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How to travel by bus from Playa del Carmen (Mexico) to Belize city

How to travel by bus from Playa del Carmen (Mexico) to Belize city

Old Jun 20th, 2022, 06:20 AM
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How to travel by bus from Playa del Carmen (Mexico) to Belize city

Hi all,
I'm planning a trip to Playa del Carmen (Mexico) and Belize
Does anyone know how best to travel from Playa del Carmen (Mexico) to Belize city by bus? (we would like to avoid flight as this is costly).
We hear there are busses (ADO) but can't find out how to book these online.

Please share your experience from traveling this distance, ideally if you have done this within the last couple of months
E.g., can you book an overnight trip that goes directly, do you need to book a bus to the border at switch busses there etc.

Thank you very much in advance
Sincerely,
Mattias

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Old Jun 21st, 2022, 07:12 AM
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I've never done it, but it appears ADO runs a bus from Cancun, stopping at Playa and continuing on to Belize. Here is the ADO website which allows you to buy online. https://www.ado.com.mx
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Old Jun 21st, 2022, 08:53 AM
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Note, the website uses the spelling "Belice" for the English Belize.
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Old Jun 21st, 2022, 09:04 AM
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I believe ADO is not selling tickets for this route online these days. It's probably due to Belize's COVID requirements for entry. Either be vaccinated or present a negative COVID test. For everyone, buy Belize's in-country insurance policy to cover your expenses in case you get sick or are quarantined. I'm guessing it's easier for ADO to verify those things in person at the bus terminal in Mexico than online. Belize's land borders are open only 6 a.m.-10 p.m., so I doubt there's an overnight bus on this route. I don't know. You might just have to buy the ticket in person in Playa del Carmen. I tried plugging in several dates at the ADO website, and it kept telling me nothing is available.

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Old Jun 22nd, 2022, 10:03 AM
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The ADO bus to Belize City was discontinued in 2020 when Belize closed its borders. So far, the route has not resumed.

You can get an ADO bus to Chetumal -- several runs per day (476 pesos). At Chetumal, get a taxi (about 30 or 40 pesos) to the Nuevo Mecado Lazaro Cardenas where you can get a Belizean bus to Belize City. These are old school buses, and the fare is about BZ$3 to Corozal, and another BZ$10 (US$5) to Belize City. In April, there was only one bus per day, and it left the market at about 1:30 pm. There might be more buses now, but I'd suggest getting to Chetumal early (it's about 4 hours to BC). The bus stops at Mexican Immigration so you can hand in your FMM and get your passport stamped. There is no exit fee, but that doesn't stop Immigration officers from asking for money. Next stop is Belize Immigration & Customs, and then you're on your way. No fees to enter Belize, and I think they've dropped the Covid test requirement for vaccinated visitors.

The water taxis from Chetumal to Belize haven't resumed service, but one of the companies will resume on July 16. Let me know if you need more details.

You can buy the ADO ticket online (using PayPal), but I always go to the ADO terminal and buy a ticket on the day before my travel date. You can also buy ADO tickets on the TicketBus website, but they add a small fee to the ADO fare.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2022, 02:00 AM
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That is interesting information. Thank you, MisterB2.

I see one-way on Tropic Air, the lowest fare is $277. Wow!

To enter Belize now, present proof of vaccination OR a negative test. Everyone must buy Belizean insurance for coverage in case of COVID illness and the need to quarantine. In May, it was US$18.

To the OP, I ask, have you committed to visiting both countries? I might do one or the other, but not both, depending on the length of time I had.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2022, 07:57 AM
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Hi MisterB2,

Thank you for your detailed reply. I have a couple of detailed follow-up questions:
  • On ADO website, I can see there is an ADO bus leaving from Playa del Carmen at 07:40am and arriving in Chetumal at 12:50. Will that be sufficient time to catch the bus from Nuevo Mercado Lazaro Cardenas to Belize city at 13:30?
  • Is it easy to get a taxi in Chetumal to go to Nuevo Mercado Lazaro Cardenas?
  • In Chetumal at Nuevo Mercado Lazaro Cardenas, how do you find the right bus to Belize city? Can you buy these online (if yes, where)?
  • Where on the trip do you need to hand in your FMM when entering Belize (e.g., before or after getting on the bus in Nuevo Mercado Lazaro Cardenas)?
I hope you can help with these questions.
Thank you.

Sincerely,
Mattias
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Old Jun 23rd, 2022, 09:17 AM
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It has been two years since we were in that area so things may have changed, but I think you can just just buy tickets in Chetumal the day before, or even that day. Chetumal has enough to see, and decent hotels, to warrant breaking the trip up there for at least a day or two.

There has been an ongoing scam by some drivers saying that you have to pay exit tax when leaving south going to Belize. We were told to pay but refused. Nothing happened. The driver was in on it with the customs official. I wrote about this several years ago, I think they are still doing it.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2022, 09:43 AM
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I forgot to add that, if you do go to Chetumal, there are cheaper buses than ADO. We only use ADO if there is no other choice.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2022, 11:46 AM
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Hola Mattias,

It's only about 10 minutes by taxi from the Chetumal ADO terminal to the Nuevo Mercado, so that bus from Playa is OK. ADO buses usually run on time. I rechecked the Belizean bus information, and it does depart at 1:30 pm. If you find out if there are more buses running now, please let me know. In pre-pandemic days, they ran every hour or so.

Taxis are everywhere in Chetumal. They will probably be lined up at a taxi rank at the bus terminal, but it might be cheaper if you stop a taxi in the street. Make sure you agree to the fare before getting in. I've never paid more than 30 pesos to go anywhere within the city, but that was a few years ago, and fares have gone up recently.

At Nuevo Mercado, the bus waits on the north side of the market. The bus is an old school bus, but no longer yellow. Most of the Belizean buses are painted in dark colours. It will probably be the only bus in the parking area. The Belizean bus companies don't have any Chetumal schedules online.

The bus leaves Chetumal and it's about 15 to 20 minutes to the border. The bus stops at the Mexican Immigration building at the border. Passengers get off the bus (without luggage, but if you have valuables in a carry-on bag, take that with you), and hand the FMM to an Immigration officer. Your passport will be stamped. In my experience, they have always asked for money, saying it's an exit fee -- this is a scam -- there is no exit/departure fee when leaving Mexico. If you flew to Mexico, you have already paid the Tourist Tax (included with the airfare), so there's nothing to pay upon departure. On one occasion when I refused to pay, my passport wasn't stamped. On other occasions, I showed my airline receipt showing the payment of the tax. Then get back on the bus and cross the bridge into Belize.

On the Belize side, the bus stops at Belize Immigration/Customs. Get stamped, and go through Customs.


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Old Jun 23rd, 2022, 11:57 AM
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Re: Location of Nuevo Mercado

It's at the corner of Calle Antonio Coria and Calz Veracruz. If you use Google Earth, enter "Nuevo Mercado" and it will indicate the location.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2022, 01:47 PM
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If you want to fly from Cancun to Chetumal, there is a small airline, AeromarMX that does it for $72 OW. (Not every day). Looks like you can book online, too. That road south of Playa is rough in spots and can be pretty uncomfortable, even in a nice minivan.


Not sure about Mayair, we used them back in 2019 in the Yucatan (Merida to Villahermosa). You may have to book via an agent.

Last edited by mlgb; Jun 23rd, 2022 at 01:53 PM.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2022, 06:16 PM
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Hi,

One option which may be available again is a shuttle from Chetumal to Belize City called Marlin Espadas. I took them back in 2019, and I just now did a Google search and seems they could be operational again. They can be hard to reach but were perfectly competent for the actual travel, with a drop off by the San Pedro Water Taxi dock in Belize City.

Best wishes,

Daniel
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Old Jul 8th, 2022, 06:06 AM
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More buses have been added to the Chetumal-Belize route. Departure times from Chetumal at 10:30 am, 12:00, 12:30 & 2:30 pm.

And one of the water taxi services to San Pedro & Caye Caulker resumed on July 6. The schedule shows departures from Chetumal at 10am on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For the trip to Chetumal, departures from CC at 12:45pm and from San Pedro at 2:30pm on the same days.
https://www.sanpedrowatertaxi.com/
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Old Jul 8th, 2022, 07:31 AM
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Thanks for the update on the ferries MisterB2. Very interesting tooŚ I like those hours better; I remember getting up at the crack of dawn in 2019 to catch the 7am boat from Caye Caulker to Chetumal. Luckily CC is small so I only had a a short walk to the dock from my hotel.
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