SAN JUAN DEL SUR, Nicaragua
the "Sarong Goddess" - Vicki Skinner's Info Guide
GETTING THERE
COSTA RICA TO NICARAGUA

BORDER CROSSING HINTS:
(I've started the text part of "Vicki's Step-by-Step Guide - at least for not EXITING Costa Rica & ENTERING Nicaragua. Soon I'll be adding pictures to go along with it!!  "Search" for the "Vicki Skinner's Step-by-Step Guide to Costa Rica - Nicaragua Border Crossing". 
Soon I'll add the reverse as well as "Where to Park your Car on the Costa Rica Side"  •  "Assistance for Crossing the Costa Rica Border"  •  "Bringing a Car from from Costa Rica into Nicaragua")


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MINIMUM COSTS INVOLVED WITH CROSSING THE BORDER
BETWEEN COSTA RICA & NICARAGUA at PENAS BLANCAS:


$24 both border crossing +
$28 bus ticket proving you're leaving CR within 90 days
TOTAL:
$52


BREAKDOWN:
EXIT Costa Rica:
$8-$9  =  
$7 CR Exit Tax +$1-$2 depending on what the company charges for their fee to process this for you.  You MUST PAY BEFORE you get to the Immigration•"Migracion" window!!!!

ENTERING NICARAGUA:
$13  = 
$1 - Local Municipality Tax (paid at the kiosk JUST as you enter on the right)   -  PLUS  - 
$12 - Nicaragua Migracion•Immigration Entry Fee.  

EXIT NICARAGUA:
$3  = 
$1 - Local Municipality Tax (paid at the kiosk JUST as you enter on the right)   -  PLUS  - 
$2 - Nicaragua Migracion•Immigration Exit Fee.  

ENTER Costa Rica:
$0 fee but you MUST have proof you're leaving CR within 90 days (cheapest - a bus ticket which is around $28)


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AT THE BORDER:

BORDER HOURS:

 6am-12am•midnight

(I've heard that SOMETIMES the Nicaragua has been known to close early so best to get there as EARLY as you can)


WHAT TENDS TO BE THE BEST/EASIEST DAYS TO MAKE THE BORDER CROSSING FASTER?
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Monday (in this order).


BUSIEST DAYS OF THE WEEK
(hence longer lines for the border crossing)

This of course can vary, ESPECIALLY if a bunch of buses are arriving at the same time, as you can be waiting for HOURS in lines (especially the buses that go directly through each country as you have to wait till EVERY PERSON on the bus has cleared customs!!) but the BUSIEST DAYS (based on what I've heard from numerous people in Immigration at the border) seem to be
Sun., Fri., Sat. and the day(s) before/after a holiday.

LEAST BUSY TIME OF DAY TO CROSS:
EARLY in the morning when the border opens and after 4-5pm.


WORST WORST WORST DAYS/TIMES TO CROSS THE BORDER IF YOU WANT TO AVOID THE 3-5+ HOUR LONG LINES??
YOU MIGHT WANT TO AVOID ANY DAYS BEFORE/AROUND THE FOLLOWING HOLIDAYS
(especially those weekends):
*****WARNING!!!!*****
There are 2 times a year where you do NOT want to do a border crossing unless you REALLY NEED to because a large percent of the population get that 1-2 weeks off hence thousands of Nicas go back home for the holidays!! 
#1  -  the 2 weeks associated with Christmas•New Years (2016/2017 -
#2  -  "Samana Santa ("Easter" Week). 

•   Christmas 2016  -  The border will be open 24 hours on Thursday & Friday December 22 & 23 - because it WILL be THE BUSIEST DAYS & probably even LONGER than 6 hours clearing both sides!!

•  2017  -  I don't have the official dates but Jan. 1 is a Sunday & sense that's not a big working day - I'm guessing most people will have that week off as their 2nd week -  You'll still get residual from people coming back from Christmas/New Years usually till the Monday/Tues. after New Years (which NY in '12 is on Sunday!)

•   "Samana Santa ("Easter" Week) - Easter in '17 is April 16 and is celebrated the week before - starting on April 7 - when a HUGE percent of Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica will head home to celebrate with their families (OFTEN going to the beach so if you don't want to pay triple the price for accommodations & stand in LONG lines for anything [hence service won't be so great as might be the case for quality], have LOTS of fireworks going off at ALL hours & music & partying till ALL hours of the night & morning.  A large percent of the workers will be off work from the Friday over a week before Easter Sunday (April 7) - till that Saturday or Sunday of Easter (April 15 and 16).  Lines for Border Crossing could EASILY be 4-6 hours in the HEAT of one of the hottest months of the year!!  There may be a key swamped days where they're open 24 hours (vs closing at midnight) - BUT the HIGHEST of HOLY DAYS  -  April 13 and 14 - Holy Thursday and Good Friday (MUCH more celebrated than even Easter BUT - NOTE that in some “provinces”/states it is a “DRY” [meaning NO alcohol can be “SOLD”
MANY things not near beach areas are closed [this is the case in Costa Rica.  Is it "Dry" in NI also???) where the border has shorter/limited hours.

•  May 1  -  Labor Day in Costa Rica (celebrated ON that day only in CR) and Nicaragua

•  May 30  -  Mother's Day for Nicaragua

•  July 18  -  It’s Anexio Guanacaste Day - Costa Rica (when this area ____ from Nicaragua and became part of Nicaragua)

•  August 2  -  Lady of our Angel’s Day - Costa Rica (note this is a day where HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of people WALK for MILES and MILES [some even come from Nicaragua] to Cartago so you’ll see people walking or riding horses along the highways.  I mention this for those needing to get into the San Jose, CR area as buses can be hard to get and the roads can be hard and dangerous to pass as they go through San Jose.

•  August 15  -  Mother’s Day - Costa Rica

•  Sept. 14 and 15  -  Independence Day (the 15th is the "official" day but the celebrations starts the day before) - BOTH Nicaragua and Costa Rica

•  October 12  -  Dia del Encuentro de las Culturas (aka Columbus Day) - Costa Rica

•  Christmas•New Years - Dec. 25  -  BUT, people will start crossing the border as early as Dec. 16 (after workers get their "aguinaldo"/extra months pay they get) when much of the Costa Rican government and things close down.  MANY people get 2 weeks vacation during this time) till around the Mon.-Tues. after New Years.  In '12, Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday so things will closed most likely the Thurs. before (Dec. 20) hence Border Crossings can EASILY be 3-5+++ hours during this time.  I've heard during that second half of December the border crossing can go from 1,000 people a day up to 8,000 a day with about 150,000 mainly Nicaraguans having left Costa Rica to spend the holidays with their families in Nicaragua.

Note that Costa Rica's holidays can effect the crossing because there are SOOO MANY Nicaraguans living and working in Costa Rica and any excuse to go home (like a long weekend) is great - so try not to follow their travel flow or you’ll most likely have LONG lines!!)


COSTA RICA  -  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_holidays_in_Costa_Rica  •  http://qppstudio.net/publicholidays2014/costa_rica.htm

NICARAGUA  -  Nicaragua OFTEN extends holidays if the real holiday is on a weekend day - or sometimes just on a Friday or Monday it seems like.  Check out this site for some more info - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_holidays_in_Nicaragua  •  http://qppstudio.net/publicholidays2014/nicaragua.htm


(this is what I've derived from my 8 years traveling 4+ times a year between Costa Rica and Nicaragua - spending 9-10 months in Costa Rica and 2-3+ months in Nicaragua - plus what MANY have shared)


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Have any questions?  This is a REALLY HELPFUL Facebook Group:
Costa Rica by Bus
facebook.com/groups/CostaRicaByBus



TAKING A BUS FOR YOUR VISA RUN
COSTA RICA TO•FROM NICARAGUA
I'm in the process of TOTALLY OVERHAULING this & I'm starting with this Time Schedule for ALL the buses.
This was created•updated September 7, 2015

SAN JOSE  -  to  -  MANAGUA
(*Deldu only goes to the CR border at Peñas Blancas.  They also pick you up at whatever bus stop you flag them down at [hence it takes LOTS longer & are NOT air-conditioned & have no bathroom but they stop about mid-way for a 15-20 minute bathroom/food break]).
Prices listed below are in US$s are based on the value of the $THAT DAY so can fluctuate)
3am  -  TicaBus Ejecutivo (via Highway #27) =  $42 (NOTE:  This is a NON-STOP BUS - it makes NO stops along the way!!!)
3:30am  -  *Deldu  =  4,780-c  (Deldu buses pick you up at whatever bus stop you flag them down at [hence it takes LOTS longer & are NOT air-conditioned & have no bathroom but they stop about mid-way for a 15-20 minute bathroom/food break]).
4am  -  NicaBus (via Highway #27)  =  $27
4am  -  TransNica  =  $27
4:30am  -  Central Line  =  $26
5am  -  TransNica  =  $27
6am  -  *Deldu  =  4,780-c
6am  -  TicaBus  =  $27.30  (Nicaragua STOPS:  This bus stops in Rivas [stop for San Juan del Sur & Isla Ometepe Island],
Nandaime, Granada, Masaya & Managua.  It does NOT drop you off in/pass by Jinotepe or Diriamba)
6am  -  Nica Expresso  =  $27•14,500
6:30am  -  NicaBus (via Highway #27)  =  $27
7am  -  TransNica  =  $27
7:30am  -  TicaBus  =  $27.30  (BUS STOPS:  This bus stops in Rivas [stop for San Juan del Sur & Isla Ometepe Island], Nandaime, Jinotepe, Diriamba & Managua.  It does NOT stop in Granada)
8:30am  -  *Deldu  =  4,780-c
9am  -  TransNica  =  $27
10am  -  Central Line  =  $26
10am  -  *Deldu  =  4,780-c
12pm  -  TransNica Ejecutivo (via Highway #27) -  $38
12pm  -  *Deldu  =  4,780-c
12:30pm  -  TicaBus  =  $27.30  (Nicaragua STOPS:  This bus stops in Rivas [stop for San Juan del Sur & Isla Ometepe Island],
Nandaime, Granada, Masaya & Managua.  It does NOT drop you off in/pass by Jinotepe or Diriamba)
2pm  -  *Deldu  =  4,780-c
4:45pm  -  *Deldu  =  4,780-c
7pm  -  *Deldu  =  4,780-c
11:55pm  -  Nica Expresso  =  $27•14,500

 
MANAGUA  -  to   -  SAN JOSE
 (*Deldu goes from the CR border at Peñas Blancas to SJ.  Also, if you buy your bus ticket IN Nicaragua, I believe most buses charge +$2 or so more)
4:30am  -  Central Line  =  $26
5am  -  TransNica  =  $29
5:20am  -  *Deldu (at the CR-NI border - Peñas Blancas) =  4,780-c
5:30am  -  NicaBus (via Highway #27)  =  $27
6am  -  TicaBus  =  $27.30
6:30am  -  *Deldu (at the CR-NI border - Peñas Blancas) =  4,780-c
7am  -  TransNica  =  $27
7am  -  TicaBus  =  $27.30
8:30am  -  Nica Expresso  =  $27•14,500
8:30am  -  *Deldu (at the CR-NI border - Peñas Blancas) =  4,780-c
9:30am  -  NicaBus (via Highway #27)  =  $27
10am  -  Central Line  =  $26
10am  -  *Deldu (at the CR-NI border - Peñas Blancas) =  4,780-c
10am  -  TransNica  =  $27
11am  -  Nica Expresso  =  $27•14,500
12pm  -  *Deldu (at the CR-NI border - Peñas Blancas) =  4,780-c
12pm  -  TicaBus  =  $27.30
1pm  -  TransNica Ejecutivo (via Highway #27) -  $42
1pm  -  TicaBus Ejecutivo (via Highway #27) -  $42
2pm  -  *Deldu (at the CR-NI border - Peñas Blancas) =  4,780-c
3:30pm  -  *Deldu (at the CR-NI border - Peñas Blancas) =  4,780-c
5:30pm  -  *Deldu (at the CR-NI border - Peñas Blancas) =  4,780-c


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****BIG HINT!!  Did you know that if a bus AT the border is heading for San Jose & it has seats available, you can often get a bus ticket for around $15 (vs their regular $27)?? BUT - these days this is ONLY available to purchase on the Nicaragua side. BE CAREFUL THOUGH!! I ONLY get it from someone standing NEAR the bus as one time I got screwed doing this by a NOT legit person even though they had a shirt on from the bus company. Also, ONLY take a bus that is ALREADY there as they may have picked others up along the way & not have seats.  Not good if you already pre-purchased a ticket.  You might have a hard time getting the $$$back from your ticket seller - IF you can find them****



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#1  -  EVERYTHING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE FROM MOMENT TO MOMENT
Whatever I’m sharing here – note that EVERYTHING can change on a dime!!!
There have been times I’ve called a bus office 4 times within 2 days & got 4 TOTALLY DIFFERENT TIMES & THEN I got to the bus terminal & they had one set of times posted on the window & then GAVE ME a piece of paper with different times – so basically – good luck & YOU CALL to confirm (though rarely is there someone that speaks English at most of these bus companies).


BUS SCHEDULES
I have yet to find anything in Costa Rica that's perfect so what you see published - EVEN on a bus company's website - might very well be OLD!!  So if it were ME, I would call the bus company for the final word [with that said - I have at times called & received 2-4 TOTALLY different schedules & even got TO the terminal & took a little piece of paper with the schedule & when I went to return 3 weeks later - it had ALREADY CHANGED!!!])

VisitCostaRica.com/ict/paginas/LEYES/pdf/ItinerarioBuses_es.pdf - the official tourism site has something there.
AnyWhereCostaRica.com/transportation/bus-schedules-public


WARNING!!!
When you take one of the "International Buses" which crosses the border - it WILL MINIMALLY take you at LEAST 1 to 1-1/2-2+ hours - BUT - if there are other buses there - it can take 2++++ HOURS because you HAVE to wait till they get EVERYONE processed on BOTH sides!!!!  Hence, SOMETIMES I just take the Deldu bus & get off at the border & walk across & take a taxi or bus wherever!

PAYMENT:
CASH
You can pay in U.S. $s in both places. 
OR - if paying in Nicaragua = Cordobas.  If paying in Costa Rica = Colones. 

NOTE that no matter where you get on - even if mid-way - you pay the SAME PRICE when paying the driver.


BUSES THAT TAKE YOU ALL THE WAY INTO NICARAGUA
PURCHASING YOUR BUS TICKET:
In order to help expedite the process at the border (which takes about an hour or so longer when you’re taking one of the buses that drives you INTO Nicaragua because you MUST wait till EVERYONE is process both in BOTH Costa Rica and Nicaragua at Immigrations when you go to buy your ticket (HIGHLY recommended in ADVANCE from Christmas to Easter/Samana Sante - the highest of the seasons and June-end of Aug. and ESPECIALLY if you're wanting to travel on a Fri., Sat. or Sun. [or the day before/after any of Nicaragua's holidays like Mothers Day, Christmas/New Years, Independence Day and Samana Sante/Easter]) you MUST bring your at least the info on your passport when ticketing with TransNica and TicaBus.  You CAN send someone else to do this but make sure they either have your passport, a copy of it or the information below:

FULL name on passport, passport number, date of birth, expiration of passport, I can't remember if they ask for city of birth.  This helps process ya'll faster if it's in the system.


BUS
The MAIN way to get to Nicaragua (and on to SAN JUAN DEL SUR) is via BUS.  NOTE – when anyone says a bus takes ___ hours – know that this is VERY IFFY as there are LOTS of factors – like #1 - other buses at the border at the same time, traffic, accidents (which can set you back an hour or MORE!!) and weather+!

ROUTE:  Most buses (except for the TransNica Executive Bus) travel up the slower/busier Carretera InterAmericana Highway - Route 505.


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Tica Bus

TicaBus.com

EXCITING NEWS!!! 
Tica Bus now has a USB underneath EACH seat
PLUS
a shared POWER SOURCE
AND
WiFi

(though it IS Costa Rica and Nicaragua so it doesn't work ALL the time)

TERMINALS


COSTA RICA
(506) 2296-9788 (Office Hours: 24 hours and they have WiFi in the lobby)

NICARAGUA
Managua (505) 2298-5500 (Office Hours: 4am-7pm)  •  Granada Office Hours: 6am-7pm - Avenida Arellano

PANAMA
(507) 2314-6385 / (507) 2314-6386 (Office Hours: 8am-11:30pm)


CHAT "soporte en linea":  
Go to their website - TicaBus.com & in the bottom Right corner - marked "soporte en linea"
HOURS:
Monday through Friday -  7am-7pm. 


ROUTE:
TicaBus.com/Route/routes_maps

TICKET PRICES:
REGULAR•TOURIST CLASS:
$29
(sometimes it's a couple $s more if you originate in Nicaragua)

EXECUTIVO BUS:

Costa Rica-Nicaragua
3AM (arrives in Managua around 10:30-11am) 
Nicaragua - Costa Rica:
1pm
PRICE:
Costa Rica-Nicaragua = $42  •  Nicaragua to Costa Rica = $46
 
WHAT MORE DO YOU GET WITH THE EJECUTIVO SERVICE?
#1 - being NON-STOP it's LOTS faster - plus you get the use of a Pillow, Blanket and food, soda, coffee or water:
Nica to CR  -  Dinner - usually a typical Cosado (rice, beans & some form of meat) in La Cruz
CR to Nica - Usually a Breakfast of Gallo Pinto and Eggs in Liberia (so 5-6 hours out)

       


WiFi in the bus (when it's available), USB Charger under the seat.

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY SCHEDULE:
THE BUSIEST days will be December 16 and 17 and January 2 where they will add more buses and they will cost more
PRICE:  $33
CURRENT DATES
(LOTS more to be added but trust me - they sell out WEEKS in advance so do NOT wait!!!): 

DECEMBER 16-17:  1am, 1:45am, 2:30am, 3:45am, 4:30am, 5:30am.   Jan. 2. 
Each bus stops in Rivas, Masaya and Granada



ORDER YOUR TICKET VIA EMAIL:
You can send an email with all your details to TicaBus.  I did a step-by-step schpeel on it:
LivingLifeInCostaRica.blogspot.com/2014/05/BuyTicaBusTicketOnlineProceedure.html

GRANADA:
NOTE that the ONLY BUSES that stop in Granada are the ones that depart CR at 6am & 12:30pm

SCHEDULE:
(the same time both directions)
6am, 7:30am, 12:30pm
TIME IT TAKES:
Arriving in their destination at approximately 3pm, 4pm and 9pm (depending on the border crossing and traffic).

When coming from Managua to San Jose it picks up in RIVAS. I BELIEVE it takes about 3 hours from Managua to Rivas so plan accordingly.  And they arrive at the Managua border AROUND 9am, 10am & 4pm
DEPARTS FROM: N-next to the Villa del Mar bar:

COMING FROM NICARAGUA TO COSTA RICA:
If you're buying a ticket coming from Managua to Costa Rica but picking it up somewhere else along the way - MAKE SURE TO tell them and MAKE SURE the TICKET is MARKED wherever it is or there's a GOOD chance they'll give your seat away!!!!!  I would double check and call them the afternoon before.

HOTEL!!!
I recently stayed the night in their hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica and I was VERY IMPRESSED - ESPECIALLY with the cleanliness and decent price!  They have private bathroom also WITH HOT WATER with good water pressure ("suicide shower")!!
1 person = $28  •  2 people = $37  •  3 people = $46  •  4 people = $55  •  5 people = $64
(plus they had 1 tiny room for just $14 that I stayed in.  It had 2 Twin•Individual beds)
I'm going to add pictures and more details soon!!!



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***TransNica***


COSTA RICA - San Jose
506-2223-4242  •  506-2223-4123  •  506-2221-6853.

LOCATION:  adjacent to Sede de la Conferencia Episcopal.

NICARAGUA - Managua
505-2270-3133
 

HONDURAS - Tegucigalpa
504-2239-7933    



HOLIDAY SCHEDULE:
THE BUSIEST days will be December 16 and 17 and January 2 where they will add more buses and they will cost around $5 or so more. 
So far they've added a 1:30am bus.

EJECUTIVO•EXECUTIVE BUS!!!!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this bus!!!  #1 - it is FASTER as it goes along Highway 27 (saving you 1 hour!!) PLUS - it arrives at the border at a time there are hardly anyone there so crossing is LOTS faster!!! 

The NOON bus is the MUCH NICER “EXECUTIVO BUS”* that for just $10 more – you have a Host that gives you sodas, coffee or bottled water (this usually comes with the food but I’m pretty positive if you ask before, he’ll give it to you), a meal (a smaller size Typico Casado [not all the food in the picture in their website the past 2 times I’ve done it], usually with a choice of either chicken, fajita or fish.  You usually stop about 2-1/2 hours into the trip), bigger seats with more leg room, a bathroom that works and . . . WiFi so you don’t have to miss a beat!!  You can stay connected (there are also a few outlets to plug your computer INTO!!).  When I have the extra $$THIS is how I like to go!!!  


DEPARTS FROM: SJ: RIVAS: In Rivas about ½ a block North of the Uno station that's closer to the border.  NOTE with this that it costs MORE $$to go from Managua to SJ &, this bus can be delayed or leave early if there are no reservations so do that in advance.
They also have regular buses that go to Honduras for $45ow

TICKET PRICES: Whether you're going to the border/the Frontiera, Rivas (to connect you to San Juan del Sur) or Managua - or any way along the way - you pay the SAME price.  EXCEPT if you're AT THE BORDER in Nicaragua going to Costa Rica where you can sometimes negotiate a ticket for just $15 to people just outside the bus selling tickets (do NOT buy one further away from it.  The driver can NOT give you this price.
 

SCHEDULE (REGULAR BUS):
COSTA RICA TO NICARAGUA:
PRICE:  $29 each way. 
2am
(via the faster Caldera Highway/Rt. 27)

5am • 9am
(these 2 buses take the old road passing by SJO Airport and if you've pre-arranged it &/or flag them down [be VERY assertive & obvious] - stopping in Grecia, Naranjo, San Ramon, Palmares, Esparza, Barranca, Cañas, La Cruz and Liberia [hence take longer]). 
You arrive in Managua, Nicaragua at approximately 2, 3 and 9pm (EVERYTHING in CR/Nicaragua depends on traffic, accidents, how long the border crossing takes+++).  


EJECUTIVO:
PRICE:  $41
12pm/noon-Ejecutivo
(via the faster Caldera Highway/Rt. 27). 


MANAGUA TO COSTA RICA:
PRICE:  $29.

4am, 7am • 9am • 11am

EJECUTIVO:
PRICE:  $41

1pm

The bus also stops/picks up in RIVAS and at the Nicaragua border in the Frontiera. I BELIEVE it takes ABOUT 2-1/2-3 hours from Managua to Rivas so plan accordingly.  

WHERE TO BUY TICKETS:
On top of San Jose & Managua you can pre-purchase a ticket (though I do believe they are ONLY the Open-Ended ticket) in Liberia, MonteVerde, Playa Potreros & Puntarenas

BORDER CROSSING PROCESS WITH TRANSNICA:  On the Costa Rica side, they’ll give you the forms you need and you’ll get off the bus and go through Immigrations (there is NO fee to leave or enter Costa Rica).  On the Nicaragua side, they’ll give you the forms and you fill them out, then they'll take your passport and the $14 fee ($13 for Immigrations + $1 to cross in at the border town of Frontera).  You’ll get off the bus and hang around while TransNica’s employee goes and processes EVERYONE on the bus (this is a negative of walking across as it WILL take longer – at least an hour more) then before you get on they’ll (the Aduana/tax guy I believe) have everyone line up (often moving you a couple times) to check your luggage.  They everyone will gather by the door of the bus as an Immigration person hands you back your passport – making sure you’re you - and off you go!

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CHEAPEST TICKETS!!!

RETURNING FROM NICARAGUA TO COSTA RICA AT THE BORDER•FRONTERA  -  A CHEAP TRICK!!!

If you're in one of the towns close to the border (like Rivas or San Juan del Sur or Isla Ometepe island) - there IS a way to get a CHEAPER BUS TICKET from Nicaragua TO CR!!!   If you have a way to get to the border/the Frontera – you can usually get a bus ticket for WAYYYY CHEAPER!!!  I’ve gotten it for between $12-$15 (this is a great deal if you’re busing it – though not so great if you’re taxing it from Rivas which is around $15.  The advantage OF taking a taxi to the border and doing it that way is you’ll have a few buses to choose from so you might get out sooner – vs having to wait for the bus in Rivas which might not be on time.  To save the most, you might want to walk over to the Costa Rican side and get it there – NOT from the driver – but there are usually people hanging out there offering to help you with the paperwork (not needed – more on that later) with an official shirt on.  The biggest advantage of catching it on the CR side is you should be able to catch a bus faster.  ASK when they’re supposed to leave (though they don’t always tell you the truth I’ve experienced).



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THE CHEAPEST WAY:

TRANSPORTES DELDU

(San Jose - 2222-0610 / Penas Blancas - 2677-0091 / LaCruz - 2679-9323 / http://GrupoCaribenos.com  •  info@Caribenos.com

Deldu is now owned by Grupo Caribenos (which owns bus lines that go on the Pacific side from Liberia to Agua Claras, Buenos Aire, Juntas, Brasilia, Quebrada, Upala, Las Juntas, el Coco.  San Jose to Tilaran, Canas, Santa Cecilia, Las Juntas, Upala.  Canas to Las Juntas, Upala.  On the Caribbean side - San Jose to Limon, Siquirres, Guapiles).

Sometimes you'll get lucky & they'll send the nice new yellow buses!!!

PLUSES: 
This is the CHEAPEST way to go!! 

FASTER AT THE BORDER - You end/get off on the Costa Rica side – so you do NOT have to wait for EVERYONE on the bus to clear Immigrations on BOTH ends.  On a good day – we have walked right up to the Immigrations window, walked across the border, cleared Immigrations and crossed into the Frontera in 30 minutes!!  On the buses that go through, it’s ALWAYS been at LEAST 1-2+++ hour!!!

BREAK About mid-way (3 hours-ish) - You stop for a 15 minute bathroom/food/get out and STRETCH break!!!

NEGATIVES: 
NO air-conditioning (this to ME is a PLUS as my lungs/body does not like a/c) but the windows are open so you get FRESH air!!!

NO BATHROOMS on the bus (so if you have a weak bladder like me, you might want to stop drink water for about a day or two before). NO air-conditioning (but the windows are open so you get FRESH air)

Takes Longer (this bus makes the most stops along the way – stopping wherever anyone wants a pickup).
The seats don’t always recline (WHEN they work it’s just a bit).

WHERE TO PICK IT UP FROM: NEW TERMINAL!!!!
Gran Terminal Del Caribe - Calle Central and Avenida 13a (the road to Tibas from SJ) near Museo de Ninos.


EXCITING NOTE!!!: You can pretty much pick the bus up any way along the way - just flag it down. The only drawback is if it's full you won't get on OR you might be standing the whole way. If you have a friend going with you from downtown, they can purchase your ticket (I believe it's the same price no matter where you pick it up from). With that said - when coming back to San Jose, they will drop you off anywhere along the way you'd like!!!!

APPROXIMATE DRIVE TIME: 6-1/2-7+ hours (EVERYTHING depends on traffic/accidents in Costa Rica!! The 2 times I've gone so far, each time took about 7 hours).

SCHEDULE  -  http://GrupoCaribenos.com/pulmitan/#1448920916910-05dcb392-1658
San Jose to Peñas Blanca (the Costa Rica-Nicaragua Border) - Here is the LATEST (as of June 25, 2015) schedule I got (though 3 of us called and got 3 different times):
A.M. 3, 5, 6, 8:30, 10.
P.M. - 12, 2, 4:45, 7

Peñas Blancas to San Jose (to allow enough time to catch a taxi from San Juan del Sur to the Frontier, pay the $1 Municipal fee, go through "Migracion"•Immigrations on both ends AND buy your ticket - I'd leave SJDS BY 5:30am for this bus. The office doesn't open till 7am):   
A.M. - 3 (NOT on Sundays), 6:30 (ON Sundays & holidays), 6:30, 8:30, 10am.
P.M. - 12, 1:30, 3:30, 5:30pm.

COST:
To Peñas Blancas – 4,780-colones (about $8.85-ish based on 540-c/$1. You can pay in Colones or U.S. Dollars.  NO NO NO Cordobas!!!). If memory serves me right, you can ONLY buy your ticket a half hour before departure. You can take it to Liberia for 3,000-c and get off and stretch for awhile and get another bus to the border (about 2 blocks away).

OFFICE HOURS:
San Jose - 3am-7pm. Peñas Blancas and La Cruz Mon.-Sat. 7am-5pm (not sure how that works for Sunday departures.  They don't answer the phones in San Jose on Sunday the MANY times I've tried reaching them but I DID get them to answer in Peñas Blancas to double check the schedule).   (everything is subject to change of course!!)
Why I say this mode of transportation/company and to me this is the ONLY WAY FOR ME TO GO now that I've done this is by taking it to the border - at Peñas Blancas on the Costa Rica side, it's an EASY walk to cross the border (more on that below).  
NOTE:  Some people complain about this bus but peeps – you’re choosing this because it’s the CHEAPEST!!  Just fricken ENJOY the ride and the savings!! (isn’t amazing how often the biggest complainers are the cheapest people?!?!?!  You get [or don’t] whatcha pay for!!!)


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UPDATED December 15, 2016

Nica Expreso

http://facebook.com/TransportesNicaExpreso  •  http://NicaExpreso.net  •  http://NicaExpreso.com.online.com.ni
info@NicaExpreso.net  •  NicaExpressSosa@hotmail.com

PLUSES:
•   You can ticket online - https://NicaExpreso.online.com.ni/reserva.aspx
•   Nica Expreso travels the furthest - from San Jose, Costa Rica - in Nicaragua to Managua & ending in Chinandega.
•   Buses have LOTS of windows.
•   Newer buses.

NEGATIVES:
•   I & others have shared that have tried calling them 12 different incidents - for HOURS•DAYS at a time.  They answer, a machine comes on, then it rings some more & DISCONNECTS & we've NEVER been able to reach them.
•   Their facebook page does NOT have a "Message" button & if you write on it - it goes to the side of people's posts & I've hardly seen any them answered.  If you write a note under their message - it often takes DAYS for their facebook person to answer.
•   Their website does not say list the stops in order & does not mention Leon!!!
•   Online reservation does NOT give you time you need to catch the bus.

COSTA RICA (506)
DEPARTS:
DAILY - 12:00am (midnight)
San Jose to Liberia to the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border at Peñas Blancas then Rivas, Nandaime, GRANADA, Masaya, Managua, Mateare, Nagarote, La Paz Centro, Leon, Telica, Chichigalpa - ending in - Chinandega.

DAILY - 6am
San Jose to Liberia to the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border at Peñas Blancas then Rivas, Nadaime, Jinotepe, Diriamba, El Crucero, Managua, Mateare, Nagarote, La Paz Centro, Leon, Telica, Chichigalpa - ending in - Chinandega.

PRICE
:
San Jose to Managua  -  $26.25
San Jose to beyond Managua-Chinandega - $35

CONTACT:
San Jose - 2256-3191
(though I’ve never gotten them to answer.  It rings, goes into a message, rings again & then disconnects so you waste LOTS of money trying to reach them)

LOCATION:
TERMINAL - NEW LOCATION!!  Terminal 7/10
Calle 10 & Avenida 7 - 150 meters (1-1/2 blocks) North of Mercado Borbon.

NOTE:
 If you're getting a taxi there - WARNING on getting it out where their taxi stand is takes you a MORE EXPENSIVE route in the taxi.  If you're wanting to head WEST (Paseo Colon, the CocaCola, towards Alajela/the airport or Escazu•Santa Ana+ - exit the building & turn Right.  At the corner turn Right & at the next corner - cross the street & stand on the corner catty corner - across from the back of the terminal - where the street is going towards your left•South & grab a taxi there.  I could save you a few $$$s.  

TICKET OFFICE
https://NicaExpreso.online.com.ni/agencias.aspx
Their site ONLY offers another location in San Jose - 175 meters North of the Emergency Entrance to Hospital San Juan de Dios - near Park•Parque Merced - but it's the same answer no one answers.
Alajuela - 2440-1467?
San Ramon - 8816-0820?


NICARAGUA (505)
6am
Route - Chinandega, Chichigalpa, Telica, Leon (6:40am), La Paz Centro, Nagarote, Mateare, Managua (8:30am), El Crucero, Diriamba, Jinotepe, Nadaime, Rivas - Border of CR-Nicaragua - Liberia, San Jose
8:45am
Route - Chinandega, Chichigalpa, Telica, Leon (9:15am), Nagarote, La Paz Centro Mateare, Managua (10:45am), Masaya, GRANADA, Nandaime, Rivas - Border of CR-Nicaragua - Liberia, San Jose

PRICE
:
Managua to San Jose   -  $28.75
San Jose to beyond Managua-Chinandega - $35

TICKET OFFICES
https://NicaExpreso.online.com.ni/agencias.aspx:
Chinandega
2340-1463 • 8779-2256-cell • 8828-0715-cell
LOCATION:  In front of Colegio Las Belemitas, next to the Costa Rica Consulate. 
Diriamba
8234-1272-cell
Next to Uno gas station
Esteli I
8837-9345
Esteli II
8855-5110
Bus Terminal
Centro
Granada
8234-1173
Jinotepe
2532-0648
Leon
2312-4082 • 8828-0660-cell • 8411-7012-cell?
LOCATION: Posada del Sol - 1-1/2 block south of Radio Dario  
MANAGUA
2277-5241 • 2270-2642? • 8828-0904-c • 8420-3428-cell? • 8632-4890-cell?
LOCATION:  Plaza el Sol 400 meters North, 120vrs abajo, Reparto Serrano frente al Hospital Cruz Azul.
Masaya
8234-1174-cell
Rivas
8603-2144-cell • 8625-6110-cell?
50 meters•1/2 block South of the Rotunda in front of Hospedaje El Coco

TICKETS:
The tickets do not expire & may be used at any time by the person who's name is on the ticket (tickets are not transferable).
If the ticket price increases - you pay the difference.

LUGGAGE & PACKAGES
LUGGAGE
Only 2 30-pound bags each, if you bring extra luggage an extra amount will be charged for excess baggage.
PACKAGES
They only accept envelopes to go without someone accompanying it.  NO large packages. 
Multiple items must have a person accompanying them to deal with Customs•Aduana.


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CENTRAL LINE
(TransportesCentralLine.com  •  info@TransportesCentralLine.com
(note website is in English if you click the American flag at the top middle!!!)

WHY CENTRAL LINE?
NON-STOP bus from San Jose to Managua (hence a bit faster but it means NO food/bathroom breaks - only the bathroom on the bus)  •  Bathroom on bus  •  Air-Conditioned  •  tv•dvd•radio (= movies•music [you might want to bring earplugs])  •  Assistant on bus to help you fill out your Immigration•Aduana/Customs forms  •  FREE LUGGAGE Storage the day before travel  •  If someone else buys you a ticket, they can send it via bus for FREE  •  Can ship large items with approval/advance reservations.
Can make reservations and pay when you get on??

COSTA RICA-San Jose (506) to NICARAGUA-Managua (505)

TICKET PRICE:
$26.25 - U.S. $s or Colones (NO credit cards)

BUS SCHEDULE:  
DAILY
4:30am - Picks Up•Stops WITH RESERVATIONS - Bridge Villa Bonita (4:50am), Manolos (5am), San Ramon (5:45am), Canyon Crossing (6:30am), Liberia-Hotel Guanacaste (8:30am)
10am  -  Picks Up•Stops at Bridge Villa Bonita (10:35am), Manolos (11am), San Ramon (12pm/noon), Canyon Crossing (1pm), Liberia-Hotel Guanacaste (3:15pm)

SATELLITE TICKET OFFICES in Costa Rica:
•     SAN JOSE-MAIN TERMINAL (2221-9115 • 2257-7214): Calle 12 - between Avenida 7 and 9 - 600 metros North•Norte of the Iglesia La Merced church - next to the San Carlos bus terminal•in front of Transportes Deldu [note, if you miss a buss - Deldu goes to the Nicaraguan border).  OFFICE HOURS:  Monday-Friday 4am-7pm. Saturday and Sunday - 4am-5pm.
•     SAN JOSE-Nica Envíos (2256-5395 • 2222-2173): Edificio Jiménez Crespo - Avenida 2, Calle 4 y 6 - 3rd floor, frente al Banco de Costa Rica.
•     ALAJUELA (Centro)-Nica Envíos (2431-2290): Palí Tuasa, 100 metros norte 2da planta, Casa de Empeños Jimmy.
•     HEREDIA (Centro)-Nica Envíos (2261-3026):  75 metros South/Sur de la Tienda Rosabal, next to the East•Este side of the Municipal Mercado.
•     LIBERIA-Hotel Guanacaste (2666-0085): 200 metros al Norte and 100 metros East•Este of Burger King.
•     MONTEVERDE 1 - Info Center•Back Packer Vista al Golfo (2645-7460 • http://CabinasVistaAlGolfo.com):  Diagonal to Banco Nacional
      MONTEVERDE - 2 - Hostel Lodge (2645-5170 • http://MonteVerdeHostelLodge.com):  75 metros West•Oeste del Banco Popular.
•     PUNTARENAS (Centro)-Nica Envíos (2661-0879): Soda Lux - in front of Restaurante Tonejoy, diagonal to Fischel.
•     SANTA ANA (Centro)-Soda Puntalito T.C. (2282-4015): Diagonal a Musmanni
•     CR-NI BORDER - PENAS BLANCA•FRONTERA (2792-2563).


NICARAGUA-Managua (505) to COSTA RICA-San Jose (506)

TICKET PRICE:
$28.75 - U.S. $s or Colones (NO credit cards)

BUS SCHEDULE:  
DAILY
4:30am - Picks Up•Stops WITH RESERVATIONS - Masaya (5am), Granada (5:30am), Splice Gauanacaste (5:45am), Crossing Nandaime (6am), Rivas (6:30am)
10am - Picks Up•Stops WITH RESERVATIONS - Masaya (10:45am), Granada (11am), Splice Gauanacaste (11:15am), Crossing Nandaime (11:30am), Rivas (12pm/noon)

TERMINAL•TICKET OFFICES in Nicaragua:
•    FRONTERA (Sapoa)(8492-2657)
•    RIVAS (2563-3652): 150 metros South of the roundabout in front of Hospedaje Internacional.
•    CONSULADO COSTA RICA en Rivas (8666-4004): 150 metros al South•Sur of the Police Station.
•    NANDAIME (2561-2593): South side of the Shell gas station.
•    GRANADA (2552-1496): Avenida Arellano - 200 metros al Sur•South of the Shell Gas station.
•    ESTELI (2713-6355 • 8-925-1496 [note cells are LOTS more expensive to call]):  Avenida Central contiguo a Farmacia Estelí.
•    MASAYA 1 (2522-7691):  On the West side of the Mercado de Artesanías - Adjacent to the Depósito Taleno.
•    MASAYA 2 (2522-9458): 1-1/2 blocks East of the Iglesia San Miguel church
•    CONSULADO COSTA RICA en Managua (2-250-9816): From General Revenue (DGI), 1 ½ blocks to the lake. They can help with advising on immigration procedures, processing of passports, authentication of documents, police records, birth certificates, obtaining visas, selling and booking travel. Also coordinates the FREE minibus shuttle to the terminal of Managua.  ESPANOL:  De la Dirección General de Ingresos (DGI), 1 y ½ cuadras al lago.  Asesorías en trámites migratorios, trámites de pasaportes, autenticación de documentos, récord de policía, actas de nacimiento, obtención de visas, venta y reservaciones de viajes. Además coordinamos los traslados gratis en microbús hacia la terminal de Managua.
•    MANAGUA-MAIN TERMINAL (505-2254-5431 • 2222-4771): 2 1/2 blocks from the Old Cine Cabrera on Avenida 27 de Mayo.  (NOTE:  I think I understood that they some sort of area you can sleep there for free if you arrive early??  FREE Toilets)

INFORMATION:
TICKETS:  
In Peak Season sometimes you must make your reservation WEEKS ahead of time.  

CHANGE OF TICKET:  
Peak Season - You MUST make any changes at least a WEEK before scheduled departure or you loose your credit/ticket.  The ticket does NOT expire if you cancel within the allotted time

LUGGAGE:  
You’re entitled to bring 2 checked pieces.  You can bring large boxes IF reservations are made in advance for it AND there is space.

AGES FOR TICKETS:  
4+

FREQUENT RIDER:  
Pay for 9 trips and get 10th FREE


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FLYING
Unfortunately the closest airport to the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua is ALL the way up at Managua in Nicaragua - or LIBERIA Airport - about 1 hour from the border - which means NatureAir - http://NatureAir.com (which departs out of Pavas Airport [WAYYYYY less congested in LOTS of ways that SJO Airport.  I ONLY talk about this airline for 2 reasons – one is they are the MOST Environmentally CONSCIOUS airlines & #2 -  their planes have TWO ENGINES!!!!  From there you can hire a taxi to the border at Peñas Blancas (about 1 hour) & walk across.  

If you’re on a budget you can take a taxi to Liberia (I don’t believe there are any buses that go from Liberia Airport to the bus terminal but I could be wrong.  I didn’t see anything when I did this a few years ago) & then take one of the buses that goes to the border from there.



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FROM DESTINATIONS:
Between LA FORTUNA•ARENAL & Nicaragua (San Juan del Sur)
CentroCoasting.com/routes/san-juan-del-sur-to-la-fortuna



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"Vicki Skinner's Step-by-Step Guide to the
Costa Rica - Nicaragua Border Crossing"






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Vicki Skinner
(aka THE "Sarong Goddess")

1-941-312-7569 (our U.S. # that rings to us in CR)  /  (506) 8-378-6679 (within Costa Rica)   /    SKYPE:  VallartaVicki

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