Whilst continuing your journey through southern Mexico, you shouldn’t miss the beautiful Riviera Maya. One place you definitely should include in your itinerary is Bacalar, the municipal seat and largest city in Bacalar Municipality.
Somehow, despite all it has to offer, Bacalar has remained one of Mexico’s hidden gems. Its main attraction is Bacalar Lagoon, with spectacularly clear turquoise waters so enchanting you’d think you’re in an island in the middle of nowhere.
Lounging by the beach is a popular activity, but so is kayaking, snorkelling, paddleboarding and scuba diving in one of the cenotes. Something else you probably don’t expect, Bacalar has a rich history involving pirates that will be interesting to learn about in your visit!
New to Bacalar? Our compact Bacalar guide shows you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Bacalar!
The most popular way to travel the 486 km (301 miles) from Palenque to Bacalar is a 9-hour-05-minute bus that costs around 736 MXN ($35).
There is one direct bus trip available from Palenque to Bacalar every day. It departs in the evening and arrives early morning the next day. Travel time by bus is about 9 hours, but you can spend most of it in dreamland.
There also used to be a shared minivan operating from Palenque to Bacalar. Reduced travel due to the pandemic has taken this option out of the equation. But even if the minivan was still available, we don’t really recommend it.
Although the minivan is a bit faster at 7.5 hours, it’s double the price of the bus with rates from 1,750 MXN ($83). We don’t think it’s worth it since buses are already very comfortable and are more spacious. But if you really want to check out the minivan rides from Palenque to Bacalar, you can visit the Maya Shuttle website.
There is only one bus operating from Palenque to Bacalar and this is operated by AU.
AU is a sub-branch of Mexico’s most popular bus company ADO. Although this is the cheaper subbranch of ADO, you cna still expect a comfortable ride with AU. Their bus features air conditioning, a toilet and reclining seats.
The bus trip from Palenque to Bacalar takes a little over 9 hours. This already includes scheduled stops at Emiliano Zapata, Escarcega and Chetumal to pick up and drop off passengers. These stops are the main reason buses take longer than minivans.
The first bus from Palenque to Bacalar is also the last bus of the day. There is no more next trip. It’s best to book your tickets online ahead of time to be guaranteed a seat. You can find cheap bus tickets on ClickBus, which usually offers discounted rates.
Bus departure in Palenque
Buses going to Bacalar depart from Palenque’s central bus terminal, located in the town centre and only a 10-minute walk from the main square.
If you don’t fancy walking with all your luggage, you can take a taxi for around 60 MXN ($2.85).
Bus arrival in Bacalar
The bus will drop you off at ADO Bacalar, just on the town’s main road.
Due to the bus schedule, you’ll arrive in Bacalar in the middle of the night. So unless your accommodation is within walking distance, your best option is to take a taxi.
Taxis in Bacalar are not metered so before getting in, agree on the rate with the driver. Rates to the beach lagoon and anywhere within the city limits should be about 60 MXN ($2.85) and 130 MXN ($6).
The owners of Zayali homestay welcome you as if you’re part of the family and make you instantly feel like you’re at home. The rooms are clean, spacious and well air-conditioned, guaranteeing a great night's sleep.
The rooms also include a fridge, microwave and coffee-making facilities. Plus, there’s also a great communal hangout area with hammocks and a rustic bar.