ADO buses are the best way to travel around Mexico. They don’t cost that much and as far as my experience goes are safe.
Before leaving for my adventure I didn’t find many useful info and everything I got was in spanish anyway so I’ll try to write about the things you need to know.
Mexico’s bus network is modern and widespread, better than Italy’s for sure. Every city has its own bus station with a ticket office, wait room, bar, lockers and depending on how big it is I’ve even found little markets inside. Except for Mexico City, every bus station looked new and was very clean.
Every city is linked to those nearby (and some not so near too) more than once every day. Except for Yucatan and Quintana Roo I almost travelled Mexico coast to coast using only buses and it was great.
Every bus I got into was comfortable and clean with a WC, some buses also have TVs .
From best quality to worst the name of these buses are: ADO Platinum, ADO GL, ADO e OCC. ADO Platinum and ADO GL are wonderful and very very comfortable!! ADO e OCC are regular buses with WC.
This is the best money can buy. This buses are comfortable with large, fully reclinable seats. They also have the support for your legs and feet as you can fully lay down. Where available, Platinum passengers have a private waiting room at the bus station with water, tea and coffee always available. When boarding the bus a hostess will give you a welcome kit with a night mask, earplugs, water, a blanket and a pillow. Every seat has its own television screen.
A little less comfortable than Platinum, but still an excellent solution to travel at night. The seats are almost fully reclinable but they are still comfortable enough to sleep even though there is no support for the legs. You will get almost (there’s no blanket) the same welcome kit as the Platinum class. The TV is centralized and there are 2 or 3 screens.
These buses are good but not in the same category of GL and Platinum. I’m sure they are more than adequate for travelling by day but they aren’t good for night travels. Of course I travelled by night from Palenque to Merida in one and it wasn’t good. Albeit soft and comfortable the seats only recline a little, 30° at best. There is no welcome kit either.
The seats are not reclinable and they aren’t that comfortable but hey at least they are cheap! Try not to use them or at least don’t do night travels on these buses.
Pros and Cons of Using Buses to Travel in Mexico
ADO Platinum and ADO GL are real comfortable and you can sleep like a baby in those. The others are not bad either but not the best for sleeping.
The other real option to travel from one big city to another is to take a plane and buses are much more cheaper. You might argue that renting a car could be better but travelling by bus at night saves you a lot of time plus it is safer, driving in the night is not really safe in some states.
Usually the driver has the AC way up and it can get cold during the trip, be sure to always carry at least a sweater with you.
Drivers tend to push on the pedal and mexican roads are not that straight so if you have a weak stomach be sure to take some pills before the trip. I found San Cristobal to Merida road is especially curvy and bumpy to the extent that I couldn’t sleep because I was falling from my seat at every turn.
Because of the roads’ conditions travelling by bus is slower so I wouldn’t advise to do it by day or you will lose a lot of daylight time.
Where to Buy the Tickets
You can buy your tickets online on the ado bus website but it’s only in spanish. Same goes for the smart phone app. Since my spanish is weak I decided to go and try to explain myself to the worker at the box office.
We bought the tickets at the box office at the bus station. With the exception of Acapulco where we arrived by air, we booked the tickets to the next city just right after arriving to the current one.
I think this is the way to do it because sometimes at the station you can take advantage of special promotions and also select you seats.
How Much Do They Cost
Considering the alternatives (car, airplane) they are the cheapest option.
The long (6 hours or more) trips in night buses cost from 35€ to 55€ with ADO Platinum and ADO GL while ADO and OCC sit in a cheaper, about 15€ to 30€ price range.