Playa del Carmen
Best seller badge

Best-seller

Daytrip TripAdvisor travelers choice 2021

4,400+ reviews

TripAdvisor rating bar

Private car transfer
from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

  • Door-to-door in 1 hour
  • From ... per seat
  • Professional driver
  • Sanitized vehicles
Risk-free

Cancel 24 hours before departure for a full refund

Trip Information

Pick-up

Your driver will meet you at your address in Cancun.

  • Door-to-door service
  • Help with your luggage

Trip

You’ll travel in comfort for 1 hour.

  • Optional sight-seeing
  • Clean, comfortable car
  • Professional driver
  • Bottled water
  • Child seats
  • Prepared for handicapped
  • Smoke-free
  • Pet friendly

Drop-off

Your driver will drop you off at your address in Playa del Carmen.

  • Door-to-door service
  • Help with your luggage
In total
  • 68 km
  • 1 hour

Visit these sights on the way

Overview: Car trip from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

Maybe you’ve just flown into the Cancun International Airport, or maybe you’ve already been in the famous resort town for a few days. Regardless of what your trip has looked like so far, you need to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen to soak up some rays and relax in paradise. Mexican public transportation can be a hassle for foreigners, but the good thing is there are plenty of shuttle buses and private cars available from Daytrip to make the car trip to Playa del Carmen along the Riviera Maya.

With Daytrip you can expect a seamless transfer from Cancun to the heart of Playa del Carmen via shuttle bus or private car. If you prefer door-to-door service, a private driver offers the utmost flexibility and comfort. A private driver ensures a personalized experience, navigating the route efficiently while providing insights into the area and even giving you the chance to stop for sightseeing. While the cost may be slightly higher than other options, the convenience and privacy make it a compelling choice.

On the other hand, a shared shuttle of 5-7 passengers provides a budget-friendly alternative without compromising on comfort. You can relax and enjoy the scenic drive while sharing the journey with your fellow adventurers, instead of worrying about traffic, parking, and car return. This is also an ideal option for solo travelers looking for convenience on a budget.

The distance between these cities is relatively short, only about an hour, making for a quick and comfortable ride.

About Playa del Carmen

Once a humble fishing village, this coastal gem has blossomed into a cosmopolitan playground, attracting travelers from far and wide. As you travel down the Riviera Maya from Cancun to Playa del Carmen, learn how these cities share a past and also how they developed their own unique urban personalities.

Playa del Carmen’s Mayan Roots

We may know it today as Playa del Carmen, but the Mayans called this bit of the Yucatan Peninsula coast “Xaman Ha,” or “waters of the north.” Xaman Ha was a kicking-off point for Mayan canoes as they paddled out to Cozumel, an island that held much religious significance to the Mayans. Women had an obligation to visit Cozumel at least once in their lives to worship Ixchel, the goddess of fertility. Even today, remnants of altars to the gods are still being uncovered and you can visit Cozumel from Playa del Carmen via one of the many ferries and private boats.

Playa del Carmen: A Smaller Cancun

Playa del Carmen has gone through an economic revitalization period alongside Cancun. In the 1960s the Mexican government created an economic development program to boost international tourism to its coast. Cancun was the main recipient of attention and funds, however, tourism boomed and the development spread down the coast of the Caribbean Sea. Smaller resort cities popped up as a result, and today we have Playa del Carmen as we know it.

They are only about 40 miles apart, but Cancun and Playa del Carmen have some physical and cultural differences to be aware of before your trip.

Cancun is much more car-dependent than Playa del Carmen. You will find it is much easier to navigate Playa del Carmen on foot, as it is a much smaller and more dense city. There are taxis available for longer trips or if you find walking difficult, but don’t expect to need to use them as much as you would getting from one side of Cancun to the other.

Playa del Carmen has its own local airport, so you will find there are more Mexican tourists and more chances to practice your Spanish than in Cancun. They also prefer Mexican pesos over foreign currencies, so make sure to have some local cash in your wallet (but not enough that you would be upset to miss it- just in case of a pick-pocket!)

Playa del Carmen has more varieties of accommodation than Cancun. While Cancun favors all-inclusive resorts and sky-high name-brand hotels, Playa del Carmen has smaller boutique hotels, local apartments, and budget hostels. But don’t worry, you will still find major hotel chains like the Hyatt and Hilton if that’s your style.

The internet speeds are also slower in Playa del Carmen than in Cancun. If you need high-speed internet for work or to keep in touch with loved ones, you may want to choose your hotel carefully and ask about connection speeds before booking. On the other hand, this might be a great opportunity to have a digital detox and turn your phone and laptop off for the week.

From Cancun to Playa del Carmen: Travel Tips

By keeping these travel tips in mind, you can navigate smoothly from Cancun to Playa del Carmen and make the most of your transfer along Mexico's Riviera Maya.

Playa? Which Playa?

Do not fear if someone gives you directions to Playa instead of Playa del Carmen. Playa is the local nickname for this resort town. But also do not mix it up with “la playa,” which is “the beach” in Spanish.

Book activities and transportation in advance at Playa del Carmen

To secure the best deals and ensure availability, book your transportation and activities in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. The last thing your vacation needs is to be thrown off course by a fully booked shuttle bus or snorkeling excursion.

Take a Shared Shuttle to Playa Del Carmen

Shared shuttles provide a more cost-effective but safe travel option, with multiple departures throughout the day. If you don’t need door-to-door service or an exact departure/arrival time, a shared shuttle is a good alternative to a private car. Daytrip’s private shuttles are 7-passenger vans with professional drivers, the possibility of child car seats, and options for handicapped people.

Learn the Rules About Sunscreen and Insect Repellent in Cancun and Playa del Carmen

Only biodegradable sunscreen and insect repellant are allowed in this region of Mexico due to their sensitive ecosystems. Conventional sunscreens leave a film on the top of the water and harm the endangered coral reefs. If you aren’t sure if your sunscreen or insect repellant is reef-safe, skip buying it until you arrive, since local shops will only carry compliant products.

Stock up on Pesos Before Your Trip

If you try using USD or another foreign currency, you may run into poor exchange rates at bars, restaurants, and outings. When paying by credit or debit card, be sure to press “Pay in Mexican Pesos” when prompted by the card reader. This way, you get a slightly better exchange rate. Have local currency (Mexican pesos) on hand for transportation fares and other expenses, as not all vendors may accept foreign currency or even credit cards.

How to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

When traveling from Cancun to Playa del Carmen, consider your transportation preferences, timeline, and budget. Transfer options like private car services and shared shuttles each offer varying levels of convenience and cost.

The journey from Cancun to Playa del Carmen typically takes around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic, which varies based on the season. The route is well-marked and frequently traveled, with Highway 307 offering a direct path between the two destinations. If you are on a tight schedule, make sure to leave Cancun early in the day to avoid traffic and give yourself a buffer in case of road closures or accidents. This is especially necessary on the way back to Cancun if you have a flight to catch.

Renting a Car from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

Renting a car provides the flexibility to explore at your own pace and stop at scenic spots along the way. Keep in mind that rental car agencies are available at the Cancun Airport, and it is recommended to book your car well in advance to secure the best rates.

Unless you're planning on driving around the Yucatan, renting a car for just a one-hour drive might not be the best deal and may be more hassle than it is worth, so make sure to weigh the pros and cons before going on your own.

Cancun to Playa del Carmen via Shuttle Bus with Daytrip

Traveling by shuttle bus is a budget-friendly option for those looking to save on transportation costs while still having a safe and comfortable journey. Daytrip shuttle buses operate regular routes between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, with departures throughout the day. The journey takes approximately 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on traffic and the number of stops. Shuttle buses offer comfortable seating, air conditioning, and room for luggage.

Bus from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

If you’re arriving at Cancun airport, you can catch an ADO bus to Playa del Carmen for around $10. There are about 2 departures an hour from 8:15 AM to 11:59 PM, and the trip to Playa del Carmen takes about 1.5 hours. While a great budget option, you can’t buy tickets online, and since the buses can fill up, especially in the winter, you might be stuck waiting for the next one.

Cancun to Playa del Carmen by Daytrip Private Car

For a hassle-free journey, consider hiring a private taxi service from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. This option offers door-to-door convenience for you and eliminates the need to navigate unfamiliar roads in a foreign country. You also have the opportunity to turn your transfer into an exciting day trip with a personalized travel itinerary, so you don’t have to sacrifice the freedom of renting a car.

With Daytrip, you can add stops along the way to visit some of the many cenotes, or natural sinkholes, found all over the Yucatan Peninsula. Take a dip in the Las Mojarras, Kin-Ha, or Chaak Tun Cenotes and see the underground caverns dug out over millennia. Cenotes are formed when the roofs of ancient cave systems collapse after the dissolving of their limestone base over many years.

While it may be more expensive than a shuttle bus, it offers flexibility in scheduling, privacy, and individual pick-up. We have the option to include children’s car seats or request a handicapped-accessible vehicle, so make sure to add these details when booking if you need them.

Navigating the Cancun Airport with Daytrip

Playa del Carmen does not have an international airport, so the odds are you will be flying into Cancun. If you're taking a private car, your driver will meet you in the Arrivals Hall with a sign. For the shared shuttle, you'll be given the meeting point information.

Things to do when you get to Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is about one-fourth the size of Cancun, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have any fewer options for some fun in the sun. It has a more intimate, family-friendly atmosphere than Cancun, and its walkable size makes for a more manageable vacation. Here are some of the best things to do when you get to Playa del Carmen.

Take a Ferry to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen

Visiting Cozumel was an important pilgrimage for young Mayan women as they entered puberty. A visit to Cozumel meant they could offer sacrifices and pray for fertility from the goddess of fertility, Ixchel. Over forty archeological sites have been unearthed so far, with more assumed to be waiting to be found. This island is a short distance from Playa del Carmen by ferry or private boat.

But Cozumel is not just important for its archeological significance but for its rich variety of flora and fauna. Isla Cozumel is a UNESCO-protected biosphere reserve for its role as home to over 1,000 marine species. The coral reefs of its coast are part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (also called the Great Mayan Reef), the second-largest coral reef in the world. It is second only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

You might be having a great time on Cozumel, but make sure not to miss the last ferry back to the mainland!

Ecotourism in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen has several eco-parks to get up close and personal with the exotic and often endangered wildlife of Central America. Eco-parks like Xcaret and Xel-Ha offer dozens of activities and you are sure to find age-appropriate fun for the whole family.

At these eco-parks, you can swim in natural cenotes, snorkel with tropical fish, and experience thrilling activities like zip-lining and cave exploration amidst lush jungle surroundings. The wilderness of the Riviera Maya has never felt so close!

Visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

For an even closer look at the wildlife, visit one of Quintana Roo’s several protected areas and wildlife reserves. For the trip of a lifetime, go to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. In 1987 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it stands out as one of the largest protected areas in Mexico. Its name means “the entrance to the sky” in Mayan, and has diverse ecosystems such as mangroves, wetlands, and coral reefs.

Be prepared to be away from your hotel for the whole day, as it is a long tour. Your guide will take you through one section of the biosphere reserve, as the other section is not open to the public. You will walk through the jungle, see the Mayan ruins of Muyil, and ride a boat through the lagoons. Be ready to move and have a bottle of water, comfortable shoes, loose-fitting clothes, a bathing suit, and a dry set of clothes.

Unwind in Playa del Carmen

You’ve run around to all the islands, done the watersports, and chased your kids around the waterparks, but now it’s time to focus on you! Treat yourself to a day of pampering and relaxation at one of Playa del Carmen's luxurious spas. Indulge in a rejuvenating massage, do a holistic spa treatment, and get those feet sandal-ready again with a pedicure. You’ll be sure to leave feeling refreshed, revitalized, and ready for your next adventure.

Questions & Answers about Traveling from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is generally considered safe for tourists. There is a strong presence of police and security in tourist areas. However, like any holiday destination, you should exercise caution and pay attention to your surroundings, especially at night. Avoid secluded areas at night, hold on to valuables, and don’t participate in illegal activities. Stick to reputable transportation services and avoid unlicensed taxis to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in Playa del Carmen.
English is less prevalent in Playa del Carmen than in Cancun, so you might want to brush up on your Spanish before you get there.
The safest way to travel from Cancun to Playa del Carmen is by using reputable transportation services such as a private car or shuttle service operated by a trusted company, like Daytrip. We provide reliable and secure transportation with individually vetted, professional drivers who are familiar with the route and safety protocols.
Playa del Carmen follows Eastern Standard Time (EST) or Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), depending on the time of year. It is in the same time zone as East Coast cities in the US, like New York City and Miami.
Playa del Carmen is approximately 42 miles (68 kilometers) south of Cancun, making it easily accessible by various modes of transportation such as car, taxi, shuttle, or bus. You should be able to get to Playa del Carmen within an hour.
Playa del Carmen is located in the state of Quintana Roo, which is in the southeastern region of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Quintana Roo has a diverse landscape: white sand beaches, mangrove forests, cenotes (natural sinkholes), and the lush vegetation of the Yucatan jungle. Its location along the Caribbean Sea provides breathtaking views and opportunities for water-based activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
Playa del Carmen has a tropical climate with warm temperatures year-round. During the dry season (November to April), temperatures range from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (24-29°C). The rainy/hurricane season is from May to October and you will experience higher humidity and occasional storms.

Why travelers love this route

Tripadvisor logo
4,400+ reviews
  • 4 reviews for this route
  • 6,419 travelers took this route with us

Vehicle options for this trip

Most popular

sedan

Sedan

Comparable to aVolkswagen Passat
Passengers and luggage
  • 1-3
  • 3x
  • 3x
  • Clean
  • Comfortable
  • Air conditioned
  • Handicapped accessible
  • Child seats
  • Pet friendly
  • Smoke-free
From ... per seatSelect

Best reviews

premium suv

Premium SUV

Comparable to aChevrolet Suburban
Passengers and luggage
  • 1-2
  • 2x
  • 2x
  • All standard sedan features
  • Premium SUV
  • Chauffeur-style service
  • Extra amenities
From ... per seatSelect

More options

mpv

Compact MPV

Comparable to aVolkswagen Touran
Passengers and luggage
  • 4
  • 4x
  • 4x
From ... per seatSelect
van

Van

Comparable to aMercedes Vito
Passengers and luggage
  • 5-7
  • 7x
  • 7x
From ... per seatSelect

The Daytrip driver advantage

Daytrip driver
  • Local knowledge about the route from Cancun to Playa del Carmen
    Including available sights:
  • English speaking*

    All Daytrip drivers speak English* as well as their native language (and sometimes additional languages too!). They'll be happy to discuss local history and culture with you, as well as answer any questions you may have. And because they speak the language, they're able to provide you with a unique opportunity to connect with local culture. *Drivers for Lite service aren't required to speak English but must meet all other standards.

  • Safety first!

    We screen all our drivers for criminal and traffic records, and personally interview each one. We also inspect their cars for safety, comfort, and reliability. All cars must be less than ten years old, in excellent operating condition, and insured as required by local law. And because our drivers are locals, they're familiar with the rules and customs of the road.

Book today - it's risk free!

You can cancel your booking up to 24 hours before departure and get a full refund.

World-class customer support

  • Available 24/7
  • Close relationship with drivers
  • Experts on the route from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

Flexible cancellation policy

  • Cancellations: 100% refund up to 24 hours before the trip!
  • Changes: Free up to 24 hours before the trip!

Good to know

Children

If you’re traveling with children, make sure to let us know in the booking so we can get the appropriate child seats ready!

Pets

Pets are allowed (and loved)! We just need to know beforehand. You can tell us about them in the next phase of the booking.

Tips

Gratuity isn’t included or required, but if you really enjoyed your trip, you can show your driver your appreciation with an optional tip (10% is sufficient).

Luggage

  • Big luggage
  • 29x21x11 inches
  • 74x53x28 cm
  • Small luggage
  • 22x14x9 inches
  • 56x36x23 cm

Each passenger is allowed to have one checked bag and one carry on. If you’re traveling with more bags or oversized luggage, you can adjust this while booking.

Payment methods

Pay by credit card online, or in cash directly to your driver!

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions, here are the answers.

Daytrip is the most convenient way to experience 12,600+ cities around the world.

Every traveler deserves real insight into the cultures of the countries they’re visiting. And every amazing place on Earth deserves to be visited and appreciated. We believe unique local knowledge and real human connection are irreplaceable when it comes to truly comprehending another culture.

We have been featured in

usa-travel logo
forbes logo
huffpost logo
monocle logo
wanderlust logo
aileen logo
World dotted map
Drive with Daytrip
I am a travel agent