Tulum Ruins, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

How to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum

How to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum was originally published in September 2022

Not sure how to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum to begin your Mexican vacation? You’re in the right place! In this quick guide, I’ll cover everything about Cancun-Tulum transportation options from the cheapest option to the most convenient way of getting from Cancun to Tulum. 

Tulum is one of Mexico’s top destinations at the moment and despite it being a place I didn’t really like (don’t let that detour you if you want to visit), I figured I’d take the time to share all the options I compared when I was planning my trip to Tulum and was trying to figure out how to get there from the Cancun Airport. 

Personally, I opted to take the ADO bus from Cancun to Tulum to save some pesos, but you’ll also find information on rental cars, shuttles, taxis, and private transfers. 

The Closest Airport to Tulum: Cancun

First things first, you need to get to Mexico first right? Well, the closest major airport to Tulum is Cancun International Airport which also serves other popular major destinations such as Cancun of course, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Puerto Morales, and more. 

Cancun Airport is situated about 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Tulum. You should plan for your travel time from the airport to Tulum to take about 90 minutes to cover this distance. 

From Cancun to Tulum on the Cheap: ADO Bus

ADO bus is the public bus and is the cheapest way to reach Tulum from the Cancun Airport. I know what you’re thinking too- public bus? Not to worry, it’s actually quite nice.

The ADO buses are air-conditioned, have reclining seats, USB chargers, luggage storage underneath, and even movies on play. This was the way I opted to get from Cancun Aiport to Tulum (I’m cheap 💸😂) and I have zero complaints. 

The bus is quite convenient for getting to Tulum and other destinations in the Yucatán Peninsula as they offer numerous departures throughout the day.

How to Book the ADO bus

You can either book ADO bus tickets in advance online or you can purchase them on arrival from one of the ADO kiosks after your exit immigration and customs at Cancun Airport. 

On my most recent trip, we found an ADO kiosk in Terminal 2 in the hall where all the rental car windows are just after customs where we could purchase tickets to Tulum for $340 MXN per seat for the 90 minute ride. From there, you take a right once you go outside and continue walking, eventually needing to go past a gate and voilé, found our bus. If you are at all confused on your way to the bus from your terminal just say ADO to people working at the airport and people will point you in the direction of where to go. 

Note that there are also ADO buses from Terminal 3 and Terminal 4 to Tulum. The last bus to Tulum from Cancun Airport departs at 20:20, so if you arrive too late, another option is to grab a bus from the airport to Playa del Carmen and from there another to Tulum as there are Playa del Carmen-Tulum departures about every 30 minutes. 

Once you arrive in Tulum, the bus will terminate at the ADO bus station in Tulum Centro. From here you can either walk to your accommodation if it’s close by or grab a taxi- though fair warning, taxis in Tulum are insanely expensive, so plan to pay $200 MXN for a ride to the hotel zone closer to the beach and $300-400 MXN if your hotel is right on the beach. But even though the taxi will cost nearly as much as your bus ticket, the ADO bus is still the cheapest option for getting to Tulum. 

Cost: $340 MXN
Travel time: 90 minutes

Do it Yourself: Renting a Car from Cancun Airport

Planning to road trip to Tulum and the Yucatán Peninsula? Then a rental car will be in order. Luckily, there are a plethora of rental car options at Cancun Airport making it an easy option for more independent travelers. 

Visiting Tulum with a rental car is a great option, especially if you want to do lots of day trips from Tulum as many of the best sites are located outside the city (Personally, I hated Tulum, so I would recommend spending as much time outside of it as possible if you insist on staying there).

It would be wise to book your rental car in advance of your arrival to save yourself some hassles on arrival at Cancun Airport. There are a lot of tourist scams operating regarding rental cars at the Cancun Airport so it’s better to have your ducks in a row before you get there to avoid falling into one of these rental car traps. 

One of the most common scams with rental cars in Mexico, in general, is that agencies will swear up and down that you must buy their expensive car insurance on offer. This is entirely not true! 

Most likely you have booked your rental car using a credit card, most all credit cards offer rental car coverage on them (though do check to see what your card covers). If you purchase insurance from the rental company this will avoid the protections of the insurance your credit card has anyways (and trust me the credit cards have good coverage- mine covered a dispute over an already existing ding that the rental company in Puerto Rico accused me of, even though I tried to get the guy to note it before we drove off the lot in the car and another friend totaled a car in Tuscany and her Alaska Airlines credit card covered it 100%).

Another thing to think about if you are renting a car is that if you have purchased a travel insurance policy, many will cover rental cars, so check into your travel insurance policy too.

Another thing to note about renting a car from Cancun Airport to get to Tulum is that Tulum doesn’t have much in way of parking options so it can be a bit of a pain in the ass at times, though the freedom of having your own wheels outweighs the difficulty in my opinion. 

Many hotels in Tulum also charge a fee of $15-25 USD to use their parking lots, so do check what fees you may face getting a rental car for your visit to Tulum. 

Sold on getting a rental car? Well then, go ahead and start checking Cancun Airport rental car prices at Rentalcars.com which is my preferred rental car company. 

Cost: Varies
Travel time: 90 minutes

A bit more Convenience: Arrange for a Shared Transfer from Cancun to Tulum

A slightly more expensive but more convenient option is to book a shared transfer from Cancun Airport to Tulum. Transfers range per person from $37 USD for those being dropped at accommodations in Tulum Centro (town) to $40 USD for those going to the Tulum Hotel Zone. 

Taking a Cancun Airport-Tulum shuttle will only set you back a little more money than taking the ADO bus from Cancun to Tulum and then a taxi from Tulum Centro to your hotel, but you won’t have to deal with the hassle. A bilingual staff member will be waiting for you at the Cancun Airport when you arrive.

The only downside is that there will be other travelers who arrive around the same time as you taking the shuttle, so you’ll have to make multiple stops to drop off other passengers on the way (unless you’re lucky and you’re the first hotel they stop for!). Also, if there are more than two of you cost-wise it makes more sense to just book a private transfer since the shuttle is based on a per-seat price. So crunch some numbers and decide. 

Book your Cancun Airport-Tulum shuttle here.

Cost: $37-40 USD
Travel time: 90 minutes+

Splurge: Take a Private Transfer or Taxi to Tulum from Cancun

If you want a hassle-free arrival to Tulum from Cancun Airport then the way to go is to book a private transfer from Cancun Airport to Tulum. Of course, this is the most expensive option, but it can be well worth the added expense. Also, if you are traveling with a group of 3 or more passengers, this may be more cost-effective than the shared shuttle.

Do note that you do have some options for setting up a private transfer. The easiest would be to pre-book a Cancun-Tulum transfer where you will have a bilingual staff member waiting for you at your terminal of arrival at the Cancun Airport and you’ll have the option to choose whether to have a simple van or luxury transport. Otherwise, you’ll need to find a taxi once you arrive at the Cancun Airport and will need to negotiate a price (which can be a headache!). 

Prices for transfers are 

  • Starts at $110 USD for a simple van that holds up to 12 passengers
  • Starts at $160 for a larger van that holds up to 16 passengers
  • Starts at $199 for a luxury SUV that holds up to 6 passengers
  • Starts at $255 for a handicap accessible van that hold 6 passengers
  • Starts at $449 for a limo holding up to 14 passengers

Shop and book your Cancun Airport- Tulum private transfer

Cost: $110 USD+
Travel time: 90 minutes

Already in Cancun? How to get from Downtown Cancun to Tulum

Downtown Cancun-Tulum by ADO Bus

Again, the ADO bus is a great option even if you’ll be going from downtown Cancun to Tulum as there are many departures throughout the day. You can purchase your ADO tickets in advance online as mentioned in previous sections or directly at the bus station on Calle Pino, SM23, MZ56. Fares will range between $195-218 MXN depending on the time of day you select.

Book your downtown Cancun-Tulum ADO bus ticket.

Cost: $195-218 MXN
Travel time: 90 minutes

Downtown Cancun-Tulum by Colectivo

Colectivos are shared minibusses you’ll find throughout Mexico and Central/South America. There is a colectivo that goes directly from downtown Cancun to Tulum, though depending on your timing you’ll have to take one to Playa del Carmen and then take another to Cancun. 

Colectivos from downtown Cancun depart just across the street from the ADO bus station on Calle Pino, SM23, MZ56, situated on a roundabout.  

Fares for the direct Cancun-Tulum colectivo should be around $130 MXN. If having to route through Playa del Carmen you’ll pay about $90 MXN between the two colectivos to reach Tulum. Most colectivos depart beyween 8:00-20:00 daily. 

It’s worth mentioning that you will sacrifice some comfort for the cheaper cost if opting for the colectivo over the ADO bus. 

Cost: $90-130 MXN
Travel time: 90 minutes

How to get from Tulum to the Cancun Airport 

Getting back to Cancun Airport from Tulum is simple, you can use any of the services mentioned above to get back to Cancun. 

Where to Stay in Tulum

Tulum hotel, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

There is an array of accommodation options in Tulum to fit almost any budget from backpackers to high-end luxury travelers. 

For backpackers and the budget-conscious, the Shambalam Hostel comes recommended. If you’re more in the midrange and looking for a little privacy try the Hotel El Capitán Tulum which has received rave reviews. If you have a bigger budget and want to stay somewhere luxurious and right on the beach check out the La Valise Tulum, the Hotel Ma’Xanab Tulum, or the La Diosa Tulum Resort.

Have any questions about how to get from Cancun Aiport to Tulum?

Ask in the comments section below.

Need Travel Insurance for Mexico?

Start shopping plans over at battleface, my go-to travel insurance choice, or over at World Nomads.

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