Traveling between San Cristobal de las Casas and Quetzaltenango

The beautiful natural scenery of Quetzaltenango in Guatemala draws many travelers to experience the mountainous scenery scattered with mighty volcanoes and valleys. Between a day at the hot springs or a hike among the gorgeous rivers flowing amongst the greenery, the Guatemalan landscape does not cease to impress.

Quetzaltenango also known as Xela or the ‘City of the Soul of Culture’ is painted with the essence of art and music that help give it a unique flavor. Quetzaltenango holds an ancient Mayan past that opens a window into a rich history and former civilization that once flourished in the area. If you’re traveling across the border to or from Xela, you’re likely coming from (or heading to) San Cristobal de las Casas. Here’s a guide for crossing the border.

mexico guatemala border crossing

by rhobinn on Flickr

From Guatemala to Mexico

Some like to complete the experience in Central America by hopping the border from Guatemala to Mexico. One great thing about a shuttle van is that it will take you all the way up to the border, and another will be waiting for you on the other side. After crossing the border, pass through immigration and continue on into San Cristabol de las Casas. In total, this trip will take about eight hours and sets off early in the morning, usually around 8 am. Certain tourist buses like those offered by Adrenaline tours take you between Quetzaltenango and San Cristobal de las Casas by picking you up right outside your hotel or hostel.

Reverse it: Crossing into Quetzaltenango

When starting in Mexico, check out the local travel agencies in San Cristabol de las Casas to get the best deals to cross the border. It is essential to leave early in order to catch the last few bus to Xela after making it across to the other side. Many of the tourist shuttle buses provide the easiest route that also makes great timing while in transit. With this option, the transition could not get any smoother. Only one bus ride to the border and another to the city after you cross.

The Thrills of the ‘Chicken Bus’

Of course, why not throw out all reason and comfort to take one of the most daring routes along the so called ‘chicken bus’ route? Known to the locals as ‘camionetas’, these old Blue Bird buses painted in brilliant colors and folk-art offer a daring ride along winding mountain passes and down the cobblestoned slopes of villages in between. The more passengers the better, as the bus driver would say. Secure your bag atop the bus and hold on tight for a wild ride, as the bus wizzes past and inspires excitement in the most daring and foolhardy traveler.

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