28 Sep Crossing the border from Costa Rica to Nicaragua
My 90 days in Costa Rica was up and I’ve heard good things about its neighboring country, Nicaragua. Mostly that everything was half the price, so I couldn’t wait to go!
You can definitely book a seat on direct tourist buses like Ticabus or Transnica which are airconditioned but it will cost you about at least $70. Save your precious backpacking budget ’cause you can do it a whole lot cheaper!
Here’s how you can do a border run the cheapest way possible:
1. Find the 2015 updated bus schedules on this PDF guide. I suggest that you download it on your phone for easy reading even without internet access.
2. Take the local bus from San Jose or Liberia station to Peñas Blancas which take 6 and 3 hours respectively. I took the one from “Terminal de Buses Municipal de Liberia“. Click on the map above to find it on Google Maps.
3. Board the bus that says “Penas Blancas” to save your seat. Pay the driver about $3 or C1500 per person upon entering the bus. The ride takes 3 hours because of all the stops.
It was a warm day, the bus wasn’t airconditioned but the there was a slight breeze so it was quite an easy scenic ride. Remember to watch over your backpacks and valuables at all times.
4. You will arrive at the town of Peñas Blancas where the border crossing is. Total time for going through the whole procedure is 30 – 45 minutes depending on the queues.
5. Prepare an exit fee of $8 per person. The rate is the same whether you are Costa Rican or a foreigner.
6. Fall in line and fill up the departure card to have your passport stamped out by the immigration officers.
7. Walk across the border for about 5 minutes to reach a small medical station that will check your temperature via infrared camera. They will ask you for your nationality as well.
8. Walk further towards the main building.
9. Pay the Municipal fee of $1. Do not accept the arrival form given by touts. They are expecting a small donation in exchange.
11. Fall in line for the free arrival form and have your passport stamped by Nicaraguan officers and pay the $10 tourist fee.
12. Most nationalities get a 90 day visa on arrival. As an ASEAN, they needed a photocopy of my US visa to give me the same stamp. They did not ask for an exit ticket out of Nicaragua.
12. Walk out of the main building and into the bus station. From here there transportation options to Rivas where you can find more buses to other parts of the country.