This is about my experience using bus transportation to get to Mexico City instead of flying. You can fly straight to Mexico City from San Luis Potosí and pay a lot more money, comparatively speaking, but I wanted the experience of traveling through the country on my way down. There are several bus transportation options and it was recommended to me to use Primera Plus.
Taking a bus to Mexico City is not like taking Greyhound in the US and stopping along the way to pick up other passengers. These are non-stop trips to your destination.
About the Process
The main choices for me for bus transportation were between Primera Plus and ETN. The difference is a couple hundred pesos and after looking at what is included on the buses, I determined that it wasn’t enough for me to choose ETN over Primera Plus. Both have snacks, reclined seating, entertainment systems, and Wi-Fi Internet access and that was enough for me. ETN advertises that they have “European Seats,” but it was not clear to me as to which type of bus included these and I’m not even sure if it matters that much. They do have more bus options, like double-decker style bus. Honestly, I just wanted to get to Mexico City.
Through Primera Plus, leaving on a Sunday to Mexico City and returning on Wednesday it will cost $855 pesos ($51.99 USD) round trip if you purchase your ticket online, $1000 pesos ($60.80 USD) at the counter. ETN charges $1060 pesos ($64.45 USD) round trip if you purchase them online and I didn’t see much of a benefit for choosing ETN over Primera Plus.
Both transportation companies boast on-board Wi-Fi and my experience was OK, but not great. With Primera Plus, the Internet access was in and out but it was probably more due to the signal of certain areas, as even ETN states on their website that “Internet service depends on the coverage of the provider, ETN and Turistar disclaim any responsibility for the loss of signal or service failures.” Luckily for me, I use Telcel in Mexico with a data plan on my phone and found it to be faster most of the time. If you are visiting Mexico, you can purchase a prepaid plan and SIM card fairly easily. Telcel has the best nationwide coverage.
Don’t worry about the bus going too fast down the highway because the buses are electronically controlled to not go over 95km per hour, even where the speed limit is higher.
In San Luis Potosí, the bus terminal is called, “Terminal Terrestre Potosina” (Google Maps location). In Mexico City, the bus terminal is called Terminal Central de Norte (Mexico Norte from Primera Plus website selection of destinations).
I went to the Primera Plus counter to find out where to go. If you don’t speak Spanish, just hand them the ticket and they will direct you. To get out to the bus area, you pass through a baggage scan area and then you give your ticket to a security guy for him/her to look over before going outside to the bus area. But I actually gave the guy the return ticket by mistake and he didn’t even catch it. My guess is that he couldn’t read. He gave it back to me and I headed to the bus. Before boarding, you give your ticket to the attendant at the bus and she/he will give you a drink and snacks in a bag to take on the bus. The snacks consisted of a pre-packaged ham and cheese sandwich, chips, and granola bar. I packed my snacks with me so I really didn’t need theirs.
You can take one suitcase and one carry-on item – a backpack in my case. They put the suitcase in the storage compartment, give you a claim ticket for it, and then before boarding they search your carry-on. The guy barely looked into the backpack and it appeared that he just couldn’t figure out all the zipper areas and then proceeded to just give it back to me. Then he did a pat-down before I boarded the bus.
My take is that the security level at San Luis Potosí bus terminal is not as good as Mexico City and not anywhere near that of the United States. Although, I did get patted down twice in Mexico City for my return trip by a lady who smiled at me before and after her pat-down. lol
The Trip on the Bus
There were a total of about ten people on the bus, both from SLP to Mexico City and back. The seats were very comfortable and relaxing. They recline back a lot more than an airplane and the space between rows is plenty as to not obstruct those behind you. There is a leg rest that pulls down and makes sleeping easier. The head rest is adjustable and has sides that you can close towards your head to keep your head from dropping suddenly side-to-side. I actually slept to and from Mexico City for at least an hour on each trip.
It took 4 hours and 45 minutes to get to Mexico City and 5 hours and 30 minutes to get back to SLP. There was some construction on the return trip that slowed us down.
On the back of the seat in front of you there is a TV screen with entertainment options. You can listen to music, play games (Angry Birds!), read, watch a movie, etc. Headphones are provided. In between the seats just below the knee, there was an electrical outlet that can be used to charge your phone. The entertainment system also has a USB port that can be used to charge.
Overall, it was very relaxing on the bus. The drivers did so well, that I never even thought about him.
Mexico is beautiful. The rugged terrain and mountains surround you on the trip and there is enough variety in the landscape to keep you interested. In the state of San Luis Potosí, the terrain is dry, but as you get to the State of Mexico you will see taller trees and greener land. You will see everything from industry towns, rolling hills, mountains and valleys. One element you will notice is that there are a lot of unfinished homes made from cement block. I guess they all started as good ideas. If you book your return trip with the sun setting during your trip, you might see a spectacular view, as I did.
While You Are in Mexico City
I am listing some places to visit that you may find interesting for yourself. Mostly, I walked around and only used Uber to get back to the bus station. I hope you enjoy this beautiful city as much as I did.
Places to Visit:
- Pyramids of Teotihuacan and Guadalpue Shrine (Gray Line Tours)
- Angel of Independence
- Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
- National Palace
- Palacio de Bellas Artes
- Mirador Torre Latino (Torre Latinoamericana) – Great view of the entire city!
- Alameda Central
- Mercado de artesanias Ciudadela (Shopping!)
Places to Eat:
- Rokai Izakaya Bistro (Facebook) – Highly recommended
Small, quaint Japanese restaurant. You should make reservations.
- La Guapachosa
Inexpensive, yet cool decor and the food is eclectic
- El Bajio at this location
I had their scrambled egg in tomato base, Xalapa style for breakfast. So delicious and spicy! You have to have the hot chocolate.
Prices listed were from current lists and conversions as of 10/15/2015.