While planning to visit a friend in Southern Belize, I told her about the ridiculously high cost of flights to Punta Gorda where she lived. So, she suggested flying into Mexico and researching how to get a bus from Mexico to Belize instead.
At the time, about four months before the trip, round trip tickets from Boston to Punta Gorda were $600-$800. For a week-long trip, this was simply too much for me. Even with free accommodations for the week. So, I did as she suggested and researched buses between Mexico and Belize.
I was relieved when I discovered that going this route would reduce the cost of my trip by hundreds of dollars. Plus, I cashed in some reward miles with Jetblue for a free round trip flight from Boston to Cancun, Mexico, saving another couple hundred dollars!
How to Ride a Bus from Mexico to Belize
From downtown Cancun, the ADO bus headed to Belize City, Belize leaves at 10:15 pm every day and takes about 9 hours. A one-way ticket can be purchased on-site the same day you plan to travel.
It will be an overnight journey, so be prepared! Don’t fret, though, the buses are air-conditioned with cushy seats, so you’ll be able to catch some z’s on the drive. Plus, the ADO bus terminals have charging stations and free WiFi.
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Buying a Ticket
I bought a ticket at the Cancun airport for $52 USD and it included a bus ride to the downtown bus depot. The kiosk at the airport is located right outside customs next to all the car rental and tour company counters.
Credit cards were not accepted, so you’ll need cash in Mexican and Belizean currency, although US dollars are accepted in Belize.
Tips for Crossing the Mexico/Belize Border
At the Mexico/Belize border, the bus will make two stops. First, at Mexican customs where you will have to pay $333 pesos.
Pro Tip: Grab Mexican currency at an ATM before getting on the bus. Get enough for your return trip from Belize, too! See more on that below.
The second stop will be at immigration in Belize to fill out some forms. Make sure you know the address of your Belizean destination whether it is a hostel, hotel, or a friend’s house (like me).
You don’t need reservations but you must provide an address. So, look one up and write it down before you go. Then make sure it’s easy to access while you’re at customs.
I lucked out with an immigration officer who was familiar with the area in Punta Gorda that I was headed to and he put down a general address for me. I would have tipped him if allowed!
The Return Trip: Tips for Riding a Bus From Belize to Mexico
The trip back to Mexico on the ADO bus is much different, and still only takes about 9 hours.
Tickets are sold at the Reliance Store, a convenience store inside the Belize City bus terminal. You can kind of see it in the photo to the left above.
The bus leaves daily at 6:30-7:00 pm, but tickets are not officially sold until 5:30 pm, and no sooner! A line starts to form around 5:00 pm, so have your passport ready (they will check it) and $19 BZD to pay for your ticket to the Mexican border.
Carry Multiple Currencies
This is where my little pro tip from above comes into play. You will need both Mexican pesos and Belizean dollars when you buy a bus ticket from Belize to Mexico at the Reliance Store.
The cashier will ensure you have enough Mexican pesos on you to purchase a ticket for the remainder of your trip once you reach Mexico. For me, it was $450 pesos for a ticket to Playa del Carmen.
Also, there is an exit tax of $37.50 BZD at the border when leaving Belize.
Note: Prices may or may not have changed since I traveled by bus in Mexico and Belize. Be prepared to pay higher prices, and be delighted if they are the same or lower!
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