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How to cross the border Costa Rica/Nicaragua?
It is true that you have issues trying to go from one border to the other one. Like any other crossing border around.
So that´s why is always better to get early to the border (around 8am) because the 18 wheelers or big busses like Tica bus, Transnica etc, already pass and there are more but coming a bit later. If you are doing a one day trip is not necessary to change money at the border because you can pay with $ clean bill notes in Nicaragua and get some local currency back which at the end of the tour you can always change it back to Colones, at this time is C$40 Cordobas For 1000 colones which is not that bad. 24.50 Cordova/Dollar (August 2013).
There are Toilets and snack area in Costa Rica side better than the one in (now under construction 26/04/2012 will take few months to be done) Nicaragua but both sides accept $, colones or cordobas. Before you get into the migration office ask at the police at the entrance to get you some “Papeles Migratorios” extras are always better because you can use them in Nicaragua side and coming back, this Migrations forms are the same so don´t worry about that.
When entering the Nicaragua side from CR people offer you the inmigration forms you have to turn in with your passport for a tip. Also, they try to offer help carrying luggage about 150 yards to the inmmigration building (August 2013 lots of construction). When you exit inmigration sector in Nicaragua side all kinds of people approach you to offer taxis, help with luggage, and even try to charge again for the $1 payment to the municipality. Don't be intimidated, just say that you already have a friend waiting for you and they leave you alone.
After stamp your passports (which may take from 15min to 4hours depending on the season, (Lots of Nicas travel back and for to visit their families in Nov, Dec, Jan and eastern season) so it can get a bit annoying waiting many hours there). You walk on the gap between Costa Rica side and Nicaragua Side (pave road), show your Passports and Luggage at officers in both sides, and then on Nicaragua side walk through the Trucks Parking Area or hire a tricycle and take your right, look for the new biulding with white with Bars in the outside, here again ask for your migrations form or if you fell like tipping the guys with them is your option they fill the migration form and put you in the proper line.
Costa Rica Border taxes in and out No money (at least in this border or on the panama side because at the airport is $US28). Nicaragua border taxes in and out $US16 dollars. $13 entering the country $US3 leaving the country, ($1 is paid to the municipality in a separate window and $12 paid in the inmigration window: When exit again $1 and $2 in each window) if travelling on the Tica bus Transnica etc do not let them charge you more than that.
On Nicaragua side you will find the duty free shops very close to the migration offices in front of the bathrooms; they always have good prices for Local rum and beers. Try Flor the Caña 7year aged or 12year aged a bargain for the price. Best rum in the region.
AND THEN AFTER ALL THIS, Is the moment when you are one hour away from San Juan del Sur, Ometepe Island Ferry or 2 Hours away from Granada or Masaya.