How to Get Around Playa del Carmen Transportation Guide
If you’re planning to visit Playa del Carmen and need help with transportation, this guide is for you! With so many options, navigating the transportation system in the area can be overwhelming, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the place.
I have written a comprehensive guide on navigating Playa del Carmen which includes information on common transportation choices, expenses, and my top tips. Whether you are traveling with a car or without, my guide will give you the best options for transportation in Playa del Carmen.
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Ready to find out the best options for getting around Playa del Carmen? Let’s get started!
To fully experience the beauty of Playa Del Carmen, it’s recommended to travel around and explore the attractions. You have various options for transportation including buses, taxis, collectivos, motorcycles, and car rentals. With so much to see and do in Playa Del Carmen, it’s helpful to know the details for each transportation method.
Is Playa del Carmen a walkable place? Absolutely! The entire downtown area, known as “Centro” on the map, is very walkable. The town is focused on the lively 5th Avenue (“La Quinta Avenida”), a pedestrian-only street that spans over 20 blocks and where you will find most restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. You can walk a few blocks from 5th Avenue to reach the beach, restaurants, shopping malls, and grocery stores easily.
Taxis – Uber
Taxis are easily available in the Mayan Riviera and are reasonably priced. You can find taxi stands in various locations in Playa del Carmen and most all-inclusive resorts in the region. Taxi fares are predetermined, and there are no meters. To avoid confusion, ask the hotel staff for the fare and agree upon it with the driver before starting the journey. It is advisable to carry the exact amount since drivers don’t expect tips.
Typically, the fare is approximately $1US per minute of driving. For example, if the travel time is around 20 minutes, expect to pay about $20US.
Although taxi drivers in Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen and Tulum do accept USD, they may offer a lower exchange rate compared to banks or exchange booths. All taxis are part of the taxi union and are identifiable by the color of their stripes. It is advised to check the seat belts and to know the word “despacio” (deh-spa-see-oh) which means slow down as some drivers may exceed your usual speed limit.
Make sure to read our tips on taking a taxi in Playa del Carmen.
Tips for Taking A Taxi in Playa del Carmen
Remember to follow these crucial safety tips while using a taxi in Playa del Carmen.:
- Agree on the price before you set of: Make sure to confirm the taxi fare before getting into the cab, as some taxi drivers may overcharge tourists at a higher rate.
- Speak some Spanish: Speaking Spanish with the driver may increase the likelihood of receiving a fair rate.
- Dont’t sit in the front seat: Beware of getting into a taxi with someone already seated in the front passenger seat, as they could be working with the driver. This situation could also leave you vulnerable to an attack from someone hiding in the backseat.
- Take a picture of the taxi plate or number: Saving the taxi number in your phone or sending it to a friend via text message is a wise precautionary measure in case of emergencies or if you forget anything in the taxi.
- Check for personal belongings before you get of: Before getting out of a taxi, it is wise to make sure to check the backseat for any items you may have forgotten. If you accidentally leave something behind, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to recover it. Output Language Code: EN-US
- Avoid taking taxis from 5th Avenue: Taxis in the 5th Avenue taxi zone will cost two to three times more than the normal price for tourists. However, you can usually find taxis at the regular rate one block away on 10th Avenue.
- Always wear your seatbelt: It’s important to wear your seatbelt while riding in taxis, especially during long rides in Mexico. The drivers there can drive erratically and accidents aren’t uncommon.
Colectivos are small vans that operate along the main highway in the area of 307. They are much cheaper than ADO buses, but they don’t always have seating and aren’t as comfortable. You can either flag them down or go to the colectivo terminal on Calle 2 south between 10th and 15th avenues. This transportation option is for those who want to experience local living and are more adventurous.
The ADO is a local bus system in Playa del Carmen. The main bus station is located on 5th Avenue and Juarez street. The buses come in different classes, with the first-class ones offering wireless internet. All buses have air conditioning, comfortable seating, and one seat per passenger.
The bus service has stations in popular cities and also stops in less crowded areas. If you’re a tourist, you can take the bus to Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum. For a more daring trip, you can take the bus to Merida, Coba or Chichen Itza. To know the schedules and rates of the bus, visit Ado Bus website.
In Playa del Carmen, locals rely on city buses to reach far-off neighborhoods from downtown. These buses are bigger and less comfortable than colectivos and tend to be crowded. You pay the fare (usually $10 pesos) as you get in and inform the bus driver of your drop-off location. Most buses travel along 30th Avenue and display their destinations on the windshield.
In Playa del Carmen, people often ride bicycles. However, biking on the main pedestrian walkway, 5th avenue, is not allowed. Instead, there is a bike path on 10th avenue. You can rent bicycles from shops along 10th avenue or from some all-inclusive hotels near town (Hotel Map Playa del Carmen). It’s important to note that bicyclists may not receive respect from traffic, so caution is advised while riding.
Car rental services are easily accessible, but it’s worth noting that driving customs in Mexico differ from those in North America. It’s recommended that you opt for all available insurance plans and read the top ten tips for driving in Mexico if you do decide to rent a vehicle.
1. It is allowed to turn right on a red traffic light.
2. The locals usually slow down at stop signs, but often won’t come to a complete stop.
3. There’s a lack of consideration for other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists on the road, so it’s important to drive with caution.
4. There are many speed bumps or “topes” on the road.
5. If you see a flashing green light, it means that it will soon turn yellow – it does not indicate that you have the right of way to turn.
6. Running red lights is a frequent occurrence.
7. After your signal turns green, wait a few seconds to ensure that no one runs a red light before proceeding.
8. Horns are frequently used in this area and are not considered rude. Be prepared for frequent honking.
9. Wet highways can be extremely slippery, similar to ice. Drive carefully.
10. Make sure to close your windows, lock your doors, and avoid leaving valuables in your car.
Although rental scooters are available, PlayaDelCarmen.com prioritizes tourist safety and does not recommend renting them.
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In Spain, the word for “parking” is “Estacionamiento” and it is often indicated by a big letter E. The color of the sidewalk also reflects whether parking is allowed or not. Red and yellow colors indicate no parking, while white indicates that parking is allowed. If you violate the parking rules, your license plate will be confiscated and you will have to go to a government office to pay the fine and get it back. No parking tickets are issued.
You can catch a passenger ferry from downtown Playa del Carmen to the island of Cozumel from the ferry terminal. Ultramar and Winjet are the two ferry services companies that operate from the terminal, with alternating schedules departing every hour. A round-trip ticket costs approximately $500 pesos (~$25 USD) per person, and the ferry ride takes about 45 minutes. For more detailed information on taking a day trip from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel, refer to our complete guide available at this link.
There is a possibility of getting stopped by the police in Mexico when you rent a car.
If you do get pulled over by mexican police, stay calm. Unfortunately, most police officers in Mexico are underpaid and may ask you for a bribe. They will ask you for documents and driver’s license, and will make up a violation and claim that the fine is high. Typically, they will let you go with a warning if you pay about 200 pesos. To avoid losing your license, bring a photocopy and don’t give them the original.
FAQs about Getting Around Playa del Carmen
Does Playa del Carmen have Uber service?
It is not safe to use Uber or any ride-sharing service in Playa del Carmen, even though legislation was passed in January 2023 to allow Uber to operate in the region.
There have been numerous instances of violence against Uber drivers and passengers in Mexico, particularly in the Riviera Maya region, which includes Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. Therefore, it is not advisable to use Uber in that area, despite the app appearing to function properly.
What is the recommended mode of transportation to use in Playa del Carmen?
It is highly recommended to walk around the downtown area of Playa del Carmen, also known as “Centro.” Walking is the ideal way to explore Fifth Avenue, the main tourist area, or visit the nearby beach.
Is it necessary to have a car in Playa del Carmen?
It is not necessary to have a car in Playa del Carmen since the town is small and can be easily walked, and there are various public and private transportation options. However, if you want to visit less touristy attractions and explore on your own schedule, having a rental car would be beneficial.
What is the distance between Playa del Carmen and the airport?
Playa del Carmen does not have an international airport. If you take the main highway 307 and drive directly south, Playa del Carmen is approximately 34 miles away from Cancun Airport, which takes about an hour.
Is it feasible to walk around Playa del Carmen?
Yes, it is quite simple to walk around the downtown area of Playa del Carmen. You can effortlessly explore the place on foot, shop, dine or visit the beach.
Bottom Line: How to Get Around Playa del Carmen
I hope the guide on transportation in Playa del Carmen was helpful in explaining how to get around. You do not necessarily need a car to explore the incredible attractions in the Mayan Riviera. The downtown area is easy to walk and if you want to travel further, you can use colectivos, the ADO bus, or hire a taxi. If you are comfortable driving in Mexico and want to visit more off-the-beaten-path destinations, renting a car is also a great option.