Bus Stations vs Airports in Mexico

Traveling longer distances by bus might not be as trendy, or as fast, or as comfortable as flying, but it's generally cheaper with frequent services between major towns and cities

People traveling with baggage

Domestic flight prices in Mexico vary depending on the season and, more often, the route being traveled. Flights from the capital to popular destinations served by several airlines (particularly top beach destinations) invariably offer the best value, whereas routes to less popular destinations (colonial cities and business/industrial destinations) — often only serviced by one carrier — are relatively more expensive.

An alternative to flying is to take one of the first- or executive-class buses which crisscross the country regularly and provide an affordable alternative to flying. Traveling longer distances by bus might not be as trendy, or as fast, or as comfortable as flying, but it’s generally cheaper and there are more options, at least as far as price and frequency goes.

Nothing quite highlights the difference between the two modes of travel as the contrast, in the capital at least, between the airport and its proletarian counterparts the bus stations.

To start with, services that are “included” in the price of an airline ticket are apparently optional for those ‘slumming’ it at one of Mexico City’s four intercity bus terminals.

Luggage can’t be checked-in until half an hour before the bus leaves, but for those arriving early there are some luggage-storage services which cost extra even if they’re provided by the same check-in people. For a few pesos, they will stash the bags behind the counter until the time comes for them to be checked on to the bus.

Toilets are five pesos to get in — cleaning costs presumably — which will leave patrons dreading to think what they might be like for free.  Parking is considerably cheaper than at the airport, so too are the taxi services which run from each bus terminal, although with App Cabs now operating in many cities, travelers are not held hostage to the official taxi rank prices as they used to be in years gone-by.

Some other things are pretty much the same, merely on a different level. Prices at shops and cafeterias are marked up in accordance with a captive clientele, and some poor quality food can be had at rip-off rates.

If you’re meeting somebody arriving at the bus station, you won’t be quite so obviously not a traveler as you would at the airport, even when you’re not holding up a piece of card with a name on it.

Passengers disembarking from a long bus trip usually look more bedraggled than their recently airborne cousins. More often than not, they will be hauling along their own bags, not whizzing them along on wheels. Some, rather than hoping they might be recognized, will be hoping the opposite, perhaps to avoid the mutual application of the same stupid question. After all, nobody goes to an airport or a bus station for fun. Do they?

Mexico in your inbox

Our free newsletter about Mexico brings you a monthly round-up of recently published stories and opportunities, as well as gems from our archives.


  1. Annie says

    My husband and I travelled by bus when we were staying Ajijic. to various cities and loved it. My only complaint now would be that we are bringing our small dog this year so we will not be able to travel by bus this time, too bad!!!

    • Bob says

      Annie. I’m thinking of staying in Guayabitos (north of PV) and heading to Ajijic. Do you know if I can pick up the bus outside Guayabitos and take it to Ajijic or do I have to go back to Porta Vallarta then to Guadalajara and finally to Ajijic?

Comments are closed.