6. FROM CANCÚN AIRPORT TO BELIZE AND BACK

This is how I have done the trip from Cancún airport to Belize…

From Cancún airport, ADO Riviera airport shuttle buses depart approximately hourly to Playa del Carmen. Tickets are sold at an ADO counter in the airport just after exiting Customs, or from the ticket seller where the bus is parked. To get to the bus, go out of the airport terminal, turn right and keep going to the other end of the terminal. The bus trip is about 1 hour and costs MX$120 (as at January 2013).

The airport shuttle buses terminate in Playa del Carmen at the bus terminal at the corner of Quinta Avenida and Avenida Juarez (5th Avenue and Juarez Avenue). If continuing to Chetumal, get a taxi or walk to the other bus terminal (Terminal Alterna) at Avenida 20 and Calle 12. Sometimes the airport shuttle bus stops at Terminal Alterna on the way to the 5th Av. terminal.

Here’s a link to a map of Playa del Carmen showing the location of the two bus terminals:
http://www.travelyucatan.com/playa_del_carmen_mexico_hotel_map-a.php

From Terminal Alterna in Playa del Carmen, ADO express buses depart every couple of hours to Chetumal. The trip takes about 4.5 hours and costs MX$252 (as at January 2013). The bus might make stops at Tulum and Felipe Carrillo Puerto before terminating at the ADO bus terminal in Chetumal.

The options for continuing to Belize from Chetumal are Belizean bus, taxi and water taxi — see the next section, TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN BELIZE AND MEXICO, for details.

Other options from Cancún airport to Belize or Chetumal
Instead of getting a bus to Playa del Carmen, some travellers prefer to get a bus from the airport to the bus terminal in Cancún City where they can get an express bus to Tulum, Chetumal or Belize City. Cancún airport is located about 18 km south of Cancún City and about 50 km north of Playa del Carmen, so this means first travelling north to Cancún, then getting a bus back south, but it avoids the bus terminal change in Playa. A popular choice is the daily overnight express bus from Cancún bus terminal to Belize City.

A transfer service or private shuttle is another option. Here are links to some services:
a) Belize VIP Transfer Service, http://www.belizetransfers.com
b) Moralez Travel Service, http://www.gettransfers.com
c) Cancún Shuttle: http://www.cancunshuttle.com/
d) Cancún Express: http://www.cancun-express.com/
e) Cancún Airport Transfers: http://www.tucankin.com/

Tropic Air will begin flights between Cancún airport and Belize City, but has not announced a date yet.

>

This is how I do the trip from Belize to Cancún airport…
I get a bus to Chetumal, but there are other ways (taxi, transfer service, water taxi). From the Chetumal ADO terminal, express buses depart every couple of hours to Playa del Carmen. The trip takes about 4.5 hours and costs MX$252 (as at January 2013).

The bus arrives in Playa del Carmen at the bus terminal at Avenida 20 and Calle 12 (Terminal Alterna). If continuing to Cancún airport, get a taxi or walk to the other bus terminal at Quinta Avenida and Avenida Juarez and get the ADO Riviera airport shuttle bus to Cancún airport. The bus trip takes 1 hour and costs MX$120 (as at January 2013).

Other options for getting from Belize or Chetumal to Cancún airport
A popular choice is the daily overnight express bus from Belize City to Cancún City because this bus stops at the airport (see next section for details).

Another option is the ADO airport express bus from Chetumal. Buses depart daily from the ADO Chetumal bus terminal at 00:30. The trip takes 5.5 hours and costs MX$342 (as at January 2013).

Other options are transfer service and Tropic Air flight (whenever they commence flights).

Always check the ADO or ticketbus website for up to date schedules and fares. The ADO site is in Spanish, but the ticketbus site has an English language option.
http://www.ado.com.mx/ado/index.jsp
http://www.ticketbus.com.mx/wtbkd/I18n.tb?language=en&region=US

Note 1: MX$ is Mexican pesos. On the Mexican bus websites, just the dollar sign is used to represent pesos.
Note 2: The ADO express buses have very good air-conditioning; dress warmly.

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29 Responses to “6. FROM CANCÚN AIRPORT TO BELIZE AND BACK”

  1. Paul Says:

    Any recommendations on hotels in Playa del Carmen and Chetumal for those traveling on the bus? Particularly hotels that accept early check-ins and check-outs?

    Our red-eye flights bring us to Playa in the early morning. After discussing your advice, the wife and I think it best to enjoy the beach and town for the day and catch the next day’s ADO GL to Chetumal.

    I see that Cancun has several hotels near the ADO bus station, but the TripAdvisor reviews are pretty negative. So we’re not going that route!

    • belizebus Says:

      I usually don’t recommend hotels when I don’t know the person or the budget.

      However, I frequently stay in Chetumal, and have prepared a list of places of a range of budgets near the centre of the city. Have a look at this thread on the Lonely Planet forum (my post is #2):

      http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1868984&messageID=16691286#16691286

      A couple of higher budget places in the same area that I didn’t really highlight on that post are the Holiday Inn and Hotel Los Cocos.

      In Playa, I have looked at (but never stayed at) a place called the Maya Bric. It’s on the main street next to the beach, and about MX$400 or 500.

      http://www.mayabric.com/

  2. Holger Says:

    Great website. Thanks a lot for the info and the time you put into this.
    We are about to fly into cancun next week, arriving around 1820 and take the bus down to belize city.

    Something I didn’t quite understand is the Playa del Carmen Bus Stop and “Alternate” Bus stop.

    You write above that the ADO buses depart from the other bus terminal (Terminal Alterna) at Avenida 20 and Calle 12.

    If I check the ticketbus website, it has an ADO departure at 7:20 am from Playa del Carmen, but no departure from the Terminal Alterna. Did they change their departure points?

    Thanks for any hints and for this awesome website!

    • belizebus Says:

      Hi Holger,

      Yes, that is confusing, and I think the ticketbus site is not accurate regarding the terminals.

      You can’t get a bus to Chetumal from the airport — you have to go to the bus terminal in either Cancun city or Playa. Going north to Cancun is heading in the opposite direction to Chetumal, but it’s sometimes better because I think the buses are more frequent(?) and you don’t have to change bus terminals.

      If you go to Playa, the airport express buses arrive at the terminal on 5th Ave, near the beach. There are south bound buses departing from this terminal, for example to Tulum, but the ADO EXPRESS buses depart fro the other terminal on 12th & 20th. Whenever I’ve bought a Playa to Chetumal ticket, the ticket has always stated that the departure terminal is the “Alterna” terminal at 12th & 20th. But if you use “Alterna” on the ticketbus site, you don’t get the schedules — you have to enter “Playa del Carmen” as the terminal. Don’t ask me why they do this.

      In the past couple of years, I’ve been on the airport express bus, and it has stopped at the Alterna terminal on the way to and from the airport. If you get the airport shuttle bus, ask if it will stop at the Alterna terminal. It will save you a taxi fare.

      Let me know if you need more information.

  3. Mer Says:

    Hi,
    thank you very much for all the information you give….I am trying to purchase tickets from Cancun to Chetumal or directly to Belize..is there a website with stricktly schedules? ( because it is all in spanish..)

    • belizebus Says:

      I use the ticketbus website because the information can be viewed in English, but I’ve never tried to buy tickets from that site (don’t know if it’s possible).
      When you open the site, Spanish will appear, but there should be a link to click (at the top of the page in very small text) to get English.

      On the ADO site, I don’t know if the Cancun – Belize City schedules have been updated yet. I’ve never tried to buy a ticket from that site either.

  4. Andy Says:

    Thanks for the great website, really useful tips.

    I’m doing this exact trip (Cancun to Belize) next week. When you say ‘watch your luggage’ on Belize buses, would you recommend taking a normal suitcase or buying a large rucksack. I’m guessing if you take the suitcase there is nowhere to put it, except out of sight under the coach where it could be stolen, or do most buses have overhead compartments etc?

    Cheers

    • belizebus Says:

      Hi Andy,

      The Mexican ADO express buses have a proper luggage compartment under the seating area, and I try to pick a seat where I can look out the window and see the luggage being loaded and unloaded. I’ve never had a problem in Mexico. They also use luggage tags on most buses.

      The Belizean buses are old school buses, and large luggage items get stacked at the back of the bus or behind the driver (space permitting) or wherever. I always like to sit as close as possible to my luggage. Most buses (not all) have an open rack (not compartments) above the seats — it runs the length of the bus. There’s enough room for a small pack, not a large suitcase.

      If the bus is full, a large suitcase or a large backpack would be put at the back of the bus, but the buses from Chetumal to Belize are seldom full so it would be OK to put your luggage beside you on your seat.

  5. Jordan Says:

    The station names are wrong on here for Playa del Carmen (and on many websites.) The “alterna” station is at 5th Avenue and Juarez, and has no buses to Chetumal. The regular station is at 20th Avenue and 12th. Just refer to the ADO website to see that no buses run from Alterna to Chetumal, nor to most long-distance destinations (and I just took one from the 20th Avenue station to Chetumal last week.) Any idea why this is wrong on so many websites?

    • belizebus Says:

      Hi Jordan,

      Thanks for your message and raising this issue because I agree there is a lot of confusion even within ADO.

      Up until a few years ago, I wasn’t sure which terminal was called Alterna. In various websites, I had seen both terminals referred to as Alterna, and I had noticed the discrepancy on the ADO website.

      So, a few years ago, I went to the ADO terminal on 5th Ave. and bought a ticket to Chetumal. I already knew that the Chetumal bus departs from the other terminal (20th & 12th) terminal, but I asked anyway. I was told the bus departs from Terminal Alterna, and the ticket seller raised an arm to point in the general direction. On the ticket, she wrote, “Av. 20 C. 12 ADO Alterna”. Then I got in a taxi and simply said, “ADO Alterna”. I ended up at the terminal on 20th & 12th.

      I still have some old printed tickets and noticed that the same terminal code, PYQ, is used for both terminals.

      For these reasons, I’ll continue to refer to the terminal at 20th & 12th as Alterna, but I’ll always add the addresses to make it clear.

  6. Stuart Says:

    There is no mention of San Juan Travel on this page (Section 6). Can I still use them to travel from Belize City to Chetumal – and if so what time do they leave and how can I book (phone no.? agent on Caye Caulker?)?
    Thanks for running this site.

    • belizebus Says:

      Section 6 describes how I travel between Cancun and Belize City. I haven’t mentioned San Juan because I haven’t used them.

      If you look at Section 7, you’ll find the San Juan schedule. Note that San Juan is not allowed to pick up passengers in Belize City and take them to Chetumal. It’s a Government of Belize decision to protect the Belizean bus services from competition.

      If you want an express bus from Belize City, then get the Tillet’s bus at 6am from the Novelo’s terminal. You can’t book it in advance — just show up and get on the bus. No agent in CC. There’s another express bus (J&J Bus Line) that departs from BC at 6:30am.

      Regular buses leave every 30 to 60 minutes.

  7. Marina Says:

    Where does one buy tickets to the ADO overnight bus to Cancun in Belize city? Where do the buses depart from? There’s a lot of confusing information about this and nobody seems to mention the addresses of either the terminal or the bus station. Do we buy tickets at Nuevo’s or Parez station?

    Thank you for your help.

    • belizebus Says:

      As stated in this site…
      “In Belize City, Belizean and ADO buses arrive at and depart from the Belize City bus terminal (still commonly known as the Novelo’s terminal, the name of a former bus company) located on West Collet Canal.”

      ADO tickets are sold at terminal. The person who sells tickets shows up about 2 hours before the bus departure time.

      There’s a lot of outdated info on the web. Ask me if you need to know anything else. I try to keep this info up to date.

      • Marina Says:

        Thank you. English is not my first language so it’s a bit confusing, your blog is the best source I have found so far. Thank you for all the work.
        Does the overnight bus run daily?

        We’ll probably come to Belize city from Chetumal, do those buses stop at that Novelo’s terminal, too, and where can we catch a taxi from there?

      • belizebus Says:

        The ADO overnight bus runs daily.
        It stops at the Novelo’s terminal in Belize City.
        Taxis wait in front of the terminal.

  8. Tangela Says:

    When I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added-
    checkbox and from now on every time a comment
    is added I get four emails with the exsact same comment.
    Is there a means you can remove mee from that service?
    Apprsciate it!

  9. Emily Says:

    I have 2 clients who will be traveling from Carmen del Playa to Belize on Easter Sunday. Any reason to worry that the bus schedule will change? They will buy the tickets ahead of time. Also, on the return trip, taking the overnight bus from Belize to Mexico, do you know what time the bus picks up passengers in Orange Walk? I saw a schedule that says 9 p.m. but at that point in the year, there is an hour time difference between Belize and Mexico. Thanks!

    • belizebus Says:

      I haven’t heard of any schedule changes in previous years.

      The stop at OW is around 9pm.

  10. Emily Says:

    Do you know if this schedule is still in effect?

    Playa del Carmen to Chetumal
    Bus Line Class Travel Time Cost
    ADO GL Deluxe 4:35 256 pesos
    Departure Times
    Daily 19:15

    Bus Line Class Travel Time Cost
    ADO GL First Class 4:10 214 pesos
    Departure Times
    Daily 00:25, 01:50, 06:20, 07:10, 09:20, 10:50, 11:50, 12:35, 13:20, 14:35, 16:35, 18:35, 19:35, 21:20, 23:58

  11. Alec Says:

    Hi, this site is stupendous. I have read this section and all the comments but am still a bit unsure.

    My gf and I will be arriving in Cancun and spending the night there, in the city for a couple days, then plan on catching a bus to Corozal. All of this is talking about from the Cancun airport but I was wondering what the procedure was for going from the city itself.

    We are trying to leave earlier in the a.m to avoid night travel.

    thank you kindly.

    • belizebus Says:

      From Cancun airport, just get a bus to Cancun City — the City is about 20 or 30 minutes north of the airport. The airport bus should arrive at the bus terminal where you get the bus to Chetumal. Buses to Chetumal depart about every 2 hours and stop at Playa del Carmen on the way. Some buses also stop at Tulum and Felipe Carillo Puerto.

      I didn’t like Cancun City and prefer to stay in Playa del Carmen. Playa is very touristy, but there’s more to do and the beach is excellent. Cheap places to stay near the bus terminals, and cheaper places to eat when you get off the main street.

      ADO has an airport shuttle bus to Playa. Be aware there are two bus terminals in Playa. The bus to Chetumal leaves from the terminal on 12th & 20th.

  12. stacey Says:

    I am trying to book transportation from caye Caulker to Chetumal…or Belize City to Chetumal. My problem is my flight leaves at 845 in the morning. What would you suggest?

    • belizebus Says:

      Are you intending to leave CC in the morning and get to Chetumal on the same day in time for your flight?? If so, good luck because I don’t think it’s possible.

      Option 1. Get the water taxi. Departs from CC in early morning and arrives at Chetumal around 10 am. Check the website for schedule & fare.

      Option 2. Water taxi from CC to Belize City, then bus or private shuttle to Chetumal. It’s 3 to 4 hours by road.

      Option 3. Check the Belizean airlines, Tropic Air and Maya Island Air, for flights to Corozal, then continue by bus, taxi or private shuttle. If there is an early flight to Corozal, you might be able to make your flight.

  13. Heidi Says:

    Hi,

    we are planning a trip from Hopkins (Belize) to Cancun (Mexico) in one day, wednesday the 30th. We are leaving Hopkins at 7 am and arrive Belize City arond 11 am. From there we would like to know if there is a bus from Belize City to Chetumal, so we can take the during the day bus from Chetumal to Cancun. Do you know the times of the busses and from wich busstation the busses are leaving?

    Regards Merel

    • belizebus Says:

      Hi,
      See Section 3 — Northern Zone schedule.
      Buses leave about every 30 minutes — most if not all of those buses go to Chetumal. If you arrive in BC close to 12:45 pm, it might be a good idea to get the express bus.

      • Heidi Says:

        Thank you for your information! Do I understand it correctly that it shouldn’t be a problem to get from Hopkins tot Cancun in 1 day?

        Does the express bus from BC leave a the same busterminal a we arrive coming from Hopkins??

        With regards,

        Heidi

      • belizebus Says:

        Yes, the express bus leaves from the same terminal that you arrive at from Hopkins.

        The Regular bus takes about 4 hours to reach Chetumal, while the express bus SHOULD take about 3 hours, if it doesn’t make any stop all along the route.

        You should arrive in Chetumal around 4 to 5 pm. The bus arrives at a market (Nuevo Mercado). Walk or get a taxi to the ADO bus terminal — it’s about 1 km away and the taxi should cost about 20 pesos. An ADO express bus from Chetumal to Cancun takes 5.5 to 6 hours. Schedules & fares are on the ADO website.

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