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Cheap & Easy Transportation Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen

Cheap & Easy Transportation Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen

You’ve just landed at the Cancun Airport. Now what? If you wondering how to get from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen, don’t worry. It is super easy and relatively inexpensive, with several different Cancun Airport transportation options.

However, it is best to know all the Cancun transportation services and already know how you want to travel from Cancun to Playa del Carmen in advance.  

Playa del Carmen is 45 minutes south of the Cancun Airport and 45 minutes north of Tulum. It’s basically in the middle between Cancun and Tulum. 

Now, let’s go through all five different transportation from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen options you have. Then you can choose which transportation is the best option for you. 

Related Article: How to get from Cancun to Tulum Guide

Best Airport to Fly To

If you arrive on an international flight, you’ll most likely fly into the Cancun International Airport. Yes, there is the Cozumel International Airport. However, flights are often cheaper, and flying to Cancun is easier overall.

The best airport to fly to if you want to visit Playa del Carmen is Cancun International Airport (CUN). Fly here and then arrange transportation from Cancun. We always fly in and out of Cancun. We often find a cheap flight deal on Spirit or Southwest Airlines.

If you fly into Cozumel, you’ll have to take the Cozumel ferry to Playa del Carmen, which will also involve arranging transportation from the Cozumel Airport to the ferry and then a taxi shuttle from the ferry to your hotel in Playa del Carmen. 

Yes, technically, there is an airport in Playa del Carmen, but it is for only small planes and helicopters.

Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen priv

1. Private Cancun Airport Transportation to Playa del Carmen

Private transportation is the fastest and easiest way to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. You just walk out of the airport terminal and look for your name on a board, and in less than an hour, you arrive at your destination, Playa del Carmen. It’s that simple. 

The cheapest private transportation is $85 with the company Cancun Airport Transportation for up to 8 people one-way or $165 roundtrip, but the car that fits small groups up to 8 people (price with six people is $85 one way, $165 round trip). During peak season, they book out in advance.

If you are traveling with a larger group, this Cancun airport group option fits up to 16 passengers for $140 one-way and $270 roundtrip transportation. They also have a Cancun Airport limo option.

You won’t find this price at the airport. To get the best price, book private transportation from Cancun to Playa del Carmen online in advance here. If you are arriving early in the morning or late at night, we urge you to book your Cancun Airport transfers in advance because the ADO buses don’t start running until 8:30 a.m.

We personally have used this company, Cancun Airport Transportation Services, 10+ times now and have them booked for our upcoming trip to Playa del Carmen and other popular destinations in the Riviera Maya. They are a reliable service that is always on time, and it’s so nice just to grab our luggage and get in the van.

Now that we travel with kids (and grandparents often) and a lot of luggage, the best thing is to use a private service and go straight from the Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen after flying with two toddlers. For an extra cost, they can have cold beers and snacks in the car waiting. Now that is great service!

Related Article: Complete Playa del Carmen Guide

2. Cancun Airport Shuttle

The shared shuttle from Cancun Airport is only a really good option if you are a solo traveler in Mexico on a budget. If you are a couple, booking private Cancun Airport transfers would be cheaper, and then you would have the entire car to yourself and go directly to your destination.

Click here to book online. Prices are under $30 one way per person. Make sure to bring some small US bills, as tipping in Mexico is standard. If you are traveling as a couple, you’ll spend $60. It would make more sense to book private transportation from Cancun Airport for $85.

Not only is it basically the same price, but you will have your own private car at Cancun airport that will drive straight to your hotel in Playa del Carmen and get your vacation in Mexico started sooner.

We never take shared shuttles anymore for several reasons. You always have to wait for the shuttle OR wait for other people to fill the shuttles and transfers. The airport shuttle never just leaves when you show up.

Another reason we dislike taking a shuttle from Cancun Airport is they always pack the shuttle so full. There is very little personal space in a shared shuttle. Someone is always sitting next to you (basically on top of you).

The final reason why we don’t like taking a Playa del Carmen shuttle is you stop at several hotels in the Riviera Maya, not just Playa del Carmen. The distance from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen is only 34 miles (55 km), but dropping off people staying at a different hotel before you get dropped off at your hotel makes it seem so much longer to get to your destination.

We swear we are always the last to get dropped off in Playa del Carmen and the first to get picked up…you end up spending so much time in the shuttle before you arrive. 

a couple sitting on the roof of a rental jeep in Aruba during a honeymoon
Explore on your own
#1 Tip – Rent a car in Mexico
Have ultimate freedom and save tons of money on tours with your own rental car! Don’t worry – It’s safe (we’ve rented 20+ times), the roads are good, and it’s easier than you think! We always rent from Discover Cars, it’s easy & they have the best prices.

woman standing next to a rental car in Cancun after picking it up from the airport

3. Rent a Car at Cancun Airport

DO NOT RENT A CAR AT THE CANCUN AIRPORT, but do rent a car here later. Here me out on this!

Renting a car in Mexico is our preferred way of exploring the Yucatan Peninsula and the Riviera Maya, and it is often one of the cheapest ways to visit many attractions. However, after several terrible experiences rental companies and picking up rental cars at the Cancun airport, we no longer rent a car at the airport.

Let’s just say we have waited 2+ hours trying to get our rental car every time. There has been a lot of arguing with rental car companies because they changed the price we booked it for, wouldn’t honor our credit card coverage, and they never give you the vehicle type you booked.

So we now always take the private shuttle to our hotel in Playa del Carmen, and then that same day or the next morning, we rent a car in Playa del Carmen or Tulum. We’ve done this since 2019, and it is much better than getting off the plane and dealing with the car rental people. 

Must Read: Our full guide to renting a car in Cancun

Driving in the Yucatan is super easy once you are outside of the cities. We have had Verizon or T-Mobile and have always had cell coverage. If your carrier doesn’t offer international coverage, consider picking up a local SIM card with Digicel to have data during your trip.

White building with some of the best car rental agencies in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Best Place to Rent a Car

We always rent a full-size car on, but be prepared for them not to have the type of car you rented available. Read our complete renting a car in Cancun guide to answer all your car rental questions. It is seriously easy and safe!

Renting a car in Mexico is one of the best ways to see some of the best things to do in the Yucatan. Many great places to check out and day trips from Playa del Carmen require a car. Renting a car will save you a ton of money.

Driving from the Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen is really straightforward, and the highway is well-marked. The drive should take you under an hour, depending on where your hotel is located and if there is traffic. Click here for detailed directions to drive from Cancun to Tulum.

Best Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

ADO bus station Playa del Carmen

4. ADO Bus Cancun to Playa del Carmen

When we were living in Playa del Carmen and going to the airport on a regular basis, we mainly used the ADO bus to get to and from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen. It’s super easy and is the cheapest transportation from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen. Book cheap bus transfer from Cancun here.

The bus is not the fastest way but it is the cheapest option when comparing all Playa del Carmen transportation. The buses have air conditioning (sometimes too much, so bring a jacket), and overall, it is a comfortable way, and the travel time is often shorter than a shared shuttle service. It is a convenient option for those traveling on a budget.

The buses run roughly every 20-30 minutes from 7:40 a.m. to 12:50 a.m., depending on the airport terminal and day of the week. The buses are not available 24 hours. Note the last bus to Playa del Carmen varies based on what Cancun Airport terminal you are at and the day of the week. Between 12 a.m. and 12:50 a.m., and the first bus is after 7:30 a.m. Note that the departure times can change; check bus schedule here.

If your flight arrival time at the Cancun airport is at 6 a.m. (like we did once), you either have to wait over 2 hours for the first ADO bus or opt for a private driver. Because we didn’t book transportation from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen in advance online, we paid double the price in person at the airport.

You can book your bus ticket online here in advance, which we recommend to secure your seat and preferred time based on arrival and departure time. Set the FROM as Cancún Airport (CAN), Quintana Roo, México, and set the TO as Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, México or whatever your final destination is, and pick your date.

NOTE: The ADO bus is the only bus legally permitted to operate public buses to and from the Cancun Airport. The ADO bus from Cancun airport has routes to several locations in Cancun, including downtown Cancun and tons of the best places in the Yucatan, like Tulum, Valladolid, Holbox, Merida, and more destinations. 

Ado bus at Cancun Airport

How to Find the ADO Bus at Cancun Airport

  • After customs and immigration, look for the ADO booth (inside the building, by all the other official Cancun Airport transportation booths). This is where you can buy a ticket. If you ask anyone for the ADO bus, they’ll point you in the right direction.
  • With your bus ticket, go past all the taxi drivers/tour operators offering their overpriced transportation.
  • Head to where all the buses are pulling in. If you didn’t purchase it online here or inside the airport, you could purchase a ticket right outside by the buses. Sometimes, the inside ticket booth won’t be open, and you will have to purchase bus tickets from Cancun to Playa del Carmen outside by the buses.
  • The buses stop and pick up passengers at all airport terminals.
  • Cost 250 pesos, roughly $18 USD. You can pay in USD, but you will get a better deal if you pay in Mexican pesos. Price does vary based on date/time. Sometimes, they have Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen specials. 

If you take the ADO bus to Playa del Carmen, you’ll more than likely need to take a taxi to your hotel or Vrbo. This will add to the cost, so make sure to factor that in when deciding what the best transportation for getting from Cancun to Playa del Carmen is for you. There will be tons of taxis in Playa del Carmen by bus station.

The ADO bus station in Playa del Carmen has two locations in downtown Playa del Carmen. They nicknamed the bus stations Playa del Carmen Tourist, which is located on 5th Avenue & Juarez, and Alternative Playa del Carmen, located at Av. 20 Nte & Calle 12. Look up directions to your hotel to see which bus station is closer.

Not all buses stop at both stations when coming from the Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen. The Cancun Airport bus typically stops in Puerto Morelos and the Playa del Carmen bus station on Fifth Avenue.

Related Article: Must Visit Cenotes in Mexico

Playa del Carmen travel guide - Playa transportation White and blue taxi

5. Taxi From Cancun to Playa del Carmen

You can catch a regular taxi from Cancun Airport and have them bring you wherever you’d like, but make sure to agree on a price first. We also suggest whenever using a taxi service, you have the exact change and make sure you agree on the price in whatever currency you are paying.

We personally haven’t had many, if any at all, good experiences with taxi drivers or taking a taxi at Cancun Airport. We would avoid taking taxis altogether. The same goes for taking a Playa del Carmen taxi.

Hotel Shuttle Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen people with signs

6. Hotel Shuttle From Cancun Airport

If you’re staying at Playa del Carmen all inclusive resort or on a vacation package, Cancun shuttle transportation will more than likely be included.

If it isn’t included, don’t book your Cancun airport transfer with the hotel or your travel agent. You can book a Cancun airport transfer on your own for a lower rate. You’ll find the best deals if you book before your trip. Book private transportation service online in advance here.

Cozumel Ferry Boat in Mexico

7. Cancun to Cozumel Ferry

If you’re staying in Cozumel, not there is no ferry from Cancun Airport to Cozumel. You will want to organize a private transfer to the Cozumel ferry in Playa del Carmen. The prices are the same as above since the Cozumel ferry is in Playa del Carmen.

Click here to read our complete Cozumel ferry guide. The ferry to Cozumel is a quick 30 minutes and is cheap.

Playa del Carmen travel guide - 5th avenue walking street Playa

FAQ – How To Get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

Is there Uber in Cancun or Playa del Carmen?

If you are used to just opening the Uber/Lyft app and getting picked up at the airport, don’t plan on that at the Cancun airport.

You cannot find an Uber at the Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen or anywhere in the Riviera Maya. The taxi union basically doesn’t allow them to come to the airport. 

Where is the Playa del Carmen Airport?

There is a very small airport in Playa del Carmen, but it is not where tourists fly in on international flights. Cancun International Airport is the main airport in the region and is where you will most likely fly. 

How far is the Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen?

The Cancun Airport is 34 miles (55 kilometers) from Playa del Carmen. This should take about 45 minutes to an hour on a day with no traffic. Lately, there has been traffic on the highway, which has caused it to take longer.

Playa del Carmen travel guide - Collectivo - Playa to Akumal

Can you take a Colectivo from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen?

Another public transportation in Mexico is Colectivos. They are shared minivans in Mexico that pick up passengers who flag them down on the road. They are the cheapest transportation in Mexico. HOWEVER, colectivos are not allowed at the Cancun airport.

They offer super affordable prices and drive up and down the highway and main roads in Playa del Carmen. They are not a direct route option; they stop a ton, pick up and drop off passengers, and they fill the shared minivan so full it is often very uncomfortable.

Do not expect a bilingual driver. It is best to know Spanish or at least show the driver where you want to go.

The closest thing to this would be a shared shuttle or the ADO bus. Technically, you could walk or take a taxi out of the airport grounds, get out on the street, and flag a collective down from there. However, with luggage and everything, we would advise against this. 

woman in a red swimsuit sitting on a water swing at Cenote Cocalitos in Bacalar

We’ve lived in Playa del Carmen and have been to and from the Cancun airport 50+ times. So we have years of experience using all the different options. Arranging your own transport to Playa del Carmen is easy, cheap, and safe.

If you ask us, Playa del Carmen is the perfect place to stay when traveling to the Yucatan. There are tons of things to do in Playa del Carmen. It is close to some of the best cenotes in Mexico, visit Mayan Ruins, beautiful beaches, and much more. 

Now that we have walked you through all the transfer options from Cancun to Playa del Carmen, we hope we have helped you figure out what is best for you. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below! 

What is your go-to transportation from Cancun Airport?

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Don’t forget to pin me for later!

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We hope we have helped you decide what the best way to get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun airport is for you. No matter how you choose to get there, you’ll still end up in paradise.