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 |


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

  1. Just a warning to anyone planning on crossing the boarder from Colombia into Ecuador. I just made the trip from Pasto to Quito yesterday and although I had no issues it could have been worse. The night before we started our journey to the boarder our hostel owner told us that it could take up to 10 hours to cross the boarder. Why? Because of the crisis happening in Venezuela hundreds of buses are coming in from Venezuela dropping people off to escape their country so there are hundred of people trying to get through a boarder with about 7 windows on each side to stamp your passport. My best advice would be to leave as early as possible. We left Pasto Colombia at 4:30 am got to the boarder around 7. The Colombian side there was no line and we waited about 10 minutes to get our exit stamps and then walk across the boarder. Once we got to the Ecuador side there was a pretty long line and we waited a little over an hour to get our passport stamped. When we walked out of the office the line has tripled and wrapped around the immigration building. So get there EARLY or you will be spending all day here. I hope this helps!

  2. 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.

    • Glad to know that this guide was helpful to you in crossing the border and thank you for updating the revised bus fare.

    • I had to pay $90 USD to cross into Columbia from Ecuador? We went by bus. Has anyone else paid this fee?

  3. Did you get asked for proof of onward travel when crossing?

  4. I will be in Quito in a week and would love to swing on up there to see la Lajas . Looks like it’s an overnighter. Anyone tried this and have advise?

  5. This is some great info! The last time I decided to fly but it looks like border crossing is very easy and safe now. Thanks for sharing!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. This overland border crossing is a great idea. The Sanctuary of Las Lajas is so impressive. We’d definitely take some extra time to explore it.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. Great info. I’m hoping to return to South America soon, and will probably be crossing the Rumichaca!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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