Taking the bus from Quito to Cuenca, Ecuador

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Taking the bus from Quito to Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca, Ecuador is ranked #1 on many sites as the best place to retire cheap. After exploring Quito, Ecuador for the month Quito retirement summary I decided to head to Cuenca, Ecuador.

The first step is getting to the bus station. Terminal South is the one you’re going to want to head to. If you’re staying in old town like I was it’s less than $5 to get there via Cabify How to take a cab in Quito

Getting to the bus station, you’ll have a lot of companies to choose from. 

They all cost the same. $15 USD for one way. So since they all cost the same, the buses should all be the same level of quality and comfort right? Wrong.

Some of the buses have tons of leg room, like flying business class, with almost lay flat recline. Other buses, you’ll be in the equivalent of economy in Air Canada (aka the worst).

Why wouldn’t everybody take the best buses? Well, depending on time and schedule you might have to take the donkey bus.

When I got there to buy my ticket at 10pm for the night bus at 1130pm the bus tickets for all of the good buses were sold out.

The good bus lines 

  • Float imbabura
  • Sucre Express

With no choice I headed to the donkey bus line.

The problem with that, is that not only was I going to be spending 9 hours on the donkey bus, tickets were all sold out for that bus too.

According to my travel companion, Alejo this is really really really rare. In all the times he has done the trip (over a dozen) he has never seen it so busy when it wasn’t a national holiday.

There isn’t information booths, but with a huge line of people still wanting tickets, one of the companies told us, if they could wake up some drivers they’d get us a bus. Maybe.


At this point I was stuck. Do I take a taxi back to the Blue Door Quito The best hostel in Quito and come back in 4 hours for the first morning bus? Or maybe I could find a cab to take me? I thought maybe if I got a few people, Alejo and I wouldn’t be paying too much more. Wrong again. The cab wanted $200 USD. That option being way too much, I settled in for maybe getting a bus sometime randomly.

The cool thing about travelling with somebody is that it does allow you to take a nap on the floor of a dirty bus station in Quito without worrying about your stuff. So, I grabbed some beers and some chips $10USD (2 big bags of chips and 2 beers) and we hung out till 330am in the morning.  


At that point after a mini floor nap, one of the bus companies had rounded up a bus. It was a Patria bus (aka El Burro Autobus).


Cramped and squished with my bag (always take your valuables bag and put it on your lap) I pulled down my sleep mask and headphones. This is super important because, the bus plays a movie on a flat screen tv in Spanish, so if you want to sleep, be prepared.

About 7 hours in, we stopped at a little roadside diner near Alausi for breakfast. There you can get fried chicken, curried goat or curried beef.


I chose to eat a protein bar.

A few hours later, I arrived in Cuenca. Total cost $25.15 USD ($15 bus ticket, $10 snacks, 15 cents to use the bathroom in the bus terminal). 

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!) 

2017-08-01T19:23:32+00:00

About the Author:

Samson Chui is the chief travel blogger behind Best Countries to Retire Cheap. His goal is to find the best country to retire for $1000.

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