We got to San Cristobal by bus from El Sumidero Canyon (Tuxtla Gutierrez).
The distance is about 60 km (by 190th National Road). The road went up to the cliffs rising from 400m up to 2300m then descending down to 2100m at San Cristobal.
It took us about an hour and a half in the way.
The mountain road was picturesque enough to enjoy the way and take a video.
You can watch my 3 min 45 sec Video Sumidero-San Cristobal de las Casas out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
You can watch my photo of San Cristobal de las Casas on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 16° 44' 2.73" N 92° 38' 17.55" W or on my Google Earth Panoramio Del Carmen Arch 2.
Bus from the airport in Tuxtla Guitierrez takes about 1 1/2 hour, but you must take a taxi to bus station. Taxi to San Cristobal takes about an hour and is 50.00. Taxi back to airport from San Cristobal is 40.00 Local taxi rides are generally 2.00. Ask before entering the cab but we found all cabbies helpful and they did not try to overcharge.
When buying tickets at the station, I took the opportunity to take these images of the bus schedule. Since gas continues to go up, prices are probably a little higher now, but its pretty clear that one can get virtually anywhere in Mexico from San Cristobal de las Casas. The hours and prices are given in these images. The prices are in pesos not dollars.
From the terminal there are connections to the following destinations:
Acayucan, Cancun, Campeche, Chetumal, Cintalapa, Cuauhtemoc, Comitán, Comalapa, Córdoba, Escarcega, Huixtla, Huatulco, Juchitan, Jalapa, Mexico Norte & TAPO, Mérida, Motozintla, Oaxaca, Ocosingo, Palenque, Puerto Escondido, Pochutla, Puebla, Playa del Carmen, Salinacruz, Tapantepec, Tapachula, Teopisca, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Tulúm, Veracruz and Villahermosa.
In the terminal you find "guarda equipaje" as well as a vendor for "last-minute-tickets", food stalls and taxis.
To get to Panajachel from San Cristobal is quite an undertaking. But, I was able to do it in one day. It took 6 buses and a collectivo but I made it with time to spare to grab a beer and then get a water taxi to San Pedro on the opposite side of Lago Attitlan.
You must buy your bus ticket for the boarder town of Ciuidad Cuauhtemoc. Buy it the day before at the main bus terminal right off the Boulevard Juan Sabines (Pan-American Highway) and Insurgentes. Cristobal Colon, Ado & Uno buses leave from here.
Once you get to the boarder go through customs and exchange money (they will try to rip you off). You need to grab a collectivo (mini-van) to La Mesilla. Here you have to go through Guatemala boarder control and then grab a chicken bus towards Huehuetenango. You must make a lot of bus changes to get to Panajahel which means you have to ask the locals to help you out. The drive is really spectacular as it weaves first through cloud forest and then later rugged mountain volcanoes.
The trick is to leave early! I hope this helps.
San Cristobal is well connected to other cities by the bus system. Around Christmas of course the place was popular. If you travel in Mexico around Christmas make sure you book your ticket early enough!
I was me who got the last ticket on the night bus from Oaxaca to San Cris in 2002 :-)
Another note: the road from San Cris to Palenque is a nightmare!! Nearly all foreigners who were on the bus with me were sick when we got off, I guess this bus trip was my worst experience in Mexico.
There are plenty of colectivos that ply the roads to Tuxla Gutierez. This same colectivos pass near the Cañon del Sumidero. Just head to the local bus station and find one of the touts yelling the destination. You may need to wait a while until all the seats are taken, but its well worth the wait! On your way back, just head back to the highway where they drop you off and pick a collectivo going back to town. The collectivo drops you off about 500 meters from the dock where the ships go out touring the Cañon del Sumidero.
From the bus station, you can count on several buses going to many destinations within Mexico. I had the chance of using to such buses. One was the overnight bus from Oaxaca to San Cristobal. The overnight bus from Oaxaca to San Cristobal de las Casas was a bit shaky. It was totally safe, don't get me wrong, but the road goes through several curves and mountains. It takes about 12 hours to reach San Cristobal de las Casas.
San Cristobal is well connected by bus to Comitan or Tuxla, cities with airport. There´s also a daily shuttle bus from Panajachel in Guatemala.
There is a bus that takes you from San Cristobal de las Casas to Tonina. From Tonina, you can take another bus to Palenque
There are several buses leaving from San Cristobal de las Casas and going to Comitan, the access point to Lagunas Montebello. From Comitan, you can take a collectivo to the Lagunas Montebello.