Travelers are voicing concern over taxi prices that continue to skyrocket out of control in Tulum. Passengers are reporting prices starting around 500 pesos ($24.35 USD) for a 5 kilometer ride. This is the best case scenario if you speak Spanish, know how to negotiate and have exact change in pesos. In comparison, the price of the same ride in New York City would cost $12.34 USD according to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. This means the cost of a taxi in Tulum is double the price of a Taxi in Manhattan. Wait till you hear the prices that English speaking tourists are paying in Tulum.
What Tourists Are Paying For Taxis In Tulum
English speaking tourists are paying the most for taxis in Tulum and the prices are jaw-dropping. Our reporters on the ground in Tulum interviewed tourists over a 3 day period to find out what they had paid for their taxi. Carla Springfield from Detroit, Michigan said she took a taxi to the Nomade Beach Club from the Mayan Monkey Hostel. The 10km ride, which takes about 30 minutes due to poor road conditions, cost her $60 USD (1230 pesos). The taxi driver only quoted her in USD and would not budge on the price.
“I didn’t know what to do when he told me the price,” said Springfield. “I tried to negotiate but he just pulled over and said find another ride.”
“I was so upset and felt intimidated by the driver so I just finished the ride and paid the driver.”
Other tourists we asked reported the same stories over and over again. The drivers would not negotiate with English speaking tourists and the cheapest fare reported to us over a 3 day period was 350 pesos ($17.01 USD) for a 1.5 km, 5 minute ride. After interviewing 35 passengers who had completed their taxi fares, 86% had paid over 500 pesos ($24.27).
Expats and Digital Nomads Are Fed Up
Our reporter in Tulum attended a co-working meet up to discuss taxi prices among expats and digital nomads. They all said the same thing that they refuse to support taxis in the area and for most, they can’t afford it even if they wanted to. Many have bought or rented scooters which has saved them a lot of money since moving to Tulum.
Richard Downy of Rapid City moved to Tulum over 5 years ago and said it just continues to get more expensive. “There is no competition and there never will be unless the state steps in to stop the monopoly,” Downy said. “The prices just continue to double every year but there are no alternatives so tourists have to pay it.”
Stephanie Sargento moved to Tulum from Washington late 2020 after her work allowed all employees to go fully remote because of the pandemic.
“I moved to Tulum because it basically looked like heaven on Earth, especially when everything started closing in the States. I figured if I was going to work from home, why not make it from a cool beach town that is cheaper and more relaxed.”
However, since living in Tulum the past year and a half, taxi prices are something Steph couldn’t make work in her budget, despite the lower cost of living in Tulum versus Seattle.
“I was forced to buy a scooter to get around, since taking taxis even a few times a week was starting to cost more than my rent here. That was something I did not anticipate before I moved.”
Darian (only wanted to be identified by his first name), another digital nomad we met at the meet-up, said he’s going to relocate to the neighboring city of Playa del Carmen because of the rising costs of Tulum, which not only include taxis, but rent and food as well. “A ride that costs me 600 pesos in Tulum will only cost me 60 pesos in Playa Del Carmen. That is 10x’s more for the same distance!” Darian told The Cancun Sun.
“Same thing goes for drinks at a beach bar. I’m paying around 300 pesos a drink in Tulum, but if I meet friends in Playa, it’s only going to cost about 80 pesos for the same drink. I love Tulum, but the prices have gone nuts.”
Why Are Prices So High For Taxis In Tulum?
In a nut-shell, there is no competition. There are no Ubers, Didi or ride sharing companies of any sort allowed to operate in Tulum. There are no buses or public transportation methods other than what are called ‘Collectivos’. These are small minivans jam packed mostly with restaurant/resort employees going back and forth to work. While definitely cheap, learning how to use the Collectivos is a big ask for tourists and also the lack of social distancing during Covid makes them a very unpopular option.
Will Prices Go Down For Taxis in Tulum?
Until alternatives such as ridesharing, price controls or infrastructure improvements that allow better public transportation, taxi prices are unlikely to go down in Tulum. With a new International airport planned for Tulum and the new Maya train being built that will connect Cancun to Tulum, more tourists than ever are expected to visit in 2022 creating an even higher demand for taxis.
Only time will tell what the state of Quintana Roo will do to improve transportation options in Tulum. Until then the outrageous taxi prices will continue to leave a sour taste for many tourists visiting the area.
Rent a Car
According to many visitors, the best way to beat the taxi prices is to rent a car in Cancun before heading to Tulum. Although driving can be slow and tedious in Tulum, it may be worth the extra cost if you are planning on leaving your resort/hotel often to explore the area.
Use a Bike
While not everyone’s cup of tea, many resorts offer free bikes to use and there are also rentals available throughout Tulum. Bikes may not be the best option for beach road as you must drive with the traffic and it can be very muddy. There is no shoulder so biking on beach road can be dangerous.
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