How To Get From Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Famous for its beautiful beaches, crystal clear cenotes (freshwater sinkholes), jungles and theme parks, Playa del Carmen and Mexico’s Riviera Maya is a destination that simply put, has something for everyone. Whether you’re here to soak up the sun and sample delicious Mexican food on a wellness-focused trip or a family holiday to explore theme parks and more, you’ll soon fall in love with the beautiful natural landscapes and hospitality of this part of Mexico. If you’re heading to the eventful resort town of Playa del Carmen on your next trip, you’ll want to know a thing or two about the best ways to get there. Keep reading for the best transportation options for how to get from Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen as luckily there are quite a few different options.
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Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen Transportation Options
Wherever you’re flying in from, Cancun International Airport is the main airport that serves the whole of the Riviera Maya. Whether your final destination is Playa del Carmen or even Tulum, you’ll need to arrive in Cancun. There is some talk about the construction of a new international airport in Tulum, however, this is in the early stages of planning.
Cancun airport is located towards the south of the city of Cancun, about 18km from the city centre itself, so when heading south to Playa del Carmen, there’s no need to drive through the city itself. For this reason, the trip is fast and efficient taking the only main road south.
Note that Uber does work in Cancun but not in Playa del Carmen. Uber is technically illegal in this part of Mexico, and there are ongoing disputes between taxi drivers and Uber drivers. Due to this, I wouldn’t personally recommend using Uber from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen.
Private transfer an efficient, safe and reliable way to get from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen. When booked in advance, it’s the easiest, cheapest and fastest way to get right to the door of your hotel in order to be sipping on coconuts and lying on the beach as soon as possible.
There are a few different types of services when thinking about private transfers; a private car, or shared airport shuttle as well as minivans that are perfect for groups of up to 15 people. Prices vary depending on the type of service you use and the company, but in general, it’s affordable.
Private transfers are also better if you have an early or late arriving or departing flight as ADO buses and other public transportation options don’t start running until 8.30 am.
Book this service in advance and all you’ll have to do is look for your name on departing customs, hop into the van and arrive at your destination. This is the most direct and simplest option to get to Playa del Carmen. I personally always use eTransfers for this service, as they have the most competitive rates and the best service I’ve experienced on this route. Their private transportation rates are affordable and easy to book. They are available 24 hrs a day.
eTransfers also have a private taxi service for $54 for up to three passengers, however, I found that booking the private transfers tends to come out cheaper, especially if you up towards 4 or 5 people.
CANCUN AIRPORT SHARED SHUTTLE
Another great option to get from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen is a shared shuttle service. This is a great option for small groups or solo travellers as prices average $29 per person one way. While they are one of the cheapest options to get to Playa del Carmen if the bus is full you’ll have to wait for the bus to make the rounds to everyone’s hotels including yours.
If you are a couple or a group of three, it will be cheaper to get a private transfer. It makes more sense to book a private car for $60 and go straight to your hotel than pay a couple of dollars less for a longer transfer.
Many shuttle companies, including eTransfers also offer VIP Luxury transportation. This option in completely private and includes a luxury suburban comfortable vehicle, a professional, private driver, minimum wait time, refreshments, and in 2021 hand sanitisation gel and wipes. In this service companies also offer free cancellation and booking modification.
TIP: When booking private transfers, reserving a round-trip might save you up to $30, so make sure to enquire before booking just one-way.
RENT A CAR
If you are planning to explore the area around Playa del Carmen for example going to Tulum, visiting Chichen Itza or going on a road trip to visit the cenotes of the area, you’ll no doubt want to rent a car as most of these places are quite spread out. You’ll also be able to save a ton of time and money.
The first thing to look out for when renting a car in Cancun is the insanely cheap rates. If you find a deal that’s around $5 per day then be prepared to be stung by hefty insurance fees and mandatory extras when you come to pick up the car. I normally use Rentalcars.com as they give you the correct fees without any surprises. They also offer free cancellations so it’s worth making the booking.
When renting a car, you don’t have to take the extra insurance the company offers you. If for example, you have car rental insurance included in our travel insurance policy or car rental coverage on your credit card just contact them to make sure you’re covered before spending more money on unnecessary local insurance.
On the whole, driving in Quintana Roo and Yucatan is fairly straightforward once you leave the big cities. Take more care in Cancun and Playa del Carmen and beware of the traffic in Tulum. Make sure to have the emergency number of the rental company with you in case something goes wrong with the rental car.
ADO buses are a great and budget way to get to and from Cancun airport. I’ve personally used them many times and they are comfortable, organised and safe. The buses themselves are modern, clean and have a bathroom and wifi onboard which makes them a good option for getting from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen. During times of COVID-19, most buses also have plastic separators between seats to make the journey is as safe as possible.
The trip from Cancun Airport takes between 45 minutes -1 hour and costs $216 pesos ($11 USD) one way and $432 ($22 USD) round trip. Note that there aren’t any discounts online for return trips. This is the best price you’ll get on this trip.
For their exact schedule and to see if their departure times align with your flight arrival time check out the official ADO website, available in Spanish. If you prefer you can book your ticket on the ADO website and pay with an international debit or credit card as well as Paypal to reduce waiting times at the terminal or bus station. The buses run every 20-30 minutes and are probably the cheapest way to get to Playa del Carmen if you’re on a budget.
Remember that if you do arrive very early or very late at night, you’ll have to book a private transfer. Make sure to book here online in order not to get charged double at the airport!
You’ll arrive at the ADO bus station in the centre of Playa del Carmen, the one just by Quinta Avenida or Fifth Avenue. The bus makes just this one stop in Playa del Carmen.
How to find the ADO Bus Stop at Cancun Airport
How to find the ADO bus stop really depends on which terminal you arrive at and the best thing to do is to follow the advice of the ADO representatives. When we arrived people were extremely friendly guiding us in the right direction, even though for us it was quite a bit of a walk.
The ADO bus stop is right outside Terminal 3 of Cancun Airport. Most international flights arrive at Terminal 3 or 4. Once you make it through customs, come out into the arrivals hall and locate the ADO counter (it’s normally bright red and very easy to spot). You can buy a ticket here and the salesperson will point you in the right direction. From Terminal 3 you just have to exit the arrivals hall and the Platform is just to your right. There you will also see a smaller booth where it’s also possible to buy tickets.
From Terminal 4 you can buy your bus tickets inside the arrivals hall and then take the exit to your left for transportation and exit the building. Then walk down the sidewalk until you get to the bus platforms.
If you are in a hurry for a scheduled bus time, then forget buying a ticket from the arrivals hall desk and go straight to the bus stop outside. Here, you’ll be able to buy a ticket from the little booth on the platform and jump onto the bus that’s already there.
Note that you can pay in US Dollars but the exchange rate won’t be in your favour. Try to pay in Mexican pesos for the best deal.
If for any reason you didn’t manage to book transportation ahead of your arrival, another option to get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun Airport is by taking a regular airport taxi. There are many drivers that wait outside of the arrivals hall and they will have no problem with taking you to Playa del Carmen, just at a premium.
You’ll find that booking a transfer in advance is quite a bit cheaper than taking a taxi.
Drivers are often known to inflate prices nor do you know if they are a licensed driver or not but here are some things to look out for:
- Taxi drivers in Cancun and Playa del Carmen wear a uniform- a white short-sleeved shirt with the Mexican flag and taxi company on it. If you take a taxi, try to look out for these drivers.
- Taxi cabs don’t have meters so make sure to always agree on the price before jumping in.
If you can, make sure to book your transfer or ADO bus ticket in advance.
If you have a booking with an all-inclusive resort, chances are the airport transfer will already be included in your booking. If it comes as on add-on service make sure to compare prices between their transportation and the other options above.
Sometimes an all-inclusive resort will send a minivan to collect not just your party but other passengers at the same time and you might find yourself waiting for other people to arrive before being on your way to the resort.
Booking your own private transportation might turn out to be cheaper or even the same price, yet you’ll be on your way immediately in a luxury air-conditioned car.
If you are planning to explore the area during your stay, renting a car might also be a great option.
FAQs about Cancun Airport Transportation to Playa del Carmen:
Is it safe?
In general yes, the transfer from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen is very safe. there are some things you can do however to make sure that your safety isn’t compromised. Always make sure to book your transfer with a reputable company and one that travellers trust. For this reason, I recommend eTransfers and Cancun Shuttle Transportation as I personally have used them many times and never had a problem.
When taking the ADO make sure to keep your personal belongings close and double-check to make sure you have everything before leaving the bus. Baggage handlers actually tag your luggage before putting it in the hold, so make sure you don’t lose your number tag as you’ll need to show it when collecting your luggage. Everything is actually very organised.
In terms of COVID-19 safety, the safest options are now private transfers. Unfortunately, there are no passenger limits on the ADO buses and while there are personal screens to separate passengers, we still noticed many people not wearing their masks properly. If you’d like to stay as safe as possible, click here to check and book your private transfer. Private cars a re cleaned and sanitised throughly after each and every transfer.
How far is Cancun airport from Playa del Carmen?
Playa del Carmen is located 55km/34 miles south of Cancun International airport. It takes about 45 minutes-1 hour to get to Playa del Carmen.
Allow a little extra time if you’re taking a shuttle or shared transportation as it might take longer to arrive at your hotel if your van needs to drop off other people along the way.
Recently there have been quite a few areas of roadworks on the Cancun-Tulum highway which tends to slow down all traffic for an extra 10/20 minutes. Unfortunately, there is little we can do to avoid this.
What other destinations can I get a private shuttle to apart from Playa del Carmen?
Many shuttle companies, including eTransfers, also offer transfers to Cancun Centre and the Cancun Hotel Zone. They also offer transfers to Akumal, Puerto Morelos and Tulum. Prices vary depending on how far you go from Cancun Airport.
Heading to Tulum? Find out Where To Stay in Tulum: The Best Hotels in 2021
Which option is the best value for money?
This really depends on a few factors like how many people are in your party etc. The cheapest way to get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun airport is by ADO bus which costs $11 one way. The bus however drops you off at the ADO terminal in Playa del Carmen just by 5th Avenue, so if you need to take a taxi from there to get to your hotel, it might actually work out to be cheaper to take a direct, private transfer.
If you are taking a taxi when arriving in Playa del Carmen, don’t do so from the drivers just outside the ADO terminal as they charge a premium. Walk up the street the bus came down on and flag one down from a few blocks further up to get a better rate.
eTransfers offer airport taxis for up to 3 people for $54 (per vehicle), so if you’re a party of two or three and you’re staying nowhere near the ADO terminal, this might be the cheapest option for you.
If you’re a solo traveller the best option for you might be the ADO bus or a shared airport shuttle.
If you’re staying in an all-inclusive and your transfer is already included then make sure to double-check before booking any airport transfers.
Places to Visit in Mexico during your Stay in Playa del Carmen:
Tulum Itinerary: The Ultimate Wellness-Focused Tulum Weekend Guide
Discover the perfect wellness-focused itinerary for Tulum.
Your Quick Guide to the BEST Cenotes in Tulum & Playa del Carmen
Your guide to visiting cenotes near Playa del Carmen and Tulum
A Short Guide to Visiting Chichen Itza (on a budget and without crowds)
Everything you need to know about visiting Chichen Itza.
Planning a trip right now? These are just some of my favourite websites I use to book everything from hotels to rental cars!
Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals worldwide
Booking.com for great deals on hotels
Hotels.com also for great deals on hotels
Get Your Guide for tours and adventures around the world
How did you get from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen? How was the trip? Let me know in the comments below.
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