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Getting Around Nicaragua by Bus

Chicken Buses

Public buses are the main means of getting around Nicaragua and, if you are traveling independently, you will undoubtedly find yourself crammed into an ex-US school bus at some point while in the country. The so-called chicken bus is usually a cheap and efficient way to get between towns; city buses themselves are often dangerous and it is always recommended that you take a taxi instead.

On domestic routes, it is impossible to reserve seats or buy a ticket before getting on the bus and seating is allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Buses will often cruise around town before leaving in an effort to try and find more passengers. However, it is always worth finding the “bus station,” usually a large and busy lot next to a market, as embarking at a main stop will greatly increase your chance of finding a free seat. On the Pacific side of the country, regular buses run between most major towns, stopping frequently whenever anyone wants to get on or off.

The chicken buses are cheap and you should expect to pay around $1 an hour on local buses. Although you may get a paper ticket on longer journeys (which you should hang on to), don’t be surprised if you are not issued one. Buses advertised as direct or express will take less time and make less stops, but will cost a little more.

As Nicaraguan buses have no luggage space underneath and get very busy, baggage has to go on the roof, or behind the back seats. Try to sit at the rear of the bus to keep an eye on your belongings. Make sure the bags which go on the roof have no valuables in them.


If you do not fancy using the extensive chicken bus network, another option is to travel by minibus. These 10- to 15-seater vans operate on many of the country's major routes, leave when they are full and are a fast and safe way to get between towns. The only disadvantages of this form of transportation is the cost (around 25 percent higher then regular buses) and the often cramped conditions as drivers will pack in as many people as possible.

Tourist shuttles

Transportation aimed solely for the tourist market is slowly appearing in Nicaragua and takes the form of shuttles operating between major points of interest. These luxury minibuses are a very convenient way to get around, but are substantially more expensive than using local transport.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Nicaragua : Getting Around, Getting Around El Rama, Getting around, Getting Around Nicaragua by Bicycle, Getting Around Laguna de Perlas, Getting Around, Getting Around Nicaragua by Train, Getting around, Getting around and Getting around.

By Tom Ravenscroft
Initially intending to just pass through Ecuador on his year-long sojourn across the world, Tom Raven Scroft decided to set up camp in Quito as an...
11 Mar 2009

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