Por la Carretera: From Texas to Guatemala by Bus

By Riley Lynch

“I ain’t goin’ on no airplane!”
– Mr. T as B.A. Baracus, The A-Team

Headed to the States, but hate to fly? If you have the time, and you don’t mind overnight buses, the overland route is cheaper than airfare, and fun, too. In February [2009], I traveled by bus from the border town of Laredo, Texas to Guatemala City. Here’s how.

A footbridge connects Laredo to Nuevo Laredo on the Mexican side of the border. Be sure to ask the agents for the tourist card, the Forma Migratoria Turista (FMT). It may not be offered unless you ask for it, and you’ll need it when you leave Mexico. If you plan to spend less than 7 days in the country, you may be able to get a no-fee version. Otherwise, take it to a bank to pay a 262 peso fee.

To hire a taxi without also buying a bus ticket from the sign-waving touts, walk a few blocks into Nuevo Laredo. A ride to one of the terminals can be had for 50 pesos. I booked the overnight ETN bus to León: ETN is the most comfortable, but also the most expensive.

Guanajuato city is a pleasant place to break up the trip. Connections from León to Guanajuato take an hour.

Otherwise, I’ve heard good things about Querétaro: That’s where I picked up two days later.

The challenge of the next and longest leg of the trip was how to get around, through, or otherwise past El Distrito Federal, Mexico City. Buses run between Querétaro and the Mexico City Airport. Those intimidated by the city will find nothing to fear from the clean and orderly airport bus terminal. There are frequent buses for Puebla (CAPU). From Puebla, I took the overnight bus to Oaxaca.

After a day of wandering around the historic zócalo (main square), I was ready to head for the border. An overnight ADO GL bus dropped me off in Tapachula,with an hour to spare before Galgos departed from the same station for Guatemala City.

I arrived in Guatemala City just after 5pm, almost six days exactly after leaving Laredo. The bottom line: Three nights on buses, three nights in Guanajuato and Oaxaca, 2,612 pesos in bus fare, and this story.

¡Buen viaje!

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