Destinations > North America > Mexico

Transportation in Mexico

Flag of Mexico

Getting there by Air

Main international airports in Mexico:

Mexico City International Airport (MEX) - located 13 km (8 mi) east of the city. Transportation to and from the airport by buses, taxis and underground trains. Airport facilities include: bank, post office, duty-free shops, first aid, drug store, left luggage, tourist information, car rental.

Cancun International Airport (CUN) - located 22 km (14 mi) southwest of the city. Transportation to and from the airport by buses and taxis. Airport facilities include: bank, duty-free shops, first aid, luggage lockers, tourist information, car rental.

Guadalajara International Airport (GDL) - located 25 km (12 mi) southeast of the city. Transportation to and from the airport by buses and taxis. Airport facilities include: bank, tourist information, post office, shops, car rental.

Acapulco (ACA) - located is 26 km (16 mi) southeast of the city.Transportation to and from the airport by buses and taxis. Airport facilities include: bank, post office, shops and car rental.

Approximate flight times are: from New York to Mexico City - 5h 15min, from New York to Cancun - 4h 10 min, from Toronto to Mexico City - 4h 45min, from Toronto to Cancun - 3h 55min, from London to Mexico City - 11h 40min, from London to Cancun - 10h 40min, from Los Angeles to Mexico City - 3h 45min.

Getting there by Bus

There are many bus connections from the southern United States to northeast, central north and central Mexico. Several companies, including Autobuses Americanos, Autotransportes Tufesa, Crucero, Transportes Baldomero Corral or Grayhound, provide connections from cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Phoenix or Tucson. Note that most of the coach companies cater mainly for Mexicans who work in the United States and services are usually provided in Spanish.

Many coach and bus connections are available from Guatemala and Belize. There are daily buses between Guatemala City and Tapachula, between Flores (Guatemala) and Chetumal, or between Belize City and Chetumal.

Getting there by Car

The main points of entry on the roads are from the United States (40 crossings), Guatemala (10 crossings) and Belize (2 crossings). If planning to stay beyond the border zone (20-30 km / 12.4-18.6 mi beyond United States and 70 km / 43.5 mi beyond Guatemala or Belize border), a purchase of a 180-day vehicle permit is required. Drivers will need a driver's licence, their passport, a tourist card and a proof of ownership (certificate of title or registration certificate for the vehicle, a credit contract from the financing institution if the vehicle is not fully paid off) to obtain the permit. Permit cost is around $30 US dollars when paid at the border, but can be also purchased on-line or from a Mexican consulate for additional fee.

It is also mandatory to purchase Mexican auto insurance (at the border or on-line, which is cheaper). Mexican authorities don't recognize US or Canadian auto insurance, even if travel to Mexico is included in their policy. It is particularly important to have enough coverage of liability insurance since persons held responsible for an accident can be jailed until they can prove that they will pay for the damages.

Getting there by Water

There are many companies operating cruises services to Mexico, on both Caribbean and Pacific sides. Caribbean cruises are usually combined with other Caribbean destinations. The main cruise ship ports on on the Caribbean side are Cozumel, Costa Maya and recently Progreso (near Merida, Yucatan). The main ports on the Pacific side are: Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, Manzanillo, Mazatlán , Puerto Vallarta and Tampico.

There are also regular passenger ships between the United States and South America stopping at Mexico as well as riverboat services from Flores and Tikal in Guatemala to Palenque, Chiapas in Mexico.

Getting around by Air

The network of domestic connections by air is excellent - even many smaller cities have airports with regular passenger services. Most of the flights are operated by two main Mexican airlines: Aeromexico and Mexicana. There are also budget airlines that include Volaris, Aviacsa or vivaAerobus. The fares with budget airlines can be even 50% cheaper, although they may not operate on major airports.

Getting around by Car

Getting around by car is in many cases the most convenient option when visiting a lot of different places in Mexico. Mexico recognizes foreign driver's licenses and the minimum age to be allowed to drive is 18 years. When renting a car, the minimum age is 21, although some companies require a surcharge if driver's age is less than 25 years. Car rental is usually expensive, by US or European standards. Only about half of the roads are paved. The best maintained and safest roads are toll roads, but they can also be relatively costly. Toll roads are marked CUOTA, the free roads are marked LIBRE.

For safety reasons it is recommended to avoid driving at night as well as having the windows closed and doors locked when stopped at traffic lights.

Note that, in order to reduce pollution, Mexico City restricts driving on certain days of week based on the last digit/letter of the licence plate. Driving is not permitted on Mondays if the last digit is 5 or 6, on Tuesdays - 7 or 8, on Wednesdays - 3 or 4, on Thursdays - 1 or 2 and on Fridays - 9, 0 or a letter.

Getting around by Bus

The bus network in Mexico is well developed, linking almost all towns and cities; buses and coaches are the most popular mode of public transportation. Major bus companies in Mexico include Estrella Blanca and Autotransportes Tufesa.

First class and express (directo) buses are recommended since they provide the fastest and most comfortable service. Seats are numbered and buses have air conditioning. Most cities have their central bus terminal where tickets can be purchased. It is advisable to buy a ticket in advance when traveling longer trips, or routes with infrequent service. Second class buses are cheaper, usually serve smaller cities and towns, are less comfortable and slower than first class. They are also considered less safe.

Taxis and Colectivo

Taxis are common in towns and cities and are rather inexpensive. Some taxis are not metered - then it's recommended to agree about the price before the trip. Hiring a taxi for a full day trip can cost not more than renting a car. Some airports and bus stations are equipped with a taxi ticketing systems where the ticket is purchased to a certain destination and then handed over to the driver instead of paying cash.

Check our Health and Safety" section for safety advice when using taxi cabs.

Colectivo taxis, found in some regions of Mexico, are usually minibuses that operate shuttle services between smaller cities and towns. Typically they collect passengers and leave when they are fully loaded. Drivers will stop along the route when requested, as well as take additional passengers if there are free seats. Colectivos are much cheaper than taxis - price depends on the distance.

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