International Bus: from Leon (Nicaragua) to San Salvador (El Salvador): Timetable, Fares
If there are many shuttles proposed by the hostels going from Leon (Nicaragua) to the different beaches in El Salvador, we had a lot of trouble finding buses connecting Leon and San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador.
There are two companies providing this service:
- Tica Bus
You will not necessarily see this information on the two respective sites because the buses all leave from Managua and Leon is just a stop on the way.
Here are the departure times and fares for November 2019:
- Platinum : departure around 3am. Arrival around 2pm-3pm. Rates : 50$US
- Tica Bus: departure around 11am. Arrival around 11 pm. Fares : 45$US
The Platinum bus has better schedules (San Salvador being a rather dangerous city at night, it is better to avoid arriving too late) – and better service: free drink, breakfast and lunch served on the bus. This is the company we chose and the chairs are indeed super comfortable. The assistant of the bus helps us to fill in the forms and the border crossings.
Tica Bus is a very reputable company that crosses America from Panama to Mexico, there are dishes served as well (in ejecutivo class), but for this trip, we find that the schedules aren’t very convenient for us.
Where to buy the tickets?
For Tica bus, you can buy tickets online (Visa or Mastercard). To depart from Leon, you still have to choose “Managua” as departure and then in the field “terminal Nicaragua”, choose Leon. But I really advise you to go through an agency – this bus is often late, it’s better to have someone reliable to ask questions or a cab to pick you up at the right time – instead of waiting 1h30 at the gas station.
For Platinum and Tica Bus, you can go to the agency La Cumbia, which can be found here (Google Maps coordinates), open from Monday to Saturday between 7am and 5pm (break between noon and 1:30pm) and Sunday between 7am and 10am. Reservation: (505) 23116153. Whatsapp : (505)87341073 The agency will take a commission on the tickets purchased (we paid $57 instead of $50 for Platinum for example). We opted for the cab option for 1$ extra (more info below).
Where do the buses leave from?
The big international buses do not enter the city of Leon but just pass by.
Tica Bus stop in Leon
The starting point (the famous Bahia del Sol to which Tica Bus refers) is 8 minutes by car from the center of Leon, or 20 minutes on foot (not recommended as it is a highway). L’emplacement exact sur Google Maps est ici (you’re welcome!). If my link doesn’t work, type ABORDAJE INTERNACIONAL LEON on Google Maps. It is located 20 meters from the Petronic gas station, in the Posada del Sol neighborhood.
If you can’t arrange your own pick-up, and if it’s not too late/too early, cab fares in Leon are set at 30 cordobas. You can get into a cab and tell them to go to the “parada del bus internacional Tica bus” or “ABORDAJE INTERNACIONAL A LEON”
Platinum stops in Leon
The Platinum buses stop north of Leon, at the Gasolina Puma, 10 minutes from downtown or 30 minutes on foot (not recommended, it is a road frequented by heavy goods vehicles in the early morning). Voici l’emplacement exact Due to the early morning departure, it is better to pay the agency to arrange a pick-up for you
For 1$ more per person, the agency La Cumbia offered us a pick-up by cab from our hotel in Leon. It’s true that given the morning departure (2am), we didn’t see ourselves pulling our suitcases, our eyes half closed to the other end of Leon. The cab driver is in relation with the driver of the bus. Thus, as the bus passes in Leon between 2h30 and 3h in the morning, the cab will come to pick us up between 2h and 2h30 to bring us to the bus in time.
Note: our bus (Platinum) was very late. Thus, at 2am, the agency called us on the phone to tell us that the cab will only come at 3am. He dropped us at the gas station and around 3:50 am, the Platinum bus actually arrived.
How was the trip from Leon to San Salvador with the Platinum bus?
In spite of 1 hour of delay, we arrived in San Salvador a little early (14h) because there were no customers going up and down in Honduras. The bus took a shorter way. At the exit of Nicaragua, the assistant of the bus specified well to the employee of border that we had given him the 2$ of exit fees, we were still asked 2$ supplementary (but there is a bill so we couldn’t retort).
In Honduras, the entrance cost us 3$/person. And the exit from Honduras, which lasted a long time (50 people waiting), cost us nothing. The border crossing in El Salvador was very smooth : an officer came on board to ask us questions and look at our passports. Nothing to pay. Breakfast, lunch, as well as drinks (coffee, water, Coke…) are served in the bus itself. The seats are ultra comfortable. The toilets of the bus (separated man/woman) are cleaned regularly. No way to hang out a little at the borders, to buy a snack or to go to the toilets, the only thing we could do is to exchange our last cordobas.
The-: The bus assistant only speaks Spanish – and the border employees only speak Spanish. At one point, not very well awake, I answered “I came by bus” to the question “what is your job?” ahahhaa As soon as I fall asleep, I already have to wake up to cross a border, or eat. 2 movies are broadcasted during the trip but with an acceptable sound volume. The air conditioning is a bit too loud and the neighbors snore much too loud.
What about the SIM card and money?
The countries crossed use the American dollar, therefore NO STRESS. If necessary, you can exchange your cordobas for dollars with the gentlemen having bundles of money in their hands. They are at the border 24/24 and the rates are very interesting. Be careful, 1$ coins are only accepted in El Salvador, Honduras… outside these countries, it is worthless. These same gentlemen can exchange your dollar coins for a bill, free of charge.
The Claro SIM card purchased in Nicaragua will work from Panama to Guatemala (except Belize). Just activate roaming, the package you have in Nicaragua also applies in this zone.
What about other shuttles and boats to El Salvador?
If you go directly to the beaches of El Salvador, contact the following organizations
- Iximche Agency: http: //iximchetouroperador.com/ (35$) departure at 2am, arrival at EL Cuco Beach around 9:00 am, Las Flores 9:00 am, El Tunco Beach around noon, El Sunzal Beach 1:30 pm and El Zonte Beach around 2:30 pm. Tested and validated by other expats.
- Gekko Explorer : which goes to El Tunco in El Salvador (30$) https://gekkotrailsexplorer.com/ we have tested their service only to go to Guatemala ( see our review)
- Bigfoot Hostel : I know it’s recommended by Lonely Planet but I’ve had very negative feedback
You can also go to La Union in El Salvador by boat from the small town of Potosi (Nicaragua). Starting at 35$ : Lancha “Mario” to cross the Gulf of Fonseca from Potosi (Nicaragua) and La Union (El Salvador): Whatsapp +503 7282 4362
What are the fares and bus schedules from Leon to Panama / Costa Rica / Guatemala / Mexico / Honduras?
Tickets can be bought online (on the Tica Bus website), or always at La Cumbia agency, which is located here (Google Maps coordinates), open from Monday to Saturday between 7am and 5pm (break between noon and 1:30pm) and Sunday between 7am and 10am. Reservation: (505) 23116153. Whatsapp : (505)87341073
|Leon – Panama||100$||8am and 5pm|
|Leon – Honduras/TEG||34$||5h and 11h|
|Leon – Honduras/SPS||50$||5h|
|Leon – Guatemala||79$||5h and 11h|
|Leon – Antigua||94$||11h|
|Leon – Costa Rica||29$||7h, 10h, 11h, 12h and 13h|
|Leon – El Salvador||57$||3h and 11h|
|Leon – Mexico||105$||3h and 11h|
Did you like our article? Consult our practical guide of Nicaragua and the practical guide of El Salvador