Cancun to Tulum | Tulum to Cancun (Transport Guide)

Tulum is a trendy town in the state of Quintana Roo. Once a rustic, backpacker town on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, today, the town is popular with budget through to high-end travellers. But, with no airport of its own, visitors need to make the 120 km journey south from Cancun to Tulum.

With no train network in the Yucatan peninsula, transport options to Tulum are limited to those on the road. Buses, colectivos, private transfers, taxis, shared shuttles and rental cars provide a wealth of options to suit all budgets, group sizes and travel preferences.

Perhaps, some might say, an overwhelming amount of options. Luckily, this complete guide shares all the transport options – including for who and when each is most suitable – so you’ll be able to make the best choice for you!

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a qualifying purchase.

Overview
Distance | Safety | Day Trips
Bus from Cancun to Tulum
Departing: Cancun Airport | Downtown Cancun | Cancun Hotel Zone
Tulum to Cancun Bus
Cancun-Tulum Colectivo

Departing: Cancun Airport | Downtown Cancun | Cancun Hotel Zone
Tulum-Cancun Colectivo
Private Transfers or Shuttles
Taxis
Car Rental

How to get to Tulum

Getting to Tulum is easy and affordable, with transport options to suit everyone. For those on a budget, colectivos and public buses are the best options. And, for those wanting to prioritise convenience, shuttles, taxis and tours offer great value for money.

How far is Tulum from Cancun?

Measuring between the centres of each, the distance is a little over 130 km (80 miles). Cancun Airport is closer but is still 120 km from Tulum (75 miles).

Is it safe to travel from Cancun to Tulum?

Yes, the route follows the main highway that’s well-maintained. All forms of transport, including buses, colectivos, rental cars and private hire vehicles are safe to use for this journey.

Can you take a day trip from Cancun to Tulum?

Absolutely! The journey between the two places takes approximately 2 hours each way. So, this is completely feasible for a one-day trip.

If you aren’t hiring a car or taxi driver for the day, consider some of these highly-rated tours. Experience the best of Tulum including cenotes, Mayan ruins and beautiful beaches…

How to Get from Cancun to Tulum by Bus

IN SHORT:
Cancun Airport to Tulum bus: 365 pesos, 3 hours
Downtown Cancun to Tulum bus: 230 pesos, 3 hours
Book online through the ADO website or app!

If you’re staying in Mexico for an extended time, you’re about to meet your new best friend. Introducing, ADO buses. This is the bus company that will take you pretty much everywhere for competitive prices and with comfortable, spacious seats.

Unfortunately, the ADO website is terrible! It has a lot of bugs, particularly if you have Chrome translating the page. Nevertheless, you can buy tickets and check bus times on the website or through their slightly more user-friendly app. Just try deep breaths and refreshing the page when it doesn’t work the first time!

Bus From Cancun Airport to Tulum

ADO buses run direct from all terminals of Cancun International Airport direct to Tulum Bus Station throughout the day. The cost is 365 Mexican Pesos one-way and this doesn’t change if you book on the day or in advance.

Therefore, I’d recommend just buying a ticket when you’re safely through security and baggage reclaim. Look out for the clearly marked ADO booths in arrivals or on the bus stands. The buses are bright red, spacious and have plenty of room for luggage.

10 buses run from Cancun Airport to Tulum direct per day. The current (January 2023) schedule is:

Departs Terminal 3Departs Terminal 4Departs Terminal 2Arrives in Tulum
10.1010.2010.3013.15
11.4011.5012.0014.45
13.0013.1013.2016.05
14.2014.3014.4017.25
15.40*15.50*16.00*18.45
17.0017.1017.2020.05
18.2018.3018.4021.25
19.4519.5520.0522.50
21.0521.1521.2500.10
*Two departures at this time, both arrive in Tulum at the same time

If these times don’t work for you, another option is to take the ADO bus to Playa del Carmen (230 pesos) and change there for services to Tulum.

Buses leave Cancun Airport for the 90-minute journey to Playa del Carmen throughout the day. The first departure is at 07.50 am and the last at 02.40 am. These are Terminal 3 departure times – add 10 minutes for Terminal 4 and 20 minutes for Terminal 2.

At the Playa del Carmen bus station, change for another ADO bus to Tulum (114 pesos). The last bus from Playa del Carmen (5th Avenue bus station) to Tulum is at 23.00 pm.

Additionally, a couple more departures leave from the alternative bus station located halfway between the beach and the highway. These buses leave at 00.30 am and 00.50 am, taking 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Arriving Late into Cancun Airport?

If you arrive after the last bus to Tulum leaves, then you may want to consider one of the other transport options below. Alternatively, you could stay in Cancun or at Cancun Airport for the night and then head to Tulum in the morning.

> > > RELATED POST: Just looking to travel between Cancun and Playa del Carmen? Then this complete transport guide to travelling between the two towns is for you!

From Central Cancun

Getting from Downtown Cancun is pretty simple with ADO. It’s just one bus from Cancun to Tulum (ADO Bus Terminal to ADO Bus Terminal), with a journey time of around 2.5 to 3 hours. Buses currently run, with varying frequencies, between 06.10 am and 23.00 pm.

How much is the ADO bus from Cancun to Tulum?

The cost of a one-way Cancun to Tulum bus ticket is 230 pesos.

Although, there are some slightly cheaper tickets available with ADO’s partner lines, which operate a second-class service (eg. AU for 206 pesos). These services have slightly less legroom and fewer amenities such as a toilet or TVs on board.

While routes to and from the airport aren’t eligible for promotional fares, buses operating out of Downtown Cancun are. Book in advance on the ADO website or app to save up to 50%. Also, keep an eye out on the home page for limited-time promo codes.

From Cancun Hotel Zone to Tulum

If you’re in the hotel zone, you’ll first need to take the local R1 bus from the hotel zone. Bus stops are located along the main road and you need to make sure you’re on the northbound side of the road.

Tickets cost 12 pesos per person, simply pay the driver when you get on. Cash only, try to have the right change as they’re unlikely to have change for large notes.

Get off at the roundabout on Avenida Tulum, opposite the ADO Bus Station. If you go past the McDonald’s, you’ve gone too far – get off ASAP and walk back to the bus station. From here, you can follow the directions in the section above to Tulum with just one bus.

You can also get a taxi from the hotel zone to Cancun’s ADO Bus Station. However, this is a more expensive option. Expect to pay around 200 to 250 pesos from the northern end of the hotel zone and even more the further south you are.

Onwards to Tulum’s Hotel Zone and Beachfront Area

Buses running from Cancun and Cancun Airport all take you to Tulum Bus Station, which is located in Tulum town. If you are staying in Tulum’s beachfront Hotel Zone, you’ll need to take a taxi to your accommodation. There isn’t Uber, so you’ll need to find a taxi – which, should be easy as they’ll wait outside the bus station.

I cannot stress this enough, but, you NEED to agree on a price with the taxi driver before you get in. If you don’t, they’ll massively overcharge you when you get to your hotel and you won’t be able to say or do anything, as they’ve already driven you. If your Spanish skills are lacking, write the number you want to pay on your phone and show it to the taxi driver.

Expect to pay between 200 and 250 pesos for a taxi from Tulum to the hotel zone or beach area.

>> Looking for ideas of what to do in Tulum? Check out these popular and highly reviewed tours… <<

Large letters spelling out Cancun displayed in the downtown area, near where you get the colectivo to Tulum

Tulum to Cancun Bus

IN SHORT:
Tulum to Cancun Airport bus: 365 pesos, 2 hours
Tulum to Cancun bus: 230 pesos, 2 hours
To reach the hotel zone, take the local R1 bus for 12 pesos

Going from Tulum to Cancun by bus is largely the same as the route in reverse. You’ll first need to get to the ADO Bus Station in Tulum Town, where all the buses leave from. This will mean a taxi if you’re staying in Tulum’s Hotel Zone or the beachfront area.

Tulum to Cancun Airport by Bus

There are 8 services a day running directly from Tulum to Cancun Airport. The cost is 365 pesos per person and the buses stop at all terminals.

As of January 2023, this is the bus schedule from Tulum to Cancun Airport:

Departs TulumArrives Terminal 4Arrives Terminal 2Arrives Terminal 3
07.2009.0509.1509.25
08.0009.4509.5510.05
09.00*10.4510.5511.05
10.0011.4511.5512.05
11.0012.4512.5513.05
11.5513.4013.5014.00
15.1517.0017.1017.20
16.1518.0018.1018.20
*Two departures at this time, one of which arrives 45 minutes later to Cancun International Airport

If these times don’t work for you, one option is to go to Playa del Carmen. From there, you can take a bus to Cancun Airport (230 to 230 pesos).

The first bus leaves Playa del Carmen at 03.00 am, then once an hour until 06.00 am. After which, the buses are approximately every 30 to 45 until the last bus at 22.50 pm – arriving at the airport (Terminal 2) at 23.50 pm. Add 10 minutes to the arrival time for Terminal 3 and minus 10 minutes for Terminal 4.

Tulum to Cancun Centro & Hotel Zone by Bus

Sixteen ADO services a day run north from Tulum to Cancun. The journey time is around 2 to 2.5 hours and tickets cost 230 pesos, per person one way. The earliest Tulum to Cancun bus leaves at 10.20 am with the last leaving at 22.20 pm.

Cancun Bus Station is in the heart of the Centro district, within walking distance of most hotels in downtown Cancun. If you need to get to the Hotel Zone in Cancun, you need to take the R1 bus (costing 12 pesos) from Avenida Tulum in front of Cancun Bus Station.

Taxis to the hotel zone from Downtown Cancun will cost around 200+ pesos, depending on how far along the strip you need to get to.

Tulum ruins overlooking the Caribbean Sea
Image provided by and used with permission of A World To Travel.

Getting from Cancun to Tulum by Colectivo

IN SHORT:
No direct colectivos between Cancun Airport or Downtown Cancun and Tulum, instead…
Cancun to Playa del Carmen: 45 pesos
Playa del Carmen to Tulum: 50 pesos
Not recommended for travel from the airport.

Colectivos are a popular and cheap form of transport in Mexico. These minibuses operate on set routes but generally don’t leave until the bus is full or almost full. As such, they don’t have a set schedule.

Colectivos, which are generally white, often have the destination written on the front or side windows. If not, you’ll just need to ask the driver. Saying where you want to go as a question will generally suffice.

Colectivo From Cancun Airport to tulum

No colectivos operate to or from Cancun International Airport. Rather, you have two options. Although, there is a caveat at the end!

The first – and the true backpacker style – is to walk from the airport to the roadside of Highway 307. Here, you’ll need to flag down a passing colectivo. Those that don’t stop likely don’t have any spare seats.

You’ll need to first go to Playa del Carmen (45 pesos) where you should be dropped off under the highway. Then, you’ll need to get a second colectivo to Tulum (50 pesos).

In Playa del Carmen, colectivos to Tulum leave from under Highway 307 by the McDonald’s (marked as ‘Combis Tulum’ on Google Maps). Likely just a minute or so walk from where the colectivo from Cancun drops off.

The second option is to take the ADO bus from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen (230 pesos) and then walk to the colectivo base on Highway 307. Take a colectivo from Playa del Carmen to Tulum for 50 pesos.

The total cost of this bus plus colectivo route is 280 pesos, though. So, not much of a saving compared with getting the ADO bus straight to Tulum for 365 pesos.

Additionally, a colectivo is not a good option if you have luggage. These are minibuses, so the only space is inside. Which is unsurprisingly packed full of people. Sometimes, there are more people than seats.

If you’re just travelling with hand luggage or no luggage, then a colectivo is a great choice. If you have a large backpack or a suitcase of any size, then an ADO bus would be a much better option!

Downtown Cancun to Tulum Colectivo

As there aren’t any direct Cancun to Tulum colectivos, instead, you’ll need to change in Playa del Carmen.

Colectivos run from opposite Cancun Bus Station to Playa del Carmen, charging 45 pesos per person. Next, take a second colectivo to Tulum from under Highway 307 parallel to McDonald’s. This second part of the journey will cost 50 pesos.

Colectivo From Cancun’s Hotel Zone to Tulum

There aren’t any colectivos directly from the hotel zone to either Cancun Centro, Playa del Carmen or Tulum. First, take the local R1 bus from the hotel zone to downtown Cancun (12 pesos) – getting off near the main ADO bus station. Colectivos towards Tulum leave from opposite Cancun Bus Station.

From central Cancun, take a colectivo first to Playa del Carmen (45 pesos) and then a second colectivo onward to Tulum (50 pesos).

Onwards to Tulum’s Hotel Zone and Beachfront Area

The colectivos from Playa del Carmen may drive around Tulum town dropping people off, ending near the bus station. But, they won’t go as far as the beach or hotel zone. You’ll need to get a taxi the rest of the way if your hotel is in these areas.

There aren’t any Ubers, so flag down a taxi and negotiate a price before you get in. Look to pay in the region of 200 to 250 pesos.

Taking a Colectivo from Tulum to Cancun

IN SHORT:
No direct colectivos between Tulum and Cancun Airport or Downtown Cancun, instead…
Tulum to Playa del Carmen: 50 pesos
Playa del Carmen to Cancun: 45 pesos
Not recommended for travel to the airport.

Getting a colectivo to Cancun Centro from Tulum is simple. Take a colectivo from opposite the ADO Bus Station in Tulum to Playa del Carmen, then take a second colectivo all the way to Cancun. The total journey will cost you less than 100 pesos.

And, to get to Cancun’s Hotel Zone, take the R1 local bus from Avenida Tulum once you arrive in Cancun for an additional 12 pesos.

However, taking a colectivo from Tulum to Cancun Airport is a far less ideal option, for several reasons. After taking a colectivo to Playa del Carmen, you need to take a second in the direction of Cancun – but you’ll need to be dropped off on the side of the highway, next to Cancun Airport.

The first issue is that you’ll be on the opposite side of the road to the airport. As such, you and your luggage will have to somehow cross a very busy road or take a long detour. Secondly, if for any reason your driver doesn’t stop or want to drop you off on the side of the main road, you could end up miles from the airport.

In this case, you’ll need another form of transportation (likely an expensive taxi) to get you to the airport. And, thirdly, colectivos are not luggage-friendly. If you have anything larger than hand luggage, you’ll struggle to fit it in the minibus and the driver may not allow you on.

The lagoon in Cancun hotel zone with a bright blue sky

Private Transfers or Shared Shuttles between Cancun Airport & Tulum

IN SHORT:
– Most hassle-free way of travelling between Cancun and Tulum
– Need to book in advance
– More cost-efficient for groups of 3+
– Shared shuttles also available

Pre-Booked Services

Private transfers and shared shuttles from Cancun to Tulum are available 24 hours a day. There are a variety of vehicles to suit groups of different sizes. Return services back to the airport and city from Tulum are also available.

Taking a Cancun to Tulum shuttle means you’ll get a door-to-door service between the arrivals terminal and your hotel. Shared shuttles may stop at other terminals and make additional drop-offs.

This is a more expensive option but is better suited to those arriving very early/late and those who want the convenience offered.

For a shared shuttle from Cancun to Tulum, prices vary by time of year and company. For groups of around 3 or more, it can be cheaper to get a private transfer as the typical cost is around 40 to 50 USD per person. A luggage allowance of 1 full-size bag and 1 personal item applies to shared shuttles.

Private transfers start at around 70 USD – but, these are the prices per vehicle, so become more economic for groups. For instance, a 10-person taxi costs around 100 USD, or just 10 USD each. A 10-person taxi won’t actually fit 10 people, 10 suitcases and 10 small bags though, so make a judgement call wisely.


Another option is to book private airport transfers and shared shuttles through the Cancun Airport transportation service. This is one of the top-reviewed services around with bilingual staff and comfortable vehicles.

Hotel-Run Services

If you are staying in a luxury resort in Tulum – likely in the Hotel Zone or on the beachfront – then, your hotel may run a private or shared transfer service. You’ll see all across the Riviera Maya that the fancy hotels have their own branded coaches and minibuses. Enquire with your hotel regarding whether they offer this service.

Getting a Taxi from Cancun to Tulum (or Vice Versa)

Taxis are readily available at Cancun’s airport, hotel zone and central district. These don’t need to be booked in advance, unlike the transfer and shuttle services.

Taxis from Cancun Airport or Cancun will cost in the region of 100 USD – or 2000 Mexican Pesos one-way. The maximum capacity of most taxis is the driver plus 4 passengers. But, the taxis are unlikely to have room for 4 passengers and 4 full-size pieces of luggage.

If you are a group of 4 or more people, I’d recommend booking a private transfer in a minivan.

Similarly, if you’re looking to take a taxi from Tulum to Cancun or the airport, you’ll find them waiting around the bus station or hotel zone. Of course, you can always ask your hotel or hostel to order one for you.

Renting a Car in Cancun or Tulum

The final option for transportation option between Cancun and Tulum is to rent a car and drive yourself. Various car rental companies operate in Cancun and at Cancun Airport. Including, big names such as Enterprise, Thrifty, Hertz and Europcar. And, while renting a car sounds simple enough, it can lead to more hassle than it’s worth.

Rental car companies often require large (several thousand) deposits and/or leaving your ID – such as a driving licence or passport. Plus, they have a reputation to charge customers for damage that was already there.

And, in Mexico, insurance requirements are particularly stringent. You’ll unlikely be able to use credit card insurance and will need to pay for their policy. All of this can make a cheap rental fee rocket to a price you didn’t expect.

As such, I’d only recommend hiring a car for the journey from the airport if you were planning on hiring one for some part of your trip anyway. It’s just not worth the hassle for one journey. Particularly, given the options above are cheaper and as easy. And, the fact you’d be paying a one-way fee for not returning the car to the same branch.

How long is the car ride from Tulum to Cancun?

From both Cancun Airport and its downtown area, the drive will take anywhere between 1.5 and 2.5 hours depending on traffic.

There’s 118 km between the airport and Tulum, pretty much all along one road – Highway 307. While the distance between Downtown Cancun and Tulum is slightly longer, at 131 km.


Do you have any questions or want any more information? If so, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

Information is correct as of December 2022 but is subject to change in future.


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