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MEXICO BUS INFORMATION

BUS SCHEDULES

Mexico has an excellent bus service, far superior to Canada or the U.S. It is also the cheapest way to get around Mexico. Traveling 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.

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THE BUS SYSTEM

There are several classes of buses in Mexico and many bus lines. Not all lines service everywhere. There is a bus rating system, however like the resort rating system it is completely arbitrary and the ratings are generally posted by the bus line that would be obviously biased. When selecting a bus service you can either select a bus that is traveling where you want to go at the time you wish to go or you can select a bus based on the quality of the service. Some buses are brand new luxury vehicles while others are rickety jalopies (chicken buses) however, it is nothing like Cuba.

HIGHWAY SERVICE

Long-distance buses are called camiones. ADO-GL, UNO, Omnibuses de Mexico, and Primera Plus are some of the major first class bus lines, there are others. These services operate between Cancun - Playa del Carmen - Chetumal - Campeche - Merida -Cancun.

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 Penisula 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.

LOCAL SERVICE

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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.

DISTANCE TRAVEL

Most people choose first-class for any appreciably long distance, and second for short trips or if the destination is too small for first-class buses to stop. But you should certainly not be put off second-class if it seems more convenient - it may even prove less crowded and less expensive. It just takes a little longer, as they stop for anyone standing on the road waiting for a bus.

NOTE TO BACKPACKERS - Cristobal Colon now has new 1st class buses just as nice as ADO.

FIRST CLASS BUSES

These deluxe or pullman buses are better than Greyhound with reserved seats and baggage check. They also have toilets and TV although the TV's sometimes are not used or the TV show is in Spanish. Bring your own TP in Mexico.

SECOND & THIRD CLASS BUSES

The main difference between first and second class is the number of stops - second-class buses call at more places, and consequently take longer to get where they're going - and the fare, which is about ten percent higher on first-class services, and sometimes a lot more. Second class buses are usually old first class buses but don't be surprised if by chance you see an old bus from "your" city bombing down the highway with Mexico painted on it. Surprise, they bought one of your old city's buses. This would be a second or third class bus. These buses are sometimes old school buses or vehicles from Europe.

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

Similar to First Class buses with names like Primera Plus or Turistar Plus these usually have TVs and toilets, and the seats are reserved.

LUXURY 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.

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If you stand in the UNO line then this is what your bus would look like

BUS STATIONS

Cancun, Playa, Merida, Chetumal and Campeche all have major bus stations known as the Central Camionera or Central de Autobuses.

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.

BUYING TICKETS

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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.

DEPARTURE

Arrive at the bus station at least 15 minutes before your bus leaves. Your bus may or may not be at the station when you arrive. They run by satellite and come in very close to on time unless there has been a break down.

At some stations you check your bags at the baggage counter. You will receive a ticket for every bag checked. At some stations the baggage clerk will do this as you get on the bus. 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.

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.

MEXICAN HOLIDAYS

Since bus travel is the most economical means of transportation in Mexico you can expect that during holidays, Mexicans take full advantage of the service. Buses will be packed and if you are thinking about traveling by bus during a holiday you should attempt to book your seat well in advance if you can. If you do not you may have to juggle your plans around or be prepared to take what buses are available to you regardless of schedule. See our web page: ¨Facts About Mexico¨ , for Mexican Holidays in 2009.

AIR CONDITIONING

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 Penisula 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

Cancun
The Cancun Bus Station is downtown on the corner of Avenida Uxmal and Avenida Tulum. There is a Hostel and good restaurants within 2 blocks of the station. There is also a ATM Machine and Upstairs Restrooms at this station.

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Cancun Bus Station

GETTING TO CANCUN BUS STATION FROM THE AIRPORT:

NEW - ADO (bus line) now offers 1st class bus transport from the airport to the Cancun bus station located in downtown Cancun.

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.

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A typical Collectivo from the Cancun to the Tulum area

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 MacDonalds. You have to pre-purchase a bus ticket so show up at least 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

Tulum
*The Main Tulum Bus Station is on the highway towards the south end of town (in town), If you are staying at a Hostel use the main south station as most hostels are walking distance or a short taxi drive from it, as well as the cheaper off beach Hotels.

*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.

Chetumal
*The Main (ADO/UNO) bus station in Chetumal is 20 blocks from the town center one block from Av. Insurgentes on Calle Salvador Novo, near the Police Station.

*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 center, corner of Av. Veracruz and Antonio Coria. No night runs after about 8pm, to or in Belize, or at the least it is unreliable.

*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 pahrmacy and when you see a large bus 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 Nov.2008 was 9 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 Walmart 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 Majahual/Xcalak leave from the Terminal de Combis (The Old Market, downtown near Museum) on Calle Belice at Cristobal Colon.

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Combis/Cambies in Chetumal Area

Merida
Merida has 5 bus stations, two 1st-class stations and the rest 2nd and 3rd class.

*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 Progreso and Dzibilchaltún, Mexico you go to the "Estacion Progreso", Calle 62 #524, between Calle 65 and 67.

The trip to Progreso, 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.

Izamal
Near the central plaza.
Buses departing hourly for Mérida, between 4:30a.m. and 7:30p.m. Fares are $13USD

Campeche
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.

Valladolid
*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

FROM CHETUMAL

*Belize Buses for towns in Belize (Corozal, Orange Walk and Belize City) leave hourly from the Lázaro Cárdenas (New) Market, in the city center, corner of Av. Veracruz and Antonio Coria. No night runs after about 8pm, to or in Belize, it is at the least it is unreliable.

*New Express Bus Service From Chetumal To Belize City with stops at the Belize Border, Corozal Town and Orange Walk Town. This is a White tour Bus operated by a Belize bus service, the cost for the full trip is either $16 or $19 BZD, pro-rated at slightly less at each stop. This service is about on par with greyhound service in the US or I would say 2nd Class Bus in Mexico (explained above). Nice seats, air conditioning and luggage storage. The stop in Corozal gives you time for a quick break, just tell the drivers helper. The stop in Orange Walk is on the Main Road through town and vendors board to sell Tamales, drinks and snacks. They may make several bording stops through Corozal and Orange Walk Town but they do not stop in passing villages. They start stoping again at the Hattieville turn off if asked or flagged down. Otherwise they do not stop until they reach the entrace of Belize City. The destination is the Main Bus Terminal inside the gate in Belize City. This trip is several hours long and I am not sure of departure times, I believe they are every 3 or 4 hours starting at 8 or 9 AM. There are two or three trips back and forth every day. This is a great relief from the school bus rides even if the school buses are so cheap. My kness don´t like to be smashed and I don´t like being sufficated 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). I am sorry I do not know if this bus runs from the ADO terminal, I rode from the border and just happen to come out of immigration when he pulled in. I will obtain more info. and post it ASAP.

*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. $9MXP (Nov. 2008).

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.