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Your xperience with public buses in Costa Rica?

Old Jul 31st, 2007, 10:20 AM
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Your xperience with public buses in Costa Rica?

I have been reading my fellow Fodorite Costa Rican trip reports, they are all a great help, but most people mention taxis, hired drivers, and private shuttles. Some crazy expensive.

Somewhere I read that they have very cheap (like 5$) local busses that go pretty much everywhere. Can you please share your experiences with them?

Thanks
Tim
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Old Jul 31st, 2007, 10:36 AM
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I'm working on my Spanish so I feel a little more comfortable taking a public bus next trip. I've been lost in other countries and it wasn't a big deal wandering around on foot, but I was solo with 10 year old this year in CR and wasn't taken by the thought of that. There are some convenient routes via public bus, so I don't see any reason why not to.

There are a few CR regulars here who talk about using the public bus on a frequent basis, Shillmac and Suzie2 for instance. To some, I think "vacation" means riding in comfort and predictability, not so much saving $.


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Old Jul 31st, 2007, 10:52 AM
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Hi, Tim - I haven't taken the public buses in CR, but wanted to mention that we thought it was pretty easy and affordable to get around Manuel Antonio. From our hotel, we were able to walk to several restaurants and could hike to the beach. We wanted to visit a restaurant that was fairly far away, and the total cab ride was only 5 dollars. If I'm not mistaken, they do have a really cheap public bus there as well.
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Old Jul 31st, 2007, 11:13 AM
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Hi Tim,
I have used the public bus system several times this summer. Very simple. There are several stations in San Jose and each one sends buses to different areas. There's MUSOC for San Isidro area, Coca-Cola station for (I think, Pacific area--haven't done that one), and several others. Just have someone check for you to see which station you need for your desired destination.

Very inexpensive, but be sure you are able to travel very lightly as you should always keep your things WITH you or within easy reach (overhead). Do not store luggage beneath the bus and most buses make several stops and luggage can easily be missing when you arrive at your final destination.

Some of the express buses you might trust more since they don't stop to pick up people every little bit. This is also information you can obtain once you arrive (which are express and which are not).

Not a bad way to travel. . usually takes a little longer, but it is a neat experience as you'll most likely be the only "foreigner" on the bus!

I rode one bus to San Carlos this summer that had lovely music playing on a CD, quiet, peaceful, I had a great nap! Usually cost anywhere from 800 colones ($1.50) to $3.00 or $4.00. Each way. A couple of times I bought 2 tickets, one for me and one for my bag. I felt a little guilty more than once with people standing in the aisles while my bag had a seat (once I had a sprained wrist and it was hard to hold onto my bag so I didn't offer the extra seat), but then it was my turn to stand in the aisles a couple of times, so it works both ways!

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Old Jul 31st, 2007, 11:57 AM
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The public buses are definitely cheap, but I do not recommend them if you do not speak any Spanish. (I'm not sure if you do but even learning the basics would be helpful). I agree 100% with Shillmac about keeping your luggage close. Another thing that's probably good to know is that you won't be able to just hop on a public bus from Arenal to Manuel Antonio, for example. To get from one area of the country to the other, you will need to stop in San Jose and a lot of times transfer to a different bus station. I've ridden the bus plenty of times and it is a great way to get to experience the country inexpensively and meet locals, but it's definitely not for everyone. One time on a ride from San Jose to Manuel Antonio, a young boy in the seat next to me had a bag he held on the floor with a real live chicken in it! That is not the norm, but it made for an interesting ride. Hope this helps!
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Old Jul 31st, 2007, 12:07 PM
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Just thought of something else. Have you looked into Interbus? This is a shuttle service, but it's not private so it's a lot less expensive than a hired driver. It's a good way to meet fellow travelers, the ride is comfortable, and they go pretty much everywhere.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 01:38 AM
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Thanks guys! After reading about the trip to Monteverde-Arenal and such, I can see why one would jeep-boat-jeep rather than use the local bus! Oh boy that would have been a mistake...

OK so here's the deal... My wife and I will fly down to meet up for 5 days with my college age daughter who will be finishing up an Eco-volunteer thing near Samara.

She really wants to go to Monteverde and the Arenal area.

So I guess I was thinking we could fly into San Jose and hire a ride to Monteverde and she could meet us there for 2 nights. Then Jeep-taxi-jeep to the volcanoe area for 2 nights. Then spend last night near airport so we can catch the flight back home.

My Questions:
1. How late is too late to arrive at SJO and still make it to Monteverde the same day?

2. How hard will my daughter's trip be from near Samara to Monteverde.

3. Does this sound like the right order to do these 2 spots considering we are going for SJO and she is coming from Samara/

Thanks
Tim
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Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 04:24 AM
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I speak very little Spanish (I took three years of high school Spanish and forgot most of what I learned), but I have traveled widely in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica, all using public buses. It couldn't be easier, cheaper or a way to experience the country. I used the bus from San Jose to Monteverde, and there were lots of tourists on the bus (I think I paid $3 or so for the trip). If you want to see Costa Rica, there's no need to hide away in a private shuttle and stay at 5-star resorts -- for that, you might as well go to Florida.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 09:46 AM
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Take the bus...!!! and taste the real Costa Rica...it can be a hard ride...but how is life any way...some times hard sometimes soft and easy!!

My grandfather was the "founder " of public transportation in Costa Rica...

He bought a chasis...made by Ford...in the lates 1930's...my father said that when they went to pick up the chasis...they pick up some wooden boxes and transport them to San Jose by oxcart..once in San Jose they put that "big" machine together...nobody did not know how to start the engine...well at least any of my uncles or gran pa...and when they fire it up...every body runned...chicken were flying all over the place...kids were crying...and ladies were in there knees praying...the demon was here!!

In top of the chassis they builded a seat for the driver...some wodden seat for passengers and some cargo space in the back...every morning my gran father drove the bus...from his dairy farm in the hills of San Pedro...and drove all the way to downtown San Jose...the fare 0,05 of colon!!

I just wanted to share a little about the public transportation history of my country!!

So in honor of my granpa...yes of course ride the buses...everything thanks to Don Nazario!!

R.A Luis

Just buckle up and enjoy the ride in paradise!!
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Old Aug 4th, 2007, 07:03 AM
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We traveled by public bus from Samara to San Jose and from Puerto Viejo to San Jose. We really had a great experience both times. We had big camping/hiking backpacks and stowed them in the under-bus compartment. However, we locked them up in big military duffle bags with padlocks. No one could just reach in and take something from a pocket. Any time the bus stopped, one of us watched to be sure the under compartment was not opened and if it was, nothing came out. I had a Spanish phrase book and that helped with questions about our stop. We are definitely going to use PV to San Jose again in December (the bus leaves too late after we arrive to take it from SJ to PV so we'll use a driver). Definitely take your stuff with you when the bus stops at rest stops and stay near to be sure the under compartment is not opened.

Nothing bad to say about it!
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Old Aug 4th, 2007, 02:02 PM
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we used interbus to go from arenal to manuel antonio and from manuel antonio to san jose. great service, not that expensive.
Around manuel antonio we took the public bus very cheaply and was not crowded most of the times.
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