Traveling from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen for vacation?
Traveling from Cancun to Playa del Carmen to live the digital nomad lifestyle?
Whichever it may be…
You’re so ready to land already.
You’re so ready to get through immigration and collect your bags.
You’re so ready to step out of the airport and feel that tropical Mexican sun on your skin.
Then you’re hit with reality-
A sea of crowds to navigate plus vendors everywhere trying to sell you anything from transport to a Corona beer.
Maybe you’re overwhelmed and your trip isn’t off to a great start now.
What if you could avoid all that and instead…
Use any of the 4 options to get from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen safely and worry-free.
How To Get From Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen?
Cancun International Airport is the gateway to popular destinations like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and the surrounding cities in the Riviera Maya / Yucatan Peninsula.
Playa del Carmen is a popular travel destination for every kind of traveler – families, solo travelers, digital nomads and remote workers! After living as digital nomads in Playa del Carmen for 3 months – we totally get why!
The beautiful Caribbean coast of Mexico has so much to offer:
- Swimming in Cenotes
- Relaxing on the Beach
- Eating Tons of Tacos
- Visiting Tulum or Merida
- Ticking Chichen Itza off Your Bucketlist
Getting there on the other hand…
…might be a problem.
It’s important to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.
It’s easier to avoid anyone who might be trying to take advantage of you especially after a tiring day of travel.
But…The fact that you’re reading this blog post already proves you’re a smart traveler.
You’re thinking and planning ahead of your travels!
When we traveled to Playa del Carmen-
It was our first time in Mexico…ever!
You can bet I was scouring the internet for alllll the information.
To my surprise (I should’ve known but hey it happens)…
Cancun Airport is not as close to Playa del Carmen as I thought!
We were going to take a taxi from Cancun and head straight to PDC.
Sounds straightforward right?
Playa del Carmen is a little over an hour away from Cancun International Airport.
We were not going to pay taxi prices for an hour-plus journey.
So here we are again…
I found 4 options to get from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen (without the worry, anxiety or hassle).
What’s The Closest Airport To Playa del Carmen?
The closest airport to Playa del Carmen is Cancun International Airport approximately 1-hour drive away. Nearby airports include Cozumel Airport and Merida Airport.
For the easiest and fastest journey – we recommend flying to Cancun Airport.
As Cancun Airport is a major hub – you’re also likely to get better prices if you fly to and from this airport.
How Far Is It From Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen?
Cancun Airport is 1 hour away from Playa del Carmen (approximately 55 kilometers / 34 miles), depending on traffic.
There is 1 highway from Cancun to Playa del Carmen (and beyond) called the Mexico 307 Highway which most drivers will take you on.
How To Get From Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen: 4 Options
When you’re traveling from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen – you have 4 options:
- The Hassle-Free Option [A Private Transfer]
- The Cheapest Option [ADO Bus]
- The Best Value for Money Option [Shared Shuttle]
- The Independent Traveler Option [Rental Car]
Each option has its benefits and downsides – you can decide which one works for you best.
1. Hassle-free Option: From Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen By Private Transfer
If you’re looking to land and get straight home with all the comfort amenities of a private transfer – this is your best option.
This was our choice!
We had no idea what to expect as it was our first time in Mexico. We wanted to just get straight to Playa del Carmen without any worries or hassle.
I personally don’t like negotiating and I just wanted to get out of the airport, get into a car and be whisked away to Playa del Carmen.
We went with a company called eTransfers. Their online booking system was easy to use and we were able to make a reservation a few days before we flew out. They found us, they showed us our names on our list (which felt more legit and safe) then we hopped in the car and drove off!
We paid $45 USD one way from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen.
The car was very nice like an SUV and super clean. We were super happy with their service that when we left Playa del Carmen – we booked them again to take us from Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport.
PRO TIP: If you go with eTransfers – you might want to download WhatsApp. This is the easiest way to coordinate with your driver and make sure you got the right person.
Why Book A Private Transfer?
- Door-to-Door Service
- Easy to Book
If you want to book your private transfer, simply click here.
Estimated Cost of a Private Transfer: $35 – $60 USD
2. Cheapest Option: From Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen By Bus
If you’re looking to save some cash – heading to Playa del Carmen by bus is your best option.
We were pleasantly surprised by how well the bus system in Mexico is. The most popular bus company is called ADO. They travel all across Mexico and they have affordable prices.
You might wait 30 minutes to 1 hour (or more) depending on when you land and the bus schedules. This is what makes it a little inconvenient but not horrible.
Not surprising but – you won’t get dropped off at your door! There are 2 ADO bus stations in Playa del Carmen.
– Near 5th Avenue: link to Maps
– On 15th Avenida: link to Maps
How to buy an ADO bus ticket?
You can do this when you land in Cancun. Before you exit the terminal – there is an ADO bus stand that sells tickets to Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
You can also reserve ahead of time by buying a ticket online here.
A bus ticket costs $246 pesos ($10.73 USD) from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen at the time of writing (2023).
This is what makes traveling by bus a great choice for budget travelers or anyone that wants to save some cash.
We considered taking them for a long bus trip from Playa del Carmen all the way to San Cristobal de las Casas but we decided against it as we didn’t want to spend 20 hours on a bus. Yikes! These ADO buses are perfect for shorter trips between 1-5 hours.
For the ADO bus schedule, click here.
Estimated Cost of an ADO Bus: $10 – $15 USD
If you’re traveling solo – this is a great option for you.
A shared shuttle (usually a VW Transporter) is a convenient option that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. You still get the comfort of a car and you will still get dropped off at the door of your hotel / Airbnb. It’s a pretty sweet deal!
I feel we would have done this instead if we had known about this option!
When booking a shared shuttle – you are simply booking a seat on a van that will take a certain amount of people to Playa del Carmen (or beyond).
Let me make this clear – it’s not a private car. You will be sharing with other travelers going in the same direction as you hence why you can get a cheaper price.
The shuttle is clean, comfortable, air-conditioned and insured. The driver also is bilingual which helps if you don’t know any Spanish.
The only downside of this option is – it might take you longer than usual because they will also be dropping off other travelers at their hotel lobbies/Airbnbs. This could an extra 30 minutes – 1 hour to your trip depending on the number of passengers, etc.
GROUPS: If you’re a big group of 16+ people that want to splurge and be a little bougie on your vacation – this is also a great option for you to get a better price and still get a private vehicle like below.
NOTE: If you’re a couple or 2 people traveling together – just book the private transfer instead and save yourself the $5. Because it’s a per person basis – you end up spending more and having to share. If you’re a group 4 people – book a private because it still only costs $45 USD (doesn’t matter the number of people). Book a private car here.
Estimated Cost of a Shared Shuttle: $25 USD per person
4. Best For Independent Travelers: From Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen By Rent A Car
If you’re a traveler that wants to be flexible and run your own schedule – this is the best option for you.
You can easily hire a rental car at Cancun Airport well in advance which makes planning your trip much easier. I would recommend booking before you arrive rather than when you land (especially if you’re arriving in high season). They might not have any cars available if you book too late or try to get one once you land.
Hiring a rental car allows you to easily drive to cenotes, Chichen Itza or the Yucatan much quicker than if you had to take buses all around.
Note: If you’re staying primarily in Playa del Carmen – parking isn’t plentiful. You might struggle to find free parking and could pay up to $15 MXN per hour. Make sure you’re Airbnb also includes a parking lot – because it’s mostly apartment buildings in Playa so they have underground parking for renters.
Where to book a rental car at Cancun Airport?
I recommend booking in advance to get the best prices. We usually use Rentalcars.com because it takes compares the rental prices from the major companies.
We have *not* had any problems with Enterprise, Hertz, Avis or Budget in the past. You might want to spend the extra amount to go with a more reputable company so if any problem occurs – you can probably sort them out better.
Most of the major rental companies are within Cancun Airport. If you choose to book when you arrive – just be on the lookout for them.
If you’re a digital nomad – you probably won’t look to book a car as you might stay longer than travelers on vacation. We booked a car for a weekend getaway to see Chichen Itza and two Pueblo Magicos – Valladolid and Izamal. This was a great way to get out to the Yucatan instead of taking the bus!
Estimated Cost of a Rental Car: $40 – $80+ USD
Avoid: Taxis in Cancun International Airport
We skipped the idea of taking a taxi from Cancun Airport because they are expensive to begin with and they will try to haggle. Not great when you just landed at a new destination.
That’s why I didn’t even include them as an option.
Getting To Playa del Carmen Isn’t As Hard As I Thought
If you are ever worried about how to get to Playa del Carmen – you don’t have to be! There are 4 safe and easy options that suits every kind of traveler.
We chose to book a private transfer for convenience and comfort. Which one will you choose?
Continue Planning Your Playa del Carmen Trip
As digital nomads staying 1-3 months, we booked a beautiful modern apartment on Airbnb. If you want to find out how to get a good deal on apartments – we’ve written about our experience here.
For travelers and vacationers, you can find decent accommodation under $80 USD a night on Booking.com or Trivago.
As the saying goes – “better safe than sorry”. Hence the reason we never travel without insurance.
Thankfully, there’s an insurance company made for us digital nomads.
Safety Wing is an affordable option for digital nomads because it covers things like medical expenses, lost luggage, travel interruptions and more recently – COVID-related issues too. All for $40 USD per month!
I use Duolingo or iTalki. They are both helpful to get the fundamentals down – it doesn’t hurt to learn Spanish while in Mexico. Your life would get a whole lot easier!
How To Get To Playa del Carmen from Cancun Airport – Frequently Asked Questions:
What’s the airport near Playa del Carmen? Which major airport is close to Playa del Carmen?
Cancun International Airport (CUN) is the closest major airport to Playa del Carmen. International flights will likely land here.
Is Playa del Carmen close to Cancun Airport?
No. Playa del Carmen is 45 minutes – 1 hour drive from Cancun International Airport.
Is there Uber in Playa del Carmen? Is there Uber in Cancun Airport?
Yes and no. But mostly no. I wouldn’t rely on Uber as it can come and go in this part of Mexico.
There is no Uber within Playa del Carmen so you’ll have to take other modes of transport like taxis, bicycles or rental cars.
How much does it cost to go from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen with eTransfers?
A private transfer with eTransfers costs $45 USD one way from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen.
What kind of Transportation from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen is right for me?
There are 4 options of safe and easy transportation to take you from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen.
1. Book a private transfer
2. Take an ADO bus
3. Hire a shared shuttle
4. Book a rental car
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