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How to Travel Between Belize City and Cancun By Bus

by wheretheroadforks

In this guide, I explain, step-by-step, how to travel between Belize City and Cancun overland by bus. This is an easy trip to make. The service is direct. There is no need to changes buses along the way.

How to Buy Tickets

Tickets can be purchased at the bus station on the day of travel. Buying tickets in advance is not necessary. The Mexican bus company ADO operates this route every day. Buying tickets online is not possible at this time.

The Route

Stops along the way include:

  • Belize City
  • Orange Walk
  • Corozal
  • Tulum
  • Playa del Carmen
  • Cancun

Booking Tickets in Belize City

This bus station is kind of weird. ADO tickets are sold at the bus station from a newsstand type store. It’s basically just a storefront that sells magazines, snacks, drinks, and ADO bus tickets. There are several stores like this in the bus station. You are looking for the one with a big, red ADO sign sitting out front. It is clearly marked. You can’t miss it. The station is pretty small so you shouldn’t have any problems finding your way around or locating the ticket office.

Tickets for this route are not sold until 5:00 pm on the day of travel. The bus leaves Belize City at 7:30 pm.

Paying for Belize City to Cancun Tickets

The payment process is kind of confusing as well. When you buy tickets from Belize City to Cancun, you pay for the Belize section of the trip only at the bus station in Belize City. They accept payment in cash only in Pesos, Belize dollars, or US dollars.

After you cross the border into Mexico, the bus stops at another ADO station where you pay for the Mexican portion of your trip in pesos. The same bus will continue on to Cancun. If you prefer, you can get off in Tulum or Playa del Carmen. This station only accepts payment in Pesos. You can also pay by credit or debit card.

Booking Tickets in Cancun

Two buses travel from Cancun to Belize city every day. One leaves at 7:30 am and the other leaves at 10:15 pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Cancun bus station. The ticket office accepts cash and credit cards.

You can also purchase tickets for this route here online. The only problem is that you need to make the booking with a Mexican credit or debit card. Foreign cards are not accepted for some reason.

Bus Station Locations

Getting to the Belize City Bus Station

If you are coming from the Belize City ferry terminal after visiting the islands, the bus station is just a 15 minute walk from the port. If you have a lot of luggage, you can also take a short taxi ride.

A Note on Safety at the Belize City bus station

The bus station is located in kind of a sketchy neighborhood. It is not recommended to walk around the area after dark. If you are arriving in Belize City after dark, it is best to just take a taxi. Muggings and robberies happen around the bus station.

Pickpocketings and petty thefts also happen here. Be cautious and keep an eye on your belongings in and around the Belize City bus station. These are usually crimes of opportunity.

Bus Times

  • Belize City to Cancun- The bus leaves Belize City at 7:30 pm every night. Tickets are not sold until 5:00 pm on the day of travel. The bus arrives in Cancun the following morning around 7:00 am.
  • Cancun to Belize City- The bus leaves Cancun at 7:30 am and 10:15 pm every day. The ride to Belize City takes about 9 hours.

Bus Ticket Prices

This is a fairly expensive trip for what it is. In my opinion, it’s overpriced but it is significantly cheaper than flying. All in, the ticket costs around $60.

  • Belize City to Cancun- First, you pay for your ticket from Belize City to the Mexican border. This ticket costs around 20 Belize dollars (about 10 USD). Shortly after crossing the Mexican border, the bus will stop at an ADO station and you will pay the remaining portion of the fare. Tickets from the Mexican border to Cancun cost around 600 pesos (about $30).
  • Cancun to Belize City- Tickets cost about 840 pesos (about 42 USD). You may be able to get a better rate if you book far in advance.

Luggage

Your ticket includes a luggage allowance for a large backpack or suitcase and a smaller item to bring on the bus. When I made this ride, the bus was nearly empty so there was plenty of room for extra luggage. Some people were carrying multiple large suitcases and I don’t believe they were charged any extra. Whether or not you’re charged for extra or oversized luggage depends on the mood of the driver. Usually, they don’t seem to really care.

Storing luggage under the bus is safe. ADO is a professional company that takes security seriously. With that being said, I recommend you bring any cash and valuables into the bus with you just for peace of mind.

The Bus Ride

This is a long ride that covers a lot of ground. The buses are new and comfortable. Unfortunately, because it is a night bus, you will be woken up in the middle of the night for the border crossing. If you are traveling North, you’ll be woken up a second time to pay for the second portion of your ticket into Mexico. This is annoying but it’s just part of the fun.

The Border Crossing

This crossing is smooth and organized both ways. This border is pretty honest. Scams are not really a concern here. The crossing isn’t very busy during the middle of the night when your bus crosses.

Crossing From Belize to Mexico

Belize charges an exit fee or conservation fee when you leave the country. This fee can be paid in cash when the immigration official checks your passport. This is a legitimate fee and is not a scam. The charge is 40 Belize dollars (about 20 USD).

Entering Mexico is easy as well. You will be handed an entry card or FMM to fill out with your personal information and the details of your trip. The immigration official will stamp your card and passport. Make sure you keep this card for the duration of your trip to Mexico. You’ll need it when you leave the country. For more info, check out my complete guide to the FMM visitor’s permit.

When you go to pass through customs, you will press a button and a light will go on. If the light is green, you pass through. If the light is red, you have been randomly chosen for further inspection. They will briefly look through your luggage and send you on your way.

There is no charge upon entry to Mexico but there may be a charge when you exit the country. If you stay in Mexico for less than a week, there is no charge. If you stay longer than a week, there will be a 500 peso charge when you leave. Generally, this charge is included in your airfare if you leave Mexico by air. If you leave by land, you’ll have to pay in cash.

Crossing From Mexico to Belize

When you leave Mexico, you’ll be asked for your exit card or FMM which you filled out when you entered the country. If you have been in Mexico for less than a week, there will be no charge. If you have been in Mexico for more than a week, you’ll be charged a 500 peso fee. When entering Mexico by air or through the Northern Border in Tijuana, for example, you may have already paid this fee. Hopefully, you kept your receipt. If you didn’t, you’ll probably have to pay again.

Entering Belize is easy. There is no charge upon entry. An exit fee of 40 Belize dollars is charged when you leave the country.

Money

Some sections of this trip must be paid in cash. You’ll need either Mexican pesos, US dollars, or Belize dollars. To recap the trip costs:

Belize City to Cancun

  • Bus ticket to Mexico border- 20 Belize dollars
  • Belize exit fee (conservation fee)- 40 Belize dollars
  • Bus ticket to Cancun- 600 pesos. This can be paid by card as well

Cancun to Belize City

  • Bus ticket to Belize City- 840 pesos. Can be paid in cash or by card.
  • Mexico exit fee- 500 pesos. Must be paid in cash.

Food and Drink During the Journeys

Because this bus travels through the night, there is no meal stop during the ride. I recommend you have dinner before you board the bus. You should also bring some water along for the ride.

The Belize City bus station has small stands set up where you can buy chips, drinks, cookies, and a few pre-prepared foods. You may not want to venture outside of the bus station after dark as the area is said to be a bit dangerous. The area seemed safe enough to me though.

Tip: If you’re looking for a full meal near the Belize City bus station, the closest restaurant is a Chinese place directly across the street. It is small, dark, and crowded but the food is good. I recommend the chicken fried rice. When I was there, it was full of loud talking locals. Some were a bit rowdy but the pace was clean and seemed safe enough. The food was excellent and only cost a couple of dollars for a large plate.

The Cancun bus station is located pretty centrally in the city. It is within walking distance of several street food stands and restaurants. There is also a supermarket nearby where you can stock up on snacks and drinks for the ride.

Bathroom Stops

This bus doesn’t stop for bathroom breaks. Luckily ADO buses are equipped with a bathroom at the rear of the bus. Bathrooms at bus stations usually have a small charge of 25-50 cents equivalent.

Final Thoughts

This trip is a bit of a hassle but saves you a lot of money on a flight. I don’t know why they divide up the ticket purchases into the Belize and Mexico section on the Northbound bus. It is just another stop in the middle of the night that disturbs your sleep. This was the most frustrating part for me even though I was expecting it. Overall, the ride is comfortable. ADO is a reliable and professional service.

Have you made the trip between Belize City and Cancun? Share your experience and tips in the comments below!

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