Practical Life in Panama City

Transport in Panama City

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Public Transportation in Panama

Throughout Panama City's history, residents have relied on frequent and dependable busses. Cementing Panama as an ever-growing country is the new metro unveiled in December of 2017.

Metro in Panama City

Called El Metro, there is currently one line with 14 stations running north to south from Albrook to San Isidro. Another line is under construction, with a third line planned.

Public Bus in Panama City

Metrobus stops are marked with an orange sign that says "Metrobus". Buses usually arrive every 15 minutes, but there is some irregularity.  Wave your hand to get the bus to stop.

There are many routes throughout the city, with the Panama Viejo-Via Israel-Mariscos line stopping in sites like Panama Viejo-Via Israel-Mariscos. To look at different routes, consult the official website:

Public Transportation Tickets in Panama City

For the metro, it is required to buy a $2 card that can be replenished for future rides. The price for a metro ride is $0.35 USD.

Not to be confused with the new metro is the metro bus, a public bus where the card system is set up the same as the metro. A bus ride costs $0.25 USD. However, if you take a corridor route (express) it costs $1.25.

To buy the card, purchase one at pharmacies, the Panama Bus Terminal in Albrook, and at all the Metro stations. You can also buy online. Note that machines do not give change.


Trains in Panama

There is one train called the Panama Canal Railway, which runs between Panama and Colon, but nowhere else in the Panama.

Train Tickets in Panama

One-way tickets between Colon and Panama City are $20 USD.

Train: Panama Canal Railway

Buses in Panama

Cross-country bus routes are offer convenient access to locations across Panama and South American and are quite inexpensive. Busses in Panama City depart from Albrook Bus Terminal.

Tica bus is the most reliable service that operates all over Central America. It covers multiple areas in every single country, including Panama.

Ferries in Panama

There are several ferry ports that have transfers to various coastal towns and islands. Here are some of the main ferry ports:

Airport in Panama

The major airport in Panama City is Tocumen International Airport (code is PTY). It is the hub for Copa Airlines, which serves much of Central and South America. Tocumen also acts as a regional home base for the Caribbean and the Americas as a whole.

Transport to/from Panama Airport

Shuttle: Pineapple Shuttle transports people to-and-from Tocumen for $9.

Bus: It will take more time, but at only $1.25, taking a bus is the cheapest route to the airport. Drive: It is about a 20 minute drive from the center of Panama City to the airport.

Taxi: This is the most common way to the airport. From the city, it should cost around $30 to the airport.

Taxis in Panama City

Taxis are plentiful in the main tourist areas of the city and are usually yellow or white.

A taxi to and from anywhere in the city center should be no more than $3 USD. Tariffs are set by the Autoridad de Tránsito y Transporte Terrestre(ATTT). But because taxis aren't metered, some drivers might try to raise the price for foreigners. For that reason, you can ask before getting into the taxi how much the price is. You can even try to negotiate a lower price.

Tipping is not mandatory, but it is good etiquette to tip 10% of the price.

In order to hail a taxi in Panama City, you need to wave your arm up and down to get its attention instead of just holding out your hand out.

Taxi Companies in Panama City

Car Hire in Panama

It really isn't necessary to rent a car if you are staying in the city, but driving can help you explore less-travelled areas. Many of the top car rental services in the world, such as Hertz, Enterprise and Sixt, are available in Panama.

Economy vehicles can be rented for as little as $5-$15 USD per day, but an average price with insurance is $35 a day. Visitors may also consider renting a cuatro por cuatro (4WD) for slightly more money to explore off-road.

In order to rent a car, you need a valid driver’s license and a credit card to make a deposit for the car.  All drivers should carry their passport (or cedula if you are a resident) and driver's license, current vehicle registration, proof of liability insurance, accident report form, and driver's manual.

If you are on a tourist visa, you can only drive on your foreign license for 3 months.

Driving in Panama

Driving in Panama is similar to other South American countries, but conditions can be poor outside of the cities. Signs are infrequent, and potholes are common.

The speed limit on highways is 80km/h. On smaller roads and in the city, it is 60km/h or less.

Note that rush hour in the city can be brutal. In particular, the Punte de las Americas (bridge between Panama City to the Inter-Americana) becomes very slow.

Rules of the road in Panama:

  • Illegal to drink and drive.
  • No phone calls or texting while driving.
  • Front seat passengers must wear seat belts (back seat passengers are not required to wear a seat belt).
  • Drivers must wear a shirt.

Parking in Panama City

Parking rules are similar to any other country where you have paid parking garages and lots, free lots and parking on the street. There is a lot of traffic in Panama City during rush hours (7 am - 8:30 am and 4 pm - 6 pm), so keep that in mind when driving in the city.

Panama City Map:
Panama Map:

Update 23/06/2018


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