Transportation From Guadalajara Airport to Lake Chapala
The Guadalajara International airport has many direct flights coming in from and departing to many different US cities including Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles and others. Flights to and from Canada must make a stop in either Mexico City or any other US hub depending on the airline you are flying with. Some of the most popular airlines that operate in Miguel Hidalgo International Airport are:
- American Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Continental Airlines
- US Airways
- American Eagle
The airport facilities are very clean and modern with all the amenities you come to expect from an international airport. However the airport is about a 30 minute drive to Lake Chapala or Ajijic and transportation to the area is limited. Many people claim that taking a bus from the airport to Chapala can be done but it is not meant for new comers. It is always suggested to take a Taxi on your first visit. We will mention the transportation options and costs below:
So how do I get to Chapala & Ajijic from the Guadalajara airport?
There is no such thing as a shuttle van to the Lake Chapala area, unless you have hired a touring company or private van to pick you up. So basically you have two options: Taxi or Bus, We are going to explain why getting a Taxi is hassle free vs trying to catch a bus. Before we get into these details we have put together a small map that will help you identify where Guadalajara is and how far Chapala and Ajijic are from the airport (30 minute drive):
Taxis from Guadalajara Airport to Lake Chapala
Taxis, renting a car or having someone pick you up at the Guadalajara airport are the best options you have for transportation over to Chapala. There are many Taxi’s all hours of the day and night at the airport, there is however a system on how to pay and take one. You have to buy a prepaid ticket at the “Taxi desk” which is located as soon as you exit the arrivals gate. This is to prevent the Taxi drivers from over charging you.
The price you pay is a flat rate depending on where you are going. Prices for taking a cab to Chapala or Ajijic can be anywhere from $400 to $450 pesos ($35 – $45 USD) and the trip can take about 30 to 40 minutes depending on the traffic. The taxis are located right out side the building and are always available, there is hardly no waiting time or lines.
For those worried about safety in Mexican cabs don’t be. It is perfectly safe taking a taxi from the GDL airport, all the drivers carry their license and are authorized to transport people under strict control from the official Mexican tourism offices. Plus, each driver has to pass through a security check point before leaving the airport, where they are checked for their certification and where they receive their voucher. Once you reach the hotel or home you are staying at, a 10% – 15% tip is recommended for the driver, perhaps $50 ($4 USD).
Buses from GDL airport to Chapala:
Catching a bus to save some money can be a hassle, don’t bother to do it and especially with baggage. Since the airport is a third of the way to Chapala. You would have to take a bus to the Guadalajara bus station, which is the opposite direction of Chapala. Or you could walk from the Airport terminal to the main road “carretera 23” and wait under the bridge overpass for one of the buses coming from the GDL bus station, stop it and hop on board. But please keep in mind that it is about a quarter km walk from the airport to the main highway and walking conditions are not meant for pedestrians. The bus fair from the main highway can be anywhere from $30 to $50 pesos (3-4 USD).
Can I pay in Dollars or are there ATM machines?
Yes, the Taxi tickets can be paid in USD dollars but the exchange rate the Taxi booths give you are not very good and always way above average. The best way to go upon this is to take some pesos out through the ATM machines at the airport. All international cards are accepted and the funds you take out are automatically converted into pesos depending on the exchange rate that day by the bank (usually better than what the Taxi exchange booths offer).
Renting a car at the airport?
Car rentals are also an option and can be rented at the arrivals section. As soon as you exit the terminal you will see AVIS, SIXT, BUDGET, EUROPCAR, HERTZ and other booths lined up in a row waiting to offer you a rental. Many of the booth operators will call out to you asking if you need to rent a car.
The procedure is similar to the taxi booths. You select the car you want, fill out the paper work, pay with your credit card and then a shuttle van will come for you and take you over to the parking lots that house the vehicles. Pricing varies depending on the car you select, but prices can go anywhere from $400 – $700 pesos a day ($40 – $65 USD)
Hopefully shuttle services will be available from the GDL airport to Chapala some day, but for the time being these are the best options for transportation to Lake Chapala. We will update this post as new means of transportation are available.
Let us know if we can help or answer any of your questions.
By, Mario Garcia
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