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Penas Blancas: Crossing the Border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua

By Kach Umandap July 20th, 2020 Posted in Central America Travel Blog, Destination, Travel Blog, Travel Guides One Comment

This is a throwback article during my land border crossing on my solo travels in some countries in Central America.

REALITY of BEING A FILIPINA BACKPACKER: After 5 cars, 13 hours of travel, I arrived in Leon, Nicaragua! I had a Travel drama today because of having a Philippines passport but I made it!

Before traveling to Nicaragua, I read a lot of articles about crossing border from Costa Rica and Nicaragua but most of them were from American and European travel blogs, but I also checked out quite a few Filipino travelers who have been to Nicaragua, but the BIG difference was that they had a valid US / Europe / Australia Visa which I didn’t have that time.

What I only knew is that I can enter Nicaragua Visa free for 90 days according to different websites lists I’ve read, which is indeed not true – maybe by flying but not by land border crossing from Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Below is what’s written in my old diary on how I crossed the Costa Rica and Nicaragua border.

When you exit Costa Rica, you have to pay around $7 exit Fee and $2 for the Bank, only if you will be taking the Private bus.

Crossing the Border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua

So today around lunchtime, I arrived at the Nicaraguan border Immigration, the officer asked for my USA visa which I told him I don’t have and so he asked me where is my Nicaraguan visa from the Consulate, told him I don’t need it based on what I read online. Luckily, there was this Mexican girl who helped me with the translation but the official was not keen on dealing with me and told me “NO, you can’t enter the country and step aside” because I’m required to have a visa. The bus driver heard it and told me that the bus was leaving anytime soon because the other passengers were waiting. I was frustrated, no internet and no one to call too. I then started crying!

Crossing the Border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Another lady immigration officer saw me crying on the side and went to me, talked to the other rude immigration official and she eventually told me in her broken English not to worry and that she would help me. She then talked to the bus driver and told him not to leave and wait for me and she called a random Nicaraguan guy to assist me. She said I can get a Visa on Arrival (VOA), I just had to photocopy my passport but they have to look for the officer in charge with the stamping and signing (seems like they are not used to travelers getting VOA) and I would have to pay the fees ($50 for the visa stamp, $10 for the tourist card and I don’t know why, but there’s another $4= Total $64).

Crossing the Border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua

After almost 1 hour of delay and worrying, I got my passport entry stamp and was set to go! I had to apologize to other passengers because of the delay that I caused but they said they understood. Today’s lesson learned is that I should always double-check anything I read online and make sure to call the consulate before going to another country! Just lucky there were a lot of good people who helped me.

Crossing the Border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Well, I will always be proud of being a Filipino, the restrictions of my Philippines passport will never stop me from traveling. POSITIVE VIBES!

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Written by Kach Umandap

Founder of Two Monkeys Travel Group. Since 2013, Kach has visited all the 7 continents (including Antarctica) and 151 countries using her Philippines Passport. In 2016, she bought a sailboat and went on sailing adventures with her two cats - Captain Ahab & Little Zissou in the Caribbean for 2 years. She now lives in Herceg Novi, Montenegro where she's enjoying her expat life and living on a gorgeous Stonehouse. She writes about her experiences traveling as a Filipina traveler with a PHL Passport. Also tips on backpacking trips, luxury hotel experiences, product reviews, sailing & adventure travel.