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Plaza in Escarcega

Escárcega (full name Francisco Escárcega) is a small city of 31,000 people (2020) in the state of Campeche, at an important junction between Mexico's Federal highways 261 and 186. The route between Escarcega and Chetumal is known as the Ruta Rio Bec where a number of Maya archaelogical sites can be found.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Federal Route 261 provides a secondary, inland alternative to the main route from Villahermosa to Mérida. Route 186 traverses the sparsely populated southern half of the Yucatán, between Escárcega and Chetumal.

By train[edit]

Escarcega is a key station on the Tren Maya intercity high-speed rail line. The three train lines converge at Escarcega, making it the most important transfer point for changing trains bound for Cancun, Chetumal, or Palenque. All trains on all lines stop at Escarcega.


The location of Escárcega at highway intersections has made it a stop for truckers and long distance buses. Widely considered the least charming town in the Yucatan Peninsula, there is no reason for travelers to make a special trip here, nor to linger longer than needed while in transit to elsewhere. Basic food, lodging, and supplies can be obtained here if needed, but don't expect anything beyond that.

Get around[edit]


Escárcega is a nondescript city with very little of interest to traveler except as a place to wait to change buses or change trains.


Escárcega is a place to change buses. Overland travelers from Cancun, Merida, Campeche, and other sites in the Yucatan pass through Escárcega on their way to Chiapas and Palenque.



  • 1 El Inge, Carr. Villahermosa - Chetumal km 82, Unidad Esfuerzo y Trabajo I. 07:00 - 18:00. Popular roadside restaurant where tour buses often stop. Traditional Mexican dishes served buffet style. M$200.
  • 2 Barbacoa de Borrego Estilo Hidalgo, C. 59 s/n, entre 14 y Calle 12-B, Unidad Esfuerzo y Trabajo II. Authentic pit barbecued mutton. Local place, very informal, cash only.



  • A small, clean budget hotel is located near the bus terminal.
  • Hotel Maria Isabel, +52 982 82 4 00 62, . Av. Justo Sierra 127, Nice, clean rooms with TV and free WiFi, with and without ac. Single rooms starting from M$250. 35 rooms in total. Located in the main street, some blocks west the 2nd class bus terminal. Thus, somewhat noisy from the street.

Go next[edit]

  • Follow the Ruta Rio Bec to Xpujil
  • To the west along Federal Highway 186 are several less visited Maya ruins, Siviltuk, Chicana, Becan, and Xpujil; beyond that the highway continues into the state of Quintana Roo and its capital Chetumal.
  • To the north, Highway 261 leads to the city of Champoton and beyond that the state capital of Campeche
  • To the north-east, via 186, 258, and 180, is Ciudad del Carmen.
  • To the south-east, 186 continues towards the state of Tabasco, including the city of Villahermosa. The famous Maya ruins of Palenque are a bit south of the highway before Villahermosa.
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