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I've travelled quite a bit in both Mexico and Central America before but whereas in Mexico I could often take a bus any time in the night and wee hours of the morning, I can't recall ever seeing such options in any country in Central America.

Was this just because I was travelling by chicken buses or do even the luxury coaches travel only during daylight in Central America?

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Like you I only took chicken buses but there are some long distances options.

For example from San Jose in Costa Rica you can go to Panama City (15 hours: 1pm or 10pm) San Salvador (48 hours, 6am, 7:30am) or even Guatemala City (60 hours 6am, 7:30am). However when looking at an itinerary it turns out the buses are stopping overnight in places in El Salvador and Nicaragua. It seems the only overnight route is from Costa Rica to Panama City.

Of course there are options in the opposite direction as well.

On of the main companies doing these routes is Tica Bus

I never seen any domestic overnight bus routes, but then again I never looked for them. I have a rule 'No night buses'

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I was positive Tica Bus stopped overnight in the capitals. Or at least in some of the capitals. Like you, I avoid them when I'm in "exploration" or "adventure" mode but sometimes I use them if I want to cover a big distance fast over an area I've already travelled plenty of times. –  hippietrail Dec 29 '11 at 20:11
    
Looking at the route itinerary for Guatemala to Panama city, you are right they actually do stop overnight, except for the last part from Costa Rica to Panama. Thinking about the roads, this makes sense. I wouldn't want to be on roads in Guatemala or Nicaragua at night. –  Peter Hahndorf Dec 29 '11 at 20:26
    
+1 for CR-Panama at least! I wasn't sure if it was due to the roads or it not being safe to be in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. I've definitely taken overnight buses on bad roads in Mexico many times. Run up against washed out bridges and landslides for instance. –  hippietrail Dec 29 '11 at 20:28

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