Getting to Yucatán: Arrival City, Flights, Transportation
Choosing your Arrival City
The options for international air travel are Mérida and cancun. Mérida is about 1.5 hours from Pisté by first class bus and 2hours 15 mins by 2nd class bus. In contrast, a 1st Class bus from Cancun to Chichén Itzá is 2.5 hours and a 2nd Class bus is 5 hours or up to 7 hours if you travel during the day. Mérida is closer to Pisté in other words, but travel in and out of Cancun is cheaper. Depending on the season the cost could be as much as $100 to $200 less. This savings would be balanced or offset by ground transportation costs. Thus, if you are planning on traveling post-program or even pre-program to Caribbean México or even Belize, then Cancun is the only real choice. But, if your inclinations are to travel into Mé proper, e.g., Chiapas, Oaxaca, or central México, then it seems that Mérida is the better arrival-departure city.
Great prices for Cancun are under $400 and under $500 for Mérida. Remember that all the advertising for cheap flights are based on less than 30 day travel. Thus, your flights, being over 30 days, will be more expensive than the deals you read about. Also, this additional cost in extended stay sometimes makes the trip to Mérida comparable to Cancun fares.
Mérida (MID). The only direct flight into Mérida from the USA is the Continental flight that leaves IAH Houston around 6:30 to 8:30 pm (varies by season) and arrives 8pm to 10pm in Mérida. All other airlines that travel to Mérida will direct you through México City -- called DF or Distrito Federal in Mé. If you are traveling from the West Coast or the western/mountainous side of the big Midwest (Central States), this is all very good and ultimately the better option for you instead of flying another hour east to Cancun. If you are coming from the East Coast, Midwest, or the South you are better taking the Continental-Houston connection to Mérida (on the assumption that Méridais the arrival city). If not you would be routed say Miami or Atlanta to México City to Mérida, which means that you are better off traveling through Cancun -- not only is that airport cheaper, but the routing would be superior.
is the major airline that services Mérida. Travel is primarily
through Houston (IAH). Northwest Airlines is partners with Continental
and can be used for these flights from your location to Mérida
via Houston. Given the merger of Delta and Northwest (April 2008), you may be able to get a flight "on Delta" to Merida via the Continental IAH-MID route. If you can get a flight into/out of Mérida for under $500 including taxes, you have a good deal, especially if this is an over 30 day pricing.
All the Mexican airlines fly in and out of Mérida
via México City DF and have multiple flights per day. The major Mexican airlines are: Mexicana, Aviacsa,
Aeroméxico. USA airlines partner with Mexican companies to get you into Mérida. Thus, your major travel points from the USA would be Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles via DF on Delta, United, American, or US Air.
Again, Cancun is a cheaper airport due to the high volume of travel compared to Mérida. It is also ideal for those coming from the South, East, Midwest, or Central States. Even if you are coming from Texas, there are going to be good deals to get to Cancun. For participants who are planning independent trips along the Caribbean, Maya Riviera, or Belize and even Guatemala, either before or after their
participation in an OSEA program, Cancun is the best option. See airlines tab.
Air travel between Cancun airport and Mérida airport. Previously the Mexican airlines had flights between these cities, but as of 2008 it seems that these have been much reduced if not eliminated entirely. Aerocaribe, Aviacsa, and Aeromexicana would be the ones to check for this on their own web site. You will not be able to find a flight between these cities (except via Mexico City!) on Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity and the like. The least expensive mode of travel is
the bus transportation between Cancun and Merida. Students who use the
Cancun airport must secure their own travel to the OSEA headquarters
in Mérida. These travel costs are assumed by the student and
are not the responsibility of OSEA. Instructions are available here.
Regional Bus Service
ADO and Oriente are the main bus lines for the region. ADO is 1st Class Service and Oriente is regional, second class bus service. Oriente is great for travel between Pisté and Mérida or between Pisté and Valladolid. But, do not use the Oriente 2nd Class service to long distances, i.e., Cancun to Pisté, Chiché or Mérida. It is also not recommended for travel from Pisté to Tulum, Playa del Carmen or other points south.
There are two online websites for checking bus routes/prices in Mexico. For the website with all bus companies, including those servicing north and central Mé check http://www.ticketbus.com.mx . The primary bus company that services Yucatá Peninsula is ADO. You can check their schedule directly at http://www.ado.com.mx
The Mérida 1st Class bus station is called ADO Tame. Use this station for checking bus routes/prices.
There are only two bus companies in the Yucatan Peninsula to serve the Merida-Cancun-Chetumal region. In contrast to other Spanish speaking countries, the buses are formally referred to as Autobuses in something of an Anglicism and informally as camiones. In some countries such as Guatemala camion means truck not bus; camionetas are trucks in Mexico.
The autobus companies includes first class ADO service with red and white buses and the second class Oriente line with orange and white buses. Typically these share the same bus station or terminal in Mexican Spanish, as is the case in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. In Merida, there are separate, and more than one of each, ADO and Oriente bus stations.
The main ADO First Class and Oriente Second Class bus stations in Merida are on Calle 69 with cross streets of Calle 68 and Calle 70. "ADO Centro Historico Tame" : It faces Calle 69.
See Map below. To walk to the bus station from downtown take Calle 62 south until you hit Calle 67A and the church, turn right walk past the park with the church until you see Called 69. Walk two blocks to the bus station on your left.
Airport Ground Transportation
Ground Transportation from Mérida airport.
For approximately $180-200 pesos or about $10-18 US you can get a taxi from airport to the downtown or bus station. This service has been regulated and there is now a taxi kiosk -- located to the left of the curb when you exit the airport. You pay for the ticket and get an official receipt.
Bus service is also available if you have small change in Mexican pesos -- the bus is five pesos to ride. It will take you downtown, about 2-3 blocks from the very center of the city in about 20 minutes. However this is not recommended fresh from international travel, unless you already know the city of Merida and you are not overburdened with bags. Note, there is no danger to you in walking around with a lot of bags any where in Yucatan or Caribbean. Its a question of the hassle of carrying them.
Cancun Airport to Cancun Bus Station.
Private taxi (estimated
US $30-40), hotel shuttle (flat $9 US), and local bus ($4) are available to get from
airport to bus station in downtown Cancun. The taxi will take 20 minutes. The shuttle will
take 1-2 hours depending on the other passengers on your shuttle. The
shuttle traverses the entire hotel strip before getting the town of Cancun.
The local bus is now THE BEST choice to get from downtown Cancun to the Airport: It is cheap, direct, and runs every 30min (on the hour and half hour) in both directions. This is Bus Station to Airport (domestic and international terminals). To get the bus after an international arrival, purchase your ticket at the last stall on the left after having collected your bags and gone through customs. It is ADO bus to Cancun. If you forget you can buy a ticket at the restaurant-bar kiosk outside to the right (there are bathrooms there as well).
Ground Transportation to/from Cancun Airport.
After collecting your bags from International travel you pass through Customs. You head out the glass doors and turn RIGHT (there is a restroom to the left). Walk toward the exit past all the commercial hawkers selling condominiums, realty, etc. The last stall on the left before the Time-Share hawkers is the ADO Bus ticket. Get a ticket for $40 pesos, or $5US to get to the Downtown Cancun Bus Station. You can also buy a ticket here for Playa del Carmen or Tulum if you wish. If you walk out of the building you will not be able to return, but can buy your bus ticket at the restaurant-bar kiosk to the right of the door (past all the taxi and hotel shuttle drivers). The ADO bus to Cancun or to Playa/Tulum is on the dock to the RIGHT. Stay close to the building. The guy who is NOT hustling you is the guy who will take your ticket for the bus. The bus leaves every 30 minutes.
On return to Airport on the ADO Bus (Cancun Bus Station to Cancun Airport), you want to make sure that you get off the bus at the DEPARTURES Terminal, not the arrivals. In the middle of the Cancun bus station is a stall that says "airport" . Line up here and get your ticket, buses leave every 30min. on the hour and half hour.
Airport Shuttles To Cancun Airport FROM Maya Riviera
(e.g., Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Puerto Morelos, Akumal).
There are a variety of commercial shuttle services with varying prices. The least expensive service are shuttles that have a regularly scheduled time to make pickups at various hotels. This can be in the $15-$20 range. Most expensive are invidivualized shuttles for which you specify the exact time you want to be picked up. Search on "airport shuttle service" plus name of your departure location, for example: Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Tulum. You can find options on these google map:
Cancun Airport Shuttles From Playa del Carmen
Cancun Airport Shuttles From Tulum
Note that the car and passenger ferry that ran from Tampa-Progresso-Puerto Morelos has been indefinitely suspended.
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