Catching Your Flight: The Overnight Bus from Belize to Cancun, The Details & Tips

ADO Mexico runs an overnight bus service from Belize City to Cancun and one from Belize City to Merida.  I took the first about 3 years ago – a bit more.  And I HATED it…I was miserable and cold and cranky and it took me a few days to recover.

I vowed to NEVER do it again.  But never say never.  When on a very tight budget and when you find a very cheap flight from Cancun Airport to Providence RI (via Baltimore on Southwest) – NEVER fades.  This is the cheapest way to make the trip.  No hotels to rest and freshen up…you are just motoring through and THIS is how I made it work.

1.  San Pedro Belize Express Boat trip from San Pedro to Belize City  (RT with membership card – $10bzd – the price is $48bzd)

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2.  SECURE ADO overnight bus ticket

The overnight bus tickets go on sale at the Belize CIty bus station at 5pm each day.  There is NO other way to get it…not online, not by phone, not in San Pedro.  You can buy your ticket up to three days in advance and the line is a scramble to get up there and then the line is tedious…a slog.  Thankfully I was given a secret tip.

*SECRET TIP ALERT SECRET TIP ALERT*

The guy who sells the tickets at 5pm at the bus station actually works days at the Caye Caulker Water Taxi station – which is where the Caye Caulker Water Taxi docks and is a short walk from the San Pedro Belize Express station.  Call him ahead of time!   And let him know when you will be there to secure your ticket.

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He is a lovely man and can be reached at 664-2534.  I asked him if there would be tickets available at 3pm, he said there would be, he even remembered my call when I arrived.  No need to go to the bus station (not the world’s most comfortable place) until the bitter end.

You need your passport and you pay him $19bzd – voile!

I left my bag at the lovely Spoonaz Cafe for a quick walk around the immediate Belize City area.  Beautiful day.

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This area makes me feel like I’ve walked back in time…

IMG_0265I went back to Spoonaz and their brilliant Wi-Fi and settled in for 3 hours.  A great view, a super comfortable spot, lovely food, great coffee.   Really yummy quiche.  Here’s the view from their back deck.

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3.  Taxi to Bus Station – Plenty of taxis around this area.  Standard price is $7bzd.  The taxi guy will offer to drive you to Cancun…oh my!  How lovely!  Price?  $850bzd.

Hilarious.

4.  Bus Trip

Be at the bus station by 7:15…the bus LEAVES at 7:30pm.  And these drivers are not fooling around – vaminos was shouted at me (unnecessarily I might add) a few times.  Pffft.

TIPS:  When buying your ticket, pick a seat near the center and definitely a window seat for leaning.  It will be the warmest there (the air con is UNBELIEVABLE on this thing).  Bring socks, a sweat shirt, I brought a big scarf and a towel – which served as a very comfy pillow.  Just be ready for cold.

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They showed/BLASTED two movies for the first part of the trip – The Giver and Endless Love – both dubbed in Spanish.  Headphones or ear plugs might be good for those who have trouble sleeping – I was out like a light.

We stopped at the Belize border at 10pm.  Startled, the half full bus, shuffled into Belize immigration.  I am a resident and went through pretty quickly and without paying anything.  Visitors need to pay the exit fee.  I believe it is $37.50bzd at the border.

Load back onto bus, drive 5 minutes to the Mexican border, fill out forms, stamped, wait for the bus to get searched.  USE THE BATHROOM HERE!  It’s nice…much nicer than the one on the bus.

11pm.  On our way again.  And then, around 11:45pm, we stop in the small town of Bacalar.  Home of the GORGEOUS Lake Bacalar but  at this time of night?  It looks like some…dusty hell hole.  I think I saw 3 dogs on death’s dorr and a few ladies of the night.  Or maybe I imaged that.  Mostly I was just grumpy…you have to get off the bus and pay the rest of your fare in Mexico.

Unfiltered Lake Bacalar - worth a trip back FOR SURE.  You will not see it on this trip.
Unfiltered Lake Bacalar – worth a trip back FOR SURE. You will not see it on this trip.

I owed (according to the sign above) $83bzd but they took my 2 US $20s and that was that.

TIP:  While everyone else is wiping the sleep from their eyes, be one of the first off the bus.  I was able to avoid most lines.

Why can’t I just pay in Belize for the whole trip?  Who the f knows…don’t even bother to ask.  Sorry for the language…getting woken up in the middle of the night to shuffle into a tiny bus station with one clerk makes me cranky.

The bus continues…by maybe 3:30am you are in Tulum, 4:30am in Playa Del Carmen and 5:45am, we pulled up to Cancun Airport.  The bus then continues to Cancun City Bus station.

I hate to brag but I slept like a champ…PLENTY of leg room, great seat, this bus is real deal.

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And went inside the airport and watched the sun rise in Mexico.

IMG_02715.  Waste Time Until Your Flight

It’s 6am…my flight is at 12:40pm…not SO bad.  I found that lots of calories and sleep was the key.   Everything at this airport is about two to three times what it should normally cost.  I ate 2 Starbucks mega-muffins $5US each and a huge sugar-y coffee, also $5US and I fell asleep in one of the seating sections.

I stopped in some of the duty free stores.  I tried on sunglasses. What is it about the airport duty free area that makes you COVET new sunglasses?  I was practically beside myself wanting some new Ray-Bans.

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I boarded my Southwest flight right on time…feeling, actually, pretty good.  Shocking.

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I still had a stop in Baltimore (more carb-loading) but when I made it to Providence, I was tired, sure.  But really…not so bad.

THIS TRIP IS NOT SO BAD!

And total price from San Pedro to Cancun:  $24bzd (water taxi) + $7bzd (taxi) + $102bzd (bus) = $133bzd or $67US

And I was NOT charged an exit fee leaving Mexico.

I plan to make the same one home next week…I am hoping this positive experience post does not jinx the whole thing.  And until them, I’ll be enjoying gorgeous spring time in Rhode Island.

IMG_0282And obsessing about sunglasses.  Sigh…

 

 

 






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  • Terry Beck

    Rebecca, have you tried the water taxi to Chetumal then the ADO to Cancun Airport… I believe this would be quicker. We have done this trip and our guests did it this past year… Just a thought vs. the overnight bus from Belize City. Geographically, you are back tracking when you go back to Belize City vs. straight to Chet. Just a thought. Enjoy RI… See you back on the island in the fall. Terry

    • Belize Blog

      That Chetumal boat…and the immigration/customs part of it…I’d rather avoid. For some reason, I just don’t like it…plus, it’s expensive these days ($55US one way)! And I wouldn’t have time to make it up to Cancun for my flight…would need to stay overnight in a hotel in Playa or Cancun. I really have tried every method…from the Thunderbolt to Chetumal water taxi and this is the cheapest (by far) and the quickest.

      • Terry Beck

        Thanks for the prompt response… Makes sense… Enjoy Americano…. See you back on the Sandbar in October… Terry

  • cherylweatherhead

    Thanks for the details…heading down from Cancun to Corozal in 8 days…looking at returning same way. Does the overnight bus stop in Corozal? Can you get your ticket in Corozal? Thanks for the article..printing and keeping it nearby!

  • Michael Thomas

    Nice post. Thank you
    for sharing with us. It seems your trip is superb. I have been to Cancun last year and I had a
    wonderful journey as I took help of a local shuttle service provider named as Oscarcanacunshuttle suggested by my
    friend and truely I was satisfied with their service.