Cheap Travel in Mexico
You have three options for traveling in Mexico – by car, bus, or plane. There are no trains to speak of. If you drive, you can take the pay highways (expensive) or the free ones (confusing and dangerous).
Flying around Mexico is a great option. Three airlines go everywhere: Volaris, Aerobus, and Interjet. If you want to fly, start checking their websites a few weeks early and check often because big deals come up. I use Volaris to fly to the states – they have direct flights to Chicago and several cities in California. I have flown for $200 US round trip, and they still give you free drinks! Also with Volaris, if they are late (something like more than an hour), they will refund your money. You have to call them for your refund and use it within something like 3 months or a year, but why not?
Probably you will do most of your traveling by bus. Rather than an overpriced, inefficient near-monopoly like Greyhound, Mexico has numerous bus companies that go all over the country with big price variations. The best buses are more comfortable than airplanes, but then domestic flights can be even cheaper than those! If you like to rough it, like me, you can get a very uncomfortable and unreliable bus across the country for very cheap, as low as 20 dollars for a 20 hour trip.
In the major, official bus stations (there are four or five in D.F., including Tapo, Terminal Norte, and Observatorio) you will find mostly first class buses. But like I said above, if you use a first class bus for a long trip, it will probably be more expensive than a flight. Really there is no reason to travel to somewhere like San Cristobal de las Casas or Cancun by first class bus – if you fly it will only be a one hour flight and probably cheaper!
If you want to travel really cheap, you have to seek out the second class buses. I know a few for destinations south.
In D.F. there is a line called FYPSA. It is near the Blvd. Pto. Aereo metro stop. Ask directions. There are no reservations so show up an hour early.
In Oaxaca city there is an entire terminal for second class buses. It is next to the Central Abastos, a huge market about 15 minutes from the center of town. Here you can travel all over Oaxaca and to Chiapas for cheap.
Several bus company offices for Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutierrez or San Cristobal de las Casas are located near the Candelaria metro station – ask for directions in the market outside the metro. They cost only 300-350 pesos for the long trip south. The company I used was Viajes Aury. I don’t know if they have websites, but most of the buses leave in the late afternoon, like between 4-6.
Same for returning to D.F. or traveling around Chiapas – avoid the first class buses. Combis, small passenger vans, go everywhere.
Once you are in small towns, the second class bus companies are much easier to find. Palenque in particular seemed to be quite a hub. I saw buses for Cancun and all points in between for very cheap, like 300 pesos. Also combis go everywhere from here.
It’s true that Mexico’s first class buses are incomparably luxurious, with big reclining seats and free food. But you will pay!