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  • Writer's pictureDave Jackson

San Salvador to Copan Ruinas without a shuttle

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

Taking the public bus from San Salvador to Copan Ruinas is definitely the cheapest way to get from A to B but far from the Quickest. There are shuttle services which will get you across the borders for $60pp in a quoted time of 5 hours but it only leaves 3 times a week & sets off in the dead of night.

Before I go through the details of the journey, it's important to fill out the Honduras entry form before setting off (you will also need to fill out a part to exit).

San Salvador to Copan Ruinas - steps at a glance

Where to start journey

Journey time


Transport type

San Salvador to Santa Ana

Terminal de Buses de Occidente

1 hour 40 minutes

$1 .35 (£1.10)

Chicken bus

Santa Ana to Metapan

#235 Terminal de Buses

1 hour 45 minutes

$0.80 (£.0.65)

#235 chicken bus

Metapan to Frontera Anguiatu

Terminal de Autobus Metapan (CA 12)

40 minutes

$0.56 (£0.45)

#235 chicken bus

Walk across the border

Bus drops you next to border

20 minutes



Frontera Anguiatu to Chiquimula

Up the road from Guatemalan border

1 hour 50 minutes

Q30 (£3.00/$3.75)

20 seater shuttle

Chiquimula to El Florido Frontera

Aldea Vado Hondo, corner of CA 11

1 hour 30 minutes

Q30 (£3.00/$3.75)

20 seater shuttle

Walk across the border

Bus drops you next to border

40 minutes

$3 (won't accept USD) FILL IN ARRIVAL FORM


El Florido Frontera to Copan Ruinas

Up the road from the border

30 minutes

L25 (£0.80/$1)


San Salvador to Copan Ruinas - step by step in detail

San Salvador to Santa Ana

Our day starts with a 5:45am alarm, final bits of packing, bite to eat & Uber to the Terminal de Buses de Occidente. We had hoped our alarm was early enough to beat San Salvador’s rush hour, we were wrong! Our bus didn’t leave until 7am.

Upon entering Santa Ana we asked the driver where would be best to get off the bus to catch the to Metapan. He dropped us at a bus station called Terminal de buses 235 on Google, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the name as there were loads more buses there other than the #235. It’s on Calle Aldea San Antonio just after the 25 Calle Pte joins it.

Bus: AC coach

Cost: $1.35 (£1.10)

Duration: 1hr 40min

Santa Ana to Metapan

We arrived at the #235 bus station on Calle Aldea San Antonio at 8:40 am. After speaking to the attendant we sat in the waiting area for 10 minutes before the #235 was ready to go.

We left the station when the bus was empty so we got a chance to cherry-pick our seats. We nabbed seats near the back, not to be the cool kids but there is limited space for baggage on chicken buses so you end up putting your big bags in the aisle. At the front of the bus everyone has to climb over your bags, at the back there are a couple of rows no one passes but to get to those seats as it’s behind the exit.

The bus gradually filled whilst driving through Santa Ana, by the time we left the city all the seats were taken & a few were standing.

The journey was a little sticky, but not too bad. All sorts of people brought different things onto the bus, one man sat next to us with a kitten in a box, a different one with a whole host of agricultural bags & a man who looked to be supplying a florist. Part of the fun of riding the chicken buses 😂

You end this journey at the bus terminal in Metapan which is the final stop & the same place where buses going to the frontera leave from.

Bus: #235 Chicken bus

Cost: $0.80 (£0.65)

Duration: 1hr 45mins

Metapan to Frontera Anguiatu

Upon arriving at the terminal de Autobus in Metapan we asked an official looking person where to get the bus to La Frontera & he kindly pointed us to the bus we were stood with our backs to. The bus is actually the #235 and has Metapan/Santa Ana on the front, confusingly it goes from Metapan to the border before going to Santa Ana, annoyingly you can’t get a bus all the way from Santa Ana to the border though.

We sat aboard our bus until 11:00am before it left. We got a little hot whilst waiting for it to leave for 15 minutes but at least we had snagged a seat. The journey to the border is only 10km/7m but takes 40 minutes as the driver had to stop every 3 doors to drop people off.

Bus: Chicken bus (#235 again)

Cost: $0.56

Duration: 40mins

Frontera Anguiatu | Border from El Salvador to Guatemala

The border crossing couldn’t have been easier, no queue at either side. Including time to change money it took less than 20 minutes. And there was a shuttle waiting to leave on the Guatemalan side.

Frontera Anguiatu to Chiquimula (Aldea Vado Hondo)

The shuttle bus was in sight as we left the passport office, reluctantly we walked quickly towards it as this shuttle is known to be infrequent. We were in luck, a tout walked towards us walking up the road and checked where we were headed so the bus waited.

Our big bags were bundled in the back and we boarded to find a number of seats free, bonus!

The bus left once we were border at about 11:50am & continued on its way picking up more passengers as it went.

Bus: shuttle

Cost: Q30 (£3.10/$3.90)

Duration 1hr 50mins

Chiquimula to El Florido

The bus was there waiting at the junction to La Frontera. I’m pretty sure we were charged Gringo price on this shuttle as they charged Q30 again. But at least we were moving 5 minutes later at 1:45pm. After 30 minutes the heavens opens whilst our bags were on the roof, great! At least it was only a short downpour.

At Jocotan we were scurried off the bus to change to a more direct bus. And the good news is on this one, the bags went inside 😁

We left Jocotan at 2:25 pm thankfully, the last bus towards the border and arrived 50 minutes later.

Bus: shuttle

Cost: Q30 (£3.10/$3.90)

Duration 1hr 30mins

Frontera Anguiatu | Border from El Salvador to Guatemala

At the border we had a 10-minute walk to passport control. Past the first building which is only for entrance. The exit for Guatemala and entrance to Honduras are side by side in the same building.

Honduras has an entrance fee displayed as $3 USD, but you can’t pay in USD annoyingly. After being turned away from the front of the queue as they would only take Lempira or Quetzal, I went back to the Cambio men at the border to change some USD for Lempira. In the end I paid 80L per person for the entrance fee to Honduras.

Another reminder, fill out the Honduran entry form before setting off.

El Florido Frontera to Copan Ruinas

Upon exiting the border or last leg was in sight. A final minivan was waiting up the road. The charge to Copan Ruinas was L25 (£0.80/$1). Side note, he also said he wouldn’t take USD so I ended up lending the money to a Canadian girl we met on route. It took around 20 minutes for him to fill the van, so we took the opportunity to grab a drink from the restaurant opposite.

The journey to Copan Ruinas from El Florida took about 30 minutes to get to Copan Ruinas at around 5 pm.


All in all our journey from San Salvador to Copan Ruinas took 10 hours & cost $11.20. Yes you can do the route via shuttle depending on the day of the week you are in San Salvador, but it’s a lot more expensive!! If I was to do the route again would I take the same route or go for a shuttle? I’d say, take the same route but maybe change the order of our El Salvador itinerary and stay in Santa Ana last to mean the journey would be less than 10 hours.

If you do this journey we’d love to hear your experience in the comments below. Also, if anything changes please let us know to help future travellers 😁

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