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Travel to Panama

Flying to Panama

Panama's national airline is Copa Airlines (www.copaair.com). From the UK, you can fly to Panama with British Airways (www.ba.com) via Madrid, KLM (www.klm.com) via Amsterdam and American Airlines (www.aa.com) via Miami. Airlines operating direct flights from the USA include American Airlines, Copa Airlines and United (www.united.com).

Fares tend to rise in the summer months from June to August and during the peak season from December to March.

The major airport is: Tocumen Panama International Airport .

Airport Guides

Tocumen Panama International Airport

Code

PTY

Location

Tocumen Panama International Airport is situated approximately 17km (11 miles) east of Panama City.

Tel

+507 238 2700

Address

Find out more >

Flight times

From London - 14 hours 30 minutes (including stopover); New York - 5 hours 10 minutes.

Air passes

oneworld Visit North America Pass: allows travel in Canada, the USA, Mexico and much of the Caribbean as well as the Central American countries of Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador, which can work well for those travelling from the US to Central America. Choose between two and 10 flights; pricing is based on a zone system. Available from oneworld alliance airlines (www.oneworld.com).

Departure tax

US$50, usually included in the air fare.

Travelling to Panama by Rail

There are no international rail links from Panama.

Driving to Panama

Travel by road from Costa Rica into Panama is straightforward, with decent roads and reasonable borders.Overland travellers must make sure to get the requisite entry and exit visa stamps; failure to do so could cause difficulties when eventually leaving Panama. Paso Canoas, accessed via the Panamerican Highway, is the most popular border to cross but gets exceptionally busy. Guabito-Sixaola on the Caribbean coast is fairly informal and makes a good route towards Bocas del Toro.

The other option is the Rio Sereno crossing. It is a quiet crossing and usually laid-back, but is hard to access by public transport; be careful if you’re bringing a car or motorbike in to have all your documents properly filled out and ready to be stamped – they can be strict. This is a good crossing for those en route to Boquete. Travelling by coach is an excellent option - the Ticabus (www.ticabus.com) runs from Costa Rica into Panama for very affordable prices.

Getting to Panama by boat

Panama’s main port is the port of Balboa, a port of call for both passenger and freight vessels. The Panama Canal is the major route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. It's common to get a boat into Panama from Cartagena in Colombia via the San Blas islands as one of the travel options between Colombia and Panama. Boats usually leave from Portobelo in Colón province.

Water note

These boats are usually private and arrange to fill berths via hostels and hotel, and so should be booked in advance. While these boats depart frequently, they are dependent on weather conditions and can be delayed.

Ferry operators

There are no official international public transport ferries going in and out of Panama. For a full or partial transit of the Panama canal, try the following companies: Canal and Bay Tours (tel: +507 209 2009 or 2010; www.canalandbaytours.com), Panama Marine Adventures (tel: +507 226 8917; www.pmatours.net) and Panama Jones (www.panamacanal.com).

River Routes

The few hardy souls who attempt travel through the Darién Gap might find themselves travelling by river through dense jungle, but these are not official routes and depend largely on what your guides decide.

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