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How To Get From Playa Del Carmen To Tulum


by Anna-Diana Cade



Mexico’s Riviera Maya is known for its stunning coastline, pristine beaches, and vibrant culture. Two popular destinations in this region are Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Whether you’re a beach lover, history enthusiast, or adventure seeker, both Playa del Carmen and Tulum offer unique experiences. So, how do you get from one to the other? In this article, we’ll explore various transportation options to help you make the journey seamlessly.


Playa del Carmen is located approximately 68 kilometers (42 miles) north of Tulum. The distance between these two cities may seem short, but it’s important to consider factors such as traffic, road conditions, and the mode of transportation you choose.


Before we dive into the different transportation options, it’s essential to plan your journey based on your preferences, budget, and time constraints. Some options are faster but more expensive, while others are slower but more cost-effective. Let’s take a closer look at the options available for traveling from Playa del Carmen to Tulum.


Option 1: By Car

One of the most convenient ways to travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum is by renting a car. This option allows you the freedom to explore at your own pace and gives you the flexibility to make stops along the way. The journey from Playa del Carmen to Tulum typically takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on traffic conditions.


To rent a car, you can either book online in advance or visit one of the many car rental agencies in Playa del Carmen. Make sure to have your driver’s license, passport, and a valid credit card with you when renting a car. It’s also important to consider insurance options and any additional fees associated with the rental.


From Playa del Carmen, you can take the Federal Highway 307, which is the main road connecting many popular destinations in the Riviera Maya. The road is well-maintained and signposted, making it easy to navigate. As you drive south, you’ll pass through breathtaking coastal scenery and lush jungle landscapes.


It’s important to note that there are toll booths on the highway, so be prepared to have some cash on hand. Additionally, be aware of the speed limits and follow all traffic rules to ensure a safe journey.


Once you reach Tulum, you’ll find parking options available near popular attractions and the town center. Some hotels and resorts in Tulum also offer parking facilities for their guests. Keep in mind that parking in the town center can be limited, especially during peak tourist season, so it’s advisable to arrive early.


Traveling by car gives you the flexibility to explore other nearby attractions such as the famous cenotes, archaeological sites like Coba, or even visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. With your own vehicle, you can create your own itinerary and discover the hidden gems of the region.


However, it’s worth considering the cost of renting a car, including fuel expenses and parking fees, as well as the responsibility of driving in a foreign country. If you are not comfortable driving or prefer to sit back and relax, there are other transportation options available.


Option 2: By Public Transportation (Bus)

If you prefer a more budget-friendly option, traveling from Playa del Carmen to Tulum by bus is a great choice. The bus system in Mexico is extensive, reliable, and offers frequent departures throughout the day.


ADO (Autobuses de Oriente) is the main bus company in the region, and they operate both first-class and second-class buses. The first-class buses, known as ADO Platino or ADO GL, offer amenities like air conditioning, reclining seats, and onboard restrooms. The second-class buses, known as ADO or ADO Sur, are a more economical option.


To catch a bus from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, head to the ADO bus terminal located on Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida). You can either purchase your tickets in advance online or at the ticket counters in the terminal. It’s recommended to arrive at the terminal at least 30 minutes before your desired departure time, especially during peak travel seasons.


The journey by bus usually takes around 1 hour, but this can vary depending on traffic and the number of stops along the way. Buses depart frequently throughout the day, making it easy to plan your trip according to your schedule.


Once you arrive in Tulum, you’ll be dropped off at the Tulum bus terminal, which is located just a short distance from the town center. From there, you can take a taxi or a local colectivo to your final destination.


Traveling by bus not only offers an affordable option but also allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic views along the way. It’s a convenient and hassle-free mode of transportation that is favored by both locals and tourists.


However, it’s worth noting that buses can get crowded, especially during peak hours. If you prefer more comfort or privacy, you might consider other transportation options such as renting a car or taking a taxi.


Option 3: By Taxi

If you prefer a more direct and convenient mode of transportation, taking a taxi from Playa del Carmen to Tulum is a viable option. Taxis are readily available in Playa del Carmen and can be easily flagged down or found at designated taxi stands throughout the city.


When taking a taxi, it’s important to negotiate and agree upon the fare with the driver before starting your journey. Taxi fares are not typically metered, so it’s essential to establish a price beforehand to avoid any misunderstandings later on.


The journey from Playa del Carmen to Tulum by taxi takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on traffic conditions. The advantage of taking a taxi is that it offers direct transportation without any stops along the way. It allows you to relax and enjoy the ride without worrying about navigation or other passengers.


While taxis offer convenience, it’s important to be aware that they are generally more expensive compared to other modes of transportation such as buses or colectivos. However, if cost is not a major concern and you prefer a more private and comfortable experience, taking a taxi can be a good option.


Upon arriving in Tulum, taxis can drop you off at your desired location, whether it’s a hotel, a restaurant, or one of the many attractions in the area. Taxis in Tulum can also be easily found near tourist hotspots and the town center, making it convenient to get around once you’ve arrived.


It’s worth noting that some taxi drivers may try to overcharge tourists or negotiate higher fares, especially if they detect that you are unfamiliar with the local rates. It’s always advisable to have an idea of the approximate fare to avoid being charged exorbitantly.


Overall, taking a taxi offers convenience, speed, and a hassle-free journey from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. It is a great option for those looking for a more direct and personalized mode of transportation.


Option 4: By Shuttle Service

If you prefer a comfortable and hassle-free transportation option, using a shuttle service is a convenient way to travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. Shuttle services are popular in the Riviera Maya and cater to both individual travelers and larger groups.


There are several shuttle companies that provide transportation between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. These services offer door-to-door transfers, meaning they will pick you up from your desired location in Playa del Carmen and drop you off at your destination in Tulum.


Shuttle services typically operate with a fixed schedule, and you can book your transfer in advance either online or through your accommodation provider. The advantage of using a shuttle service is that they offer comfortable and air-conditioned vehicles, making your journey pleasant and enjoyable.


The duration of the shuttle ride from Playa del Carmen to Tulum can vary depending on the specific service and any stops along the way. On average, the travel time is around 1 hour, but this can depend on traffic conditions and other factors.


One of the benefits of using a shuttle service is the convenience of direct transportation without the need to make additional stops. Additionally, shuttle services often have knowledgeable drivers who can provide information and insights about the area, adding value to your journey.


Shuttle services are generally more expensive than public buses but more affordable than private taxis. The cost varies depending on the service provider, the number of passengers, and any additional services included.


Upon arriving in Tulum, the shuttle service will drop you off at your designated location, whether it’s a hotel, a vacation rental, or any other destination within Tulum. The flexibility and convenience of door-to-door service make this option popular among travelers.


It’s advisable to book your shuttle service in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to ensure availability. Research different providers, compare prices, and read reviews to choose a reputable service that suits your needs and budget.


Overall, using a shuttle service offers a comfortable and stress-free mode of transportation from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. It allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey without worrying about navigating unfamiliar roads or dealing with traffic.


Option 5: By Colectivo

If you’re looking for an affordable yet efficient way to travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, consider taking a colectivo. Colectivos are shared vans that operate as a form of public transportation in Mexico.


In Playa del Carmen, colectivos are typically found at designated colectivo stations or along major roads. Look for vans marked with a destination sign that includes Tulum. Colectivos are a popular option among locals and tourists alike due to their affordability, frequency, and convenience.


The colectivo ride from Playa del Carmen to Tulum takes about 30-40 minutes, depending on the traffic and the number of stops along the way. Colectivos have fixed routes but are known for their flexible nature, as they can make stops to pick up and drop off passengers even outside designated stops.


Colectivos are known for being more economical than taxis or shuttles. They offer a cost-effective way to travel between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, making them a popular choice for budget-conscious travelers.


While colectivos are a convenient and affordable option, it’s worth noting that they tend to be smaller vehicles and can get crowded, especially during peak hours. You may be sharing the ride with other passengers, so expect a cozy and communal experience.


Colectivos in Tulum drop off passengers near the town center or close to popular attractions. From there, you can easily find transportation to your final destination, whether it’s taking a taxi, walking, or renting a bicycle.


It’s important to have cash on hand when using colectivos, as they typically only accept cash payments. Fare collection is often handled by a designated person on board, who will collect the fare from each passenger during the ride.


Traveling by colectivo offers a local and authentic experience, allowing you to interact with locals and immerse yourself in the culture. It’s a great way to get a glimpse of everyday life in Mexico.


Overall, taking a colectivo is an affordable, efficient, and adventurous way to travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. It’s ideal for those looking for a budget-friendly option that offers a glimpse into the local transportation system.



When it comes to traveling from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, there are several transportation options to choose from, each offering its own advantages and considerations. Whether you prioritize convenience, budget, or flexibility, there is a mode of transportation that will suit your needs.


For those seeking flexibility and the ability to explore at their own pace, renting a car is a convenient option. It offers the freedom to make stops along the way and visit nearby attractions.


If you’re on a budget, taking a public bus or colectivo is an affordable choice. Buses provide a comfortable ride with frequent departures, while colectivos offer a more local and communal experience.


If convenience and direct transportation are your priorities, using a shuttle service or taking a taxi may be the best option. Both options offer door-to-door service, making your journey stress-free and comfortable.


Ultimately, the choice of transportation depends on your preferences, budget, and time constraints. Consider the pros and cons of each option and decide which one aligns best with your travel plans.


No matter which transportation mode you choose, the journey from Playa del Carmen to Tulum is a relatively short one, allowing you to quickly transition between these two stunning destinations on Mexico’s Riviera Maya.


Remember to plan your trip in advance, consider traffic conditions, and factor in any parking or transportation arrangements in Tulum. With proper planning and the right transportation option, your journey from Playa del Carmen to Tulum will be seamless, allowing you to make the most of your time exploring the beautiful attractions and experiences that this region has to offer.