During our recent summer travels from Belize to Mexico, we had a long journey crossing borders over land and sea. Specifically from San Ignacio, Belize to Tulum, Mexico, it was a long 12+ hour day, and we were exhausted at the end of it to say the least!
If San Ignacio to Tulum isn’t your exact route, this post still gives some great updated information on overland journeys from Belize to Mexico. You could use the same information if you’re headed to Playa Del Carmen or Cancun, or even if you’re traveling from Caye Caulker! There was a severe lack of online information when I was researching this route, so I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any questions 🙂
How To Travel From Belize To Mexico
Before we got to San Ignacio, we spent a few days on Caye Caulker island. If you’re planning on visiting San Ignacio and Caye Caulker before heading to Mexico, I would suggest going to San Ignacio first – you have more options this way with water ferries that can cross country borders.
(There may be some extra fees with the ferry, not 100% sure on that, but it’s definitely a lot quicker than going by bus!) We unfortunately did it backwards, and our journey was much longer because of it.
From San Ignacio, our goal was to make it back to Belize City in order to catch some direct charter buses to Mexico. There are a few options such as the public bus, charters, and taxi. We opted for a $70 USD taxi ride, which was pretty expensive, but it was bound to be a lot faster than the public bus. It took about 2.5 hours to get to Belize City.
From Belize City (the main water ferry and bus terminal area) we booked a bus with Marlin Espadas that would take us all the way to Bacalar, Mexico. They have a tour company at the water ferry terminal – you can’t miss it! We would highly recommend this tour company – we booked them to take us to San Ignacio too!
The types of vans/buses vary depending on the destination and number of people, but both times our vans had a/c, and the staff from beginning to end were very nice and helpful. (They even held our luggage in the shop and gave us their wifi password while we waited.) It cost about $24 USD per person for a bus ticket from Belize City to Bacalar.
As far as crossing borders goes, Marlin Espadas took care of most of the work. At the Belize border we stood in line, paid an exit fee, and they stamped our passport. Once everyone on our bus was done, we then took a short drive to the Mexican border where we filled out our forms, got stamped and went through their short entry process, including putting our luggage through scanning machines. Our van was also sprayed when we officially entered Mexico. It was all pretty easy and quick – and it definitely helped that our tour bus drivers could translate a bit since we don’t know any Spanish!
Once we got to the Marlin Espada hub in Mexico, we received a free corona – nice surprise! Our group then split up, us continuing on to Bacalar, and some going to Chetumal.
Once dropped off at a bus stop, we knew we then had to catch an ADO bus to Tulum. These ADO buses run all throughout Mexico, so you can also use them if you’re continuing on to Playa Del Carmen or Cancun. We caught a taxi ride from where we were dropped off to the ADO bus company, a 5-10 minute ride that cost only a few usd.
Once at the ADO bus station, we had about half an hour to then purchase our tickets until our bus arrived. You can book online if you know Spanish – this is a great option as our bus was almost sold out!
The 3 hour ADO ride from Chetumal to Tulum can vary by price depending on the time you take the bus, but our tickets were only about $12 usd each! Note the bus makes a few stops along the way along the route for other travelers, but it wasn’t excessive.
The ADO buses are extremely popular, inexpensive, and used by locals and tourists alike for journeys across Mexico. You pick your assigned seat when you book your tickets, the buses are air-conditioned, have a bathroom on board, and the seats even recline! It’s a great value, clean, and comfortable. There were even people selling little snacks at our bus terminal when we departed – we’d definitely use ADO buses again.
We finally arrived in Tulum a few hours later, worn out and relieved to arrive at our final destination. It was about 9-10pm, and we left at about 10 in the morning – about 12 hours total! It was a long, tedious journey, but if you’re on a budget like we are, it’s definitely cheaper than paying for most plane tickets. (We paid about $150 total, vs. probably $500+ if we took a plane!) It was also quite memorable – I’ll never forget this experience!
Have you ever traveled across countries by bus?