When leaving the hotel in Centro Historico in Quito I stopped a taxi on the street. The taxi driver said that he wanted to have $10 for going to Terminal Quitumbe, but I said I wanted to go with taxi-meter and he accepted that. It took just over half an hour to go from Centro Historico to Terminal Quitiumbe and it was $5.55 (July 2013).
At Terminal Quitumbe three companies sold tickets to Baños leaving quite soon after my arrival. They all said that it takes 3 hours to Baños. At Expreso Baños the woman said that the others took longer as they were not direct buses, she also said their bus was leaving at 14:30. I bought the ticket for $3.50 and on my way to the bus I saw that the departure time was actually 14:45. The other two buses departed earlier and someone told me they all take the same time to Baños. Anyway, I got seat number one, which is in the front by a window and where there was good room for my big backpack. When I went aboard the bus the man working on the bus told me to be careful with the luggage (and I always am as I have read about thefts on Ecuadorian buses, and also met tourist having things stolen from their luggage on the bus from Baños). It didn’t take 3 hours to Baños, but 3h and 40min.
When it was time to go back to Quito I took a taxi to the terminal in Baños, even though it is centrally located, but the rain really poured down. It was $1. I arrived at the terminal at 11:30 and the first bus was going to leave at 12. I bought a ticket and got seat 4, which is also one of the front seats by a window, and as usual I had my big backpack in front of me by the window and the small daypack in my lap. The journey to Quito took around 3h 30min and it was $3.50.
The terminal in Puyo is situated about a kilometre from the city centre along the road to Baños. As I was arriving to Puyo by bicycle from Baños and stopped at the terminal I never saw the centre of Puyo. I arrived at 17.00 and the next bus to Baños was leaving half an hour later. The man working on the bus put my bike in the compartment below and I paid him $1 as that was what he wanted to have for taking the bike on the bus. Then I went inside the terminal and bought the ticket at the office. The ticket to Baños was $2 (July 2011) and the ride took just over 1.5 hours. It is a very beautiful road, especially closer to Baños, where you will pass many waterfalls. In Baños the bus stopped on Amazonas, just by the terminal.
I came to the bus terminal in Baños after 10.30 and at 10.40 there was a bus leaving for Quito. I went into the office and bought a ticket and as always I got a seat number. The ticket was $2 (July 2011). I put my big backpack by my feet, by the window, and my small daypack on my lap. Before coming to Ecuador I had heard there is a lot of thefts on the buses so this is how I always put my bags when travelling by bus. To Latacunga it took less than two hours.
In Latacunga the Quito buses stop one block away from the bus terminal and several blocks away from the city centre. As I didn’t know the exact location of Hostal Tiana (they had changed location just a few weeks before) I took a taxi. I told the taxi driver the new address for Hostal Tiana, but it turned out he took me to the old location. The taxi ride was $1 and the taxi driver told me that that is what all taxi rides within the city cost, I should not pay more. I asked someone in a shop about the new location of Hostal Tiana and it was not far to walk.
From Ingapirca there are frequent buses to El Tambo and Cañar. The first bus in the morning is leaving around 6.10 and that is the one I took when leaving Ingapirca, because I had a long journey ahead of me and I didn't want to arrive to Baños too late. The bus stopped many times along the way to pick up people and their goods. To El Tambo it was $0.50 (July 2011) and it took half an hour. In El Tambo I got off by the park where it would be easy to stop a bus heading north. It was early Sunday morning and still empty in the streets, but a shop nearby was open so I went there to by biscuits and water for breakfast. As I came out of the shop a bus just arrived and when I asked they said they were going to Ambato. The ticket to Ambato was $6. In the beginning the driver drove like crazy, maybe because there were not much traffic on the road. Anyway he later slowed down. In Alausi we were supposed to stay 10 minutes, but I think we were there almost half an hour.
In Riobamba the young man working on the bus told me I had to change bus, but as I had already paid to Ambato he gave me $1.25 back for the bus to Ambato and he showed me were it was standing.
In Ambato I was not going to the main terminal because the buses for Baños leave from Mayorista Terminal. I was dropped near Mayorista and was told to wait by the road (near a roundabout) for the Baños bus. Other people did the same and after 10-15 minutes a bus arrived. To Baños it was $1 and it took less than an hour.
I arrived to Baños just after one o'clock so the journey had taken seven hours. In every bus I had my big backpack by my feet and he smaller backpack in my knee.
Banos is a small town and you can easily go around on foot. In case of raining taxis are available. “ The “chiva” is the local colourful tourist bus offering a relaxing journey. Horses and go-carts are a lot of fun, too!
It was quite easy to get to Baños. From Latacunga, we caught a bus to Ambato for $1 and it took a little under an hour. From Ambato, it was another $1 and hour to Baños. The buses run frequently so just head to the terminal. On the way back we thought we were getting a bus directly to Riobambo but we got dropped off in the middle of nowhere and had to make our way to the Pan American highway, where we waited for a bus heading south. Unfortunately, many of the buses were either full or looking for passengers going all the way to Cuenca but we did eventually get one which dropped us off at the road to Chimborazo. It was the first time on the trip in Ecuador that we had any problems.
Baños is an important transit point on the West - East axis, but it is not on the Panamericana Highway. You can find buses to Baños from the major towns, but a bus from, say, Quito to Riobamba will not come close to Baños.
Instead of waiting, wherever you are, for a bus to Baños, you can disembark at the Paso Lateral, an exchange point North of Ambato, where there will be many buses to Baños from points North, South and West available.
The Paso Lateral is one of those dusty, end-of-the-world spots, and you might have to run across many lanes of traffic.
The best and cheapest way to get to Banos is by bus. From Quito it took about 4 hours and cost around $3.
Once there, you will have no problem hoofing it around town as it's a small place. We easily walked from the town center to our hotel (Hotel Sangay) on the edge of town every day.
If you are wary of walking at night or need to get to the outskirts of town (like on a tour or for views of the volcano) cabs are a very affordable choice for travel.
The bus schedules are very similar for every company selling tickets to go to Banos. Your hotel might be able to help you with the time table. On your way back from Banos to Quito, inquire at the bus station. The trip takes about 3 1/2 hours one way.
Buses are the mode of travel in Ecuador. There is a train system but it seems to be slowly falling apart with no imdication that it will ever be re-built. It is easy to obtain tickets in the bus stations and costs are so low it is not worth commenting on . To guarantee a seat or even a ride you have to board buses in the main bus stations. They can fill up to a point where there is no room to move .
It's so nice to horseride in Banos, but be careful, all the horses are not treated that well by their speculous owners... And sometimes, look at what you can find on the pavement...
C'est sympa, les balades a cheval a Banos, mais, attention, tous les chevaux ne sont pas bien traites par leurs proprietaires sans scrupules... Et voila ce qu'on peut retrouver sur le trottoir !
There are plenty of buses that take you to and from Baños so there is no worries on getting there once you're in Ecuador :). The price per hour traveled on bus is around $1 USD.