How To Travel From Panama City To Anywhere In Panama

The cheapest way to explore towns and cities across Panama is by bus, however the fastest way is domestic flights. In this post, let’s learn how to travel from Panama City to anywhere in Panama. As far as buses are concerned most bus routes are offered by convenient and efficient charter buses. Car rental is an option for travelers who want to explore the isthmus at their own pace and are comfortable driving in a foreign country. Undoubtedly, the fastest route to many parts of Panama is by domestic flights. If your travel plans include more remote areas such as the San Blas Islands or the Pearl Islands, a domestic flight may be out of the question. On the other hand, taxis and boats are perfectly fine and affordably priced for journeys that call for a short ride. When it come down to how to travel from Panama City, it completely depends on where in Panama you want to go.

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How To Travel From Panama City On Domestic Flights

If time is a factor in your decision on how to travel from Panama City, a domestic flight is your best choice. Domestic flights are the fastest and easiest way to travel to many parts of Panama. In Panama City, Tocumen Airport is the city’s international airport while Marcos A. Gelbert is the city’s domestic airport. Both airports are located approximately 35 minutes drive apart. Most visitors arriving in Panama City by air expect to get all connecting flights to other cities in Panama from Tocumen International Airport, however, this is not the case. International airlines flying to Panama City (Tocumen) will only offer connecting flights to other cities in Panama that have an international airport. The reason for this is not all airports in Panama are international airports, some are set up to operate domestic flights only and may affect your flight options on how to travel from Panama City. A passenger flying from New York City on Copa Airlines can get a connecting flight to David at Tocumen Airport simply because David Airport is an international airport.  For lots of other locations in Panama, passengers will need to take a flight from Marcos A. Gelbert Airport. This airport is often referred to as Albrook Airport. Albrook is also the name used to identify the large shopping center nearby (Albrook Mall) or the Gran Terminal de Transporte (Albrook Bus Terminal).

After you’ve From the Albrook Airport you can get domestic flights to a number of major cities and towns in Panama, including: Achutupu, Bahia Piña, Bocas del Toro, Carti, Changuinola, Chitré, Colón, Corazon de Jesus, David, El Porvenir, El Real, Isla Contadora, Isla San Jose, Isla San Miguel, Isla Secas, Jaque, La Palma, Mamitupo, Pedasi, Playon Chico, Rio Sidra and Sambu.

Panama’s two main domestic flight airports are Albrook “Marcos A. Gelbert” International Airport and David “Enrique Malek” International Airport.

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How To Travel From Panama City On Public Buses

If you don’t mind long bus rides, would like to see more of Panama on foot or save some money, buses are an excellent option. There’s a bus route to just about any community in Panama as long as said community is accessible by road. Some of the buses are full-size Mercedes Benzes furnished with air conditioning, movie screens and reclining seats.  In order to transport passengers from city to city within Panama, these long-distance buses provide frequent, relatively comfortable transportation. A few long-distance bus companies include Padafront, Expreso Veraguense, Sanpasa and Panaline. These bus companies have not quite taken to selling tickets online or providing information via the internet.

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Once in Panama City you can easily get a taxi or Uber to the Albrook Bus Terminal located less than one minute walk from the Albrook Mall where you can easily buy tickets for same-day travel. Bus schedules vary for different towns/cities, the safest way to travel in a country you’re not familiar with is to travel by day and research as much credible information as possible. Buses from Panama City to other towns depart as late as 8:30 p.m on weekends. The buses are modern, equipped with air conditioning, and have reclinable seats. Speaking of air conditioning, be sure to travel with a jacket, sweater or blanket, maybe all three if you’re not good at coping with the cold. The AC on these buses can get extremely cold and make the journey a bit uncomfortable. Ticket sales for different bus routes start at various times, while some tickets can be purchased a day in advance, others need to be purchased on the day of travel. You should try to purchase your bus tickets a few hours before your desired departure time. Trying to purchase a ticket immediately before boarding could result in you realizing your itinerary conflicts with the bus schedules or the buses are fully booked. Bus tickets will often sell out very quickly, mostly from Thursdays to Sundays, during Panamanian National Holidays, and during school breaks. 

The bus station and the Albrook Mall (next door) offer a variety of restaurants, shopping options and places to sit while you wait for your bus. Read your bus ticket carefully and ask questions if necessary. There is a special card that is scanned by passengers to gain access to the platform where you board the bus. Most first time travellers will not have this card unless they purchase it, one quick hack is to offer another traveller that has a card 50 cents in order to gain access. Pay close attention to the handling of your baggage when being stowed in the bus’ cargo hold as most bus lines will give you a ticket for each bag, the corresponding ticket will be taped to your bag. If you’re flying into Panama City and staying in another area of Panama, your host or hotel staff can also give you specific recommendations about which route to take.

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Most common are small Toyota Coaster buses, affectionately called chivas offer transportation for shorter journeys between towns located outside Panama City, often on the Península de Azuero and along the Interamericana.

How To Travel From Panama City On Taxis

The first rule of taking a taxi in Panama or almost anywhere in the world is to negotiate the price with the driver before entering the taxi. Taxis are common in Panama City but are sometimes hard to get. It’s not unusual for a taxi driver to say “No voy” or “Nope, don’t go there” when you give the driver your address. It is illegal for taxi drivers to refuse to take you to a destination, but that doesn’t stop them. The best way to get a taxi is by standing on a corner with traffic in many directions. There’s also a decent chance to find taxis at a hotel. Do not, however, ask for the help of the hotel staff or you will pay excessive fare.” When you do find a driver willing to take you where you want to go, a trip within downtown Panama should not cost more than US$5. Trips outside downtown Panama may cost as much as US$10, with airport trips costing as much as US$30. Taxis can be found easily in Panama’s inner towns and shouldn’t cost over $2 to ride anywhere within the town. Look out for unscrupulous taxi drivers as there’s no shortage of them. Once they realize you are unfamiliar with the city they will try to charge you as much as US$5 even if your destination is two blocks away. Have an idea of the distance to your destination from your current location before you set out to hail a cab and ask your hotel or host what fare you should expect.


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How To Travel From Panama City On Boats

The most popular way to get around a number of places in Panama is through the use of boats. Boats are the main way to travel in provinces like the Darién Province, Bocas del Toro Province, Isla Coiba, San Blas and Isla Grande. In Bocas del Toro, for example, you will find an archipelago that consists of island chains and nine main islands. Bocas del Toro is pretty much the tropical tourism capital of Panama. To move from one island to the next, a boat is the best option with journeys lasting from one minute to thirty minutes between islands. For travelers who do not take a flight to Bocas Town, a boat ride from Almirante to Isla Colón is necessary. Follow this link to read more about How To Get To Bocas Del Toro. The good thing is there are plenty of water taxis available through local transportation services for cheap prices. Always remember to negotiate travel prices for boat taxis or tours to ensure you get fair prices.

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If you’d like to take a tour of Coiba Island (Panama’s abandoned prison island) and the national marine park, a planned boat trip is the way to go as there is no regular transportation to and from the island.

In Panama City you can find regular ferries that journey the Causeway, Isla Taboga and Isla Contadora in the Archipelago of Las Perla or the Pearl Islands. If you would like to take a ferry from Panama City to one of these places, expect to start your trip at the Causeway, Amador. One of the more popular, touristy boat rides that can be experienced in Panama City is a partial or complete tour of the Panama Canal.

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