If you’re like me, the promise of a Chichén Itzá-like destination without the crowds entices you to visit Uxmal. And if you’re also like me, you’re scratching your head about how to take a bus there.
Full disclosure: I took my trip with the intention of getting a confirmed bus schedule from Merida to Uxmal. If you’ve already done some research, you know how hard this is to find online. I had even planned on preparing a fancy bus chart for you.
I mean, how hard can it be to get a bus schedule from the bus station. Right?
So, while this post comes with fewer specifics than I had hoped, I learned a lot by taking the bus from Merida to Uxmal, and I think you’ll find it useful (and more current than a lot of other information online, thanks to readers’ comments).
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we might receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
READ FIRST: An Update
This article has had overwhelming success, thanks to our many readers who’ve shared their experiences.
As a result of their more recent endeavors taking the bus from Merida to Uxmal (and equally insightfully, from Uxmal to Merida), some of the information I share here may not be as applicable.
So, I encourage you to read the comments at the end of this post.
And I’d greatly appreciate hearing about your experience after you travel. You all are the reason why this article has become helpful to so many 😊
Getting Your Pronunciation Straight
Taking a bus to Uxmal from Merida isn’t straightforward, so you’re likely going to need to know how to pronounce this Mayan word when asking for help.
The letter “x” in the Mayan language has several sounds, depending on the context.
If you’ve been to Oaxaca, you know that the “x” sounds like “ha.” However, the “x” in Uxmal has an “s” sound.
The two-syllable word “Uxmal” is pronounced as follows: OOS-mahl
Are you still unsure how to pronounce Uxmal? This Vimeo video can help.
A Quick Background
I traveled from Merida to Uxmal in June 2021. Despite the relatively slow vaccine rollout in Mexico, things in Merida were mostly up and running.
In fact, since businesses seemed to operate as usual (minus the mask-wearing and temperature checks), it didn’t even occur to me that Uxmal might not be. However, upon arriving at the bus stop after blissfully wandering around the ruins, my happy, sweaty self learned that Uxmal had fully reopened the day of my visit for the first time since COVID-19 shut it down.
Needless to say, the four hours I ended up having to wait to catch a bus back to Merida would have been rough had I not been able to climb up the ruins and see them in their regular state.
But I’m jumping ahead of myself here.
My point that pertains to your trip is this: I traveled to Uxmal during a transition period with COVID-19. Therefore, the information I’m about to share may or may not be applicable by the time you travel.
And so, if you end up taking a bus from Merida to Uxmal, you’ll help out so many of our readers if you could please return to this post (perhaps while waiting for your bus back to Merida) and update us all on the current bus situation.
Thank you in advance! 😊
Bus Companies That Go to Uxmal From Merida
Everything I read online stated that the bus company TAME operates between Merida and Uxmal.
That wasn’t my experience.
In fact, during those four hours that I waited on the side of the street for a return bus to Merida, not a single bus passed other than the one I arrived on.
So, as of June 2021, I can tell you with certainty that the bus company Sur runs buses from Merida to Uxmal.
You can catch a Sur bus to Uxmal from the beautiful ADO bus station in Merida. Sur doesn’t have a set counter for their company, so just stand in the regular ADO line to purchase your ticket.
Purchasing a Bus Ticket to Uxmal
In non-Mexican fashion, the lady who sold me my Uxmal ticket wasn’t interested in answering my questions (to be fair, there was a line behind me).
However, the information I was able to squeeze out of her was this:
- Sur only runs one bus per day from Merida to Uxmal and it departs at 9:05 am from the Merida ADO bus station
- There is no return bus with Sur (I later learned this wasn’t true—more on this soon)
- Other bus companies pass by on the route so that I can get back to Merida (this wasn’t true either—at least not on the day that I visited)
Needless to say, she refused to sell me a round-trip bus ticket because of bullet points #2 and #3.
I can’t say I was disappointed since that offered me more flexibility, but I knew I was going to the middle of nowhere. For a moment, I even considered not making the trip as I pictured myself stranded on the side of the road overnight.
In hindsight, I’m glad I decided to wing it!
Bus Ticket Cost: Merida to Uxmal
My one-way bus ticket from Merida to Uxmal cost 84 pesos (about $4 USD). That was the price as of June 2021, and I purchased it directly at the ADO counter (remember, ADO doesn’t run buses to Uxmal, but you have to buy your Sur bus ticket at the ADO counter in Merida).
Update: A reader kindly informed us that the cost is now 97 pesos for a one-way bus ticket plus 10 pesos for the transportation card (as of May 2023).
When my return bus finally made its appearance in Uxmal, I gave my driver a 100 bill and he gave me back 15 pesos.
I certainly didn’t mind the 1 peso difference and would imagine he was low on change.
While we’re on the topic of cash, bring lots of it for your trip to Uxmal.
You have to pay for your bus tickets in cash, and you have to pay the entrance fee in cash (a massive 531 pesos per person for foreigners—nearly $29 USD).
It wouldn’t surprise me if you also have to pay for food and souvenirs in cash (although I can’t say from experience). I paid for everything in pesos, so I’m not sure if they accept dollars; the safest bet is to assume they don’t.
The good news is that there’s an ATM machine inside the entrance gates of Uxmal. So, as a worst-case scenario and assuming the ATM machine is working, you could take out money there.
Waiting at the ADO Bus Station
I had an hour to wait at the ADO bus station in Merida before taking my bus to Uxmal, and it was nothing short of impressive.
The bus station is a modern metropolis with air-conditioned seating areas according to the bus you take. However, once you pass through the doors of your seating area, you can roam freely between the rooms.
They have a little coffee shop and a well-stocked store. If you get lucky, you can snag some comfier chairs in front of the cafe.
Otherwise, they have ample seating in the waiting room.
The only downside is that I didn’t notice any outlets to charge a phone, and there definitely aren’t any on the bus.
The Bus Ride to Uxmal
Woohoo, you’ve made it to the bus!
Your bus driver will ask to see your pink ticket. They’ll keep that ticket and print out a small white slip through their on-bus ticketing system.
It seemed like a time-consuming extra step for the driver, but my guess is it has something to do with purchasing a ticket from the ADO counter.
The bus itself isn’t glamorous but it does the trick. There are two seats on either side of the aisle, and the windows are large for viewing and have curtains to block the sun.
You can sit wherever you’d like, so I recommend sitting on the driver’s side. That way, you’ll get better views of the cathedral in Uman when you pass through the town and views of the valley as you get close to Uxmal.
On my way to Uxmal, my bus had air conditioning. On the way back, the air conditioner was broken, so it made for a warm ride (and then a wet one once it started raining with the roof hatch open).
How Long Is the Bus Ride From Merida to Uxmal?
If you had your own car and drove straight from Merida to Uxmal, it would likely take you around an hour.
However, it took around 1 hour and 40 minutes for my bus to travel from Merida to Uxmal. That included picking up a few people along the way, a 5-minute stop in Uman, and a shopping stop in Muna for my driver so he could grab some food to go.
On my return trip from Uxmal to Merida, the bus ride took around 1 hour and 15 minutes.
What Are the Roads Like?
I really enjoyed the drive between Merida and Uxmal. It begins by crossing through Merida, giving you a better feel for the city outside its historical center.
The roads then rotate between straight-up highways, countryside back roads, and weaving between narrow streets in small towns (Uman and Muna).
If, after reading this article, you decide that renting a car is a better fit for you than taking the bus, I highly recommend stopping in Uman and walking around its historical center. It looked adorable from my bus window!
You’ll travel on paved roads, although the roads through the towns and in the countryside as you approach Uxmal have some potholes. They won’t toss you around too much, though.
For those prone to car sickness, the road gets a bit curvy as you approach Uxmal. But for the most part, you’ll be on straight roads.
Bus Stop in Uxmal
Your driver will already know to stop at Uxmal, not only because of your bus ticket but because you should ask them when they expect the return Sur bus to Merida to arrive.
The answer? It changed multiple times before I departed Merida and when I arrived in Uxmal after checking with my driver a final time.
My driver first told me the bus back to Merida would depart Uxmal at 3:00 pm. Then he changed that to 3:30 pm, then 3:15 pm, then 4:00 pm before he finally landed at 3:30 pm.
It wasn’t my driver’s fault, though—he was genuinely trying to calculate how long the bus would take, as it would be traveling from Campeche to Merida. I got the feeling he was new to the route, as he even called a coworker to double-check.
Anyhow, back to the bus stop.
Your driver will let you off at a new-looking bus stop area on the side of a country road. You’ll be directly in front of the driveway to Uxmal.
Walk along the sidewalk of that driveway (admiring the dozens of iguanas that will scoot around you) for about five minutes and you’ll arrive at the entrance to the ruins.
My Impressions of Uxmal
So, was taking the bus from Merida to Uxmal worth it?
I’m not going to lie—when I first saw the Uxmal ruins, I thought, I traveled all the way here for this?
I saw what people meant by saying it looks like Chichén Itzá and, given that I’d already seen that UNESCO site, I started regretting my decision to dedicate a day to visiting Uxmal by bus.
But after I walked behind the first pyramid my feelings changed—Uxmal offers many more opportunities for exploration and viewpoints over the ruins than Chichén Itzá.
It was worth every bus struggle, including my new reality: I had explored Uxmal in under an hour walking slowly, and it was only 11:30 am. I had a solid four hours to wait for a bus, if what my bus driver said was correct.
That said, if you have a guide explaining everything to you, I’m sure you could spend a solid two hours exploring the ruins.
I also traveled when several areas of the ruins were blocked off for maintenance. So, I imagine there’s more area to explore by now.
Tips for Visiting Uxmal
As mentioned before, you must carry a lot of cash to visit Uxmal. They have an ATM on-site, but it’s best not to rely on that in case it doesn’t work.
I purchased my Uxmal ticket in person. But in hindsight, I would have purchased it in advance.
The biggest thing I wasn’t prepared for upon my arrival was having my tiny handbag whisked away. Only water and cameras are allowed inside the ruins, and they’re super strict about this.
Most Uxmal visitors drive or arrive with a tour van, so the Uxmal employees send them back to their vehicles to leave their belongings.
Unfortunately for us bus-goers, we had to hand our bags to strangers so they could store them for us.
The storage is free and they give you a ticket with a number that matches the one they put around your bag. But it still felt like an extreme rule that you’re not allowed to enter the ruins with even a small purse.
How to Pass Time While Waiting for the Bus
There are snack shops, souvenir stores, and even a restaurant where you could have lunch inside the entrance gates of Uxmal.
Alternatively, you can visit the Coole Chepa Chi Restaurant, which is at a stunning hotel that you’ll pass on the 5-minute walk back to the bus stop.
Coole Chepa Chi has beautiful outdoor seating near a fountain and serves “Fine Yucatan Cooking,” including steaks and seafood.
It looks worth it if your budget allows. But we can only hope they accept credit cards!
You can also visit the Choco-Story Museum while you wait for your bus. This museum is located directly behind the bus stop and is open from 9:00 am – 7:30 pm.
Finally, if the heat isn’t too much for you, you could take a walk down the road. There’s little around except for the occasional vehicle, but you’ll see tons of birds, butterflies, and iguanas.
Taking the Bus From Uxmal to Merida
If there’s a silver lining in the challenges of taking the bus to Uxmal (aside from seeing the ruins, of course) it’s that the bus stop is beautiful.
I’m not talking about the kind of beauty on the other side of the road, which has a bus stop made of a sturdy cement structure built with carefully placed holes to allow for optimal airflow.
On the contrary, the bus stop you’ll wait at to take the bus from Uxmal back to Merida has three cement benches and a gigantic tree that serves as both a roof and shade. It certainly wouldn’t be a comfortable place to wait on a rainy day, but on the sunny day I visited, it was paradise.
As if it couldn’t get better than a nature-friendly bus stop, it’s easy to find. The bus stop is directly across the road from where you’ll have gotten off at when you arrived in Uxmal.
My entertainment over the course of nearly four hours included seeing hundreds of butterflies, watching a woodpecker feed her babies from the branch above my head, and chatting with a solo world-traveling Mexican woman. The time passed at lightning speed.
Having the words of the ADO ticketing woman replaying in my head about how a bus from another company might pass by, I didn’t leave my spot except to buy a bottle of water from a nearby snack truck.
The snack truck woman confirmed that the Sur bus should pass at 3:30 pm. And it would be the one and only bus, she said.
That proved to be true, with a 10-minute difference: It arrived at 3:20 pm instead of 3:30 pm.
Needless to say, I was both elated to have a bus back to Merida and a little sad to leave such a scenic, peaceful place.
The Taxi Option
A couple of hours into my wait at the bus stop, a taxi driver who had dropped a family off at Uxmal stopped by and asked me and the other woman waiting at the bus stop if we wanted a ride to the nearest town of Muna.
He said he’d charge us 30 pesos each (about $1.50 USD), and that there were more frequent bus departures from Muna to Merida—”Mm, like every hour, more or less,” he said.
He didn’t sound convincing, and based on prior research, I was under the impression that there aren’t many buses that pass through Muna, so we passed on the offer.
Note: Please read the comments for other travelers’ experiences on catching a bus to Merida from Muna.
Is Taking the Bus to Uxmal Safe?
As a solo female traveler, I was a little apprehensive about taking the bus to Uxmal because I knew the ruins are located in a remote area, and I was concerned about waiting on the side of the road alone for a bus.
Needless to say, there was no need to worry.
The bus stop sits in front of the entrance to the Choco-Story Museum, and there was a woman working the snack truck a mere 20 feet from the bus stop.
On top of that, Uxmal is located in the countryside, and it overall has a very safe vibe.
Will You Take the Bus to Uxmal?
Taking the bus to Uxmal isn’t for everyone. And honestly, if it weren’t for me spending a whole month in Merida, I probably would have tried to rent a car or join a tour to save time.
The Uxmal ruins are worth seeing, but the time commitment to arrive there by bus isn’t feasible for people working with a tight schedule.
If you end up taking the bus from Merida to Uxmal, consider purchasing your Uxmal entrance ticket in advance, and please stop by in the comments after your visit to let us know how it went.
The bus situation will continue to evolve, so the information you share will undoubtedly be valuable to future travelers.
Many thanks, and happy travels!
P.S.- Will you be visiting Progresso? Here’s some good news: It’s way easier than taking the bus to Uxmal. I put together a guide on How to Take the Bus from Merida to Progreso so you know where you need to go and when.
Also, check out my review on the Las Coloradas and Río Lagartos tour if you’re thinking about taking a trip there from Merida.