How to go to Honduras ?

 

You will find here most of the practical information you need to prepare your trip :

   

Getting there & away ?

By air : Toncontin International Airport is located 7km South of Tegucigalpa but few people use it as an entry/exit point. Aeropuerto Internacional Villeda Morales, 12km southeast of San Pedro Sula, is another option for those eager to reach the beaches faster. 

By land : Most backpackers arrive by land, either from Guatemala (3 borders), El Salvador (2 border) or Nicaragua (3 borders). The crossing is pretty straightforward in most places and there is a US$1 entry and exit tax.  

By boat : Since the pavement of the "jungle route", the boat between North Honduras and Guatemala has been cancelled.

 

Visa ?

Most developed nationalities will be given 30 days upon entry. You can stay up to 6 months in Honduras, by extending your visa every month. This cost L30 and can be done at the immigration office of most localities. After 5 extensions, you need to leave the country for at least 3 days.

 

When to visit ?

From the touristy point of view, Honduras is still fairly relaxed and can be visited year-round. The two exceptions are Copan Ruinas in the South and the Bay Islands on the North Coast where prices are likely to increase a bit. The busiest time are December to Eastern, summer and the carnival of La Ceiba during one week in May, when 200,000 people show up in the area and reservation becomes essential. 

From the weather point of view, Honduras must be splited between the central highlands, where the weather is temperate year round (and cool in the evening) and the coasts & flatlands, usually hot & humid. The rainy season ("invierno" or winter) run from May to November but the rain usually take place in the late afternoon only so there is no reason not to visit. It rains regularly year-round on the North coast and it can last for the whole day. October and November is the hurricane season there and should be best skipped, since flooding may affect transportation. Water visibility is best from March to September.

    Weather in Honduras

 

How long ?

Whether or not you are diving in the Bay Islands will obviously affect your time spent in Honduras. Some people are spending weeks in Honduras without leaving the islands...

Being a little bit more adventurous would require at least two additional weeks on the roads, although three would be better. Going to the Mosquitia would require one additional week. 

 

Money ?

The currency is the lempira and the rate at the time of my visit was L15.2 per US$. See the banknotes

As for all the countries in the area, currencies other than US$ are nearly impossible to change. Neighboring currencies should be changed at the borders. 

Travelers Cheques are quite handy in most places but not all and the exchange rate is sometimes much lower than cash. As in the neighboring countries, "American Express" are the best. Most ATM machines do not accept foreign cards but cash advance is usually possible for Visa and Mastercard. The rate will however be a bit lower. 

  Currency Converter

 

How much ?

Honduras is slightly more expensive than Guatemala but it remains very reasonable for local goods or services. On average for a few weeks trip around the whole country, expect about US$10 per day. Diving or a long stay on the more expensive islands will of course increase the expenses. 

Guesthouses are reasonably priced (usually less than US$4 per person for a room without shower), a set dinner in a basic & local restaurant should cost around $2  and transportation by 'chicken' bus usually cost less than $1 per hour. 

Beer are the cheapest in the area at $0.65 for 660ml, nearly half the cost of Guatemala. Water on the contrary is twice as expensive with the liter costing $0.26 minimum for the little plastic bag.   

Like in the other neighboring countries, imported goods are more expensive (or much more expensive) than at home and shopping in the supermarkets is a very frustrating experience as most goods are imported : you won't save much there !  

See Passplanet's Cost Table for more details.

 

Health ?

As a whole, Honduras is a rather healthy country to visit and common sense is the only requirement. 

Although I met a few backpackers who drank the local tap water, this is certainly not recommended in Honduras, with the exception maybe of the rain water on the islands or mountains' sources.  In the same idea, do not eat any raw or uncooked food, including vegetables. 

You will need a Malaria prophylaxis treatment (usually Nivaquine) for the lowland and North coast, including the islands. Avoiding the bites is always the best idea. 

Being up to date with your inoculations (polio, tetanus, typhoid, diphtheria) is of course essential and adding hepatitis A and B is recommended.

    Latest Health Recommendations

 

Danger & Annoyances ?

If a girl, the sexual , in particular on the north coast. Serious issues remain rare but most girl experience some kind of verbal abuses. Being macho is part of the Latino culture and alcohol does not help... 

The safety issues, in particular on the north coast plus the capital. More than 70,000 gang members or associates (so says more than 90,000) have been reported ! Murders do take place and the situation does not look like improving... Most visitors have no problem but you will certainly put more chance on your side by avoiding displaying valuables and walking alone at night or too far away on the beach or wilderness during the day. 

The north coast itself : the bay islands are clearly worth going to but the way to reach them (San Pedro Sula, Tela & Ceiba) is not too attractive with nothing special beaches, rather unattractive cities, not as friendly people and a higher than usual crime rate & drug consumption. Not to say that nobody enjoyed those places and that there are nothing around (Garifuna villages and National Parks are numerous) but going there is a bore & stressful experience for quite a few travelers...

The lack of tourism development in some places. Quite a few national park's are not ready for the public yet (even if open) and even more are difficult to reach outside of an expensive tour. Honduras certainly has a lot of potential but tourism is not yet quite handled correctly. Tourist offices are for example inexistent outside of the capital. 

The multi-costs for the attractions : whether foreigner, local or central American, you won't usually pay the same entrance fees. Within the foreigner's category, distinctions are also made between 'tourists', 'special' (whatever this means) and 'residents'. The difference is usually important :  5 or 10 times more ! Copan Ruins' three attractions cost for example $27 for tourists but only $4.5 for locals. Visiting Honduras is a bit unfair...

The confusing banking system : locality after locality, the bank to head to for TC (or even cash) will be different. The rates will also vary, with some rip off rates when a bank monopolizes the market (like Banco de Occidente in Copan)

The lack of public transports in some cities. Taxi is for example the only option in La Ceiba, between the bus station, the pier and the town center. And it is not cheap ! In Tegucigalpa, the bridges have been fragilized by hurricane Mitch and buses crossing forbidden. 

Some crazy or limited bus schedules : when the only bus leaves at 3am and then wait for two hours 18km away (like between Trujillo and Olancho), you really wonder what is going on in some locals' heads... 

Some dishonest bus drivers : you better check the price of the ride before handing the money. I was sometimes asked up to 5 times the normal fee. This is more likely to happen on the North Coast however. 

The cost to reach the Bay Islands : At US$12 the one hour boat ride, this is an heavy weight on any backpacker's budget. And if you wish to visit the other island, it will be an additional US$24 as you will have to go back to the continent first ! That is a two days' budget ! Conclusion : most people visit one island only and probably spend less time in Honduras ! 

The lack of tourists outside of Copan & the north coast : This actually could be an advantage for some people. Personally, I would really not mind except that I had surveys to complete... From the time I left Trujillo and for a whole week, the only western people I encountered were Mormons touring the villages to convert more locals to their beliefs. 


Notwithstanding the above, let's remind you that 92% of the backpackers we asked said they liked Honduras, that 88% would happily come back and that 96% would recommend it around ! See Why Go for more details...

 


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