Lying by the Caribbean coast, Tulum is becoming an ever-more popular destination in the Riviera Maya. It used to be overshadowed by bigger cities on Mexico’s east coast like Playa del Carmen and Cancun. But as more people want to escape the bustle of these places, many are now heading to Tulum. Here you’ll find a more laid-back, bohemian vibe, making it a great place to relax.
The town of Tulum was named after its stunning Mayan ruins perched on top of a cliff, overlooking the ocean below. The Tulum ruins are impressive in their own right, but cast against the backdrop of the sea, you can’t help but be in awe. It’s also a testament to the greatness of the ancient Maya Civilization.
Located in the Yucatan Peninsula, the nearest airport to Tulum is Cancun Airport. Many travellers choose Tulum as the last stop in their Yucatan Peninsula itinerary, after Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
New to Tulum? Our compact Tulum guide shows you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Tulum!
3 ways to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum
The most popular ways to travel the 65 km (40 miles) from Playa del Carmen to Tulum are a 1-hour-10 minute bus, a 1.5-hour colectivo, and a 1-hour taxi. Fares range from 45 MXN ($2.30) to 615 MXN ($31.50).
The bus is the best option if you’re travelling with luggage. Unlike the colectivo, most buses allow one large piece of luggage and one hand luggage per passenger.
Although a bit more expensive than the colectivo, you’ll have plenty of space for your stuff (in the luggage compartment), as well as good legroom. Another advantage is that they go straight from Playa del Carmen to Tulum.
The bus companies operating from Playa del Carmen to Tulum are ADO bus, OCC, and AU. All buses offer air conditioning, a toilet and reclining seats.
Both ADO bus and OCC bus are good in terms of quality. AU, on the other hand, is cheap but does not receive as good reviews. Thus, we recommend taking either ADO bus or OCC for this route.
A bus ticket costs only 117 MXN ($6).
Departure and arrival station
When booking, pay attention to the departure and arrival points.
You can find an ADO bus station from two terminals in downtown Playa del Carmen – Turistica and Alterna. Turistica is the main bus terminal located just across Parque Los Fundadores and is surrounded by many Playa del Carmen hotels.
All bus companies depart from Turistica. But if you are able to reserve a seat in Alterna (located 1 km away from Turistica), the bus will also stop there to pick you up.
In Tulum, the buses make a last stop at two different locations. The ADO bus station is located in the town centre, while the Tulum Ruins are about 4 km east of downtown Tulum. Depending on where you’re staying, you may have to take a 20-minute taxi to or from the bus stations.
We recommend booking your tickets online through BookAway to secure a seat at your desired time.
Alternatively, you can buy your tickets at the bus terminal in Playa del Carmen, but make sure to be there early in order to get a seat on the bus. In case tickets are already sold out for your preferred schedule, you’ll have to wait for the next trip.
The cheapest option is the colectivo. However, they don’t have any room for luggage and will stop on the way to pick up and drop off passengers, so the ride is longer.
If you’re planning on taking just a day trip from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, then the colectivo may be the better option because it also allows you to visit any of the attractions along the way.
Colectivos are also the cheapest way to get to any of the cenotes, archaeological ruins, or beaches on the way. Unlike buses, colectivos are allowed to stop everywhere.
As they are used mostly by local workers and not by tourists, they don’t have space for luggage. Therefore, the colectivos are only a good option for day trips to Tulum or if you are travelling with just hand luggage. Also if you are already in Tulum, it’s a great way to reach the Tulum ruins site.
The 1.5-hour ride from Playa del Carmen to Tulum costs around 45 MXN ($2.30), but prices can increase during peak tourist seasons, from December to February.
Departure and arrival station
Playa Express and Colectivos Foraneos depart from the colectivo bus stop in Playa del Carmen. This bus stop is located in the tourist area, just a couple of blocks away from the main bus terminal.
All colectivos park at the bus terminal in Tulum. However, unlike buses, you can get off prior to the last stop if your accommodation is on the way or if you want to go to the archaeological ruins before entering the town.
Difference between colectivo companies
The two main companies operating from Playa del Carmen to Tulum are Playa Express and Colectivos Foraneos. These colectivos run every 15 minutes or when the vehicle reaches its capacity.
Playa Express operates from 04:00 to 23:00. More comfortable than Foraneos with more space between seats and working AC.
Colectivos Foraneos run 24 hours.
An alternative to the local colectivos is the shared minivans operated by Sindicato Lazaro Cardenas. These minivans cater more to tourists, so the ride will be tons more comfortable than the ordinary colectivos. This option is a bit more expensive at 83 MXN ($4.25).
Playa del Carmen to Tulum by Taxi
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: 615 MXN ($31.50)
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: 615 MXN ($31.50)
If you don’t want to travel by public transport, you can take a taxi. With a taxi, you can ask to be dropped off anywhere in Tulum. You can go straight to the Mayan ruins or to one of Tulum’s beautiful beaches like Playa Paraiso.
Also if you only want to explore Tulum on a day trip, then the taxi is the best choice.
Both Playa del Carmen and Tulum are in the Riviera Maya, so rates aren’t that expensive especially if you’re with a group. Prices start from 615 MXN ($31.50) for the 1-hour taxi ride.
Rates start from 615 MXN ($31.50) for a 3-seater car. You can hail a taxi from the street, but we recommend getting one outside of 5th Avenue as prices are often more expensive in the tourist area.
Note that taxis are not metered in Playa del Carmen, so make sure you agree on a price before getting in!
The Tulum ruins are located only 4 km from Tulum town and can easily be reached by a 10 minute colectivo. You can find these colectivo’s on the mainstreet of Tulum town. Want to visit more sights in the area? You can also rent a bike and use the bicycle path that will lead you to the Tulum ruins. After you visited the Tulum ruins, it’s only a short 20-minute bike ride to Playa Paraiso or 25 minutes to Tulum Beach.
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.
There are 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.
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.