Cancun might be the most famous destination on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, but many people actually prefer to spend their time in the Riviera Maya in Tulum. As it’s further away from Cancun’s busy nightlife and big, luxurious resorts, Tulum offers a more laid-back atmosphere. Also, the beaches are just as good as Cancun’s, if not better, due to less development and tourists.
The city is not just a beach destination either. Tulum is actually named after the famous archaeological ruins that sit upon a cliff overlooking the turquoise ocean. The 7.5m tall ruins are impressive by themselves, but cast against that backdrop, you can’t help but be in awe.
There are 3 ways to travel the 131 km (81 miles) from Cancun to Tulum: a 2.5-hour bus ride, 3-hour colectivo via Playa del Carmen or a 2.5 hour shared minivan. Fares range between 87 and 625 MXN ($4 – $29).
The bus offers a good combination between price and convenience. The bus goes directly to Tulum and is reasonably comfortable. You’ll have more space and enough room for your luggage, unlike with the Colectivo. Tickets start from 220 MXN ($11) for the ADO Bus.
The Colectivo is the cheapest option out of the 3, however this does come at a price. With the collective, you’ll need to change onto another vehicle in Playa del Carmen, adding a stop as well as extra travel time to your journey. The total journey to get to Tulum from Cancun will cost 87 MXN ($4) when you pay on the bus.
Note thatBookAway sells tickets for the Colectivo for $6, names as “Economy Minivan”. Although this is a very cheap option to get to Tulum, don’t confuse this with the Tourist Minivan. If you prefer stress-free travel then a shared minivan may be more your style. They offer door-to-door service with free pick-up and drop off to Tulum from Cancun, starting at 625 MXN ($29).
If you want to skip any possibility of hassle, then the door-to-door shared minivan is probably your best option. It takes you straight from Cancun to Tulum, starting at 625 MXN ($29).
Another option that we don’t discuss further in this article is renting a car. Prices start from $25/day when you rent a car via Skyscanner, but will be higher when you book with a local agent.
For those who want to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum we have good news. There are several options available that don’t require you to travel to Cancun’s city centre. You can find out more about this in the last section of this article.
Cancun’s main bus station is conveniently located in the city centre, meaning is easily accessible by foot or by a short taxi ride.
If you’re staying in the resort/beach area you can take a taxi or save some money by using local public transportation from Cancun. Lines R-1, R-3 and R-38 will drop you on Avenida Tulum, right in front of the bus terminal for the buses to Tulum.
Step 1: Cancun to Tulum
Duration: 2.5 hours Cost: 220 – 350 MXN ($4-$17)
The bus companies that operate between Cancun and Tulum are ADO Bus and AU Bus. Both are good in terms of quality, but most travellers’ take the ADO Bus as their bus departs several times a day.
All buses are first class, meaning they include AC, a toilet and reclining seats.
You can book your tickets online or buy them directly from the bus station. When booking, pay attention to the departure and arrival points, as some buses depart from the airport and some will drop you at Tulum’s archeological site. Make sure you book the right bus journey!
When you take the ADO Bus or AU Bus to Tulum from Cancun, the bus will arrive at the main bus station in Tulum. As it’s located in the town centre your accommodation might be within walkable distance. For those staying at the beach area, the best option is to take a taxi.
Taxis in Tulum are not metered so make sure to agree on the rate before stepping in. A good average rate to the beach area is 150 MEX ($7).
Cancun to Tulum via Playa del Carmen by Colectivo
Duration: 3 hours Cost: 87 MXN ($4)
Colectivos are the cheapest option to get from Cancun to Tulum, the downside is that you’ll first have to take a Colectivo to Playa del Carmen and then switch to another one going to Tulum.
The costs for both rides are only around 90 MXN ($4) and can be paid directly on the bus. Alternatively, you can also book theEconomy Bus by Sindicato Lazaro Cardenas on BookAway for a slightly higher price ($6). This Colectivo is often also called “Colectivos Foraneos” (derived from the full name Colectivos Foraneos Sindicato Lazaro Cardenas).
Colectivo’s between Cancun-Playa del Carmen-Tulum
Colectivo’s running on the route from Cancun-Playa del Carmen-Tulum are originally not intended for tourists. Colectivo’s operating in the Riviera Maya mainly transport locals and workers from the resorts and tourist attractions.
They have become popular among independent travellers and low-budget tourists to bring them around the Riviera Maya. The advantage is that they stop everywhere so they allow people to visit multiple beaches, cenotes and ruins without paying for expensive tours.
There are two companies operating this route: Playa Express and Colectivos Foraneos. Each company has their own stop and buses from both run every 15 minutes, or when the vehicle reaches capacity.
Playa Express operates from 04:00 to 23:00, while Colectivos Foraneos runs 24 hours. Keep in mind that Playa Express’ vehicles are more comfortable with more space between seats and working AC, so this service should probably be your first choice.
The rate to Playa del Carmen is 45 MXN ($2,) but it can increase during peak tourist season between December-February. Unfortunately, there’s no option to book online, so you’ll need to go to the stop and pay directly to the bus driver.
Step 2: Playa del Carmen to Tulum
Duration: 1 hour Cost: 42 MXN ($1.90)
When you arrive in Playa del Carmen, get off at the last stop. This is where you’ll also find the ‘colectivos’ to Tulum. They are operated by the same two companies and run every 15 minutes.
The ride from Playa del Carmen to Tulum cost around 42 MXN ($1.90), but prices can increase during peak tourist seasons.
As you see, you won’t save much money when taking the Collectivo to Tulum from Cancun.
The Colectivo’ last stop is just a couple of blocks away from the main bus station in Tulum. However, unlike buses, you can get off before if your accommodation is on the way or if you want to go to the archaeological ruins before entering town.
Cancun to Tulum by Shared Minivan
Duration: 2.5 – 3 hours Cost: 625 MXN ($29)
If you want to avoid going to/from bus terminals, shared minivans conveniently take you door-to-door. This service is offered by several companies and commonly booked online.
Although still more expensive than the bus, this shared minivan may still be a good option if you’re staying far from the bus terminals and want to save some money on taxis. You can book this service via BookAway.
Shared minivans include hotel pickup and drop-off, and cost 625 MXN ($29). They run every hour from 08:00 to 19:00. The travel time is variable as it depends on the number of passengers and additional stops on the way, but is often between 2.5 to 3 hours.
Buses from the Cancun Airport to Tulum are run by the ADO bus company and depart five times a day from 11:05 to 21:45 (roughly every 2 hours).
To take the bus, make your way to the ADO bus counter in the arrivals hall to purchase your ticket or book it online through ClickBus. Tickets cost 290 MXN ($14).
Shared minivan from Cancun Airport to Tulum
Duration: 2 hours Cost: From 675 MXN ($33)
Shared minivans are an intermediate option between buses and private transfers. They depart every hour, 24 hours a day, from Cancun International airport and will drop you at your accommodation in Tulum. You can book this service on BookAway for $33.
Taxi from Cancun Airport to Tulum
Duration: 2 hours Cost: From 1,500 MXN ($70)
Another good option is to hire a private transfer, if you want to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum. Your driver will be waiting for you outside the arrivals gate to take your accommodation in Tulum.
Private transportation from Cancun airport is provided by several companies, from which you can check availability and book online.
Taxis are available 24/7 at the Cancun International airport and the average rate to get to Tulum is $80. You can purchase your ticket at any taxi counter inside the arrivals hall of Cancun International Airport.
The creative murals that you’ll find throughout the entire hotel, give La Palmita a vibrant and artistic feel.
The beds are massive and incredibly comfortable, offering a great night's sleep after a busy day in Tulum. You can also chill on your own private balcony or the big roof terrace. Plonk yourself in one of the many hammocks and enjoy the sunset.
There’s too many great things to mention about Casa Santiago. It’s an eco-sustainable hotel with a refreshing pool and sun-loungers, perfect for relaxing around. An added bonus, all rooms offer balconies with pool views.
The star of the show though? The staff! They’re always there to help you out. Whether it be answering a question or helping you to organise a tour in Tulum.
Outdoor pool and sun terrace
Friendly and helpful staff
Eco-friendly, including natural toiletries made in the region
Put on your complimentary bathrobe and enjoy the tranquility of this hotel. Every aspect of the hotel is so beautifully and intricately designed that you can’t help but be relaxed here. The decor is truly stunning with splashes of turquoise all around you.
There’s not one, but two pools to take a refreshing dip after you enjoyed your complimentary breakfast. The vibrant rooms are the perfect place to retire to at the end of the day.
2 outdoor swimming pools
Attentive and friendly staff
Private rooms start from $91 per night, including breakfast