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ADO night bus and Mexico-Belize border crossing

In cooperation with: Visit Mexico
Central Finland...
Level Contributor
12 posts
6 reviews
2 helpful votes
ADO night bus and Mexico-Belize border crossing
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Hello! I'm very confused about how to manage the border crossing while traveling by ADO overnight bus from Playa del Carmen to Belize City.

Why do I need to leave my belongings to the bus when I go to immigration? I've read somewhere that I need to walk or take a ride to actual border, is it true? Where does the ADO bus go then? I'm worried about how do I find the bus and my backpack after crossing is done?! Some people said that I even need to change the bus terminal and find another continuing bus in Belizean side. Still don't get it why should need to leave my stuff in to the first bus if I have to change the bus..

I feel very uncomfortable to cross the border alone at nighttime with very low Spanish skills. Can you please explain how to survive? I've never crossed any border by this method. Thanks!!

15 replies to this topic
Yucatan Peninsula...
Destination Expert
for Yucatan Peninsula, Chetumal
Level Contributor
12,472 posts
1. Re: ADO night bus and Mexico-Belize border crossing
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Some of the confusion might be because there are two border crossing points. The ADO bus uses the new crossing, and is easy (except for the extortion by Mexican Immigration). Here's what happens...

Visitors leaving Mexico must first stop at Mexican Immigration -- the bus stops right beside the Immigration booth. Bus passengers get off the bus, without luggage, and present their passports with FMM to the immigration officer. The Officer will keep the FMM, and stamp & return the passport. Luggage remains safely stored in the luggage compartment of the bus.

Whenever I have crossed, Immigration has always asked (in Spanish) for money. Years ago, it was only 100 pesos or US$10, but now it’s 533 pesos. Beware! This could be a scam. If you know that you have already paid the DNI or Mexican Tourist Tax fee, then there is nothing to pay at the border, and here’s where you have to show the receipt from the airline or bank. THERE IS NO DEPARTURE/EXIT FEE — this has been confirmed by the Embassy of Mexico and the Mexican Honorary Consul in Corozal. Visitors who know that the DNI fee has been paid but can’t prove it, can try arguing (sometimes it works), but I just get back on the bus and continue to Belize. For a laugh, try asking for a receipt. Visitors who have not already paid the fee, will have to pay it at the border.

The bus proceeds across the bridge to Belize, and stops at Belize Immigration & Customs. With your luggage this time (because you go through Customs), enter the Immigration & Customs building. Citizens of Canada, USA and many other countries do not pay any fees when entering Belize, and their passports are stamped allowing a maximum stay of 30 days. Citizens of some countries require a visa which sometimes can be arranged at the border. If not, it must be obtained before entering Belize. Continue to Customs, and then exit the building. Turn right to find bus waiting in the parking area.

In the daytime, money changers wait near the Immigration Building -- I don't know about nighttime.

About 20 minutes after leaving Belize Immigration/Customs, the bus will stop at Corozal. The next stop is Orange Walk, then Belize City.

Some of the questions you have seem to be regarding the other border crossing, and getting to the border from Chetumal. None of that concerns you on the ADO bus.

Hope this helps.

Cozumel, Mexico
Destination Expert
for Cozumel, Merida
Level Contributor
53,103 posts
168 reviews
130 helpful votes
2. Re: ADO night bus and Mexico-Belize border crossing
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MrB describes it well. Very easy , other than officials trying to collect fees in varying amounts. You may get by without paying, you may not.

Central Finland...
Level Contributor
12 posts
6 reviews
2 helpful votes
3. Re: ADO night bus and Mexico-Belize border crossing
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Thanks, it does help a little bit! :) I have my e-ticket bought from ADO website and the ticket says:

ORIGEN/FROM

PLAYA DEL CARMEN ALTERNA (red text)

PLAYA DEL CARMEN

DESTINO/TO

BELICE CITY (red text)

CHETUMAL

Does that mean that the bus actually goes via Chetumal and the crossing is different from what you kindly instructed?

Yucatan Peninsula...
Destination Expert
for Yucatan Peninsula, Chetumal
Level Contributor
12,472 posts
4. Re: ADO night bus and Mexico-Belize border crossing
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First, are you aware of the two bus terminals at Playa del Carmen? The "Alterna" terminal is the one on 20th Avenue at Calle 12 (12th Street).

It shows "Belize City" as the destination, so it looks like the ticket is correct. I don't know why it shows "Chetumal" because that bus does not go to to Chetumal (at least it never did).

The bus will cross at the new crossing point because buses are no longer allowed to cross at the original crossing.

Cozumel, Mexico
Destination Expert
for Cozumel, Merida
Level Contributor
53,103 posts
168 reviews
130 helpful votes
5. Re: ADO night bus and Mexico-Belize border crossing
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Not certain why it says Chetumal. You will go directly to the border just as described by MrB. You likely already know the ADO Alterna is the terminal on 20 in Playa del Carmen.

6. Re: ADO night bus and Mexico-Belize border crossing

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Central Finland...
Level Contributor
12 posts
6 reviews
2 helpful votes
7. Re: ADO night bus and Mexico-Belize border crossing
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Okay, thanks a lot for both of you! I hope I will get through alive :D I'm very nervous because this is my first this kind of trip to Central America (been only to Mexico City).

And yep, I have read about two different ADO terminals. The Alterna was the only one that I could choose when I bought the ticket. There seem to be no connection between PDC Turistica and Belize City.

Yucatan Peninsula...
Destination Expert
for Yucatan Peninsula, Chetumal
Level Contributor
12,472 posts
8. Re: ADO night bus and Mexico-Belize border crossing
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I can't check an old ticket because I didn't keep it. On the way south, the bus stops at Tulum and Bacalar (where there might be a change of driver), and the bus I was continued directly to the border. The town at the border is known as Subtiente Lopez.

If you're concerned about the trip, why did you choose the overnight bus rather than the daytime bus?

I'm interested in how you bought your ticket. Did you buy it from the ADO website? Many people have reported that this is not possible with a foreign credit card. Maybe the system has changed. Some people buy on-line using the ClickBus website.

Cozumel, Mexico
Destination Expert
for Cozumel, Merida
Level Contributor
53,103 posts
168 reviews
130 helpful votes
9. Re: ADO night bus and Mexico-Belize border crossing
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Cilla, it's normal to have no choice of bus terminals in Playa del Carmen since most Long haul buses depart from the Alterna.

I am also curious as to how you bought the ticket online.

Central Finland...
Level Contributor
12 posts
6 reviews
2 helpful votes
10. Re: ADO night bus and Mexico-Belize border crossing
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Yes I bought the ticket directly from the ADO website and paid it with a virtual credit card of Revolut mobile bank (which is physically based in United Kingdom).

About why choosing a night bus, I thought it would save time to travel and sleep one night on a bus. I have few other overnight (and also daytime) bus journeys during my trip, so I hope this first one goes easily and teach me how to do it.

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