Question: Where, When and How Much: About Mexico Buses (Does Mexico Have Buses? Yes.)
Answer: Mexico has excellent in-country long haul buses, as well as a plethora of local buses ranging from not-so-converted school buses to beauty min-vans. And VW vans, of course. Let's start with how to catch a local bus in Mexico, then learn about long haul bus travel in Mexico below.
Chicken buses, thus named because they head to and from rural locales and sometimes host an animal or two (though livestock-on-bus sightings are not really as common in Mexico as some travel guides would have you believe), are cheap and pretty safe. Collectivos are min-buses or mini-vans (usually older VW vans) in Mexico. You're likely to see these in Mexico cities. In-city destinations are often written or spelled out in white tape on the windshield. Collectivos are cheap -- about $15 to get anywhere on the Riviera Maya, for instance.
Large Mexico buses in commercial service, like Mexico's versions of Greyhound, crisscross the country. They're comfy, clean and a genuinely good ride, with reclining seats, AC and TV's. Things to keep in mind about Mexico commercial bus lines, like ETN:
How to Catch Local Buses in MexicoStand by the side of a Mexico road or city street, looking into traffic, and raise an arm when you see a bus approaching -- it will probably pull over (some first class, long haul Mexico buses will not). You can usually get off by hailing the bus driver at any point along the bus's route. Local buses often really do run on a schedule; ask in town. The farther away from population centers you get, the farther apart local Mexico buses will be (like hours or days), so ask someone, like a bartender or shop clerk, when the buses will run in the area to which you're headed. You'll need a ticket for a bigger, long distance bus, but you may be able to buy it on board if there are seats.
Types of Mexico BusesLocal Mexico transportation is cheap, provided you use local buses. Forty cents for a bus up and down the main drag in Acapulco (fifty cents if it's air conditioned), for instance.
About Commercial ("Big", or Long Distance) Mexico Bus Lines
- Long distance buses are called camiones.
- Several lines exist. In most Mexico bus stations, each line has its own desk (there may be only one desk at smaller stations). Many Mexico bus lines cover the same routes. I like Mexico bus line ETN where it's available - check out some bus photos.
- If you don't want to stop (a lot), choose "luxury" or first class on Mexico buses if bus ticket prices are close because "luxury" lines are often non-stop. Non-stop buses do sometimes stop on demand, though.
- Luggage goes underneath; the interiors have overhead bins for small backpacks. Some Mexico bus lines give you a receipt for your stored bag, some don't (ETN does). Don't sweat it, but keep an eye on your bag at stops if you don't have a receipt.
- "Asiento," which will be written or stamped on your ticket, means seat.
- In larger Mexico bus stations, your platform also indicates your destination.
Mexico bus resources:
- How to Make Mexico Bus Reservations
- Mexico bus schedules (mostly links) and bus lines' websites
- Excellent and chatty info about Mexico buses, the Yucatan in particular
- Larpman's Mexico bus info - this fellow will also put together a schedule for you for a couple of bucks (can be hard to do yourself online)
Taking the Bus To MexicoGreyhound offers Mexico bus service to Durango, Mexico City, Morelia and Tampico, as well as a host of smaller Mexico towns. Taking Greyhound to a border town in Texas or California and then picking up a bus to Mexico may be a good way to go, too. Check prices -- it may cost more first class, but first class Mexico bus arrangements are pretty nice.
- Greyhound bus tickets to Mexico -- choose Mexico from the "State" pulldown menu
- All about taking the bus to Mexico -- includes Mexico bus company US pickups and destinations