Getting To Belize
1. What Should I Bring?
Passport, light clothing, hat & sunglasses as well as an over-shirt and long pants as some of the evenings get cool. The days will be in the 80s with the night dropping down to 60-70 degrees. Good foot wear is nice if you plan to climb the Mayan Ruins or hike in the mountains. You may want a swimsuit, water shoes, sun screen or bug spray. Casual dress is acceptable most places. Laundry services are readily available. There is no need for an inverter; electrical is the same 110 as in the States.
2. What Currency Does Belize Use?
Belize has its own currency, it is fixed to the US Dollar at 2 to 1. It is less confusing to use the local currency in the shops and restaurants, where prices are generally in Belize Dollars. Real Estate for Sale and/or rent, and Hotels are generally quoted in US Dollars. US Dollars are excepted everywhere, but not US coin. Travelers checks are generally not accepted, if you elect to utilize them you will probably have to cash them at a bank.
Use of credit cards will generally attract a higher charge than cash.
3. Is there a time change?
Belize does not utilize daylight savings time, so this may lead to a time change for you depending on where you are traveling from. During Daylight Savings, in the late fall and winter, Belize is on Central Time. During the summer, Belize is one hour later, or Eastern Time.
Also, please note that if you plan to fly into Mexico and travel to Belize: Fall and Winter it is ONE HOUR LATER IN MEXICO than it is in Belize. If you are meeting someone be sure to specify Mexican time or Belize time. March thru October we are on the same time zone. This is due to the fact that Mexico utilizes daylight savings, same as the U.S., while Belize does not.
4. Can I take Mayan Artifacts home?
While Mayan Artifacts are plentiful everywhere and the locals are always ready to sell them to visitors, you cannot take them out of the Country. They can be confiscated at the airport.
5. I've heard buses are big in Central America. Are they convenient in Belize?
We are located on the bus line. The buses run to all major towns. Bus fare is extremely economical and you get to meet many people along the way.
6. What Should I Expect From Customs and Immigration Forms?
During your flight the airline will pass out custom declaration forms and immigration forms to fill out and hand to the Immigration Officer when you enter the Country. (Note that fruits, vegetables or meats are not allowed) The form asks where you are going, fill in either:
Corozal District, Progresso Village – if you are flying into Belize City or
State of Quintano Roo, City of Chetumal if you are flying into Cancun
Note: there is a whole page of instructions if you are flying into Cancun – it has it’s own section, below
From Some parts of the world, Flying into Chetumal, Mexico, airport code: CTM, works out well – this is a
much smaller airport just north of the Mexico/Belize Border
7. What Should I Expect When I Fly into Belize City? (Airport Code BZE)
When you get off the plane, you will be outside on the ground. Follow the crowd into the immigration building – stay to the lanes on the left, which are for visitors, the lane on the right is for citizens of Belize.
They will stamp your passport for 30 days from the date of arrival and will keep the top, larger portion of the immigration form you filled out on the plane. You will get back the smaller, bottom portion of this form, to turn in when you leave the country.
Once you have all of your baggage, proceed to exit through customs – stay to your right, where the line says nothing to declare (unless of course, you do have something to declare). Once through customs, head toward the exit, where the man at the door will collect your customs form and allow you to leave the building.
Note: there is an ATM right there, in case you want it, the money will come out in Belize Currency (2 to 1 to the US Dollar)
If you have rented a vehicle, the rental companies are right in front of you when you exit across the parking lot. If you are heading to Belize Land Office, print out the directions from this website and they will guide you to our door.
There are not any buses available at the Belize Airport – only Taxis which are available to take you wherever you would like to go – if you want to get to the Bus Station in Belize City – it will take about 25 minutes and the charge will be $25.00 US dollars. There you can buy a ticket to Orange Walk for $4.00 US. Once in Orange Walk you will be able to get on the bus to Progresso for $1.00 US.
8. What Should I Expect Flying into Cancun, Mexico (Airport Code CUN) and Traveling to Belize?
This presents many options – I will try to share some on them with you based on my personal experiences.
Note: Exchange rate from the US dollar to the Mexican Pesos averages around 15-17 pesos to 1 US dollar. There is an ATM at the bus station that will give you Mexican Pesos or you can utilize one of the many money changers that will approach you.
Regardless of how you leave Mexico, if you have not been in the Country for at least 72 hours you will be charged an exit fee when you turn in your paperwork as you exit. Mexico supplements the airline tickets, making it cheaper for you to buy, based on the assumption that you would be vacationing in Mexico. Early departure attracts a ‘trans-migrant fee’ of $20.00 US as you leave the Country.
9. Traveling By Vehicle From Mexico to Belize:
The distance from the Cancun Airport to the Belize Land Office is 254 miles, with close to that many speed bumps between here and there! While there are many car rental companies at this location, you will need to choose one that allows you to take the vehicle across the border. American Car Rental is one, and there probably are others. You will need a letter of authorization from them for the border crossing to be allowed to drive the vehicle into Belize. Without this letter you will have to park it at the border in their parking lot for $13.00 bze per day and you won’t have the use of it. With permission from the Car Rental Company, they will place a stamp in your passport indicating that you have a temporary import permit for the vehicle. This stamp ties you to the vehicle to assure that it leaves the Country when you do.
Note: if you are driving a vehicle you will need to stop at the ‘spray booth’ just before entering Immigrations – you will see a stop sign and a small building on your right – they will charge you $5.00 and spray your tires as a preventative from carrying foreign matter across boarders.
Once inside Belize, you will need Insurance before driving around the Country. Just outside the Immigration compound, you will see Belize Insurance Corporation right in front of you. This is an excellent place to stop and secure liability insurance for your vehicle for the duration that you will be in Belize. If you plan on doing this frequently you might consider getting an annual policy which is around $175. US for the year. They allow you can place the policy on hold while you are out of the country, which will continue to extend the time left without any limitations.
10. Travel by Bus From Mexico to Belize:
There are buses that run every hour during the day and evening, cutting back to 1 every 3 hours in the middle of the night. The trip from Cancun to Chetumal takes 6 hours due to the multiple stops. Buses have comfortable seats & rest rooms, but tend to keep the temperature the same as a meat locker, so make sure you keep warm clothing handy as you will not have access to your luggage, it will be stored under the bus for the trip.
On arrival at the Cancun Airport, go out through the main exit door and look for the TRANSFER BUS to take you to the other Terminal, which is Terminal 2. The sign says “Shuttle Bus Stop”
This is a free service, running continually, the wait is generally not more than 5 minutes before the minibus comes along. (Taxi cab drivers will generally try to get you into their cab and may tell you "no bus," but that is not the case)
The transfer bus will drop you off outside the other terminal entrance. Go inside the building, turn left and keep going left until you see the Ticket Desk for ADO and Riviera Buses. Don’t buy tickets anywhere else or from anyone else. You will buy a ticket from Cancun to Chetumal, Mexico which will cost around $20.00 US.
The bus makes stops along the way, if you get off to use the facilities, don’t go sight seeing. They move very quickly and won’t even notice that you are not in your assigned seat when they roll down the road. (note your seat assignment when you buy your ticket, they do not use open seating in Mexico).
When you arrive at the Chetumal Bus Station, there are two ways they handle the arriving buses – if the bus goes to the rear of the large bus terminal – collect your luggage, go inside the terminal and up the stairs that are right in front of you, to the main level and head out the front door to the outside parking lot. Night time arrivals they generally just pull up along side the front of the building, so you are already where you need to be.
The Chetumal Bus Station is 10 miles or so from the Mexico/Belize border, take a Mexican Taxi to the border. Once through immigration there will be mini buses that run from the border into Corozal, which is about 8 or 9 miles south of the border, where the bus station is.
In the event that you are being met at the Chetumal Bus Station, the meeting point is generally right in front of the main entry of the bus station, facing the parking lot. If for some reason you do not connect with the party collecting you, our Mexican Phone Line is: 999-906-9296 from a Mexican pay phone. If you are using your US cell phone, you would dial 011-52-1-999-906-9296 to reach our Mexican cell phone.
11. How Do I Use a Mexican Pay Phone?
Buy a Tel/Mex phone card for 30 pesos (under $3.00 US) at any newsstand or convenience store. You will find these stands in the airport and the bus station. Use the card in any Tel/Mex pay phone. If you are calling our Mexican number from a Mexican pay phone just dial 999-906-9296 if you are calling Belize from a Mexican pay phone, dial 00 before the number. Dial 00-501-660-9033 to reach us in Belize, from Mexico
Once on the Belize side of the border the Belize phone is: 660-9033
12. Late Arrival into Cancun:
If you are arriving into Cancun late in the day and want to stay overnight before completing your journey, you could stay in Cancun or you could consider the following:
Take the “playa bus” from the Cancun Airport (under $10.00) you will be taken to the ‘Beach Bus Station’ which is one hour south of the airport. Across the street from the Station is a bank for exchanging currency. There are numerous hotels within walking distance, ranging in price from $40.00 US on up. To take the bus to Chetumal from Playa de Carmen you must go to the main Playa Bus Station, ten blocks away. Take a taxi ($5.00 US) from the stand outside the Playa Beach Bus Stand to the Main Bus Station, buy a ticket on ADO to Chetumal.