Drive to Panama from US

I've not seen this topic discussed. Has anyone ever driven to Panama from the US?  We are retiring to Boquete in August and had always assumed we would fly and arrive with our 4 suitcases to begin our adventure. Looking at a map, I began to think it could be interesting to drive through Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, maybe a side trip here or there, to see a few places on our way to Panama. I'm assuming there would be bag and vehicle searches at borders. Is this a crazy idea? Or could it be fun and educational and SAFE if planned well?

Some people have absolutely no problems and others get robbed blind, including their car before they are out of Mexico. There are the visas, car registration when you cross each border. These are counties, not states like driving in the U.S. Be sure to have lots of small bills for bribes, or give big bills for bribes, your choice. Remember each country has different currancy, until you finally get to Panama, then it is the the dollar again. Then there is the problem of registering your car in Panama, getting parts for it since it is not designed for Panama and last having to interpolate the speedometer, since everything in Panama is now kph. Significantly easier to fly in.
90% of the people that import a car into Panama wish they had not, yes there is the 10% that do like having imported a car, will you be in the majority or minority?
Buena Suerta!

Thanks, Mikkel! We always enjoy your viewpoint! 😃  I love adventure but I think it would be a big risk going through Mexico. It's fun to think about, though. We look forward to getting to Panama!

What may sound at first blush as a cool road trip will cause you to abandon your vehicle and possessions (or have someone take them from you) any number of places along the way.  Every once in a while some cowboy comes on a brags how he's done it, but in reality you are risking your life - just in Mexico alone - and will be subjected to harassment by officials and citizens.  Your Spanish had better be good to excellent.

Thanks SawMan! We've come to our senses and will fly. But it was a nice, short-lived idea, but for the little detail that we could disappear in Mexico, never to be heard from again. 😳

I drove to Panama from Canada in 2009 on my Honda Goldwing.

I had few issues, the policia in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama were the worst. Everyone else were more interested in how many cylinders my motorcycle had, how fast it went and how much it cost.  Even the military in Mexico asked the same questions!

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Don't do it!  We did it 8 years ago and we treated it as a vacation on our way to David, Panama.  It was perhaps our best ever vacation though everything has changed since.  Now you would be putting your life at risk.  Also, the very big hassle of getting your car registered here is a huge headache.  Buy a car here and then travel from here.  Get settled before you consider traveling through multiple countries between the USA and Panama.

it's very easy just do it there are lots of forums and internet guidance
Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, (maybe Salvador) Nicaragua, Costa Rica
Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador Nicaragua are CA-4 countries
Most countries take U$ cash.
Many speedometers are imperial and metric.

We know of a couple that drove down from Michigan last year in their Honda CRV.
They said they would not do it again. Had to pay bribes and make sure they did not drive at night.
It cost them way more then they thought. It would of been a lot cheaper for them to fly.
Now they have to pay an import duty on the car.

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