Riviera Maya is said to have such an exemplary bus system that not only does it rival those in the United States and Canada, but it is better than them. Because so much area is covered, it is important to look at the different offerings available – of which there are several – including first, second, and third class intercity buses, local buses, and collectivos.
The buses in Riviera Maya are highly rated, comfortable, and easy to use – even those considered to be third class. For many people, buses are the preferred way to travel not only within individual cities, but up and down the coast as they travel from town to town exploring the entire region for a low price. You can get to just about every location in the area aboard a first class bus from the main station a the junction of Juárez and Quinta Avenida in Playa Del Carmen, but many people will first get on the bus when they arrive at the airport in Cancun. Buses from both locations travel up and down Federal Highway 307 every day of the week from before sun up to after sun down. These long-distance buses are privately owned by companies such as , , and the most popular option, .
The experience of traveling on an inter-city bus is generally a good one. They are massive vehicles that are kept clean and feature comfortable seating, air conditioning, bathrooms, and sometimes have free WiFi or will show a movie for some of the longer rides. As previously mentioned there are first, second, and third class buses that travel through the region. The major difference between these lines is not the quality, but the amount of time it takes to get from one destination to the next. If you don't mind spending a little extra time on the bus and making more stops, you can save a bit of money.
Another service that travels from Cancun to Tulum and thus Riviera Maya is the collectivo. These are vans mini-buses that provide rides for between just 15 and 100 pesos or between around $1 and $8(USD). It is without a doubt the cheapest way to get around the region. To find a collectivo, simply walk out to the highway, wait until you see a van speeding your way, and wave your hand to signal that you're in need of a ride. The driver will pull over, get out of his seat, open the door for you, and close it behind you as you get in. Locals tend to use collectivos rather than the luxury buses, so you'll get a chance to meet some interesting characters as you ride. In general, you'll find that a new collectivo drives by every 15 to 30 minutes.
Not every town in the Riviera Maya has a local bus system. Those that do include Chetumal. Your experience on these buses will be slightly different than the inter-city buses. For starters, there are no limits to how many passengers can pack on the bus, so they are often overcrowded. It is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with locals. There are marked bus stops throughout the town, so it isn't hard to figure out how to get around.
Bus travel is certainly an option to keep in mind as you determine how you'll get around Riviera Maya. Not only are they clean and comfortable, but they are generally reliable, and certainly affordable. Used in combination with taxis and collectivos, tourists can avoid having to get behind the wheel themselves throughout the entirety of their stay.
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