You'll find, during your trip to Ecuador, that the country's not all that big. At the same time, the poor condition of certain roads means that journeys can take a while even if you're only travelling a short distance.
The bus network is well-developed in larger towns such as Quito or Guayaquil. It's the cheapest way to travel. And an easy way to get around. The routes are clearly laid out, but do tell the driver where you want to go, to be sure you're on the right bus.
Don't rely on getting around by foot. Towns are spread out, take a long time to cross, and, most importantly of all, once you're out of touristy areas it can be a dangerous if you end up in a less savoury neighbourhood.
Taxis are not that expensive and are the safest way to travel. Use taxis after dark! Only use official taxis. Be warned that they don't often have meters, and, if they do, drivers are reluctant to use them. Agree a price in advance and don't be afraid to negotiate the fare!
Use buses when travelling between towns in Ecuador. Although not the speediest of options, it's the most popular and a cheap way to travel. But even if it's slower, the stunning scenery makes up for any time lost . Count on 50km taking about an hour by bus. If you're heading to tourist spots, it's best to book your ticket the day before. Buses aren't known for their comfort and the drivers can be a bit reckless. Avoid sitting at the back where you're likely to get squashed.
Even cheaper, but slower still, is hitchiking on lorries. It's not free. Drivers usually charge the equivalent of half a bus fare.
Finally, there's the quickest option - flying. Ecuador's landscape is so beautiful that it's worth using buses. If you're pressed for time, flyng is a speedy and relatively cost-effective solution. But ticket prices can be hefty if you're going to the Galapagos.