city guides: chetumal, mexico

This bustling border town is the primary route for backpackers travelling between Mexico and Belize, and whilst it is by no means an essential stop on most peoples itineraries, if so forced by the bus-timetabling Gods, there are worse places to lay your head for the night.

Great for

Given the significantly higher cost of living in Belize, Chetumal is a great place to stock up on toiletries and any other travel essentials. Judging by the hordes of Belizeans that cross the border for the day and leave with bulging bags of new shoes, household products and even bread, living this close to Chetumal is not without its bonuses!

Avoid if

With a little strategic planning, it is certainly possible to negotiate the border-crossing in daylight hours and bypass Chetumal entirely.

Must do

Just 45 - 60 minutes away by public transport (or 30 minutes if you have a car), is the breathtakingly beautiful Laguna Bacalar, a large crystal-clear lake. If you have the time, a day-trip here will not be regretted.

Although we did not visit, the Museo de la Cultura Maya, is the largest and most comprehensive museum in the state dedicated to Mayan culture, and comes high on every list of 'must-do' things in Chetumal.

Top-tip: If you have time before formally crossing over to Belize, take some time to enjoy the tax-free savings that can be had in the "Corozal Free Zone'.


Getting there and away

Chetumal is a large transport hub, and it is possible to reach any destination in Belize or Mexico. If your first stop in Belize is to be the Cayes, it is also possible to catch a boat directly to San Pedro or Caye Caulker ($47.50 and $52.50 US dollars, respectively).

San Pedro Water Taxi information


Budget-breaker or maker?

Although Chetumal is unlikely to break the bank, if you are working on a very strict budget or time-scale, then we recommend limiting your time here to hours, not days.

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