Getting to San Miguel de Allende on a Budget

Interested in getting to San Miguel de Allende on a budget?

The least expensive way to make it to San Miguel is the bus. While timewise, it can be exhausting, the conditions are quite good and it’s very inexpensive – perfect for getting to San Miguel de Allende on a budget. When flying, the choices include Leon, GTO or Queretaro, QRO, both of which are close (about an hour to an hour and a half) but can get quite pricey. Flights into Mexico City are less expensive, but require a 4 hour (50 dollar) bus ride upon arrival, as well as a basic knowledge of Spanish to navigate a significantly large international airport.

Sean and Mittie | Getting to San Miguel de Allende on a Budget 3

One bus company is called Transporte San Miguel and departs from San Miguel to Houston, Dallas, and Austin. I’ve used it a few times, traveling from San Mike to all of the above (a bus change in San Luis Potosi is included, changing to Los Chavez buses). The bus costs 100 USD one way which is incredibly cheap compared to a 600-700 dollar plane ticket. While the bus service itself is slow, but air-conditioned and plays movies (in Spanish) for the duration of the trip. The bus to Houston leaves San Miguel de Allende at 2:30 pm, and it’s recommended that one arrives at 2:00 pm to check in. The services (supposedly) take 18 hours, not including discrepancies at the border.

I’ve tried a lot of different bus-lines including Omnibus and my current favorite, Grupo Senda. You can check times, cities and book tickets here.

Sean and Mittie | Getting to San Miguel de Allende on a Budget 2

Naturally, the border presents some complications. Depending on the day of the week, it can take anywhere from 1 hour to (in my case) 7.5 hours to cross. We unwittingly crossed on the busiest day: Saturday. I’d imagine based on the commentaries, that Friday might be a busy day as well, since many Mexican workers travel during the weekend. The bus runs from Mexico to the states Thursday to Sunday and returns Thursday to Monday. Mexican workers and those visiting family abroad primarily populated the bus. Sean and I were the only foreigners.

Sean and Mittie | Getting to San Miguel de Allende on a Budget 4

Interestingly enough, my only complaint was the complete lack of efficiency at the American border. After crossing several checkpoints in Mexico in which our identifications were checked, but only took a few minutes of our time, we were shocked by the 7.5 hours it took us to step on American soil. We arrived at the bridge at 1 a.m. and there were about 4 buses in from of us, each carrying approximately 45 passengers. We sat on the bridge (at the entrance to the border) for 6.5 hours before they actually let us into the inspection area. The bus driver, a kind and friendly man named Juan, had told us it would be a long wait so we’d slept and not worried much about the enormous time lapse. But once we got to the inspection area in Nuevo Laredo, we found the customs officials carousing and eating donuts. They didn’t permit us to get out of the bus and begin lining up for baggage inspection for another half hour while they did nothing.

When they finally permitted us to get our luggage and form a line, the whole process took a brief 15 minutes, in which they speedily checked in the 45 people from our bus and their bags. I must say, I was both shocked and disappointed by their lack of professionalism, efficiency and courtesy. I’ve crossed a lot of international borders and never have I waited so long, not in Ghana nor in Cuba.

All said, just don’t cross on the weekend and it’s an otherwise pleasant (though long) trip. We plan to return on a Thursday, so I’ll report back on the differences I find in crossing on a weekday as well as entering Mexico versus entering the United States. I would recommend the service as a good budget option, minus the whole weekend business.

2 Comments
  • robert e gillespie
    Posted at 11:57h, 05 November

    thanks MITTE…

    I recently looked at San Miguel Allende…as an “inexpensive expat place”…

    had been looking in like the Phillipines, Ecuador, Thailand…BUT figured “those places” are a bit complex to navigate and get to…

    so your article “was very good” …yeah, I could fly… but all the security and stuff…and Mexico you can stay in without a visa…

    plus I got a brother who lives in San Antonio… so I figure… fly there stay there and drop down to San Miguel d/a, occasionally…

    I can hardly get over “how cheap it can be” life even some of the daily rates in the room rentals is like 20 a day… plus you can get monthly discounts…

    in the states …apartments are often far more expensive…

    …………
    it would be nice if you are there… to give us some “lifestyle” pieces on living there or staying there for long periods… also some “healthcare” info, etc.

    thanks again for the bus article…

    flashrob

  • Mittie.Roger
    Posted at 21:24h, 14 November

    Hi Rob! Thanks for writing in. I appreciate your feedback! I will definitely write some articles about living here – have you seen this article: ? It may provide some more insight. Happy travels!

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