Border crossings Costa Rica

Content.

Panama – Costa Rica border crossing

What do you need?

》Passport

》Exit ticket/onward ticket for Costa Rica

》Eventually exchange some extra dollars to Colones

Helpful to know:

At practically every border crossing you will find many pulperias, small stores, where you can buy soda and snacks. And often you can easily exchange money with the people walking around there, as there are very few border crossings with an ATM/ cash machine. Check in advance what the current exchange rate is, then you can negotiate with that.

Panama has 2 border crossings with Costa Rica. One on the southern side of the country near David (Paso Canoas) and one on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica (Sixaola). You can cross the border by shuttle, but you can also do it yourself very easily. You get to the Sixaola border from Bocas del Toro by taking the boat to Almirante ($6). From Almirante take the bus to Changuinola (30 minutes, about $4) and from there for the last 11 km take a (shared) cab to the border (about $2.50). There are also shuttles that can take you to or across the border. At the border, just before the blue bridge turn right, where the migration office is from Panama. That’s where you get your exit stamp. Then you walk across the bridge to Sixaola and have to get your entry stamp at the migration office of Costa Rica. You will need your passport and exit ticket when you leave the country. You don’t have to pay or show proof of vaccination. Your luggage may be checked. Then walk on and take the first street, after the stores, on the right. There, on the left, buses are waiting to take you to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca/Cahuita. You need the bus to Manzanillo or to Limón. Both buses travel via Puerto Viejo de Talamanca/Cahuita to their final destination. It is always good to inquire. The bus takes about an hour and costs 2010 colones/€3, you pay at the driver.

Border crossing Nicaragua – Costa Rica

What do you need?

》Passport

》$4 exit fee Nicaragua (dollars only)

》Exit ticket/onward ticket for Costa Rica

》Eventually some extra Córdobas to exchange for Colones

Helpful to know:

At practically every border crossing you will find many pulperias, small stores, where you can buy soda and snacks. And often you can easily exchange money with the people walking around there. Check in advance what the current exchange rate is, then you can negotiate with that. Just before the Costa Rica migration office is an ATM. This one worked for us only with a Visa Credit card.

There are 2 border crossings between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. A less common one is the border crossing at San Carlos(Nicaragua)/Los Chiles. From there you can take a bus directly to La Fortuna. There are also shuttles that will take you across the border. You pay more for that. From San Carlos to the border is about an hour and from there to La Fortuna about 2 hours.

A more commonly used border crossing is Peñas Blancas. The closest towns in Nicaragua to the border are Rivas and San Juan del Sur. In Rivas, buses go to the Peñas Blancas border, in just under an hour (C30 – C50 pp depending on luggage).

If you want to go from San Juan del Sur to the Peñas Blancas border near Costa Rica, you take the bus to Rivas and get off at La Virgen, on the side of the road. At La Virgen you can catch a bus that goes to the border (la frontera). To and from La Virgen is about 2 x 30 minutes and also costs between 30 – 50 Córdobas per ride per person. Once at the border, first walk to the Nicaragua migration office. That’s the big white building. Inside, you first pay $1 for a tax to someone who goes by the lines and you can do the same in Córdobas. At the ticket window you will need your passport for your exit stamp and pay a $3 exit fee. This can only be done in dollars.

Then your luggage will be checked and you can exit the building at the back. Then it is about a 5-minute walk to the border of Costa Rica. There are signs indicating how to walk, it’s pretty clear. In the meantime, your passport may be checked to see if you indeed have your stamps and you may be asked to change money. You can do this, but just before the Costa Rica migration office is an ATM where you can withdraw Colones (only worked with Visa for us). At the sign that says “Bienvenidos a Costa Rica,” your passport will be checked (one more time) and you will have to walk another 2 minutes or so. Then you see a building with big orange blocks outside and also an ATM and there are toilets and they are neat and clean.

Enter the building by the orange blocks (there may be a line and it’s pretty obvious where). Here you will need your passport and your exit ticket/onward ticket to show when you leave the country. After getting your stamp, your bags are checked and then you’re done.

At the Peñas Blancas border crossing, you’ll find outlets for bus tickets.

Depending on where you want to go, you can buy a bus ticket:

》Ticabus is an international bus company that travels through the countries of Central America and also crosses borders. Tickets are purchased online and almost always cost $29 per trip. For example, you can travel from Managua or Granada in Nicaragua to San Jose in Costa Rica.

If you are already at the border you can ask the bus driver if there is still room to go, but often the buses are full.

》Liberia bus company, only goes from the border to Liberia and back. This bus goes every hour from the border.

》Deldu bus company, goes from the border to San Jose and back. On paper the drive takes 6 hours, but in reality it is better to assume 7 to 8 hours. The bus goes 7 times a day, tickets buy locally and cost C5335/€7 pp. This was also the only air-conditioned bus in Costa Rica.

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