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Playa del Carmen to Tulum – Review of different ways to travel in 2020

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Playa del Carmen is one of the popular tourist destinations in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico. Playa del Carmen is lined with resorts, beaches, great restaurants and they are also quite accessible to Mayan ruins for day trips. Playa del Carmen to Tulum is just under one hour away and there are many ways to get there – some cheap and some luxurious.

In this post, we have listed all the different ways to reach Tulum from the resorts in Playa del Carmen and back. 

Playa del Carmen to Tulum – Review of different ways to travel

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

How far is Tulum from Playa del Carmen?

Driving time from Playa del Carmen to Tulum is 55 minutes.

Ways to reachBest forPrice
Drive Best for long term stay in PDC/Mexico$$
ToursBest for sightseeing, convenience, luxurious$$+
ADO BusBudget option, great for traveling with luggage$
ColectivosCheap travel options, local way$
TaxisGood option for traveling families or with groups and luggage$$$

Tulum is located on the southern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. Tulum is located 64.7 kilometres away from Playa del Carmen. The nearest airport to Tulum and Playa del Carmen is Cancun Airport.

Most international visitors fly to Cancun International Airport and then they stay in a resort in Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum. You can take an airport Cancun bus to Playa del Carmen or Tulum (airport transfers). 

Cancun and Playa del Carmen are popular tourist destinations with many hotel zones, access to private beaches (white sandy beaches), and other sightseeing and nightlife amenities. With more and more sustainable resorts springing up in Tulum, it has slowly become a favorite!

Tulum Playa del Carmen Mexico Beaches

 

But many tourists till prefer staying in Playa del Carmen due to resort hospitality, budget (and variety) accommodations, access to restaurants, family beaches, and more.  Thus, making a day trip to Tulum from Playa del Carmen is vital.

It is important to remember that Tulum town and popular ruins are not the same. Tulum town is the centre where you will find hotels, shops, and restaurants. Tulum ruins are located a bit further away – about 15 minutes from the town centre and entry fees apply. Read more about one day in Tulum Itinerary from Playa del Carmen

Search Tulum hotels below  

Booking.com

 Renting a car and driving from PDC to Tulum

As mentioned, the driving time from Playa del Carmen to Tulum is 55 minutes. If you wish to drive to Tulum ruins, add an extra 10-15 minutes of travel time. Parking fees are extra – 10 pesos at the Tulum ruins.

Driving regulations in Mexico are similar to the US and Canada. Ensure you have your valid driver’s license and you are good to rent a vehicle and drive in the Riviera Maya streets and highways.

Brush on the road signage (symbols and language) to follow local traffic rules. Speed limits, no alcohol while driving, seat belt regulation are some of the important things to pay attention to. Paying attention to local rules and staying alert on the road will keep you safe (similar rules like any other place in North America).

Highway 307 that connects Playa del Carmen to Tulum town is in good condition and is regularly patrolled by the police. So you are safe on the road.

If you get a small size car, it will cost you $30-45 USD per day. Ensure you take the car insurance for emergencies.

Playa del Carmen to Tulum

Although a car is very convenient, we recommend renting and driving only if you are staying in Mexico for over 10 days and are planning to travel far and wide to explore nearby areas like driving from Riviera Maya to explore the Tulum ruins one day and then driving to Cancun the next or traveling to Merida in Yucatan.

The reason is not safety. The reason is a hassle in finding a parking spot in some of the tourist areas, including Tulum ruins and Chichen Itza, learning the signage, finding your way, etc.

Also because there are cheaper or luxurious options available then driving. So if driving to Tulum is the ONLY agenda for you, don’t rent a car and drive for a day. There are better options available for you. Keep reading!

Pro Tip:

Price: 30 – 40 pesos for the car rent per day. Additional for insurance and gas

Suitable for

  • Staying in Mexico for over 10 days
  • Driving to and from many places including Playa del Carmen to Ruins

Not ideal for 

  • Driving and renting for a day
  • Would not recommend if you are visiting Mexico first time
Tulum Ruins - Mexico Playa del Carmen Itinerary
Tulum Ruins – Mexico Playa del Carmen to Tulum

Tours from Playa del Carmen to Tulum Ruins

Tours are a convenient way to travel to Tulum from Playa del Carmen. They are affordable and luxurious options available to suit every traveler. We use GetYourGuide to book our tours.

There are a variety of tour options available from Playa del Carmen to Tulum and back. Here are some of the recommended tours

  • Full day tour of Tulum from Playa del Carmen or CancunBOOK HERE 
    • Return trip from Playa del Carmen hotels and Resorts
    • Guided tour of the ruins
  • Half-Day Express TourBOOK HERE
    • Afternoon tour
    • Return trip from Playa del Carmen with a guided tour
  • Combine with other tours
  • Special Sunset tour in Tulum – BOOK HERE 

If you want comfort and luxury, tours are the way to go. They make exploring and sightseeing easy. They also provide historical learning about Tulum and the ruins and Mayan history. Tours are also timely, so you won’t be waiting for hours.  

A private tour of 1-2 people is also available and is safe.

Pro Tip:

Best suited for

  • Staying in Mexico for a short duration a week or less
  • Want the convenience of sightseeing and learning about the ruins
  • Don’t have to worry about parking or parking fees, car renting
  • Use it if you can’t or don’t want to drive in a foreign country
Playa del Carmen to Tulum
Playa del Carmen to Tulum

ADO Bus from Playa del Carmen to Tulum

ADO buses are another means to reach Tulum. They are SAFE. They are comfortable as well as they are equipped with air conditioners and entertainment options inside. If you are traveling with luggage, ADO buses make the journey comfortable.

You can catch a bus at Playa del Carmen on 5th Avenue and Benito Juarez. Travelers staying at Playa del Carmen resorts near 5th Avenue – this bus stop is located just a few steps away.

Buses depart every day from 08:00 am to 12:30 pm from Playa del Carmen to Tulum.  A bus ticket will be around 65- 70 pesos from Playa del Carmen – one way. Travel takes about an hour + 

It is recommended that you purchase tickets (or book them) ahead of time.

ADO buses are a budget mode of travel in Mexico. The key thing to remember here is that it is not one of the cheapest options, if that what you are looking for.

The total for a round trip will be 140 pesos. You will still have to walk or take another means of travel to reach the Tulum ruins. Bus duration is over 1 hour – so not the fastest way either.

Pro Tip:

Price: 140 pesos round trip

Best suited for 

  • Budget travel option
  • Carrying luggage
  • Want comfort – A/C, movies on board
  • Traveling at set times between 08:00 am to 12:30 pm

Not ideal if 

  • Short on time
  • Not the fastest or the cheapest way to reach Tulum from Playa del Carmen
Tulum is a coastal town located in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Tulum is well-known for its beaches and the ancient Mayan ruins. This post highlights a day’s itinerary and a quick guide to the Tulum Ruins including the Playa Paradiso.
Iguanas at Tulum

Colectivos – Traveling by colectivos from Playa del Carmen to Tulum

Colectivos are minivans that transport a small group of people from one place to another. (Also called colectivos). They are the cheapest mode of transportation in Mexico. 

To travel from Playa del Carmen and reach Tulum town, the fare will be 15-20 pesos – one way. You can catch a colectivo by 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen (practically any main road). You will find lots of them on Highway 307 too.

You will have to flag a colectivo, pay the fare once you disembark the vehicle. Payment is taken in cash and pesos are preferred.

You can also use colectivos to drop you closer to the Tulum Ruins – you just have to ask and pay attention to the stop call-outs.

Colectivos are safe. However, you can’t book them online. They are local means of travel as well and Mexicans use it to get home and to work. You will find colectivos to make frequent stops to let people in.

As colectivos are minivans, do not carry huge baggage with you, as space will be tight. Avoid getting on a colectivos in the morning or evenings when offices start and close, as colectivos could be crowded.

Colectivos start operating as early as 04:30 am. And you can hop on to one as late as 11:30 pm. If one is crowded, you can get another colectivo in 10 minutes or less. Normally at the highway, if the driver sees tourists they will stop for you.

You will find colectivos on the Riviera Maya highway, near resort areas, bus stations, city centre, practically everywhere.

Pro Tip:

Price: 40 pesos round trip

Consider colectivo if

  • The cheapest way to reach Tulum from Playa del Carmen
  • Don’t want comfort

Don’t take colectivo if

  • If carrying luggage
  • If you don’t like to share a ride or space

Taxis Playa del Carmen

Taxis are a good option to travel as well. They are safe. The resort you are staying in can arrange taxis for you. Pick up and drop off to the exact location makes it convenient.  

Taxis are charged for the entire ride. A taxi ride is 640- 700 pesos one way from Playa del Carmen to Tulum.

So if you are traveling with kids or are a big group, taxis might be cheaper and convenient as compared to a colectivo.

If the colectivo is near about full, it can only take 1-2 more passengers, the rest of the group/family will be behind. Plus you have to pay per person in a colectivo, rather than for the whole ride. Also, consider the convenience and comfort of travel. Read about pink taxis in Playa del Carmen

Pro Tip:

Price: 1400 pesos round trip

Consider taxi 

  • A convenient way to reach Tulum from Playa del Carmen
  • Comfortable
  • Great for groups or travel with kids
  • Carrying luggage  

Don’t take a taxi 

  • Not a cheap option
  • No guided tour of the area
Best Things to do in Playa del Carmen
Mexico

Things to see in Tulum

Here are some of the amazing things to do in Tulum

  • Explore the Mayan Ruins of Tulum – Take a guided tour. Tulum Ruins are located about 15 minutes from the town of Tulum. You can take a guided of the Mayan ruins and then include some free time at the Playa Paradiso or go snorkeling and diving. You can easily spend 2-3 hours at the ruins site alone. Some of the ruins are barricaded and some not. It is a good idea to include a local guide to learn about Mayan history and its impact on the present-day Mexico culture
  • Relax at the Playa Paradiso or Paradise Beach –  Diving and snorkeling are done at the Paradise beach. The beach is pretty and clean. You can also picnic or eat at the nearby Poncho villa restaurant.
  • Go diving or snorkeling or both –  Diving and snorkeling are just two of the activities that you can do at the Tulum ruins site.
  • Visit Tulum Beach
  • Explore Tulum town
  • Food – There are tons of restaurants in Tulum serving local/Mexican food. If you are tired of the resort buffet, then use your time in Tulum to relish some local delicacies like fish tacos
  • Cenote Dos Ojos – This cenote is located every close to the Tulum ruins, so definitely take a dip where you are in the area. Carry a bathing suit and towel for the cenote swim. Many tours will include a trip to the cenote as well. Cenote is a sinkhole.

Playa del Carmen Things to do

First of all, pick an awesome resort for your stay. This is what can make or break your Mexico vacation. An all-inclusive deal (food and airport transfers), with quick access to the highway, markets, and beaches will make your vacation super!

  • Day trips – Definitely take tons of day trips to explore more of the Riviera Maya area including Tulum and Chichen Itza.
  • Take many day tours and explore more of the Riviera Maya –  EXCLUSIVE Mexico Riviera Maya Tours
  • Dip at a Cenote – Dos Ojos is just one of the cenotes in the area. There are many more cenotes including Ik Ill cenote, Choo Ha and many more.
  • Enjoy the beach resorts and private beaches – Enjoy some downtime at some of the finest white sandy beaches of Playa del Carmen. Walk the beach, picnic or sunbathe – your choice
  • Eat at amazing restaurants – Frida Kahlo restaurants is a fine dining option in Playa del Carmen. Located at 5th avenue, you will many affordable eating options here too
  • Explore 5th avenue – Don’t forget to stroll this awesome shopping district – 5th avenue. Souvenir to high-end shopping, art walks, and displays, and more. This area is bustling with life all day and night long. Safe for tourists.
  • Great cuisines and nightlife
  • Attend a pool party
  • Get our Playa del Carmen Itinerary

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions 

Q – How far is Tulum from Playa del Carmen?

Ans. Playa del Carmen to Tulum is 64.7 kilometres. It takes an hour to reach.

 Q – Is Tulum same as Tulum Ruins?

Ans. Tulum town is located about 15 minutes away from Tulum Ruins. 

Q – I am going to Tulum Beach. How far is it from Tulum town?

Ans. Tulum beach is 20 minutes away from town.

Q – Where is Tulum and Playa del Carmen located?

Ans. Both Playa del Carmen and Tulum are located in the Yucatan peninsula and belongs to the Riviera Maya tourist zone. Tulum is close to the waters – the Caribbean Sea facing the town.

Q – Is it safe to travel to Tulum from Playa del Carmen using public transport?

Ans. Yes, it is safe to travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum using public transport like ADO bus or colectivo.

Q – Can you recommend a tour to explore Tulum Ruins from Play del Carmen?

Ans. This recommended tour includes a trip to Coba ruins as well. Great value. – CHECK OUT THE TOUR HERE

Q – Can you order Uber in Playa del Carmen?

Ans. At the time of writing this post, Uber was not operating in Playa del Carmen. (2019)

Q – How much is the bus ticket from Playa del Carmen to Tulum?

Ans. 70 pesos one way.

Q – What are colectivos?

Ans. They are minivans operating in Mexico. They have shared rides and are the cheapest commute option.

Q – Is it safe to drive in Playa del Carmen to Tulum?

Ans. Highway 307 is safe to drive and generally, it is safe to buy in Mexico as long as you follow traffic rules and carry a valid driver’s license. 

Q – How far is Puerto Morelos from Playa del Carmen?

Ans. Puerto Morelos is located between the Riviera Maya resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, 40 minutes by car.

Q – How far is Puerto Aventuras from Playa del Carmen and Tulum?

Ans.  Puerto Aventuras is 25 minutes away from PDC and 35 minutes away from Tulum

Q – Is Akumal closer to Playa del Carmen then Tulum?

Ans. Akumal is 30 minutes away from Playa del Carmen. Taxi fares start at 360 pesos.

Q. How far is Isla Mujeres from Tulum and Playa del Carmen?

Ans. Isla Mujeres from Tulum is 2 hours and 45 minutes by car. Isla Mujeres from Playa del Carmen is 2 hours. PDC is in between Isla Mujeres and Tulum. You can do a day tour to explore the water adventure highlights. 

Additional Mexico Resources

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Ways to travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum
Playa del Carmen to Tulum

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