Bus Travel — Oaxaca
The state of Oaxaca can be reached from the north, east, and west by executive and first-class buses, although the routes are all long hauls, regardless of the direction. Most of the bus routes from the north go directly to the city of Oaxaca, while the ones from the east pass through Salina Cruz and the ones from the the west pass through Puerto Escondido.
Within the state, second-class buses and colectivos provide inexpensive transport to smaller cities and pueblos, along with what can often seem like every nook and cranny in between. For general information on traveling by bus in México, read the article "Bus Travel — México," and for specifics on traveling by bus within the state, including a list of bus stations, lines, and routes, read the article "Getting Around By Bus — Oaxaca."
There are four major bus stations in Mexico City, conveniently located on the north, east, south, and west sides of the greater metro area. Generally speaking, Terminal Central de Autobuses del Norte provides service for all points north, Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente, or TAPO, to the east, Terminal Central del Sur to the south, and Central de Autobuses del Poniente to the west. All of these stations have direct executive and first-class service to the city of Oaxaca. But because of its east-side location, TAPO is the preferred station for travel to and from the city of Oaxaca, with at least a couple of dozen buses running daily to and from the ADO First-class Bus Station in Oaxaca City. Nevertheless, anyone passing through the other stations should just continue on from there unless they are planning on staying overnight in México City, in which case the extra effort of getting to TAPO may be worth it.
The duration of the trip can vary widely, taking anywhere between 6 and 10 hours, depending on the bus station, the departure or arrival time, but mostly because of the traffic in Mexico City. During the weekdays, it is best to time arrivals and departures to avoid rush-hour traffic. TAPO is also located on the Metro line, making the rest of the city easily accessible, especially the airport and the downtown area near the Zócalo, a favorite of travelers.
For more information on traveling between México City and Oaxaca City by bus, including schedules and fares, read the article "México City Bus — Oaxaca City, Oaxaca."
From the city of Puebla several buses run daily (4 hours).
From the state of México, west of México City, buses run daily from Tlalnepantla (7 hours).
And heading south from the neighboring state of Veracruz, buses depart daily from many cities throughout the state (6-14 hours).
There are no buses that travel direct from US border to Oaxaca. To reach Oaxaca by bus, or anywhere in the interior of México, a bus has to be taken from the Méxican side of the border. There, buses leave continuously, headed south.
To cross the border, either take a bus or walk. Conveniently, most buses from the US that venture into México drop their passengers just south of the border at a bus station. For those on foot, once across, haggle with a cabbie for a ride to the nearest bus station. Either way, crossing involves stopping at an immigration booth to fill out some simple forms.
Slowly, Méxican bus companies are going online, though, for now, most schedule information and ticket purchases must be obtained in person at the station. It's prudent to show up with pesos, as travelers checks and credit cards might not be accepted. And remember, reserved tickets are often nonrefundable, so be sure not to miss the bus.
To our knowledge, Matamoros, farthest east on the border, has the only direct bus service to the city of Oaxaca. Otherwise, the quickest routes run through Mexico City's Norte bus station. There, buses leave continuously for the city of Oaxaca. In total, expect to spend 23 to 48 hours on buses, depending on a trip's origin.
A more scenic, albeit time-consuming, route follows the Pacific coast, easily accessible from California or Arizona. The Méxican border cities of Tijuana, Mexicali, and Nogales are good starting points, with bus service reaching deep into southern México along Pacific coast Highways 15 and 200. Figure a minimum of three full days of bus travel, although consider stretching this out to five days with some overnight stays. Along the way, overnight accommodations and transfers can be had in Mazatlan, Tepic, Puerto Vallarta, Lázaro Cárdenas, Zihuatanejo, and Acapulco, before finally arriving in Puerto Escondido. There, buses continue east on Highway 200 to Puerto Ángel, Bahías de Huatulco, and Salinas Cruz or north on Highway 131 to the city of Oaxaca.
And lastly, traveling overland by bus from the US involves some extremely long hauls. Not a good time to skimp by taking first-class, particularly on overnight trips. True, first-class is generally roomy and comfortable; nonetheless, executive, luxury, and deluxe have more leg and elbow room, as well as on-board bathrooms. Upgrading doesn't cost much more, and could make the difference between getting some sleep on an overnight trip or not.
From the West
Several buses leave Acapulco daily for Puerto Escondido on Highway 200. There, buses continue east on Highway 200 to Puerto Ángel, Bahías de Huatulco, and Salinas Cruz or north on Highway 131 to the city of Oaxaca.
From the East
Three long-distance routes, originating in northern, central, and southern Chiapas, lead to Oaxaca.
The northern route begins in Palenque, cutting an arc through the state of Veracruz, before dropping down to the city of Oaxaca.
The central route starts in Comitán, near the border with Guatemala, running west along Highway 190, through San Cristóbal de las Casas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, and Cintalapa, before entering the far southeastern corner of Oaxaca, passing through the southern Isthmus all the way to Tehuantepec.
The southern route originates in Tapachula, near the Pacific coast and the border with Guatemala, running northwest along Highway 200, paralleling the coast, through Huixtla, Pijijiapan, and Arriaga, converging with the central route at the far southeastern corner of Oaxaca at Highway 190, heading west all the way to Tehuantepec.
In Tehuantepec, passengers following the southern and central routes can continue northwest along Highway 190 to the city of Oaxaca or transfer to one of the many buses heading west along Pacific coast Highway 200 to the beach towns of Bahías de Huatulco, Puerto Ángel, and Puerto Escondido.
Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, Quintana Roo
From the states of Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo, the quickest routes are through Villahermosa, Tabasco. There, several buses run daily to the city of Oaxaca. Southern routes through Chiapas traverse some beautiful mountains, but the trip is long and winding.