During my recent stay at the Riu Palace Riviera Maya , I decided that I wanted to be more adventurous this trip AND save money, so I took the ADO public bus from Playa del Carmen to Tulum to see the ruins. ADO’s are “first class” buses in Mexico and very comparable to American Greyhound buses with comfortable seats, strong A/C, an on-board bathroom, and small movie screens to help pass the time; however, programming is in Spanish. There are two ADO terminals in Playa, 5th Avenue and Benito Juarez which is right downtown, and the other is at 12th Avenue and Calle. 14 which is further north in town. From my prior research on the Trip Advisor Playa del Carmen forum, 5th Ave. and Benito Juarez sounded like my best departure point to get to Tulum, so I took a quick cab to Playa from the resort (USD $6).
The bus terminal is across the street from the McDonald’s and fairly close to the Cozumel ferry. It’s a small terminal with ticket windows to the right of the entrance, a small seating area as you enter, with buses lined up in the back. Based on past vacationer experience, it seems to be easier and more convenient to buy one-way tickets, so I purchased a one-way bus ticket to Tulum for 72 pesos which is equivalent to about USD $5.50. (By the way, each ticket has a seat assignment on it–good to know I didn’t have to wrestle for a seat). I had just missed the 9:00 a.m. bus, so I bought a ticket for the next one which was leaving at 10 a.m. Since I only know a few words of Spanish, the gentleman by the buses yelling departures in rapid Spanish did nothing to calm my nerves–what if I miss the boarding call or, worse yet, miss the bus entirely–so I decided to ask when my bus boarded which was fruitless SINCE I CAN’T SPEAK SPANISH. Well, I wanted an adventure, and this was certainly turning out to be just that. Through hand gestures I gathered he wanted me to just sit down and wait, which I did, until I noticed a long line forming at 9:50 a.m. What did these people know that I didn’t (except maybe how to understand what was being announced), so I decided to join the throng–if I were wrong, they would just gesture me to sit down anyway, so I had nothing to lose. Yay–right bus! And off to Tulum I went.
Now there was another twist to my adventure, and that was where the bus was going to stop–by the ruins, or at the ADO terminal in Tulum? I was never able to figure that piece of information out with my initial research since some ADO buses stop in town while others stop by the ruins, so I decided to depend on my fellow travelers–on a bus to Tulum, there have to be others wanting to see the ruins. Luckily, my ADO bus stopped right along the highway near the ruins; since most of the passengers were getting off the bus I decided this must be my stop too. From that point one can walk to the tram (the tram takes you to the Tulum ruins entrance–it is about a 15 min. walk if you decide not to take the tram). If you would like to know more about my Tulum ruins adventure, look for my upcoming post!
Following my self-guided Tulum ruins tour, how to get back to Playa? Although I had every intention of taking another bus back, the lure of the convenient and even cheaper colectivo was calling since there were at least three waiting by the highway. I was able to secure a seat for 36 pesos (USD $2.75) and, although it was a sweaty, tight squeeze with no A/C and all seats taken (I believe there were 12 passenger seats inside), I was back in Playa in a little over an hour with multiple stops along the highway. If you want to know more about colectivos, check out this link http://travelyucatan.com/collectivo.php.
Although there may be some tense moments if you don’t know Spanish, try the public mode of transportation to save time and money! Here are a few pics…