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How to Travel by Bus in Mexico.

Updated on August 21, 2016
Austinstar profile image

L. Cargill, B.A., Sam Houston University, Huntsville, TX., has been writing cool and interesting articles for the internet world since 1995.

A Mexican Bus
A Mexican Bus | Source
"The whipper of the roads" or Road Whipper!
"The whipper of the roads" or Road Whipper! | Source

Mexican Bus services - No guts, No glory!

Public transportation in Mexico is an art form. Practically every bus I've ever ridden in Mexico would win some sort of accolade in the Art Car contest! The buses of today are indeed more modern and less highly decorated, but the flavor still remains.

Having the right attitude makes all the difference when choosing to travel by bus in a foreign country. When in Mexico, do as the Mexicans do! If you want to travel on the cheap 'chicken buses', enjoy the hustle and bustle of the typical bus terminals. Laugh at the cute chickens or baby pigs tucked in the arms of the lady in the seat next to you. Offer to hold her baby while she prepares a mystery lunch and offers you some of it. You took your anti-diarrhea medicine before you boarded, right? These days, the system of buses is so modern that it will be hard to find a 'chicken' bus.

Most tourists and middle class Mexicans now travel comfortably by bus using the Executivo class, Luxury class, First class and Second class depending on how much you want to spend. Executivo class is the best and most expensive.

There must be a sort of National Pride instilled into the hearts of the Mexican public transportation industry. Everywhere you go there is a loud, diesel propelled Camion to take you to any particular square inch of the country - no matter how remote or how bad the road may be - Mexican buses will get you there in style!

Find a Bus Terminal in Mexico

centrales camioneras = Bus Terminal

Wherever there is a road in Mexico, no matter the condition of the road, there is a bus that will travel that road. Mexican buses qualify as one of the great transportation wonders of the world.

Most cities and towns have at least one bus terminal and the larger cities will have several bus terminals. There are many different bus lines in Mexico. Which one you take depends on where you are going. See chart for major bus lines and destinations.

Catching a bus from the airport in Mexico City

A
Mexico City Airport Bus Station:
Mexico City airport bus station, Peñón de Los Baños, 15620 Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico

get directions

Major bus lines radiate outward from Mexico City.

Some main Mexican Bus Lines and where they go:

Bus Line Name
Destinations
Comments
Primera Plus
Mexico City and Outbound
Nationwide
ETN
Mexico City and Outbound
Best Luxury Buses
Estrella de Oro
Nationwide
Luxury services available
Cristobal Colon
Nationwide
 
Estrella Roja
Mexico City and Puebla
 
Estrella Blanca
North, central and southern Mexico
 
Vallarta Plus
Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita, Guayabitos
 

Live Music and Fun! - Take a short trip on a Mexican Bus

He who travels badly, arrives badly (stressed out). First Class bus travel in Mexico is cheap and comfortable.
He who travels badly, arrives badly (stressed out). First Class bus travel in Mexico is cheap and comfortable. | Source

Tips for traveling by bus in Mexico:

  • You get what you pay for so always get the highest class boleto (ticket) you can afford
  • Hang on to your tickets! Don't throw them away until you have arrived at your destination with all of your equipaje (baggage).
  • Carry a card of two with your nombre (name) clearly printed on it. Keep your name and address in your equipaje also.
  • For long trips, always take food and water with you. Healthy snacks are best. Nuts and fruits are nice.
  • If you want to sleep during your ride, you will most likely need a light blanket, ear plugs and eye masks. Mexican buses are generally noisy.and over air conditioned. Some have televisions showing violent movies of the early Arnold Schwarzenneger style.
  • Ladies traveling alone should exercise a demure attitude, wear a scarf or head covering and avoid males drinking alcohol. Try to sit next to other ladies and/or children. Also try to sit near the front of the bus.
  • Take advantage of rest stops but watch the bus driver. When he is ready to leave, he will leave. Some take head counts, some don't. If your friend is still in the restroom or something, shout "Falta uno!" (There's one missing!) and the driver will usually wait.
  • Traveling during weekends and holidays can be overwhelming, but at other times you can find a bus without reservations ahead of time.
  • Important! - Getting on and finding a seat is a national sport in Mexico. Don't hang back, don't be too polite, If someone takes your assigned seat, try for another seat. If things get crazy, the bus driver will intervene. Waiting in a polite line is unheard of!
  • Make a contingency plan if you are traveling with friends. If you get separated, where will you all meet up?
  • The term in Spanish for when you want to get off of a bus is "Baja aqui" not Alto or Stop. It never hurts to follow it with a por favor (please) and gracías (thank you).
  • If you have to change buses and the terminal is way across town, don't be afraid to take a taxi there. Taxi's are generally cheap in Mexico and the drivers are usually quite helpful. Americans tip well for good service and they know it.

Helpful Spanish words while traveling in Mexico

  • Hola = Hello
  • Buenas Dias = Good day and Hello
  • autobus = bus
  • camion = bus or long haul bus
  • camiones centrales or estacion de autobus = bus station
  • boleto = ticket
  • linea = line
  • caja de boletos = ticket window
  • executivo clase = Executive class or best class available
  • primera clase = first class
  • segundo clase = second class
  • asiento reservado = reserved seating
  • Llegadas y Salidas = Arrivals and Departures
  • cada hora = every hour
  • pasajero = passenger
  • Subir - to get on the bus
  • Bajar - to get off the bus
  • parada de autobus = bus stop
  • por favor = please
  • gracias = thank you
  • ayuda me por favor = Help me, please.

© 2012 Lela

Comments - Tell us your adventure bus story!

Submit a Comment

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR

    Lela 

    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    Taking a bus is an adventure, Gus. Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are hell. I can understand your attitude :-)

  • GusTheRedneck profile image

    Gustave Kilthau 

    6 years ago from USA

    Lela (Austinstar) - Kindly do not misunderstand my sorry attitude toward bus-travel in general and Mexican bussing in particular. I'd rather walk.

    Gus :-)))

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR

    Lela 

    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    Thanks, Cow Flipper! You are too kind. It never ceases to amaze that people will kill each other over stupid stuff like drugs and money.

  • Cow Flipper profile image

    Sean Jankowski 

    6 years ago from Southern Oregon

    Fun times south of the border. Just watch out for them crazy drug gangs! lol, no but good job Austinstar. :)

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR

    Lela 

    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    I doubt that riding a bus in Mexico is any worse than riding a bus anywhere. But there are states in Mexico that I would not travel in. Those states are heavily involved in drug trade. Consult with the U.S. Travel Bureau (State Dept.?) before going to Mexico to find trouble spots.

  • jellygator profile image

    jellygator 

    6 years ago from USA

    I enjoyed a bus ride experience while in Puerto Vallarta, and it was fun and interesting. I'm glad nothing bad happened, though, because I didn't know some of the useful info you provided here.

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR

    Lela 

    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    You are welcome to join us for the big December 21 party. It's Kelly's birthday.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    6 years ago from south Florida

    I've traveled through much of Mexico, Lela, but never by bus. I can see I've missed 'un momento interesante'. Have to plan a bus trip now since you gave me all this illustrative info. :)

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR

    Lela 

    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    Yep, it was Kelly. She's a wild one! Well, jump on a bus and come on over, Bob!

  • diogenes profile image

    diogenes 

    6 years ago from UK and Mexico

    Sounds good. Was it Kelly who gets (got) on the bus drunk..

    Watch out girl!

    Bob PS I will be there then but not in the east

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR

    Lela 

    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    Yea, I forgot to mention that there are frequent snakes on the road in Mexico! Surprise!

  • KarenCreftor profile image

    Karen Creftor 

    6 years ago from Kent, UK

    Love this hub! I'll be making notes for when I (eventually) get to travel there :D

    I love your snake dividers too. *voted up*

    ~Kaz x

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR

    Lela 

    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    Thank you denisemai and sofs - I'm trying to read some of the SribeSquad hubs too. We really do need more hours in the day!

    Sofs - trust me - riding a bus in Mexico is humorous. I'll never forget the time I got off a bus in a small town and almost got mowed over by a handsome vaquero on a beautiful horse! Mexico is like that.

  • sofs profile image

    Sophie 

    6 years ago

    A great read:) The chicken, the piglet and the anti-diarrhea medicine tickled me up. Useful information and language integration in your hub. Great tips too. Have a lovely day.

  • denisemai profile image

    Denise Mai 

    6 years ago from Idaho

    Very informative. Looks like you either did a lot of research or are very knowledgeable. Glad I could get around to reviewing your hub. I'm trying to read all of those from the group.

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR

    Lela 

    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    Kelly and I are hoping to go to Chichen Itza for 12/21/12. I know it will be so very crowded, but Chichen is probably the most impressive Mayan pyramid. Tikal might be better, but that is a lot more expensive. Uxmal would be my second choice and it is near Merida.

    The ball court at Chichen will be precisely aligned with the eclipse of the center of the Milky Way galaxy on 12/21/12 and this would be something I would hate to miss as it only happens every 5,000 or so years.

  • diogenes profile image

    diogenes 

    6 years ago from UK and Mexico

    Hi Star. What a great and topical hub! I have written articles about this very thing. You have it spot-on. Always travel on the Executive coaches, they put our buses to shame and are more like aeroplanes with hostesses, hot and cold drinks and clean toilets.

    The terminals are like airports in Mexico City (be careful there, pickpockets) But you can get a proper meal and anything you might need 24/7

    Let's hear it for Mexico on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo

    Bob Where you guys going Dec 12??

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR

    Lela 

    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    Thank you GoodLady. I don't know how you guys find the time to review all the hubs. I'm working my butt off trying to get eight of them done!

    I will try my best to read as many as I can.

  • GoodLady profile image

    Penelope Hart 

    6 years ago from Rome, Italy

    So pleased you mentioned how females should dress too. It's so important to be respectful of other countries customs.

    Nice one!

    Thanks for all the useful information and your Hub looks so great!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Oh I'm not forgetting that at all! It's gonna be so fun! And it will be freezing here:) I'll be under a Palm tree with a big Pina Colada in a coconut! Lol

    I did eventually get off the bus but we had to walk backward a couple of blocks...not that I minded I mean we were in Mexico! Lol. I always hated going back OT the hotel for the night because there was always fun going on there. The streets never roll up. In LA I was kind of shocked that the malls closed at like 7! Everything did...weird!

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR

    Lela 

    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    RH - I know! Once I got stuck on a bus from Mexico City to Guadalajara and it was stopped because some drunks were on it and the Federales boarded the bus and carried them off. One of the drunks hit me on the head, but I kept my mouth shut for sure!

    Yes, Mexico is full of color, Christopher. You should make a trip there some time.

    Don't forget - December 21, 2012 - the big partay!

  • christopheranton profile image

    Christopher Antony Meade 

    6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

    That one ticks all the boxes for me. Mexico certainly seems to be full of colour.

    Thanks for all the useful info, wrapped up as always, in your stylish writing.

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Ok now why couldn't you have told me this two years ago? I got stuck (drunk) on a Mexican bus and I did not know how to say Alto! Lol. I didn't know how to say Bajar! The driver did not speak English - everyone on the bus was sleeping and looked comfy - like they planned to be on it for a while. Finally some Americans got on and I couldn't see them but I heard English and Deb and I started saying hey! Tell him to stop! They American invisible guys were wasted! He was like "forget it you're going wherever he takes us!" hahaha.

    Everyone need to know this if they go to Mexico!! You could end up on a farm somewhere plucking chickens or something!

  • Judi Bee profile image

    Judi Brown 

    6 years ago from UK

    Very useful hub, packed with information. Excellent!

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR

    Lela 

    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    I'm at the point where I 'Falta Mucho'! I haven't been to Mexico in quite a while. Although I lived there for a short time, there is a whole country left to explore.

  • twinstimes2 profile image

    Karen Lackey 

    6 years ago from Ohio

    I enjoyed 'Falta Uno!', too. Great resource hub! Well done.

  • SimeyC profile image

    Simon Cook 

    6 years ago from NJ, USA

    Excellent hub! I don't plan on visiting Mexico yet, but if I do I'll be printing this off! I love the language lessons you've incorporated into the text - really useful especially 'Falta uno!'

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