One thing I hadn’t really done enough research on before arriving in Mexico was the buses between cities. We’d just thrown our lot in with ADO and booked 6 journeys with them as they had the nicest website.
Booking ahead was the best thing we did in advance of arriving.
By Mexican standards they’re not very cheap. By Gringo standards they’re very good value. By any standards they’re extremely comfortable.
Unlike the luxurious 10-seater business class buses of South America these are more like a normal coach, but with well-spaced, heavily padded seats.
The booking and boarding process are both very efficient, and luggage is kept reasonably secure.
The coaches have air conditioning which is cooling without being like the Siberian winds of a Venezuelan overnight coach.
Seats are allocated in order of purchase. Thanks to booking in advance we were never further back than the front three rows, so had a great view of the main window and the TV. The films on the monitor were consistently soppy romances, which is not ideal, but less distracting than some of the splatterfest horror movies shown on long rides in Chile.
The main benefit of being at the front was that the breeze from the driver’s window carried all the air backwards. This was a huge relief after queuing behind a man who clearly hadn’t used deodorant…or soap…for at least a fortnight. He stank beyond comprehension to the extent that we left the queue and stood off to one side. We watched a group of happy girls walk up and take our place behind him. The laughter stopped and their smiles turned to frowns. They looked at each other. They looked at him. They looked at his surprisingly attractive girlfriend. Then they burst out laughing and shouted “Dude, you stink!” Harsh but fair.
Now at the end of the queue we got on the bus last, to take our seats at the front. Looking back we saw the girls sitting in the row right behind the stinky dude. As the bus set off I expected to hear a faint whimper or some gagging, as the breeze wafted the air backwards. Eventually they got up and moved to an empty space near the chemical toilet, as it probably smelt fresher.
How to book tickets for ADO buses
Go to the ADO Buses website. (There are other companies, but the ADO website seems to work the best)
Enter the Origin(Origen) and Destination(Destino). Select whether it’s Return(Redondo) or One-way(Sencillo) and enter the date(s). Press Consultar and the site will display a list of times and prices. Between major cities buses leave every 30-120 minutes.
It may also display more than one class. The cheapest is Segunda Clase, which is pretty much a normal bus – no air conditioning and lots of stops. Primera Clase have reserved seats, lots of space, a toilet and movies. These only stop a few times along the route, if at all. De Lujo or Ejecutivo buses (Executive class) are available with lay-flat beds for long overnight journeys, but I didn’t see any either on the booking site or in the bus stations.
To book online you need to create a login and password, which is quite straightforward, especially if you use the Auto-translate feature of Google Chrome. Alternatively you can just go to the bus station and book the tickets in person. Note that there may be more than one bus station in town.
There’s also an FAQ on their site, answering questions about travelling with children and pets.
Be aware that ADO can and will change bus types, so your front row seat on a comfortable coach and suddenly become a back row seat on a cramped mini bus. We had this happen on the way to Chichen Itza, as there were not enough passengers to fill a bus. Unsurprisingly there’s no form of refund but thankfully it wasn’t a long journey, just a hot one.
Final note is to be aware of your luggage. There wasn’t always a ticket system for stowing your bags – it was just stacked by final destination. When you get off the coach you just point and get handed that piece of luggage so it would be easy for someone to walk off with a nicer piece.