Playa del Carmen to Tulum: Transport Options & Travel Guide

Many people make the journey from Playa del Carmen to Tulum every day. And, it’s easy to see why.

Tulum continues to grow in popularity for its chilled vibe, Caribbean beaches and nearby natural attractions. Plus, this Riviera Maya town caters for everyone.

From high-end luxury hotels to cheap party hostels, street food stalls to fancy, fine-dining restaurants, Tulum has it all.

So, if you’re also needing to travel to Tulum, this ultimate guide to your transport options is exactly what you need.

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.

Playa del Carmen-Tulum
Bus
| Colectivo | Taxi | Tour
Playa del Carmen-Tulum Ruins
Bus
| Colectivo | Taxi | Tour

Looking along a palm-tree lined road in the centre of Tulum
Image provided by and used with permission of snorkelandhike.com

How to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum

ADO Bus from Playa to Tulum

Buses to and from Tulum run a couple of times an hour. From around 6.30 am to 10 pm. As well as 1 or 2 in the early hours between midnight and 2 am.

This route has a journey time of a little over 1 hour.

Schedules for the first-class ADO service can be checked online. And you can also book tickets online or at the bus station.

On the normal 44-seater ADO buses, tickets cost around 114 pesos.

These services will have room for luggage as well as air conditioning and a toilet on board.

Smaller 16-seat services also run this route, costing 55 pesos. But without much luggage room and no onboard facilities.

Another option is to take a second-class bus.

These are still coaches but have less legroom and fewer onboard luxuries. Which is fine for a short journey like this.

Mayab – a company owned by ADO – is one example of these services. Their timetables, prices and tickets aren’t available online but can be checked and booked at Playa del Carmen Bus Station.


Playa del Carmen to Tulum Colectivo

A direct Playa del Carmen to Tulum colectivo route operates. Hop in a minivan near the McDonalds and Chedraui next to Highway 307 – the main road about 10 blocks back from the beach.

See the exact location here on Google Maps.

The colectivos used to park up and collect passengers from underneath the highway, but this is no longer the case. Now, they’re by the Chedraui car park.

A colectivo from Playa to Tulum costs 50 pesos one way and will drop you off near the bus station in the central part of Tulum town.

To travel back from Tulum to Playa del Carmen, simply navigate to the same place you are dropped off and repeat the process. Colectivos run between Playa and Tulum until about 11 pm.

Getting to Tulum’s Hotel Zone and the Tulum Beaches

If you take a bus or colectivo to Tulum, these will drop you off in Tulum town. Which, is a couple of kilometres from the beach and hotel zone.

A popular option in Tulum is to cycle between the town and the beach or you can take a taxi.

Did you know? Tulum has got a new international airport – it just opened December 2023. Find out everything you need to know and how this will impact future travel plans in this guide.


Taxi

You can easily flag a taxi on the street in Playa del Carmen. But if Spanish and/or negotiation skills aren’t your strong point, you might have an easier time booking through your hotel.

Alternatively, private transfers for up to 16 people can be booked online through transport comparison websites. These offer the convenience of booking in English, with the price stated up front and round-the-clock support.

How much is a cab from Playa del Carmen to Tulum?

Expect to pay around 600 to 650 pesos for a taxi from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. But it’ll be more if you want to go to the southern beaches or hotel zone.

However, the price will be dependent on your negotiation skills. The first price quoted to you will likely be very high – you need to negotiate.

Don’t be afraid to walk away if you feel like you’re being taken advantage of.

And, never get in the taxi until you’ve agreed on a fare. You’ll have no bargaining power once you’ve already been driven for an hour to Tulum!


Tours to Tulum

It’s unlikely you’ll find a tour that just goes to Tulum for the day. But, some of the day trips that go to Tulum or Coba ruins – or the nearby cenotes – also include some free time in Tulum town.

If you do book a tour, make sure you know exactly what is and isn’t included in the price.

And, remember, that you can normally haggle on the price of a tour – just make sure you’re clear about being in dollars or pesos. It can be confusing as both pesos and dollars use $. And, USD is often quoted for higher prices to make it seem less expensive (with a smaller number)

> > > RELATED POST: Travelling from Cancun to Tulum? You’ll need this complete guide for all your transport options!

Is there a shuttle from Playa del Carmen to Tulum?

Private shuttles do run between these two Yucatan Peninsula towns. But they aren’t a popular or common option, mostly because it’s cheaper to get a taxi. And, the route is well-serviced by public transport.

As such, the shuttles don’t offer any extra convenience, which makes it harder to justify the higher price they usually have.

Shared shuttles are really just the colectivos that run from Playa to Tulum all day, every day.


Looking over Tulum ruins on the Caribbean Sea with a rainbow over the top. A day trip from Playa del Carmen to Tulum Ruins is well worth it!
Image provided by and used with permission of wedreamoftravel.com

Can you do a day trip from Playa del Carmen to Tulum?

Yes, it’s very easy to do Playa del Carmen to Tulum day trip with both public transport and private options.

Driving time, whether in a car or on a bus, is around 1 hour. So it’s not too long a journey to manage there and back in a day.

Plus, buses and minivans run from early in the morning until night, so you can have a full day in Tulum.


Find the best prices and the best dates with flight comparison sites like Skyscanner!

Make sure you use tools such as ‘Add nearby airports’ and set your departure airport as wide as possible (you can just put the United States) to see the cheapest places to fly from! Check prices for your trip here…


How to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum Ruins (Zona Arqueológica de Tulum)

Tulum’s archaeological site, full of Mayan ruins, is open every day from 8 am to 5 pm.

Though not as impressive and grand as Chichen Itza and Uxmal, Tulum ruins are uniquely placed right next to the Caribbean Sea. The ruins can be easily reached from Playa del Carmen and are just one of a number of great things you can do in the Riviera Maya.

ADO Bus: Direct to Tulum Ruins

Buses run from Playa del Carmen to the archaeological site in Tulum a few times a day.

How regularly the buses run and the exact times change throughout the year. So, it’s best to check in advance before turning up at the bus station.

The journey from Playa del Carmen to the ruins takes just over one hour.

A ticket on an ADO bus costs 110 pesos one-way. But if you book in advance through the ADO website, you can get up to 50% off.

Sometimes, a smaller 16-seater bus is used for the services later in the day, costing around 50 pesos. However, this isn’t always available.

For the return journey from Tulum’s ruins to Playa del Carmen, there are only 3 buses a day. Currently, one is at 3.40 pm, one at 5.10 pm and the other at 5.45 pm.

Do note though, that the fares are not fixed – the more seats that are sold, the more expensive the tickets become.

While taking the bus is a cheap and easy option, the return times are not ideal unless you’re planning on also spending some time at the beach.

If you don’t want to wait for the late afternoon return buses, you can jump in a passing colectivo on the roadside. Another option is to travel to Tulum town and catch a bus from there. Or, you can take a taxi back up the Quintana Roo coast.

Additionally, if the outbound times don’t work for you, there’s always the option to take a bus to Tulum Bus Station and catch a taxi from there. Getting a bus to Tulum is described in a separate section above.


Colectivo to Tulum Ruins

Colectivos leave Playa del Carmen by the Chedraui and McDonalds (see where on Google Maps).

The colectivo to Tulum costs 50 pesos and the minibuses leave once they’re full rather than on a schedule.

Playa del Carmen to Tulum colectivos drive right past the entrance to Tulum Ruins. So, you can simply ask the driver to drop you off there.

This means you don’t need to first head into Tulum Town – unless you want to, of course.

Although the colectivos don’t run 24 hours, they do operate between 5 am and 11 pm, typically.

As such, you shouldn’t have any issues getting to the ruins or back to Playa del Carmen in a colectivo. In the early morning and later at night, the colectivos will run less often due to lower demand meaning it takes longer before one becomes full enough to leave.

> > > RELATED POST: Looking to visit a few towns in Quintana Roo? Arriving into Cancun Airport and needing to get to Playa del Carmen? I have the answers to your transport dilemmas and questions in this complete travel guide for getting between Cancun and Playa del Carmen!


Taxi

A slightly more expensive option, but it’s the most direct and quickest route to the ruins.

From Playa del Carmen, a taxi to Tulum ruins will cost around 600 to 650 pesos – dependent on your negotiation skills. Expect the first quote to be much higher.

The driving time is around one hour.

If you’re wanting to head straight back to Playa del Carmen after your visit, you can pay your taxi driver to wait. Plus, of course, the return fare. Alternatively, taxis are easy to come by both at the ruins and along the nearby Tulum beaches.

If you’re travelling as a small group, the cost can be split – although, taking a bus or colectivo is still more economic. To avoid paying tourist tax on your taxi, be sure to agree on the fare with the taxi driver before starting your journey.


Tours to Tulum Ruins

It won’t be difficult to find a tour company in Playa del Carmen to take you to Tulum Ruins. Just walk down 5th Avenue and you’ll get more offers than you can count.

While a tour may seem convenient, it does usually come with a pretty hefty price tag.

Plus, expect a trip to Tulum Ruins to be combined with at least one other place. It’s typical in Mexico for tours to popular places to include two or even three other places. Sometimes that you don’t really want to visit.

Like, workshops, shops or small towns. Generally, in these places, the tour company will receive a commission for your purchases.

If you’re just wanting to visit the ruins, then I’d recommend travelling there yourself by bus, colectivo or taxi. But, if you want a full day out to multiple places, with the ease of private transportation and a guide, then book a tour.

Just expect prices to be quoted in US dollars – this is typical in Mexico for more expensive things (so it doesn’t look so much!). For instance, 100 USD is over 2000 pesos.

The sun rise over the Caribbean Sea with a small boat in the foreground. Make the journey from Playa del Carmen to Tulum - you won't regret it!

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

Information is correct as of March 2023 but is subject to change in future.


Mexico Travel Guides

QUINTANA ROO: Getting from Cancun to Tulum and Tulum to Cancun (Transport Guide)

QUINTANA ROO: How to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen (Transport Guide)

CENTRAL OAXACA: San José del Pacifico, Oaxaca (Complete Travel Guide)

QUINTANA ROO: Punta Mosquito, Holbox: Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

QUINTANA ROO: Travelling from Cancun to Holbox: All Transport Options

GUANAJUATO: Guanajuato Funicular: Everything You Need to Know [Travel Guide]

CHIAPAS: Visit El Arcotete Eco Park in San Cristobal, Chiapas [Complete Guide]

And much more, check out all Mexico Travel Guides here!


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2 thoughts on “Playa del Carmen to Tulum: Transport Options & Travel Guide”

  1. Muy buenas tardes. 😀 The colectivo boarding point from central Tulum to the beach zone is 3 blocks east from the highway on Calle Orion. I’m trying to find the schedule and prices for the various drop off points along the beach road. There is a large signboard at the colectivo stop but it is not quite legible by zooming in via Google Street View. Mexican citizens who show ID are welcome on these colectivos but not sure about foreign tourists. This colectivo route is mainly for workers to get to and from their jobs on the beach. Not really geared to vacationers.

    1. Indeed, I know the colectivos aren’t particularly friendly to international visitors hoping to get a cheap ride to the beach, so I think taxis or cycling are the best options. Although, some people do manage to get on although generally by paying a few pesos more than the typical rate for a local.

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