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  • Writer's pictureDave Jackson

Antigua to Juayua, Ruta de las Flores by bus

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

To take on the border crossing between Antigua and Juayua or anywhere else on the Ruta de Las Flores, El Salvador, by chicken bus you will want an early start as it has a minimum of 4 buses. Yes of course there are tourist shuttles which will get you over the border a bit quicker but they will cost around 4 times as much and where’s the fun in that?!


Chicken bus, Antigua, Guatemala
Chicken bus, Antigua

What is a chicken bus?

The chicken bus is not just a cheap way to get from A to B in Central America, it’s a right of passage for any that call themselves a budget backpacker. Chicken buses are retired American school buses, painted in an array of bright colours and are nicknamed as such due to the fact you have no idea what your fellow travellers will have with them, it’s not uncommon to be sat next to someone with a chicken on their knee!


Antigua to Juayua bus in a nutshell

Where to start journey

Journey time

Cost

Transport type

Antigua - Escuintla

Bus station near 2nd hand clothes market, Antigua

1.5 hours

Q20 (£2/$2.40)

Chicken bus

Escuintla - La Frontera (Aduanas)

Corner of 1a. Avenida & 9 Calle

2.5-3 hours

Q70-80 (£7-8/$8.40-9.60)

Chicken bus

Walk across the border

Keep walking the same direction as the bus

45 mins

Free (no entry or exit fee)

Feet

La Frontera - Sonsonate

Dirt car park up the road from border

2 hours

​$0.90 (£0.75)

Chicken bus

Sonsonate - Juayua

Terminal de Sonsonate, where you are dropped off

1 hour

​$0.90 (£0.75)

249 Chicken bus



Antigua to Juayua by public transport in detail


Antigua - Escuintla

Step one of your journey is making your way to the bus station in Antigua, it’s located on Poniente near the second-hand clothes market (see map). We arrived at the bus station just after 8 am as we wanted to take advantage of our free breakfast at our hostel, however earlier the better if you can get there any earlier. At the bus station, you will find a load of chicken buses & there are signs along the pavement in front of the stalls detailing where each bus is going. If you can’t find the sign for Esquintla, ask one of the locals, Guatemalans are uber friendly and willing to help.


The buses from Antigua run frequently and costs Q20 (£2/$2.40) per person. This leg of the journey should take about 1.5 hours.


Escuintla - La Frontera (Aduanas)

Keep an eye on the map as you arrive in Escuintla as it’s not the end of the line at the bus station you want to jump off the bus. I’ve marked where to get off the bus for the La Frontera bus in Esquintla on the map, click to download all of the icons to your Google Maps so you can access the icons offline. If you ask the attendant where to get off for La Frontera just before they will stop at the right place.


In Esquintla you need to cross over the road over the little island in the road and go to the corner of 1a. Avenida & 9 Calle. In all likelihood you won’t need to ask where to go, we had a number of people trying to show us where to stand.


Again, buses run frequently between Esquintla and La Frontera. This bus should cost Q70-80 (£7-8/$8.40-9.60). This journey is 2.5-3 hours depending on traffic.


Crossing the border between Guatemala and El Salvador

Crossing the border couldn’t have been more smooth. A man with a wad of cash approached us to change what was left of our Quetzals (fairly normal in Central America) offering Q8/$1 which was pretty much bang on the rate.


At Guatemala passport control nothing was needed, they just checked our entry date and stamped us out & gave us an exit piece of paper.


From there we walked across the bridge to El Salvador which takes about 20 minutes. There are a few rickshaws floating about if you didn’t fancy the walk.


At the El Salvador side there were 2 very friendly official ladies who asked where we were heading, they checked our passports and we were on our way (no stamp required).


La Frontera (La Hachadura) to Sonsonate

This part really couldn’t be much easier, keep walking up the road in the same direction you’ve been going. After a block you will find the bus station, well a dusty car park with a number of chicken buses there. All buses go Sonsonate, if one isn’t ready to go there is a small shelter to hide from the sun, you will notice it’s much warmer here than in Antigua!!


Buses leave Regularly, we waited 10 minutes, and the fare is $0.90 (£0.75). The journey took about 2 hours.


Sonsonate to Juayua

Upon arriving at the bus terminal in Sonsonate locate the stand which has 249 or Auachapan above it. There was a long queue when we arrived and by the time we got to the front, there was only a little standing room next. We still had a few locals in front of us and so decided to wait for the next bus, but a few locals passed us from further back in the queue to board the packed bus to get to their destination quicker. The buses are every 15 minutes, we passed the time by grabbing a juice for $1 and then boarded the next bus, the buses start from Sonsonate so are empty at this point.


The buses run every 15 minutes and run the length of Ruta de las Flores. The bus cost $0.90 (£0.75), and takes one hour.


Summary

Jumping on the chicken buses is sweatier and busier than the tourist shuttles but much cheaper. If you don’t fancy a 4 leg border crossing for your first time aboard a chicken bus maybe jump on a local one to try them out first. They are so cheap & a great way to get from A to B. As I said, until you’ve taken a chicken bus in Central America you can’t call yourself a budget backpacker & you’ll have to go by the tag of flashpacker! 😉


If you take this journey we’d love to hear from you.

Happy travels!!

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1 Comment


Guest
Nov 10, 2023

Thanks for the thorough blog! It really helped our journey from Antigua to Juayua go so smoothly on 09Nov23! All information was up to date, although the last bus only cost us $0.50!

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