Getting from Cancun to Tulum, the cheap way!
We lumbered up to the bus station in Cancun in search of a bus to our next destination, Tulum or to be more precise 'Chemuyil' which is 10 minutes North of Tulum. We were told to catch a bus to Playa Del Carmen and then we would have to get a taxi to Chemuyil as there was no other way to get there. I wasn't keen on the taxi idea as I know they're over priced and 99.9% of drivers will pull a fast one on tourists. But if it was the only way then so it would be.
Upon entering the station a giant snaking line presented itself, as it turned out that line was for the ADO ticket booths. ADO is a bus company running luxury liners in Mexico and across other parts of Central America, and they charge luxury prices to match. Looking up at the departures board we saw it would cost $200 MXP (Mexican Pesos) per person for a bus to Tulum. My fiance immediately made his way toward the back of the line but I was convinced there was a better way.
I walked back outside, scanned the parking lot and sure enough there across the lot was a mini van with 'Playa Del Carmen' written on the front. We approached the driver and bought our tickets there and then, $75 pesos for BOTH of us. We literally saved ourselves $325 pesos (roughly $17 USD) simply by looking outside the box - it pays to be street smart! These mini buses/vans are called 'colectivos' and they're what the locals use to get around. Don't use the ADO buses! use these. We threw our luggage in the back and jumped on. We still had to work out how to get from Playa Del Carmen to Chemuyil but at least this would get us halfway. The journey was quick and painless, it took 1 hour.
This is what the colectivo's look like!
Enroute to Playa a fellow passenger asked the driver to stop and he disembarked at a random place by the highway, we thought 'Great! this is a thing. We can just get another colectivo to Tulum and we'll ask the driver in our limited spanish to stop near Chemuyil. We had a quick bite in Playa at a local chicken & tortilla place that was packed with Mexicans - always a good sign and then off we went in search of a colectivo to Tulum. It took 5 minutes to find a van with 'Tulum' plastered across the front. We asked the driver as we boarded if he could stop at Chemuyil, he didn't understand at first but after showing him on Google maps he seemed to know where we wanted to get off. Sure enough, half an hour later he pulled up at Chemuyil and out we jumped. That trip cost us $100 pesos ($80 for both of us but we tipped $20) so in the end not only did we save a total of $225 pesos but we also saved ourselves the grief of queueing in that heinous ADO line AND we enjoyed a stop in Playa Del Carmen for lunch. A massive win if you ask me.
The moral of the story is don't just do what everyone else is doing! spend a little bit more time and effort working things out and not only can you travel for next to nothing but you can have far more authentic experiences.
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Over & out x