If you’re looking to travel from Mérida to Uxmal by bus, we’re sharing everything we learned during our experience so you can have an easy journey!
During our time visiting Mérida, one of the top things we wanted to do was visit some Mayan ruins! While Chichén Itzá, which is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, is the most famous set of Mayan ruins in the area, we set our sights on Uxmal instead, as we heard it was less busy and less crowded with vendors.
There are many different ways to get to Uxmal (pronounced “oosh-mahl”). You can drive yourself or hire a guide. After debating our options, we decided to be a bit more adventurous and head from Mérida to Uxmal by public bus!
However, there wasn’t a ton of information about taking the bus from Mérida to Uxmal. We were a bit nervous to take the bus. Not because of safety, but because information about times and bus schedules were not easy to find online. On top of that, we didn’t want to miss the return bus and be stuck out there.
But thankfully our experience went very smoothly! In this guide we’re sharing everything you need to know to travel from Mérida to Uxmal by bus. We include the step by step process, so you can have the confidence to make this journey for yourself!
NOTE: This information is accurate as of January 2023. Since things can change, please let us know in the comments below if you had a different experience. We’d love to keep this guide updated so that other travelers can benefit from it for years to come!
Looking for more things to do in Mexico? Check out our Mexico guides and vlogs!
- 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico (+ 3 day itinerary!)
- 10+ Yucatán food items to try in Mérida, Mexico (& where to get them!)
- Everything you need to know to visit the Uxmal ruins near Mérida, Mexico
- 5 Day Mexico City Itinerary
- Watch all of our Mexico Vlogs
About the Uxmal Ruins
Before we dive into all of the logistics of traveling from Mérida to Uxmal by bus, here’s a quick rundown of Uxmal’s history!
Uxmal was said to be first settled around 500 BC, although we read so many conflicting dates. It then grew in power in the ninth and twelfth centuries AD. And while the word Uxmal itself means “thrice built,” one of the most iconic buildings on the property, the Pyramid of the Magician, was actually made up of five temples built in different periods on top of each other.
Uxmal is said to be a perfect example of the Puuc architectural style that was practiced by the Mayans. From our understanding, this consists of a plain lower portion and a highly decorative upper section. These decorative upper sections are loaded with different symbols that held significance to the Mayans. One example is the rain god Chac, who held extra importance, as there were no natural water sources here.
It is estimated that around 20,000-25,000 Mayans lived at Uxmal until around 1200 AD. It’s not 100% clear why they left, but some theories claim it was due to drought, a degrading environment, or warfare. The site was rediscovered in the 19th century and excavated starting in 1929, with so much more to be uncovered!
Where are the Uxmal ruins?
The Uxmal Archaeological Ruins Zone is located a little over an hour drive south of Mérida, Mexico. You can get there by renting a car and driving, taking a taxi, hiring a guide to take you, or by taking the bus from the bus station in Mérida, which is what we will be explaining in this guide!
Have you decided you don’t want to take the bus from Mérida to Uxmal afterall? We’re sharing more about the other options, including different tour choices, in our guide to experiencing Uxmal!
Why take the bus from Mérida to Uxmal?
While driving ourselves or going on a tour to Uxmal would’ve been a more straightforward and easy choice, we had a couple hold ups:
1. We didn’t really want to drive in Mexico. While rental cars are affordable in Mérida, when adding up fuel and insurance costs, it was going to be more expensive than taking the bus. Plus it is a bit chaotic driving in the city and my car anxiety was a bit high in town. Driving outside of the city is a lot calmer though!
2. We heavily considered a tour and found a small tour that looked really good, but the guide was not licensed to guide us inside of Uxmal, so we would’ve had to pay for another guide inside the ruins, if we wanted. Hiring a second guide would be expensive and the tour itself was going to cost us at least $85 total, not including Uxmal entrance fees. We also didn’t like the idea of having time constraints on a tour, especially for us filming the experience. This concern doesn’t apply to most people though!
3. Hiring a taxi can be expensive and it’s one of the options we found the least information on, so for us, we didn’t feel comfortable going that route.
So we ultimately decided to take the bus and after taking the bus, here is a quick pros and cons list to help you decide if it’s right for you!
Pros of taking a bus from Mérida to Uxmal
– It is cheap! We spent around $398 MXN/$21 USD for both of us to get to and from Uxmal by bus.
– It felt more adventurous! While we do enjoy the comforts of a tour, we had just done a cenotes tour (which we loved!) and wanted to have the experience of exploring Mexico more on our own. One reason we like to travel is to get out of our comfort zone a bit and taking the bus felt less comfortable to us. Not everyone craves that feeling though!
– You don’t have to deal with driving yourself or the logistics of renting a car and getting Mexican car insurance.
– We had more freedom to explore on our own vs. going on a tour or with a guide, but still had the option to get a guide if we wanted.
Cons of taking a bus from Mérida to Uxmal
– While we had more freedom than a tour, you do have the slight restriction of the return bus schedule, although for most, you will not feel rushed. And if you find yourself having too much time, there are options to entertain you!
– Driving yourself or going on a tour will enable you to get to Uxmal earlier in the day. By taking the bus, you will visit when it’s hotter and also when crowds are slightly higher. We will share more about our experience with this later on!
– You may have to wait a while for a return bus, as they are often delayed.
– The bus can get full and if you’re one of the unlucky ones, you may have a less comfortable ride.
For us, the pros outweigh the cons, but everyone is different!
How to get from Mérida to the Uxmal Ruins by bus
While taking the bus from Mérida to the Uxmal ruins seems overwhelming, it ended up being a pretty straightforward process and we recommend it!
Below we are sharing the step by step process for traveling from Mérida to Uxmal by bus. This is based on our experience in January 2023. If you had a different experience, let us know in the comments. We’s love keep this post updated so others can stay informed!
Step #1: The bus schedule
Before heading to the Uxmal ruins by bus, the most important thing to know is the bus schedule!
During our visit, there were two buses that travel from Mérida to Uxmal. The first is at 9 AM and the second at 12 PM. The return buses from Uxmal to Mérida are one at 3 PM and one at 5 PM.
We personally took the 9 AM bus to the Uxmal ruins and the 5 PM bus back. This was only because filming our experience at the ruins took MUCH longer than the average visit. For the average visitor, we highly recommend taking the 9 AM bus to the Uxmal ruins and then taking the 3 PM bus back. This enables you to arrive before the hottest part of the day. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the ruins, visit a nearby attraction, and still get back to Mérida before dinner.
You will often hear stories about how the return buses are late. This is true and we will talk more about that under step #9. We’ll also share what to do if you need to find an alternate way back to Mérida.
Step #2: Get to the ADO bus station
Once deciding what bus you want to take to Mérida, you’ll want to head to the ADO Centro Histórico TAME bus station. This is where you’ll buy your tickets and catch the bus. This bus station is on Calle 69, between Calles 68 and 70 and is a few blocks southwest of the Plaza Grande. We suggest getting here at least 30 minutes before the bus just to ensure you have plenty of time.
This is a very nice, clean, and new looking bus station…we were impressed! Inside of the station there are a handful of shops and restaurants, including a Subway and a juice shop. There is also a luggage storage station (for a fee) and you can also find restrooms in this main area. Restrooms cost $7 MXN per person, so make sure to have cash on you!
Step #3: Purchase your Mérida to Uxmal bus tickets
While the bus station is for the ADO buses, there are other bus companies that run from here and the bus from Mérida to Uxmal is operated by SUR. However, you will use the ADO ticket counter to purchase your ticket. There is only one ticket counter area, so it is easy to find!
When at the ticket counter, we just told the ticket clerk that we wanted to visit Uxmal and he knew exactly what bus we needed, however if you want to double check, you can also say the “SUR bus to Campeche,” which is the actual route the bus follows, with Uxmal as one of the stops.
The cost for two round trip tickets to Uxmal and back was $398 pesos per person and was cash only. The clerk gave us a white receipt, a blue and orange fare card, which had our fares preloaded on it. They also a pink piece of paper with the bus times, where to wait, and where to catch the bus. Be sure to hang on to all items you receive! You will need the white receipt and the blue and orange fare card to get onto the bus.
We have read that in the past the ticket counter wouldn’t sell you a round trip ticket. This wasn’t the case for us, but in case it happens to you, be prepared with cash to pay the bus driver for your return trip. The return trip should cost under $100 MXN per person.
Update as of February 2023: Someone commented on our YouTube video about this bus ride stating that they could not purchase round trip tickets ahead of time (the day before) and were able pay by credit card…which is the opposite of our experience. So be prepared for any scenario!
Step #4: Waiting for the bus
After getting your ticket, you have two options. You can either spend time in the main part of the bus terminal and grab a snack. Or you can head to the waiting area for your bus, which are all designated by letters. For us, we had to wait in the “C” waiting area.
To get into this area, you’ll need to show your bus card and they’ll place it on a reader. We aren’t 100% sure if you can leave this area once going into it. We also do not recall seeing restrooms in this area, so make sure to use the restroom and be ready to go upon entering your waiting area.
In this waiting area there is a coffee shop and also a convenience store. We grabbed coffees, which were actually pretty good! As we waited, we were a bit confused about how we would know when to get on the bus. It was getting closer to the bus time and we weren’t sure of the process. So we headed out to where the buses were and looked at bay 22, which is where the clerk told us to go.
However, we noticed that the bus in bay 22 was a huge, purple ADO bus and based on our research, we knew we needed to take a SUR bus. There was a SUR bus in bay 21 and noticed quite a few people getting on it. We had a strong feeling that it was actually the bus we needed. So we asked some other tourists and they confirmed it was the correct bus and that we were all told the wrong bay number.
We got onto the bus and the driver took our card and paper, placed our cards on a reader, confirmed where we wanted to go, and then we were able to grab a seat. The bus was already super full! We found some seats in the back row together, but other than that, there were no two seats still available together. Others seemed to be confused about the bus bay mix up as well and more people joined even later than us. Some didn’t get a seat and had to sit on the steps at the front of the bus.
Based on our experience we’d suggest trying to get out to the bus much earlier than we did. We aren’t sure if the bus station ever announced boarding times, since we weren’t in the waiting area that early. So make sure to be vigilant about looking for your bus so you don’t miss it or don’t have to sit on the steps.
Step #5: Our experience on the bus
While the minutes leading to getting on the bus were a bit frantic, once on the bus it was smooth sailing!
The bus was pretty simple, but had air conditioning, which was a huge perk, especially on the ride back after sweating all day. There are large windows, which have curtains you can use to cover them if needed. Here are a few other insights into what to expect while on the bus!
Did it feel safe?
The bus station, the bus ride, and bus stop at Uxmal all felt extremely safe! Everyone was quiet (minus the driver’s music, which was bumpin’!) and minded their own business. And unlike our experience taking a bus to Teotihuacan in Mexico City, vendors don’t hop on to try to sell you anything. We weren’t sure if we’d feel comfortable having our camera out on the bus, but after getting on the bus, we realized we had nothing to worry about. It honestly felt safer than the bus I used to take to work everyday in Seattle.
What is the drive like?
The drive was a bit bumpy at times, especially closer to Mérida, but we also were in the back row, so I think we felt the bumps even more. At one point we hit a bump so hard that we got some air! Thankfully we had lids on our coffee and didn’t spill.
Once you get out of town, the roads get much smoother. And as you get closer to Uxmal, the landscape will all of a sudden turn pretty hilly and the road gets really windy for a little bit!
How long was the bus ride to Uxmal from Mérida?
The ride to Uxmal was about an hour and a half and the bus drove through the small towns of Uman, then Muna, before getting to Uxmal. We loved getting to see these small towns along the way!
The bus will likely make a couple stops in the town of Uman to let people on and off, but it seemed like most people were staying on the bus until Uxmal or even after Uxmal.
Step #6: Getting off the bus at Uxmal
The bus drops you off right alongside the road and the bus stop has a concrete, covered seating area, to provide some shade.
We honestly cannot remember if the driver announced that it was the Uxmal stop or not. You’ll see signs with ruins on them and it’ll be obvious that it’s time to get off, as you’ll likely have many other passengers getting off as well. We also tried to follow our route on Google Maps to see where we were along the way, but cell service was spotty on the drive.
Once getting off the bus you’ll walk to the right, down a road that leads to the Uxmal ruins. There will be signs to make it extra obvious! From here it’s just a couple minutes to the entrance.
Step #7: Experience Uxmal
Now it’s time to explore Uxmal! We are sharing everything you need to know to visit the Uxmal ruins in this guide, so make sure to read that to find out more information about the ruins, what to see while inside, what you can and cannot bring, and more! But here’s a quick rundown of what you should expect:
During our visit it cost $499 MXN per person (which is around $26 USD) to enter Uxmal, with the fee being less for Mexico and Yucatán residents (and free for them on Sundays). This includes a $90 MXN fee that you pay first and is cash only and then a separate $409 MXN fee which you can pay by card. We did hear that sometimes this card reader does not work, so we’d suggest having enough cash on you to pay for the entire fee.
If you want to hire a guide inside of the Uxmal ruins, which you can do once you enter, it costs $900 MXN, or $47 USD, for an English speaking guide. And if you want to film your time in Uxmal, it costs an additional $50 MXN (<$3 USD). No one asked us to pay this, but we wanted to be honest and not get in trouble later, so we paid the fee.
We hear that the entrance fee for Uxmal is constantly going up, so we would expect to pay more than this. You can often find the most recent price by reading Google reviews, but if you paid more, let us know in the comments!
How much time do you need?
While we spent way more time than most due to filming, for the average visitor, 2 hours would be plenty. This would allow you to see the main buildings, read signage (there aren’t a ton of signs), and take some photos.
Facilities at Uxmal
Inside of the Uxmal ruins you can find free restrooms, an ATM, a restaurant, a stand that sells drinks, a souvenir shop, and a bag storage area.
Step #8: Have extra time before the bus? Visit Choco-Story!
There is a good chance you’ll have some extra time before catching the bus back to Mérida. If you take the 9 AM bus, you should expect to arrive at 10:30 AM, which means you’d finish exploring the Uxmal ruins at around 12:30 PM. This gives you 2.5 hours before the 3 PM bus to eat some food (whether you bring your own or buy some at Uxmal) and check out Choco-Story!
Choco-Story is located right across the street from Uxmal (next to the return bus stop) and is a chocolate museum that costs $180 MXN (under $10 USD) per person and is worth the money in our opinion!
You walk between different huts, which each have different exhibits to see, including the origins of cocoa, why it was important to the Mayans and how they used it for trade, and the process of turning cocoa into chocolate. Between each hut is a beautiful outdoor walking path, surrounded by tons of vegetation!
They also have a Mayan ceremony every 20 minutes and there are also a few different rescued animals to see, all of which are unfit to be released back into the wild. We personally aren’t big caged animal fans, but we did enjoy seeing these animals.
During our visit we saw monkeys (which were entertaining to watch), plus two jaguars, one of which had been shot and had been rehabilitated to be able to walk again, although he was still limping some. We even got within inches of a jaguar’s face (with glass separating us of course), which was wild!
We ended our time in the museum by watching a chocolate demonstration and getting to try some drinking chocolate. They had some different spices you could add to it as well! This experience took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes, without rushing.
Right by Choco-Story is a snack truck called Papaya Orange Café and a Planetarium if you need a snack or something else to do!
Step #9: Catching the bus back to Mérida
The bus stop to return to Mérida from Uxmal is on the opposite side of the road from where you got dropped off. It has 3 benches and no concrete structure like the other side, but there are trees to provide some shade and it’s a nice nature-y setting!
A common issue we read on blogs was that the bus back to Mérida was often late and this was the case for our ride as well. We got to the bus stop at about 4:30 PM just in case the bus arrived early and hoped it would be there by 5 PM, but didn’t get our hopes up too much. And true to the stories we read, the bus pulled up around 5:36 PM. It didn’t bother us though, as we expected it.
We wouldn’t suggest arriving at the bus stop too much after the scheduled time though, just in case it is on time. Although we cannot speak for the promptness of the 3 PM bus that day, we’d expect it was probably 30 minutes late like ours was.
And compared to the 3 PM bus, which had quite a few people waiting for it, there were only 7 of us waiting for the 5 PM bus and there were plenty of open seats on the bus.
What to do if you miss your bus or don’t want to wait
If for whatever reason you miss the bus back to Mérida or don’t want to wait, you can hire a taxi from Uxmal and take it to the town of Muna, which is just southwest of Mérida, then take a collectivo van to Mérida. We don’t know the cost of either the taxi or collectivo, but imagine it would be pretty affordable.
Step #10: Make it back to Mérida!
The bus ride back to Mérida took about an hour and a half, just like the ride to Uxmal, and we arrived at the bus station at around 7 PM. Similar to the bus ride to the Uxmal ruins, it was a quiet, safe ride!
Looking for things to do back in Mérida? Check out our detailed guide with 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, plus tips for the city, suggestions of places to stay, where to eat, more day trips, and an itinerary!
Ready to travel from Mérida to the Uxmal ruins by bus?
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