Getting from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen is relatively quite simple. In this article, I will go over all the forms of transportation that take you from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen.
We all know the first thing you will want to do once you arrive in Mexico is grab an ice-cold margarita and hit the beach, but first, you will need to get there.
Once you reach this beautiful little city, you can begin to explore all the wonderful things Playa del Carmen has to Offer.
The Cancun airport acts as a hub for the Riviera Maya. If you are staying in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or anywhere along the stretch of land in between, the Cancun Airport is where you will be landing first.
Are you trying to decide which city to choose, check out our comparison of Cancun vs Playa del Carmen here.
Arriving at the Cancun Airport
The Cancun Airport has four terminals with many international flights.
A majority of different Canadian and American airlines offer direct flights that fly into Cancun Airport daily. Check flight prices and book with Kiwi.com to find the best prices and routes available for your trip.
Depending on your airline, you will likely land in terminals 2, 3, and 4 which all have international arrivals.
As I have traveled from Canada and the United States to Cancun, I have always arrived at the airport at terminal two.
If Cancun is your first port of entry in Mexico, you will have to clear Mexican Immigration. Simply collect your baggage from the carousel and make your way over to the immigration desk.
You will need to advise the immigration officer how long you plan to stay. Canadian and American tourists are legally allowed to stay in Mexico for up to 180 days.
It is always up to the discretion of the immigration officer on how many days they grant you to stay in Mexico. Normally, you will be given the number of days you ask for that fit your travel plans.
The officer in Cancun will stamp your passport and you can be on your way.
Navigating your way through the airport is quite simple as there is signage in both English and Spanish.
If you get lost or need help, there is staff situated throughout that can help you with what you need.
Arriving at high season, which is over Christmas and Spring break, you can expect that the airport will be busy and full of travelers looking for that Caribbean sun. Lines will, of course, be longer so plan to spend a little extra time at the airport.
When returning to the Cancun Airport at the end of your trip you will want to leave yourself about two hours at the airport before your departure.
Again at Christmas and Spring Break, there will be many more travelers than usual leaving the airport. In these times I have seen incredibly long lines, almost backed up to the doors. I would recommend allowing yourself three hours during this time of year, just to ensure you make your flight with no stress.
How far is Cancun Airport from Playa del Carmen?
Getting from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen by driving takes approximately 45 minutes with no traffic. The distance between the two cities is 55 km or about 35 miles.
During peak hours of the day, you might experience heavy traffic and the journey will take longer. Check google maps or Waze for a live representation of the traffic you might expect at the hour you are planning your journey.
In my personal experience, I can say that I have always allowed myself 1 hour – 1 hour 20 minutes travel time on Cancun airport journeys.
If you are taking a form of public transportation, the journey will take longer as well because there will be added stops along the way.
There are many ways of travel, both private and public, for getting from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen. Continue reading to learn all the details and find the option best suited for you.
Private Shuttle to Playa del Carmen
Taking private shuttle transportation from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen is a great option as it is safe, reliable, comfortable, and hassle-free.
You can easily find rates for private shuttle vans starting at $80 USD depending on how far you are traveling from Cancun airport and what quality of service you are looking for.
A lot of these vans can hold up to eight passengers. If you are traveling in a couple, with kids, or in a group this a quite a cost-effective option.
These vans offer airport-to-door service and will always bring you directly to your booked accommodation.
You can check prices and book a shuttle with GetYourGuide here.
Your driver will be waiting for you outside the terminal with a sign that has your name on it. Even if your flight is delayed or late the driver will still be waiting. You will never be left waiting for your pre-reserved shuttle.
After a long day of traveling and waiting in airport lineups, it is a great convenience and comfort to have your transportation already waiting for you.
Normally the drivers will speak a good level of English and will be able to answer questions you might have about the area.
They will even load and unload your luggage so you don’t have to worry about any heavy lifting while you are on vacation.
The vans are always clean, and spacious, and have air conditioning to keep you cool from the Caribbean heat. Book a luxury van here.
Getting from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen in a shared shuttle van is a great option if you have a bit of extra time on your hands. These trips are also at a lower cost than private shuttles.
With rates normally around $35 USD, this option is easy on the pocketbook. Check prices and book with GetYourGuide here.
Your journey will take longer than a private shuttle because there will be other passengers getting dropped off at different locations along the route.
The shuttle buses are the same style as the private shuttles. Large white vans, clean, with air conditioning, and space for your luggage.
This journey from the airport might take roughly 2 – 2.5 hours, depending on the traffic and the number of stops made along the way.
ADO Bus to Playa del Carmen
The ADO Bus is a great method of transportation if you are searching for a budget and environmentally-friendly option.
It is simple, safe, and very easy to use. Check out our guide to taking the bus in Mexico to get all the information you need about bus travel in Mexico.
The ADO bus is a big charter-style bus with reclining assigned seats, air conditioning, bathrooms, and below-bus storage for your luggage.
Personally, this method of transportation from the Cancun Airport is my favorite and is also recommended by many ex-pats in the community.
Tickets cost 225 Pesos ($11.50 USD) for your trip to Playa del Carmen. If you’re on a budget or only traveling with two people, this is definitely the cheapest way to get from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen.
Tickets are sold inside the airport at a desk near the exit of the airport. Look for the big red and white letters that say ADO on them.
The buses normally run every hour and during peak times, every 30 minutes.
Simply ask for your ticket to Playa del Carmen and the attendant at the desk will tell you what time the next bus comes.
When you exit the airport, make your way over to the waiting area for the bus. If you aren’t sure, you can ask airport staff or even other shuttle drivers and they will help you out. There are plenty of signs in English pointing towards the bus area as well.
The bus from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen isn’t the fastest method of transportation as it makes stops at the other terminals to pick up passengers. Sometimes the bus also stops in Puerto Morelos if passengers are looking to get off.
Travel time on the bus from Cancun to Playa del Carmen will be around 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes depending on stops and traffic.
In Playa del Carmen, you will arrive at the ADO terminal located on La Quinta Avenue. From there you will need to hop in a taxi to arrive at your destination.
You might even consider walking if your hotel is within close distance and you aren’t carrying too many bags.
The ADO bus from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen runs from 8 in the morning with the last bus departing at 11:45 pm.
If you are arriving in Cancun late in the evening the bus might not be the best option for you. Remember to factor in the time to collect your bags and pass customs while deciding on which departure you will take.
For more information on the timetable check out their website.
Hotel and Resort Shuttles
Always check with the hotel or resort you are staying at as they might have their own transportation to make your trip all more comfortable.
Sometimes it might even be included with no extra cost to your reservation.
Getting from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen via plane isn’t too popular of an option, as you can imagine. It’s not the cheapest option, but it might be the most fun!
There are a few charter companies that offer the service.
Flights to Playa del Carmen from Cancun Airport roughly take 30 minutes with your landing point being the small Playa del Carmen Airport located just off 5th Avenue.
On the short ride, you are guaranteed to see some incredible views of the Caribbean sea and lush jungle below.
Because the flights are private the cost will reflect that, but if you are traveling with a group of friends, it might not be quite as expensive as you think. For up to five passengers, it will cost $450 USD for the flight, which works out at less than $100 per person.
Check out flight prices and find out more on the charter website here.
Planning on doing some sightseeing or day trips from Playa del Carmen during your stay? Renting a car might be the best option for you.
Check out our guide to driving in Mexico here and learn about the pitfalls of renting a car in Mexico here.
On a recent trip I took, I had planned to simply take a taxi back to Playa del Carmen from the Cancun airport. When I found out the price of the taxi I was a bit frustrated. So I went to the rental car booth and they quoted me the same price for a 24-hour car rental.
This worked out to my benefit because I had planned to use the car for a few days extra anyways.
If you book in advance you can find some rental companies offering low rates of $35 USD per day. During the high season of December to April, assume the rates will be higher.
It is always recommended to book directly with the rental car company in Mexico rather than through third-party websites like Expedia or Booking.com (which are usually great for other international adventures!). However, Mexico has a few rules that make it much more expensive in the long run. Always book directly with the rental company so you know what fees will be owed at pickup.
If you don’t have a prior reservation for your vehicle, as you exit the airport there will be a few booths where you can stop and rent your desired vehicle.
From the rental booth in the Airport to the location where you receive the car is about a 10-minute journey, and by the time you have keys in hand and ready to hit the road I would allow for another 30 minutes. From there you can make your way on the 45 min (approx) journey to Playa del Carmen.
Something quite handy is that you can even rent a car from the Cancun Airport and return it to the agency’s location in Playa del Carmen. This works great if you don’t need a car rental for your entire vacation.
The Carretera Federal 307 is the highway that connects Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The highway is well-maintained and easy to drive. Sometimes it is recommended not to drive on Mexican highways in the nighttime, but because of the number of tourists coming and going at all times, this highway is safe.
There are also a few police checkpoints along the way to Playa del Carmen.
It is rare that you will be stopped, but it is always a possibility. As you pass through please drive slowly and with the windows rolled down.
If you do get stopped, have your rental papers and license accessible. This is simply a standard procedure as they are just searching for drunk drivers or other illegal behavior.
Taxi to Playa del Carmen
Taking a taxi from Cancun airport is an option if you haven’t planned ahead and booked a form of transportation.
Taxis usually charge 1000 pesos for a trip to Playa del Carmen which is about $50 USD. Sometimes they might even charge you more depending on the number of passengers or the amount of luggage you are traveling with.
It has even been known that a taxi would even try and up-charge you based on your appearance and attire.
There is a desk inside the terminal which you will need to stop at to pay your fare in advance. If you aren’t happy with the rate they quote you, you can try and barter a bit. In my past experiences, I have learned that they tend to be pretty firm on their prices.
Only a certain group of “Airport Sanctioned” Taxis are allowed to enter and retrieve passengers from the airport, therefore the higher price. From reading this information on my personal experiences you may agree with me when I say that taxis may not be your number one option.
From the desk inside, you will receive your ticket for the taxi and can exit the airport. Your luggage will be handled by the driver, and of course, they will drop you at your desired location.
I tend to find that some taxi drivers like to drive nice and fast. Sometimes a little too fast. So hold on tight and enjoy your rapido ride into Playa del Carmen.