Like many cities in Latin America, the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion blends remnants of an Amerindian and Spanish Colonial past with a slowly rumbling new infrastructure. Although less instantly responsive to tourist transportation demands than Quito, Lima, and its other peers, Asuncion remains accessible. Here is a brief guide to Asuncion Paraguay transportation.
Asuncion Paraguay Transportation: Airport
Silvio Pettirossi International Airport is the main access point for travelers entering Paraguay. It’s located about ten miles from downtown Asuncion in the somewhat affluent suburb of Luque. Direct flights from the United States were once available departing Miami, but now most service comes through Sao Paulo (Brazil) or Buenos Aires (Argentina), so expect three flights unless you live near a large Southern US city. Carriers include Varig Airlines of Brazil and Aerolineas Argentinas, though American Airlines is often available for the first leg or two. If you’re staying in the Zona Centro district of Asuncion, expect at least 30-minute taxi ride from the airport. You can also take a bus which leaves every quarter-hour (Route 30). This is the easiest and most tourist-friendly local bus to use because there’s almost no question about the destination.
Asuncion Paraguay Transportation: Regional Buses
Bus rides to other cities in Paraguay, including Ciudade del Este, are cheap and bumpy, all leaving from a terminal just east of Zona Centro. Buses to and from Brazil, Argentina, and (less frequently) Bolivia also use this terminal, which is located on Republica Argentina at Fernando de la Moya. Appropriately enough, the buses to Buenos Aires are usually the most expensive but also the most comfortable. Prices vary based on seats and bathrooms, but the better-equipped buses may be worth the higher rates for those who insist on the long overland routes, which tend to consume a full day. And remember that visas (required for US citizens) are harder to deal with at border crossings than at airports.
Asuncion Paraguay Transportation: City Buses/Tram
Asuncion features a hodgepodge of local buses and even a tram service. Weaving a network around all sectors of the city, the local buses are a great way to enjoy the rugged urban landscape that Asuncion provides. However, the routes are irregular and hard to understand – and don’t expect anyone to speak English either. Fares, of course, are cheap.
Asuncion Paraguay Transportation: Taxi
Asuncion cabs are metered, but drivers tend to see foreigners as rich, even if that’s not entirely the case. So be prepared for all kinds of mishaps and misunderstandings. Taxi drivers, like almost everyone else in Asuncion, speak both Guarani and Spanish, the two official languages of Paraguay. English is rarer here than in any other South American capital. Luckily, taxis are inexpensive enough that you can usually avoid being swindled by suggesting a generous fare in Spanish and letting the driver accept your offer. Illegal cabs aren’t terribly common, but just in case, try to hire taxis from hotels and tourist spots.
Asuncion Paraguay Transportation: Cycling
For a poorer country, one might expect Asuncion to be full of Paraguayan cyclists. On the contrary, the higher theft rates and safety risks of bike travel (given the erratic auto driving) result in a large percentage of the population who use buses for their daily transportation needs. It will be difficult to rent a bike – and even harder to keep it from getting stolen.
Asuncion Paraguay Transportation: Walking
The Zona Centro, where most hotels and tourist attractions are located, is generally a safe and fairly policed area for pedestrians. Signage is present but limited. Although you can expect plenty of well-intentioned urchins to panhandle you during the daytime on the street, it seems that most theft occurs in the evening. As with any city, use caution after dark in Asuncion.