Cancun is a popular holiday destination situated on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. It’s not exactly what we’d call a relaxing place, what with the large number of all-inclusive resorts, nightclubs, shops and restaurants. It’s evident why Cancun has become such a popular city just by looking at the stunning turquoise-water beaches and diverse range of things to do.
For those looking to venture away from their luxury resorts, you’ll find ancient Mayan archaeological sites not far from the city which make a great day trip.
As well as having and international airport, Cancun is also the door to other popular sites in the Quintana Roo district, such as Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and Tulum.
The main way to travel the 306 km (190 miles) from Merida to Cancun is a 4.5-hour bus ride. Fares start at 389 MXN ($18).
The bus is the cheapest option if you’re travelling by yourself or in a small group and the easiest way to travel between Cancun and Merida. Also, a good tip to know is that the more you book in advance, the cheaper bus prices tend to be.
There is another alternative, and that’s to hire a car for the day. This is becoming a popular option with travellers as it allows you to split the cost, leave whenever you want and visit archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza along the way. Not to mention you’ll have privacy to indulge in a bit of car karaoke. Renting a car for the day costs around 650 MXN ($30).
Tip: To share the cost of renting a car, you can advertise the ride on BlaBlaCar, a carpooling website.
Don’t fancy taking the wheel? You could always just opt to be a passenger in someone else’s BlaBlaCar journey. Prices tend to be around 300 MXN ($14) for this journey, but unfortunately the availability of rides for this route are sporadic, so you can’t always rely on this option.
Taking the bus is a very straightforward option. Once you’re onboard, all you have to do is sit back for 4.5 hours and watch the world go by.
Step 1: Merida to Cancun
Duration: 4.5 hours Cost: From 389 MXN ($18)
The first step to your journey is to find the bus stop. There are two bus terminals in Merida. The main one is conveniently located in the city centre and is known as ‘Terminal CAME’. This is where most buses to Cancun depart from, but there is also a daily departure from ‘Terminal Altabrisa’ located near the city’s northeast border.
The three main bus services going from Merida to Cancun are ADO, ADO GL and OCC, all of which are provided by the same governing company ADO.
So what’s the difference? ADO and OCC buses have reclining seats, AC and a toilet.
ADO GL buses on the other hand, have even more comfortable seats, extra space, refreshments, charging ports, separate men/women toilets and individual sound systems. In summary, it’s the more luxurious option.
Note that in Mexico, bus companies offer lower fares when booking a few days or weeks in advance, so you can save some money by planning ahead.
You can book your tickets online or directly at the bus terminals. Night buses do tend to sell out quickly, especially on weekends, so it is better to book ahead.
When booking, it’s good to know that some ADO schedules have a longer travel time. This is because the bus has an additional stop at Valladolid or Playa del Carmen, so if you want to get to your destination faster, we’d recommend avoiding these ones.
Cancun Central Bus Station is conveniently located in the city centre. Many hotels and hostels are located around it or just a few blocks away so you can choose to walk.
However, if you are staying a little further out or at one of the beach areas, you may have to take a taxi to get to your final destination.
Taxis are available from outside the bus terminal and are metered, so rates will depend on the distance and time. An average ride to the beach area is around 210 MXN ($10).
Another option is to use public transport. Buses pass in front of the bus terminal on Avenida Tulum and lines R-1, R-3 and R-38 connect the bus terminal with the beach and hotel area. The rate for the buses is 15 MXN ($0.70), to be paid directly to the bus driver.