Previously a sleepy fishing village lying in the unspoiled jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum is now a dreamy paradise for holidaymakers and history buffs from around the world. This sizzling hot yoga city gets its allure from its 1000+-year-old Mayan ruins, thousands of cenotes and white sandy beaches lined up with clubs and cabana lodgings. Tulum is also crazily popular for its street food, especially cochinita pibil taco- a classic dish consisting of pork marinated in achiote and bitter orange juice.
If this gem is at top of your agenda, you’ll first need to catch a flight to Cancun International Airport (CUN), and then move from Cancun to Tulum. Cancun is a big airport that receives direct flights from around the world. So, whether you are coming from Europe, Canada, or South and North America, there’s a good chance that you’ll get a flight right into the heart of the Caribbean coastline.
There are 2 other airports near Tulum, one in Chetumal and the other one in Cozumel. However, I would recommend Cancun airport to Tulum since it’s the most convenient. I believe it’s cheaper too.
How far is Tulum from Cancun?
The distance from Cancun to Tulum is about 118 kilometers (73 miles). These 2 cities are connected by Highway 307, and it’s a pretty straight drive from Cancun airport to Tulum. The journey by road takes 1.5 to slightly over 2 hours, depending on traffic and climatic conditions.
How to Get from Cancun to Tulum
As Riviera Maya continues to attract tourists around the world with its scenic ruins and fun-filled beaches and cenotes, a lot of players have popped up to make transportation easy. I’ve put together a list of the best ways of getting to Tulum from Cancun. From VIP bus rides to helicopter transfers and low budget options- I’ve got you!
By ADO Bus
ADO (read AHH-day-OH) bus company is the most popular service provider throughout southern Mexico. People prefer to get around by bus because they are reasonably priced and incredibly comfortable. By comfort, I mean, you’ll get a bus with reclining seats, air conditioning, and one bathroom at the very least!
Taking the bus from Cancun to Tulum will not only save you a good amount of money (compared to a shuttle), but I would also recommend it if you are traveling with several bags.
The ADO bus is the only bus that operates right inside this airport. That’s to say it’ll be your only option if you prefer public transportation from Cancun airport to Tulum.
This bus company offers several direct trips from Cancun airport to Tulum every day from all 4 terminals. At the time of writing this, ADO buses depart from the airport at 10:45 am, 12:05 pm, 2:55 pm, 7:40 am, AND 9:35 pm. Keep in mind that departure times are subject to change. So, it’s in your best interest to visit ado.com.mx and see whether they have a bus that matches your arrival time at the airport.
A one-way ticket on the Ado bus Cancun to Tulum will cost you 262 pesos (~ 13.70 USD), and the road trip takes roughly 2 hours and 5 minutes.
Taking a Connecting ADO Bus at Playa del Carmen
What if you arrive either earlier or after the scheduled departure times? Well, in that case, the next best option is to board an ADO bus to Playa del Carmen and then take another one bound for Tulum.
The relatively undiscovered town of Playa del Carmen is approximately 52 kilometers (32 miles) from Cancun Airport. A direct drive through Highway 307 takes about 45 minutes, and the current cost for a one-way ticket is 208 pesos (~ 11 USD).
At Playa del Carmen, the bus will take you right at the ADO bus terminal, which is located on 5th Avenue at the corner of Juarez Avenue. Here, you’ll need to purchase a ticket for another ADO bus to Tulum.
Don’t even worry about missing a bus to Tulum from Carmen, by the way. ADO has over 30 buses servicing Playa del Carmen and Tulum daily, and the buses depart every 30 minutes. There are basic restaurants around the bus terminal should you want to grab a meal before your bus leaves.
The journey by bus from Playa del Carmen to Tulum takes 50 minutes to 1 hour, and the trip costs approximately 70 pesos (~ 3.73).
Want a cheaper bus from Playa del Carmen?
At Playa del Carmen, there is an option to take a completely different bus other than ADO. Your next best option here will be the Mayab bus company. The terminal at Playa del Carmen is located on 5th Avenue just a few blocks from the ADO bus station just a short walk away..
Mayab is a second class bus mostly used by the locals for commuting short distances so you should expect several more stops in small towns along the way. It’s way cheaper than the luxurious ADO buses, and if you’re lucky, you could get one with a working air conditioner. Unfortunately, pretty much all of them don’t have toilets.
Other than the cost factor, another reason why you’d want to take the Mayab bus is its flexibility- it can drop you anywhere you ask along the highway. Depending on where you are going, this could be a much better option in comparison to taking an ADO bus to the terminal at Tulum, and then a taxi or colectivo back to a point where Mayab could have dropped you.
Where will the ADO bus drop you off at Tulum?
The Cancun to Tulum bus will take you to Tulum Centro, where ADO has a bus station at 77780 Tulum. They also have another terminal on the intersection that leads to the Tulum ruins, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll be dropped off at this station.
Luckily, Tulum Centro is well serviced by taxis. You’ll find them scattered all around the town, and they can take you almost anywhere. They are also very safe both day and night. Keep in mind, though, that taxis at Tulum are not metered. So, for the love of God, be sure to agree on the cost before hopping on. Again, remember to pay in pesos as the drivers here are notorious for giving tourists terrible exchange rates for the US dollar.
How to get to Selina Tulum from Tulum Centro
Perched at the beachfront and a walking distance to the beach, Selina Los Lirios Tulum will put your right at the center of the ancient Mexican tradition. They offer the perfect environment for interacting and connecting with other holidaymakers, fun seekers, and history enthusiasts. The accommodation facilities focus on giving you a unique sleep experience- from bunking up with friends to sleeping under the stars in bamboo teepees!
SelinaLos Lirios Tulum is located just 8.6 kilometers from Tulum Centro. After alighting at the bus station, grab a taxi for around 189 pesos (~10 USD), and you’ll be there in 20 minutes or so. Selina Los Lirios is a popular spot, so pretty much any taxi driver around Tulum should be able to take you there.
Cancun to Tulum by Airport Shuttle
If you are traveling solo, booking a private car from Cancun might be the least convenient option for you, that is if you’re planning to save some dollars wherever possible. However, a private vehicle makes a lot of sense if you are traveling as a group since the cost is per vehicle, not per person. Splitting the entire cost among a few folks might actually be more effective than taking a taxi, although it rarely gets cheaper than the ADO bus Cancun to Tulum.
Private airport transfer Cancun to Tulum is all about convenience. You don’t need to worry about whether or not your arrival time at the airport will be in line with the ADO bus’s departure schedule. The stress of lugging your bags to the bus is also eliminated because the driver will be waiting to receive you right at the exit.
Again, since your entire travel from Cancun to Tulum is taken care of, there’s no worrying about where to grab any connecting bus, taxi, or collectivo for your next leg since the shuttle will take you right to your hotel. In most cases, the driver can also make a brief stop at a restaurant or a grocery shop along the way. This usually comes at a small fee, but you’ll find it handy if you are just from a long haul flight.
The cost for an airport transfer shuttle from Cancun to Tulum ranges from 602 pesos (~32 USD) to 1880 pesos (~100 USD) (or even more) depending on the season and the company.
That being said, you’d be wise to compare several options online and even book before traveling to Cancun airport. You could also fly first and book a shuttle once you arrive at the airport. The catch, however, is that you may not get a good deal as you’d with a prearranged transportation service. Check out Happy Shuttle Cancun to Tulum if you are looking for recommendations on this means of transport.
Taxi to Tulum from Cancun
How much is a taxi from Cancun to Tulum?
Now, before telling you how much, I need to mention that ‘regular’ taxis are not allowed inside Cancun airport. By regular, I mean the typical city taxis that you just flag down and hop on for a ride.
The taxis that you’ll find inside Cancun airport are more or less private transportation companies that pay to operate from inside the airport. For that reason, their rates can be insanely high, especially for a last-minute purchase. That’s why I only recommend them for emergencies.
A taxi from Cancun to Tulum can charge up to 2000 pesos (~ 106.41 USD), depending on the season. You’ll first need to buy your ticket from the booths inside Terminals 2 and 3 before heading to take the cab parked right outside the exit gates of these terminals. The travel time from Cancun to Tulum remains the same, though, and will take roughly 1.5 hours to 2 hours.
Important notes when taking Cancun Airport taxi to Tulum
• In Terminal 2, taxis are available for booking from 7:00 am to 11:30 pm. In Terminal 3, taxis offer a 24-hour service.
• Taxis at Cancun airport don’t accept payments through credit cards. They will only take cash. If you don’t have Mexican pesos on you, there’s a Money Exchange booth at terminal 3 (closes at 9 pm) and another one at terminal 2 (closes at 10 pm). It’s also safe to use any bank-affiliated ATM at the airport, but you need to ensure that it dispenses pesos, not dollars. These ATMs tend to give a slightly better exchange rate than the booths, by the way.
• Most of the taxis at Cancun airport accommodate 4 passengers, although there are some with a capacity of 3 only.
• Last-minute taxi fare can be up to 5 times higher than a prearranged deal.
Renting a car from Cancun Airport to Tulum
Renting a car and driving yourself to Tulum is hands down the best way to explore all that Riviera Maya offers. If your schedule is tight, driving makes it possible to cover a lot of ground in less time. On the other hand, if you have all the time on your side, a rental car will allow you to change your itinerary on the fly, and this could add more fun to your trip. Actually, this makes a lot of sense since many beaches and charming villages are just a good distance from Highway 307.
Now, there are lots of car rental companies at Cancun Airport. Some of these are franchises of international chains that you’ve probably used before, including Thrifty and Hertz. You might feel safer going with these. In my experience, though, local agencies tend to offer much more competitive prices and relatively better services.
What is the cost of renting a car in Cancun Airport, Mexico?
Unlike most parts of northern USA, Europe, and Australia that I have been to, car rentals in Mexico are unbelievably cheap. During the low season (from the day after Easter to mid-December), the cost of renting a car online in Mexico can be as little as 57 pesos (~ 3 USD) a day for a sedan. I’ve also heard of car rentals that get as low as 18 pesos (~ 1 USD), so shop around. When the season is at its peak (from December 20 to Easter week), these rates get to between 376 pesos (~ 20 USD) and 752 pesos (~ 40 USD) depending on the type of vehicle.
Now, while the prices above seem like a real steal, they may double (or even triple) when you present yourself to collect the car. The first thing that you are very likely to be told is to purchase Mexican Liability Insurance. This one is pretty cheap and costs 225-376 pesos (~ 12-20 USD), and I highly advise that you take it just in case you bumped into another car.
You could decline this coverage, though. Actually, most people do. However, in case you refuse, most rental companies will require a credit card hold of at least 2500 USD or its equivalent in pesos.
Essential tips when renting a car in Cancun airport
• Car rental rates will be slightly higher at the airport than offsite rentals. However, airport rentals simplify the process and save a lot of time, which makes the small premium worth it.
• Print all the agreement documents and present them as you take that car to ensure that you are not short-changed.
• Take photos or a video of all markings and dents on the car and let the agent note them on the form before driving off. This will prevent the likelihood of paying for existing damages as you return the vehicle. Believe me- this is a common landmine when renting a car anywhere in Mexico!
• If possible, get an off-roading vehicle to withstand all terrains.
• Be ready to be pulled over by police on roadblocks- all the police will do is check your license, car rental papers, and probably search the vehicle for any illegal items.
Driving a rental car from Cancun to Tulum and Tips
Driving to Tulum in a rental car is relatively easy if you are an experienced driver. The 2 towns are connected by Highway 307, which eliminates all confusion. From the airport, you’ll find lots of signs directing you to the highway, after which you’ll need to turn right and make a straight shot to Tulum.
Highway 307 is not a true highway per se, but a 4-lane straight road in good condition and constantly being maintained. The ride from Cancun to Tulum will take you around 90 minutes.
Keep in mind that there are at least 3 police checkpoints on highway 307. So, have your license and car rental papers within reach. You also don’t want to have any alcohol smell in your breath when you get pulled over.
Additional tips and notes when driving in Mexico
• Similar to the US and Europe, driving is on the right side.
• Check for speed limits and stay within them. Speed limits are in kilometers per hour (KM/H). 100 kmh will be about 62 mph.
• Always carry a copy of your insurance and car rental agreement.
• Ensure that you have a valid driver’s license. Having a copy of your passport might also help a lot.
Moving from Cancun to Tulum by Helicopter
Now, if money is no object and you’d rather not spend another 120 minutes ‘stuck in a car’, you definitely qualify for executive VIP transportation. There are several helicopter transfer service providers at Cancun International Airport ready to fly you to most parts of the Riviera Maya.
This is, by far, the best way to get to Tulum from Cancun Airport. The scenic tour as you overfly the beautiful color combinations of the Caribbean Sea and the Mexican jungle and beaches is breathtaking.
At Tulum, helicopters land at Tulum Naval Base. A special permit is required at least 48 hours before. So, don’t be surprised if you are asked to make a down payment when reserving your ride.
The total cost for a helicopter transfer from Cancun Airport to Tulum will vary between service providers but expect to part with at least 950 USD per hour. You’ll also need to pay 377-565 pesos (~ 20-30 USD) in airport tax. Transportation from Cancun Airport to Tulum by a helicopter takes roughly 30 minutes.
How long is the bus ride from Cancun to Tulum?
The ADO bus takes approximately 2 hours and 5 minutes from Cancun to Tulum on a straight shot ride. If you are taking a connecting bus at Playa del Carmen, you should factor in around 30 minutes to the travel time.
How much is a taxi from Cancun to Tulum?
Cancun Airport taxis charge up to 2000 pesos (~ 106) to Tulum from Cancun airport.
What is the travel time from Cancun to Tulum?
The travel time from Cancun to Tulum will depend on your means of transportation. The ADO bus takes slightly over 2 hours. Taxis, shuttles, and private transfers may take around 90 minutes, depending on traffic. A helicopter ride will take 30 minutes to 45 minutes.
How far is it from Cancun airport to Tulum?
The distance between these 2 cities is around 118 kilometers (73 miles) by road.
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