Cruising Costa Rica by Bus

by on Thursday, 24 October 2013

Not your usual bus passenger (c) Suzi Esteras-–bus.html

Taken a bus trip lately? Public transportation is great in Costa Rica! It is efficient, fairly reliable (if the weather cooperates!) and inexpensive. It is also a wonderful opportunity to practice your Spanish with a friendly local sitting next to you.

On ISV’s Volunteer Program in Costa Rica, some ISV project groups will travel with their project leader to their volunteer project site via public bus. Buses run fairly frequently and keep to a timely schedule. It is important to respect this schedule and not to be late when you have a bus to catch with your group!

A few simple guidelines to follow:

  • Stow your luggage in the compartment under the bus so as to not take up extra seats (but choose a seat where you can keep your eye on it when the bus stops periodically).
  • If your backpack/bag has to come on the bus with you, please try to have it sit on your lap; keep your valuables in your lap as well.
  • Move to the back of the bus to fill that up first, and sit in an empty window seat (so that the aisle is free) rather than taking the aisle seat and leaving the window seat free.
  • If you are having a conversation, keep your voice down so others don’t have to listen to you.
  • Many local people rely on the bus system to travel to work and school, so be respectful of their space.
  • On a crowded bus, offer to stand on a shorter ride so that a local can comfortably sit (especially for the elderly or children) – just one small thing you can do to be a respectful visitor in another country!
  • When getting on or off the bus, move quickly as this is important to the bus drivers and to the locals who work hard to keep the bus system moving on time!
  • It goes without saying, but take all your litter with you.

An ISV group travels in comfort and style on the Adventure Tour (c) Ana Patricia Quesada, ISV Country Coordinator, Costa Rica

Bus terminals are not necessarily unsafe, but they are a common place for opportunistic crime, particularly theft of belongings. Just be smart! Some tips for the bus terminals:

  • When at the bus terminals (which can be very crowded), keep your belongings on you at all times.
  • Know where your valuables are and never lose sight of them!
  • Stay close in your group, to dissuade thieves and pickpockets.
  • To use the toilets you may need to pay a small fee at the entrance but it is usually fairly cheap (about 200 colones) ($0.40 US or $0.41 AU).
  • Long distance buses will also have at least one stop for bathroom use and to buy some food, this will last for about 15-20 minutes therefore it’s important not to lose track of time or you will be left behind.

Be smart with your personal belongings at crowded bus stations

Coming along on the ISV Adventure Tour? We have a great relationship with a local, family-run and professional transport company that we hire to take us around Costa Rica and their luxury coaches in comfort and style.

Last tip: while you may feel like sleeping on the windy Costa Rican roads, don’t forget to look out- you won’t get better scenery, anywhere.

To learn more about ISV’s volunteer and travel programs, please visit our website:




{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: