You can travel to Mexico by bus, private vehicle, or plane.
This blog post will cover everything you need about in Mexico’s Bus Travel. This blog post is for backpackers who are staying longer in Mexico, those who don’t want to rent cars and those who seek more affordable and sustainable travel options than flights.
We spent less than three months in Mexico, and used only buses to get between cities. We traveled with several bus companies on both day-time and overnight busses, and waited at many bus stations. Although we aren’t experts in the field, our knowledge allows us to offer you insider tips, comparisons and advice about bus operators.
Mexico Bus Travel: What You Need to Know
Before we get into the details, let’s first say that the bus will not only save you money but also make your life easier. You will be pleasantly surprised at the results. It did for us, at least.
Mexico doesn’t actually have a national bus company. Mexico has many regional companies that cover the majority of the areas you will be visiting during your time there. These companies are described below.
Mexico seems to have invested large sums in high-speed roads since the 1990s. Bus operators also have invested in creating a vast bus network throughout the country. These inter-city buses usually have three classes: executive, first, and second. Executive and first class buses offer long-term comfortable, safe travel. Although second class buses are just as safe, they are more frequent on shorter journeys. Does it sound too good to be true
After using many bus companies in the USA and Europe, such as Greyhound and Megabus, and National Express, I can confidently say that Mexico’s buses are our favourite. We were able to sit in huge, comfortable seats we had never seen before. This was even more so when we passed the business class section of planes. The leg room was amazing, with the leg rests making it feel as if we were lying in bed. There were many entertainment options onboard that kept the passengers entertained.
Things to consider before you decide to travel by bus in Mexico
After hearing our rave reviews about the bus service, you should ask the following questions before you decide to buy bus tickets.
- Are you prone to getting motion sickness? If you have severe motion sickness, I don’t recommend that you travel by bus across the country. It is generally a long journey, and the roads can be bumpy or very windy in some areas. Flying is probably the best option.
- What time do you have? You have a limited amount of time. If you are going to need to get somewhere by a specific date or time, make sure you take an earlier bus or travel the day before. Although buses generally arrive on time and have very few delays, you never know what might happen on the roads. For example, you don’t want your flight to be missed.
- Can I speak Spanish? You can communicate in English at the airports but not at bus stations. Even at large stations like Mexico City, we found very few English-speaking employees. It is important to know the basics before you go. For example, how to ask for tickets, dates, times, and numbers. You can also use the Google Translate App to save your life during your travels.
Is it safe to travel by bus in Mexico?
Before you commit to long-distance bus rides, there is one more thing to think about: Is it safe?
The short answer is YES.
No matter the time of day, we never felt unsafe riding on the buses. We also never felt unsafe waiting at bus stations. But crimes are quite common, especially in densely populated areas. There are some frightening stories about people who were unfortunate to be in the wrong place at wrong time. However, this is not common.
While you are most likely to have a smooth journey, here are some of my general safety tips:
- If you are travelling alone or need to get to the bus station to catch an overnight bus, I recommend calling an Uber or an official taxi.
- Many times we used public transport to get there, but it is best to avoid rush hour. It can be uncomfortable and awkward to cram all your belongings onto a busy metro. It’s even more difficult to keep track of every bag in your possession.
- You should always have your personal belongings on you when you arrive at the station. If you travel in small groups or pairs, it is easier to get food and to go to the bathroom.
- Consider adding a lock to both your large bag and your smaller backpacks for extra security.
- It’s obvious but do not put valuables in the bag. They can be thrown around, not stolen.
- Finally, you should have good travel insurance in case your bag is stolen or lost.
The Central de Autobuses is the name of the central bus station in most cities and towns. They are called “central” but they will likely be a lot farther from the town than the center.
It’s rare, though not impossible, for individual bus companies to have their own terminal. There will be two types of bus stations in big cities: a long-distance bus station and one that is local. Mexico City has four different long-distance bus stations. Before you travel, ensure that you check where the bus departs from.
Usually, there are several bus companies that sell tickets and convenience stores that sell drinks and snacks. There will also be a variety of cafes and fast food restaurants. There will be toilets at bus stations. These toilets can be used for a fee of between 5 and 6 pesos.
Top Tips You will need coins in order to be able use the metal gates. Toilet paper may cost extra so make sure you have enough change or have some.
There are also seating areas available at bus stations, where you can wait for your bus to be ready to board.
Tip: The ticket office will inform you from which gate the bus departs. However, if you are unsure, the staff at the gates can double-check it.
The size of the bus station will determine the amount and quality of the facilities. In case the facilities are not adequate, it is a good idea to do some research before you arrive at bus stops. Some touristy stops, such as Puerto Escondido, felt a little bare. There weren’t many supermarkets nearby.
Bus tickets online vs. at the Bus Station
Numerous companies have their own websites that allow you to purchase your bus tickets. You may even be able to get a discount when you purchase your bus ticket online.
Be aware that these websites may not be as user-friendly as you are used to. For a variety of reasons, you may not be able book your tickets online in many cases.
Some websites accept only credit card payments made from Mexican bank cards.
We also had problems when purchasing tickets online. They asked us for our card details, but we could only enter numbers. The UK has both numbers and letters, so we couldn’t complete this section correctly.
When you buy a bus ticket, some bus companies may ask for your passport and immigration form (FMM), especially if you are traveling between states. You will most likely need to purchase it at the station rather than online.
Even if you are unable to book online, you will be able to view their prices and timetables on the websites.