A street in Suchitoto, El Salvador

El Salvador to Copán Ruinas without passing through Guatemala

It's easy to go from El Salvador to Copán Ruinas in a day on chicken buses. No need to pay for an expensive shuttle, or cross through Guatemala. Here's how we went from Suchitoto, El Salvador, to Copán Ruinas, Honduras, on a long bus hassle free line of buses.

When I was in Santa Ana, it seemed like most people were headed straight to Copán Ruinas in Honduras through Guatemala, some on chicken buses and some on shuttles. I really wanted to spend some time in the little colonial town of Suchitoto on the way, so I figured I might as well go from El Salvador to Copán Ruinas by the El Poy-Ocotepeque border crossing and make it one of those days mostly spent getting on and off buses.

If you’re don’t want to pass two border crossings in a day, look no further. If you’re starting from San Salvador, take the bus #119 directly toward the border at El Poy (Frontera El Poy) from Terminal de Oriente and skip the first step.

Step 1: Suchitoto to Aguilares

It seemed like everyone in town knew the exact interval between buses (40 minutes), but no one could say at what time one would leave. The bus number is 163, and it leaves from near the corner of the main square in Suchitoto where the tourist information is, as always in El Salvador you can just ask somebody and they’ll be happy to tell you exactly where to wait. We were lucky and the bus pulled up just as we got there, and the ride took about a half hour down to the main road from San Salvador. The bus pulls into a market on the other side of the main road, but tell the attendant that you’re going to the border (la frontera) and they’ll let you off at the main road.

Step 2: Aguilares to El Poy

The attendant pointed us toward a gas station about a hundred meters south of the crossroads, so we set out walking in that direction. A bus was waiting when we got there, number 119 from San Salvador to the border. The trip takes around two hours.

If you don’t want to make this trip in one day, or take a lunch break somewhere, you can make a stop in La Palma, a small town famous for its colorful murals. You can really see most of it in about an hour, so there’s no need to stay the night unless it’s getting late. If you do end up staying, I’d recommend Hotel La Palma, that has indoor murals in the rooms.

Colorful mural on a building in La Palma, El Salvador

Step 3: Crossing the border

This border crossing is really quiet, at least when we passed, and it was hard to tell where to go as there were no other travelers crossing. We stopped to ask several people on the way before we found an abandoned kiosk with an official in training who looked through all of the pages in our passports and chatting about the stamps to make time pass quicker, before he stamped us out of El Salvador. Another short walk and another kiosk later, we were in Honduras.

Cowboys in the minivan from Ocotepeque border to Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras

Step 4 and 5: Ocotepeque to La Entrada to Copán Ruinas

On the Honduran side of the border a minibus was waiting, the driver saying it was going all the way to San Pedro Sula. We were traded off to another minibus in Santa Rosa de Copán, and then dropped by the road at La Entrada, where the main roads meet. Another minibus going to Copán Ruinas was already waiting, and we got onto that. So many buses, but zero waiting time between them, and a total of about five hours travel time from the border.

Like it? Share it!

Leave a Reply