How do people in panama get around?

Buses are the main way most Panamanians and many travelers get around. Despite the tropical environment, getting around Panama is quite easy. The country has thousands of kilometers of paved roads, a modern bus network, water taxis, a new and innovative subway train in the capital and, of course, the Panama Canal. Driving in Panama City is a logistical horror show, but there are plenty of good road trips around the rest of the country. Multi-lane highways connect Panama City with Colón, and you can cross from the Pacific to the Caribbean Sea in about an hour when traffic is clear.

Poultry buses have practically been phased out in Panama City, but they are still operating in some areas, including along the central Caribbean coast. Panama is compact enough to get around by bus, and there are only a few remote regions that can only be accessed by plane. In Panama City, intercity buses depart from La Gran Terminal Nacional de Transporte de Panamá in Albrook, a modern and well-designed terminal with a shopping center and a attached metro station. It's possible to be scammed anywhere in the world, but I don't want to sow fear or make people think that Panama is worse than any other country.

However, the hotel staff put us in touch with Gervasio Borbua (Jerry), a retired tour guide with a good car, and we hired him for a day to show us around Panama City and we could recommend his services. Beyond Panama City, there is little infrastructure for wheelchair users, and even in the capital, the terrible state of the sidewalks makes getting around them a challenge. It takes 16 to 18 hours by bus to travel from Panama City to San José; international buses usually take 1 to 2 hours to complete customs and immigration formalities at the Paso Canoas border crossing. Air Panama operates flights to every corner of Panama, including Darién, Guna Yala, the Pearl Islands, the Azuero Peninsula, Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro.

I recently heard at one of the hostels in Panama City that there is now a new service that helps travelers book overnight express bus tickets to David, Almirante, Changuinola and San José so they don't have to take an extra trip to Albrook and don't have to worry about tickets running out. Now there are so many Uber drivers in Panama that you only have to take the terrible yellow taxis if you find yourself in a very dark place. I think the question will be if you are comfortable taking the bus with your 15-month-old son in other cities, will you be fine in Panama City. The width of Panama is so thin that you can cross it in about an hour by car, but that doesn't mean this Central American gem isn't packed with attractions.

Abigail Angelotti
Abigail Angelotti

General tv evangelist. Freelance social media specialist. Hipster-friendly twitter specialist. Beer fanatic. Typical student.