Uber in Cancun: What to Know Before Using the App in 2024

Using Uber in Cancun is a great way to get around the city and its surroundings and it is typically a much more affordable and safer option than street taxis. That being said, there is a lot of conflicting information online about whether or not Uber in Cancun actually works and whether it is safe. 

The reality is that yes, Uber functions in Cancun and for the most part, it is safe to use. I say this as somebody who has lived in Mexico for the past few years. I live in nearby Merida and I have passed through Cancun countless times on my way to and from Cancun International Airport or to other destinations in Quintana Roo. (And I am a solo female traveler).

Obviously, there are some caveats and common sense precautions for safely using Uber in Cancun as you may expect. But for the most part, any concerns about the safety of using ridesharing apps in Mexico are massively overblown.

In this guide, we will take a look at everything you need to know about using Uber in Cancun, why Uber and rideshare cars are considered safer than street taxis in Mexico, and some practical safety tips. As I mentioned, I live in the Yucatan.

Rest assured, you are in good hands here 😉 

Using Uber in Cancun: Screenshot of waiting for a driver with the app
Using Uber in Cancun

Taking Uber in Cancun in 2024

Taking Uber in Cancun is a good way to get around. Even solo travelers and solo female travelers can feel comfortable using the app just like I have over the past few years. 

There is a lot of conflicting information online about whether the app works or not and it does. However, using Uber in Cancun is a little different from using the app elsewhere, even in other parts of Mexico.

The thing is, Uber is banned in all parts of Quintana Roo state except Cancun. While the presence of the app in Cancun is a positive for budget-savvy travelers that don’t want to get scammed and ripped off by unscrupulous cabbies, its existence in Cancun is controversial.

Street taxis in Quintana Roo are managed by the cartel. Just like in many other cities across the globe, many of the cab drivers here are absolutely not happy about Uber drivers coming along and swooping their fares and business. 

In the past, there have been clashes between Uber drivers and cab drivers – with cab drivers sometimes chasing vehicles or becoming aggressive with Uber drivers. (Sometimes even when passengers/tourists are inside the vehicle!) 

While the cab drivers really aren’t helping themselves, this has caused a lot of people to question whether or not Uber in Cancun is really safe. In 2022, the US government even issued a warning about using it!

Uber in Cancun: Screenshot of a driver en route to the passengers location
Uber in Cancun

A History of Uber in Cancun

As I mentioned, there is a lot of conflicting information online about Uber in Cancun and whether it still functions. In the two years that I have been living in Mexico, it has.

I most recently took an Uber here in December 2023 with no issues and tend to do so every couple of months when I am in Cancun. Uber first started operating in Cancun in 2016. 

However, after a year of conflict between taxi drivers and Uber drivers, it was forced to temporarily suspend its operations in 2017. . In 2019, Uber started up again, following a ruling from a federal judge. 

Uber is perfectly legal in Cancun.

You will notice that Uber’s own website has a guide to taking cabs from the app in the city. The Mexican market is big business for Uber so they are working to try and resolve the current issues they face in Cancun. 

Right now, you cannot use Uber in Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, Cozumel or elsewhere in the state of Quintana Roo. Maybe this will change going forwards but for the time being, it doesn’t look super likely given all of the conflict that the app has caused in Cancun. 

Downloading and using the Uber app 

I am assuming that if you are checking to see whether Uber works in Cancun, you are already familiar with the app and have it installed on your phone. But if not, I will provide a brief summary here 🙂 

If you are not familiar with Uber, it is an independent ride app that acts as a substitute for taking taxis. Once you have downloaded the app, you can input your location and where you want to go. 

Then, the app will connect you with a local driver. It will display your waiting time, the price of the journey, the route to your destination, and your expected arrival time at your destination 

A lot of people prefer Uber to taking a street taxi because they can see the price upfront before they get in the vehicle. There is less risk of being overcharged unlike when taking a street taxi. 

(And in Cancun, taxi drivers often overcharge phenomenally to the point of ridiculousness and then still act aggressive/rude and push for tips.)

It is a good idea to download the Uber app and set up a profile on your phone before you head to Mexico. That way, you are not fiddling around setting up an account and registering payment details when you are in a hurry to get a cab somewhere. 

It is a good idea to purchase a Mexico sim card when you arrive in Mexico. That way, you will always have data available, won’t run up an expensive phone bill overseas, and don’t have to worry about wandering around looking for wifi. 

Screenshot of ordering an Uber in Cancun
Screenshots of the Uber app

Where to use Uber in Cancun

I think that one reason that a lot of people have wrongly assumed that Uber doesn’t work in Cancun is that there are fewer vehicles around (drivers are perhaps deterred by the controversy and risk of violence). There are also certain areas where it is either hard to find a ride, or you cannot find one at all. 

You cannot take an Uber from Cancun International Airport and if you try, you will get a message that ¨Uber is not available in your area¨. A huge section of the map around the airport is greyed out on the app. 

Across Mexico, there is a ban on ridesharing apps picking people up from airports. In some cities, you can get around this somewhat by walking a short distance down the road from the airport terminal and ordering an Uber. 

In Cancun, the greyed-out area is too vast so this simply isn’t possible. The roads surrounding the airport are also dangerous and if you try to order a cab on one of the hectic highways leading towards Cancun, you not only put yourself in danger, you put both you and the driver at the risk of incurring a hefty fine.

(Often of $1000 USD or more which is more than most Uber drivers make in a month here).

So, you need to either take a licensed cab or (preferably) pre-book a transfer from Cancun airport. You can, however, take Ubers from Cancun to the airport, from downtown Cancun, the Cancun hotel zone, and other areas on the outskirts of town. 

You can take an Uber from Cancun airport hotels as long as they are outside of the greyed-out area. Otherwise, you are better off asking your hotel to call a trusted cab driver for you.

Tips for Ordering an Uber in Cancun

When you arrive in downtown Cancun and the hotel zone, you should be able to open up your app and see the little cars moving around on it, just like you do in other cities. If you get the same ¨Uber is not available in your area¨, you should try and either restart your phone or reinstall the app.

Most likely, it has just glitched or not updated itself from when you were in an area where Uber didn’t work.  

There are usually sufficient drivers nearby but I would say that there are fewer drivers using Uber in Cancun than in Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, and Merida. (And probably other places in Mexico where the app works too). 

You really need to be patient as it can take quite a while for someone to accept your ride. Whereas it would take me a matter of seconds to find an Uber in Mexico City that would arrive minutes later, I am often waiting 15-20 minutes for an Uber in Cancun.

You can sometimes be waiting as long as 15-20 minutes for a driver to pick you up, even if you are not traveling at peak times. If it’s raining or you’re traveling at rush hour, you should be prepared to wait even longer.

To combat this, try ordering your ride in advance if you can. If you are really in a hurry, there might be times when you just prefer to take a cab but for me, the cost saving, and not being ripped off or dealing with an aggressive cab driver is non-negotiable for me so I never take street cabs. 

Don’t order from major transport hubs 

Uber drivers may not be willing to accept your ride if you are ordering from a major tourist attraction or transport hub (e.g. the ADO bus station). This is because there are so many taxi drivers that wait at the ranks there.

Drivers literally stand outside their vehicles on the street, trying to usher people into their cabs. Even if you are staying in a hotel right nearby, you might find that they follow you down the street, pestering you and asking where you are going.

If they see you getting into an Uber, an argument may ensue. This isn’t a pleasant experience for you, nor is it in the Uber driver’s best interest.

Instead, simply cross the road and walk a block or two. You don’t have to go venturing off into random parts of town or down shady side streets to call an Uber, just be out of sight of the cab drivers.

The same applies if you are trying to call a driver to pick you up from your hotel or resort, particularly if you are staying within the hotel zone.

As mentioned, it is a good idea to order your car a little before you need it.

When you open the app, it will give you an estimation of how long you have to wait before someone picks you up from that area. You can then move the pickup location pin little ways out from where you are and drop it a block away to experiment with where the driver will pick you up from.

It sounds a bit much to consider but you shouldn’t have any problems finding a driver that accepts your fare.

Waiting for your Uber

Unless you are ordering an Uber from outside a major bus station or tourist attraction, you are unlikely to be pestered while you are waiting for it. However, if someone does ask you what/who you are waiting for and asks ¨Uber?¨, you can always just say that you are waiting for a friend. 

You could well be waiting for a Mexican friend or relative, the parent of your Mexican partner, etc. Sometimes it is better to sit in the passenger seat beside the driver rather than in the back of the car (as long as you feel comfortable doing so). 

That way, it doesn’t look like you’ve taken an Uber or a ride with someone you don’t know. A couple of drivers that I have traveled with haven’t even gotten out of their vehicles, perhaps hoping not to look like an Uber driver.

Instead, they just automatically opened their car boot for me to put my luggage inside, and then I have gone and sat beside them in the front passenger seat. 

Don’t order from major transport hubs 

Uber drivers may not be willing to accept your ride if you are ordering from a major tourist attraction or transport hub (e.g. the ADO bus station). This is because there are so many taxi drivers that wait at the ranks there.

Drivers literally stand outside their vehicles on the street, trying to usher people into their cabs. If they see you getting into an Uber, an argument may ensue. This isn’t a pleasant experience for you, nor is it in the Uber driver’s best interest.

Instead, simply cross the road and walk a block or two. You don’t have to go venturing off into random parts of town or down shady side streets to call an Uber, just be out of sight of the cab drivers.

The same applies if you are trying to call a driver to pick you up from your hotel, particularly if you are staying within the hotel zone. As mentioned, it is a good idea to order your car a little before you need it.

When you open the app, it will give you an estimation of how long you have to wait before someone picks you up from that area. You can then move the pickup location pin little ways out from where you are and drop it a block away to experiment with where the driver will pick you up from. It sounds a bit much to consider but you shouldn’t have any problems finding a driver that accepts your fare.

Is Uber in Cancun Safe?

Uber in Cancun is generally safe to use. It is understandable that you may be apprehensive about getting into a stranger’s car and indeed, in some parts of the world, Uber is not as associated with safety as cabs are.

However, in Mexico, Uber is considered safer than getting into street taxis. Mexico is actually the third-largest market for Uber in the world and the ride-hailing app’s presence in the country is continually growing.

When you travel in an Uber, you have the driver’s name, profile, and license plate details. You don’t have that when you get in a regular cab. 

It is also easier to share the details of who you are with and where you got collected from in the unlikely event of an incident. Additional safety features have been added to Uber in recent months/years including the ability to audio record your journey via the app.

If you are stationary at a certain place for any amount of time, Uber will pop up with a notification asking if you are okay.

Cancun on the whole is relatively safe for tourists, provided that you take the same common sense precautions that you would elsewhere.

Risks of getting into random street cabs in Mexico

In Mexico, there are often safety concerns associated with getting into street cabs. This is not restricted to Cancun.

On the minor level, Cancun cab drivers are notorious for charging tourists whatever they feel like – be it 4 or 5 times the going rate. They heavily inflate the prices and charge whatever they want because they feel that tourists will not know the correct price.

Until Uber appeared on the scene, they had the monopoly to do that as tourists had few options to organize a ride elsewhere. 

On a more serious level, fake cabs do exist in Mexico. Although it is still quite uncommon in Cancun, “express kidnappings” do happen.

This takes place when a tourist gets into a taxi and agrees on a destination. The cab driver then drives a short distance before his friends/accomplices enter the vehicle.

The tourist is then threatened and held at gun/knife point and made to hand over all valuables, phones, cameras, etc. Usually, the thugs have no intention of inflicting actual harm on tourists but you should not try to resist. 

They will drive the tourist around to different ATMs and make them withdraw the maximum amount of money at each, before finally letting them go. That is a traumatic experience for anyone to go through while traveling and just one of the risks of getting into random street cabs.

How to stay safe when using Uber in Cancun

It is a good idea to always check the driver’s profile when you call an Uber. This is true of ordering one everywhere, not just in Cancun. 

If a driver has been on the app for years, has completed thousands of trips, and has a rating of 4.9 or higher, you are likely in good hands. You will also be able to read short reviews and testimonials about the driver’s service and professionality.

If the driver is brand new on the app, has a low rating, or has only completed a few journeys, you can cancel the ride and look for another driver. Don’t feel bad about doing this as your safety in Cancun is paramount.

Usually Uber will let you cancel and search for another driver without charging you a fee, as long as you didn’t wait until the driver was already well on their way to you.

You should also keep an eye out for a driver that seems to be moving slowly towards you or being stationary too long in one place. When the driver arrives, check that the license plate corresponds with what you see on the app and the driver looks the same. If the vehicle doesn’t have a license plate, don’t get in the car, and make sure you report it to Uber. 

Should you use Uber in Cancun despite the government warnings?

In 2022, the US travel advisory issued a warning about taking Uber in Cancun after medallion taxi drivers were caught harassing and verbally abusing or attacking taxi drivers and their passengers. In spite of this, I still personally choose to take Uber.

Why? Because I prefer to travel with people that are behaving respectfully towards their passengers and people in general when they are trying to make a living, not the local taxi companies that feel like violence and abuse is okay in trying to pressure people to catch rides with them. 

If you follow the advice above – by telling someone you are waiting for a friend and ordering taxis away from the hotel district, bus stations or major tourist districts, you ought to be fine. Nobody can just assume that every vehicle you get into or are waiting for is an Uber. 

Taxi blockades in Cancun

Some articles online have mentioned that taxi blockades could be an issue when taking Ubers in Cancun. I have never seen this in my two years of living in the area.

In 2022, there was an incident where local taxi unions tried to blockade Kukulkan Boulevard and other main roads nearby to stop travelers from using Uber. It caused a lot of stress for people trying to get to the airport and transit officers had to intervene to help.

This is an isolated incident and something that is unlikely to happen again. Good and bad things happen all over the world every day.

The Cancun police department has a strong presence in Cancun and the safety and comfort of tourists here is extremely important. (After all, a huge % of the local population is dependent on tourism for their livelihood!)

Don’t let past disputes worry you from using the app, it is still safer than taking a street cab. 

Uber in Cancun FAQs

Do you have any additional questions or concerns about using Uber in Cancun? Hopefully, you will find the answers that you are looking for below.

If not, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Is Uber illegal in Cancun?

Uber is not illegal in Cancun. Sources that state otherwise are false. 

Is Uber in Cancun safe?

Uber in Cancun is safe, as long as you use common sense and take precautions. Unfortunately, there is always the risk of anomalies but most Uber drivers in Cancun take their work seriously. This is their livelihood after all. 

Can I get an Uber from Cancun to other Mexican towns and cities? 

You can get an Uber from Cancun to other parts of Mexico. However, this is not necessarily the most economical option.

Yes, Ubers are cheaper than taxis. But you may actually find that organizing a private transfer also works out cheaper than Uber.

For instance, if you want to go from Cancun to Merida or from Cancun to Tulum, yes some drivers may take you there. But you will probably save money organizing a transfer in advance.

You may find that a lot of drivers are not willing to make long journeys as they cannot then secure a fare on the way back. (This is particularly true if you are traveling from Cancun to another destination in Quintana Roo, as the app is banned elsewhere in the state).

If you do want to travel a relatively long distance by Uber, it is a good idea to pre-book your vehicle. Alternatively, public transport between cities in Mexico is pretty good and the ADO bus is always a viable option for long-distance journeys. 

Do other ride apps exist?

There is no Lyft in Cancun. Other taxi ride apps exist in Mexico.

Didi and Indrive are two popular alternatives that a lot of Mexicans like to use. However, they do not function in Cancun.

If you want to try them out in other parts of Mexico, do note that you may have to change your phone/apple ID (if applicable) location to Mexico. Didi cabs are usually cheaper than Uber but there is often less availability. 

There are similar security tools in place on Didi, to the extent where it is considered just as safe as Uber in Mexico. Indrive is an option I would only really recommend if you are traveling with a group of Mexican friends.

The way it works, is basically that you input your pick-up point and destination into the app and then write what price you feel is reasonable for the journey/how much you are willing to pay. Local drivers then ¨bid¨ to take you to their destination and you can choose the lowest price listed.

Since basically anyone can drive their car on Indrive and there are fewer checks and safety measures, I consider it less safe than Uber and Didi. 

Can I use Uber from Cancun airport to the hotel?

It is illegal for Uber to pick up passengers from Cancun airport. Only licensed airport cabs are permitted to operate here.

Uber is legal elsewhere in Cancun though. You will have no problem taking an Uber from one side of Cancun to another, or from Cancun to other destinations and Mayan ruins in the area.

Is Uber cheaper than taxis in Cancun?

Uber is generally cheaper than taking taxis in Cancun. This rings true all over Mexico.

The other advantage of taking an Uber rather than a cab is that you can see the price and route displayed via the app before you enter the vehicle. This means there is no chance of someone trying to overcharge or lie about the price unlike with street cabs.

How much do you tip a cab driver in Cancun?

Tipping is not required when taking taxis in Mexico. If you have good service and you would like to leave a tip, you can always round up the fare or tip 20 pesos or so.

(20 pesos is approximately $1). Sometimes, Cancun cab drivers can seem pushy and aggressive about wanting tips but this is by no means obligatory, and why should you tip someone that makes you feel uncomfortable?

Final thoughts on using Uber in Cancun

Do you have any experience with taking Uber in Cancun or elsewhere in Mexico? What were your thoughts?

There are several forums and websites online that state that Uber in Cancun is illegal. That is NOT the case, though it does pay to be mindful of the controversy around the app while using it. 

If you are traveling to Mexico for the first time, you might also be interested in reading these facts about Mexico, or this post on what you need to know before you go.

Have a wonderful trip! Buen Viaje! Melissa xo


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico and the Editor-in-Chief of Mexico Travel Secrets. She has over seven years worth of experience in working in travel media and has travelled to 57 countries, mostly solo. Throughout her career, Melissa has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.

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