When planning a trip to Cancún and Yucatán, you need to decide about your transportation options. While renting a car is a popular option, we prefer to use public transportation. Not only it is good for the environment, but it gives you time to relax while in transit instead of worrying about the drive. On our visit to the peninsula, we decided to use a combination of colectivos (shared transportation), taxi and private buses. Read more to learn the difference between these types of services.
Colectivos are shared vans that serve specific routes. They usually stop many times to pick up and drop off passengers. Pay the driver on exit (cash only). It should be a fixed fare depending on the distance traveled, but you may want to ask before getting in. There is no luggage compartment on these vans. Don’t forget that colectivos leave only when full, so if you are not traveling at peak times you may have to wait.
The taxi colectivos are shared taxis, holding up to 5 passengers. These taxis usually serve a specific route. Most of the cars we saw in this area are white with red lettering. Pay the driver on exit (cash only). It should be a fixed fare, but you may want to ask before getting in. Same as colectivo vans, these will only leave when full.
Private taxis are your standard taxi, where you arrange for a specific route with the driver. Make sure to negotiate the price before departing. Pay the driver on exit (cash only).
The main companies in this area are ADO, Oriente and Mayab. Most are big 50-passenger buses and have a luggage storage compartment.
ADO buses are considered first class service as they have fewer stops. The schedule is posted on their website. Tickets can be booked online, and you may want to do so when traveling over high season. Another reason to book online is that not all the routes are served by big 50-passenger buses but on vans, like Cancun to Valladolid, and thus can fill quickly.
Buses are new and comfortable, and reported as reliable. However, our bus to the airport broke down in the highway. With no assurances for a replacement bus, we were all forced to flag down taxis and colectivos to get to the airport on time. Note that not all the routes are served by big 50-passenger buses – some, like Cancun to Valladolid, use vans and can fill quickly.
Oriente and Mayab are the second class service, taking rural roads and making many stops along the way. There is no published schedule online. Purchase your ticket at the bus station (cash only) or pay the driver (cash only) on entering the bus. We took an Oriente bus on a 4-hour journey. The bus was not as new as the ADO bus, but it was still comfortable.
Where to take the buses and taxis?
If you are lucky to be at the start or end of a specific route, the easiest way to catch the bus is to go to the bus station.
The main stops for colectivos and taxi colectivos are usually a few blocks from the bus station. Ask around, and people will be able to point you in the right direction.
If you are not sure where is your stop, ask the driver to let you know. As an alternative, you can follow your journey using Google maps – even when offline!
We traveled around the Yucatán peninsula as a couple over 4 days, carrying our small backpacks. We never had to wait too long for a colectivo to depart. As usual, we were careful with our belongings – as you would in any other city – but overall we didn’t feel unsafe. For us, traveling via public transportation was a good alternative compared to a rental car or taking tours.
If you would like to read more about our experience, check out our Yucatán itinerary and planning guide.
Have you used colectivos in Yucatán?
Would you consider using them on your next trip?
Let us know in the comments!