Chetumal, Mexico to Flores, Guatemala by Bus
There are only a few options for transport between Mexico and Guatemala. One is to fly, this can be done from any of the major airports in the Yucatan such as Cancun, Merida, or even Chetumal. The cost is much higher than traveling overland however, with the lowest prices we could find starting around $180 per person. With a little patience you can dramatically reduce the cost of your travels if you are willing to go by bus. The trip is long, but not uncomfortable in any way, and you’ll be able to see a large part of the country of Belize as you pass through. Better yet, break up your trip to Guatemala by stopping in Belize for a couple of days or weeks. This article is a guide for traveling from Chetumal, Mexico to Flores, Guatemala by bus.
Chetumal is located on the border with Belize, and is a small Mexican city without a lot going on. It’s the perfect location for overland travel, being only 10 minutes away from the border. Most hostels and guesthouses can arrange your trip for you. We went with the tour company Marlin Espadas, because they picked us up directly from our hostel and were affordable at $40 USD per person for the 10 hour trip. Traveling overland to Guatemala will transport you to Flores, the beautiful and picturesque town on an island in the center of Lake Peten Itza. This is your ideal destination if you plan to explore the Mayan ruins of Tikal. If you want to stay somewhere else near the border, or a town on the route to Flores then the driver will stop to let you off.
Travel begins at 9:30am, but they will most likely pick you up around 8:40am from your hostel and take you to their main headquarters for payment and a small breakfast. Make sure you have prepared money for the Mexican departure tax ($30 USD as of 2017) as well as the Belize departure tax ($17 USD as of 2017). You can pay for the bus and Mexico’s tax in USD or in Pesos, and the Belize tax in USD or Belize dollar. You will read a lot of stories about how its not necessary to pay the Mexican exit tax and that it’s included in your original plane ticket to Mexico already, but this is most likely not the case, and the immigration officers at the border don’t really care to argue with you about that. The only way to prove if you’ve already paid your exit tax is to have an itemized receipt from your plane ticket that states the tax was included. This is most likely not the case if you only booked a one-way ticket into Mexico, but likely if you booked a round-trip ticket (but then you probably wouldn’t be exiting by land). The bus is comfortable enough, and your luggage goes at the back of the bus, not underneath, so there is not as much concern of anyone going through your bags. Your valuables are safe. Use the restroom at the main headquarters before leaving, as there are no bathrooms on the bus.
After leaving at 9:30am you will transfer straight to Belize city unless someone needs to get off in a town before. The trip takes about 2 1/2 hours, so make sure to stock up on water and a snack before you leave. First you’ll stop at the border and be stamped out of Mexico and pay your exit tax. The whole process takes about 20 minutes (depends on the number of people on your bus) and is quite relaxed. Then you’ll travel a little further before stopping at the Belize border and receive your stamp there.
Once you arrive to Belize city you will have somewhere between a 20 minute wait and an hour wait until your next bus leaves (yes you switch buses and drivers). This gives you plenty of time to go into the main center next to the bus stop and buy lunch and use the restroom. Box lunches from the restaurants cost as little as $4 USD ($8 Belize dollar) for rice and beans, meat, and potato salad or green salad. One of the benefits of overland travel is you get to experience another country that you may not be stopping in, and see all the small towns and villages along the way.
The next bus leaves around 1:30pm and heads to the Guatemalan border (2 hours). It will stop once on the way to use the restroom. Some backpackers asked to be dropped off in the beautiful Belize town of San Ignacio which looked like a traditional town with a few touristy areas. Once arriving at the border you will be stamped out of Belize (pay your $17 USD exit tax), and then you must walk across the street to be stamped into Guatemala (no cost for visa). From there the bus will pick you up again (same bus but a different driver) and you will be on your way to Flores (1.5 hours). You can also exchange money here for Guatemalan Quetzal, but the conversion rate is not the best. We received only 6 quetzals to the dollar, when in fact it should be 7 quetzal. The trip from the border drives through small towns and villages with spectacular views and quite a bit of jungle. You should arrive to Flores between 5:30pm and 6:30pm. The Marlin Espada company drops you off at the Green Monkey hostel, which you could book a room at if you haven’t pre-arranged accommodation. There are numerous options on Flores however that you can look into, such as Los Amigos or San Telmo.
A short video below shows the small towns you’ll pass in Belize.
Hopefully this post was informative for you on traveling from Chetumal, Mexico to Flores, Guatemala by bus! If you have questions or concerns make sure to contact us in the comments below! Please share with others traveling to Central America 🙂
If you’re traveling in the opposite direction, from Flores to Chetumal, then it’s just as easy in reverse! Make sure to check out all our advice on traveling through Mexico, such as travel guides to Izamal, Valladolid, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen.