5 tips for crossing the border

5 tips for crossing the border.

5 tips for crossing the border by bus

Doing the Passport Shuffle: a Tica Bus driver shuffles through his passengers’ passports at the border, trying to remember who’s who (photo/ Katie Jackson)

By Katie Jackson/ guest blogger

March 26, 2013 


  • Come prepared. Obviously you’ll need your passport, but also have a pen handy to fill out forms. Sharing is caring, but it’s more efficient if you bring your own.

  • Know your number. At some point the bus driver will collect your passport, and sometimes he does this before you fill out your forms. Have a copy of your passport on hand and/or memorize your passport number. Otherwise you have to track the bus driver down and try to get it back from him. Yes, the bus driver WILL take your passport, but he will give it back!

  • Cash is king. You’ll need to have cash to pay the entry fees. To enter into Nicaragua, we paid 8,000 colones (about $16) each, and the American couple sitting in front of us paid in USD. The bus driver should have plenty of change in both currencies as well as cordobas. The mysterious part is theamount you pay seems to vary according to the source. Try to have at least $20 or the equivalent in local currency easily accessible.

  • There’s a reason it’s called hand luggage. Keep your hand luggage in your hands at all times. Even if you unload the bus and are told to leave your big bags below, always carry your hand luggage with you. Never leave it on the bus unattended.

  • Be prepared to be bombarded. “Cambio, cambio?” men will yell as soon as you step off the bus. Although they’re offering to change money for you as you wait, they may be ripping you off if you don’t know the current exchange rate, or even what the currency looks like. Also, your first welcome is likely to come from the many vendors who approach you. They sell everything from snacks to sandals and cellphone cards. Others will straight up ask you for money, providing a toothless grin in return. As we understand, the men wearing navy blue vests are authorized to search your luggage, but they too can be aggressive and demand tips if they help you carry it.

Good useful information for anyone who is coming across the Costa Rica/Nicaraguan border via bus. Thanks to Katie Jackson of Green Travel!

2 thoughts on “5 tips for crossing the border

  1. Hola Mike & Miranda! Thanks for sharing~ Follow us @GreenSpotTravel for more news your guests can use! Hope to visit your farmstay next time I’m near Managua. Your security dog looks ferocious:) I’m from a farm in Montana where our security dog is 150lbs but all she does is snooze all day! Have a lovely & lucrative week:)

    • Thanks for you comment Katie! We would love to host you whenever you need a nice place to stay. Our “big dog” is named Odie and he is a real sweetie, but at night when he is tied up near our gate he lets passers by know who is boss!

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