Cancun to Tulum Transportation: What is the BEST way?

cancun to tulum transportation

Looking for the best Cancun to Tulum transportation option for you? You’re in the right place! I’m currently living in Tulum and am the perfect person to answer this question for you from a local’s perspective.

Tulum is a prominent beach town in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, on its gorgeous Yucatan Peninsula’s Caribbean coast. This charming and aesthetic little town has grown in popularity in recent years as a result of its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear seas, and laid-back environment. Tulum is famous not just for its beautiful coastline, but also for its Mayan ruins built on a cliff overlooking the sea. The town draws a wide spectrum of tourists, including backpackers, families, and luxury travelers, and provides a variety of activities such as snorkeling, diving, yoga, and enjoying the natural beauty of the surrounding rainforest. Tulum has something for everyone, whether you want to relax on the beach, immerse yourself in the local culture, or learn about the region’s rich history.

There are various choices for getting from Cancun International Airport to Tulum that I’m going to discuss in this blog. Private transportation options are the most convenient and comfortable mode of transportation since they provide door-to-door private service and eliminate the inconvenience of public transit. Shared private shuttles are a less expensive alternative that is also a terrific way to meet other tourists. Public buses such as the ADO buses are the most budget-friendly methods of transportation to Tulum from Cancun airport, but they are more time-consuming and less enjoyable than other types of transit and can sometimes be tricky to locate. Going with a car rental allows you to explore the region at your own pace, but driving in Mexico may be difficult for those inexperienced with local traffic regulations and road conditions.

No matter how you decide to get yourself there, from a private transfer to a shared shuttle service, Tulum will greet you warmly with beautiful beaches, genuine hospitality, and a truly laid-back environment. There’s s much to see and do in this lovely section of Mexico, from swimming in cenotes to feasting on delicious seafood. Tulum has become a must-visit destination for visitors from all over the world, thanks to its natural beauty, rich history, and laid-back feel.

Now sit back, grab a coffee, and continue reading on to learn about the best option and easiest way for you to get from Cancun to Tulum so you can jump right in and begin enjoying your vacation!

cancun to tulum transportation

How Far is Tulum from the Cancun Airport?

To get to Tulum for your incredible beach getaway in Mexico, you must first arrive at the Cancun International Airport (CUN) in Cancun.

Cancun is a city in Mexico located on the Yucatan Peninsula’s northeastern coast, whereas Tulum is a beach town located on the peninsula’s Caribbean coast. The also popular beach town of Playa Del Carmen is the approximate middle point between Cancun and Tulum.

The drive from Cancun Airport to Tulum is roughly 118 kilometers (73 miles) heading south of Cancun on the federal highway. Tulum is therefore a moderately accessible location for visitors arriving at Cancun International Airport, with the journey lasting from between 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the form of transportation used and, of course, traffic conditions.

Distances from Cancun to Tulum:

Cancun Airport to Tulum: 73 miles (about 118 km) – 1 hour 30 minutes drive time

Cancun Hotel Zone to Tulum: 85 miles (about 137 km) – 2 hours drive time

Downtown Cancun to Tulum: 81 miles (about 131 km) – 1 hour 45 minutes drive time

Continue reading this blog to learn about the best way to get to Tulum, including public transportation, collectivo, private shuttle, taxi drivers, private car, and more!

What is the Best Way to Get to Tulum from Cancun?

In this blog post, I’m going to provide a detailed explanation on all of your options to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum.

However, here is a quick cheatsheet reference:

Private Shuttle – $155 USD one way – 1.5 hours – Book Here (my #1 recommendation – up to 8 passengers!)

Shared Shuttle – $40 USD one way – 205 to 3 hours – Book Here

ADO Bus – $13 one-way – 2.4 to 4 hours – Book Here

Taxi – $125 USD + one way – 1.5 hours – More info here

Colectivo – $7 USD one way – 4+ hours

Car Rental – $25-$50 USD+ per day – 1.5 hours – Rent a Car Here

In my opinion, the very best way to get from Cancin to Tulum is to book yourself private transportation from Cancun to Tulum. I always travel Cancun Airport Transportation, which I believe to be the most trusted transfer company that also provides the highest-rated Tulum shuttle service that I’ve come across. There may be some cheaper options, such as taking a collectivo, but these methods take much longer and are more difficult and much less convenient. When you’re on vacation in Mexico and you just want to get to the beach and enjoy, you’ll appreciate choosing to travel in one of their comfortable vehicles with air conditioning.

Below, I’ll provide an in-depth look at all of the options!

cancun to tulum transportation

Private Shuttle Transfer from Cancun to Tulum (your best option!)

When asked about my preferred method for Cancun to Tulum transportation, I’ll always recommend booking a private shuttle with your own private driver. You can also SAVE $10 if you book a round trip ticket!

The company that I recommend is Cancun Airport Transportation, who has a stellar 4.5 / 5 rating on TripAdvisor from over 4300 reviews! They are a trusted, well-rated and safe option for getting yourself quickly and conveniently from Cancun to Tulum without hassle.

If you’re traveling with a small group or family, this can end up as such an affordable option, too. The rates for private shuttle service start at $155 USD for Tulum service, which is for up to 8 passengers! That ends up under $20 per person.

Save on hotel stays in Tulum with my Expedia link:

Benefits of Taking a Private Shuttle from Cancun to Tulum

Choosing to take a private shuttle from Cancun to Tulum has many benefits. Here are just a few of the best things about choosing a private shuttle for your trip to Tulum:


Private shuttles provide the most comfort of all of the options as they often include amenities such as air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and comfy seating. Some even provide drinks and snacks!

Door-to-Door Service

There will be no stopping to pick up and drop off others, and you’ll be dropped off right at your hotel or AirBNB rental when you travel with a private shuttle service to Tulum. Keep in mind that if you choose to use a collectivo or a bus, you’ll also need to call a taxi to get you to your hotel, which can cost an additional $5-20 USD depending on where your accommodation is,


You can choose your own pick-up time and location, as well as any stops along the trip such as for groceries or drinks when you travel with private shuttles. This allows you the freedom to organize your vacation around your own schedule and preferences.


Private shuttles will get you to Tulum faster than other kinds of transportation since they make no stops to pick up/drop off others and travel the most direct route possible from Cancun to Tulum. Begin your vacation in the sun faster when you travel with private shuttle! On the journey to Tulum, most shared shuttles will stop in three additional cities: Puerto Morelos, Riviera Maya, and Playa del Carmen on the way to Tulum, which will chew up some of your valuable vacation time.

It will take about 1.5 hours to get from Cancun to Tulum with your own private shuttle. However, that time becomes 2.5 to 3 hours of travel time if you decide on a shared shuttle, or longer with collectivo or bus. A rental car will take roughly 1.5 hours as well, but a private shuttle is the most cost-effective choice if you’re staying somewhere walkable and don’t need your rental car for the duration of your stay.

cancun to tulum transportation


Private shuttle services are often licensed and insured, so you can rest certain that you will be in good hands throughout your travel. Furthermore, many private shuttle companies hire skilled and professional drivers who are familiar with the local roads and traffic patterns.

Bilingual Private Driver

Your Tulum private shuttle driver will be bilingual, so you will be able to ask questions along your drive and learn about Mexico from a local’s perspective. It’s like a private driver and tour guide in one! On a collectivo or bus option, the driver’s English may be extremely limited and you might question if you’re getting off at the right spot and more. The private shuttle drivers and very friendly and personable and can start your trip off with a bang, providing plenty of valuable local insights and tips.


Private shuttles provide a more private and intimate travel experience because you are not required to share the car with other passengers. This is especially appealing to couples or small groups that seek privacy and comfort during their travels to Mexico.

In my opinion, choosing a private shuttle from Cancun to Tulum is a wonderful choice for individuals seeking a pleasant, convenient, and stress-free mode of transportation. While it may be somewhat more expensive than other forms of transportation (such as collectivo or ADO bus), the benefits you’ll receive in terms of comfort, flexibility, great service and safety may outweigh the slightly higher prices. Start your vacation to Tulum off right!

Luxury Shuttle Services to Tulum

Looking to spoil yourselves with a little luxury on your trip to Tulum? Celebrating something special? Upgrade your private shuttle service to a luxury limo service! You can also choose a mid-range option such as a comfortable and spacious SUV Transportation service to get you from Cancun to Tulum.

Rent a Car from Cancun Airport and Drive to Tulum

Renting a car in Cancun to get to Tulum is a popular option for travelers who want to explore the region at their own leisure and stop whenever they wish along the way. If you’re staying somewhere very walkable in Tulum, such as in downtown Tulum or along the beach strip, you probably won’t need a rental car, as there are plenty of Tulum tours and Tulum day trips that will pick you up right at your accommodation. However, if you’re staying in a less convenient area and plan to do a lot of driving on your own during your trip to Tulum, then a rental car might be the best option for you.

For booking rental cars online while traveling, I personally use Discover Cars. They search both international rental companies as well as local rental companies in your destination, so you can be sure you’re getting the lowest rate possible. Their full car insurance is always extremely reasonable, about $10 USD per day so you’re fully covered. Your US or Canadian car insurance won’t work in Mexico and liability coverage is mandatory in Mexico, so be sure you have insurance before driving in Mexico!

cancun to tulum transportation

Is Renting a Car in Cancun, Mexico Difficult?

Renting a car at Cancun International Airport is a pretty simple and uncomplicated process, with various car rental companies available right on-site on your way out of the airport. Here’s what you can expect:


It is best to make a rental vehicle reservation ahead of time, especially during high tourist season when availability may be restricted. This may be done online through a company such as Discover Cars, or by directly calling the automobile rental business of your choice.

When you arrive at Cancun International Airport, go to the car rental company’s desk at the arrival terminal. For the security deposit, you will have to show your reservation confirmation, a valid driver’s identification, and a credit card.

A pre-rental inspection of the vehicle will be performed by the car rental provider to document any pre-existing damage. Make sure to thoroughly check the inspection report and make note of any damages that are not reported. Take photos and videos yourself of the car’s condition at pickup.

You must use a credit card to pay the rental charge and a security deposit (which will be reimbursed at the end of the rental term if no damages occur). Some automobile rental businesses accept cash or debit cards, but it’s always a good idea to double-check ahead of time.

When returning the vehicle, you must follow the car rental company’s instructions about drop-off location, timing, and re-fuel requirements. The vehicle will be examined once more to confirm that there are no defects or missing items.

It’s important to know that driving in Mexico can be difficult, particularly for those inexperienced with local traffic regulations and road conditions. They also drive VERY FAST in Mexico! In fact, I still don’t often drive here, my husband does the majority of the driving.

It’s a good idea to have travel insurance and take measures like not driving at night, staying on main routes, and being aware of possible risks like speed bumps (topes) and potholes.

Renting a vehicle at Cancun International Airport may be a handy and cost-effective method to explore the region, but it’s still important to do your homework and prepare ahead of time to guarantee a stress-free and safe trip.

Save on hotel stays in Tulum with my Expedia link:

cancun to tulum transportation

Is it safe to drive from Cancun to Tulum?

Driving from Cancun to Tulum is generally regarded as safe, but measures should still be taken to guarantee a safe and easy trip. Some things to keep in mind:

The highway between Cancun and Tulum is typically in decent condition, but there may be some sections with potholes. Just be sure to drive cautiously and be aware of your surroundings.

The route connecting Cancun and Tulum can sometimes be congested, particularly during high tourist season. Make sure to plan your route ahead of time and to remain patient in traffic.

It’s a good idea to have insurance for your rental car because accidents and thefts could still happen. Be sure to read the tiny print and understand what your policy covers.

It is typically not advised to travel between Cancun and Tulum at night, as road conditions can be more difficult to see and services may be limited. I always find the highway to be extremely dark when driving at night, and local drivers can be somewhat aggressive!

Overall, driving from Cancun to Tulum can be safe and enjoyable if measures are taken and the driving is done properly. If you are unsure about driving in a foreign country or are unfamiliar with local traffic regulations and road conditions, consider hiring a private driver instead.

Book the BEST Day Trips from Tulum:

cancun to tulum transportation

Mexico Driving Tips: Topes

If you plan to drive in Mexico, one thing to be aware of is “topes,” or speed bumps. Here are some tips to help you safely navigate the Mexican world of topes:

Keep an eye out for warning signs: Topes are normally identified by warning signs, so keep an eye out for them as you travel. These signs might be painted on the road or affixed to a signpost.

Slow down: When you notice a tope, gently slow down and prepare to come to a complete stop if required. Going over a tope at high speed might damage your vehicle and injure you and your passengers.

Avoid abrupt braking: Sudden braking might cause the automobile in front of you to rear-end you; instead, attempt to slow down gently.

Examine your surroundings: Keep an eye out for walkers, bicyclists, and other vehicles near the tope. If you see someone crossing the street, prepare to stop.

Be careful during rain: Topes can become slippery when wet, so be extra cautious when driving over them in the rain.

Keep an eye out for unmarked topes: Some topes may not be marked with warning signs, so keep an eye out for these. They are most commonly encountered in rural locations.

Drive cautiously: When driving in Mexico, always be alert of your surroundings and drive defensively. To avoid accidents, prepare for the unexpected and be ready to respond quickly.

Private Shuttle or Shared Shuttle?

I highly recommend choosing a private shuttle option instead of shared. Though you may save some money choosing a shared shuttle option, you’ll have to pick up passengers from all four airport terminals along the way while using the shared shuttle, which can eat up valuable vacation time. Then, along the route to Tulum, you’ll make multiple off-highway stops to hotels along the main highway, dropping off passengers, as well as stopping in other towns and cities along the way, such as Puerto Morelos, Playa Del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, and Akumal. There are so many hotels in the Riviera Maya and Tulum is the spot that is the farthest away from Cancun, so you’ll basically be one of the last off the shuttle after dropping off everyone else!

Also keep in mind that if you arrive on the weekend or during the popular season in Tulum (roughly December to March), the shuttle will also likely be fully booked, meaning your journey could take even longer than anticipated for! And since Tulum is a far distance from Cancun airport (1.5 hours when driving directly), you could double or even triple your travel time by choosing a shared shuttle.

Unless you’re traveling alone or on a very tight budget, the private shuttle to Tulum is usually the best option for most people. Not only do you receive private door-to-door service in less than half the time, but this option can also frequently end up less expensive because you’re dividing the cost with another person, a few people or a group.

The shared shuttle costs around $80 USD round trip, so you’re not even saving that much money in the end by choosing a shared shuttle.

However, if you think a shared shuttle is the best option for you, you can book it at the link below:

Save on hotel stays in Tulum with my Expedia link:

ADO Bus from Cancun to Tulum

ADO is Mexico’s largest bus operator, popular with both visitors and residents. ADO is a first-class bus option featuring more luxurious amenities such as air conditioning, reclining seats, plug-in power outlets, and a restroom. You won’t find any of those fancier facilities aboard the Mayab buses in Mexico, so I highly recommend choosing ADO if you can.

At the time of writing this blog, taking the ADO bus from Cancun airport to Tulum was about $13 USD each way. The price may fluctuate a bit over the different travel seasons, but choosing the ADO bus will never be an expensive option. In fact, it is one of the cheapest options to get yourself to Tulum if you are prioritizing cost over convenience and comfort!

The ADO Cancun Airport to Tulum bus departs Cancun Airport at different times during the day, leaving from Terminals 2, 3, and 4. Most flights from the USA will land at Terminal 3 or 4, but you should still check which terminal your airline arrives at before you book your bus tickets.

The bus from Cancun airport to Tulum departs each day at 10:55 a.m., 12:25 p.m., 2:25 p.m., 4:55 p.m., 8:00 p.m., and 9:45 p.m.

ADO buses travel from Cancun airport to the Tulum bus station. However, what happens if you arrive at the airport early and don’t want to wait a long time, or miss your bus to Tulum? Not to worry – travelers can also take a bus to Playa del Carmen, which is about halfway to Tulum from the Cancun airport. The bus for this departs every 30 minutes. Then, from Playa del Carmen, you can take connecting bus to Tulum. The travel time for this option is around 2 hours. There are quite a few more ADO buses that go from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen, which depart every 30 minutes all day long, but only five direct buses to Tulum per day, so many people choose to do this.

Tip: Definitely book your ADO bus ticket ahead of time, as I often see long lines at the ADO bus pickup spot at the airport!

cancun to tulum transportation

Is the ADO Bus Option Safe for Female Solo Travelers?

Yes, for the vast majority of travelers, taking the bus from Cancun to Tulum is very safe and efficient. You’ll most likely encounter other solo travelers and Mexico visitors along the route and maybe even make some new friends!

Taking the ADO bus from Cancun to Tulum is a safe, popular, pleasant, and affordable alternative.

Colectivo to Tulum

Looking for a bit of an adventure as soon as you land in Cancun? You can consider taking the colectivo from Playa del Carmen to Tulum to save even more money. Colectivos are shared public transit vehicles (usually a white van or small bus) often used by the locals that are widespread in Mexico. Because they are so inexpensive (about $7 per direction), they are especially popular with budget tourists.

Colectivos will be the most affordable out of all of your transport options, but remember that you get what you pay for. They are not comfortable, sometimes you end up standing when the vans are busy, there usually isn’t AC and often it is loud and crowded. While colectivos are a cheap method to travel in much of Mexico, they are rarely described as pleasant or comfortable. The travel will be rough, and there will be no air conditioning in a van full of people. On my first colectivo ride, there was a local woman onboard who had many chickens with her, and my entire trip was filled with chicken squawks! It was memorable nonetheless 🙂

If you have luggage, you’ll have to hope that there is adequate room for it also. There is no luggage storage on the colectivo, so you’ll have to carry everything you’ve brought with you.

Because colectivos make several stops along the route to Tulum, this option takes twice as long as the bus option, at roughly four hours! Because there is no direct colectivo from Cancun to Tulum, you will take the first one to Playa del Carmen and then another to Tulum. Or, you will take a bus to Playa Del Carmen, and then the colectivo to Tulum from there. After taking the ADO bus to Playa Del Carmen, simply ask an ADO Bus staff member at the station where to find the colectivo stop that goes to Tulum. It’s located only a few blocks away from the Playa Del Carmen ADO station, so it’s not a far walk, even with your luggage. Then, once you arrive at the colectivo stop in Tulum, you’ll still have to get yourself to your accommodation via taxi.

Though the colectivo option is somewhat cheaper than the ADO bus, I don’t believe it is worth sacrificing so much of your travel time and comfort for saving just a few dollars, given how complicated this journey can end up turning out.

cancun to tulum transportation

Take a Taxi from Cancun Airport to Tulum

In my opinion, taking a taxi to Tulum from the Cancun airport is the worst of all of your options!

Taxis to Tulum will cost you A LOT of money! The starting price one-way would be about $150 USD, but this can go up drastically depending upon how busy the taxi drivers are and the travel season you’re arriving in (high or low).

Taking a cab from Cancun to Tulum is your worst option, and you should only do it in an emergency when you have no other options. This is why:

Only authorized airport taxis are permitted within Cancun International Airport. They have a monopoly over all of the taxi options at the airport and are your only choice. And they price aggressively. Cabs entering the Cancun Airport must pay a specific tax, which is then passed on to you, the customer. Aside from this cost, the practice of scamming tourists via taxis is common in Mexico.


Cancun taxi drivers are well-known for scamming tourists into agreeing to a taxi by claiming that the buses are not operating or that there are no shuttles available. Don’t listen to what they say and just continue out of the airport to your chosen transportation option.

As you exit the Cancun airport, and even as you reach the exit, Cancun Airport taxi services will approach you and basically make up a price on the spot. They’ll offer you a fee based on how they assess your appearance, such as how well you’re dressed, if you appear to be visiting Mexico for the first time and appear to be a “green” tourist, look overwhelmed, and so on. As a result, you may be charged up to $250 USD, which is more than a private transfer! These rates can be astronomical if it’s late at night or a very busy airport, and they hope you don’t know any better – but you do!

If you do agree on a taxi, make sure to set the price before you get in, as taxi cabs in Mexico usually don;t have meters. Make sure to bargain to agree together on a cost before getting in and letting the taxi drive away.

My recommendation is to save time and money by booking the Cancun to Tulum private shuttle now. You’ll be getting the most comfortable, safe, trustworthy, convenient and direct option possible. Your private shuttle driver will greet you outside the Cancun International Airport, take you and your bags to the vehicle, load your belongings, and transport you directly to your Tulum resort. There will often be water, beer, or even light snacks included. You only need to sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey!

Where is the Best Place to Stay in Tulum?

If you’re looking for luxury hotels in Tulum, you’ll love this blog:

The Best Luxury Hotels in Tulum 2023

The BEST Luxury Hotels in Tulum

Or, if you’re looking for budget accommodation options in Tulum, then this blog post is for you:

12 Cheap Places to Stay in Tulum – best of the best!

cheap places to stay in tulum

I hope this blog post on the best transportation options from Cancun to Tulum has been helpful and that you have an amazing, safe, and relaxing trip!

JennExplores Signature Love Jenn

Save on hotel stays in Tulum with my Expedia link:

What are the Best Tours in Tulum?

There is so very much to see and do in Tulum and area, and it’s all amazing! However, here is my hand-picked list of some of the very best tours you can book in Tulum. I choose to book my tours with Viator for their great prices and fantastic service!


cancun to tulum transportation


Disclaimer: This blog post may include affiliate links. At absolutely no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission for any purchase made through these links. Any commissions received are very much appreciated, as they help me to be able to continue posting travel blog content free of charge to my lovely readers. Of course, all recommendations are unbiased, and I will always only recommend products and services that I truly believe in. Thank you for your support!


Do you have questions for me about Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, Akumal, Quintana Roo in general, or other locations in Mexico? Have feedback on this blog post? Please feel free to shoot me a comment below; I would love to hear from you! 🙂
Cancun to Tulum Transportation: What is the BEST way?

I’m Jenn, a photographer, travel writer, and content creator based out of the beautiful Canadian Rockies. I’m glad you’re here – now let’s explore!

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