Bus Travel in Mexico
|Mexico City Bus.
Catching a bus in Mexico is not equivalent to settling in between chicken cages. Many bus lines offer a comfortable, climate-controlled ride—no animals included. If you want to explore a number of different areas in the country, catching a bus is a great way to do it. You’ll be in for quiet, convenient, and cost-efficient travel.
You can try calling a bus station or searching online for tickets; however, in my eight years of riding Mexican buses, I’ve found the best way to get tickets is to just go to the bus station. Almost every city in Mexico has a central camionera (bus station), and large cities usually have several. Check a guidebook or ask the locals where to find the nearest one.
The vast majority of Mexicans use buses, rather than planes or cars, to get from one city to another. For this reason, bus stations offer many travel options. Buses headed to a nearby city will depart a number of times during the day. The further away you want to go, however, the less frequently the bus may leave. Go early and check on departure times. For long trips, consider taking an overnight bus. You’ll be able to catch some shut-eye and save on hotel costs for that night.
The only times when getting tickets may be difficult are during holiday seasons. Many Mexicans travel during these days, and buses fill up fast. The week before Easter, known as Semana Santa, is the biggest vacation time for most Mexicans. You may also battle to get a seat during the Christmas and New Year season. If you are going to travel during these times, try to get your tickets ahead of time. Go to the bus station a few weeks in advance and your chances of getting a ticket will increase greatly.
Bus Lines and Prices
When you walk into the bus station, you’ll see a number of different booths set up. Each one represents a certain bus line. If you go to one and can’t find a bus leaving to the city of your choice, head to another one.
Tickets for bus travel are relatively inexpensive. The rates vary slightly, depending on which bus line you take. The most luxurious buses are usually referred to as Ejecutivos. These buses are air-conditioned, have comfortable seats, show movies, and include a bathroom. You may even get a drink and sandwich as you board. ETN is one of the top Ejecutivo bus lines. Passengers sit in a cabin that is set apart from the driver, and there are only three seats across, offering you a lot of room to spread out. Earphones are available if you want to listen to music or a movie.
First class buses are a step down from Ejecutivos, but they are very accommodating. Bus lines such as ADO or Omnibus include air-conditioning, comfortable seating, movies, and bathrooms. The ride on these is usually quite smooth.
Second class buses fall closer to the stereotypical vision of a rickety Mexican bus. These buses often do not have air conditioning and stop to pick up anyone that flags them down. For a short trip, these might work. In fact, some cities only offer this type of service to nearby areas. But for longer distances, avoid these if at all possible—your back and ears will thank you.
Bus travel in Mexico is a cheap, relatively comfortable way to get around the country. If you want to explore several different areas of Mexico, I highly recommend this travel option.