. A private transfer will pick you up at a hotel and drop you off at your terminal in Cancun Airport. Since getting to Cancun can take extra time because of traffic, a private transfer is a no-brainer.
Car rental from Tulum to Cancun
If you already rented a car in Cancun, drive it back to Cancun where you will return it before going to the airport. Most car rental companies in Cancun offer a shuttle ride back to the airport after you drop off your car, so you will probably not need a taxi to go to the airport.
Taxi from Tulum to Cancun
A taxi is the most expensive way to get from Tulum to Cancun, and I only recommend it as a last resort. A taxi to Tulum will cost anywhere between $80-100 USD, and you are probably not going to get a good deal, unless you speak a conversational Spanish, and can haggle a little bit.
Cancun to Tulum: FAQ’s
Is it safe to drive to Tulum?
The drive takes you along the Carretera Federal, the main road in Mexico’s Rivera Maya. While traveling on it is perfectly safe, you need some getting used to driving in Mexico. Your best bet is to have a good insurance, as it’s a busy road with a lot of traffic.
What is the cheapest way to get to Tulum?
The cheapest way to get to Tulum is by ADO bus. A one-way ticket costs 200-340 Pesos depending on the time and departure point. ADO buses depart from Cancun Airport and downtown Cancun. You can also use colectivos, that are much cheaper than ADO bus, but they are not the most convenient way to travel because they make frequent stops and have irregular schedule.
What is the most expensive way to get to Tulum?
A taxi is by far the most expensive way of transportation. Expect to pay anywhere between 1,500-2,000 Pesos (or $100 USD) for a one-way taxi. This is a steep price, especially considering that you will still need to get around when you get to Tulum.
✅ At this rate, it’s better to rent a car.
Is Tulum safe to visit?
Tulum consider generally safe to visit, however, in recent years there has been an uptick in crime mostly related to drug trafficking in the area. Still, it’s safer compared to some other destinations in Mexico that have faced increase in violence.
Regardless of how much time you have I suggest purchasing travel insurance – especially if you plan to explore and go to cenotes, Mayan ruins and other popular places. World Nomads Insurance will protect in the event of hospital visits, stolen valuables and canceled flights.
Is Tulum worth a visit?
Tulum is one of the most popular destinations in Mexico’s Rivera Maya. While it has changed quite a bit in recent years with commercial growth, it’s still worth a visit thanks to many gorgeous cenotes, incredible Mayan ruins and some of the best beaches in Mexico.
How many days should I spend in Tulum?
You can see most Tulum highlights in about 5 days, but if you plan on taking day trips and exploring cenotes in the area, plan to stay at least a week. Many travelers fall in love with Tulum when they come here and end up extending their stay for weeks and even months.
Is there Uber in Cancun?
In case you need to get your car rental office from the airport, be aware that there is no Uber in Cancun or Tulum as of right now. Most car rental companies in Cancun arrange a pick-up for their customers, but if you company doesn’t do it, you will need to grab a taxi outside the airport.
✅ If you decide to take a taxi, negotiate the price before agreeing on the final rate.
A quick note on Cancun International Airport
Your trip will most likely start at Cancun International Airport (CUN), the main transportation hub of the region. Cancun International Airport is 73 miles (118 kilometers) from Tulum.
👉 When you clear the customs at the Cancun International Airport and walk toward the exit of the terminal, you will have tons of people offering you taxi and transportation services. Just politely ignore them because taxi prices at the airport are higher than anywhere else, and you can get ripped off if you decide to go with the first ride that comes along.
That’s it! I hope that this article was able to provide you with some helpful tips on options for transportation and choose the way you are going to travel. Feel free to check out more articles about Mexico and places to visit in the Yucatan.
- 25 Best Places To Visit In Yucatan Mexico
- 50 Awesome Things To Do In Mexico For Any Type Of Traveler
- 50 Tips For Mexico Travel To Know Before You Go
More resources for your trip to Mexico
Renting a car is only a small part of planning your trip to Mexico. Whether you need to book a hotel, organize a tour or book a flight while in the country, consider using some of my suggested services.
Agoda.com – a great website for budget accommodations in all of Mexico.
WorldNomads – Great service for insurance coverage that will keep you safe on the road.
Safety Wing – Excellent insurance plan for long-term travelers that offers competitive rates is you are planning to stay on the road several weeks and even months.
GetYourGuide.com – Thinking about booking a tour while in Mexico? Get Your Guide is my favorite platform that offers awesome tours and top-notch guides in many destinations across the country.
CheapoAir.com – One of the best platforms for saving money on flights within Mexico.
Booking.com – a popular website with tons of great options for different types of accommodations.