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  • Writer's pictureMarkus Miller

How To Get From Mexico To Guatemala By Bus [2022]

Updated: Jul 10, 2022

Are you planning to cross the border from Mexico to Guatemala by bus?

Search no more! In this article I show you exactly how to get from San Cristóbal de las Casas in Mexico to either Lake Atitlan or Antigua in Guatemala (which is the most popular route).

NOTE: The easiest way is to book a direct shuttle. This option costs between 55 and 95 USD, depending where you go and which company you choose.

If you want to save a good amount of money and take the more adventurous route, here is an easy guide (it might look like a lot of different steps, but it's actually really doable):

Table of Contents:

  1. San Cristóbal to Comitán

  2. Comitán to La Mesilla

  3. La Mesilla to the border

  4. Border crossing by foot

  5. Border to bus-terminal

  6. La Mesilla to Huehuetenango

  7. Huehuetenango to Xela

  8. Xela (outside) to Xela (center)

  9. A: Xela to Lake Atitlan or B: Xela to Antigua

Photo by Shreena Bindra

1. San Cristóbal to Comitán (Colectivo)

Duration: 2 h

Cost: 70 Peso (MXN)

The mini-vans to Comitán leave across the street of the ADO-Bus station which is a 15 -20 mins walk from the center of San Cristóbal.

The drivers shout “Comitán” and as soon as the mini-van is full, they depart.

They go quite frequently the whole day and start early morning.

Public buses in Mexico are called colectivos. They usually have a fixed price and everybody pays the same. However, when taking public buses in Guatemala (aka chicken buses) you most certainly have to bargain with the conductor for the correct fare, so I always ask locals how much they pay. If you want to save money, it's good to agree with the conductor on a fair price before entering the bus.

2. Comitán to La Mesilla (Colectivo)

Duration: 2 h

Cost: 65 MXN

In Comitán you arrive at a small terminal where the mini-van to the border is already waiting. Just ask for “La Mesilla” or the border to be sure.

You buy a ticket at the booth and you’re good to go.

NOTE: They will bring you not directly to La Mesilla, but to a small town close to the border (Ciudad Cuauhtémoc).

3. La Mesilla to the border (Taxi)

Duration: 10 mins

Cost: 10 - 50 MXN

In this small town you get off directly in front of the Mexican immigration office. You need to go in, show your passport and you’ll get a stamp that confirms your exit of Mexico.

Then you can take one of the taxis waiting there which will bring you to the actual border (La Mesilla).

It costs 50 pesos for the ride, so if you split it by 5 people, it is only 10 pesos each.

Overstayed your visa in Mexico? For those of you wondering how the Mexican authorities handle that issue… Well, if you overstayed your visa by more than 7 days, you have to pay a fine of 638 pesos (only payable by credit card). It doesn’t matter if you overstayed 8 days, 100 days or 2 years. If you overstayed 7 days or less, you don’t have to pay at all. Of course I can't guarantee that it will be like this when you will cross this or any other border. Also, you shouldn’t take it as an opportunity to deliberately overstay in Mexico.

4. Crossing the border (By foot)

Duration: 10 mins

Cost: For Free!

The taxi driver drops you at the last possible point. From there you have to walk for about 5 mins across the border. You show the Guatemalan immigration officer your passport, you’ll get a stamp for a CA4-visa (which allows you stay for 90 days in the four countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua) and you’re good to go.

We also exchanged Mexican Pesos to Quetzal at a fairly decent rate with a guy at the border.

COVID-19: Currently you need to be either fully vaccinated or show a printed PCR-test to enter Guatemala. We didn't print our tests, so we needed to search for an hour in La Mesilla for a copy shop. It's definitely easier to print it out in San Cristóbal.

5. Border to the bus-terminal (Tuc-Tuc)

Duration: 5 mins

Cost: 5 - 15 Quetzales (Q)

After passing the immigration office there are some tuc-tucs that bring you to the bus station. It takes about 5 mins and it cost us Q 5 per person.

Even if you're 4 people, going in a tuc-tuc is always a lot of fun!

6. La Mesilla to Huehuetenango (Chicken Bus)

Duration: 2 - 3 h

Cost: Q 30

At the bus terminal you take the bus to Huehuetenango. The conductor asked us for Q 50 in the beginning, but after a bit of bargaining we managed to pay only Q 30 per person. I guess the local price is still a few Quetzal lower.

7. Huehuetenango to Quetzaltenango (aka Xela) (Chicken Bus)

Duration: 2 h

Cost: Q 30

In Huehue you arrive at a big bus station where the bus to Quetzaltenango (aka as Xela) is probably already waiting. We went to the bathroom, got some snacks and hopped on. We paid another Q 30 and it took us again around 2 hours.

8. Xela (outside) to Xela (center) (Taxi)

Duration: 15 mins

Cost: Q 20 - Q 80

Unfortunately big buses are not allowed to enter the city center of Xela, so the bus dropped us at a random gas station a bit outside the city.

We took a taxi for Q 80 to the center. Since we were four people, it cost Q 20 each.

Since we arrived pretty late, we spent one night in Xela before continuing the next day to Lake Atitlan...

If you want to spend the night in Xela, Casa Seibel is a quiet and cozy place that offers comfortable dorm beds for 6 USD/night. They also have private rooms for 16 USD/night.

I've heard Kasa Kiwi Hostel is a calm and relaxed place as well. Dorm beds cost 7 USD and privates 19 USD.

Both hostels have normal dorm beds, so this can be a welcoming change if you're used to bunk beds. Of course you can also stay for a while and explore the city...

Anyway, the last journey is from Xela to Lake Atitlan or Antigua - depending where you are heading.

For both destinations you need to go north of the city where the buses depart (location).

Ask for the bus to "Los Encuentros" or "Chimaltenango" (or directly for Atitlan or Antigua).

9A. Xela to Lake Atitlan (Chicken Bus & Mini-Van)

Duration: 2 - 3 h

Cost: Q 50 - Q 60

From the bus stop in Xela the bus goes on the main highway (approx. 1 h, Q 30) until they drop you at the intersection to Lake Atitlan (location).

There you have to wait for a mini-bus going to Santa Clara (approx. 30 mins, Q 7).

In Santa Clara you get dropped off at a random corner where you wait for a Chicken Bus to San Pedro (approx. 20 – 30 mins, Q 15 – Q 20).

(The road going down to the lake is really cool!)

Looking for a place to stay in Lake Atitlan?

I can recommend Tzunun Hostel in San Pedro. It is quite basic, but has a cool garden to hang out (see picture at top). It is really affordable for 6 USD/night and only a 5 mins walk from the main tourist road.

If you're looking for some quiet time, the village Santa Cruz might be perfect for you. I can recommend La Iguana Perdida in Santa Cruz. It's a quiet and super cozy place for 8 USD/night.

San Juan is only 5 mins by boat from San Pedro. It's a small, authentic village where I met some super friendly locals. A good place to stay is Eco-Hostel Mayachik 10 USD/night).

9B. Xela to Antigua (Chicken Bus)

Duration: 3 - 4 h

Cost: Q 75

You take the same bus but you stay on it until Los Encuentros (approx. 1.5 h, Q 30). There you change to Chimaltenango (approx. 1.5 h, Q 30).

Prepare yourself for an intense ride! The bus driver goes full-speed through a windy mountain road.

In Chimaltenango you change to a direct bus to Antigua (approx. 45 mins, Q 15). The last bus is around 5 pm.

Looking for a place to stay in Antigua?

Tropicana Hostel is a quite famous one where you'll easily meet other travelers. It costs 10 USD/night.

If you're traveling in a group, I can totally recommend to stay at Hotel Posada don Valentino! You can have a nice private room, including free breakfast for as little as 10 USD/person.

It also has a well-equipped kitchen if you want to cook.

How long does the whole journey take?

We tried to make it in one day from San Cristóbal to the lake, but ended up staying one night in Xela. If you’re really committed, you can make it in one day starting really early in San Cristóbal. However, I don’t recommend traveling at night.

Are you going the other way - from Guatemala to Mexico?

No problem, it’s basically the same steps but in reverse.

A friend of mine went the other way (from San Pedro to San Cristóbal) and made it in one day. She left at 5 am from San Pedro and arrived quite late in San Cristóbal.

If you want to make it in one day, you should aim for the direct chicken bus to Quetzaltenango close to the main church in San Pedro. It leaves at 4, 5 and 6 am.

Are you going from Lake Atitlan to Antigua (or the other way round)?

From Lake Atitlan it is only around 3 hours by bus to Antigua. You can always book a shuttle, but here is how to get there by yourself:

1. Direct Chicken Bus To Antigua:

Duration: 3 h

Cost: Q 30

There is a direct chicken bus from here in Panajachel leaving at 7 am (approx. 3 h, Q 30).

It goes also the other direction from here in Antigua at 7 am.

2. Multiple chicken buses to Antigua:

Duration: 3 - 3.5 h

Cost: Q 55

If you don't want to wake up early, you can also go the "normal" way. It doesn't take much longer, but you need to change buses 3 times and costs a few Quetzales more.

  1. Wherever you start at the lake, first you need to get a boat to Panajachel.

  2. At the main road you can take a bus to Sololá (approx. 30 mins, Q 5)

  3. In Sololá you change to a bus to "Los encuentros" (approx. 30 mins, Q 5)

  4. Our bus dropped us here where a bus to Chimaltenango was already waiting (approx. 1 - 1.5 h, Q 30 - 40)

  5. From there a direct bus leaves to Antigua (approx. 1 h, Q 15; last one at 5 pm).

3. Direct shuttle:

Duration: 2 - 3 h

Cost: 48 USD

You can book a direct shuttle between Lake Atitlan or Antigua.

There are also shuttles to and from the airport in Guatemala City (for 25 USD).

Are you looking for some amazing things to do in Guatemala?

In this article I show you 7 cool things you can do in Guatemala!

Are you continuing further down south?

Here is everything you need to know to get from Guatemala to El Salvador.

Here is everything you need to know to get from El Salvador to Nicaragua.

NOTE: Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Safe travels and enjoy your trip!!

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