In order to be independent and maximize your holiday experience, we recommend self-drive in the western region of Panama including the provinces of Cocle (El Valle), Los Santos (Azuero Peninsula) and Chiriqui (Boquete). This allows the flexibility to stop whenever you see something interesting. Compared to its neighboring countries, the main roads in Panama are in very good conditions. Do bear in mind that Panama is a mountainous country, roads can be curvy and signage is generally poor once outside the main cities. However, full directions are provided by our staff when you receive the vouchers and the vehicle.
We generally recommend a Group C vehicle, Toyota Yaris or similar. We have selected National Car Rental and Budget Rent a Car as our suppliers in Panama. They have offices in Panama City downtown, Panama City – Tocumen International Airport, Panama City-Albrook Domestic Airport, David Airport located in the Chiriquí Province. Therefore vehicles may be picked up in one place and dropped off at another. Drop off charges in the event of returning your vehicle to a different point from which it was collected and this is included in the cost of your holiday (not payable locally may be paid locally).
A valid driving license (international is preferred), passport and credit card are required when collecting the vehicle along with a security deposit of (this depends on the number of days the car is rented and the type of rental car). Check the car over carefully and note all dents and scratches before accepting the car. If the car is returned with dents or scratches, or other damage that was not previously noted, you will be charged and your deposit will not be refunded.
The general policy (unless advised otherwise) is to receive the car with a full tank of fuel and to, therefore, return it full on drop off. If you forget, your credit card will be charged automatically and at above-market fuel prices.
Unlimited mileage, roadside breakdown assistance, local taxes and Collision Damage Waiver are included in the company name car hire rates. The minimum age for renting a vehicle is 21. The CDW covers you for damage to your vehicle and any third parties arising from ‘normal’ use of the car. The vehicle must be returned to the office on time otherwise extra charges will apply (payable locally). Reconfirm the drop off time and place of return at the time of collecting your vehicle. There is an extra charge for a second driver is $10.00 -12.00 per day (payable locally).
As in other countries, never leave valuables in the car such as cameras, handbags, and suitcases as they may attract thieves. In the event of getting a ticket for speeding or other infractions, do not offer money to the highway patrol officer. All tickets must be paid when you return the car. If the car is towed away, you will have to go the transportation authority’s office and a pay a fee to get your car back. Please note that we do not recommend you drive at night on the Pan-American Highway.
Approximate Driving Times / Distances in km
Panama City – El Valle: 2 hours/ 127km approx.
El Valle – Boquete: 6 – 7 hours/ 400km approx.
Boquete – David: 1 hour/ 49km approx
Boquete – Almirante harbour: 3.30 hours/ 185km approx
Boquete – Paso Canoas (border with Costa Rica): 1.5 hours/ 94km approx
Boquete – Chiriqui Archipelago (Boca Brava): 2.5 hours + 30min boat/ 102km approx
Chiriqui Archipelago (Boca Brava) – David Airport: 1.5hrs + 30min boat/ 63.3km approx
Chiriqui Archipelago (Boca Brava) – Azuero Peninsula (Pedasi ): 3.5 hours+ 30min boat/320km approx
Azuero Peninsula (Pedasi ) – Boquete: 4.5 hours/ 380km approx
Azuero Peninsula (Pedasi ) – Penonomé: 3.30 hours/ 212 km approx
Azuero Peninsula (Pedasi ) – Las Tablas:1 hour/43 km approx
Las Tablas – Chitre: 1 hour/ 34 km approx
Chitre – Santiago: 1.30 hours/ 73 km approx
Santiago – Boquete: 3.30 hours/ 235km approx
Panama City – Colon: 1 hours (1 hour by train) / 73 kim
Panama City – Portobelo:2 hours/ 96km approx.
Panama City – San Lorenzo: 2 hours/100 approx.
Panama City – Boquete: 6 hours/490km approx
Panama City – Azuero Peninsula (Pedasi ): 4 – 5 hours/324km approx
Panama City – Santa Catalina: 6 hours / 370km approx
Approximate Flying Times:
Panama City – Achutupo (San Blas): 45mins
Panama City – Azuero Peninsula (Pedasi): 35mins
Panama City – David: 1 hour
David – Bocas del Toro: 35mins
David – San Jose: 1 hour