Getting around


There are local flights to most parts of Panama by several airlines. The most reliable is
, the
Grupo Taca
subsidiary, with destinations throughout the country. Other services include:
, offering charter flights between Bocas del Toro, David and Panama City.
Air Panama
, offers a wide range of domestic services.

On internal flights passengers must present their identity documents and have their luggage weighed. As excess baggage charges are frequent, ask if it is cheaper to ship excess as air freight (
) on the same flight.


There are now about 9700 km of roads, of which 3100 km are paved. The highway running from Colón to Panama City is the only fully paved road crossing the isthmus. A well- maintained scenic road traverses the isthmus from Gualaca in Chiriquí to the town of Chiriquí Grande in Bocas del Toro, crossing the Swedish-built Fortuna hydroelectric dam. The road continues to Almirante and the regional centre of Changuinola, opening up a beautiful route along the Caribbean. The Pan-American Highway, usually called the
in Panama, runs east from Panama City to Chepo and into the province of Darién, and west to the Costa Rican border. It is paved throughout (as far east as the Panama/Darién provincial border) and is being improved. There is a modern toll road between Panama City and La Chorrera, and the section between David and La Concepción is a modern, four-lane highway. There are expressways in and around Panama City.


The bus network covers the entire country, generally with efficient, timely services. Some of the long-distance buses are small 'mini' buses, normally modern and comfortable, but large, modern air-conditioned buses are being introduced. They are more expensive than elsewhere in Central America. Slower 'regular' buses run in country areas. 'Express' buses with air conditioning operate between Panama City and Colón and to David and the border with Costa Rica.


If you require a 4WD it is better to book a few days in advance. If planning to rent from an international company, consult them before leaving home. Sometimes deals are available that cannot be made in Panama. Rental cars are not allowed out of the country; these are marked by special licence plates.


Boats and comfortable yachts provide tours all or part way through the canal. Contact tour operators in Panama City or Colón for details. It is also possible to travel through offering linehandling services, if you have sailing experience and turn up at the right time.

A regular ferry makes the journey to the island of Bocas del Toro from Almirante and Chirquí Grande on the western Caribbean coast. To the east, canoes serves the archipelago of San Blas.

Access to and from Colombia is possible by sea, along the Caribbean or Pacific coasts, although the journey takes several days and can be costly .

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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