México has an extensive system of long-distance buses run by private companies licensed to operate on national highways. They are generally modern, comfortable and reliable, and many are equipped with video
systems. First-class buses make fewer stops but are not necessarily more comfortable than second class. Some deluxe buses on major routes feature food and beverage service. It is not advisable to travel on buses at night.
Highway conditions are good. Avoid excessive speed and, if possible, do not drive at night. Livestock can appear on roads at any time. Construction sites, abandoned vehicles, or other obstacles are often unmarked or poorly marked. Be prepared for sudden stops. For emergencies dial '060.
We went to Oaxaca from Puebla by bus. It’s about 300 km, including about 200km of mountain road, and took us about 5,5 hours. The road seemed to me rather dangerous though very picturesque. I was surprise that we had only one driver for such a long way...
The major highways serving Oaxaca are Federal Highways 175 and 131, southwards to the Oaxacan coastal resorts; National Highways 190 and 125, southwest to Pinotepa Nacional; National Highways 190 and 130, to Mexico City; the autopista 150D/131D, offering a more rapid route to Mexico City; and National Highway 175 north to Veracruz.
You can watch my 5 min 35 sec Video Puebla-Oaxaca out of my Youtube channel.
There are buses to many destinations within Mexico. I had the chance of using to such buses. One was the overnight bus from Veracruz and the other was an overnight bus to San Cristobal. The overnight bus from Veracruz to Oaxaca was uneventful. However, 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.
The best way to go to Oaxaca is by bus. You will generally get there by night (so you'll miss the sight of the highest mexican mountain on left hand, 1h30 before arriving at Oaxaca.)
You may get to the first class station in Mexico, ADO Gran Lujo is a little bit expensive but really good service and no trap ! arriving at Oaxaca trust the official taxi drivers with red and white cars, they 'won't cheat you too bad' ;-)
Use the second class station if you want to travel in Oaxaca or to Chiapas. This station is on the othe sideof the city : from the zocalo just walk west and then go down the periferico to the left. Ask for the estacion de camiones de segunda clase. Prices are very affordable and interesting. A good company is Estrella del Valle, depending on your destination. Just try to speak castellano, and nobody will cheat you. Anyway don't have a wealthy appearance (camera in the bag, normal ropes, ...) and everything will be alright.
Reaching Oaxaca from any direction involves many hours' travel through twisting, isolated mountain stretches, so if you are prone to getting car-sick, you may want to prepare yourself. Most buses from Mexico City and Puebla come through the La Canada area via Teotitla'n del Camino, a route known as the Via Corta; a smoother but slower route is via Huajuapan de Leo'n. Oaxaca has a number of bus stations and ticket offices. The main 1st-class bus station, used by all ADO and Cristo'bal Colo'n buses, is at Calzada Ninos He'roes de Chapultepec 1036, 1.5 km north-east of the zo'calo. The main 2nd-class bus station, swarming with hundreds of people and dozens of bus companies, is about 900 metres west of the zo'calo along Trujano or Las Casas. All 2nd-class buses mentioned in the details that follow use the 2nd-class bus station unless noted (main exceptions concern buses to the Oaxaca coast)
It's advisable to book in advance for some of the less frequent services out of Oaxaca, such as the single daily bus to San Cristo'bal de Las Casas and the better buses to the coast. Cristo'bal Colo'n has a city centre booking office at 20 de Noviembre 204A.
Take special care with your belongings on buses to the coast - apart from theft from luggage racks, there are tales of travellers losing bags in a sudden crush that happens when people are getting on these buses.
To get to the small beaches along the Pacific Coast from Oaxaca, I would recommend taking a van rather than a bus. Vans seat about sixteen passengers and depart hourly; most hotels will arrange for the van to pick you up at the hotel (though they do this BEFORE going to the station for the other passengers, so you may want to save time and just go to the station). The van will make a number of stops at mountainous villages along the six-hour journey. It is a winding, slow, nausea-inducing journey and chances are good that if the motion doesn't make you sick, the smell of other people's vomit will. That being said, it's a beautiful drive if you can stomach it! The cost is about one hundred and fifty pesos and you will be dropped off at the station in Pochutla, where you can grab a bus to bigger resorts or a taxi or shared pick-up to smaller towns.
I'm still suffering from post traumatic stress after a grueling 9-10 hour bus ride from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido. If you're thinking about taking the bus to Puerto Escondido and vicinity, I recommend that you reconsider if you're prone to motion sickness.
I thought a bus trip to Puerto Escondido would be an adventure. I was told that it would take 6-7 hours (WRONG!).
I took a taxi from the Zocalo area to the first-class bus terminal. There are reader boards throughout the terminal with destinations and departure times. For Puerto Escondido, there was only one bus line (OCC) with departures at 9:30 AM, 11:00 PM, and midnight. The one-way fare was MX$240.
Since this was my first trip to Puerto Escondido, I thought a daytime bus trip would be more scenic and enjoyable (WRONG!). The 9:30 AM departure was a "milk-run." It made numerous stops at towns in-between to drop off and pick up passengers plus a lunch rest stop for the driver. These stops made the trip a 9-10 hour journey. The length of the bus ride isn't the problem, it's the windy roads.
On the first-class bus, passengers sit high up so the sway of the bus is very noticeable. The route to Puerto Escondido is a long windy road. I was nauseated with a headache for the entire 9-10 hours. It was brutal. I was hoping that I could sleep, but I was so nauseated that I couldn't. I was on the verge of throwing up during the entire trip. I was not a happy passenger. I will never ever do that bus ride again. Next time, I'm flying!
For the return trip to Oaxaca, I took an air taxi called Aerovega. The one-way fare was MX$1,000, but it was well worth it. The flight took 40 minutes and it was on a Cessna 411.
On November 5, 2004 I took an ADO GL bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca. The trip took six hours and cost $343.00 pesos. That's less than $34.00 dollars. I purchased the ticket from Ticket Bus at the first class bus station, Mexico TAPO. There are several daily departures. I left at 9:30 a. m. and arrived in Oaxaca at 3:30 p. m.
The ADO GL is an executive type bus. It was very comfortable with much leg room, reclining seats and bathrooms.
Ticket Bus has a website, www.ticketbus.com. It has extensive information on it.
Buses are the cheapest way to go in Oaxaca. When I was last there it was $2.50 (in pesos, that is) for the newer buses and $2.00 for the older (though not much different) buses. Great price, in my book! However, the buses don't run all night, so if you're out past 10:00 (I think) you'll have to catch a taxi.