Our bus trip from Puerto Escondido, Mexico, to Guatemala City was uneventful and long. Our experience at the border near Tapachula, Mexico, was easy.
We were on two different buses for about 21 hours (a traffic jam in the Guatemalan countryside on a two-lane road set us back about an hour). I set out with the intention to take a picture each hour. I missed a few hours due to sleep, but I captured the essence of our trip.
There isn’t a ton of information about this particular border crossing that we found before we left, aside from a few blogs and a few old posts on Lonely Planet. So maybe this will help shed light on what this experience was like for other travelers who want to take this route, with these two bus companies – ADO and Tica. It’s a little under 1,000 kilometers, or a little more than 600 miles, from Puerto Escondido to Guatemala City.
Most captions have some info about stuff like prices, tips for a better trip, and a few unexpected tidbits that made our experience quite memorable.
And yes, we always felt safe.
Me and my spouse Tedly on the ADO bus to Tapachula, Mexico, from Puerto Escondido, Mexico, at the start of the trip. This was at 5:30 p.m. on a Monday. It’s about a 13-hour ride. It cost about $79 USD for two people, based on 19 pesos per dollar.
Another view of our area on the ADO bus. We are still wide awake and comfortable, although my legs are too short to reach the ground. Usually, this bus was full. If people got off at one stop, others would get on at another stop. The greatest number of people got on in Huatulco. Worth noting — buy your ticket a few days early to pick the best seats.
Tedly rigged up a system with my feet on a backpack so I could brace myself somewhat. The roads are twisty and the bus sways with each bend in the road.
By the start of the fourth hour, it’s dark, and we are getting sleepy…. and maybe a little bored.
There is a bathroom on the bus, but we stop several times for passenger exchanges at stations with more spacious accommodations. Worth noting — bring five peso coins for bathroom trips inside stations and stop points – that’s what most of them charge. I got out of the bus often to stretch my legs.
Around midnight (or was it 1:00 a.m.?) the driver needed sustenance so it was time for a buffet meal in the middle of nowhere. We were stopped here at least 45 minutes. Worth noting — by this point, at about six hours on the road, I was glad to be able to buy a cold water.
I woke up at some point to take a picture in the dark, to keep the picture-an-hour thing going.
Another middle-of-the-night attempt at a picture. You might be wondering how the driver stays awake. There are actually two drivers, and they switch off every few stops. That fact helped me sleep some during the night.
A disheveled selfie as I ran to the connecting bus with the Tica company into Guatemala. Tedly was getting our bags from the storage area of the first bus, while I went ahead to make arrangements. Worth noting — knowing a little Spanish definitely helped here. This was at 7:05 a.m. on a Tuesday, and the bus was supposed to leave at 7:00 a.m.
We made it. Not a minute to spare. The Tica bus workers actually held the bus for us for a few minutes. They were very kind. By the time we rolled out of Tapachula, Mexico, it was 7:19 a.m. This ride cost us about $42 USD for two people. Unlike the first bus, this one was not full. In fact, there were hardly any people on it – fewer than 20.
Tedly and I hold up our stamped passports at the border crossing in El Carmen, Guatemala. It cost nothing to leave Mexico (we paid when we entered) and nothing to enter Guatemala. We were stamped for 90 days. That’s our Tica bus in the background. The bus let us off on the Mexican side, so we could go through immigration and return our tourist cards. Then we walked across the border to the immigration office on the Guatemalan side.
This is outside the Guatemalan immigration office looking back towards Mexico. Worth noting — there are no signs for the office once you cross from Mexico – but if you just keep walking down the road, you will eventually see it. It’s not that far, but it’s a bit confusing with no signs. (You can see the actual sign over Tedly’s head in the previous picture – it’s rather small.)
The Tica bus waited for everyone to pass through immigration for the rest of the journey to Guatemala City. Worth noting — beware of the men offering to exchange your dollars and/or pesos for Quetzales – the Guatemalan currency. At all border crossings, not just in Guatemala, these ‘money men’ are aggressive and don’t give good exchange rates.
OK, I’ve now been on buses and through a border and it’s hour 15 and counting (or something like that). I’ve looked better, and I’ve looked worse (as you’ll soon see). Worth noting — our entire border crossing experience with Tica took us less than 45 minutes.
Worth noting — a pleasant surprise on the Tica bus: free Wifi! We were able to communicate with our next Airbnb host, and track our journey. Tica runs through Central America, and we are now fans so we will definitely use this company again.
Snack time on the Tica bus as another hour passes. Worth noting — this bus did not stop at all between the border and Guatemala City, so it’s helpful to have snacks and water, at the least. Also, there is a bathroom on this bus for emergencies.
Tedly took this shot while I was zonked in hour 18 or 19 or 20 of the journey. I share this with you because it’s funny and you deserve a laugh after reading all of these captions.
The Tica bus station in Guatemala City. We made it. Now we’ll enjoy a new place for a few days!