Transportation around Ajijic, Lake Chapala and Guadalajara
Transportation is one of my top five reasons for moving into the Lake Chapala area. I hate driving. I love walking. This is a great place for walking. Ajijic is small enough so a person can easily walk from one end of town to another in an afternoon. Below I will mention some of the options you have regarding transportation.
Renting a car locally in Lake Chapala
If you are coming for a visit to explore the area and don’t want to go by bus or taxi, you can rent a car. Prices are reasonable if renting locally, however prices do increase when renting new vehicles at the airport. For a day, it costs from sixty to seventy dollars. Or you can rent by the week or month. If you rent locally prices are less expensive than the airport, however cars are used and not brand new, prices start at about 200 USD – 250 USD a week and 650 to 700 USD a month. Access Lake Chapala has a few rental cars available, information is below:
1) Subaru Impreza 2005 (Weekly rental = 220 USD – Monthly rental = 680 USD)
Great on the cobble stones due to its AWD (all wheel drive) the Subaru Impreza RS has lots of room and will get you from point A-B through out the Lake Chapala area. Black cloth-trimmed interior, remote key less entry system, bucket seats, cup holder(s), power mirrors, trip computer, fuel efficient and always well maintained. Features & Specs: Engine 2.5 L Flat 4-cylinder, Drive train All Wheel Drive, Transmission Automatic, Horse Power 165 hp @ 5600 rpm, Fuel Economy 20/27 mpg, AM/FM Stereo, Air Conditioning, CD Player, Cruise Control, Dual Air Bags, Power Locks, Power Steering, Power Windows, Rear Defroster, Tilt Steering Wheel.
2) Honda Civic 2002 (Weekly rental = 200 USD – Monthly rental = 650 USD)
Fun-to-drive Honda Civic EX that is perfect for driving around the streets for Ajijic and Lake Chapala. Beige cloth-trimmed interior, power glass moon roof, remote key less entry system, 15 wheels, bucket seats, cup holder(s), power mirrors, power sunroof, trip computer, fuel efficient and always well maintained. Features & Specs: Engine 1.7 L Inline 4-cylinder, Transmission 4-speed Automatic, Horse Power 127 hp @ 6300 rpm, Fuel Economy 35 mpg, AM/FM Stereo, Air Conditioning, CD Player, Cloth Seats, Cruise Control, Dual Air Bags, Keyless Remote Lock Control, Power Locks, Power Steering, Power Windows, Rear Defroster, Tilt Steering Wheel, Tinted Glass
3) Nissan X-Trail 2005 (Weekly rental = 250 USD – Monthly rental = 750 USD)
The X-Trail features a 2.5-litre 16-valve DOHC 4-cylinder engine that generates 165-horsepower and 170-lb.-ft of torque. Lots of storage and stowage options, Reputation for reliability, Smooth six-speed gearbox and always well maintained. Features & Specs: Transmission Automatic, Horse Power 165 hp, AM/FM Stereo, Air Conditioning, CD Player, Leather Seats, Cruise Control, Dual Air Bags, Keyless Remote Lock Control, Power Locks, Power Steering, Power Windows, Rear Defroster, Tilt Steering Wheel, Tinted Glass.
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Local Buses in Ajijic:
If you get tired of walking, then there is always a bus. The buses run often. Every fifteen minutes a bus will come along. The large buses cost a few pesos more than the smaller ones and they take the direct route. The small buses go around through the towns.
I enjoy the small buses because I can see what is happening in town. I am surprised at how few expats I see on the buses. The cost for either bus is under a dollar ($8 Mexican pesos). If you really want to save money, and you are old enough, you can get a senior discount card. It is good for all the local buses and also the long distance ones. The rides are half price. It isn’t expensive to get the card and only takes a few hours. If you plan taking a long distance bus trip, it would make a big difference in the price.
Buses from Chapala to Guadalajara:
It costs around four dollars to take a bus from the lakeside area to Guadalajara. Those buses run every half-hour in the mornings and every hour in the afternoons. There is a direct bus and a local bus. Try to get the direct one. It is faster. All the larger buses run on the main street only. They go to Jocotepec and to Chapala.
- Local Buses stop in all towns and are stationed on the main highway in Chapala
- Bus fair in the Lake Chapala area including Ajijic, San Juan etc: $12 pesos
- Guadalajara is easily reached from Chapala. Buses leave from the Chapala bus station every few hours
- Bus fare from Chapala to Guadalajara: $55 pesos
Long distance buses in Mexico
The long distance buses are excellent. They have seats that recline, curtains on the windows so you can sleep and they also show videos. They go all over Mexico. Even without the senior card, prices are low. Taking a bus from Lake Chapala to either Manzanillo or Puerto Vallarta can be taken with ETN or Primera Plus. They are first class bus services that run several times a day from the main bus terminal in Guadalajara. You can get to the main bus terminal in Guadalajara from the Chapala bus station and then grab the connecting bus to any destination in Mexico .
Driving a Car in Chapala and Mexico
Before I moved here I gave my car to a friend. I never wanted to drive again. Most expats have cars. That is their major means of transportation. Sometimes the main street gets traffic, especially during the high season, which is the wintertime. Driving isn’t a problem, even in the high season. I have seen many older people driving here. It is easier here for them than in the States where the towns are much more congested and the freeways are dangerous. Car insurance is much less expensive here than it is in the States, anywhere from $200-$400 USD a year, depending on what car you are insuring. Gas price are very cheap as well.
GPS systems such as Garmin work very good in Chapala and Guadalajara. Just make sure you get the Mexican Maps from Garmin GPS . You can just about get anywhere in Guadalajara by typing the address into your GPS. We even have a “Best Buy” here in Mexico that has just recently started selling the GPS system by Garmin.
If you decide to drive down here with your own car then you may want to research the toll roads. Toll roads here in Mexico are smooth and very nice. We also have a detailed driving guide on how to drive from Laredo to Lake Chapala and from Lake Chapala to Laredo.
See our detailed Driving Instructions:
- Car insurance is inexpensive, much less than in the US or Canada. You can insure a small sedan for $200 – $400 USD a year.
- Gas prices are inexpensive.
- GPS such as Garmin work very good in Chapala and Guadalajara. Just make sure you get the Mexican Maps from Garmin GPS
- Renting a Car in at the airport can be expensive but renting privatley in Ajijic or Chapala can cost much less.
Bus Tours to Costco:
If you want to tour around the lake there are some tour companies here that have trips at very low cost. They also go to other areas of interest. The Red Cross rents a bus that takes people into Guadalajara to Costco and other shopping centers. They charge around twelve dollars for the trip and you can shop and leave your packages on the bus during the day. The trips last all day. They also go to the Zoo in Guadalajara, Tonala, Tlaquepaque and other interesting places. I have been on several of their trips and they are fun. The buses are almost always full. You can buy your ticket in advance at the Lake Chapala Society. They have a table in front of the coffee shop and they are there every weekday from ten a.m. to two p.m. There are many bus stops in Guadalajara if you decide to go by yourself. People are always friendly and willing to help you with directions.
Guadalajara also has an excellent subway system. There are also Double Decker tour buses in the main plaza. They go to all the interesting places in Guadalajara and if you are a senior citizen the price is very low.
Taxis in Lake Chapala:
There are always taxis available. You can get a taxi at the Guadalajara airport from the lakeside area and the cost is around thirty dollars. It takes about twenty-five minutes to get there by taxi. For short trips in town, they charge around four dollars and a little more to go from Ajijic to Chapala or Jocotopec. There are many taxis here and the drivers usually speak at least some English, enough to get you where you want to go. You can always find a taxi at the plazas.
- Central plaza in all the villages and you can usually find a Taxi cab.
- Destination locally such as Ajijic – Chapala can go anywhere from $50 – $90 pesos.
- Cab fair to Guadalajara from Chapala can go for $250- $450 pesos
Or you could get around by horseback. Horses are for rent here (rent a horse in La Floresta) by the hour or by the day. There are still many Mexican and even expat riders in town. Every now and then you will even see them riding through the streets of Ajijic. Traffic police do not bother horse back riders, they are almost considered as pedestrians.
Airlines that fly into the Guadalajara airport.
Another advantage of living in this area is that you can get back to the States or Canada quickly. It is just a few hours to the States and perhaps a 5 hours flight to Canada from Guadalajara. There are many airplanes that fly into the Guadalajara airport, most of them have direct flights. Aero Mexico, American, Delta, Alaska Airlines, Continental, United Airlines all fly here.
- Airfare can vary, but a round trip ticket to LAX, Atlanta or Seatllet can go for about $500 – $700 USD
For more information check out this site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/transportation in Mexico.
There is an interesting airline that you can find on the Internet under vivaaerobus.com. They fly to twelve different cities, all over Mexico and the prices are unbelievably cheap. They also are connected with the luxury long distance buses so you can make all your arrangements through them.
Bicycles and the Cyclopista in Lake Chapala
At one time I had a bicycle. There is a bike path that runs all the way from Chapala to Jocotopec. If you are in good shape, that may be the way to go for you. This bike path runs from Chapala all the way to Jocotepec.
Other means of Transportation
Another great and inexpensive way of getting around Ajijic and Chapala is a moped or motorcycle. Many of the mopeds use the cyclopista to commute but Motorcycles have to stay on the main highway. You will find all different types of Motorcycles circulating in Ajijic, from expensive BMW bikes to good old fashion Harleys.
No matter how you get here, once you are here, you will enjoy this place. Come on down. If you need any help or advice, we are always willing to answer your questions and concerns.
By, Evelyn Walker
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