Transportation in Central America

Exploring the land of the Maya


on: 27/04/23

by: Oliver Williams, Staff

Travel by land in central america is the best option to experience the culture.

Transportation in Central America

If it were a single country, it would be the eighth largest in Latin America, as its territory is currently home to seven small independent nations: Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama - there's a lot to travel!

From the Caribbean beaches to the great Mayan archaeological sites, passing through its impressive nature and the beauty of its colonial towns, Central America is the ideal region to get to know the diversity of Latin America, where beaches are accompanied by forests, virgin jungles, and active volcanoes. The best way to discover all its treasures is by land transportation, and AndesTransit allows you to find thousands of routes to design your ideal trip.

Know Central America with an overland trip

For many travelers, the idea of visiting several countries implies the need to have additional money and time. However, traveling through Central America is more practical and simple than you might imagine, thanks to the bus routes that connect the entire region across borders. For example, you can take a route from Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean coast side (Panama), enter through the border with Sixaola, and arrive at Puerto Viejo de Limon in Costa Rica, which takes as little as four hours.

After touring Costa Rica, you can travel to Peñas Blancas where you cross the border into Nicaragua and enjoy the peaceful tranquility in the southwestern part of this country. From there, you continue by bus from Guasaule up the Panamerican Highway to Honduras. Remember to check the special requirements to enter each country, such as yellow fever certification to enter Honduras.

After visiting volcanoes such as Isla de Tigre or Zaca Grande, why not go further to Ocotepeque and cross the border into El Salvador at El Poy. To finish the route, take the bus to the department of Ahuachapán where you cross the border into Guatemala, arriving in one of the most traditional countries of Central America, from which you can cross from Melchor de Mencos to Benque Viejo in Belize. The most interesting thing about this area is that it connects two great Mayan areas, Tikal in Flores, and Caracol in San Ignacio.

At most of these borders, you will only need your valid passport, fill out some forms to know how many days you will stay, and pay the exit fees as you go (mostly in local currency, or in US dollars if you are in Panama or Costa Rica). You can take popular bus services from Managua (Nicaragua) to San Jose (Costa Rica) where the bus stops for you and all the other passengers to do the migration paperwork.

If you are interested in living this experience, or in knowing the thousands of ways you can travel through Central America to get the most out of your stay, we recommend you to visit our platform where you can choose the destination you like, having the option to filter your search by either public versus private transportation or both combined, finding the services that best fit your budget.

Types of Transportation in Central America

When you explore Central America by land you should know that to get a bus ticket in Central America, there are several alternatives.

Public buses in Central America

Known as the "chicken bus" in Guatemala, "rapidito" in Honduras, "chiva" in Panama or "colectivo" in Costa Rica, you will have the opportunity to live incredible experiences; as this is one of the favorite means of transportation for the locals (since they are quite cheap), you will be able to live with them in a more special way and know first hand how is the day to day life of the country you are in.

The downside of this is that many times the drivers do not know what "full" means, so they are often uncomfortable for some people.

Executive buses

If you want more comfort, cleanliness, and room, the executive or premium buses will be your better choice. These are usually more long-distance buses between major cities, and seat availability is harder to attain, so we recommend that you secure your seat online and avoid having your plans changed at the last minute. These buses generally depart from their offices or terminals and have internet service (WiFi), restrooms on board, and some even offer food directly to your seat.

Many cities have more than one station, and companies (especially buses in Costa Rica and buses in Panama) usually have their own private stations.

Private transportation in Central America

Finally, if what you seek in transportation is privacy and personalization to your itinerary, and, above all, if you are traveling with special luggage such as surfboards or your four-legged friend, you will prefer the option of private transportation (shuttles or vans). For example, if you want to surf in the Pacific Coast in the morning and in the afternoon walk along the Cerro Chato, hiring a private driver in Costa Rica will be your best alternative, because it will give you the ideal flexibility and tranquility to enjoy your trip, taking care at all times of your valuable equipment, which will arrive safely with you directly to the lodging of your choice.

Tourism in Central America

We cannot emphasize enough that Central America offers unique and exclusive experiences for every type of traveler who wants to know the many facets of the different countries in this area. So we will give you a quick and practical guide to seeing some ideal destinations.

For the adventurous

In Belize, venture out to the incredible formation called El Ojo, which was declared a World Heritage Site by the UN. It is home to colorful marine life and coral species such as the famous Brain Coral. All this is located in the shimmering white sand beaches that you can enjoy from Ambergris Caye, in the north of Belize to Ranguana Caye, in the south.

In Guatemala, you will find perfect places to practice rafting because of its rivers. Two of these, Nahualate or El Coyolate, are characterized by their strength and speed.

El Salvador offers the opportunity to get to know its rugged geography from the sky by flying over Lake Ilopango in a paraglider. If you prefer something more terrestrial, go mountain biking through the hilly area of San Ignacio.

Nicaragua invites you to visit the most precious jewel in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, Isla de Ometepe, where you will see twin volcanoes, lush hillsides crisscrossed by trails, archaeological remains, zip lines, and all kinds of adventures.

While in Costa Rica, you'll enjoy hiking through the Monteverde Cloud Forest: a mysterious place reminiscent of the mythical Neverland, dripping with mist, creeping moss, and ever-evolving fauna and flora.

For the romantics

Central America is located in the "waist" of the American continent as if it were a bridge from North America to South America. This lends it the privilege of having so many beaches on both the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean that are not far from each other because the land between them is relatively narrow.

Among the most outstanding beaches are in Panama, including the Archipelago of Bocas del Toro where you have the option to ride a beach bike, hum an improvised calypso in Bastimentos Island, or enjoy a relaxed dinner in a thatched hut in a quaint bay.

If you are looking for a magical place with deep history and great cultural diversity, make sure to visit La Antigua in Guatemala, easily accessible from the capital by bus. There you will find views of the gigantic volcanic peak Volcan de Agua and well-preserved baroque architecture.

If you want to continue delving into the history of Central America, you can make your way to Caracol, which is the largest Mayan site in Belize, whose central area with temples, palaces, workshops, and markets emits the strength and splendor of yesteryear.

It's time to travel through Central America!

Now that you know some of the incredible destinations that Central America has to offer, it's time for you to dare to live this adventure. Our bilingual team at AndesTransit is ready to help you plan your trip and find the best ground transportation services. You can schedule a free online meeting, in which for 20 minutes we will clear your doubts when planning the ideal itinerary for your dream trip.

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Central America Transportation Orientation Map

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