Taking the Bus from Merida to Uxmal: A How-to Guide

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?

Wrong.

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 at the moment).

Accessibility Note: If you’re planning on visiting Uxmal as a wheelchair user, check out our accessibility guide here.

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 sound variations. For example, if you’ve been to Oaxaca, you know that the “x” sounds like “ha.”

However, the “x” in Uxmal has an “s” sound.

This two syllable word is pronounced as follows: OOS-mahl

Are you still unsure how to pronounce Uxmal? This Vimeo video will help you out.

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.

Wow!

The four hours I ended up having to wait to catch a bus back to Merida would have been more painful 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

ADO Bus station in Merida.
ADO Bus station in 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!

A bus to Uxmal parked at the Merida bus terminal.
Sur bus that stops at Uxmal.

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 purchasing it directly at the ADO counter (remember, ADO doesn’t run buses to Uxmal, but you have to purchase your Sur bus ticket at the ADO counter in Merida).

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 461 pesos per person for foreigners—nearly $25 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’ll be taking. 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.

A cafe inside the Merida ADO bus station.

Otherwise, they have ample seating in the waiting room.

The only downside is that I didn’t notice any outlets to charge your 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 end up keeping that ticket and printing 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 your 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 in case the sun is too strong.

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 haha).

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, 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 Uxmal, 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, 15 minutes.

What Are the Roads Like?

I really enjoyed the drive between Merida and Uxmal. You’ll begin by crossing through Merida, giving you a better feel for the city outside of its historical center. The roads then rotate between straight-up highways, countryside back roads, and weaving between narrow streets in small towns (Uxmal and Muna).

A countryside road with orange flowering trees.

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 Uxmal 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. For the most part, though, you’ll be on straight roads.

Bus Stop in Uxmal

The concrete 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 pass by.

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.

Oy vey.

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 5 minutes and you’ll arrive at the entrance to the ruins.

A sign that reads "Uxmal."

Easy peasy!

My Impressions of Uxmal

So, was taking the bus from Merida to Uxmal worth it to me?

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’ve already seen that UNESCO site, I started regretting my decision to dedicate a day to visiting Uxmal by bus.

But then I walked behind the first pyramid and my feelings changed—Uxmal offers so many more opportunities for exploration and viewpoints over the ruins than Chichén Itzá.

A view of the famous pyramid through trees at Uxmal.

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.

Tips for Visiting Uxmal

As mentioned before, you must bring a lot of cash with you for visiting Uxmal. They do have an ATM on-site, but it’s best not to rely on that in case it’s not working.

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 over 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

Inside the entrance gates of Uxmal there are snack shops, souvenir stores, and even a restaurant where you could have lunch.

Alternatively, you could 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. They have beautiful outdoor seating near a fountain and the restaurant says that it 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!

Outdoor seating at the Coole Chepa Chi Restaurant.
Coole Chepa Chi Restaurant and hotel grounds.

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 literally nothing man-made around except the occasional vehicle, but you’ll see tons of birds, butterflies, and iguanas.

Taking the Bus from Uxmal to Merida

Getting on the bus from Merida to Uxmal.
Getting on the bus in Uxmal to go back 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 beautiful on the other side of the road, with 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.

The bus stop in Uxmal while waiting for the bus to Merida.
My four hour view while waiting for a bus back to Merida.

As if it couldn’t get better than a nature-friendly bus stop, it’s easy to find—it’s directly across the road from the bus stop 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 in the branch above my head, and chatting with a solo world traveler 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.

A snack truck near the Uxmal bus stop.

The snack truck woman confirmed that the Sur bus should pass at 3:30 pm—the one and only bus, she said.

And that proved to be true, with a 10 minute differenceit 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 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.

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 for a bus.

Needless to say, there was no need for 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. 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, please stop by here after your visit and let me know how it went. I imagine the bus situation will continue to evolve, so the information you share will help 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! Nevertheless, 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, I put together a review on the Las Coloradas and Río Lagartos tour, if you’re thinking about taking a trip there from Merida.