From Cancun to Tulum: 4 Best Ways to Get There

Over the years, Tulum has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico. Situated on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, about 81 miles (130 kilometers) south of Cancun, Tulum is known for its beautiful beaches, archaeological site, and nearby cenotes (natural pools). So if you’re planning a trip here, you’ll probably be flying into Cancun first. There are a few different ways to travel from Cancun to Tulum, and the best option for you will depend on your budget, time constraints, and preferences. Here’s a look at four of the most popular options.

From Cancun to Tulum: Best Ways to Get There

1. Rent a Car and Drive from Cancun to Tulum

Renting a car is the best option if you want the freedom and flexibility to explore the area at your own pace. It’s also great for families or groups traveling together as you can split the cost of gas and parking.

The drive from Cancun to Tulum is just over an hour without stops. The advantage is that you’re not tied to the schedule of a tour or the availability of public transport. You can also make spontaneous stops along the way to take photos or explore beaches that you wouldn’t otherwise have time to visit.

The main thing to be aware of is the cost of renting a car. You can find decent rates starting at around $35 per day, but this will increase during peak season. Be sure to factor in the cost of fuel as well, which is currently around $4.50 per gallon (3.78 liters).

In Mexico, you will drive on the right-hand side of the road, which can be confusing for some visitors. The good news is that the roads are in good condition and well-marked, making them easy to navigate. If you’re not used to driving on the right, be sure to take it slow and pay extra attention.

If you plan to rent a car, I recommend using reputable companies. There are many to choose from, but I always use Hertz or Avis. Be aware that you will need to present a valid driver’s license and credit card upon arrival.

2. A Packaged Tour from Cancun to Tulum

If you don’t want the hassle of organizing your own transport, then another option is to book an all-inclusive tour from Cancun to Tulum. This is a popular option, and there are many reputable companies that offer the service.

The advantage of taking a tour is that everything is organized for you, and you don’t have to worry about anything. The downside is that it can be more expensive than doing it yourself, and you may not get the flexibility that you want. 

A typical tour from Cancun to Tulum will include round-trip transport from your hotel in an air-conditioned vehicle, with a stop at a Tulum Ruins site along the way. The journey takes around 2 hours. You’ll also have the services of a bilingual guide (usually English and Spanish) who will provide commentary along the way and help you make the most of your time at the ruins.

The cost of a tour from Cancun to Tulum starts at around $70 per person a day. But this will vary depending on the operator and the type of tour that you choose. If you want to take a tour but don’t want to be part of a big group, you can book a private tour that will cost more but give you a more personalized experience.

The biggest advantage of taking a packaged tour is that everything is taken care of, and you don’t have to worry about the logistics. This option is ideal if you want a hassle-free vacation. So if you like this option, I recommend booking your tour in advance to avoid disappointment as they sell out during the peak season. You can book your tour online or through your hotel concierge.

3. Shared Airport Shuttle from Cancun to Tulum

Another one of the most popular ways to travel from Cancun to Tulum is via a shared airport shuttle. It’s comfortable, convenient, and relatively cheap (it currently costs around $25 one-way). The journey from Cancun to Tulum takes around 1.5 hours, but this can vary depending on traffic and how many stops the driver has to make. 

Shared shuttles are a great way to meet other travelers, and most of the time, they’ll make a few stops to pick up other passengers along the way. This is usually not an issue, but it can add extra time to your journey, so keep that in mind.

You can book your shared shuttle in advance online or wait until you arrive at the airport and book it with one of the many tour companies offering this service. I recommend booking your shuttle in advance so that you don’t have to worry about it when you arrive and can start enjoying your vacation sooner.

When booking, you will need to select your pickup time and location as well as your drop-off time and location. Once you’ve booked your shuttle, you’ll be given a meeting point at the airport. From there, the driver will load your luggage into the van, and you’ll be on your way. The shuttle will drop you off directly at your accommodation in Tulum, so you don’t need to worry about taking a taxi from the drop-off point.

4. Take a Bus from Cancun to Tulum

If you’re on a budget, then the best way to travel from Cancun to Tulum is by bus. This is also the most popular option as it’s very affordable. The journey by bus takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes, depending on traffic. The cost is around $15 per person, and you can buy your ticket at the bus station or in advance online.

I recommend using the ADO bus company as they are reliable and have a good safety record. The buses are clean and comfortable, with air-conditioning and reclining seats. You can also buy your ticket in advance online, which is handy if you want to be sure of getting a seat on the bus.

The only downside of this bus is that they don’t run very often, so you may have to wait around for a while for the next one. The schedule is also subject to change, so it’s always best to check in advance.

However, if the departure time doesn’t line up with your flight or other plans, you may want to consider taking another bus to Playa del Carmen and connecting to Tulum with another bus. The journey takes a bit longer but gives you more flexibility. The only downside of this option is overcrowding and long waiting times at the Playa del Carmen bus station.

All in all, taking the bus is the best option if you’re traveling on a budget from Cancun to Tulum. It’s affordable and relatively easy to do, although the schedules can be a bit unpredictable.

In summary

The best way to travel from Cancun to Tulum depends on your individual needs and preferences. If you want the freedom to explore at your own pace, then renting a car is the best option. If you’re on a budget, taking the bus is the way. Whatever you decide, be sure to plan ahead.