Transportation in Panama

Transport in Panama
Updated 2017-07-31 12:22

There are different means of transport in Panama: planes, trains, subway, bus, taxi, etc. You can choose among these according to your itinerary.

The roads

Beginning with the roads, these are often a good indicator of how a country is faring, and if you take that as a guide, then Panama is doing just fine. Running through the length of the country from east to west is the Panamerican Highway, the vital artery that sees an awful lot of traffic from private cars and local buses to luxury international coaches and huge, noisy trucks that roar through at all hours of the day and night. The highway, which nominally starts in Buenos Aires, crosses to the west coast of south America and leads all the way up, with a short break at the rainforest (the Darien Gap), then through Central America and into the USA.

If the highway sets the standard, the rest of Panama generally maintains it, with most roads in decent shape. Given the potentially torrential rainy season, this is no mean feat, and off the beaten track the minor, unmade roads can look rutted as if a river had rushed through the area, which may not be not far from the truth.


Yellow taxis can be found everywhere, in the cities and even remote areas, and can be booked or hailed in the street. Fares are usually negotiable and it is advisable to check with the driver before you get in.

Useful links:

Yellow Car Taxi
Taxi Service Panama
Taxi Click

Rent a car

Many of the well known international names are here and visitors are allowed to drive in Panama with their foreign driving license for a period of 90 days. Drivers must be at least 23 years old and it is important to have your passport with you, as it may be required as ID, not just when booking the car but while out and about in it.

Useful links:

Rental Car Group
Rental Cars

Air travel

The main airport is Tocumen, which serves Panama City, but there are many others, the second largest serving the city of David, with smaller local operations offering convenient transport options. The national airline is Copa, which links the country with more than 30 others in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Copa has been flying since 1947, an impressively long time in an industry where companies come and go.

There are other airlines including Air Panama, which provides good internal links and offers charters.

Good to know:

Domestic flights usually last for less than an hour. Ticket prices vary according to seasons and availability.

Useful links:

Air Panama
Copa Air
American Airlines
Nature Air


Panama's train is rather popular with tourists wishing to explore the country. It will take you through cities to visit the Panamanian countryside. Although trains are quite old and less comfortable, rates are rather affordable. Moreover, the city subways allow you to move rapidly between your workplace and your home. You will also avoid heavy traffic during peak hours.

Useful links:

Panama Canal Railway
El Metro de Panama


The bus is certainly the best and cheapest way to travel throughout Panama. You can travel by bus to work or to go shopping. You can also find tour buses which will allow you to explore the country at competitive rates. Most Panamanian buses are regular bus and comfortable. Tickets can be reserved or purchased at the bus station. You will find bus stops in almost all streets in big cities.

Good to know:

In general, buses are available until nightfall. However, long journey buses, especially tourist buses, are on duty even at night.

Useful links:

The Bus Schedule
Panama Pacifico


If you wish to explore neighboring islands such as Bocas del Toro, Guna Yala, Colon, Taboga and Contadora, you can travel there by boat. In fact, you will find water taxis and ferries which can take you there at any time of the day. You can even bring your car or motorcycle. Fees are rather affordable.

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