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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,393
Marty Offline OP
OP Offline
This information is based on research undertaken in February 2009.

The cab drivers at Cancun airport have been jacking up the cost of a cab from the airport to Cancun. There have been reports of tourists being charged $50U.S. for this 20 minute ride.
Cancun airport is south of the city of Cancun. If your intention is to go south, then it makes little sense to first go north into Cancun.
There is an ADO shuttle bus that leaves the airport every hour to the southern city of Playa del Carmen. ADO is a Mexican bus line that provides first class service to the Yucatan region. The buses are either Volvos or Mercedes. They are air conditioned, have toilets, reclining seats and T.V. Traveling on an ADO bus is similar to traveling in an aircraft. The cost from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen is 80 pesos. Less than $8 U.S.

Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen in the 1980's was a sleepy village of 300 people. Less than 30 years later it has a WalMart. There is nothing sleepy about it in 2009. The main drag is Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue). A pedestrian thoroughfare which is home to bars, restaurants, retail stores and hotels. It runs parallel to the beach, one block inland. Streets in Playa are based on a grid system. Avenidas run north/south, Calles run east/west. Avenidas are numbered 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th. Calles are 2nd, 4th 6th etc.
There are 2 ADO bus stations in Playa. One is at the southern end of Quinta Avenida, (2nd Calle Norte) close to the ferry terminal to Cozumel. The other is at 20th Avenida and 12th Calle Norte. They are a 15 minute walk apart. A cab is 30 pesos.
The shuttle bus from Cancun Airport arrives at the terminal close to the ferry to Cozumel. This is good because all the cheap hotels are at that end of Quinta Avenida.

There are over 80 hotels in and around Quinta Avenida, the price range is from $50U.S. to $250U.S. per night. I looked at 5 hotels and stayed in 2.
Hotel Posada Freud, room had one queen sized bed. Between 8th and 10th Calle.
Maya Bric Hotel, between 8th and 10th Calle.
Hotel Pension San Juan, between 6th and 8th Calle
Casa Santiago Hostel, room had 2 double beds. Calle 10th, go towards the sea from 5th Avenida, it's on the right.
At $50 to $60 they are not fancy, but they all have bathrooms en suite and are clean and safe. Each can be found on the web.
If you do not wish to stay on Quinta Avenida, then the Hotel Maya Turquesa on Calle 8 Norte between 10th and 15th Avenida, is in a quiet neighbourhood.

Going South
If you survive the Tequila bars, the bus to the south goes from the ADO terminal on 20th Avenida and 12th Calle Norte. Just walk along 5th Avenida and turn inland on 12th Calle Norte. It is 3 short blocks away (15 minutes walk from any of the hotels mentioned above.)
Buses to Chetumal (the Mexican southern border with Belize) run at 6.20, 7.20, 9.20, 10.50, 11.50, 12.25, 13.20, 14.35, 15.10, 16.35, etc.
The journey time is 5 hours with a 10 minute stop after an hour at Tulum. Make sure you have warm clothes because some Mexican buses are cold enough to hang meat. The driver loves that air conditioning. ADO first class buses are first class. You pick your seat. Your luggage goes in compartments under the seating area. The seat reclines. There are toilets. The cost is 204 pesos (less than $20U.S.)
5 hours after departing Playa you will be in the ADO bus terminal in Chetumal. There are a few departures to Belize City but the best way to reach Corozal is to walk outside the terminal to the taxi rank and ask for the "Nuevo Mercado" (New Market). The cab ride costs between 12 and 20 pesos. The Belizean buses are old school buses. The fare to Corozal is $1.25U.S. These buses run every half hour from 7am to 6pm.
It takes 20 minutes to reach the border. You will have to exit Mexico. Depending on your visa and how long you want to be in Belize, this could cost you $20U.S. If your Mexican visa is valid until you return to Mexico, technically you can exit Mexico and return to Mexico on the same visa, with no need to incur the exit tax.
A taxi from Chetumal to Corozal is between $40 and $50 U.S. Make sure the Mexican cab driver has a passport with him; otherwise you will be stranded at the border. As a general rule there are no cabs at the Belizean side of the border.
Once you exit Mexico there is a free trade zone, so the borders are a half mile apart. You will then have to formally enter Belize. Belize grants a 30 day visa at no cost (but you will have to pay $19U.S. to exit Belize). Once the bureaucracy is out of the way, it is a 10 minute bus ride to Corozal. From Chetumal to Corozal takes about an hour.

To The Sea Breeze Hotel
A $5 Belize cab ride ($2.50U.S.) or a 10 minute walk. If you want to walk, head to the Bay and turn left. The Sea Breeze hotel is on the Bay front so you have to walk past it.
It is a 6-7 hour journey from your hotel in Playa del Carmen(Mexico) to The Sea Breeze Hotel in Corozal (Belize).

Going North
Make sure you have $19 U.S. exit tax from Belize. Buses from Corozal to Chetumal run on the hour and half hour. The ride is an hour (depending on the crowd at the border) to the Nuevo Mercado (New Market), Chetumal. Transfer by cab to the "terminal de buses".
Buses to Playa (and Cancun) depart at 00.45, 06.30, 08.30, 10.30, 12.30, 13.30, 14.30, 15.30, 16.30, 18.30, 20.00, 23.30. There is 10 minute stop after 2.5 hours at Felipe Carrillo Puerto.

There is no exit tax from Mexico if you leave the country within 7 days of your arrival. After 7 days the tax is around $20 U.S. (depends on exchange rate). This tax should be paid to a bank not to a person. This is often ignored by border personnel who try and collect cash from everyone.

Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 9
Excellent info, Marty, especially the last paragraph. Many moons ago, first several trips, fell for this myself and thought I was merely paying a legitimate fee to the correct official.

Would like to add:
There is a chubby curly haired guy who two months ago was working the MX border caseta, hitting anyone up who looked like a tourista pay him directly. I absolutely refused and told everybody behind me carrying luggage to refuse as well. Had I not been traveling with a sick husband just out of the hospital, I would have reported him immediately and just caught the next bus coming through. I am reporting him tomorrow when I pass back through to Chetumal.

Must mention I travel this border routinely for past 4 years and first time I've seen this happen since we moved here.I am familiar with most of the MX officers there. The regular officers I know are courteous and professional. I did not know this curly aired bad apple...

Mexico Government has a current campaign to try to stop this practice, both of officials requesting and the public offering to pay bribes aka "mordidas". Ads on TV out of Chetumal stations on a regular basis on this matter.

Easiest way to refuse is to smile and say OK, what is the fee and where is the Banjercito because by MX law, I cannot pay you. The conductor on most BZ-Chetumal are bilingual and will assist. On the Northern border, Banjercito is directly across the street from the MX caseta where you check out of MX.

Another thing: I am US citizen, so I can only speak in that aspect. Easiest thing to do is to hand in your MX visa (the paper they give you in Cancun) at the caseta, then just fill a new one out on the trip back in to MX. That's what we have done for years and our visiting US friends do as well. Just be sure you have a pen on your person on the way back through. grin

Last edited by JohnsTwin; 02/09/10 07:38 AM. Reason: add info and correct typo
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 431
First, credit for that report for getting from Cancun to Belize should be given to the author -- Gwyn Lawrence of the Sea Breeze Hotel in Corozal.

I have done the trip many times, and have given my experiences in my site:

As for the "exit" fee from Mexico...

I have departed Mexico and entered Belize without paying anything at the border on the Mexican side.

My understanding is that is no "exit tax" at all. There is a fee only for the FMT tourist card that visitors get when they ENTER Mexico.

When you enter Mexico by air, you should be issued (on the plane) with a form called Forma Migratoria Para Turista, Transmigrante, Visitante Personade Negocios o Visitante Consejero - Internacion Aerea (in English: Migratory Form for Foreign Tourist, Transmigrant, Business Visitor or Councilor Visitor - Entrance by Air).

The fee for the FMT is usually included in the cost of the airline ticket, so there is nothing to pay on arrival in Mexico and nothing to pay at a bank.

If you entered Mexico by land, there is a similar FMT form. There are instructions on the back of the form stating that the fee must be paid at a bank before departing Mexico, and there's even a list of banks. I think the fee is about MX$280 (that's pesos).

The FMT allows a maximum stay of 180 days. When you go through immigration, the immigration officer will write in the actual number of days you can stay; it will be between 30 and 180 days depending on your nationality. Immigration will keep the top part of the FMT form, and you keep the bottom part with your passport.

When you leave Mexico via Chetumal by bus, the bus will stop at a small immigration booth on the Mexican side of the border. Passengers get off, without luggage, and present their passports with FMT to the immigration officer. He will ask (in Spanish) for MX$100 or sometimes US$10; that's a fee for the double entry stamp, not an exit fee. If you pay, the immigration officer should stamp your part of the FMT form "doble entrada" and put it back in your passport. This stamped FMT will allow you to re-enter Mexico within the allotted time (30 to 180 days) without paying a new re-entry fee. I have heard of people saying that the officer took the money, and did not return the stamped card; beware of that.

You may choose not to pay the MX$100, but then immigration will keep your part of the form, and the next time you enter Mexico, you will have to pay the full fee for a new FMT. And the fee for the new FMT isn't paid at the border, but at a bank.

If a visitor has entered Mexico by land and has not paid for the FMT at a bank before exiting, I don't know what would happen at the border when departing Mexico. An official might try to collect money even though that should not happen.

Whenever I've gone through the procedure, the immigration officer has always just asked for the money, and other passengers on the bus just paid without knowing that they didn't have to pay if they weren't returning to Mexico. The immigration officers I've encountered have never displayed an ability to speak English, so visitors can't even ask about the fee, and think it is an "exit fee". And the Belizean bus drivers were not always helpful in explaining the fee. The first time I went through, the driver explained everything.

When I come to Belize through Chetumal, and if I don't intend on returning to Mexico within the 180 days, I say "no regresa" and don't pay anything.

Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 6
we came on Jan 17 via premier bus from chetumal, and ever body on the bus was charged $20 each regardless of if they were coming back or not, "no English" , " 20 us dollar " was all you got, The Belieze bus driver did not say anything prior to getting to the bridge station, I think they all get a split.
Did get the rummber stamp though and no hassles coming back , used a taxi for $30 us from Corozul town. No fee charged when we left via Cancun airport.
the boat taxi was charging only $30 to San pedro, would have been a better choice , and they said we would not have to pay the $30 exit fee when leaving san pedro to Chetumal, so that saves a few bucks, next time I quess

Last edited by martyu; 02/16/10 11:43 PM.
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 993
I travel that border a lot, usually early in the morning to avoid the crowds, but if I go through after 9 a.m. I often see a middle aged Corozal man named Carlos, who is Spanish with thick eyeglasses, acting like he is working for immigration helping the tourists. He wears regular clothes and sometimes has what looks like an official ID tag around his neck which could be anything. What he is doing is extorting $20 U.S. from tourists. If you have entered Mexico by air, the exit fee is already paid on your plane ticket. They will tell you that you have to pay. It is a BIG hustle going on at the border that has been going on for quite some time. I have also seen a younger Spanish man that my husband pointed out to me who is doing the same thing. I have been accosted by the man Carlos, and asked him if he was working for immigration, where is his uniform and real I.D. I actually got into a shouting match with him and the immigration officer tried to cancel my 6 month visa. It was a kerfluffle, and the immigration officer called for reinforcements from the main office, and when I told them that I had a copy of my visa and if they cancelled it I was going straight to the Mexican Embassy in Belize to report them, they returned the visa to me sayinghe had made a mistake and sent me on my way. Believe me I made A BIG STINK at the border.
If ANYONE has problems with exiting Mexico, using the little shack on the right side of the road, just walk across the street to the main office and report them.
No money is to be exchanging hands at the border, any fees to be paid have to be paid at the bank. They say there is a bank in immigration across the street, but that too is a hustle.
I wish I had photos of these guys. I tried to get some on my camera phone but they turned out bad.
This has renewed my resolve to get pics of these guys and get them out of there.
Even the 100 pesos they charge is a bribe. You should be able to get that stamp for free, but all the officers are in on the take.

Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 431
I just met with an official representing the Mexican Embassy in Belize regarding reports of tourists being asked for money when exiting Mexico at the Chetumal border immigration booth.

In summary, it was confirmed that:

1. Visitors staying in Mexico for 7 days or less do not pay the FMT fee; the fee paid only for visits of 8 days or more,

2. When exiting Mexico, there is no exit fee or exit tax,

3. When exiting Mexico, tourists may request a "doble entrada" (double entry) stamp on a paid FMT form; there is no fee for this stamp.

Last edited by MisterB266; 03/12/10 03:10 PM.
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 993
The Mexican authorities need to post this information in English on a sign at the border. Until they do this, the Mexican immigration officers are going to be ripping tourists off $20 a head.

Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 3
Wow all this sounds intimidating to me...I travel with my 2 young girls and last summer we went to Thailand...if I would have encountered this I would have just paid the money....I love traveling but with my girls I hesitate quite a bit...all good info maybe I'll avoid Mexico for a while.

Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 178
I think as an America you should avoid travelling. Simply do not pay all.

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