Mexico has a truly amazing bus network; it puts the pitiful Greyhound system we have in the US to shame. Buses here run efficiently, with connections available between nearly every city in the country. Tickets can be purchased in a few different classes of service:
- 2nd class – usually running on shorter routes, these buses take local roads and make many stops. The buses are generally a little older, some without air conditioning or a bathroom. We try to avoid these buses, unless traveling short distances – the small price difference usually isn’t worth the hassle. That said, riding the 2nd class buses can be a real colorful and memorable experience – vendors often board at various stops selling food, you might get serenaded by a busker playing guitar, or sit next to a woman holding a chicken.
- 1st class – clean, modern, and efficient buses. They usually crank up the A/C and play movies (oftentimes action flicks with the volume cranked way up). There is usually a secure ticketing system to keep track of your luggage and they tend to run direct (or nearly direct). Sometimes they even throw in a can of soda and a sandwich. Unless we’re travelling overnight, we tend to use these buses.
- Luxury – these services pull out all the stops. There are actually different levels of luxury service, for example ADO GL and ADO Platino are both luxury services offered by the same bus line with Platino offering a few additional extras over the GL service. On these services, you can expect to find wide, comfy seats that recline nearly flat. Often times, a small meal is provided, headphones for music/movies are handed out and on certain lines you can even find entire interactive seat-back entertainment systems like you find on airlines. We’ve booked a luxury class service for all overnight journeys and it has been well worth it. I’m the sort of person that usually cannot sleep at all on a bus, but on these luxury coaches I sleep like a baby.
I’m sure we’ll miss Mexico’s comfortable and efficient bus system as we travel deeper into Central America and have to deal with hectic local transportation or cramped tourist shuttles.