Find out how to Get Round Central America on a Funds

A gorgeous empty beach surrounded by palm trees in Central America
Posted: 5/13/2019 | Might 13th, 2019

Surrounded by the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Central America is a magical area that’s good for backpacking. The realm is stuffed with rainforests, unexplored Mayan ruins, beautiful seashores, unimaginable reefs, low cost costs, scrumptious meals, and heat welcoming folks.

Although it isn’t costly, it’s typically complicated to rearrange your individual transportation all through the area.

So, on this put up, I’ll present some useful hints on getting round Central America. Right here’s how one can journey round Central America cheaply – regardless of how lengthy you’ll be there.


Getting Round Low cost By Bus

One of the many colorful local chicken buses in Guatemala, Central America
Buses are the principle type of transportation you’ll use to get round Central America. In actual fact, it’s about the one solution to get round Central America as there aren’t any prepare strains and regional flights are costly. You’re going to take buses most of your journey.

There are a number of completely different sorts of buses within the area.

Probably the most snug are the worldwide buses that run between the bigger cities and have a tendency to have their very own bus terminals. They’ve set, dependable schedules and are finest for lengthy distances. They make touring straightforward and even maintain the hassles at border crossings. The businesses you utilize would possibly differ by nation, however just a few of the bigger providers embody:

On Tica Bus, for instance, you may get from Panama all the way in which to Antigua in Guatemala for $136 USD (a 32-hour journey). From Panama to Costa Rica is about $55 USD (a 16-hour journey).

The routes are sometimes easy, the buses are air-conditioned, there’s a rest room on board, and the seats recline. Some corporations (like Tica) will even have partnerships with native inns/hostels so that you just get dropped off proper on the door slightly than having to seek out your approach at 2am upon arrival.

Whereas most of those bus providers have web sites, they’re typically extraordinarily buggy and tough to make use of. To check routes and costs, you may analysis your journey on earlier than both reserving on the bus firm’s web site or just exhibiting up on the terminal to buy your ticket.

For brief distances, you have got the “collectivo.” This short-distance minivan service is tremendous low cost, however typically very crowded. You’ll often discover them at bus terminals, so it’s price checking with the drivers to see the place they’re going.

Lastly, there’s the native hen bus. These colorfully painted autos had been previously U.S. faculty buses. They’re referred to as “hen buses” as a result of in addition they transport chickens and rice, thus have numerous chickens on them. It’s a nickname that has caught amongst vacationers. They cease nearly in every single place to let folks hop on and off. They’re a cramped however enjoyable and fascinating solution to get round locations. I all the time find yourself assembly intereting people.

Listed here are some pattern fares for categorical bus routes in Central America (in USD):

  • Belize Metropolis to Flores – $25 (5 hrs)
  • Flores to Guatemala Metropolis – $28 (Eight hrs)
  • Guatemala Metropolis to San Salvador – $22 (6 hrs)
  • San Salvador to Tegucigalpa – $15 (7 hrs)
  • Tegucigalpa to Managua – $30 (6 hrs)
  • Managua to San Jose – $25 (Eight hrs)
  • San Jose to Panama Metropolis – $55 (16 hrs)
  • San Salvador to Antigua – $19 (6 hrs)
  • Bocas Del Toro to Boquete – $37 (6 hrs 48 minutes)
  • San Jose to Tamarindo – $8 (5 hrs 30 minutes)
  • San Jose to Boquete – $13 (Eight hrs)

Getting Round Low cost By Flying

a Avianca flight taking off against a blue sky in Central America
Flying isn’t the most cost effective solution to see Central America (and routes are actually restricted). San Salvador and San Jose are the most well-liked hubs, so that you could possibly discover respectable costs to/from these cities.

However then you definitely all the time have to attach and that’s a ache. Listed here are some pattern flight instances and costs (that are actually excessive as a result of the area simply doesn’t have that many low cost flights):

Guatemala Metropolis to Belize Metropolis – Flight time: 1 hr 15 min.
TAG 358 USD (a technique), 501 USD (return)
Avianca 284 USD (a technique), 299 USD (return)

Guatemala Metropolis to San Salvador – Flight time: 35 min.
TAG 200 USD (a technique), 347 USD (return)
Avianca 357 USD (a technique), 459 USD (return)

Flores to Guatemala Metropolis – Flight time: 1 hr
TAG 125 USD (a technique), 220 (return)
Avianca – 136 (a technique), 218 (return)

Managua to Panama Metropolis – Flight time: 1 hr 35 min.
COPA 332 USD (a technique), 481 USD (return)
Spirit** 226 USD (a technique), 379 USD (return)

San Jose to Panama Metropolis – Flight time: 1 hr 45 min.
Volaris Costa Rica 91 USD (a technique), 164 (return)
COPA 376 USD (a technique), 196 USD (return)

Managua to Guatemala Metropolis – Flight time: 1 hr 23 min.
COPA 347 USD (a technique), 317 USD (return)
Avianca 348 USD (a technique), 528 USD return

San Jose to Panama Metropolis – Flight time: 1 hr 20 min.
COPA 150 USD (a technique), 312 USD (return)
Avianca 151 USD (a technique), 260 USD (return)

Tegucigalpa to San Jose – Flight time: Four hr 10 min
COPA 357 USD (a technique), 355 USD (return)
Avianca 357 USD (a technique), 355 USD (return)

San Pedro Sula to San Salvador – Flight time: 50 min.
Avianca 356 USD (a technique), 525 (return)

San Pedro Sula to Managua – Flight: three h4 15 min.
Avianca 405 USD (a technique), 515 USD (spherical journey)

**Extraordinarily lengthy flights on account of layovers

Be aware: If you happen to ebook early, it can save you on fares. Fares additionally differ relying on the time of 12 months.

There’s the native Nature Air in Costa Rica, which has pretty cheap flights across the nation. I’ve flown them a few instances however I’m not likely a fan. They’ve a combined security report and I all the time really feel like flying them is a little bit of gamble.

Getting Round Low cost By Automobile

A jeep crossing the mountains in Central America
Renting a automobile and driving round Central America by yourself isn’t a good suggestion. For one, rental automobiles are rather more costly than the general public transit choices.

That mentioned, if you happen to come down right here with a automobile, I’d say go for it. Numerous folks drive by means of the area with a automobile or van they purchased elsewhere. It’s completely doable. I simply wouldn’t hire a automobile to do it within the area.

Getting Round Low cost By Backpacker Bus

a group of backpackers in Central America on a hiking trip together
Bamba Expertise is a backpacker bus firm that serves Central America (amongst different areas). Bamba has a fleet of hop-on-hop-off buses that journey set routes all through the area, making it straightforward to get round and discover if you happen to’re in search of a easy tranportation choice.

As with all pre-arranged excursions, there’s a lot much less flexibility with this selection as you’re happening their schedule (although they may all the time be again if you wish to keep someplace longer). That being mentioned, you may meet numerous actually cool fellow backpackers with this feature. Additionally they manage excursions and excursions, too.

Personally, these buses are simply not my matter. By doing it your self, you’ll have extra flexibility and lower your expenses. Need to meet folks? Simply be taught to say “hello” to strangers on buses!

Getting Round Low cost By Boat

A close-up shot of a small wooden boat ont he water in Central America
If you wish to go to islands or coastal cities, boats and ferries are choices to contemplate.

In Belize, ferries to the islands are sometimes $15-20 USD. You may attain Honduras’ Bay Islands (together with Roatan) by ferry, and also you’ll positively need to take a ship journey if you happen to’re heading to the Corn Islands.

If you’re touring from Belize to Guatemala, there’s a water taxi from Punta Gorda to Puerto Barrios. And there’s a service from Belize (Placencia or Belize Metropolis) to Honduras (Puerto Cortes).

Listed here are some pattern ferry fares:

  • Belize Metropolis to Ambergris Caye – From $15 USD (a technique), $25 USD (spherical journey)
  • Belize Metropolis to Caye Caulker – From $23 USD (a technique), $35 USD (spherical journey)
  • Between Ambergris Caye & Caye Caulker – From $15 USD (a technique), $25 USD (spherical journey)
  • La Ceiba to Roatan – $33 USD (a technique), $65 USD (spherical journey)
  • Punta Gorda to Puerto Barrios – $25 USD (every approach)
  • Placencia to Puerto Cortes – $60 USD (every approach)

For brief journeys (like between the Corn Islands or to varied cities on Lake Atitlan), it’s best to simply present up and rent a ship or water taxi to take you throughout. Costs are often negotiable this manner.

Getting Round Low cost By Prepare

There aren’t any trains in Central America. It’s not an choice!

How Lengthy Does It Take to Get Round Central America?

An empty dock leading out to the water with a volcano in the background in Central America
Getting round Central America can positively be a bit tedious once in a while. Buses might be sluggish and don’t all the time depart or arrive on time. They’ll typically wait till they’re full and cease and choose up folks on the way in which or for relaxation breaks.

However, that will help you plan, here’s a distance and time chart so you recognize (roughly) how lengthy it takes to get from place to put in Central America:

Highway (km/miles)
Air (hrs)
Bus (hrs)
Guatemala Metropolis
– Belize Metropolis
14 hrs
Guatemala Metropolis
– San Salvador
San Jose – Panama Metropolis
Managua –
Guatemala Metropolis
Belize Metropolis – Flores
Flores – Guatemala Metropolis
San Salvador – Tegucigalpa
Tegucigalpa – Managua
Managua – San Jose
San Jose – Panama Metropolis

*No direct flights.


Central America is such a tremendous place – although getting aroudn the area will take some planning and analysis.

Matters received’t all the time go easily. Getting from place to put right here can generally be a problem. However with a little bit preparation and a pinch of persistence, you’ll be capable to have a tremendous expertise.

Be versatile along with your schedule. Be sure to plan forward. Try this, and also you’ll be capable to get pleasure from this unimaginable area of the world!

E-book Your Journey to Central America: Logistical Ideas and Tips

E-book Your Flight
Discover a low cost flight by utilizing Skyscanner or Momondo. They’re my two favourite serps as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you all the time know no stone is left unturned.

E-book Your Lodging
To seek out the very best funds lodging, use as they constantly return the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and low cost inns. You may ebook your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve probably the most complete stock. A few of my favourite locations to remain in Costa Rica:

  • Soiled McNasty (Caye Caulker, Belize) – This is without doubt one of the largest hostels within the nation and a hub for party-goers. If you happen to’re seeking to let free, that is the hostel for you!
  • Rocking J’s (Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica) – This an establishment in Central America. The hostel has been there for ages and there’s a stupendous white sand seashore in entrance of it. They’ve nightly BBQs.
  • The Naken Tiger (San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua) – Positioned in San Juan del Sur, the Bare Tiger is an unimaginable property nestled a bit far out of city however on prime of a hill with a stupendous view of your complete space.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you in opposition to sickness, harm, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes flawed. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many instances previously. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite corporations that supply the very best service and worth are:

In search of the very best corporations to economize with?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the very best corporations to make use of if you journey! I checklist all those I take advantage of to economize once I journey – and I believe will enable you too!

Need Extra Info on Central America?
You’ll want to go to our strong vacation spot information on Central America for much more planning suggestions!

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