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The bus is a very good option to get around the Riviera Maya. Buses are very popular all over Mexico. They connect to the most visited destinations of the Riviera Maya and most of the cities of the region. They are comfortable, inexpensive, and have a fairly high frequency, around every 10 to 30 minutes.
How buses work in Riviera Maya
It is important that you know how buses work in Riviera Maya. Together with colectivos, they are one of the most used means of transportation by locals. In Playa del Carmen, for example, locals that live in the Colonia side and work in on the beachside use the bus to travel to their workplaces.
The bus is a super economic option to move between destinations within and beyond the Riviera Maya as well as within Playa del Carmen
If you don’t have a rental car or a private service, traveling by bus is a very good option. There are buses that will take you to any point of interest in the Riviera Maya.
How do I get around the Riviera Maya by bus?
There is a well-known bus company in Mexico called ADO. They have a central station in Cancun, two in Playa del Carmen (one on Fifth Avenue & Benito Juarez and one on Calle 12 & 20 Avenida), and one in Tulum.
You can get to the following destinations and more through ADO in Quintana Roo and Yucatan:
- Playa del Carmen
- Puerto Morelos
- Chichén Itzá
ADO can even transport to and from the Cancun Airport. They are really comfortable and a great option when you are on a budget or simply want to travel without compromising comfort at a cost. You will find some of the “high-end” lines even have USB ports and hand you a bottle of water and headphones when you hop on.
ADO works throughout the Mexican Republic and they are serious and safe. Both expats and tourists travel back and forth on these buses without a problem. From the airport to Cancun, to Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Chichén Itzá, they have never failed them. Even if you encounter a problem, you can either go to the station or call the customer service line. They are known for providing quick and stress-free solutions.
If you want to find more information, you can go to the ADO website and find destinations, fares and even book your trip online.
An even cheaper option
If you are thinking of going back and forth from Cancun to Playa del Carmen or Tulum, an even more economical alternative is to use the Playa Express buses. The price of its service ranges from $35 to $40 MXN and depart once they are full (usually 10 to 30 minutes wait).
Is it viable to travel the Riviera Maya by bus?
Absolutely. In fact, the cheapest option to get around is the bus, especially if you want to travel from one destination to another within and beyond the Riviera Maya. In the end, they will take you safely to your end destination.
The buses that circulate through Cancun and Playa del Carmen are not from the ADO company. ADO only operates trips to and from major destinations but does not operate routes within the cities. The buses that operate within the cities may not be the best suitable option for comfort, but they are speedy and very cheap.
Local buses in Playa del Carmen
Besides the local colectivos, the Tusca buses run local routes in Playa del Carmen. They are larger than the colectivo vans and have seating and standing room. While traveling on a Tusca bus, press the buzzer before the next stop, and the driver will let you off.
Be aware that the Tusca buses do not have air conditioning and are not handicap accessible.
Most of the Tusca bus routes travel through the center of Playa Del Carmen on 30 Avenida. From here the buses travel various routes into the neighborhoods. All the buses in the outer areas of Playa del Carmen travel to the center.
To board a Tusca bus, look for the sign on the sidewalk that says “Paradero Servicio Urbano”. This is where the buses pick up passengers. There may not be a sign in some outer areas. In this case, people just know where to stand to catch the bus. If you are unsure of where to stand, simply wave your arm to see if the bus will stop to pick you up.
As a bus approaches it will have white handwritten letters on the windshield. This will tell you where it is going and the general destinations at both ends of the routes. If you are unsure, ask before getting on if they go to where you want to go.
If you are going to the far south end around like the Liverpool Department Store or the north end of Playa del Carmen along the highway, you can take the colectivo towards Tulum or the Playa Express towards Cancun. It will cost a little more but can be faster.
Is it safe to travel by bus?
It is safe to travel by bus all over the area, no matter the city in the Riviera Maya. Nevertheless, if you can avoid these means of transport at night, it is better if you can find a taxi and travel straight to the place where you need to be.
The Tusca buses that circulate inside Playa del Carmen are not available at night, so if you want to travel the city at night you must use a taxi. The ADO buses generally do not operate overnight, either. As a general recommendation, if you find a taxi that provides a good service and is trustworthy, ask for his number. If you ever need him, he will find you where you are. See our article “Taxis in the Riviera Maya” for more information.
Frequently asked questions about buses in Riviera Maya
Can I pay the bus fare in dollars?
Yes, you can, but it will play against you in the currency exchange. It is always handy to carry around Mexican pesos.
Can I pay for the bus fare with a credit or debit card?
ADO bus trips can be paid for by card at the terminals or booths at some stops (ex. Puerto Morelos). Playa Express, Tusca, and colectivos you have to pay with cash, so keep change handy because many of these buses do not accept bills over $100.
Are there bus passes?
No, you must pay for each trip to the driver. Bus passes are not available in any service or route.
Where do I buy tickets to travel by bus?
For ADO buses: from their official website or at any ADO terminal and booths at some stops (ex. Puerto Morelos).
For Playa Express, Tusca, or colectivos: directly with the bus driver. It is important that you tell him where you want to be dropped off since prices may vary a little depending on the distance you are traveling.
For more information, see our article “Arriving and Traveling Around the Riviera Maya“.
Do you have any questions not been resolved in the article? Write in the comments below and we will be happy to help you!