Tulum is a beachside destination in the Yucatan Peninsula that has exploded in popularity. It attracts everyone from yogis to spiritual seekers to tourists seeking a tropical vacation. Located about 2.5 hours from Cancun, you can either take a day trip to Tulum or base your Caribbean vacation in this laid-back slice of Mexican paradise. I took the ADO bus from Cancun to Tulum and will share my experience here to help you prepare for your trip.
What’s the best way to travel from Cancun to Tulum?
When looking at bus tickets from Cancun to Tulum, you’ll encounter a few options—you can take the ADO bus, a shuttle minivan, or a private car transfer.
The “best” way to travel to Tulum will depend on your travel style and situation. For example, if you’re traveling with a lot of luggage or want better legroom, taking the bus or a private transfer will be more comfortable than the shuttle. On the other hand, the advantage of shuttle minivans is that you can book the option to have your driver pick you up in Cancun and drop you off at your accommodation in Tulum.
Where to catch the ADO bus in Cancun
There are two places where you can take the ADO bus to Tulum—the Cancun airport and Cancun’s downtown bus terminal. I caught a bus from the Cancun bus terminal for this particular trip.
However, I’ve been to both pickup locations, so I’ll give you an overview of each.
Taking the ADO bus to Tulum from the Cancun airport
Regardless of the terminal you arrive at, once you’ve grabbed your bags, you’ll need to exit the airport. By doing so, you’ll either arrive directly at an outdoor bus station, or you’ll need to follow a sidewalk around the corner to get there.
Don’t panic if there aren’t any buses around—they make quick stops to pick up and drop off passengers. Just make sure to check your ticket so you’re standing by the correct parking spot when your bus arrives.
Taking the ADO bus to Tulum from the downtown Cancun bus station
If you’re staying in downtown Cancun (which is essentially any area outside of the Hotel Zone), catching a bus to Tulum from the ADO bus terminal is an excellent option. The bus terminal is spacious and easy to get around, and the indoor waiting room offers direct access to the boarding area.
You’ll have access to ATMs, restrooms, and snack stands while waiting for your bus. Large screens indicate bus departures, although as a word of caution, you might have to read the fine print. My bus to Tulum showed up as “Bacalar” on the screen, as that was its final destination.
ADO bus schedule to Tulum
The Standard ADO bus from Cancun downtown to Tulum runs seven times per day. Below are its departure and arrival times:
If these times don’t fit well with your itinerary, remember that you can always book a private transfer or shuttle from Cancun to Tulum. The shuttles offer 139 daily departures, and you can arrange your private transfer for the time of your preference.
Amenities and more on the ADO bus to Tulum
Since the name of my ADO bus had the word “Standard” in it, I had expected one of their smaller shuttle-style vehicles. Instead, a full-sized shiny red bus greeted me. I’ve traveled through Latin America with many different bus companies, and ADO offers some of the cleanest and most well-maintained vehicles that I’ve encountered.
My bus had two seats on either side of the aisle and mammoth tinted windows. Since the tint isn’t effective at fully protecting passengers from Mexico‘s strong sun, they have a mesh you can pull down for added shield.
Below are some other amenities you can expect to have when taking the ADO bus to Tulum:
- Two USB charging outlets per seat
- An automated welcome and safety briefing in English
- A movie playing on shared screens
ADO’s buses feel new and modern, but unfortunately, they’re not so trendy that they offer individual screens and headphone jacks for watching movies. Therefore, if you plan on catching some z’s before arriving in Tulum, consider including earplugs in your carry-on bag.
Window vs. aisle seat
If you’re under the impression that you’ll get to enjoy great views on the trip from Cancun to Tulum, I get it—the road looks like it practically touches the ocean. Unfortunately, there are too many trees and resorts blocking the way.
The good news? If you frequently battle with your travel partner about who gets the window seat, go ahead and let them have it. A highway lined with trees isn’t worth fighting for!
Arriving in the land of beach bars and yoga
When your bus drops you off in Tulum, you’ll notice a stark contrast from Cancun; Tulum’s ADO bus station is older and less attractive than Cancun’s. Lucky for you, all you’ll need is ten seconds to cross through the bus station’s open-air lobby before you exit into the heart of downtown Tulum.
You’ll have your pick of vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants, tourist shops, and bike rental stands in this area. However, if you want to head to the beach, you’ll need to hail one of the many taxis that park near the bus station. Alternatively, you can hop on a local combi and get off at the entrance to the Tulum Ruins. From there, it’s about a 10-minute walk to the ruins. You can also take a longer stroll from the ruins to the beautiful Paraiso Beach.
Tulum’s relaxed atmosphere makes it a great place to spend your mornings taking yoga classes on the beach, your afternoons swimming in sinkholes, and your evenings burying your feet in the sand as you sip mezcal at one of many beachfront bars. With comfy buses and frequent departures, traveling from Cancun to Tulum is a must-have on your Yucatan itinerary.