Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas

Overview Compare About Roadsafety Direct Bus Taxi To Stay

How to get from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas has gained the nickname of Mexico’s magic town due to its vibrant bohemian vibe. It’s a city that has a place for all types of travellers.

What gives San Cristobal its magic is its well-preserved, colourful colonial houses that give you the feeling of stepping back in time. There’s also a remarkable cultural and artisan scene that’s worth discovering.

With a unique mix of indigenous, colonial and contemporary influence, the artisan market is one of San Cristobal’s must-sees. Here you’ll find colourful and exceptional handmade items that include some of the most exquisite textile and jewellery works.

If you want to try some of the area’s unique flavours, then the municipal market is the place to go. At night, we recommend trying out at least one of the many bars and restaurants that line almost every street. One not to miss is La Vina de Bacco where you can get wine plus free tapas for under $1!

New to San Cristobal de las Casas? Our compact San Cristobal de las Casas guide shows you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to San Cristobal de las Casas!

2 ways to get from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas

Transport ModeDurationCostsAvailability
Bus11hrs 10m418 MXN ($22)Check Bus Tickets
Taxi6 hours3,400 MXN ($180)Check Taxi Availability

The most popular ways to travel the 220 km (136 miles) from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas are an 11-hour-10 minute bus or a 6-hour taxi. Fares range between 418 MXN ($22) and 3,400 MXN ($180).

Of course, the most affordable option is to take the bus, especially if you are a solo traveller and want to stay within your budget. Both day and night buses are available from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas. Travel time takes 11 hours 10 minutes as the buses take the longer route via Villahermosa for safety.

Since both destinations are part of the same state of Chiapas, taxis are also available even despite the long distance. The taxi journey is faster, around 6 hours, as they normally take the way via Ocosingo. Taxi rates from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas via Ocosingo start from 3,400 MXN ($180). We’re not a fan of this route, though. We’ll tell you in the next section why.

If you are travelling with more people, you can split the cost of the taxi and make it more affordable. Taxi Palenque GL and Wayak are authorised companies that provide a reliable service from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas.

Road Safety from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas

While Palenque and San Cristobal are perfectly safe destinations to stay for tourists, it’s not the same for the roads between these two towns.

Especially the part between Ocosingo and San Cristobal is really sketchy due to roadblocks and the risk of robbery.

Alternative route via Villahermosa

Thankfully, there is a good alternative route to reach San Cristobal from Palenque via Villahermosa. Villahermosa is part of a different state (Tabasco) and is much safer.

Compared to the direct route via Ocosingo (5-6 hours), the route via Villahermosa (11.5 hours) takes longer but is a much safer choice.

To be clear, the route via Villahermosa also has occasional roadblocks. But they are not a daily event like those in Ocosingo. They happen only once in a while. Also, more cars and public transport operate on this route so if ever there is a roadblock, you most probably won’t be alone.

Buses take a safer route than taxis

Luckily, buses only take the route via Villahermosa so you don’t need to worry about safety during the journey. However, taxis and some other private transfers often prefer the shorter route via Ocosingo.

To be fair, taxis normally travel in a convoy as a form of defence, so you will normally get to San Cristobal without any trouble. It’s usually with a short line of minivan shuttles and other private transfers that travel together for safety.

Still, the convoy isn’t always effective, so we would recommend asking the taxi driver to take the route via Villahermosa instead.

Renting a car?

Are you thinking of renting a car and driving this route on your own? It’s possible, but we don’t recommend it. Taking the bus or a taxi will be safer.

Local drivers know the area very well and are trained to take the safest roads and know how to act in case they drive into a roadblock.

If you’re really set on driving on your own, make sure you take the Villahermosa route and inform yourself very well about the route to take.

For the Ocosingo route: if you’re travelling in just one car and not as a part of a convoy, you’re an easy target.

Why we don’t recommend travelling via Ocosingo

  • Roadblocks. You will pass by some of the poorest towns in Mexico. The roadblocks are like toll gates. For each roadblock, you will be asked to pay around 100 MXN ($5) to be able to pass. There are several of them, so better prepare the bills beforehand. If they see you taking the money out of a wallet full of cash, we can already tell you that you won’t have any money left to pay at the next roadblock.
  • Robbery. On a regular day, you’ll only really have to worry about roadblocks. But there have been instances of robbery – cars being stopped and everything of value being taken away (gadgets, jewellery, cash, etc.). This is not common, but it has happened. We don’t think it’s worth taking the chance when there is a safer route via Villahermosa.
  • Narco territory. The road between Ocosingo and San Cristobal is a well-known Narco territory, as well as the base of a few political and militant groups. They may have no beef against tourists and other civillians, but their presence in the area makes the government virtually non-existent.
  • No order. That also means that the government has very little control over this area. If something happens to you, you are most likely on your own. You may not be able to ask for help to take back your lost things or post a complaint for an injury. There have been incidents where authorities even covered up crimes to stop any further investigation.

While speed is important, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. For guaranteed safety, always pick the Villahermosa route.

Itinerary from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas

Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas by Bus

Duration: 11hrs 10m
Cost: 418 MXN ($22)
Duration: 11hrs 10m
Cost: 418 MXN ($22)

There are at least two bus departures each day from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas, one in the morning and another one in the evening. The company providing this service is ADO’s sub-branch OCC. It offers first-class buses that include AC, reclining seats and a toilet.

The bus journey takes over 11 hours – much longer than the travel time of a taxi – because all buses take the Villahermosa route. It’s longer but safer. So even though it’s a lengthy journey from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas, you can be at peace for the entire journey. The buses also make short stops where you can stretch your legs and go to the toilet.

A bus ticket from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas costs 418 MXN ($22).

Bus schedule from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas

Bus OperatorSchedulesCosts
OCC07:35– 17:55
21:25 – 07:35
418 MXN ($22)
Check Bus Tickets

To avoid turning up at the station and there being no tickets left, we recommend booking in advance online. BookAway is our preferred booking platform for its excellent customer service.

Bus departure in Palenque

All buses from Palenque to San Cristobal depart from ADO Bus Terminal, located within walking distance from the town’s main square, just 12 minutes away. It’s also surrounded by lots of accommodations so chances are you’re already staying nearby.

If your hotel’s a bit far though, you can reach the bus station by taxi. It takes around 5 minutes from the city centre. Rates start at 50 MXN ($2.65).

Bus arrival in San Cristobal de las Casas

The bus will drop you off at the main bus terminal in San Cristobal de las Casas, located very close to the city centre. It takes around 12 minutes to walk to the main square.

If your accommodation is further away or you just don’t fancy walking, there are taxis available outside the bus terminal with fares from 40 MXN ($2.10).

Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas by Taxi

Duration: 6 hours
Cost: 3,400 MXN ($180)
Duration: 6 hours
Cost: 3,400 MXN ($180)

When taking a taxi or other forms of private transfer from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas, you can choose which way to take: via Villahermosa or via Ocosingo.

The road via Villahermosa is the better choice for safety, especially if you’re travelling with kids.

The safer route via Villahermosa is more expensive

However, the Villahermosa route is longer and travel time by taxi can take over 7 hours, compared to 5-6 hours via Ocosingo. Taking the longer route via Villahermosa also means the ride is a bit more expensive. Rates start from around 5,000 MXN ($265) for a 3-seater car.

This is why many taxi operators and travel agencies choose to take the Ocosingo route. There are roadblocks, but the drivers are trained to react and deal with the locals.

They also know the safest roads, so most of the time, you can really complete the journey by just paying a few hundred peso extra. There’s just a high chance that you’ll be a nervous wreck throughout the 6-hour journey.

Recommended taxi companies

Rates for a 3-seater taxi from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas via Ocosingo start from 3,400 MXN ($180) when you travel with Palenque GL. If you’re with more people, Wayak also offers a 9-seater shuttle with prices from 7,130 MXN ($375).

Note that you can always ask them to take you via Villahermosa for an additional charge (which we think is well worth it). If time and budget are more important to you, make sure to be very prepared when taking the way through Ocosingo.

Safety tips when travelling via Ocosingo

  • Pick a trusted taxi company. Don’t just hail a taxi from the street. Ask your hotel’s staff to help you find a good ride or choose one that is well-reviewed.
  • Ask if they’re travelling in a convoy. There is safety in numbers, especially if you’re passing through unknown territory. Tour operators know this, which is why it’s a common practice to be a part of a convoy. Just make sure your taxi also plans to join one.
  • Secure your valuables. Hide all gadgets and anything flashy (especially jewellery!).
  • Separate a few 100-peso bills ($5) from the rest of your cash. You will encounter at least one roadblock along the way. When paying for your “toll fee”, it will be better if you don’t show that you’re carrying a lot of money.
  • Look brave, not fierce. It helps to look calm and confident, but definitely not annoyed, aggressive, or scared. You don’t want to end up pissing off the locals or look like a pushover.
  • Travel during the day. No taxi will want to travel at night anyway. That would be like asking for trouble.

Our favourite places to stay in San Cristobal

Hotel Bo – Treating Yourself

Many people say that Hotel Bo is ‘one of the best places they have ever stayed in’. You’re certainly treating yourself if you decide to stay here. Alongside the stunning flower-filled gardens ideal for relaxing in, there are modern and cosy rooms, a gym and onsite restaurant.

The hotel’s restaurant treats guests to upmarket Mexican cuisine and international dishes in an beautifully-designed environment. Their exceptional breakfast is the perfect way to set you up for a day of exploring San Cristobal. Trust us, you won’t want to leave once you arrive at Hotel Bo.

  • Stunning and relaxing garden
  • Exceptional restaurant
  • Onsite gym
  • Large and modern rooms

Double rooms start from $80 per night

Check Latest Price

Casa Lum – Treating Yourself

You couldn’t be more at the heart of San Cristobal than at Casa Lum. The popular walking street filled with restaurants and bars are literally on your doorstep.

Contemporary style and colonial architecture coexist in harmony at Casa Lum. This is clearly exhibited throughout it’s 8 rooms and delicious restaurant. Another thing we love about this place, they’re also a social and environmentally sustainable hotel.

  • Onsite, highly rated restaurant
  • Excellent location
  • Socially and environmentally responsible ethos
  • A intricately designed city oasis

Double rooms start from $80 per night

Check Latest Price

Sereno Art Hotel – Mid Range

This 4 star hotel really does feel like it was designed by artists, with it’s spectacular wall art and intricate details. The decor is an interesting blend of urban and rustic pieces.

The courtyard is truly stunning, with fairy lights creating the appearance of a starry night sky. Another star of the hotel is it’s restaurant. Their food can’t be raved about enough!

  • Delicious food served in their onsite restaurant
  • Creative and stunning decor
  • Great location
  • Cosy and large rooms

Double rooms between $40-$80 per night

Check Latest Price

Posada del Abuelito – Budget Friendly

Posada del Abuelito is a friendly and colourful hostel situated inside one of San Cristobal’s stunning colonial buildings. The heart of the hostel is the perfect place to chill, surrounded by plants and hammocks.

Their delicious complimentary breakfast sets you up perfectly for a day of exploring the city. The communal kitchen also means you can dabble in a bit of cooking yourself. The best part? The hosts do an excellent job of making everyone feel at home.

  • Homely atmosphere
  • Great location
  • Delicious breakfast included
  • Rooms are bright and spotless

Double rooms between $15-$40 per night

Check Latest Price

Puerta Vieja Hostel – Budget Friendly

We’re not quite sure how Puerta Vieja Hostel makes money, but we’re definitely not complaining. For just $9, you get both breakfast and dinner included in the price. On top of that, they even offer a free burger and cocktail night every Friday!

There’s plenty to keep you occupied within the hostel too. There’s table tennis, a TV lounge and a large garden for chilling in. The hostel is also only seconds away from San Cristobal’s main square. It’s the best place to meet other travellers in San Cristobal.

  • Free breakfast and dinner
  • TV lounge and table tennis
  • Great atmosphere
  • Close to the main square

Dorm rooms from $9 per night, including breakfast and dinner

Check Latest Price

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Ela is a storyteller, content producer, solo traveller and a mermaid-in-training. When she’s not in front of her laptop, you will find her barefoot and living her best tan on some island in the Philippines… Or exploring the depths of its seas as a budding freediver. An island girl at heart, she’ll be happy anywhere there is sea, sand, sun and coffee.

Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.