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Crossing into Mexico

While Corozal Town is a sleepy little burg with a village feel to it, Chetumal, its nearby Mexican neighbor, is a bustling little border city, with a lively shopping and nightlife scene. Chetumal is also the gateway to the beaches and Mayan ruins of the Yucatán Peninsula.

Chetumal is the capital of Quintana Roo, the Mexican state that makes up much of the Yucatán Peninsula and is home to the resort towns of Cancún, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, and Isla Mujeres, as well as the Mayan sites of Tulúm and Cobá.

Most Belizeans come to Chetumal to take advantage of the town's "free zone," an area with scores of duty-free shops, modern multiplex cinemas, restaurants, and even a couple of casinos. You can also visit the Museo de la Cultura Maya, Avenida de los Héroes, between avenidas Colón and Ghandi (tel. 983/832-6838), which offers a much more extensive museum representation of Mayan history, art, and archaeology than you will find anywhere in Belize. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 7pm (it stays open 1 hr. later Fri-Sat). Admission is around US$4 (£2.10).

Just 40km (25 miles) north of Chetumal lies the beautiful Bacalar Lagoon. This natural area is also known as Las Lagunas de los Siete Colores (The Lagoons of Seven Colors), and is a good place to have lunch and admire the views.

Frequent buses run between Corozal and Chetumal. The ride takes about 1 hour, including the formalities of the border crossing. The actual border is at the Belizean city of Santa Elena on the Hondo River, 13km (8 miles) north of Corozal Town. You don't need a visa in advance, but you will have to pay BZ$38 (US$19/£10) in departure fees. The bus fare runs around BZ$12 (US$6/£3.20) one-way.

Alternatively, you can head to Chetumal by boat, a quick 10-minute hop away. If you depart Belize by boat, your departure fee is just BZ$7.50 (US$3.75/£2).

Tip: Your best bet for changing money from U.S. or Belize dollars into Mexican pesos are the money-changers on the Belize side. Alternatively, there's widespread compatibility between ATMs in Chetumal and other Mexican destinations and most PLUS and Cirrus debit and credit cards.

For more on the area, pick up a copy of Frommer's Cancún, Cozumel & the Yucatán or Frommer's Mexico.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.