Getting there & away
Entering The Country
Entering Honduras, whether by air or land, is a relatively painless process. Arriving by air, you’ll be given immigration and customs forms on the plane. After disembarking, you’ll pass through immigration first; there’s a line for residents and one for foreigners (extranjeros). There is no fee to enter, and tourists are typically issued 90-day tourist cards. You will be given a thin slip of paper – don’t lose it, you’ll need it when you exit the country. After passing through immigration, collect your bags and pass through customs. As in many Latin American countries, customs inspections are conducted at random. All passengers queue up to press a mechanical button; if the red light comes on you get inspected, if it’s green you go through. Of course, customs officers may choose to inspect your bags anyway, so it’s worth acting and dressing a bit sharp.
Most people entering by land do so at El Florido, Guatemala near Copán Ruínas. Other busy crossings are Corinto, Guatemala, and El Amatillo or El Poy, El Salvador. A smaller number cross from Nicaragua. The drill is the same at all the crossings: go through the exit procedures for the country you’re leaving, then present your passport at the Honduran office or window. There is no fee to enter the country, but some officers charge US$3 simply because they can.
You can extend your tourist visa once for another 90 days for US$20 at almost any immigration office. In fact, the smaller offices tend to be faster and friendlier than the ones in Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula.
All foreign visitors must have a valid passport to enter Honduras. Be sure you have room for both an entry and exit stamp, and that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned travel dates. For special visa requirements, see opposite.
It goes without saying that, for independent travelers, the Internet has most of the best travel deals. Flying Monday to Thursday is generally cheaper.
If you arrive or depart from Honduras by sea, be sure to clear your paperwork (visa, entry and exit stamps) immediately with the nearest immigration office.
The only regularly scheduled passenger boat service between Honduras and another country is a small boat operated by Gulf Cruz (984 9544, 982 6985). It runs twice weekly from Puerto Cortés to Dangriga (US$35, two hours) and Belize City (US$55, 3½ hours).
Ordinary buses do not cross the border, which means you have to cross on foot and pick up another bus on the other side. However, several bus lines offer international service, including Tica Bus (www.ticabus.com), King Quality (www.kingqualityca.com), Hedman Alas (www.hedmanalas.com) and El Rey Express (www.reyexpress.net). Between them, they offer service from Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula to San Salvador, Guatemala City, Antigua (Guatemala), Tapachula (México), Managua (Nicaragua), San José (Costa Rica) and Panama City.
Most rental car agencies do not allow you to drive out of Honduras. Avis is the exception, though be sure that this is clear in your contract and that the vehicle remains covered by insurance.
The main crossings into El Salvador are at El Poy and El Amatillo; there is a third crossing south of Marcala, but because of a longstanding border dispute, there is no Salvadoran immigration post there. There’s no one to stop you, either, but entering here is technically illegal and you can be fined if your status is discovered. Some travelers have crossed into El Salvador as far as Perquín, Morazán, and returned to Honduras by the same crossing with no problem. Nevertheless, if you plan to go further or stay longer than a few days, it is best to use one of the official crossings. However, a final agreement between the two countries seemed very much in the works at the time of publication – ask around for the latest.
From Tegucigalpa, Tica (US$15, 6½ hours) and King Quality (US$28 to US$41, six to seven hours) offer direct service to San Salvador. King Quality has service from San Pedro Sula as well (US$28 to US$41, 6 hours).
To Guatemala, the main crossings are at El Florido, Agua Caliente and Corinto.
From Tegucigalpa, King Quality has the most convenient service to Guatemala City, with just a two-hour layover in San Salvador (US$53 to US$74 one way, 14 hours). Tica Bus has cheaper service (US$26 one way) but includes an overnight in San Salvador. From San Pedro Sula, you can take El Rey Express (www.reyexpress.net) for US$26 (8½ hours), or the much nicer Hedman Alas (www.hedmanalas.com) for US$45 to US$59 (eight hours), which has continuing service to Antigua. You can also catch the Hedman Alas bus in La Ceiba, Copán Ruínas or San Pedro Sula’s airport.
There are three Nicaraguan borders crossings in southern Honduras, at Las Manos, La Fraternidad/El Espino and Guasaule, and a fourth in La Moskitia, at Leimus.
All international buses to Managua pass through Tegucigalpa and use the Las Manos crossing via Danlí. Service is offered by Tica (US$20, eight hours) and King Quality (US$25 to US$37, seven to eight hours). In La Moskitia, there are daily buses from Puerto Lempira to Leimus.
Frequent direct flights connect Honduras with all the Central American capitals and many destinations in North America, the Caribbean, South America and Europe. Most international flights arrive and depart from the airports at Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula; there are also direct flights between the USA and Roatán, coming from Houston, Miami and Atlanta. A charter flight from Milan, Italy also arrives in Roatán once a week.
Honduras has three international airports: San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatán. Of the three, San Pedro Sula is the busiest. In addition, La Ceiba has a small domestic airport and there are airstrips in Utila, Guanaja, and throughout La Moskitia.
Aeropuerto Golosón (LCE; 443 3925) La Ceiba’s airport, just west of town.
Aeropuerto Internacional Ramón Villeda Morales (SAP; 668 8880) San Pedro Sula’s airport, located 15km east of town.
Aeropuerto Internacional Tocontín (TGU;234 2702) Tegucigalpa’s airport, located within the city limits.
Aeropuerto Juan Ramón Galvez (RTB) Roatán’s airport, located just east of Coxen Hole.
Domestic and international carriers servicing Honduras include:
Delta Air Lines (DL; 550 1616; www.delta.com)
SAMI (in La Ceiba 442 2565, in Brus Laguna 433 8031)
Travel Cuts (800-667-2887; www.travelcuts.com) Student travel specialist.
Anyway (0892 893 892; www.anyway.fr)
Lastminute (0892 705 000; www.lastminute.fr)
Nouvelles Frontières (0825 000 747; www.nou velles-frontieres.fr)
OTU Voyages (www.otu.fr) Student and youth travel specialist.
Voyageurs du Monde (01 40 15 11 15; www.vdm.com)
Just Travel (089 747 3330; www.justtravel.de)
Lastminute (01805 284 366; www.lastminute.de)
STA Travel (01805 456 422; www.statravel.de) Specializes in travelers under 26.
www.travelocity.de (089 27276 555)
CTS Viaggi (06 462 0431; www.cts.it) Student and youth travel specialist.
AirFair (020 620 5121; www.airfair.nl)
Barceló Viajes (902 116 226; www.barceloviajes.com)
Viajes Zeppelin (902 384 253; www.v-zeppelin.es)
Discount air travel is big business in London. Advertisements for many travel agencies appear in the travel pages of the weekend broadsheet newspapers as well as Time Out, Evening Standard, and the free online magazine TNT(www.tntmagazine.com).
Bridge the World (0870 444 7474; www.b-t-w.co.uk)
Flight Centre (0870 890 8099; flightcentre.co.uk)
Flightbookers (0870 814 4001; www.ebookerscom)
Journey Latin America (020 8747 3108; www.journeylatinamerica.co.uk)
North-South Travel (01245 608 291; www.north southtravel.co.uk) Part of the profits are donated to projects in the developing world.
Quest Travel (0870 442 3542; www.questtravel.com)
STA Travel (0870 160 0599; www.statravel.co.uk) Specializing in travelers under 26.
Trailfinders (020 7937 1234; www.trailfinders.co.uk)
Travel Bag (0870 890 1456; www.travelbag.co.uk)
Discount travel agents in the USA are known as consolidators. San Francisco is the ticket-consolidator capital of the country, although some good deals can be found in Los Angeles, New York and other big cities.
Amex Travel (www.itn.net)
Cheap Tickets (888 922 8849; www.cheaptickets.com)
Expedia (800 397 3342; www.expedia.com)
Lowest Fare (800 678 0998; www.lowestfare.com)
Orbitz (888 656 4546; www.orbitz.com)
Smarter Travel (617 886 5555; www.smarterliving.com)
STA Travel (800 781 4040; www.sta.com) Specializing in travelers under 26.
Travelocity (888 709 5983; www.travelocity.com)