If you’re planning a trip to Tulum let me just say: I’m super excited for you!
With aquamarine waters crashing on powdery pale shores, this ancient Mayan town is the closest to paradise you can get on Earth.
Since this town is my favorite tropical haven near the US, I find myself returning to it again and again. It’s a fantastic destination for solo travelers, couples, friend groups, and families.
Believe me, booking the flight from your city to Cancun is the easy part; what comes next is when it gets tough. Your main focus needs to be on how to get from Cancun to Tulum.
Having made that journey a few times, I have become somewhat of an expert. Let me arm you with all the information and tips I have gathered over the years to make this special trip.
Cancun to Tulum: Preparations, Time, & Cost
Whether you’re looking to get to Tulum from Cancun Airport, Cancun Down Town, or Cancun Beach Hotel Zone, there are a few ways to travel.
All types of transport should be booked in advance so that you can get to your destination on time, without any hiccups. Public transportation modes are comparatively cheaper, but they take longer to get to the destination.
If you opt for a private transfer or choose to rent a car, it will cost you more money, but you will reach faster and enjoy a more comfortable ride.
You can cover this distance in anywhere between 90 minutes and 4 hours. Similarly, the price point can vary from 310 MXN ($18) to 3000 MXN ($175). So it’s best to make advance bookings or at least decide on which mode of transport you’ll be using to get to Tulum.
Here is the driving distance and minimum time it takes to go to Tulum from different parts of Cancun:
- Cancun Airport to Tulum – 73 miles; 90 minutes of drive time
- Cancun Hotel Zone (Beach) to Tulum – 85 miles; 2 hours of drive time
- Cancun Downtown to Tulum – 81 miles; 1 hour 45 minutes of drive time
How to Get From Cancun Airport to Tulum
Since Tulum’s new airport isn’t open to flyers yet, your only option to town down to the coastal port is Cancun Airport.
This airport attracts plenty of tourists because this is where visitors from around the world tend to land for not just Tulum but also many of Mexico’s other tourist destinations. It is only a 1.5-hour drive away (73 miles).
There are five different ways to cover this distance. I have frequented this route over the years and have tried all the transport options, so here’s my take on what each mode looks like.
ADO Bus from Cancun Airport to Tulum
Taking a bus is the cheapest option to get from Cancun airport to Tulum. ADO group is a company that runs bus services with an extensive bus network connecting all major cities in Mexico.
I’ve used their bus service in other parts of Mexico as well. Their buses are clean, air-conditioned, and comfortable, with storage space underneath for your luggage. They also depart on time, and the boarding process is always pretty organized.
The journey to Tulum from Cancun usually takes around 2 hours and costs you 310 MXN ($18). I’d recommend pre-booking your bus tickets to ensure availability. But you can also visit the ADO counter at the airport to check their bus timetable and make a booking accordingly.
This bus will drop you at the Tulum Bus Station located at the far end of Tulum town. So, if you’ve booked a hotel on Tulum’s Zona Hotelera be prepared to take a 30-minute taxi ride to your final destination.
Private Transportation or Airport Shuttle
If budget isn’t a concern, the most convenient way to go to Tulum from Cancun Airport is private transportation. The Cancun Airport Transportations private shuttle to Tulum is the easiest, fastest, and most stress-free way to go from door to door without hassle.
A multilingual English-speaking driver will meet you at the airport and take you directly to your destination. This means you won’t have to worry about booking a taxi and haggling with the taxi driver.
This service is more expensive than most options and will cost you $100 one way or $175 if you book a round trip. But if you’re traveling as a couple or in a group, the per-person cost will turn out very economical.
I’d suggest taking the shared airport shuttle for solo or budget travelers. This surprisingly costs you only about $50-60 and the journey is very comfortable and convenient. The vehicles are always sanitized, clean, and air-conditioned.
The only drawback of a shared shuttle is that you’ll have to wait for the driver to pick up and drop off all the passengers. This can increase the travel time by up to one to two hours.
Since Uber doesn’t run in Tulum or Cancun Airport, the only other option where you don’t have to drive is Taxis. This is also possibly the worst option to take this journey.
Like most tourist destinations, you won’t find any standardized rates or prices. To add to the problem, the taxis are not fitted with meters, and the drivers often inflate prices based on irrelevant factors like how you look.
As you approach the airport’s exit, you will be approached by local taxi drivers. You can politely say thank you and move ahead.
Some drivers may even try to trick you into hiring a taxi by giving false information like ‘the car rental places are closed’ or ‘bus services got canceled due to rain.’ If possible, consider taxis only as your last resort.
If you do end up taking one, please make sure you agree on a price before entering the taxi. An agreeable price for traveling from Cancun Airport to Tulum is about 1800-3000 MXN ($105-175). But I’d still recommend considering other options first.
Renting a Car
If you ask me, renting a car is the best way to cover the distance. The highway is well-paved, wide, and maintained properly.
On your drive, you can even make a pit stop and check out the beautiful Playa Del Carmen (another beach town worth visiting).
The biggest plus of renting a car is that you can get around Tulum without the stress of haggling with local taxi drivers.
Sometimes, the traffic in Tulum can get really bad, and places can feel overcrowded. So, having a car at hand can help you escape the crowd and take day trips like going cenote hopping, swimming with turtles in Xcacel or Akumal, or exploring the Coba ruins.
You will find rental car options starting from 430 MXN ($25) per day, including insurance. This price will vary depending on the type and size of the car you hire.
Best Ways to Go From the Cancun Beach Hotel Zone to Tulum
If you’re staying in Zona Hotelera of Cancun, the transport options to travel to Tulum are limited. There are no ADO buses that’ll take you there. If you want, you can take a taxi to Cancun Downtown or Airport and then catch an ADO bus to Tulum. But there are better options available.
Private Transfer from Hotel Zone
Private transfers have to be the quickest, most comfortable, and convenient way to get from Cancun Zona Hotelera to Tulum.
You can make advance reservations while you’re at the airport or ask your hotel for assistance. It takes 2 hours to cover this distance and costs around $100 one way or $175 if you book a round trip.
Rent a Car
Another great option is renting a self-drive car. You can rent a car from Cancun Airport and easily drive to Tulum.
You also have the option of renting a car in the Cancun Hotel Zone as there are several international car hire brands available over there, like Hertz and America Car Rental. It is a 2-hour drive to Tulum and will cost around $25 per day, including the insurance.
From Downtown Cancun to Tulum: Best Possible Ways to Go
There are way more options to get to Tulum from Cancun Downtown. You can pick from frequent ADO buses, collectivos (public transport), and many more rental agencies as compared to Cancun’s beach zone.
If you’re hailing public transport remember that it will drop you off at the ADO bus terminal in Tulum Pueblo(El Centro). From there, you’ll have to hire a taxi to cover the last mile. A private transfer or car rental, on the other hand, will take you to your final destination.
You can pick the transport option that suits you best in terms of travel time, price, and availability.
How to Arrange The Transportation to Visit Tulum from Cancun
After arriving at an airport, nobody likes the hassle of figuring out your mode of transport for the last mile. It’s better to make bookings in advance or at least know which counter you must head to the moment you land. Here’s a quick rundown of all your options for traveling from Cancun Airport to Tulum.
ADO Bus from Cancun to Tulum
- Availability: 10:55 am, 12:25 pm, 2:25 pm, 4:55 pm, 8:00 pm, and 9:45 pm. If none of these times work you can take one of the frequent buses (every half hour) to Playa del Carmen. There, you can switch to a connecting bus from Playa del Carmen to Tulum.
- Travel Duration: It takes two hours to reach the Tulum bus terminal. Plus, any additional time it will take you to reach your hotel from there.
- Cost: ~ 310 MXN ($18) per person
- Where to buy the tickets: You can make bookings on the ADO website, but sometimes, payment may not go through if you’re using an international credit card. You can use alternative sites like Bookaway as well. You can try booking it from the ADO ticket counter at Cancun Airport, but be prepared to wait in line. There is also an ADO kiosk right next to the buses if you’re in a hurry and want to skip waiting in the queue.
Rental Car from Cancun to Tulum
- Availability: Regardless of when you arrive at Cancun Airport, you can pick up a car at any time of day.
- Travel Duration: This would be a comfortable 90-minute drive. But consider adding an additional 30 minutes it will take to get the car. During this time, you’ll collect the keys, fill out a few forms, and inspect the car.
- Cost: The car rental price starts at 430 MXN ($25) per day, including insurance. But it’s totally up to you, depending on which car model you pick.
- Where to book: You can use rental websites like Discover Cars. This way, you can choose a car in advance and avoid having to pick from the limited options available at the airport at the last moment.
Taxi to Tulum from Cancun
- Availability: Throughout the day.
- Travel Duration: It’s a 90-minute drive from Cancun. But consider accounting for an additional 30 minutes to find a taxi driver, haggle with them, and try to arrive at a reasonable price (you can only try).
- Cost: You may have to pay anything ranging from 1800-3000 MXN ($105-175). But they will quote much higher prices, so remember to haggle and bring down the price.
- Where to find: You will see plenty of taxi drivers the moment you exit the arrival gate at the airport.
Public Transportation from Cancun to Tulum
- Availability: These buses run at a frequency of every 30 minutes.
- Travel Duration: Public buses take around 4 hours as you’ll have to transfer to connecting buses, and these buses also make multiple stops along the way.
- Cost per person: They’re only a couple of bucks cheaper than ADO buses.
- Where to buy the tickets: You can make bookings on the spot when you arrive at the airport.
Now when you land at the Cancun airport for your Tulum vacation, you will know how to cover this distance of 73 miles. You can plan in advance and make online bookings or head towards the counters and book your preferred mode of transport.
All options are comfortable and convenient but with different price ranges. For solo or budget travelers, I’d recommend making this journey with ADO buses or local collectivos.
For larger groups, private transfers are the most economical and fun way to travel. You can also hire self-drive cars or book a local taxi if it suits you. I hope you have a lovely time at this vibrant seascape.
What is the cheapest way to get from Cancun to Tulum?
Collectivos (public transport minibusses) are the quickest way to get from Cancun to Tulum. But they can be inconvenient and only a couple of bucks cheaper than ADO buses. It’ll cost you 310 MXN ($18) per person.
How much is a taxi from Cancun to Tulum?
Since taxis in Tulum do not run on a meter, the drivers can ask for unreasonably high prices from tourists. A somewhat reasonable rate you can agree on ranges from 1800-3000 MXN ($105-175), but to reach this rate, you will have to haggle with the drivers.
Can you do a day trip to Tulum from Cancun?
Traveling from Cancun to Tulum can take around 90 minutes and 4 hours, depending on your mode of transportation. Remember that you’ll have to spend the same amount of time returning to Cancun. Given how stunning the place is, I don’t think you’ll be able to cover all the places in one day.
Is it safe to take the ADO bus if I’m traveling solo?
Yes, ADO buses run all across Mexico and are considered safe to travel in. A lot of people (locals and tourists alike) rely on the ADO system to go back and forth. If you take their bus from Cancun to Tulum you’ll be surrounded by a lot of travellers and visitors just like yourself.