Across Cancun and the whole of the Mexican Caribbean, there are so many amazing things to see and do that even a lifetime of visits sometimes doesn’t feel like enough time to tick everything off the list. Yet while visiting a destination rich in activities sounds like the perfect vacation, the reality is that, unless you rent a car, you’re going to have to rely on modes of transportation such as Uber, taxis, and private shuttles – and that’s where so many travelers encounter various pitfalls in Cancun.
From price hikes to dodgy meters, and tourist rates to pre-booked no-shows, getting around Cancun can be a real head-scratcher for even the most seasoned of travelers – and despite recent efforts to crack down on shady behavior, it’s still going on. Here’s a handy guide on how you can travel safely in Cancun, including tips for local travel, how to spot popular scams and what to do if you think you’re being taken advantage of.
Traveling Safely – Information For Travelers
There’s no denying that taxis are a convenient way to travel on holiday, particularly for those of us who feel that driving abroad is as far away from a relaxing vacation as possible. However, traveling by taxi in Cancun is rarely simple – and it’s seldom cheap. Nearby Tulum famously has taxi fares that are more expensive than New York, with average fares costing some 500 pesos (USD 24.35) to go just three miles – and that’s on a good day.
For many travelers, ride-hailing apps such as Uber can be a godsend when abroad. Whilst Uber taxi drivers have reported being threatened in the city by local drivers for using the platform – including on occasions when travelers are in the car – these incidents are few and far between, and Uber remains a popular choice for travelers. The app’s use of GPS makes it easy to be picked up anywhere in the city, and the ability to input destinations makes it perfect for those who don’t speak the local language. On top of this, not only does it agree on a fair fee beforehand (unlike many taxi drivers in Cancun), but receipts and travel maps are provided, giving drivers accountability and passengers more confidence.
Whilst it may not exactly be the most glamorous way to get around, taking the bus in Cancun is an efficient and extremely affordable option, with one-way fares costing just 12 pesos in the hotel zone (around 60 cents) and even less from other areas. With a wide range of locations served, it’s a safe way to get around that’s easy to use.
Like most things travel-related, planning ahead – and booking ahead – is the perfect way to make sure you’re not getting ripped off. Airport taxis in the city are notorious when it comes to taking advantage of arrivals, particularly as Uber isn’t allowed to pick up passengers at the airport.
By booking a transfer through your hotel or pre-paying for the journey online, not only can you minimize the chance of being overcharged, but you can save yourself the hassle of starting your vacation by bartering and haggling. Booking ahead of time is also highly recommended at present due to how busy the Mexican Caribbean will be over the next few months.
We have a guide on how to pre-book your airport transfer with a trusted company in Cancun, so you can avoid the ‘taxi mafia’ while you walk through the ‘shark tank’, the area just before leaving the airport where dozens of transportation providers pounce on arrivals with no booked transportation.
Another step towards finding a safe and fair way to travel is to know what types of scams are widespread in Cancun. A prominent one is the concept of a “tourist price” offered by taxi drivers – a practice designed to squeeze a few hundred more pesos out of naive travelers, but one that is completely illegal. If a driver tries to play this game, or claims that their meter is broken, simply refuse their services and look for the next one, ask your hotel or restaurant to call a reputable driver for you, or use a ride-hailing app.
Taxis waiting in the hotel zone are generally much safer than taxis hailed on the street or in downtown areas, so these should be used whenever possible. Hailing a taxi, whilst many travelers have done so without a hitch, can lead to all manner of problems – particularly late at night or in unfamiliar surroundings – so it may be worth getting the phone numbers of honest, local companies from your resort who can pick you up if you’re away from the hotel zone or have trouble finding an Uber.
It’s also handy to know how much you expect to pay for a taxi ride to know if you’re being taken advantage of. The app IMOVEQROO was recently launched by the Mobility Institute of Quintana Roo and provides travelers with an idea of how much certain trips will cost. If you feel you have been ripped off, call Quintana Roo’s local taxi union for help on the following numbers to get to the bottom of it: (+86) 998-689-1166/998-888-6990/998-293-6267/998-221-8064.
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