Riding in Style: The Best Bus Companies in Mexico to Travel With
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November 29, 2023
7 min read
Choosing the Right Bus Company
Mexico is a country with a robust and reliable bus system that connects people to various destinations throughout the country. Bus travel is an essential part of Mexican life, and it's not hard to see why.
Taking a bus across Mexico is one of the best ways to see this extensive land. It offers an affordable, convenient, and safe way to explore Mexico's diverse regions.
While most bus companies offer similar services, there are significant differences in quality depending on the company you choose. I like to think that there is more to consider than just price when deciding which bus company to travel with.
Safety record, types of buses offered, amenities available, and route network are all critical factors that influence decisions. With so many options available, it can be challenging to know where to start when attempting to travel Mexico by bus. Don’t worry, we put together this guide to give you everything you need to know!
Planning a budget-friendly trip to Mexico? Visit our country guide for more tips and recommendations.
Major Bus Companies in Mexico
The extensive network of highways and scenic routes makes bus travel in Mexico an excellent way to explore the country. Here are five of the best Mexican bus companies you should consider for your next trip.
Unlike the public transportation in Mexico, these vehicles have bathrooms and have more space...some seats are like premium economy class on an airplane. You will have room to stretch out and if you have baggage, not really a problem. They will store your luggage under the bus and offload it at your destination.
ADO: The largest and most popular bus line in Mexico
Starting with ADO, the largest and most popular bus company in Mexico, their buses are deemed as some of the most comfortable coaches that you will ever experience. They own several smaller bus companies and operate under different brands such as: OCC, Cristobal Colon, and AU to name a few. They offer both first class bus seating and second class bus options on their long-distance routes that cover several regions of Mexico but not the pacific or northern areas.
Their second-class service is even designed with convenience and comfort in mind, offering reclining seats, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, restrooms, power outlets, and entertainment options.
ADO primarily operates bus routes in south, east and central Mexico. Find out more about ADO here.
ETN: The luxury bus line in Mexico
One of the premier luxury bus companies in Mexico is ETN. Their buses have large cloth seats that recline further back than usual; they also come with personal screens installed at every seatback equipped with on-demand movies/TV shows streaming services. They even have an entire bus made up of extra spacious seats on their Turistar Lujo lines.
Their buses also feature hot/cold water dispensers (for water and heating up some noodles) and bathrooms on board, so if you’re like me you don’t have to hold it to the next stop.
Primera Plus: Offers a wide range of routes and schedules
Primera Plus is one of the most popular bus companies in Mexico, offering a wide range of routes and schedules to meet the varied needs of travelers. With its fleet of modern buses and experienced drivers, Primera Plus ensures that passengers enjoy safe and comfortable travel experiences.
One of the standout features of Primera Plus is its extensive network of routes, which covers many major cities throughout Mexico. Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, you can easily find a route that fits your schedule and budget. In addition to its standard routes, Primera Plus also offers charter services for groups looking to travel together.
Omnibus de México: Known for its affordable prices and extensive network
If you are looking for a cost-effective way to travel, then Omnibus de Mexico is the bus company you want. Their buses are not as luxurious as some of the other companies on this list, but they provide excellent value for money, with comfortable seating and other essential amenities like air conditioning, toilets, and free Wi-Fi. They also have an extensive network that covers many of the major cities in Mexico.
Autobuses Pullman de Morelos: Specializes in routes to popular tourist destinations
Autobuses Pullman de Morelos is the ideal bus service if you're headed to popular tourist destinations like Cuernavaca or Acapulco. Their fleet has comfortable seating with ample legroom and they offer perks like Wi-Fi access and power outlets to keep you connected throughout the journey.
Each of these companies has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to serving passengers. However, taking into account the vast array of their services alongside their price points should give you a good starting point when deciding which bus company fits your needs for your next trip to Mexico!
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Bus Line
Are buses in Mexico Safe?
When it comes to picking the right bus company, the safety record and reputation of the company always come to mind as a priority. Safety is a critical factor when traveling by bus in Mexico, and you want to ensure that you are riding with a company that takes safety seriously.
Overall all, these companies are safe to travel around Mexico with and are some of the largest companies with extensive bus networks in the country.
It's important to note that just because a company has had an issue in the past doesn't mean they aren't safe now.
Types of Buses Offered (e.g., Luxury, Standard, Economy)
The type of buses offered is another crucial factor to consider when choosing a bus company in Mexico. Different companies offer different types of buses ranging from standard economy buses to luxurious coaches with plenty of amenities. The kind of bus you choose will depend on your budget as well as your preferences for comfort and convenience.
If you're looking for luxury travel with comfortable seats, extra legroom, and other perks like Wi-Fi or personal entertainment systems, then choosing a high-end bus company like ETN might be best for you. But if cost is more important than comfort, then going with an economy option like Omnibus de México could still provide an excellent experience.
Amenities Available (e.g., Wi-Fi, Snacks, Entertainment)
Another important consideration when selecting a bus company in Mexico is what amenities they offer onboard their buses. Many modern buses feature Wi-Fi access so that passengers can stay connected while on the go or catch up on work during long journeys.
Additionally, some companies may provide snacks or drinks during transit or offer onboard entertainment options like movies or music.
While these amenities might not be necessary for shorter journeys, they can for sure make a long-haul trip more enjoyable and comfortable. Be on the lookout for different amenities offered by each bus company you're considering and choose the one that best fits your style and needs.
Route Network and Frequency of Service
It’s important to note that different companies specialize in certain routes or regions of the country, so you'll want to make sure they offer services where you need them. While most companies are big, there isn't a fully national bus line.
Additionally, some companies might run more frequent buses than others, which is crucial if you're traveling on a tight schedule or need to get somewhere quickly.
You will also want to make sure that you are leaving from the main bus terminal or if you have to go to a different one within the city. For example, Guadalajara has 2 main terminals that service the city.
Before making your final decision, check the schedules and routes offered by each company and choose one that best suits your travel needs. Make sure to check the timing! Some companies will offer overnight buses at a cheaper rate. Taking a night bus is a great way to catch up on some sleep and start exploring the next day.
Tips for Booking Bus Tickets in Mexico
Use online booking platforms to compare prices and schedules
One of the best ways to find bus ticket deals in Mexico is to use online booking platforms. These websites allow you to compare prices and schedules from different bus companies, saving you time and money. You may also opt to go to the bus station and buy your ticket there. However, if you like to plan and stick to a schedule I suggest buying online in advance.
Some popular booking platforms to buy bus tickets online include ClickBus, CheckmyBus, and Reservamos.mx. When using an online booking platform, make sure to read reviews from other travelers about their experiences with the bus company.
This can give you valuable insight into the quality of service you can expect. Additionally, some booking platforms offer discounts or promotions for first-time users, so be sure to take advantage of these offers if it’s your lucky day!
Buying bus tickets in advance
If you're planning to travel during peak travel seasons in Mexico (such as Christmas or Easter), I highly suggest booking your bus tickets well in advance. This is because buses tend to fill up fast during these times, and last-minute bookings can be difficult or impossible.
Booking your tickets in advance not only ensures that you have a seat on the bus but also gives you more options when it comes to choosing your seat type (I love the aisle seat) and location in the bus.
Plus, many bus companies offer discounts for early bookings, so it can also save you money.
Consider purchasing a prepaid card for frequent travelers
If you're a frequent traveler in Mexico and plan on taking buses regularly throughout your trip, you may want to consider purchasing a prepaid card from the bus company. These cards often come with perks such as discounted fares, priority boarding, and access to special lounges at select terminals.
Not only do prepaid cards save you money over time by offering discounted fares per ride but they also offer convenience by allowing you to skip the ticket line and board your bus directly.
Also just like airlines, some companies offer rewards programs that allow you to earn points for every ride taken, which can then be redeemed for free or discounted tickets in the future.
At the Bus Station
Arriving at a major bus station in Mexico is unlike anything in America. It more reminds me of an airport, where you have all the different companies and their ticket desks. You will see all the different signs for the companies operating out of the bus terminal.
Remember to travel to the bus station with ample time because the buses leave on-time and may even board early. This will give you plenty of time to get to your seat and get settled in.
Lesser-Known Bus Companies Worth Checking Out
Futura: Comfortable Buses at Affordable Prices
While the larger bus companies tend to dominate the market, there are some lesser-known options that offer great value for money. One of these is Futura, which has a reputation for offering comfortable buses with spacious seats at affordable prices and offer many bus routes in Mexico.
Futura operates a variety of routes throughout Mexico which makes it a good option for budget travelers who want to explore different parts of the country.
One of the standout features of Futura's buses is their comfortable seating. The seats are designed to provide ample legroom and recline slightly, allowing passengers to relax during longer journeys.
The company also offers free Wi-Fi on board and some buses even have individual screens with movies and TV shows. Despite its affordable prices, Futura is committed to providing high-quality service and ensuring that passengers have a pleasant experience.
Costa Line: Major Cities Along the Pacific Coast
For those who want more than just a way to get from point A to point B, Costa Line is an excellent choice. This company offers many long distance bus routes along the Pacific coast, offering stunning views of Mexico's coastline along the way.
Whether you're traveling from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta or Acapulco to Zihuatanejo, you're sure to be treated to breathtaking scenery. In addition to its scenic routes, Costa Line also offers comfortable buses with air conditioning and reclining seats.
You can enjoy free Wi-Fi on board as well as snacks and drinks for purchase. While this bus company may not be as well-known as some of its larger competitors, it offers a unique travel experience that is sure to leave lasting memories.
Cost of Buses in Mexico
Mexico has an extensive network that connects major cities throughout the country. You can think of it just like flying. The cost of riding major bus lines in Mexico can depend on several factors such as distance, time of day, and amenities. You can generally travel great distances for under $50 USD.
For instance, premium or first-class buses are equipped with comfortable seats, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and even snacks or meals during long trips. These types of buses tend to cost more regular buses but offer a more luxurious travel experience. Regular buses may not have as many amenities but are still reliable and affordable for budget travelers.
Overall, the cost of taking a bus in Mexico is relatively affordable and if you have the time and want to see the landscape of the country I highly suggest it. As someone who loves to ride and look out windows, it's a great choice.
While ADO and ETN may be the most popular bus companies in Mexico, they're certainly not your only options. There are plenty of great bus companies to take you across this vast country. Lesser-known bus companies like Futura and Costa Line offer great value for money and a unique travel experience.
When choosing a bus company, it's important to consider factors like safety, amenities, timing, and route network.
By doing your research and exploring all of your options, you can find the best bus company to suit your needs and budget. Happy travels!
If you think you'd rather just get behind the wheel and travel at your own leisure then check out this article on how to drive in Mexico. Here I discuss what I've learned from being behind the wheel and driving over a thousand miles on Mexican highways.