How to Travel by Bus in Mexico.
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
Major bus lines radiate outward from Mexico City.
Some main Mexican Bus Lines and where they go:
Bus Line Name
Mexico City and Outbound
Mexico City and Outbound
Best Luxury Buses
Estrella de Oro
Luxury services available
Mexico City and Puebla
North, central and southern Mexico
Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita, Guayabitos
Live Music and Fun! - Take a short trip on a Mexican Bus
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