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includes Mexico and Belize Buses, Taxis and Combis (Van) Transportation
for Local and Long Distance Travel as well as some Border Tidbits.
MEXICO BUS INFORMATION
Mexico has an excellent bus service, far superior to Canada or the U.S. It is also the cheapest way to get around Mexico. Travelling on a bus can be an interesting experience as well. You have the opportunity to meet some unique people. For example on any given ride you could be seated next to a family of Mayas dressed in traditional clothing on their way to a festival. Or you could sit next to a former English professor from New York who abandoned her former lifestyle to live in a village in Mexico and live off of internet investments. And don't be surprised if that quiet Mexican sitting next to you is not university educated and speaks fluent English.
On-line Bus Schedules can be found here for the Yucatan and connecting routes - Chiapas to Mexico City. NOTE: This web site is sometimes off-line.
THE BUS SYSTEM
There is also the mini-bus line (Collectivo/Vans), which runs up and down the Mayan Riviera from Cancun to Tulum. This is simply the cheapest way to get around the Mexican Mayan Riviera. It costs 100 pesos to go from Cancun to Playa del Carmen and it costs 15 pesos to go anywhere around the Riviera. What you do is walk out to the highway regardless of what resort you are at or what beach you are camping on and stand on the side of the highway in a safe visible spot. When ever you see a van approaching hold your arm straight out. Usually the driver will flash his lights or honk his horn as a signal to you asking you if you need a ride. The van will stop and the driver, will jump out and open the van door for you. You get in the van and sit. Along the way you will stop and either pick up or drop off people in the middle of nowhere. One time a guy got on the bus with his guitar and starting playing and singing. Soon everybody on the bus was singing some traditional Mexican song. It was like a party.
The way it works is you tell the bus driver where you want to get off, however, do not expect him to always remember. Watch for your stop, as you may have to yell ¨Baja¨ when you get there (if you are in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico). You pay the driver when you exit the van. The driver always gets out to open the door for you. Air-conditioned vans are presently being phased in. Because the Cancun - Tulum strip is the tourist zone the Collectivo/Vans service runs all day almost every 15 - 30 minutes during the day. Other routes are run less frequent.
There is a bus system in Cancun, Merida, Chetumal and Campeche. There are bus-stop signs and you pay when you get on the bus. The best thing to do is find someone that speaks English and ask him or her what to do. We have never had a Mexican give us false advice although do not expect every person you ask to have the information you need. Most buses have the route and major stops on the front windshield. To get picked up: Hold your arm straight out before they get to you and they will stop to pick you up. To get out: ¨Baja¨ means ¨stop and let me out right now¨ in this part of Mexico, if there is no button to push.
NOTE TO BACKPACKERS - Cristobal Colon now has new 1st class buses just as nice as ADO.
FIRST CLASS BUSES
SECOND & THIRD CLASS BUSES
They tend to stop in each village or when flagged down. You pay the driver or his helper when you get on and you will receive a bus ticket. Hang on to the ticket, sometimes you are asked to show it during the trip.
PLUS CLASS BUSES
Luxury buses do not run on every line. These buses have reserved seating, TV, toilets, lots of legroom, a stewardess, air-conditioning, and refreshments.
First and Plus class buses stop infrequently. They connect major destinations and do not generally stop in small villages. On some routes the First & Plus class bus may use the expensive and faster toll road, while lower classes may use the slower free road. Examples are: UNO, Omnibuses de Mexico, and Primera Plus.
In smaller places you may find separate first- and second-class terminals, or individual ones for each company, sometimes little more than a cabana or bus stop at the side of the road.
In almost every bus station, there is some form of baggage deposit (luggage storage/locker) office - usually known as a guardería, consigna or simply equipaje. Before leaving anything, make sure that the place will be open when you come to collect your stuff. There is security, however don't push your luck. Never leave your passport, any personal documentation or valuables in a bus station locker.
You have to go to a bus station to purchase your ticket. You cannot do this over the telephone.
1. Locate and go to the bus station.
2. Either know exactly where you wish to go or write it down on a piece of paper.
3. Stand in the right line. You will notice that there are lines in front of ticket windows with a sign above the window (see images above). The bus company name, destinations and times are listed on the signs and you stand in the line that has your destination with the bus company you wish to travel with.
4. Tell the ticket clerk where you wish to go or hand them your piece of paper with the destination and time of departure you wish.
5. The clerk will first tell you if there are any seats available. Then they will either show you a computer screen with numbers on it (these are seats) or show you a cardboard printout of the bus seating. You are to choose your seat.
6. The clerk will then ask for your name, which will be printed, on the ticket (you can show your passport opened to your pic and name page).
7. The clerk will then print out a ticket for you and you pay for the ticket.
NOTE: Sometimes you can't buy your ticket until the bus arrives as the ticket seller does not know if there are any seats available.
Terms to look out for on the timetable, besides local and de paso, include vía corta (by the short route) and directo or expresso (direct/non-stop). Salida is departure, llegada is arrival.
The cost is apx. $48MXP/<$4USD/$2.59EUR for every 100km covered.
At some stations you check your bags at the baggage counter for first class service. You will receive a ticket for every bag checked. At some stations the baggage clerk will do this as you get on the bus and always for less than 1st class service. He will be standing outside next to the bus. He will give you your ticket. Still at some stations there is no baggage check and you simply place your bags in the storage compartments and retrieve them yourself, usually you are responsible to deposit, pick up and transfer your luggage, they only check baggage tags. You are usually allowed 2 bags and a carry on without being charged extra. Eating and drinking non-alcoholic beverages on the bus is allowed, just clean up after yourself so this practice may continue.
When it is time for your bus to load an announcement will be made in Spanish over the intercom. Usually very close to the time on your ticket. Generally a group of people will line up at the entrance to the buses after the announcement.
Get in the line and go out to the bus-loading zone. Look at the front of the bus to make sure it is the right bus and let them see your ticket to be extra sure. All buses have the destination on the top left-hand corner of the front windshield. Sometimes more than one bus can be departing at the same time so check the front of the bus so you don't stand in the wrong line.
This is a no-win situation. If the bus has air-conditioning then it will be freezing and you can catch a cold or the air-conditioning will be broken which means it will be a raging inferno. The only air in on a bus with a broken air-conditioner is to keep the front door open. You can bring bottled water on board. A/C breakdown is rare on the ADO buses.
TIP: It is a good idea to take a travel blanket or jacket on the bus with you in Mexico.
If you go to Mexico during July-August and decide to travel by bus to Guatemala-Belize then you want an air-conditioned bus, but you may not find one south of Mexico.
THINGS THAT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU (but probably will not)!
Sometimes when you make a transfer you are literally let off in the middle of nowhere. This can be a desolate stretch of highway miles from any town or main highway. You can be all alone. The bus you are waiting for can be late or broken down at the side of the highway. This is rare and only in odd areas.
Finally the bus arrives but it is totally packed and you have to stand up near the front door, which is left open because it is so hot inside. There is not a single person on the bus who speaks English and you cannot for the life of you pronounce the name of the place you want to go to and you lost your map back at your last bus-camp. Write the name down, this usually works. Remember a lot of Mayan is spoken mixed in with Spanish in the Yucatan Peninsula and it can really throw you off.
You are surrounded by a group of old ladies dressed in traditional Huipils. They are not impressed with you. You gaze out the window trying to appear not out of place in this scenario hoping that you will see a sign. It gets dark and there are no lights. The bus hits a pothole and the front right headlight stops working. The old ladies are talking, you just know they are talking about you. You smile, mumble some incomprehensible words, your charm is ineffective here. Finally one of the old ladies smiles at you and says something. The other ladies laugh, you laugh with them.
BUS STATION LOCATIONS
YUCATAN PENINSULA BUS INFORMATION
GETTING TO CANCUN BUS STATION FROM THE AIRPORT:
Bus Schedule From Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen:
10:45 - 11:45 - 12:45 - 13:45 - 15:00 -
16:45 - 17:45 - 19:00 - 20:30
More Schedules coming soon!!!
You can also take a shuttle bus (Collectivo/Van) service that will drop you off at any hotel. (Pic of a typical Collectivo from Cancun to Tulum area is below)
Cancun International Airport
If you arrive at the International Airport (non-charter BUT sometimes charters fly in here) then exit the front of the airport and walk to your right. There is usually a bus there but if not either ask a porter or just walk over to the bus stand which is right at the end of the front of the terminal..
Cancun Charter Airport
Just like the International Airport, International flights do sometimes fly into the Charter Airport. The Charter Airport has a shuttle service right out the front exit/entrance of the airport. You can also take a shuttle between the airports if you want to take the bus from the International Airport instead.
Playa del Carmen
*The old station is at 5th and Juarez.
*The new station is at 20th Avenue between Calle 12 and Calle 14.
(Ask your hotel or hostel which one is closer to them).
From Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport:
08:00 - 09:00 - 10:30 - 11:45 - 13:00 -
14:00 - 15:00 - 16:00 - 17:00 - 18:15
Cost (2008)- $65MXP (<$5USD or $3.54EUR ) ONE WAY
You catch the bus to Cancun Airport at the old bus station on 5th Avenue across from MacDonald's. You have to pre-purchase a bus ticket so show up at least 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time.
*If you are staying at an expensive hotel ON the north beach, NEAR the ruins, you can request ¨the north station near the ruins¨ coming into town and they ¨might¨ let you off there coming to Tulum from Playa or Cancun.
*Buses to Flores in Guatemala also leave from the main (ADO/UNO) terminal.
*Belize Buses for towns in Belize leave hourly from the Lázaro Cárdenas (New) Market, in the city centre, corner of Av. Veracruz and Antonio Coria. No night runs after about 8pm, to or in Belize, or at the least it is unreliable. The new Express Bus stops at the ADO Terminal when returning to Mexico.
*Mexican Buses for the Mexican/Belize border leave every 1/2 hour from a terminal on Primo de Verdad between Calle 16 de Sept. and Av. Miguel Hidalgo. A good place to catch this bus is at the Pharmacy (stop light here) at the corner of Calle Belice and Calle Primo de Verdad (stand on Calle Primo de Verdad near door of pharmacy and when you see a white bus with a yellow stripe coming hold out your arm before it comes thru the stop light), this is about 2 blocks north on Calle Belice from the Terminal de Combis. The Calderitas Bus passes by here on Calle Belice before the Terminal de Combis. This bus passes the prison and the Airport runways on Av. Alvaro Obregon. The buses say ¨Santa Elena Border¨ and the ride ends at the block where the military stands guard, When the bus parks in front of the restaurant, exit, cross the main road in front of you then cross the side road and go down the main road to the little booth up ahead on the right to get stamped out of Mexico. Cost in Aug. 2009 was 10 pesos. Return is also every 1/2 hour. Mexicans use this bus to so they can get to the Free Zone in Belize to shop.
*Combis/Cambies/Collectivos (mini vans) for Calderitas Village/Chetumal Beach (Playa) leave from the Terminal de Combis (The Old Market, downtown near Museum) on Calle Belice at Cristobal Colon. The blue and white bus with A\C is parked on Cristobal Colon and goes down Av. Heroes/Av. Centenario/Av. Calderitas to Calderitas via 2 former villages. On its return trip from Calderitas (Calle Coahuila and the south end of the beach) it goes back Av. Calderitas/Centenario, passing thru the New Market on Av. Veracruz, down Antonio Coria over Av. Heroes to Calle Belice and thru the Terminal de Combis and takes a circle thru downtown and comes back to the Terminal de Combis and parks on Cristobal Colon. New charge as of Jan. 2009 was 5 pesos per person over age 5 to any point on the route, pay as you enter bus at front, push button on pole and exit at rear,
*Note: Other Combis/Cambies/Collectivos/Buses at the Terminal de Combis go to different areas of Chetumal. Example: ¨Lugantas¨ takes you past the General Hospital, ¨Plaza de Americas¨ takes you past Wal-Mart and the Mall. All buses and combis are marked on the front or back and windows, usually.
*Combis/Cambies/Collectivos/Bus for Bacalar, Río Hondo and Mahahual/Xcalak leave from the Terminal de Combis (The Old Market, downtown near Museum) on Calle Belice at Cristobal Colon.
Taxis: Always ask first, these should be regular daylight rates for 1-4 people (tip $5-10mxp if driver must open trunk): Calderitas (north Chetumal) to Santa Elena Mexico Border $80mxp. ADO Bus Station to Calderitas $30mxp. Border Motorcycle Rickshaws $10mxp to any one point, usually per person. Green Vans to free zone are free if you shop the store they drop you at, otherwise it is $10mxp per person.
*The ADO larger 1st call station is called "CAME" and is located on Calle 70, between Calle 69 and 71.
*The other 1st-class station is the small Maya K'iin used by the bus company Elite. It is located on Calle 65 no. 548, between Calle 68 and 70.
*The 2nd-class bus station is around the corner from the CAME on Calle 69, between Calle 68 and 70. You get the bus to Uxmal here.
*To get to Progresso and Dzibilchaltún, Mexico you go to the "Estacion Progresso", Calle 62 #524, between Calle 65 and 67.
The trip to Progresso, Mexico takes an hour by second class bus. There are also some colectivos to Dzibilchaltún that you can pick up beside the San Juan church, south of the main plaza off of Calle 62.
*To get to and from Celestun you catch the bus at the Celestun Station at Calle 71 #585 between Calle 64 and 66.
The 1st-class ADO station is located on Avenida Gobernadores. The easiest way to get to this bus station is to take a taxi and ask the driver to take you to the "ADO" estacion autobus.
*The new station in Valladolid is located at Calle 37 at Calle 54.
*The old one is at Calle 39 at Calle 44.
BELIZE BUS INFORMATION
*New Express First Class Bus Service From the Lázaro Cárdenas (New) Market, in the city centre, corner of Av. Veracruz and Antonio Coria and the ADO Station in Chetumal To Belize Citywith stops at the Mexican and Belize Borders, Corozal Town and a longer midway stop in Orange Walk Town. This is a White Air Conditioned tour Bus operated by a Belize bus service, the cost for the full trip is $16 BZD=$8USD (Aug. 2009), pro-rated at slightly less at each stop. I have seen them refuse Pesos, so try to have BZ or US $. Money changers are available in Chetumal and at the Belize Border exit fence. Exchange rate in late Aug. 2009 is about 13MXP=1USD=2 BZD. This bus service is about on par with greyhound service in the US or I would say in between 1-2nd Class Bus in Mexico (explained above). Nice seats, air conditioning and luggage storage. The stop in Corozal is usually very short. The stop in Orange Walk is now at the regular bus stop by the market and vendors board to sell Tamales, drinks and snacks, but the stop may be shorter if delayed at a border,... They may make several boarding stops through Corozal and Orange Walk Town but they do not usually stop in passing villages. They start stopping again at the Hattieville turn off or if asked or flagged down. Otherwise they do not stop until they reach the entrance of Belize City. The destination is the Main Bus Terminal inside the gate in Belize City. I believe the same times apply for the service from Belize City to Chetumal. This trip is several hours long leaving at 10:15, 1:15 and 4:15 Belize, Central American Time, not Mexico or Eastern Time. This is a great relief from the school bus rides even if the school buses are so cheap. My knees don't like to be smashed and I don't like being suffocated in a overcrowded hot school bus made for children that was designed for a lot less children than all the adults and children packed in these old Belize buses (Chicken buses, as we used to call them in Mexico). The bus stops at the ADO terminal going both directions, so if you have arrived there or are leaving on a Mexican bus this is a perfect alternative to the chicken buses. If you are only going to the Free Zone or are staying in Chetumal area there is cheaper transportation. See ¨Chetumal¨ under the section ¨YUCATAN PENINSULA BUS INFORMATION¨. There is also a Belize Bus Service attempting to get a permit for First Class Service to run from Belice City to San Ignacio, I have not heard any more on this as yet but I have heard there is a tour bus running this service.
*Mexican Buses run down Primo de Verdad from their terminal between Calle 16 de Sept. and Av. Miguel Hidgaldo and on a route past the prison and airport runway on Av. Alvaro Obregon and on to the Mexican side of the border with Belize for apx. $10MXP (Aug. 2009).
Buses to Flores, Guatemala also leave from the main (ADO/UNO) bus terminal on Salvador Novo, one block from Av. Insurgentes near the police station.
Everyone must pay an exit fee from Belize, exceptBelizeans and permanent legal residents or Mexicans visiting for less than 24 hours. Exit Fees vary for different nationalities, but for most the fee is $30BZD plus a $7.50BZD Environmental Fee for those staying past 1 day.
Everyone must pay an exit fee from Mexico if you have been in Mexico for 7 days or more ($262MXP in May 2009), exceptMexicans and FM3 Residents. Note, this fee must be paid in an approved Bank and makes the visa good for 180 days (6 months) in and out, in other words you can return on this visa within 6 months without paying any more fees. This means that the guys at the border do not receive any money at any time and that you will not have to bribe them (give them any money no matter how much they say you do) unless you really did screw up and then you could bribe them or argue until they give in, just keep asking for their name and ID number, use English, they can not work at the passport window at a US border or Belize Border unless they speak English). If you pay the person at the window the money will not get to the bank but still might not cause you re-enter problems later. Your passport does not need to be stamped for a visit to the free zone from Mexico unless you wish to stop and tell them you are going to the Zona Libre and they most likely will just say go ahead anyway, if they do not stamp you out, do not get stamped back in and vies versa. My problem seems to always be one way or the other and never the same both ways unless I just do not stop at all for free zone visits and that only seems to work when I tell the driver I live in Chetumal. Sometimes they do not even want to stamp be back in from Belize which means I may have problems later if I want an FM3 Visa. The Free Zone consist mostly of clothing and shoe stores but can also be a good place to get US food items, luggage, American and Foreign Cigarettes very cheap, duty free liquor, camping supplies,... there are also restaurants, beauty supplies, hardware stores, a pharmacy,... and Hotels and Casinos. Note a stay in a Free Zone Hotel coming from Belize to Mexico can cause a big problem and argument with the passport agent in Mexico, be prepared.
PLEASE, DO NOT TRANSPORT DRUGS OR GUNS OVER ANY BORDER, both the US and Mexico have drug sniffing dogs at all incoming borders including Belize and the means to look under vehicles and the right to search anyone and their belongings. All three of these counties have very stiff penalties for transporting any amount of either of these items across their borders, and may exercise these rights on citizens, residents and foreign nationals at any time they take a notion too, they usually search most incoming luggage in Belize. Yes, all drugs are illegal in Belize, contrary to popular belief, as well as the fact that Belize does have an extradition treaty. The use of drugs is only legal in Mexico and is a for small amount of drugs for personal use only inside the borders of Mexico and this could change, so please check with a knowledgeable person on this. It is a greatly enforced law about gun possession in Mexico that no amount of bribes will remedy so do not tease this law in any way in Mexico. Possession of any drug and many weapons inside Belize or the US can get all parties inside a vehicle or dwelling arrested even if they had no knowledge of the drugs or unlicensed weapon (includes blades over 4 inches in Belize, although they will make exceptions for a machete used for self defence or used to stop someone entering a home by force).
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