Upon arriving at Cancun airport in Mexico, it is easy to leave the airport without needing to depend on overpriced taxis or private transport companies if you are going to major centers like Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Normally, arriving at an airport in a foreign country can be a very stressful and overwhelming experience. However, at the Cancun airport, there is a straightforward, convenient, and cost-effective way to leave the airport by bus and then proceed by a local taxi or other public transport to the specific destination of your choice. This is possible thanks to the ADO buses, which run throughout Mexico and are very safe, comfortable, and dependable.
Typically, all international flights arrive at terminal 3 or 4, and there are ADO bus platforms at each of those. For example, we arrived at terminal 4, and after getting our luggage and passing all of the final security gates, we found that there are not one but two ADO ticket desks inside the airport at that terminal. One is closer to the security gates when you first exit, and the other is right in front of the final exit doors that lead out of the airport. We had experience with ADO buses before and thought we would buy our tickets from the bus driver, but were glad we stopped to get them, as that is definitely the better way to go - buying them directly at the airport from the official ADO sales desk. There is no extra charge for this or anything like that either. This way, you are ready to board the bus and not have to deal with buying tickets in the middle of everyone trying to deal with their luggage and such. Alternatively, you could buy your tickets online on the ADO website, but I wouldn’t recommend that for an airport trip because you have to pick a specific bus time for your ticket. So if your plane is delayed or you face any other delays, it would prevent you from catching the bus you bought your ticket for.
Note: ADO bus personnel do not solicit business actively. So if anyone stops you at the airport and tries to sell you ADO bus tickets or alternative ride options, they are not official ADO staff members. To avoid unexpected or unpleasant experiences, only buy your tickets from the official ADO sales desk.
Cost and Fare
The fare for a one-way trip from the Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen, as of October 2020, was $208 MXN pesos per person, or about $14 CAD or $10 USD. That is a huge difference from the taxi rates, which would have been around $1000 MXN or more for such a trip. You can get the most up-to-date fares for this or any other destination on the official ADO website.
Distance and Time
The ADO bus station in Playa del Carmen is 56 km from Cancun Airport and is located right downtown, off 5th avenue, one block from the beach. This airport bus route is completely direct at the time of this writing, with the whole trip taking just a little over 1 hour. Normally, this same bus would stop in Puerto Morelos, which is a small town on the way to Playa del Carmen - right on the highway. However, due to the various covid restrictions, this stop has not been operational for some months. If you need to get to Puerto Morelos from the Cancun airport by the ADO bus, this would have normally been possible and just as easy, but you will need to check if they are stopping there at the time of your trip.
When you arrive at Cancun airport, after you get your luggage and clear customs, visit one of the ADO ticket desks. You cannot miss them as they have bright red lettering and the ADO name all over them. If you land in terminal 4, I recommend going to the second sales desk, just before exiting the airport, as it will be slightly closer for you to get to the bus in case you have to rush to catch a quickly upcoming one.
You request the number of tickets for your destination at the ADO desk and pay by cash or credit card. It is recommended that you confirm upfront if you can or want to pay with a credit card specifically. I presented the card during the payment time but was told that she already processed it for a cash payment. You will most likely want to catch the next bus that comes, so be sure to confirm when that is so that you can comfortably walk over to the platform where you will catch the bus. It will take just a few minutes to walk to the bus platform, so if the next bus is coming in 10 minutes, you should be able to make it just fine. During the day, the buses to Playa del Carmen go every 40 to 60 minutes from the airport.
Note: The ADO bus tickets are issued for a specific time and seat.
Once you have your tickets, exit the airport and walk straight until you see the parking lot, at which point you will want to head out to your right. The ADO bus platforms are on the parking lot’s right periphery (as viewed from the terminal 4 arrivals exit door), pretty much in the last row. You should also refer to your ticket, which will provide the specific platform letter and number for your specific ADO bus. Once you get to it, just wait for your bus.
The driver will place your luggage in the bottom compartment and check your tickets, at which time you can board the bus and find your seat. The ADO buses are nicely equipped for a comfortable ride and are high-quality buses. There is normally AC on them, which keeps the bus cool, and a movie to watch that plays for everyone from the drop-down screens.
Wishing you safe and happy travels!