From within Mexico, visitors to Playa del Carmen usually just take a bus. Travelers going to the city from Cancun have other transportation options, including 10-person or so Colectivo vans, ferries, and car rentals. From Cancun, it usually takes from 45 minutes to an hour to get to Playa del Carmen.
Highway 307 is the only major road that passes by Playa del Carmen. It divides as you approach the city from Cancun; vehicles that veer left to the city keep to the inside lanes that head south. Avenida Constituyentes is the first east-west artery to the city. It works well for destinations in the northern part of Playa del Carmen.
Leading to Playa del Carmen’s main square is Avenida Juarez. If your vehicle stays in the outside lanes, you must continue past the city until you get to the U-turn, double back, and then stay to your right.
There are many car rental companies that service the Yucatan Peninsula. You can rent a car in the city or anywhere within the Riviera Maya. If you require the car to be delivered anywhere within the Riviera Maya, just inform the car rental company about this and their representatives will deliver the vehicle exactly where you need it.
Colectivo vans are good alternatives to the buses. These vans depart and return at Playa del Carmen from a location on Calle 2 between Ave 10 and Av 15. These vans are cheap government-regulated air-conditioned vehicles that transport people on Highway 307. They run north and south along the coast between Cancun and Tulum.
Pick-up times for collective vans vary, roughly every 10 minutes. Pick-up and drop-off are along the freeway. But you can get a ride near to many destinations between Cancun and Tulum for as low as $1.50.
If you are coming from Cozumel, you will need to take a taxi at the airport and instruct the cab driver to take you to the dock where you can get a ferry ride. Ferries leave for Playa del Carmen every hour. Travel time is about 30 minutes. Once you reach the dock in the city, there will be buses, tricycles, and taxi cabs that you can ride to get to your accommodation.
Playa del Carmen Flights
Playa del Carmen has become one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. Because of its status as a top destination, many efforts have been made to make it more convenient and easier for visitors to get to this famous city. From within Mexico, visitors usually rent a car, ride the bus, or hail a taxi.
Visitors who come to Playa del Carmen usually arrive by plane, landing either at the International Airport in Cozumel or at the Cancun International Airport. While this Mexican city has its own airport, it is somewhat small and is primarily used for short flights by smaller planes between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel or nearby archeological ruins.
Visitors who take flights to Playa del Carmen will discover pristine, white-sand beaches with glass-like waters, Mayan ruins, ecological and natural parks, a wide range of accommodation options, of course, the city’s superb weather. But whatever your reason for booking flights (whether it is for business or for leisure) to this Mexican city, it is sure to be a holiday you will remember forever.
To really enjoy your vacation to this wonderful city, it is always a wise idea to book hotel, travel, and transfer arrangements well ahead of time.
There are many ways to get to Playa del Carmen. If you are within Mexico, you can reach this city by bus. You can take buses directly from the Cancun International Airport. If you are availing the ADO bus service, turn right after exiting the airport’s main terminal and walk around 200 yards. Get a ticket right before exiting the terminal. Purchasing a ticket in Mexican Pesos will save you some dollars. One-way transfer services and rental cars are also available.
Scheduled bus service to destinations in the region (for example, Xel-ha, Tulum, Xcaret, Cancun, Cancun International Airport, etc.) and beyond depart from the bus station in Playa del Carmen at the southern end of La Quinta Avenida and Avenida Juárez close to the Ferry terminal to Cozumel.
If you wish to travel more comfortably, take first-class ADO buses. They depart every hour or so for such tourist destinations as Xel-ha, Xcaret, and Tulum. Bus fares are in a $4 range. The ADO buses go directly to Xcaret and Xel-ha entrances. They also run direct service to the Cancun International Airport from Playa Del Carmen for around $8 or 80 pesos.
Second-class Mayab buses also depart from La Quinta Avenida station. They stop more frequently on the way and drop off along the highway to Tulum. This requires walking from the highway to Xcaret or Xel-ha entrance.
Also organized bus tours are available from various bus companies. One of them is Tours Aldebaran, which crosses the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan (Cancun, Tulum, Mahahual, Isla Mujeres, Celestun, Ek Balam, Merida, Rio Lagartos, Uxmal, Chichen Itza, Sian Ka’an, Coba, Xelha, Xcaret, etc.).
Getting around Playa del Carmen by foot can be very challenging, but rewarding at the same time. It gives you a closer look at some attractions and it gives you the feeling that you are really in a strange land. Plus, getting around the city on foot is a good physical exercise. Below is our advice for those who choose to walk around the city.
The city is generally pedestrian-friendly – you can actually walk to everything! La Quinta Avenida, the main north-south pedestrianized street, does not allow vehicles except in the early morning for deliveries. You will find here many hotels, shops, and really nice restaurants. Avenida 30, five blocks west of La Quinta Avenida, is where the larger stores are found. It only takes about 10 minutes to walk from Avenida Juarez and El Zócalo to Avenida Constituyentes.
Playa del Carmen has foot-bridges and sidewalks, although the condition of the latter can vary. The major precaution when exploring the city on foot is traffic. Numerous drivers do not always respect speed limits and will not necessarily slow down. In addition, a number of streets are narrow or in disrepair. Not paying attention to your surroundings could cause you a serious accident.
Be very aware of yellow and white pedestrian crossings. They are hardly followed by motorists. When the traffic light turns green for the pedestrians to cross, it is always a wise idea to wait until the front row of cars has stopped before crossing. Some drivers interpret the red light as “speed up to beat the red light”. Brownouts are also quite frequent in the city, as in other parts of Mexico, affecting crossings and traffic lights.
Getting around Playa del Carmen by bike is an enjoyable alternative to walking, and cycling is perhaps the most exciting mode of transportation to explore Playa del Carmen. You can find bike rental shops at the north end of La Quinta Avenida. Biking in the city, however, is not for people with a weak heart. You better watch out for the traffic. The traffic in the city is not always predictable and can be very stressful.
In addition, it is not common to see a lot of tourists doing long-distance biking on Playa del Carmen’s roads. The city lacks dedicated cycle racks and the free highways can get very dark at night because of the lack of proper lighting. The road surfaces also vary from good to very poor.
But biking in the city is becoming more common, as evidenced by the network of cycle paths in various states of repair. And despite all the hassles, cycling around Playa del Carmen will give you a unique and enjoyable experience.
Some cities lend themselves well to biking, but others do not. Typically, older colonial towns and cities that sit atop mountains – with their narrow sidewalks, steep inclines, and cobbled streets – do not lend themselves well to bikers. On the other hand, cycling in coastal cities and towns (such as Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Veracruz, Acapulco, and Campeche) built on flatter ground and have flatter road surfaces, are much better.
When exploring the treasures Playa del Carmen has to offer, we suggest that you rent a mountain bike, with strengthened suspension and hard-wearing tires. Always bring your tire repair kit with you. Biking in the mountains, valleys, and hills of the regions breathtaking outdoors is a totally different proposition. You are provided with helmets, properly equipped mountain bikes, and are taken on known tracks, paths, and cycle routes amid lovely natural landscapes.
One of the best ways to explore the beauty of Playa del Carmen is by car. From Cancun, as you approach this exciting holiday destination, Highway 307 divides into two. You will have to turn left to Playa del Carmen. Stay to the inside lanes that head south.
Avenida Constituyentes is the first east-west artery to Playa del Carmen. This works well for you if your destination is in northern Playa. The second is Avenida Juarez, which will lead you to the city’s main square. If you stay in the outside lanes, you must continue past the city until you get to the U-turn, double back, and then stay to your right.
Avenida Juárez, the main east-west street, connects Highway 307 with El Zócalo close to the beach. It crosses a number of numbered north-south avenues that parallel the beach. Interestingly enough, all of these numbered avenues are multiples of five. La Quinta Avenida, the nearest to the exciting beach, is closed to traffic from the Calle 6 and Zócalo and some blocks beyond at night.
If you want to hire a car to get around Playa del Carmen, you will have many choices as car rental firms are all over in the city. Cars for rent are readily available at numerous locations at the north end of La Quinta Avenida Large car rental companies, such as Hertz, National, etc. are convenient. If you are on a tight budget but want to rent a car, your best bets are agencies, which offer less expensive services in general.
Hiring a car can be the best way to avoid tourist traps and explore some of Playa del Carmen’s less-visited treasures.