Typical destinations and fares are as follows.
To get to Vicuña (CH$2700, 1½ hours), Ovalle (CH$2700, two hours), Montegrande (CH$4000, two hours) or Pisco Elqui (CH$4000, 2½ hours), try Via Elqui. You can even do Elqui Valley as a day trip; the first bus to Vicuña departs at 6:40am and the last returns at 9pm.
Hector Galleguillos offers bus service from La Serena to Punta de Choros.
For Argentine destinations, Cata Internacional (www.catainternacional.com) departs on Sundays at 7am for Mendoza (from CH$30,000, 12 hours). In summer Covalle Bus also goes to Mendoza (CH$45,000, 12 hours) and San Juan (CH$45,000, 18 hours) via the Libertadores pass every Wednesday and Friday, leaving at 11pm.
A large number of regional destinations are frequently and rapidly served by taxi colectivo (shared taxi). Colectivos to Coquimbo (from CH$800, 20 minutes) leave from Av Francisco de Aguirre between Balmaceda and Los Carrera.