How to get from Mexico City to Oaxaca: Buses made easy
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This guide will take you through all of the top tips and FAQs people have when taking buses from Mexico City to Oaxaca, based on my latest experience of this journey in November 2022. I’ll let you know all about what the journey is like, how to book and what to prepare for.
Oaxaca is a beautiful place to visit and well worth the journey, so buckle up and get all the info you need to make your bus experience as smooth as possible?
Once you’ve read this guide to buses from Mexico City to Oaxaca, check out these posts:
The journey takes 6 and a bit hours, including a quick toilet break at the below truck stop halfway through.
In order to not waste a day to travel (and to save money on a night’s accommodation!) I’d recommend you take this as a night bus, and that you get the one of the buses scheduled latest in the day in order to not arrive too early in Oaxaca.
Taking a bus from Mexico City just before midnight, you can expect to arrive in Oaxaca for 6:30am when the sun is still rising.
Who offers buses from Mexico City to Oaxaca?
ADO is the bus company that provides direct buses from Mexico City to Oaxaca route.
They are the biggest bus brand in Mexico and are generally very reliable. Their operations are pretty slick and buses usually leave on time. All of their long-haul buses have aircon.
Bus travel in Mexico is not as cheap as it is in other parts of Latin America, but ADO do tend to offer decent quality for what you pay. The amount they ask for the cheapest ADO buses from Mexico City to Oaxaca is around $27 USD on today’s exchange rate.
Which type of ADO bus should I book?
ADO offer several types of buses from Mexico City to Oaxaca that you can take. These buses all have similar departure schedules and their travel times are more or less the same, but the difference is the level of comfort you want to travel in.
– AU bus
This is the cheapest direct bus that ADO offer from Mexico City to Oaxaca, and to be honest although the price seems nice (starting from $27), I’m not going to recommend that you take it for a 6-and-a-half-hour journey.
The inside is super basic, there are 49 passengers squished into it, there are no toilets on-board and reclining is at a minimum.
– ADO bus
This sub-brand goes by the tagline ‘first class’, but it’s really smack-bang in the middle in terms of quality. This is where you start to see better amenities like screens in the cabin, USB slots and a toilet on-board.
You’ll be travelling next to a maximum of 43 other passengers.
Take these buses from Mexico City to Oaxaca if you don’t mind compromising on comfort for the sake of savings.
The real deal! Platino gives you all the frills – plush seats that recline further, individual screens in the back of the seat in front, not one but TWO toilets so ladies don’t have to deal with men loosely aiming their pee on a moving vehicle, free WiFi (which actually works most of the time!), free drinks & earphones and USB connections. Leg space is pretty good and you get a leg-rest pull-out.
You also get free access to the Platino lounge in bus terminals at both Mexico City and Oaxaca, and generally get treated like a better human being.
It also only has 27 passenger seats, so the chances of someone calling their entire family on loudspeaker at 12am are much reduced (sadly I still got hit with this situation though…).
Will I get food on-board the bus?
No, none of ADO’s buses from Mexico City to Oaxaca offer food on-board, although Platino will offer you a choice of drinks (water, Sprite, Coke, etc.) when you get on.
Make sure you’ve brought enough water to get you through the night, and snacks if you think you’ll need it during the 6-and-a-half hour bus journey. Most food places in TAPO terminal are open as long as there are buses departing.
Food stalls will be open in the Oaxaca bus terminal by the time you arrive if you’re worried about where to get breakfast.
Where can I buy bus tickets to Oaxaca?
You can, of course, rock up to the bus terminal in Mexico City and buy your bus tickets directly from the ADO ticket desk on the day. This guarantees you get the absolute cheapest price, and is possible at any time of day – the ADO bus ticket desks are open as long as there are still departures. You will need a form of identification to be able to buy a ticket.
However, this way obviously risks not getting a seat at all which is not something you’ll want to do when aiming to catch the last bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca in that day. The higher quality bus brands tend to get fully booked, so I would instead recommend that you book ahead of time through a trustworthy aggregator like BusBud.
How to get to the bus terminal in Mexico City
The Mexico City to Oaxaca buses leave from the TAPO terminal (aka Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente) which is just east of the historical centre, but far enough into the outskirts for things to feel a little bit less rainbows and roses.
It’s therefore recommended that you take a licensed taxi or Uber to the bus terminal, especially if you’re travelling at night.
If you’re coming in straight from the airport, a taxi to TAPO terminal will cost around $5 USD for the 10-minute ride. Centro is closer to the bus terminal, so an Uber will be less than $4 USD.
What amenities does the TAPO bus terminal have?
The TAPO terminal is a big roundhouse with food places and seating in the middle, ranging from local fast food to a sit-down café and a Domino’s pizza stall. You won’t struggle to find a place to sit down!
There are toilets for a small fee upstairs, and a Santander bank. You’ll also find several DeliMart convenience stores to stock up on drinks and snacks before your journey.
Even better, if you book a Platino level bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca, you get free access to the Platino lounge which is filled with plush sofas, has stronger wifi, free coffee & soft drinks and much cleaner toilets. Highly recommend.
How safe is it to take the bus Mexico City to Oaxaca?
– Safety in the terminal
To be honest, while I was probably a little on edge at the time due to being a solo female traveller who had just landed in Mexico a couple of hours before, in hindsight the TAPO bus terminal wasn’t an awful place to spend time waiting for my bus to Oaxaca.
Directly outside the bus terminal and in the tunnels can feel a bit dodgy, and my taxi driver warned me to get straight inside, but once in things seemed a lot more chill.
At night, there can be some odd characters and I got approached once by an old man asking for spare change who disappeared very quickly when everybody said no, but it’s far from the chaos that I’ve seen elsewhere in the region.
Be on your guard, don’t entertain people asking you for favours or money (or better, don’t even acknowledge them, especially at night) and keep all your stuff touching you at all times. Tie bags together or loop them round the leg of a chair when possible.
– Safety on the bus
Generally speaking, you can price out most opportunist thieves by simply buying a ticket for a bus they can’t afford.
I’m never going to tell you not to be alert on any night bus in Latin America, but with the right precautions in place you should reduce your risk significantly.
From Oaxaca bus terminal, you’ll be able to pick up a taxi from the rank directly outside. It’s a small terminal so impossible to get lost! Taxis into the city don’t tend to operate on a meter but will cost in the region of 60-100 MXN ($3-5 USD), depending on which part of the city you’re going to (it was 60 MXN up to Casa Ángel Hostel, where I highly recommend staying).
What do I do in Oaxaca?
Not sure what to do with your time in the beautiful city Oaxaca yet? There is SO MUCH TO DO HERE.
These are the top traveller-recommended activities:
Now you’ve reached this end of this guide to buses from Mexico City to Oaxaca, check out these posts: