You might be wondering if it is difficult to make your way around Panama. At least I was curious about how transportation in Panama was like when I was planning my trip to this beautiful country in Central America.
Before planning my 2-Week Panama itinerary I had only travelled countries that are really well travelled such as Australia or Thailand. In these countries it was super easy to travel around and organise transportation. I was able to book buses at almost every travel agency.
But how would it be in Panama? Would there be a lot of shuttles and organised transportation at every corner? Are buses on time? Is it safe to take public transportation?
I didn’t really give any of this much thought honestly and thankfully I didn’t have to either. I’ve never had any troubles making my way around Panama and while it doesn’t really seem like it, most of the time it is actually quite organised, concerning connections and routes. I was surprised, really. And these modes of transportations are also completely fine for solo female travellers in Panama.
Unless you are coming from Costa Rica or by boat from Colombia, then you will probably be arriving by plane into Panama City. Panama is such a small country, however, and I don’t believe you will actually be needing to travel by plane within the country itself.
I also heard that PanamaAir flights (domestic airline) are always delayed, sometimes for several hours. Therefore, I would not recommend flying within the country.
It is possible to fly from Panama City to the islands of Bocas del Toro. This should be quite cheap, but I would only do it if you have limited time and are planning on missing out on the rest of the country. This distance can easily be done via night bus as well.
By far the cheapest way to travel within the country. And yes, it is completely safe, I have never had any issues.
Public transport might take a little longer as it tends to stop at every village and pick and drop off passengers everywhere. But it is nice way to travel like a local for once.
Panama has a great local transportation system. Buses across Panama City and throughout the country run regularly and my buses were always on time as well. If it’s a long distance bus then there will be set departure times (e.g. buses from Albrook Bus Terminal, Panama City). Other buses might not always have set departure times but will leave whenever they are full. It also depends though where you are getting on the bus.
Do take into account that most buses do not go late in the day any more. Also buses in Panama will usually take a lot longer so try to leave as early as possible to make all of your connection and to not get stranded along the way in a random city.
The advantage that shuttles have over public transportation is that they are a lot faster and usually take direct routes. However, they are also a lot more expensive.
Shuttles can be booked online or at most accommodations. They will usually drop you off straight at your new destination (usually at your hostel/hotel) which is quite convenient.
You will also travel with a smaller amount of people and it saves you time in not having to switch buses.
For small distances there is always the opportunity to take a taxi. They are not as cheap though as I would have imagined it. But it is always a good idea if there is no bus station close by. Some taxi routes have set prices, for example from Tocumen Airport to Panama City it will usually be around $30 (the local bus is only around $1.25..).
Uber is usually cheaper than a Taxi. One thing that I have heard is that during night-time it is recommended to take an Uber instead of a Taxi, mostly because it is safer. You might have to wait a little longer for your Uber to arrive but you will save money as well.
I didn’t have an Uber account when I was in Panama (because I lost my SIM card and couldn’t verify my phone number) but my Hostel would always arrange one for people and then they would just pay cash in the car (cheers to El Macchico Hostel for that). So asking your Hostel for transportation tips will also be a good idea as well.
Of course, there is always the option of renting a car to travel around the country. I do not have any experience with that but I do not believe it is necessary unless you are planning on going off the beaten track. Also, some of the roads are not the best roads are also pretty steep at some points.
Have you been to Panama? If yes, what was your main method of transportation?
If not, would you like to go?
Talk to you soon x
And are you looking for cheap accommodation in Panama or anywhere else in the world? Then go check out Hostelworld, my favourite website when it comes to booking accommodation abroad 🙂
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