Moving around the Mayan world it’s fairly easy, but it can be very expensive if you don’t look around for the right option, especially between massively touristic cities like Cancun or Playa del Carmen.
So if I may, I’ll give you a tip or two on how to move around.
Find the local way, many people from these cities work in neighboring towns so there is a cheap way to go there. Most of these options are just steps away from the main bus stations.
If you are going to Playa del Carmen from Cancun the local shuttles are right outside the bus station, you will find these white vans and people lining up to aboard them.
There are a couple of advantages using this service.
- They are cheaper than the regular bus
- They go way more often than the regular bus
- They get there faster
There are also a couple of disadvantages to using these services
- They drive like maniacs
- They are less comfortable than the bus
- They can be tricky on fares when you don’t know them
So in the end the decision is always yours, the service is the same from Tulum to Playa and so on to Bacalar, Chetumal, Merida and all across the Yucatan peninsula.
When going from the Mayan Riviera to Chiapas you will find also a huge amount of options, in every case the ADO bus is the most comfortable way but also the priciest.
Again cheap options are around these bus stations, leaving from Cancun you will find a couple of cheap bus companies (as cheap as 70% cheaper) just a few blocks down to what is known as “El crucero” or crossroads in English. These options can be a little intimidating at the beginning as you will be in a conflictive neighborhood (a place you don’t want to visit at night yet safe during the day) and buses are up to 30 years old, running only because of the mechanical skills and inventive of their drivers.
But yet, if you are on a tight budget, this is the way to go, I’ve done it a couple of times and it’s always an adventure full of stories to tell afterwards.
There are a few hacks for crossing to the near islands of Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and Holbox as well. A ticket from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel can be up to $40 usd per person, but just 10 minutes south Playa del Carmen there’s a port called Calica; this place is where the commercial inputs get to the island from mainland. Their fares are way lower than the touristy Playa del Carmen.
To get to Isla Mujeres is pretty much the same, you will have to go to Punta Sam, which is a small port on the northern point of the peninsula just 15 minutes away from Cancun, all the island inputs departure from there. In both cases the boats are a lot slowly but the view is great and they both sale
beer, so you can relax and enjoy the trip while getting a tan.
In Guatemala you will find the infamous chicken Buses, a refurbished American school bus from the 80’s 90’s sold to Guatemala years ago.
Guatemalans have made a cool version of these buses and now are part of Guatemala’s identity. Unfortunately chicken bus drivers are reckless and near maniac drivers, transit laws are close to inexistent in Guatemala and road accidents often involve at least one chicken bus.
But then again, what’s a good story without adventure? …A boring story.
You will also find small vans taking people all across the country; these vans are just as bad as the chicken bus and a little pricy too. When possible, hop on a chicken bus.
Finally hitchhiking; this is by Far the best way to travel if you are not on a schedule and you don’t mind riding in the back of a truck along with some chickens, pigs and other farm passengers. You will learn that this is a way most Guatemalans and Belizeans move across the country, you will also learn the good and kind people is all over these places despite CNN and Fox News attempts to tell you other ways.
As always keep in mind common sense is your best tool to stay out of trouble. Follow your guts and stay out of the road at night.
The options are there and the decision is yours to take. Happy traveling!!