Driving

Good Morning. I have been following quietly and absorbing as much information as I can over the last while and this is my first post. I have searched the forums and found tidbits of info, but figured I would ask the question again.

My wife and I are making our first visit to Panama in February of 2019 and will be staying a month in Coronado. I have already booked the condo, but my quandary now is transportation. I am debating between renting a car at PTY and driving, or taking a shuttle from PTY to Coronado. I can rent from National at the airport, or a local company in Coronado. I trust National and have been using them for years, but do not know of any of the local companies. I will be renting a car because we want to explore as much of the country as we can during the month we are there.

My biggest concern is driving through Panama to get to Coronado. I have seen a few times, "Do not drive in Panama City if it is your first visit". Why is that? Is it just that the traffic is bad, or the roads are bad? I have driven in a few other countries (Costa Rica included) that there have been warnings about, but did not find it all that stressful.

Thanks for any input.

I have driven several times in Panama I used Enterprise Rent-A-Car I have driven several imes  I have driven in Panama several times and have used Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The only experience that I had each time I went was leaving the airport and hitting a roundabout with no Direction. If you have driven in any major city in the United States driving in Panama is just as easy. I strongly suggest insurance as I parked in Coronado Beach and someone keyed the car luckily my insurance covered it.

Johnmozz, thanks for the quick reply. That does make me feel a bit better about renting at PTY and driving.

I wouldn’t drive in Panama City. The traffic is awful and it’s confusing and frustrating. On our first visit we never ever ended up where we wanted to go in the first try. I’d take a bus to Coronado and rent a car there.

Fyi, you will be required to buy insurance which will possibly double the cost of the car.

Kristc is right abou it being confusing like I said from the airport at the roundabout . However there is only one road that goes out the Coronado though and it is relatively easy once you get on that main road. Also the rent a car company will sell you a card that will allow you to go through the toll booths without having to pay cash.

kristc99 thanks for your reply. The third party liability did almost double the price, but what can you do. From what I have seen online, even car rental places in Coronado will be about the same price. Confusing is not too bad for me. I have driven in a few countries that were very confusing and drove on the wrong side of the road.

It sounds like you are much braver and more experienced than I am. Once you get out of the city it should be smooth sailing. Good luck, and enjoy your time here!

I have driven in Paris and Rome, rural Colombia and rural Panama, Ireland and others, without major issues. But i would rent out of Coronado for one reason: the motos in the city are a constant threat to your focus, and it can be difficult to track their suicidal techniques as they dipsy doodle through traffic. Hit one and you will be jailed. Nothing to be gained by renting in PC and the transit system is first rate. My 2 Balboas.

SunsetSteve. Thanks for your honest answer. That certainly gives me another perspective to think about. The last thing I want to do at the start of my holiday is visit a jail cell LOL.

you better try to rent in coronado, if you want to know more about the city traffic then try to hire a UBER driver to tour you around the city so you can know how the thing goes here and decide if you can deal with it or not. Coronado is not considered part of the City of Panama, and it is of course a lot safer for driving.

the motos are not the only danger, taxi drivers are often maniacs on wheels, and bus/truck drivers just dont care.

As a panamanian myself  I can assure you that patience is key for driving here, if someone is not patient and calm enough then soon or later that person will adopt the negative traits of the dangerous drivers.

PD: if you want to drive by yourself and not hiring and uber, you can do it on sundays, there is little traffic on sundays and maniacs are often asleep due to the ingestion of large amounts of alcohol during the saturday night.

as a guide for my first two years here i have had folks rent a car then call me the next day and say we decided that 65 a day for you to take us around is cheap ,, car rental is a night mare no matter how you do it ,, take a picture of every square inch of it i had them try to charge a customer 250 bucks for a bent rim where he barely put a mark on the rim and hubcap on the curb ,, a dozen night mare stories i can relate never had the insurance pay off on any kind of accident ever ,, once i guy was turning the car in parked in font of the rental agency and a flat bed truck turned the corner and the bed wen ocver the hood of the cat they charged his credit card over 1,000 bucks told him it was his responsibility to go after  the guy who did it ,, that never even slowed down ,, is panama is typical

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