How to Get to Tulum: Best Transportation Modes from Cancun

In the last few years, Tulum has gone from a sleeper town to a bustling tourist destination. Crystal clear waters, lush greenery, a lively party life, and historic Mayan ruins. These are some of the allures responsible for this surge in popularity.

Yet, before indulging in all the fun included in your Tulum itinerary, you’ll have to get there first. Don’t let that statement phase you; getting to this beautiful town is pretty easy, and you can find out how with this guide.

We cover everything from the landing airport, transport options, and more below. There are luxury and budget modes and ones suited for solo travelers and large or small groups.

Cancun Airport to Tulum

Firstly, before making your way to the beautiful Tulum, you’ll need to get to Mexico. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Tulum, Mexico airport in the country. This goes for both national and international travelers. 

This means you’ll have to land at the Cancun Airport from wherever your travels start. While the Cozumel Airport is closer to Tulum, it takes longer to get to Tulum than its Cancun counterpart.

The latter needs two hours of travel despite being the closest airport to Tulum, Mexico. From the Cancun International Airport, you’re in for a 1.5-hour to 2-hour Cancun to Tulum drive. Therefore, the Cancun Airport is the best starting point.

Just keep in mind that your travel time depends on traffic and your transportation mode.

There are many options to get you from the Cancun International Airport to Tulum. Each one has varying costs and levels of convenience.

Getting to Tulum by Bus

Mexico has a reliable bus system to serve as the best public mode of transportation. The ADO bus serves many routes in the country. This includes the Tulum to Cancun Airport path. 

Buses leave from and travel to the airport daily. If you decide to stop there before going to Tulum, the ADO bus service also serves the downtown Cancun to Tulum.

The ADO bus is the perfect travel partner for solo or large group travelers. It’s cheap, convenient, has luggage storage, and offers an incredible and safe service. With several departure times, you’re guaranteed to find a bus during the day at nearly all times.

If you miss the departure of a direct bus and you don’t want to wait for another one, you can choose an indirect ride. Take the ADO bus to Playa del Carmen, and once there, switch to a Tulum bus.

You can buy your bus ticket at the ADO bus counter or online ahead of time on their website. We recommend booking ahead of time to ensure you can reserve a seat and schedule your travels accordingly.

Note: Be sure to specify whether you’re visiting the Tulum town or archaeological area. Also, make sure your destination will be Tulum Centro if you’re going to the town.

Getting to Tulum by Car

You can rent a car and self-drive if you want the most freedom and flexibility when traveling in Tulum. Leading into town is a frequently traveled highway that is in excellent condition.

Renting a vehicle is convenient because you don’t have a stipulated schedule to follow. This means you can stop wherever and whenever you want. 

It’s also perfect if you plan to embark on day trips from Tulum. You can do things at your own pace and change plans on a whim easily.

Along the drive from the airport, you can stop at various points of interest to kickstart the fun. This includes the breathtaking cenotes, historic ruins, beaches, and others which you can find in this Tulum travel guide.

There are many car rental agencies you can find at the Cancun Airport, each with different rates and benefits like insurance. They also have a variety of vehicle options to suit all travelers. Many of them, like Hertz, Thrifty, and Avis, are international chains and others are local agencies.

You can reserve a vehicle as soon as you land or book a car online before your travels by using the reputable Rental Cars.

Just make sure that you have a non-drinking designated driver or have enough cash for a taxi late at night – the nightlife in Tulum can get wild.

Extra tips when renting a car

  • Be sure to inspect your vehicle and take pictures or videos before taking it so you won’t have to pay any damage fees for something you didn’t do.
  • Ensure your rental agreement is always in your vehicle.
  • Mexico drives on the right. If you’ve never driven on the right, then steer clear of renting a car.
  • Parking in Tulum is hard to come by, and it’s usually expensive. It’s best to find a hotel that offers free parking.
  • Keep an eye for speed bumps, as some don’t come with signs alerting you to them.

Getting to Tulum by Private Car

If you’d rather feel a bit like royalty by getting driven to Tulum, then booking a private transfer service is your best bet. Shuttle transfers are all about convenience, with no worries about driving or missing the bus. 

They’re also perfect for large groups with a lot of luggage as you pay per vehicle rather than per person. Plus, the service providers boast a great fleet of cars for different needs. Minibusses, SUVs, and handicapped-accessible vehicles are all available.

The vehicles are comfortable, and they feature plenty of seats and air conditioning. You can also ask the driver to make a few stops along the way, although fees will apply. Plus, unlike the bus, the taxis will drop you off right by your Tulum hotel.

You can book your shuttle online ahead of time or reserve them just outside the airport when you land. We recommend booking your transfer online, as you can choose an English-speaking driver and pay the lowest fares possible. 

You can book using the official Cancun airport website. Alternatively, you can reserve with an independent service provider like Cancun Airport Transportation. Choose between one-way and round-trip transfers, the latter being perfect for hassle-free returns.

Prices will vary based on the season and service provider.

Tip: If you prefer booking a shuttle upon landing, be on the lookout for scammers who’ll try to charge you more than you should be paying.

Getting to Tulum by Shared Shuttle

A shared Cancun to Tulum shuttle is better than the private service if you’re traveling on a budget or in a relatively small group. It provides a similar type of convenience while being the cheaper option of the two. Plus, you may even meet other travelers, too.

The vehicles are air-conditioned, and your driver can speak English. The cars also have plenty of storage space for you and the other passengers. 

Like the private transfer service, we recommend booking online as the shuttles get filled up quickly. This is especially prevalent during peak season, where you may have to wait long to get on another shuttle.

While you can’t book round-trip transfers, you can separately book the same shuttle from Tulum to the Cancun airport.

One of the issues with this mode of transport is that the shuttle doesn’t move until full. This can lead to long waiting times during the quiet season.

Another issue is that the shuttle from Cancun to Tulum will drop off passengers at different points along the way. This means there will be many stops during the ride. However, this can also be a good thing as you get to see some of the popular areas near Tulum.

Getting to Tulum by Helicopter

Spending nearly two hours in a bus or car isn’t a fun experience. Add to that the possibility of traffic or dealing with other passengers, and it can quickly dampen your mood.

If money’s not an issue and you want a truly grand experience, then you’re in for a treat. There are helicopter transfer services offering deluxe travel from Cancun to Tulum in the sky. Of the service providers available, the Riviera Charters is among the most popular and will be the point of focus here.

A helicopter ride’s undoubtedly the best way to go from Cancun to Tulum and is a great way to start your luxurious travels. You get to enjoy scenic views from unique vantage points with a trusty pilot for around 50 minutes.

The helicopter transfer is best for a small group (between 1 and 5 people). You depart from the FBO private airport, which is a 10-minute drive away from the Cancun International Airport. Your destination is beautiful Tankah, which is a 20-minute drive away from Tulum Centro.

Surely you can’t be a VIP and still have to drive, right? Exactly, which is why Riviera Charters will provide you with land transportation. The company will take you to the FBO airport from the Cancun Airport and from Tankah to Tulum.

Unfortunately, the helicopters don’t have space for suitcases and other large luggage bags. However, Riviera Charter’s vehicle can bring the bags to your hotel at an extra cost – which is a small price for luxury.

Getting to Tulum by Tour

Tours are a convenient way of getting to Tulum from Cancun. Not only do they lessen the burden of planning on your part, but they also give you a chance to start the fun early.

For instance, this Tulum discovery tour from Cancun takes you on an exploration of the Mayan ruins of Tulum. Here, you’ll enjoy a guided tour before getting free time to look around on your own.

Visit the ancient Mayan buildings in the area before dipping into an incredible cenote on this Tulum and cenotes tour from Cancun. Just beware that you’ll need a $15 conservative fee per person to access the cenotes.

If you’re an avid adventurer, then you’ll definitely love this extreme tour from Cancun filled with all sorts of fun. The 8-hour adventure includes zooming across speedy zip lines, rappelling, and snorkeling. Not to mention, you enjoy a tasty lunch consisting of Mexican delicacies.

Note: Tours only go as far as the Tulum archaeological area, but you can take a short bus ride to central Tulum at the end of the tour. Pickups are generally done from a Cancun hotel, so you’ll likely need to catch a bus to the hotel zone from the airport.

How Do You Get To Tulum: FAQs

If you have any lingering questions that the above guide hasn’t answered, you might find them right here.

Is there Uber in Tulum?

While you can find Uber in most of Mexico, the service is unfortunately not available in Tulum at the moment.

How to Get Around in Tulum?

While Uber doesn’t operate in Tulum, cabs, taxis, and bikes are around as good forms of transportation.

How Far is Tulum from Cancun Airport?

Tulum’s center sits around 73 miles (118km) away from the Cancun International Airport and roughly 80 miles (130km) from downtown Cancun. Your travel time will vary depending on your transportation mode and any stops you make along the way.

Are There Taxis from Cancun Airport?

There are no “taxis” you can randomly stop in the street and ask for a ride to Tulum from the airport. Regular taxis aren’t allowed in the airport. Only private transport providers operate here.

Summary on How to Get to Tulum, Mexico

And there you have it, a comprehensive guide on how to get to Tulum from Cancun. With private and shared shuttles, the ADO bus, car rentals, and helicopter transfers, there are plenty of options to choose from.

These options are available for all types of travelers, catering to you whether you’re traveling solo or in a group. You also don’t have to stress if you’re a budget traveler, as there is affordable transportation, too.  

Once you’ve booked your transport, read up on the best things to do in Tulum for an unforgettable holiday experience.

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