Ecuador is not a big country and traveling by public transport is very easy to do. You are often on the road for half a day to get from one destination to another. Only to and from the coast costs more travel time. How is public transport organized in Ecuador? How do you get from A to B by public transport?
In general, the roads in Ecuador are in good condition. Mainly the main roads, the Panamerican Highway runs right through Ecuador, are in good condition. The roads are good between the (large) cities and there are toll roads to maintain the roads. Practically all roads are asphalted, but mainly in the smallest villages, towns and national parks you can encounter dirt roads and many potholes. Keep this in mind if you want to drive a car/motorcycle yourself. If Google Maps or Maps.me indicate a long travel time for the number of kilometers, you can assume that parts of the road are less passable.
For each destination in Ecuador described, we also describe how to get there and how to get around by public transport. In addition, we also describe details such as travel routes, costs and the length of the trips.
First of all, a number of apps are useful to have on your phone to plan your trip. Google Maps is recommended for a map of the country or city. Maps.me is another great app, which also often includes hiking trails on other hiking routes. The paid but more extensive and detailed app Alltrails can help you navigate the hiking routes. Download the maps of the relevant region you are going to, so you can also use the maps when you are offline. The Rome2Rio and Moovit apps provide insight into which buses you need from A to B. However, they are not always up to date.
Almost every major city in Ecuador has one (or more) Terminal de Terrestre outside the center. This is a larger bus station from which the buses depart for the longer distances. It varies whether you have to buy your ticket at the counter or whether you pay on the bus. If you depart from a larger terminal, buy your ticket in advance. There are all bus company counters at the bus station. It sometimes takes a while to find where and which bus company you need to go to for the destination you want to go to, because it is not always clearly indicated. Fortunately, there are always people willing to help you if you can’t figure it out. If you say where you want to go, they will tell you which counter to go to. Several bus companies also go to the same destination, so there is always a bus that goes to, where and when you want. It is often not necessary to buy a ticket well in advance, because there is always a bus. Only for night buses or really long distances (for example across the border) it is advisable to buy a ticket in advance. At the larger bus stations you often pay an additional $0.10 – 0.25 on top of your bus ticket. This is for a QR code that is needed to enter the bus station/departure hall. Sometimes you buy the QR code from a separate device.
After buying your ticket, walk to the departure hall. There are several stops, numbered. On your ticket you will see the number of the stop and often also the bus number so that you know which bus you need.
To find out your bus ride you can look at www.multipasajes.com. It can sometimes take a while to find out from where, which bus leaves at what time. There is a lot to be found online. But it is also advisable, in addition to that, to inquire at the bus stations or at your ho(s)tel yourself when buses leave, because the times often change.
The buses in Ecuador are of excellent quality, but often not as luxurious as in the neighboring countries of Colombia or Perú. Ecuador is not a hot country so the air conditioning is almost never on. When it’s hot, the air conditioning turns on or opens the windows. It can get hot around the coast and at Guayaquil and some buses have air conditioning. Good to know that the buses in Ecuador leave on time. Make sure you are on time at the bus station.
A city also often has smaller bus companies that bridge short distances to cities in the vicinity. You can often find these minibuses for shorter distances in a separate part of the terminal.
In addition, there are also quite a lot of mototaxis, tuctucs, in Ecuador. They will take you from A to B in short distances. As with taxis, agree on a price in advance.
Taxis can be found everywhere and drive wherever you are. You always see yellow taxis driving everywhere. With these taxis it is important to agree on a price in advance. Few taxis run on the meter, and more often they are more expensive. For more security and certainty about the price you pay for your ride, there are a number of taxi applications that you can download and use in South America. But how do these taxi apps differ from each other and which one should you use? In any case, it is good to know that all these taxi applications are officially banned in Ecuador. However, everyone knows that they exist and they are in full use. It is possible that a taxi driver does not drop you at the entrance of a bus station, but away from it, for example, because there is a police check. If they were caught by the police, there could be unpleasant consequences for them.
Uber, Didi and Beat
These are taxi apps that are very similar. You create an account, link your credit card to your account and enter your ride online. Then you will be linked to a taxi driver. The cars of taxi drivers that are linked to the apps are often of good quality. Although these apps are similar, the prices of the rides can differ greatly per country and per app. So it can be interesting to compare the taxi apps in the country where you are in South America.
Is actually just like Uber, Beat and Didi, but with the difference that you can also have a motorcycle come as a taxi.