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Getting There by Road

Panama - Getting There by Road


It is possible to reach Panama by road from the Costa Rica side of the country via a road which runs to Yaviza in Darien Province. There are a number of border points if you want to cross from Panama to Costa Rica - these are at Paso Canoas, Sixaola/Guabito and also at Rio Sereno. The road border at Pas Canoas is one of the busiest crossings in the region and it shuts at 11 pm if you are travelling from Panama to Costa Rica and at 10 pm if you are travelling in the other direction.

If you are travelling along the Pacific Coast you can reach Panama from San Jose by bus. This is one of the most heavily trafficked routes as it is favoured by commercial traffic. Bus companies such as Panaline and Tica have a daily service but this is a journey that can take up to 15 hours. This journey involves a stop at the border crossing so that you can be cleared by immigration officials on the Costa Rican side. There is usually a queue if you do not get there early so you may have to wait a short while. You will need to complete a form and purchase the visa stamp but this costs less than a dollar.

Once this has been done you need to go to the Panama Immigration office which is just a short walk away. You will be required to obtain a tourist card which costs around $5 and is accompanied by another stamp for which you will pay $1. You may be asked to prove that you have a return ticket out of Panama, but this does not happen often. If you do not have one you will be required to buy one if proof is demanded, and you will need to do this even if your intention is to remain in the country. Your luggage is also inspected by the border officials.

The Atlantic coast is popular with those who intend to visit Bocas del Toro. This is a trip of up to 6 hours from San Jose. Passing through the Immigration checkpoints on this side of the country is much quicker than that on the Pacific coast. The checkpoints are open seven days a week but they do not open until 8 am and close at 6 pm. Passing through this way means you will probably not be asked to present a return ticket and luggage is not usually checked.

There are some very rough roads which connect Panama to Colombia. It is not advisable to use them as they are not in good condition and the area is considered to be very dangerous, with a high risk of visitors being robbed or hijacked.


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