This post would guide you on crossing the border between Ecuador and Colombia on your own by using public transport. A bridge called “Rumichaca” links Tulcan (Ecuador) and Ipiales (Colombia).

Both Tulcan and Ipiales are easily accessible from major towns of respective countries. It is totally safe to cross through Tulcan-Ipiales during the day.

Bus To Tulcan:

My last stop in Ecuador was Otavalo, an indigenous town known for its weekend market. Otavalo is a popular choice amongst travellers. If you are choosing to cross the border overland to Colombia from here, start a bit early to arrive in Colombia by evening.

There are no direct buses to Tulcan from Otavalo’s bus terminal. You would have to change buses at the terminal in Ibarra. Alternatively, you can flag down a direct bus to Tulcan from Quito on the Pan American Highway which runs 1.5 kilometres outside Otavalo.

Busses to Tulcan normally depart from the third platform in Ibarra. Look for the sign above the platform.

There are direct buses to Tulcan from Quito’s Terminal Carcelen.

From Quito (Terminal Carcelen) Travel Time: 5 HRS | Cost: USD 5 |

From Otavalo – Ibarra – Tulcan

Otavalo – Ibarra: Travel Time: 45 Mins. | Cost: USD 0.55 | Ibarra – Tulcan: Travel Time: 3 HRS | Cost: USD 3 |

Getting To The Border:

The bus terminates at the terminal in Tulcan. The terminal is located 5 kilometres away from the border. Outside the terminal, you will find taxis leaving to the border.

The taxi would drop you off right outside the Ecuadorian immigration office. It costs USD 3.05.

Upon getting the exit stamp just cross the Rumichaca bridge and the Colombian immigration office is straight ahead.

Travel Time: 10 Minutes | Cost: USD 3.5 |

Rumichaca To Ipiales:

The border is located 4.5 kilometres from Ipiales, in a little town called Rumichaca. Upon leaving the immigration office, people would rush to you to exchange your USD. It is better to know the exchange rate beforehand.

Alternatively, you CAN pay for the taxi ride with USD and get your money exchanged at the bus terminal in Ipiales.

You can find taxis to Ipiales just outside the immigration office. It would cost 9500 COP which is equivalent to USD 3.5.

Travel Time: 10 Minutes | Cost: USD 3.5 |

Making A Decision:

Ipiales’ bus terminal is well organised. There are restaurants, mini markets and currency exchange inside the terminal. People often stop by Ipiales to visit the prominent attraction, “Sanctuary of Las Lajas” which is an imposing work of architecture over the river.

  1. If you decide to spend a night in Ipiales there are plenty of hostels and hotels around the bus terminal.
  2. If you decide to continue onward to Pasto, Popayan, Cali or Bogota you can find a regular bus service.

Ipiales to Pasto: There are frequent buses serving this route, smaller the bus the more expensive it is.

 Travel Time: 2 Hours | Cost: 8,000 COP ( USD 2.5) |

Ecuador Colombia Border
Sanctuary of Las Lajas

Route Overview:

  • Bus from Otavalo to Ibarra | 45 Minutes | USD 0.35 |
  • Bus from Ibarra to Tulcan | 3 hours | USD 3 |
  • Taxi from Terminal to Border | 10 Minutes | USD 3.5 |
  • Taxi from Rumichaca to Ipiales Bus Terminal | 10 Minutes | USD 3.5 |


17 comments on “Crossing The Border: Ecuador- Colombia.

  1. Thanks for this very helpful post. I crossed that border via air, and was surprised at the ultra-high security in the Bogota airport. I’ve travelled a lot, but have never seen such thorough security measures as I saw there. Everyone should be made aware of that.

  2. Thanks for such great detail on how to cross the border. It can be scary and confusing crossing the border between countries if you don’t know what you are doing. Your information about routes, options, and time to cross will be helpful to travelers.

  3. YES I am dying to go Colombia and Ecuador and well all of South America and I was always curious how to get around and between close cities/borders. this is super detailed, thanks so much!

  4. Being a border junkie, I am always excited to cross borders on road. Public Transport is my prefereed mode always. Ecuador and Colombia both are exciting destinations. It would be fun to cross them via road. This part of the world has always fascinated me.

  5. This sure is a very useful post. It is not easy to get such information on border crossing and if someone has done it successfully then the experience shared helps. You have detailed it quite well

  6. This way of crossing the border seems really economical. And there is always a feeling of excitement attached when you cross the borders by road. You have put up a good and to the point resource for someone planning to go ecuador to colombia.

  7. I always find crossing borders strangely fascinating. Especially if you are doing it on land. Have never been to the exotic locations of Ecuador and Colombia, but the mere mention of these names set the adrenaline coursing through my veins. Really very informative post about the border crossing process.

  8. Thanks. I followed this guide and crossed the border yesterday. The bus from Otavalo to Ibarra is USD $0.55. Also, you can take a colectivo from the border to Ipiales for COP 1900.

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