Getting Around in Panama: How to use transportation at any budget




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How to get around in Panama can be a quandary if you’re not familiar with the country, whether as a visitor or an expat. It’s a country full of transportation options, which can get confusing to any newcomer, and even a bit exhausting. Panama is a rapidly growing country where modes of transportation change (and grow) practically year-to-year. To stay on top of the best ways to get around, we’ve compiled an easy guide to help get you where you need to go, and at any budget. Here are our suggestions on how to do it best!

Metro Bus Panama

Public Transportation:

In 2012, Panama began the process of updating their bus system from the classic (yet dangerous) “Diablos Rojos”, to a new modern Metro Bus. The Diablos were decommissioned school busses that lacked A/C, and had inefficient seating, as well as unlisted routes. The Metro Buses changed all of that. Despite a few hiccups at the start, Panama’s Metro Buses have largely been a success. They operate fares with swipeable cards that can be charged at various kiosks around the city. They are made to hold more people, comfortable. And the best part is, they have nice a cool A/C. Fares are $0.25, and the busses run from 5am until about 10pm, with some running all night. You can find a list of all the routes online, or with the Metro Bus app.

Panama also launched it’s Metro (Subway) in 2014, which has made a massive impact on public transportation, and is continuing to do so as they expand from one line to four. The Metro has 11 stops on Line 1, and brings you from Albrook Terminal to the northeastern edge of Panama City. It takes about 25 minutes to go from end to end, and can be a huge time saver, avoiding Panama City traffic. Fares are $0.35.

Uber:

Despite what seems like a global cadre of anti-Uber taxi drivers protesting the service, Uber continues to thrive in Panama City and its suburbs. This is probably the most efficient way to travel by car, and definitely the most convenient. Fares are around the same as taxis, however they can surge during heavy demand. Still, the cost/value benefit is immense, and due to their fare meter, you won’t have to haggle pricing with the driver, or get ripped off unknowingly. A typical fare from point to point in the city center will cost from $3-$6. You can even use cash if you want!

Taxis:

For the most part, taxis are still a good way to get around Panama City, with a few caveats. Taxi fares must be negotiated before getting in the cab. If you don’t do this, the driver may overcharge you after your trip is complete. As a general rule, taxis in the center of the city cost from $2-$6, with fares to Tocumen running around $30. Be aware that many street taxis will pick up other passengers to share the ride, so if you’re in a rush, call a “Radio Taxi”, which may cost a bit more, but will take you to your destination directly.

Bicycles:

While biking in Panama City’s dense urban center can be highly stressful (and even a little unsafe if you’re a newbie), there are many great places to us a bicycle for transportation that are efficient, fun, and safe (not to mention cheap!). The best place to bike in Panama is the Cinta Costera, which runs along the waterfront the length of the entire downtown area. You can also bike in Parque Omar, which has bike-only paths, and even now on Via Espana, which has weekend bike lanes. If you’re just visiting, you can rent bikes in Casco Viejo, Bella Vista, and on the Cinta Costera itself.

About Manoj Chatlani


Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in offshore services, including asset protection, estate planning, offshore banking, and offshore corporations, as well as Panama immigration and real estate transactions, Panama Offshore Legal Services offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA and earned a Masters in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

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