Cancun is by far the main tourist destination in the Riviera Maya and potentially in all of Mexico. It’s the go-to place for tourists to come and relax due to the hundreds of hotels and luxury resorts that line the white-sand beaches. Cancun is similar to Playa del Carmen but on an even bigger scale. It has more restaurants, more bars and plenty of nightclubs.
Cancun is also the door to other popular sites in the Yucatan Peninsula. That’s because Cancun International Airport is well-connected for both domestic and international flights.
There are 4 ways to travel the 68km (42 miles) from Playa del Carmen to Cancun: a 1-hour-10 minute bus, a 1.5-hour Colectivo, a 1.5-hour shared minivan, or a 1-hour taxi. Fares range between 70 MXN ($3.50) and 700 MXN ($35).
The bus service is a cheap and comfortable option with fares from 100 MXN ($5). Although a bit more expensive than the colectivo, buses are more spacious – they can accommodate huge luggage and have more than enough legroom.
If you like to keep hassle and stress to a minimum, then the shared minivan is the way to go. They offer pick up and drop off at your accommodation, so you won’t have to worry about getting to/from bus terminals. This comfort comes with a price though as ticket prices start from 450 MXN ($22).
Colectivos are the cheapest option of them all, but they make multiple stops on the way, meaning some extra travel time. Plus this isn’t a feasible option if you’re travelling with big luggage. There’s no storage space in the vehicles.
If you’re travelling with a group and prefer convenience, you can take a 1-hour taxi. Fares start from 700 MXN ($35).
If you’re looking to travel from Playa del Carmen directly to Cancun Airport, there are airport transfer options available that don’t require you to enter the city centre. You can take a bus, a shared minivan, or a private shuttle – all with a travel time of 1 to 1.5 hours. You can find out more about this in the last section of this article.
Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes Cost: From 100 MXN ($5)
The bus company going from Playa del Carmen to Cancun is ADO Bus, the most popular bus company in Mexico. With an ADO bus, you can expect great quality service. All buses are first class, meaning they include AC, a toilet and reclining seats.
A bus ticket costs 100 MXN ($5) and travel time is a little over an hour.
Bus schedule from Playa del Carmen to Cancun
At least once every hour from 08:00 to 22:20
1 hour 10 minutes
100 MXN ($5)
PRO-TIP: We recommend purchasing your tickets online through BookAway for a hassle-free experience. An ADO bus ticket is actually a couple of dollars cheaper when you buy it onsite or online through the ADO website. However, buses are almost always full so it’s not really recommended to buy them at the station on the same day of your trip. When booking online through their own website, only Mexican credit cards are accepted.
ADO buses depart from 2 bus terminals in downtown Playa del Carmen – Turistica and Alterna. Turistica is the main bus station and all buses actually depart from there. But if you are able to reserve a seat in Alterna, the bus will stop there to pick you up. When booking your tickets online, make sure you double-check which bus station you’re departing from!
All buses arrive at ADO Bus Station, just within walking distance from most hotels in downtown Cancun. But if you’re staying in the Hotel Zone, you can take a taxi for around 210 MXN ($10). You can also take a bus (R-1, R-3 or R-38) from Avenida Tulum to the beach area. The rate for the buses is 15 MXN ($0.70) to be paid directly to the bus driver.
Playa del Carmen to Cancun by Colectivo
Duration: 1.5 hours Cost: 70 MXN ($3.50)
Colectivos are the cheapest option to travel from Playa del Carmen to Cancun.
As they are used mostly used by local workers and not by tourists, they don’t have any space for luggage. Therefore, they are a good option only for day trips to Cancun or if you are travelling with just hand luggage.
The average rate to Cancun is 45 MXN ($2), but can go higher during peak season (December to April). You can buy your tickets directly from the driver.
However, if you’re willing to spend a bit more for more comfort, then we recommend to book a colectivo ride with a company called Sindicato Lazaro Cardenas. Unlike the main colectivo companies, it caters more to tourists so it’s also heaps and leaps cleaner and more spacious. A ticket costs 70 MXN ($3.50) and you can purchase one online through BookAway.
If you’d rather travel like a local, there are two other colectivo companies operating this route: Playa Express and Colectivos Foraneos. Both run every 15 minutes or when the vehicle reaches its capacity.
Playa Express operates from 04:00 to 23:00, offers more spacious vehicles with working AC.
Colectivos Foraneos runs 24 hours, but may not be as comfortable as Playa Express.
Where to find the Colectivos from Playa Del Carmen to Cancun?
Playa Express and Colectivos Foraneos depart from the main Colectivo bus stop in Playa del Carmen’s main tourist area. Sindicato Lazaro Cardenas departs a few block away at Benito Juarez Ave.
The colectivos park at Avenida Tulum in Cancun city centre. Unlike buses, you can get off before this stop if your accommodation is on the way.
Playa del Carmen to Cancun by Shared Minivan
Duration: 1.5 hours Cost: 450 MXN ($22)
If you want to avoid going to/from bus terminals, shared minivans conveniently take you from your current hotel to your next one. This service is offered by several companies and is commonly booked online.
Although more expensive than the bus, the shared minivan may be a good option if your hotels in both Playa del Carmen and Cancun are located far away from the bus terminals and want to save some money on taxis.
A ticket costs 450 MXN ($22) and travel time is around 1.5 hours, depending on the number of times they drop passengers along the way. They run every hour from 08:00 to 19:00. This shared shuttle service is best booked online so you won’t have to visit their physical office just to buy a ticket.
You can also take a taxi from Playa del Carmen to Cancun. If you’re travelling with at least one other person, then a taxi will be a more cost-efficient option compared to taking a shared minivan. The entire trip takes about one hour unless there’s heavy traffic along the way.
A taxi service costs around 700 MXN ($35). Keep in mind that taxis in Playa del Carmen are not metered, so make sure to agree on a rate before getting in.
PRO-TIP: Taxi drivers in taxi stands charge more than those you can hail from the street. Also, it will be cheaper if you can find a taxi away from the tourist area at 5th Avenue.
Travelling from Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport
Duration: 1 – 1.5 hours Cost: From 265 MXN ($13)
If your trip has come to an end and you’re flying out of the Riviera Maya through Cancun International Airport, you can find several airport transfer services directly from Playa del Carmen.
There are three ways to do it: by bus, shared shuttle or with a private transfer. All three options have an average duration of 1 hour, but the shared minivan may take an extra 15 minutes, as it may stop to pick up other passengers on the way. Rates range from 265 MXN ($13) and 935 MXN ($46).
PRO-TIP: When booking any of these services, remember to depart from Playa del Carmen at least 5 hours before your flight to account for delays from traffic, roadworks or in the case of shared services, any issue with additional stops.
Bus from Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport
Duration: 1 hours Cost: From 265 MXN ($13)
The bus is the airport transfer we recommend if you’re on a budget. Buses from Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport are run by ADO Bus and depart every hour from 03:00 to 19:45. You can board the ADO bus from the Turistica bus terminal in the centre of town.
A bus ticket costs 265 MXN ($13) when you book online beforehand through BookAway. ADO bus prices are a bit cheaper at the terminal, but seats are not guaranteed.
Shared Minivan from Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport
Duration: 1.5 hours Cost: From 305 MXN ($15)
Shared minivans are a good option as they will pick you up from your hotel in Playa del Carmen. However, they will also pick-up all passengers and that may add to the travel time going to the airport. These Cancun Airport shuttle services depart every hour, 24 hours a day, from Playa del Carmen. Fares start from 305 MXN ($15) on BookAway.
Private Transfer from Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport
Duration: 1 hour Cost: From 935 MXN ($46)
Another good option is to hire a private Cancun Airport transfer. This private shuttle service is provided by several companies and picks you up from your accommodation in Playa del Carmen.
Also here, we recommend booking your ride online through BookAway as they offer spacious 6-seater cars with rates from 935 MXN ($46).
You can also book a private transfer with one of the local agencies in town. Some companies with the best reviews and cost/benefit ratio are eTransfers and Happy Shuttle Cancun.
Frequently asked questions
Can you rent a car from Playa del Carmen to Cancun?
Yes, you can be your very own private driver when travelling between Playa del Carmen and Cancun. Rental cars in Mexico are very cheap. Prices start from 570 MXN ($28) for a 24-hour car rental and 2,375 MXN ($116) if you want to rent for a week.
For the cheapest car rentals and most extensive selection, book one through Kayak or Skyscanner. Make sure you have a valid driver’s license! We also recommend that you check out our Top 10 Tips on car rentals to help you save money.
If you prefer a homely feel compared to hotels then definitely stay at Estancia. The owners will instantly make you feel welcome and are always there to offer advice.
The homestay offers a very convenient location, close to the local markets and not too far from the ADO bus station. The rooms are clean and spacious, plus a steal for their price. If you fancy doing some cooking whilst in Cancun, you can make use of the communal kitchen.
Looking for a unique sleeping experience? The Yellow Capsule Hotel will definitely give you that. Instead of traditional rooms, you’ll get to sleep in a pod. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the future when you clamber into your bright and spacious pod.
The capsules are clean and include everything you need for a comfy stay, a mirror, outlets, a safe and storage space. When you’re done hangin around in your pod, you can chill at the hotel's terrace and enjoy their free breakfast.
Viento Suites is somewhat of an escape from the busy and hectic cancun. Once you’re inside the walls of the hotel, chilling in the garden beside the swimming pool, you’ll forget about the outside world.
The location couldn’t be more perfect. It’s situated within Downtown Cancun but also very close to the Hotel Zone and beaches. The rooms look like those from a high-class hotel, but without the extortionate prices.
Resorts in Cancun can cost you a bomb! Sina Suites gives you that resort-style feel without the high prices. Ever wanted your own private marina in a hotel? Now you probably do, and Sina Suites has one. It also has a large swimming pool set amongst gardens that overlook the lagoon.
You can enjoy a continental breakfast and delicious Mexican food in their poolside restaurant and bar that sits underneath a traditional thatched hut! You’ll also get more than just a room, most suites also offer a kitchenette and balcony.