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Travel to Boquete from Panama City, Costa Rica, Bocas del Toro, or Colombia
The following information was specially crafted for those students studying at our Spanish school in Boquete, but it will help anyone visiting our charming town in the mountains.
How to get to Boquete?
First of all it depends on how you will be traveling to Panama (as in the country, not in the city), on how fast you want to make it to Boquete (with or without spending a night in Panama City) and on your budget (use domestic flights or take the bus).
In this page we will explain how to travel to Boquete depending on how you entered our country and we will tell you how long it will take you to get to Boquete.
The most common ways travelers enter our country are:
- flying into Panama City from anywhere in the world
- flying into David from San José, Costa Rica or crossing the Costa Rican Border through Paso Canoas
- flying into Bocas del Toro from San José, Costa Rica or crossing the Costa Rican border through Sixaola
- by Ferry Boat into Colon from Cartagena, Colombia
And once you are in Panama (the country) there are several ways to travel to Boquete:
- by airplane from Panama City to David and then by bus or taxi to Boquete
- by bus from Panama City to David and then to Boquete by bus or taxi
- by airplane from San José, Costa Rica to David and then to Boquete
- by bus from San José, to Paso Canoas, the southern border with Costa Rica, to David and then to Boquete
- by bus from Bocas del Toro to David and then to Boquete
- by bus, shuttle, private transport from Colon to Panama City and then to Boquete
Traveling from Panama City to Boquete is fairly straight forward. Basically you have to travel from Panama City to David (30 minutes by plane or 6 hours by bus or car), and then from David to Boquete (30 - 45 minutes by bus or taxi).
The best way, well... it depends on what you want: fast and convenient, or taking a bit more time and saving some money but enjoying the countryside. To travel from Panama City to David, and then from David to Boquete there are mainly 2 options:
- A flight from Panama City to David (30 minutes), and a bus or an airport pickup from David to Boquete (30 - 45 minutes)
- A bus from Panama City to David (6 hours), and a bus or bus station pickup from David to Boquete (30 - 45 minutes)
Or if you are going to study at Habla Ya Panama Spanish Schools, we'll be happy to book a flight for you.
Copa Airlines flies to David (DAV) from Tocumen Airport (PTY - the same airport that you will be flying into from abroad) and their last flight to David departs everyday at 5.30 p.m. so if you land into Panama City at the right time (4 p.m. at the latest, but that can be quite tight), you can make it on the same day to Boquete.
Copa Airline's flights are also cheaper than Air Panama's.
Air Panama flies to David from Albrook Airport (PAC), which is the city's domestic airport. This flight does not depart from the same airport that your arriving flight to Panama City does (PTY). You will arrive to Panama at Tocumen Airport and to fly from Panama City to David with Air Panama you have to go to Albrook Airport.
You can take a taxi between Tocumen Airport and Albrook Airport, or spend a night in a hotel in Panama City and then take a taxi next morning to Albrook Airport.
A taxi from Tocumen Airport to Albrook Airport or to a hotel in Panama City should cost around $35. A taxi from your hotel should not charge you more than $5 to take you to Albrook Airport if you are staying within Panama City.
With Air Panama, the last flight to David from Albrook Airport departs around 4:00 p.m., so if you want to fly AirPanama and land in Panama City after 1:00 p.m., plan to spend the night in a hotel in Panama City or take a bus from Albrook Bus Station to David. The last bus to David leaves Panama City at 3:00 a.m. You should allow at least 3 hours between landing at Tocument Aiport and getting to Albrook Airport or Bus Station because of customs, immigration and then the journey within Panama City.
For $45 we also arrange airport pickups at Tocumen Airport to a hotel in Panama City (with a known driver that will wait for you at the airport with a sign with your name on it) and on the following day for $25 a pickup from your hotel to Albrook Airport or Albrook Bus Station if what you decide is to stay in Panama City to rest after your international flight.
If your are planning to study Spanish at our schools, feel free to Contact Us and we will get back to you with your flight options and give you the very best advice.
Copa Airlines has a 44 pound (20kg) baggage allowance for domestic flights (1 checked bag - you can also take hand luggage and personal items). More details about Copa's baggage allowance here. Air Panama has a 30 pound (14kg) baggage allowance and on their website they say that: "any excess baggage is accepted as baggage conditional and subject to available space inside the aircraft. If there is available space it will be sent on the same flight, otherwise it will be sent on the next flight". More info about Air Panama's baggage policy here. To this date we have NEVER heard of someone not being to take all of their luggage on a flight from Panama City to David so no worries! What we can't tell you is exactly how much it will cost but people tend to pay between $5 - $25 for additional luggage (sorry, but they change what they charge so check out their websites if you want up to date info!)
Panama City's hotels have one of the highest occupation rates in the world so if you want to reserve a good room at a decent price, the sooner you book it, the better.
For information about hotels in Panama City for different budgets please click here...
If you arrive to David through a flight, you will land into Enrique Malek Airport. We can arrange an airport pickup or "shuttle service" for $35 (for up to 2 persons, for 3 or more the cost is $15 per passenger) that will take you directly to Boquete to wherever you need to go to (our Language School or your hotel - home stay setup fees already include a pickup in David). If you prefer to take a bus to Boquete, you will have to pay a taxi to take you to the Bus Station in David. The taxi should charge around $5, and the bus from David to Boquete is $1.75 per passenger.
If you want to take a bus to David from Panama City, you first have to take a taxi from Tocumen Airport or from your hotel in Panama City to Albrook Bus Terminal. There you will be able to catch a bus to David. Busses depart almost every hour so you shouldn't have any problem with the schedule and you don't have to bother with reservations (not that you can make one as bus tickets only start to be sold the day before and have to be purchased on site). The only dates when you will not be able to easily catch a bus is when it is a Panamanian National Holiday. On these days you are better of booking a flight from Panama City to David because the bus station is total chaos and tickets always sell out (you can't book them online).
The first bus departs everyday at 5:30 a.m. and the last one departs at 3:00 a.m. The bus ticket from Panama to David costs $15 or $20 per passenger depending if it is an express bus or not. Express buses are the fastest and depart at 3:00 p.m., 10:45 p.m. and 12:00 a.m.
You can also rent a car in Panama City to drive to Boquete, but you can also rent cars in Boquete so if your reason for doing this is to just have a car, wait until you get to Boquete. But on the other hand if you want to explore the country it is a good option to rent a car in Panama City and then make the drive all the way to Boquete.
If your plan is to only travel around the west side of Panama then it could make sense to fly or take a bus to David without going to Panama City. Tickets to San José, Costa Rica, from most parts of the world are cheaper than tickets to Panama City and from San José you can fly into David, or even take a bus from Costa Rica to Panama. But you also have to take into account the money and time that you would need to spend in a hotel in San José and then on the means of transportation to David.
There is though one case in which you definitely save some money. As flights from San José Costa Rica to David depart from the same airport from which you will be landing in San José, if you are able to land in San José at a time (before 10 a.m. in the morning) that allows you to catch the flight to David in the same day, then you will have been able to travel to Boquete in the most efficient way.
There are direct flights to David from San José, Costa Rica operated by AirPanama(www.flyairpanama.com). AirPanama's flights makes the connection on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m. so if you are able to land in San José, Costa Rica, before 9 a.m. local time you will be able to get to Boquete on the same day. If not, plan to spend a night in San José or take a bus to David. Visit their website for ticket prices and availability.
Once you get to Enrique Malek Airport in David, as explained above we can arrange an airport pickup or "shuttle" service for $35 (for up to 2 persons, for 3 or more the cost is $15 per passenger) that will take you directly to Boquete to wherever you need to go to (our Language School or your hotel - home stay setup fees already include a pickup in David). If you prefer to take a bus to Boquete, you will have to pay a taxi to take you to the Bus Station in David. The taxi should charge around $5, and the bus from David to Boquete is $1.75 per passenger.
Three different companies make the journey from Costa Rica to Panama (David): Panaline, Ticabus and Tracopa. To see bus schedules and prices please visit: www.panalinecr.com, www.ticabus.com or www.tracopacr.com/rutas.html.
The bus journey from San José to the border can take from 6 - 9 hours. Why such a big margin? Well, the roads in Costa Rica aren't that brilliant and sometimes buses can encounter lines of trucks in front of them. Crossing the border can take from 1 - 3 hours because of bureaucracy (Panamanian and Costa Rican combined). Roads in Panama are definitely better than their counterpart in Costa Rica. And finally from the border to David it should take 45 minutes to 1 hour and a half, depending on the speed of the bus and traffic. And from there to Boquete the trip should take between 30 - 40 minutes by bus.
If you purchase a bus ticket in San José to David, the bus' final destination could be either David or Panama City. So if the bus that you chose is heading towards Panama City be sure to tell the bus driver that you need to get off in David and pay attention that you don't continue the journey too far (and also only pay the fare to David). How to identify David? Looking out for the signs and it will also be the first really populated area within Panama.
Tracopa leaves San José to David at 7:30 a.m. They stop at David and do not continue to anywhere else. They also have a bus from David to San José that leaves David at 8:30 a.m. Their phone number in David is +507-775-0585.
Panaline leaves San José at 1:00 p.m. They travel directly to Panama City so if you are coming to Boquete make sure to tell the bus driver to leave you at David. They should be passing by David between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The last bus from David to Boquete leaves at 9:00 p.m. so if you choose this option you have to ask us to arrange a bus station pickup for $35 to bring you to Boquete OR you have to spend one night at a hotel in David.
Ticabus leaves from San José to Panama City at 12:00 p.m. noon and 11:00 p.m. Their buses from Panama City to San José, Costa Rica leave at 11:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. The daytime buses are nicer buses known as "Ejecutivos". Their phone number in Panama City is +507-314-6385.
You can also look for a bus to the Costa Rican border, and buses from there to David depart every hour or so. The same is valid for the journey in the opposite direction (David to San José).
If your bus is continuing its journey further ahead then David, then you have to get off on a bus stop in front of a Super Market, called "Super Baru", which is located on the Panamerican highway, also known as Interamericana, the one supposed to go from Canada to Argentina, but interrupted by the Darién Gap. I wouldn't say this is the outskirts of town. If you were coming to David from Panama City it would be the entrance of David. If you cross by foot "La Panamericana or Interamerican" (the highway), and get on the opposite side of the road of where "el Super Baru" is, you will be standing on the corner of a gas station. You will be just a block away from Vía Boquete (the road that goes from David to Boquete). From that corner you will need walk further up the road (still a block from Vía Boquete) and there you will be able to wait for a bus to Boquete. Buses to Boquete should be passing by every 30 - 45 minutes. The bus only costs $1.75. A taxi would charge you $35.
If your bus final destination from Costa Rica is David, then you don't have to worry because you will be dropped at David's bus terminal from where you can directly catch a bus to Boquete.
The only essential difference between these two approaches would be the schedules from Costa Rica to David.
The only thing to keep in mind, is that buses from David to Boquete run from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. so do not take a bus from Costa Rica that will arrive too early or too late.
After writing down all this info we have to say that the best way to plan to travel from San José to Boquete by bus is to sort everything out once you are in Costa Rica because you cannot book tickets by phone or online. You have to purchase them in person.
The normal bus fare should be between $8 to $10 to the border or about $20 to David. One of the bus companies also has a "luxury" ticket.
Remember to purchase a return bus ticket in Costa Rica. Even if you are not planning to use it or don't have your exact dates, it is a requirement to be able to enter Panama (or your return flight ticket also works as long as it is a flight leaving Panama). You have to have a valid return ticket that demonstrates that you intend to leave the country. Read more about visa requirements to enter Panama...
If you are in Costa Rica and want to spend some days in Bocas del Toro before coming to Boquete, you can take a flight from San José, Costa Rica to Bocas del Toro with AirPanama or Nature Air, and from there go to Boquete. To travel from David to Boquete read above.
First of all you will have to take a water taxi to get off Isla Colón. Make sure the boat is going to Almirante. Once in Almirante take a cab to the bus stop in Almirante and wait for 30 minutes to 1 hour for a bus to David to pass by. Once in David at the bus terminal take a bus or a taxi to Boquete.
Twice a week there is a Ferry Boat (www.ferryxpress.com) that can take up to 1,300 passengers and travels from Cartagena in Colombia to Colon (the northern terminal of the Panama Canal). Colon is about 60km (37 miles) from Panama City. It leaves Cartagena on Tuesdays at 7 pm and arrives into Colon on Wednesdays at 1 pm. It also leaves Cartagena on Thursdays at 7 pm and arrives to Colon on Fridays at 1 pm.
By bus, shuttle or private transport from Colon to Panama City
Once you arrive with the Ferry to Colon, you can take a taxi to the bus station and take the bus to Panama City (only advisable if you speak Spanish and are comfortable traveling in Latin America). Aventuras 2000 organizes a shuttle for the ferry's passengers that will take you from the cruise ship port in Colon to Albrook Mall in Panama City (for about $20). Or feel free to contact us if you would like to set up private transport from Colon to Panama City. Once you're in Panama City, you have the same options to get to Boquete as if you had flown into Panama City (click here for more info).