By Bus from Costa Rica to Panama – From Puerto Viejo to Santiago de Veraguas

In the morning of the 10.11.2019 it was time. Our bus trip from Costa Rica to Panama started early in the morning at 6:30 am in Puerto Viejo. Of course we tried Google before and read a few things, so that we had at least a rough idea of how the whole thing should and would work. We didn’t take many pictures on the way, so there is only a lot of text in this article. 🙂

Most of the time there was no time to take pictures. Why? You’ll learn that in this article. On the map you can see the stops and transfer points.

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The start in Puerto Viejo

Since it was clear that it would be a long journey, we took the second bus at 6:30 am in Puerto Viejo. The trip cost about 3500 Colones for both of us, which is about 5,50 €. The trip was quiet and there were hardly any people on the bus. Sunday mornings in the low season not very surprising. After about 1 1/2 hours we arrived in Sixaola. Of course it had to start to rain shortly before. 🙂

The bus stops quite conveniently, almost directly in front of the small office, where one has to pay the exit fee of 8 $. In addition there is a 1 $ handling fee. It makes you feel like in Germany. 😀 The 8 $ are used  for the preservation of the national parks, so in the end it is not completely wasted. At least one guide explained it to us that way. 🙂

When we got out, there was a lady in a warning vest who accompanied us to the office. Then you continue with the receipt to Inmigraciòn, where you present the passport and the receipt and then get your exit stamp. We were quite excited, because we didn’t know what would happen, if we were being checked, etc.. But it was quite harmless and after a short time we stood on the bridge towards Panama. The old bridge, which can often be seen on pictures, is now half built back and becomes a bigger turnout.

Entry into Panama and drive from Guabito to Changuinola

Entry Stamp

Once on the other side, go down a little bit to the first intersection. The guys in the station on the left are probably border guards and police, they don’t care about entry and exit. At the intersection, turn left and pass a snack bar. From there you will see the Inmigraciòn sign. Continue to the counter for the entry to Panama. There you hand in your passport. And here, one is also asked strictly for the proof of departure, that means for a ticket for the journey out of the country. Then one hands in his fingerprints and gets the entry stamp. In Panama there are none! Fees on. If someone there asks you to pay something, they are probably fraudsters. One should be sceptical in any case. By the way, here, just like at the border in Costa Rica, practically no English is spoken at all. Unfortunately, we can hardly speak Spanish, but in times of Google translators one gets along already.

Drive to Changuinola

Then you can either continue by taxi or take the bus. Since we decided to take a taxi, we unfortunately don’t know exactly where the bus leaves. The bus costs 95 Cent for about 30 minutes. The taxi cost 1.45 $, but you have to live with the fact that more people are going with you. If you want to drive alone, you pay 7 $ per person. Since the taxi was simply closer and someone else wanted to go with us, we decided to do so.

After about 30 minutes we arrived in Changuinola. Our driver brought us to the terminal and then even slowed down our bus. He had already started. That was very nice. 🙂 So we quickly reloaded our backpacks and off we went. It was a big bus, with comfortable seats and air conditioning. It was also empty when we got on.

So it went on seamlessly. And a little more than five! Hours later, we arrived in David. It’s only 200 km, but the roads are … Well. Let’s say, not in the best condition anymore. Besides it is very curvy and mountainous and of course the bus stopped again and again to collect people or to let them out and we had two breaks of twenty minutes. When we arrived in David we paid about 13 $ per person. In Panama you pay when you get off the bus. So there are always at least two people in front of the bus: The driver and a kind of helper who helps the people with the luggage and collects the money.

The (for now) last stage for this day, from David to Santiago de Veraguas

When we arrived in David, we were a bit overwhelmed. The terminal there is already quite big and there are buses in many different directions. But we were approached again quite quickly and sent in the right direction. We actually wanted to go with a big bus, which only stops in Santiago, before it goes on to Panama City. Our hotel was also close to the terminal, so it should’ve worked well.

It turned out different again. 🙂

A supplier probably heard where we wanted to go, left his sack truck and wanted us to follow him. So we followed him. Through the terminal, towards the street. There was a small bus, which was already ready to leave. The supplier whistled loudly and stopped the bus, I tried to make it clear to the assistant that we didn’t have enough cash. But that didn’t seem to be a problem, so we got into the bus and continued smoothly.

The small bus had a little more than 20 seats and also an air conditioner. The trip was quiet, but with a lot of stops. Again the distance was about 200 km, but this time it was mainly over the Panamericana, so over an expressway. And so after about three hours we arrived in Santiago De Veraguas. The trip cost us 9 $ per person, after getting off I withdrew money to pay.

Drive to the hotel

Now there was a small problem: The mobile network didn’t work, and although I had loaded offline maps before, we didn’t really find out in which direction we had to go. After looking confused for a moment, someone asked us again where to go. We told him the name of the hotel and he put us in a taxi. Since it should be only approx. 200 m away, we had a queasy feeling. Out of fear of being ripped off.

But then it was completely unfounded. Because we did not take the big bus, we arrived at a different terminal. The taxi ride to the hotel took about 10 minutes and cost us 2 $. Our new hostess picked us up there the next morning and you will find out how it went on another time.

Bottom line

Everything worked very well and was also quite cheap. Already in Puerto Viejo many people wanted to offer us shuttles or private trips for over 30 $ to Panama, that can be saved easily. We had a lot of luggage with us, but everything worked out fine. The whole thing lasted exactly 12,5 hours, from 6:30 to 18 o’clock and was accordingly exhausting. But all the worries we had before should have been for nothing. The people in Panama are very nice and helpful, that has been confirmed here in Torio. 🙂

It’s hard to start

September 29th, 2019|Categories: In General|

We've been in Costa Rica for almost a week now. Of course I haven't watched the Wordpress tutorial yet, but we'll just start here. I'm sure there will be some changes, the theme and [...]

By |2019-12-15T22:46:38+01:00November 21st, 2019|Central America, Costa Rica, Panama|0 Comments

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