Anyone arriving in Asuncion by bus of coach will more than likely find themselves at the Asuncion bus terminal.
The terminal itself is located on the southern edge of Asuncion. From there almost all points across the country can be accessed. In addition being the local transport hub heading onwards into Asuncion itself is simple.
The bus terminal is large, open plan and easy to use. As of the time of writing in early 2023 the finishing touches were being given to a large extension to the building. This will both expand and modernise the terminal.
The buses and coaches arriving and departing from the terminal do so on two levels. The lower deck for local journeys and the upper for long distance.
The buses that serve the lower level head out to various towns across Paraguay. In general none of these towns are more than three hours travelling time from Asuncion.
Each town has it’s own bus company. These all have a mixture of old buses and coaches. Each bus company has a colour scheme for their buses to make them distinctive. In addition they all display their town’s name in large bold letter along the sides of their buses. This makes finding the correct bus relatively simple.
The buses spend all day heading backward and forth between their home town and the bus terminal. There are no time tables as such, just fairly regular intervals between buses. With some buses parking up for a time in the terminal and other just making a quick turn around it is best to wait on the platform for the required bus to appear rather than sitting and waiting in the terminal itself.
All the local buses are pay on entry. Sometimes to the driver and sometimes to his assistant. They cannot be booked in advance. You will find that a typical fair generally comes to no more than a couple of dollars.
From the lower level a corridor and then a flight of stairs takes you up into the terminal itself.
Along the corridor and elsewhere inside the bus terminal you will see Paraguayan handicrafts laid out on blankets. These are the produce of the indigenous community and women from there head into Asuncion everyday with handmade items for sale. The bus terminal is one of the best places in the country for the purchase of Paraguayan crafts.
Once you have passed by these wares and climbed the stairs you will find yourself in the main body of the terminal building.
This a a busy crowded place all day long. There are rows of seats for passengers awaiting long distance buses and stalls selling all manner of merchandise. It is from this level that the long distance buses and coaches depart.
These vehicles head out to the more distant parts of the country. It is also from here that they depart for overseas destinations such as Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina. When booking a long distance journey it is important to take note of how long the journey is as some can exceed 24 hours.
Unlike the local buses the long distance buses must be booked and paid for in advance.
There is a second stairway in the middle the bus terminal that must be used to do this. At the top of the stairs is another level containing the booking offices of all the companies operating long distance routes.
A seat could be booked for travel that day or for sometime in the future. These buses all run according to timetables so you will need to check the departure time.
The chairs provided in the main terminal area are always full of passengers waiting for their bus. Gates between the terminal and the platform ensure that passengers can only access the platform at the time of boarding.
Meanwhile as they wait there are things to do to keep them occupied. However despite this most people simply find a chair and wait.
The bus terminal for those who take time to explore it a little is like a small market.
There are shops selling all kinds of small items. Souvenirs, snacks,toys, books and small electrical items to name a few options.
Additionally there is a small bank and a number of authorised money changers. With the Paraguayan Guarani not being exchangeable outside Paraguay they provide and important service.
For refreshments a number of shops sell the basics such as drinks, crisps and sweets. Something a little more substantial can be found the the bus terminal restaurant.
Then heading out from the terminal there is step free access into Asuncion.
The terminal exit opens directly onto it’s taxi rank. There are always a number of taxis waiting there to take passengers into Asuncion.
A trip in a taxi is not expensive. However it is advisable to select a metered one or a least agree a price before entering. For anyone with baggage a taxi is a better option than a bus as the later all have turn styles which are difficult to get large bags or suitcases over.
If though you are not encumbered by luggage and know where you are heading a bus is a much more economic option.
All buses journeys in Greater Asuncion are paid for with a prepaid card. These can be obtained from the small bank in the terminal. A trip to anywhere on the network will cost between 35c and 50c depending on whether or not the bus is air conditioned.
They are like the terminal itself simple to use.
So if you are arriving in Asuncion rest assured that you should have no difficulties negotiating the bus terminal.