We took the bus everywhere (except one night when I had too much to drink!) They are very cheap ($.60 U.S.) and so convenient. You can tell the driver when you get on where you'd like to stop, or just get up right before your stop and he'll know to slow down. This was a great way to get around and also to meet different people. It's SO much cheaper than a taxi, which is like $6 or $8 to go anywhere.
The R-1 that goes down Tulum Ave / Hotel Zone is cheap and quick. It's only about 7 Pesos, and you can find bus stops all along that route. Sometimes when you're walking along the Hotel Zone, just wave it down and it'll stop, but usually it doesn't when you're Downtown. There are literally one bus after the other, so if one comes along that looks packed, it's safe to wait about five minutes for another, more empty one to come by. The R-1 does get packed in the late afternoon/early evening as locals are getting off work and heading home and around that time, it does get trafficky getting into downtown so do expect to be on the bus for about 30 minutes at that time, when usually it would take 15 minutes without traffic.
We found this a very quick, cheap, convenient mode of transportation especially for the morning/early afternoon when it's not crowded at all.
There are a number of buses each day from Cancun to the seaside Mayan ruins at Tulum.
At the time of my visit (March 2006), only the two morning buses (at 9:15am and 10:15am) went to the ruins - the later buses went only to the town of Tulum, some 6km from the ruins!.
I caught the 10:15am bus which went via the Crocodile Park and Xel Ha en-route to the ruins. The bus that I returned to Cancun on in the late afternoon called again at Xel Ha and also at Playa del Carmen en-route, but not at the Crocodile Park.
The journey time is approximately 2 hours and I caught a bus operated by ADO at a cost of 67 Pesos each way.
I caught the return bus from the main bus terminal in Tulum, having walked along the beach from the ruins and then been offered a lift into town by a local. In Tulum, the main bus terminal is located on the main street (Avenida Tulum), but the afternoon bus (at approx. 5pm) also stops to pick up passengers at the ruins, so you don't have to make your way into Tulum town if you don't want to.
In Tulum, I was advised that the buses run by Mayab are cheaper than those run by ADO, but their buses looked a lot older and less comfortable.
Buses leave Cancun bus terminal every 10 minutes during the day for the beach resort of Playa del Carmen further down the Mayan Riviera.
The journey between Cancun and Playa del Carmen is approximately 1 hour and the cost of a one way ticket is 32 Pesos (correct as at March 2006).
The modern air-conditioned coaches are operated by ADO and are identifiable by their silver and red paintwork.
Tickets are purchased from a clearly signposted counter at Cancun bus terminal. It is not possible to purchase a return ticket, but buses leave Playa del Carmen every 10 minutes for Cancun, so there's no need to buy a return ticket - you won't find yourself unable to get a bus back to Cancun!!
The bus terminal at Playa del Carmen is centrally located on the main thoroughfare ("5th Avenue"), just a two minute walk from the beach and a 5 minute walk from the ferry terminal for boats to Cozumel.
Cancun is a pretty big place. If you are staying in downtown, then you will need public transport to get to the beach. If you are staying in the Hotel Zone, then you will need public transport to get into town.
I occasionally used to walk from downtown to the northern end of the Hotel Zone (a walk of 8km), but to get to my favoured beach, Playa Delfines (18 km from downtown), I had to rely on the bus.
The bus service is excellent. Buses R1, R2 and, so I was told, R15 all run frequently between downtown and the Hotel Zone 24 hours a day.
You will never have to wait more than 5 minutes for a bus to turn up. Buses can be caught from numerous points along Avenida Tulum in downtown and from many stops along the 23km long Hotel Zone.
The fare is a flat rate 6.5 Pesos (correct at March 2006), regardless of the length of your journey. It doesn't matter if you are going from downtown to the northern end of the Hotel Zone or the southern end 23km further on, the price is still the same.
Fares are paid to the driver upon boarding the bus and I believe that bus fares can only be paid for in Pesos. I once witnessed an argument between a bus driver and an American tourist who was trying to pay in US Dollars. The driver was telling the passenger that he was trying to cheat him, and the tourist was protesting that he had more than enough to cover his fare, but only in US Dollars. So, if you're going to be catching buses in Cancun, I'd advise you to carry some small change in Pesos.
Also note that taxis charge a hefty surcharge for crossing the bridge between mainland Cancun and the Hotel Zone. The bus is therefore an economical choice and I never once needed to use a taxi.
If you are planning to visit the wonderful island of Isla Mujeres while you are in Cancun (and I would highly recommend that you do!), then you will need to go to Puerto Juarez to catch the boat across.
Puerto Juarez lies 3km north of Cancun and is well served by local buses. You will need to catch either bus number R1 (but only if it says "Pto. Juarez" on the front) or bus number R13.
The buses run frequently throughout the day and can be caught at numerous points along Avenida Tulum in downtown Cancun. The cost of the journey is just 7 Pesos, and it takes a little under 10 minutes to get to Puerto Juarez.
Given the relatively short distance between Cancun and Puerto Juarez (and the fact that you don't have to go via the Hotel Zone and incur a surcharge), taking a taxi will also be pretty cheap.
Upon returning to Puerto Juarez from Isla Mujeres in the late afternoon, I actually decided to walk back to Cancun. The 3km walk can be done in about 30 minutes and there are only two roads you need to follow (Avenida Portillo and Avenida Tulum) - just be sure to take the correct turn. I wouldn't recommend the walk in the heat of the day and I would also advise that parts of the journey pass through areas that could be described as "rough around the edges".
The bus drops you off right outside the ferry terminal, from where you can purchase tickets for the catamaran to Isla Mujeres. I believe that there is also a beach in Puerto Juarez located a short walk from the ferry terminal.
Upon arriving at Cancun airport, I caught a colectivo minibus to my hotel. This was more expensive than catching a bus, but it would get me straight to my hotel while the bus would only get me as far as the main bus terminal. Having never been to Cancun before, I didn’t know where my hotel was in relation to the bus terminal - so, despite being by far the cheapest option, I opted against catching the bus.
However, at the end of my stay in Cancun, the bus was by far the best option for me to get back to the airport. My hotel was just a 5 minute walk away from the main bus terminal and the cost of a ticket on the airport bus was just 35 Pesos, compared to the 90 Pesos that it would have cost me to catch a colectivo to the airport.
The airport buses (which are red and silver air-conditioned coaches operated by ADO and have the word "Aeropuerto" on the side) leave from the main bus terminal to the airport approximately every 20-30 minutes.
Tickets are purchased at the bus terminal. The airport bus tickets are sold on the right hand side as you enter the terminal and the counter is clearly marked.
The journey takes about 45 minutes and goes directly from the bus terminal to the airport (it does not pass through the Hotel Zone).
The ADO bus station is downtown, easily accessable by the Route 1 bus from the hotel zone.
From here, buses go south and west. We took a bus to Xcaret. The trip was about 1 hour, the bus was comfortable and reasonably priced..
From airport to downtown Cancun, the most economical and compfortable way to travel is with the 1st class ADO bus. It'll cost you 150 pesos (1,5 USD) and take you to the terminal downtown in full compfort, with air conditionning and luggage stowed away for you..
Find these buses near the car park. When you exit airport, walk along the building to your right till you reach the end of the building.. you'll see large coaches parked in the parking lot and most certainly someons will come and offer you to buy a ticket. You can also catch a bus to Playa del Carmen from the same place.
By far the cheapest and easiest way to get around is on Cancun's bus service. Buses service the hotel strip and downtown constantly throughout the day and the price is minimal, especially compared to taxis.
Taking the public bus is fun. The drivers are crazy, but that just adds to the excitement.. I think so anyway. They speed down the streets and come to abrupt stops. When you get on, sit down right away, or you'll end up falling down. THey don't wait till your seated, they just speed off while you are in the middle of finding a place to sit. ha ha ha...They make frequent stops at bus stops every 5 minutes, so there is never a long wait. When in doubt, just tell the bus driver where you want to get off. They're pretty good about telling you when it's your stop. About 6 pesos each way. A little more if you want to take air conditioned bus.Look for the R1 or R2 bus. They will take you around hotel zone and downtown. Oh yeah, before I forget, sometimes if you give them 10 pesos, or more, sometimes they won't give you change. ha ha.
If you must leave the resort, take the bus down the strip. It is only a few pesos. Buses come up and down the strip every few minutes. Just let them know when you want to get off.
We usually hit the Kukulkan Plaza Shopping Mall at Kukulkan Plaza for some jewelry and souvenir shopping. There is also a stop at La Isla which is more upscale. It reminds me of Disney Land.
I used to go into downtown to the outdoor shops there but the vendors are sort of aggressive so I really don't like to go there so much anymore.
Anyways, don't be afraid to try the bus. It's an ADVENTURE!
Hop a bus! It's cheaper than renting a car (by far!) and very quick. You can bus-it around Cancun to the farthest tip & back again very affordably.
They run down the main strip every few minutes, really, so you don't have long to wait when ya want to get out & explore.
If you are going short distances or riding around at night then take R1, R2, etc. However, if you are going long distances try to take the Blue Bus1. It is airconditioned while the other is not. R2 is 65 pesos while Bus 1 11 pesos. Make sure you tell the drivers where you want to get off because they will not always stop where you want.
The palace resort buses are really nice, and are very spacious. They are very helpful because they take you to specific locations in Hotel Zone and elsewhere. The only problem with the Resort bus is that is only goes to a certain number of locations, and it runs on time intervals of 4 hours. So for example if you board at 9am then your pickup time is 1pm. They actually give you a ticket and you must meet back where you were dropped off at that particular time. We used this bus to go to La Isla Mall, and it dropped us off at the Beach Palace. This was the most luxurious transportation vehicle of all the ones we used in Cancun.