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How to Get From Cancun to Playa Del Carmen

Susan Laurent
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by Susan Laurent

Did you know that Playa del Carmen doesn’t have its own airport with direct international flights? Yes, the nearest airport to reach this beautiful destination is the Cancun International Airport. From there, you can either reserve a private vehicle (our recommended option), share a shuttle, take a bus, rent a car, or use a taxi.

Our Recommended Cancun to Playa Del Carmen Transport Options:

Book a Private Ride from Cancun Airport: -> Cancun Airport Transport Service <-
Rent a Car to Drive Yourself Around: -> Discover Cars <-

How Far is Playa Del Carmen from Cancun?

The distance between Cancun International Airport and Playa del Carmen is roughly 34 miles (54.7 kilometers). This translates to traveling 45 minutes by car.

If you are traveling from downtown Cancun to Playa del Carmen, the distance is approximately 40 miles (about 64 kilometers), and the travel time may last up to 1 hour.

Whichever your starting location is, you’ll travel through the stunning seaside highway, Federal Highway 307. The route is pleasant and straightforward, and the highway is well-maintained. Here’s a map showing the route from Cancun to Playa del Carmen.

Arriving at Cancun International Airport: What to Expect?

When travellers land at Cancun Airport and want to get to Playa del Carmen, they should search for the official transportation counters located on the airport grounds. 

These offices are run by licensed transportation companies, and they are the safest place to make arrangements and book transport. Always schedule transportation with these official providers, either online or at the airport — this is very important to remember to avoid getting scammed.

Cancun International Airport

Scam artists are widespread at airports, and some may pose as representatives of reputable transport providers. Simply stroll past these people to look for signs of your preferred airport transportation.

Legitimate transportation services will have their counters, official billboards, logos, and uniforms. If someone says they’re your ride, ask to see proof of your reservation. Legitimate drivers should have a confirmation of your booking if you are their customer.

How to Get From Cancun to Playa Del Carmen

Transportation OptionBest CompanyPriceDuration Time
Private vehicleCancun Airport TransportationFrom $85 one way45 minutes to 1 hour
Shared vehicleCancun Shuttles$29 one way1.5 to 2 hours
BusADO Bus$14 one way1.5 to 2 hours
Rent-a-carDiscoverCarsFrom $20 per day45 minutes to 1 hour
TaxiCancun Airport TaxiFrom $4545 minutes to 1 hour

1. Hire a Private Vehicle from Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen

After a long flight, you will definitely want to get to your Playa del Carmen resort as fast as possible. The most hassle-free way to do that is by booking private transportation!

The best option for private vehicles is Cancun Airport Transportation and you can choose from regular vans, premium or luxury SUVs, group shuttles, handicapped-accessible vehicles, and limousines.

To book a ride, you need to visit their website, specify your go-to destination, arrival time, and the number of passengers (there’s a ride option for up to 16 passengers). You can also request refreshments when making your online reservation so that the drivers can get them for you if you’re thirsty after your flight.

The regular van would be your most economical option for a private ride, starting at $85 for a one-way ticket, while the limo is the most expensive, starting at $349.

Traveling from Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen should take no longer than 1 hour. When the traffic is at its lowest, you may arrive at your resort in as quick as 45 minutes. Still, everything depends on the specific day of your arrival and how busy the highway gets.

We like this option the most because there’s nothing better than the feeling of safety and comfort it provides after a flight. Air travel can be tiring, especially on longer journeys. Yes, private rides may be more expensive than a shared shuttle or bus, but this transportation option is exclusively for you and your travel group. Plus, you’ll arrive much faster in Playa del Carmen because the driver won’t have to wait for other passengers or drop them off at their desired destinations.

2. Hire a Shared Shuttle

If you want a more budget-friendly option to get from the airport to your hotel in Playa del Carmen, consider taking a shared shuttle.

These shared shuttles are the same as the private vans and SUVs, however, instead of having the ride all for yourself, you share it with multiple passengers (up to 16 passengers per shuttle).

Cancun Shuttles is our top pick for a shared shuttle. You can pre-book your reservation for this service online on their website, you just need to specify your arrival at Cancun International Airport and where you wish to be dropped off.

Your meeting point with Cancun Shuttles will depend on your arrival terminal, also known as the gate or section of the airport where arriving passengers depart. Cancun Shuttles usually provides this information on the confirmation letter once you order your ticket. If not, contact their Customer Care service.

For a one-way trip, Cancun Shuttles will charge you around $29 USD and you’ll travel for around 1.5 hours, depending on how many passengers need to be dropped off along the way.

We like shared shuttles for a couple of reasons. First, a shared shuttle works the same way as a private vehicle — you’ll have a ride waiting for you at the airport that will drop you off wherever you desire. Second, it’s way cheaper. Third, this is a great option for solo travelers who want to be dropped off directly in front of their hotel but don’t want to splurge on a private ride just for themselves.

But remember, if you’re traveling with two or three companions, booking a private ride for $85 can be cheaper and more time-efficient than paying $29 per person on a shared shuttle.

3. Bus Ride From Cancun to Playa Del Carmen

Many tourists don’t want to spend extra money for a super comfortable and door-to-door ride to their hotel. So, they choose to take the bus!

If that budget-conscious traveler is you, then we have a top-notch recommendation for you: ADO Buses, Mexico’s largest and most reputable bus company.

 ADO Buses

What we love about this company is that they have daily airport departures every 30 minutes, from 8:00 AM up until 11:30 PM. This means that whenever you arrive at Cancun airport, you’ll know that you won’t be waiting for more than 30 minutes for an ADO bus to arrive.

A one-way bus ride takes about 1.5 to 2 hours and costs less than $15. The simplest method is to purchase your ADO tickets at the red ADO kiosks located just after baggage claim, or at the ADO stands located outside, directly in front of the departure buses. It’s a good idea to have some pesos or dollars on hand in case the credit card terminals aren’t working.

You can also book the ticket online on the provider’s website, however, keep in mind that you’ll need to go through Customs and Immigration and wait for your luggage, which can cause delays and possibly make you miss your scheduled bus ride.

The ADO bus will drop you off at the Playa del Carmen Turistica Station, from which you can take a taxi, local bus, or walk if your hotel is close by.

If you choose this transport option, don’t worry, you won’t have to sacrifice comfort — ADO buses are famed for their spacious seating and air-conditioned and clean interiors equipped with restrooms and TVs.

4. Rent a Car from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen

If you are looking for the freedom to go on road trips and explore different areas throughout Riviera Maya, then renting a car might be the ideal option for you.

Renting a car from the Cancun airport couldn’t be easier. There’s a rental center right at the airport with international and local rental companies all in one place. You can also plan ahead and book your car rental online.

Rented Car

If you prefer to pre-book online, we recommend DiscoverCars. This is where you’ll find all the major rental companies listed in one place, so it’s easy to compare services and prices.

The prices are the same as renting from the official websites of the rental agencies, with the lowest cost to rent a car being $20 per day. DiscoverCars just gives you one advantage: they offer regular discounts, so you can get some cars for cheaper than what you’d pay booking directly from a rental company.

The most recognized car rental companies in Cancun that you can find on both DiscoverCars and at the airport are Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Economy Rent a Car, Enterprise, Europcar, Firefly, Flexways, GreenMotion, Hertz, Keddy, Mex Rent-a-Car, NU Car Rentals, National, Routes Car Rental, Sixt, and Thrifty.

Whether you rent directly from the airport, through the rental company’s official website, or via DiscoverCars is up to you. DiscoverCars is handy because it lists all the options in one place and you may grab a discount.

Just make sure you comply with all the requirements for renting a car, such as having a valid driver’s license, being of age, possessing a credit card with sufficient funds on it, and Mexican car insurance. We have a whole article on how to rent a car in Cancun, so make sure to check it out!

5. Hire a Taxi


We recommend taxis as your last resort for arriving in Playa del Carmen because they are the least convenient option. Here’s why.

Cancun airport is overflown by unlicensed taxi drivers who wait by the arrival gates and offer rides to tourists. If they are successful in luring a passenger to join them, they wind up charging $100 USD or more to take them to Playa del Carmen.

On the other hand, if you call a reputable taxi service like Uber, the taxi driver will be unable to access the airport because standard city cabs aren’t permitted to enter the airport grounds. This implies that if you call one, you must leave the airport, and we mean actually leave the airport, to the main highway, which is around two kilometers away.

Cancun International Airport has its own personal taxis — these are the ones you should look for. The taxi drivers wear a uniform and possess an official Cancun Airport ID badge. On the cars, you should look for a badge permit placed somewhere around the windshields. If you can’t detect these signs of legitimacy, don’t enter the car for your own safety.

Cancun International Airport allows online or on-spot taxi reservations. We recommend reserving your taxi ride online because the fees are significantly lower than taking a random taxi that you haven’t pre-arranged. To put things into perspective, a pre-booked taxi ride to Playa del Carmen will cost you roughly $45, whereas hopping into an on-spot cab will cost you $75.

When you make an online reservation, you will receive an e-mail confirmation letter with additional pick-up instructions. You’ll need your pick-up instructions to ensure you’re in the proper vehicle with your designated driver. Always keep this confirmation accessible because it contains contact information that can come in handy in case of misunderstanding.

Traveling From the City of Cancun to Playa Del Carmen

Are you intending to spend a few days in Cancun before heading to Playa del Carmen? Excellent, here are your transit options:

Take an ADO bus: They pick up at the Cancun ADO bus station and depart every 30 minutes. You can buy a ticket online or at the station.

Take an Uber: You can order an Uber online through their website to come pick you up from the location you desire. Expect to pay around $70 to Playa del Carmen, depending on your pick-up location.

Take a private ride: If you are traveling in a group, you can request a private vehicle exactly as you would at Cancun Airport. We recommend Kalido, a reputable, high-rated company with great-looking SUVs.

Public transportation via “Playa Express” and/or “Colectivo”: Both companies function in the same manner as ADO buses; however, these are vans rather than buses. Their pick-up point is near Cancun’s ADO Station, and the final route is frequently written on the windshield — here’s a map view of Playa Express and Colectivo. These rides should cost no more than $2.5.


If you enjoy driving on your own and don’t mind spending a bit more for comfort, book a private vehicle from Cancun airport — our top pick!

Our second recommendation is the shared shuttle — this is an excellent option if you want to save some money and don’t mind riding with someone else.

Are you a budget-conscious traveler? Then the bus is a great option for you, but keep in mind that a bus ride takes longer.

Renting a car is also a great option to consider, but only if you book from a reliable car rental company like DiscoverCars. Plus, you can rent it for your whole vacation and have a dedicated vehicle for your road trips.

As for taxis, let’s be honest, they aren’t the most reliable option and might try to overcharge you, so be cautious. Keep this as your last resort.

So, there you have it — pick your ride and let your Playa Del Carmen adventure begin!

About Susan Laurent
Susan Laurent
I'm passionate about world cultures, travel, and discovering amazing new places. I've spent years traveling the globe, very often alone, so I focus on providing important information about travel safety to travelers that I've gathered from first-hand experience.
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