Transportation - Get In
Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) is in the Tababela parish, approximately 30km (20 mi) to the east of Quito. For travellers with very early departures or very late arrivals from the Quito airport, as well as those who are not staying in Quito but carrying elsewhere should consider looking at accommodations in Tababela or Puembo for the convenience of not needing to make the journey to the city for accommodations.
Another port of entry is Guayaquil, (GYE) which has a modern airport that includes the typical amenities such as restaurants and duty-free shopping. The airport is located north of downtown.
The Galapagos Islands are one of the Ecuadorian provinces and have two airports, one of which is on Baltra and the other is on San Cristobal. Aerogal, Tame and LAN all offer flights to the Galapagos; all the flights are through the Ecuadorian mainland with no international flights.
The Quito airport charges an international departure tax of $40.80. The tax is $26 from Guayaquil. This tax is already included in the cost of the flight since February 2011.
There are no international train services into Ecuador. The national railroad from Quito to Guayaquil (Via Latacunga and Riobamba) is being rebuilt, but in the meantime, several sections are running for tourists. The most popular is the Alausi to Nariz del Diablo section (this has resumed service in 2011 after a 4.6 million dollar renovation).
Driving into Ecuador is discouraged. It is preferable to enter by airplane or boat because of the frontier issues with neighboring countries.
The primary crossing between Ecuador and Colombia is at Rumichaca near Tulcan and Ipiales. The border crossing at San Miguel (near Lago Agrio) in the Amazon region is discouraged due to security issues and entrance/exit complexities.
There are two places to cross the border with Peru, though Huaquillas (near Machala gets the vast majority of the tourist crossings, has been shady and relatively dangerous, but a recent clean up may have improved security issues. Macara has a border crossing but is not recommended due to security issues.
Since Ecuador is situated on the coast and has some very large rivers, a boat ride can be a nice way to get around. Especially in the rainforest a boat ride can get you to places you usually wouldn't be able to go.
Transportation - Get Around
Intercity buses travel to almost everywhere in Ecuador. Many cities have a central bus terminal, known as the terminal terrestre, where it is possible to buy tickets from the various bus lines that serve the city. Long-distance buses typically cost from $1 to $2 per hour, depending on the distance and the type of service; groups may be able to negotiate discounts. Buses are frequent along major routes.
Reservations or advance purchases usually aren't needed except during peak periods such as holidays. The bathroom on the bus, if any, is usually reserved for women. However, it is permissible for men to request that the bus make a stop so that they might relieve themselves. The bus rides themselves are often quite beautiful, through mountain views in the clouds. These altitude changes cause many of the same ear pressure problems which are associated with an airplane ride.
The bus driver will stop along the way to board additional passengers. Many buses arrive at their destination with passengers standing in the aisle. There are a few first class buses, called "Ejecutivo", which cost a little more than the regular busses. They are generally more comfortable and safer.
It is possible to rent a car in the major cities such as Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca, where car rentals are generally located outside the airports. Ecuadorian roads are well maintained throughout in cities but poorly maintained in the countryside.
However, Ecuador’s driving laws are few and rarely (if ever) enforced. Deciding to drive will be taking your life into your own hands. Perhaps if you will just be driving around cities like Guayaquil or Quito it is slightly safer, but to drive around the countryside would be insanity.
On top of the poor driving skills, Ecuadorian roads are rarely maintained (especially along the coast). Potholes are numerous and it is highly likely it will take out a tire or two if you do end up hitting one.
Taxis are widely available. Taxis are generally yellow and have the taxi license number prominently displayed. Taxis in Quito have meters (fares under $1 are rounded up to the minimum fare of $1). Agree upon a price before getting in or ask the driver to use the meter (often cheaper than a negotiated rate); short trips generally don't cost more than $1 or $2, and you generally shouldn't end up paying more than $10 per hour, if that, for longer trips. Evening rates are often double. As with any country in Latin America, (or the world for that matter), don't ride an unlicensed taxi. It's a great way to get kidnapped.
Domestic flights to major cities on the mainland costs from $50-$100 one-way, and there are sometimes roundtrip promotions for about the same price. Flights between the biggest cities are in jets, and some of the smaller cities are served by prop aircraft. The domestic airlines in Ecuador are Lan Ecuador, Tame, Avianca Ecuador(formerly Aerogal & VIP); and Saereo. Most of the airlines in Ecuador offer excellent service and relatively new planes. You can buy domestic air tickets from agents or directly from the airlines - some sell tickets online and you can buy them at the airport or ticket offices for those who don't.
Hitchhiking is possible in Ecuador. A lot of people drive pick-ups which you can easily throw your backpack into if they give you a lift.
On roads not frequently serviced by buses, cargo trucks may take on riders or hitchhikers, either to ride in back or in the cabin. In some cases the driver charges the going bus fare, in others he may simply be taking on a rider for the company and refuse a fare.