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Buses between Cancun and Playa del Carmen
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.
~ Local Buses ~
Ask your holiday rep in resort about the local buses, they are really cheap & you only pay one price its less than $1.00 (It was when i was there in 1999 it may be a little more now)
Whether you go to the next stop or whether you stay on for an hour or more its a set price. Real good value for money & not too crowded & a bonus about these buses are that if you miss a bus dont worry, the next one will be there before you even get chance to think! They run every couple of minutes.
These buses are great for dropping you off to the main centre of Cancun where you can see the nightlife & also have a great day out shopping. We went out to Cancun Shopping Mall. It is fantastic and also air conditioned. A great day out for those who love to shop til they drop!
The cheapest way to get around Cancun (both in the hotel zone and downtown) is to take the local bus. It's also a great way to get some exposure to the local people and culture. The fare one way is 6.5 pesos (less than one US dollar). Bus stops are clearly marked throughout the hotel zone and downtown. The concierge at your hotel will be happy to tell you which bus to take to get where you want to go. From the hotel zone to get to Av. Tulum downtown take the R1. To get to Wal Mart and Market 28 downtown take R2.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Lay out of Cancun and perfect bus service
For those of you who don't know yet, Cancun basically consists of two parts: Downtown Cancun and the Hotelstrip. Downtown Cancun is really a backpackers place, whereas the strip is filled with large and luxurious 4 and 5 star hotels.
The hotelstrip is a piece of land (+/-15km) in the form of the number 7 with both ends connected to the mainland. Inside the 7 is a big lagoon, whereas downtown Cancun is located on the mainland at the upper end of the 7. Bear in mind that most hotels on the strip are on the seaside an not the lagoonside. Halfway the strip there is also several modern shoppingcentres with shops, restaurants, etc.
The easiest way to get around Cancun is to go by bus. Buses are constantly driving up and down from downtown Cancun to the very end of the hotelstrip, with stops along the entire strip. Simply buy a ticket (fixed price, no matter how far you have to go) when entering the bus.
- Budget Travel
Buses cost $6.5 pesos (NO American coins) per person / 1 way. You get a ticket, but, it is for their control. There are 4 buses R-1, R-2, R-15 & R 27. If you are traveling within the hotel zone then it really does not matter what bus you take (Wet'n Wild is the exception. It is in the hotel zone but only half the buses go there so ask before you get on). R-2 & R-15 go to Wal-mart & Mercado 28. R-1 you ask! Well, it now goes almost everywhere. You have to read the front right window of the bus as it lists where it ends up. R-1's will go to Puerto Juarez, Wal-mart, Plaza 2000, Mercado 23, the bus station & places I have never been. The R 27 turns left on Tulum Ave & goes to Plaza Las Americas (the local's mall).
Bus Tips a) Last man standing does not win anything. It means you will be flying soon. If you are the last person to pay the driver then before you can think about where you want to sit he will be going 78 miles per hour. b) Telling the bus driver where to get off is a good start but not always will it work. Most do not speak English well enough to understand you. Have an idea of where you are going before you get on. Look for landmarks. c) They will not stop to let you off unless you ask them to. Don't assume they stop at all the stops. d) To flag a bus down you need to wave one of your body parts. e) Cheapest tour in Cancun so enjoy it. f) Get on in the front and off from the back door whenever possible. g) Don't bring drinks on the bus as they will most likely end up on someone else. h) When getting off NO ONE moves for you so if the bus is packed, put your head down and push.i) 'The 'Official'way to alert the driver you want off is to press the Red Button on the handrail by the back door.
Explore the area
There are plenty of great places around Cancun, and you should check them out if you have the chance. A quick and cheap way is to take the bus. The busstation is located downtown, and from here you can take the bus to many different places.
There are buses running every 15 minutes to Playa del Carmen, and it's only an hour away. This is a much smaller and quieter place than Cancun. From there you can take the ferry out to Cozumel, a small island famous for the snorkelling and diving. An hour more on the bus takes you to Tulum and the beautiful ruins there. There are also plenty of other places that you can explore in the area.
The hotel zone is a long and narrow reef stretching over an area more than 20 km, and the zone itself is located about 10 km from the downtown. The best way to get around is to take the bus. They run all the time and are very cheap. In the front it is written were it's heading, and if you're not quite sure where to get out you can ask the busdriver to tell when you arrive at that place. Most of the time the driver don't say the name of the stops.
There are many different routes running around in the city. The route going from downtown to the hotel zone is called R-1, and it's clearly marked on the front window.
Fun and Cheap way to get around town.
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.
Transport from Cancun to Puerto Juarez
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.
Transport between downtown and the Hotel Zone
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.
The airport bus
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).
Bus travel from Cancun to Tulum
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.
Take the Bus
Because I was late booking the trip, our travel points got us to Cancun quite efficiently on Air Canada via a non-stop flight from Toronto. However, it was not as direct getting back - Mexicali to Mexico City, United to Chicago and then Air Canada to Montreal (stop-over) before finally getting home a day and a half after we had departed Cancun. Nevertheless, our luggage successfully tracked us and all flights were on-time! For Cancun itself, I had pre-booked a rental car for two days. But, because we got our free excursions from the Palace Resorts, I ended up cancelling it and taking the guided bus tour. Overall, this will save you $ because the tour takes care of entrance fees, video camera fees and the interpretive tour guide as well a lunch thrown in. Another point is the danger of accidents if you are doing the driving. While we were at Chichen-Itza, our bus guide was a passenger in a car that struck a young boy who darted out (the guide was on his break while we had our 'free' time) and he was immediately thrown into jail by the police even though he was not driving. The guide managed to get released in time to rejoin us on our return trip while we were stopped for lunch near Valladolid. Our condo owner also told us of one of his visiting friends that was involved in an accident and has been prevented from leaving the country for 7 months (to-date) while waiting for the courts to deal with the case! By the way, the buses in Cancun are very efficient - they run up and down the whole Hotel strip every few minutes and only cost 6 pesos (US 60 cents) each for as far as you want to go!
Busses further out
To catch a bus to Puerto Juarez to go to Isla Mujeres. take the R-3 it says on the front Puerto Juarez. Usually a red bus.
Bus Station Central
Take the R-1 from the hotel zone 65 pesos/.65 cents, tell the driver bus station. Try to stay in the front so he can call to you. go across the street. Nice clean bus station with immaculate bathrooms ( according to my wife, which is high praise ). 3 pesos plus 1 peso tip, a dime. Go to the leader board and find your destination on the Adobus.
Puerto Morelos is 19 peseos/$3.04 round trip, get round trip ticket.
Playa del Carmen $7.00 RT
These de luxe or pullman buses are equivalent to Greyhound with reserved seats and baggage check. They also have toilets and TV although the TV's sometimes are not used or the TV show is in Spanish. Bring your own TP.
he may blink his lights to ask if you want to be picked up. Raise your hand like your hailing a cab.
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Palace Resort Buses
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.
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