Today’s post is not about a faraway locale, but offers some practical knowledge on public transportation in Mexico. Before arrival, I was admittedly concerned that I would have trouble navigating to our target destinations. However, I am here to assuage any similar fears that you may have. The public transportation is extremely convenient, easy to use, and comfortable to boot.
I arrived at the Cancún airport around 1 pm with my fellow travel companions. The bus company that runs between the cities is called ADO. They have a counter inside the airport, buft we were directed to the actual buses outside to purchase our ticket. From Cancún, there are direct buses directly to Tulúm, however they have a limited number. Your best bet is to hop on one to Playa del Carmen, about an hour’s ride from Cancún, which runs almost every 30 minutes. From there, you can buy a ticket to Tulúm, or wherever your final destination may be.
The buses were air-conditioned and comfortable, pretty much like your typical charter bus. We also took another ADO bus from Tulúm to Mérida a few days later. I was even able to pay for my tickets in USD, which was a convenient way to save my pesos for other things and save a few bucks on the exchange rate.
Other Transportation Notes:
Colectivos are local buses that take you around town. We used them in Tulúm, and it was 20 pesos per person to go from one end of the town to the other, compared to 80 pesos for a taxi.
We only used these a few times when we were caught in the rain. They are either metered or non-metered. For the non-metered we made sure to ask how much it was to our destination before we got into the taxi.
When my boyfriend met us in Mérida, he picked up a rental car from the airport, which we used to go on day excursions to different places around the Yucatán. Although we got a good deal on the rental of a small Nissan Tilda, the insurance fees were a shock. You have to take out mandatory insurance liability when you rent a car in Mexico, and it cost us about $80 USD each day, which was more than the daily cost of the rental car.
But all said and done, I think it was very much worth it for the convenience of having a car and the freedom of going to the different sites on our own schedule. The roads also seemed fairly easy to drive and all the cities have streets that are numbered consecutively. (ex: Calle 63)
So our plan all along was for us to travel to Mérida and have Philip fly in, rent a car by himself, and find us at the hostel. After two hours of waiting at our hostel and no sign of Philip, I was in panic mode and scolding myself for putting together such an ambitious plan. My imagination was running rampant with images of Philip coming out of the airport and being overwhelmed with Spanish words and question marks dizzily swirling around him. I feared that he found himself in a dark Mexican alley and because of his limited Spanish, could not understand when a Mexican police tried to bribe him and was now shivering in the corner of a dirty jail cell with only a single tortilla chip to nibble on. When he finally walked into the hostel, it was joyous reunion indeed.
Obviously, my fears were unfounded. We had heard about some horror stories of tourists encountering corrupt policemen that pulled them over and demanded bribes. Apparently, there are stickers on the back of rental cars that scream “I’M A TOURIST, LET ME GIVE YOU MONEY.” However, we didn’t run into any such situations. In fact, the policemen were very helpful when we were lost and gave us directions. There are some sections on the highway where there were police stops and when they asked us to roll down the window, I found they just wanted to chat and were simply curious about where we were from and where we were going. Our vacation rental owner, who are expats from California, also affirmed that they had never encountered any bad situations with policemen for the ten years they lived there.
However, they did warn us that some gas station attendants will try to rip you off. There are no self-service gas pumps and sometimes the attendants will sometimes slyly switch bills on you, the unsuspecting foreigner. Make sure the gas pump is set to 0.00 at the beginning of the fill and keep track of how much money and change you get back from them. If they were honest helpers, it is also customary to tip your gas attendants.
Oh and make sure you watch out for these signs. They warn of upcoming speed bumps that will send your car flying if you don’t heed them.
Image from http://moto-mikey.com
Hope these tips about transportation in Mexico are helpful and lay to rest some of your transportation concerns!