Border Crossing: El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua

Like many backpackers we skipped Honduras. Here are the details for heading south through the El Salvador/ Honduras and Honduras/ Nicaragua borders.

TIP: bring your own pen and US$3 change for Honduras border and US$12 for Nicaragua border + US coins for buses.

• To get to Leon at a reasonable hour we took our first bus at around 7am.

• From San Miguel take bus number 390A to Santa Rosa (US$1.90, 1 hour) from opposite Hotel King Palace – 6a Calle Oriente, San Miguel, El Salvador.

• Let the busboy know you want to go to Santa Rosa/ La Frontera and he will help you out

• When you depart at Santa Rosa there is likely to be a bus waiting about 20m up the road. Catch this ($US1.08, 25 mins). Ask if this is headed toward El Amatillo or La Frontera before boarding.

• It’s less than a 5 minute walk to immigration (straight up the road) so ignore the waiting tuk tuks.

• Once you’ve finished your El Salvador immigration formalities (we didn’t have any issues for not having an El Salvador entrance stamp), follow the tuk tuks over the bridge and to the Honduras immigration.

• This side is more hectic. Grab a piece of paper from the desk. There are kids offering you pens and then charge you exorbitantly for the use hense why you should bring a pen.

• Once your paper is completed you will need to pay a $3 entrance fee to Honduras (they rarely have change so for timeliness and ease have the exact change).

• Collectivos direct to the Nicaragua border leave from just past immigration, next to Pollo Roquero ($6, 2 hours, departs when full).

• When you arrive at Guasaule/ the Nicaragua border decline the tuk tuks again and walk to the Honduras immigration.

• Once through continue straight over the bridge to the Nicaraguan immigration.

• On the bridge you are likely to be stopped by officials checking bags. We happened to get a guy in training who checked everything in Charlie’s bag. Apparently knives aren’t ok but they let us through with our pocket knife regardless.

• The Nicaraguan border is more formal. They don’t accept US coins in denominators less than $1 so make sure you have the right change. Fill out your forms and pay your $12 per person entry fee and you’re on your way again.

• The bus for Leon is a bit tricky to find but basically head out to the main road, follow the LONG line of trucks until you find the buses. Ask someone if you’re unsure.

• Bus to Leon takes 1 hour, 30 mins (C50/ US$2 per person).

• By the time you arrive in Leon you probably can’t be bothered walking 30 mins into town (which translates to 90 mins due to Nicaraguan heat) so catch a taxi for C40 (2 people) to most hostels.


TOTAL TIME: approx 7 hours. Leave early to allow for possible border delays.

TOTAL COST: USD$26 per person including border crossing fees and transport


• If starting from La Union catch bus #324 to San Miguel (US$0.90 , 1 hour 15 mins).

• From El Salvador there is the option to take a boat across the Gulf of Fonseca from La Union, El Salvador to Potosi, Nicaragua. We attempted this but unfortunately there is little information available until you arrive in La Union and even then information is scarce. In our case no boats were leaving for 3 days. If you are wanting to try this option here are some untested starting points:

∼ boats leave from La Union or El Cuco. It may be easier to make arrangements from El Cuco?

∼ or has options but the prices are most likely out of reach for a budget backpackers

∼ Another option is to try and lower the above website’s prices by catching public transport from outside Hotel Brisa del Golfo in Potosi. This is a good option if you want to hike nearby Volcán Cosigüina.

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