The cheapest way to get to Belize

Flights to Belize aren’t cheap but if you’re traveling from the US or Canada there is an option that will save you some money. What you must do is fly into Cancun, Mexico and catch the overnight ADO Bus to Belize City. It is also possible to rent a car at the airport (don’t forget to get vehicle documents to cross the border) or hire a private transfer but at $616.00 pesos/ $48.00 USD, the bus is so much more economical.

cancun to belize ado bus

Related: Belize on the cheap + backpacking guide + money saving tips

When I went in December 2014, with $200.00 I flew from Toronto to Cancun on Air Canada and when it was time to come back, I had to pay $605.00 from Belize City to Toronto with a 5 hour delay in Atlanta. As you can see there’s a huge difference.

I’ve flown into Cancun a few times and usually take a bus to Playa del Carmen and spend a couple days there before heading to Belize but this time I decided not to take the regular detour because I wanted to be in San Ignacio for Christmas.

Here’s how the journey went:

My direct flight from Toronto took 4 hours but for the lucky few that are flying from the Southern United States it is much closer. Houston to Cancun is 2 hours and 20 minutes and from Miami it is only an 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Getting off the plane you’ll notice the airport is very busy and well developed. The only immediate difference that will let you know you’re in Mexico (the tropics) is the humidity. If not, visit the bathroom and you see it’s filled with young men and women handing you toilet paper in exchange for tips. Haha.

ado bus booth at cancun airport

After customs and immigrations you’ll see the exit gate, take a right and walk for a few minutes until you arrive at a mini airport checkpoint. Tell the guard you’re looking for the ADO Bus and he will show you where to go. Once you’re at the ticket booth, say you’re interested in the Cancun to Belice viaje ($48.00 USD) – there’s only one trip a day and it leaves at 10:15PM. There isn’t a way to book this beforehand so try to get there early, preferably before 3PM (BTW, don’t forget about Mexico’s time difference).

The overnight bus to Belize doesn’t leave from the airport therefore you will have to go to the ADO bus terminal. You can either take a taxi or catch the airport bus which costs $50.00 pesos/ $4.00 USD.

ADO Bus cancun bus terminal

The bus station is a safe place but I suggest you don’t wander too far. Since I needed access to Internet I walked a block to a McDonalds for the free Wi-Fi. To be honest I didn’t feel too safe, but if you’re traveling with a crowd it shouldn’t be a problem.

ADO bus schedule to belize from cancun

We left at 10:15PM, the bus stopped for a few passengers at Playa del Carmen, then Tulum. After we crossed the Mexico and Belize border (there is a $25.00 USD departure fee at the Mexican border) the bus did two quick stops at Corozal and Orange Walk before arriving at the Belize City bus station at approximately 6:30AM.

ADO Bus Cancun to Belize City route

Belize City water taxi to Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye

Take a $3.50 taxi to the Caye Caulker Water Taxi terminal or San Pedro Belize Express terminal, both offer the same service. It costs $15.00 to Caye Caulker and $20.00 to Ambergris Caye. Receive $5.00 off if you book round trip tickets but I’ve always found that the hassle of worrying that it gets lost isn’t worth the savings.

caye caulker water taxi schedule

san-pedro-belize-express-watertaxi-schedule

OR… Chetumal water taxi to San Pedro or Caye Caulker

If you’re heading directly to San Pedro or Caye Caulker you also have the option of taking the ADO bus to Chetumal (these leave frequently from Cancun or Playa del Carmen) and catching a water taxi to the Cayes. There are two Belizean water taxis that depart daily at 3PM from Chetumal’s Muelle Fiscal (Municipal Pier). It is best if you are there a couple hours before it departs so that you can secure a spot on the boat. The water taxi ride takes approximately 2 hours and costs $30.00. Mexican officials are at the pier and after processing your documents they will charge you a $5.00 port fee + $25.00 departure fee.

N.B. If for any reason the boat to the Cayes is overbooked, catch a taxi to the Mexico/ Belize border and after clearing customs and immigration, you can catch a $2.00 collectivo taxi to the bus station in Corozal. Local buses leave every 1/2 hour to Belize City.

Belize bus schedule from Corozal to Orange Walk, Belize City and Belmopan

From Belize City, local buses that travel to all areas of the country depart every fifteen to half hour.

If I didn’t have a friend who was picking me up, I would have taken a 3 hour bus ride to San Ignacio. The bus takes long because it makes frequent stops – at least a couple times in each village. You’ll here the locals shout “right here” and the bus pulls over to the side of the road.

Click here to see a few destinations in Belize.

local Belize bus

Return ticket to Cancun?

You can buy your Belize City to Cancun ticket 7 days in advance. I strongly suggest you purchase it if you can because it gets sold out quickly, especially during the high tourism season of December, January, February, March and April. At the Belize City bus station the ADO booth opens at 5:30PM but the convenience store named Reliance Store sells tickets throughout the day.

The bus leaves every evening at 7:30PM and arrives at approximately 5:30AM at the airport before reaching its final destination at the ADO Cancun bus station. It costs $48 from Belize City to Cancun and $44.50 to Playa del Carmen.

ADO Bus booth in Belize City

 

With this helpful guide…you’re on your way to having a better Belize vacation!  Cheers 🙂

 

Comments

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About Lorenzo Gonzalez

Lorenzo Gonzalez is the founder of Belizeadventure.ca, a resource for travel information on Belize. He enjoys traveling, social media and Paranda music. Contact him at lorenzo [at] belizeadventure.ca. Learn more...

24 Responses to The cheapest way to get to Belize

  1. Nathan Baker January 25, 2015 at 2:52 PM #

    Nice guide. It should be noted that the DNI fee is normally included in your airfare (not always). To avoid paying it again as a "departure fee" be sure to get a PRINTED and ITEMIZED receipt from your air carrier. The fee will most likely be coded as UK or such and be around $22US. If the Mexican immigration guy doesn't have something to staple to your DNI form you will have to pay $25US. I might also note that if you opt to go to Playa del Carmen rather than Cancun that you must switch to another ADO terminal there to catch the Belize bus.

    • Nathan Baker September 24, 2015 at 11:35 PM #

      Update to note that I made this trip two weeks ago and the Immigration ladies tried to tell me that my receipt wasn’t good enough. They relented when I insisted they write down their names for higher authorities. Once again I was the only one on the bus that wasn’t forced to pay. Although the DNI fee is legitimate for most travelers it isn’t $25USD anyway but rather $300 pesos, so one may assume these officials are at least pocketing the difference (if not most all of it).

  2. Caribbean Colors March 31, 2015 at 9:13 AM #

    Very informative post, however there is one correction to note: the boat ticket from Cetumal Mexico to San Pedro is $40 u.s and to Caye Caulker is $50 u.s.

    • Stephanie February 2, 2016 at 12:31 PM #

      Price is now $60 U.S. ONE WAy per person, from Chetumal to San Pedro. Plus whatever other fees they create and extort.

  3. Steve Ahluwalia August 1, 2015 at 4:23 PM #

    This is really helpful! Thanks.

  4. Ellen Ross August 4, 2015 at 4:03 PM #

    So what was the total cost with all the departure taxes, etc.?

  5. Taylor Kohlman September 7, 2015 at 8:14 PM #

    This is an extremely helpful article. I actually stayed in a hostel a few blocks away from the ADO bus terminal in Cancun and the area actually seemed quite safe. I plan on returning this December and travelling from Cancun to Belize using the info you provided.

    • Cecilia January 25, 2016 at 4:47 PM #

      Hi Taylor… any chance you can recall the name of the hostel by the bus terminal in Cancun, or is there only one in the area? Thanks in advance for your help! 🙂

  6. Tereza September 22, 2015 at 3:46 PM #

    Very helpful article, thank you. Please, do you have any information about purchasing a bus ticket to Belize in Playa Del Carmen? I know the bus stops there, but have not found any info about purchasing ticket directly there & opening hours.
    We will arrive to Cancun 17th Dec at 3AM, I plan to order online a shuttle bus and go to Playa for 1,5 nights. After recovery we plan to take the night ride 18th Dec to Belize and continue to San Ignacio.

  7. Denise November 22, 2015 at 3:20 PM #

    Are you not able to now purchase the round trip tickets on the ADO website ??

  8. Alice Richardson December 11, 2015 at 3:36 AM #

    Just to add, while this is cheaper than the flight it's not the cheapest way to get between Cancun and Belize. We did the journey last week….ADO bus Cancun airport to Chetumal (runs approximately every hour, 2nd class bus 240 pesos/$14, first class 368 pesos/$21), taxi from ADO terminal to local bus terminal (25 pesos/$1.50) and then local chicken bus straight through to Belize City (12 Belize $/$6). Locals in Chetumal were very helpful and if you just tell the taxi driver you want the bus to Belize they will take you to the right terminal. Total journey time was about 11hrs including border formalities and waiting for buses etc. Obviously people may prefer the night bus option but there is another (cheaper) way!

    • Alex December 16, 2015 at 10:22 PM #

      Yes, chicken bus (they are in fact repainted school buses) is cheaper than overnight bus. But I am not sure that school buses go during night hours, and with flight arrival at 4 pm or later you arrive to Chetumal around midnight.

  9. Alex Mh December 17, 2015 at 3:14 AM #

    Few minor errors:
    1) Bus from Cancun to Belize stops at Chetumal – not at Corozal, obviously.
    2) Airport ADO shuttle for $MXN 50 is $CAD 4, or about $US 3 (at that time in 2014).
    3) There is no $US 25 exit fee from Mexico. This is a delayed "entry fee", and it's already included in plane ticket to Cancun, cost ~ $US 22, price in $MXN is increasing as peso is dropping. Technically you don't have to pay it, but it's difficult to prove that it was included in plane ticket.

  10. Desiree kantrim December 26, 2015 at 2:31 PM #

    I’m flying into Cancun on Jan.5 and have to get to Corozal from there. I understand the ADO bus is the best way to go. Can you tell me what is the best way to go about getting a ticket,
    I’m scheduled to arrive in Cancun at 5:15pm and I’m hoping to get to Corozal that same day- or night ! I’m elderly, walk with a cane and would appreciate the easiest way to accomplish this !! Thank you for your reply Desiree

    • Lorenzo Gonzalez December 26, 2015 at 2:35 PM #

      At the airport their are booths that sell ADO bus tickets. Ps The bus takes 5-6 hours from Cancun so it might be hard to get to Belize on the same day.

  11. Allison Ali Kocar January 21, 2016 at 10:25 PM #

    Did you have any trouble entering Belize City despite the fact that you had not booked your return bus yet to Cancun? I keep reading that you need proof of onward travel…. but I don't see anywhere where you mention this in this article. Thanks so much for the info!

    • Stephanie February 2, 2016 at 12:33 PM #

      Price is now $60 U.S. ONE WAy per person, from Chetumal to San Pedro. Plus whatever other fees they create and extort.

  12. Stephanie Madill February 2, 2016 at 5:28 PM #

    Hi Alice, did you get hit up for an exit fee from Mexico? I'll be making this journey with my children, age 5 and 8, and want to head off these cash grabs.

  13. Stephanie Madill February 2, 2016 at 5:29 PM #

    I'm hoping my return flight from Cancun to Toronto will be sufficient proof I'm not planning to stay.

  14. William Mudd February 16, 2016 at 1:30 AM #

    My wife and I are traveling to Cancun, arriving there Thursday morning, February 18, 2016, and want to bus Corazol, Belize on Sunday, February 21st. We wish to return to Cancun from Corazol on Tuesday, February 23rd. I have had no success contacting the ADO bus company from the US and it is important that we obrain tickets for these dates. Any suggestions on how to ensure we get tickets in time? Please respond to muddtribe@comcast.net
    Thanks you,

  15. Val Jukosky February 28, 2016 at 11:16 PM #

    Once you arrive in Cancun go to the ADO bus station in the city of Cancun (not in the hotel zone) and purchase your ticket to Corazol. Once in Corazol you can purchase your return ticket to Cancun right at the bus station.

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