Travel to Panama
Visitors should contact their local State Department for current Panamanian visa requirements for their country. As of April, 2010, U.S. tourists are allowed to stay in Panama for 180 days, without extension. However, your ability to drive with a U.S. Driver’s license and your U.S. passport will expire after 90 days in country.
Taxis from Tocumen Airport to Panama City are $20-30, or you can share a mini-bus with other passengers at a reduced cost (approximately $11-14).
To pre-arrange transportation from the airport, contact Moises Herrera at Hergos Transport by calling +507 6615 3557 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For experienced travelers returning to Panama, the most inexpensive way of getting to and from Tocumen airport during daylight hours if you do not have a lot of luggage is to take the “Expreso Corredor Sur – Albrook” Metrobus from the crossroads outside Tocumen airport to Albrook terminal in Panama city. The bus costs around $1.25 each way, is air-conditioned, and fast, but beware! You need a Metro-card! This Metro-card must be bought at a local pharmacy or convenience store. The Metrobus stops at the roundabout outside the airport parking lot.
A departure tax is charged to all travelers at the time they leave Panama from Tocumen Airport (if not already included on their airline ticket).
Lodging in Panama City
Visitors will generally spend one night in Panama before traveling to Azuero. There are hotels for all budgets in Panama City. Several possibilities include:
- Hotel Centroamericano: Located on Avenida Ecuador y Justo Arosemena, Free wireless, Central location within walking distance of the Cinta Costera, has a restaurant, $55.00 for a room, Tel: (507)227-4555, (507)225-2505, http://www.hotelcentroamericano.com/Home.html
- Hostal Urracá: Quiet, comfortable, secure and in a very good location near Parque Urracá, Tel: (507)391-3971, (507)391-3972, Rates vary from $16.00 for a dormitory bed to $74.00 for a large private double room, http://www.posadaurraca.com/
- Hotel Marparaiso: Nice basic hotel/restaurant with small traditional air-conditioned rooms (if you stay at least two nights, has airport transportation included in the room rate, but be sure to confirm this before arrival). About $40-50/night for a private room. +507 227-6767, http://www.marparaisopma.com/index.htm
- Hospedaje Casco Viejo: Plain, simple, fairly quiet for Casco Viejo. Next to the famous Church of San San José, but if you are in a dorm room, choose your bathroom carefully – some are spotless, others are not as fun. Has free wireless and computers, around $12.00 a night for a dorm bed, around $25.00 for a private room, Tel: (507) 211-2027 http://www.hospedajecascoviejo.com/
- Luna’s Castle: Another option in Casco Viejo, but definitely a party hostel, it is very loud and the mattresses are mediocre. A recommended option if you are interested in a loud night with friends and interested in getting to know Casco Viejo’s young social scene. Has free wireless access and computers, and highly bilingual staff. Dorm beds are $13 dollars a night, and private rooms are around $30 dollars a night.Tel: (507) 262-1540 http://www.lunascastlehostel.com/
- Hostal Amador: Nice hostel located in Balboa near the Las Americas bridge, short distance to Albrook and relatively close to STRI’s Tupper Headquarters, free Wi-Fi and computer use, and free luggage storage, Tel: (507) 314-1251, Dorm beds are $15.00 a night, and private rooms range from $30.00-45.00 per couple, http://www.hostalamadorfamiliar.com/
- Country Inn & Suites Hotel Panama Canal: Situated right on the Canal at the base of the Amador Causeway, this hotel is a short distance to Albrook, the City of Knowledge, Panama Ports, and many other destinations as well as the center of Panama City. The hotel has business facilities to accommodate meetings and conferences. Rooms are air conditioned room and have with complimentary WIFI access, hair-blow drier, safe, and mini fridge. A standard deluxe room is about $120 per night including a breakfast buffet.http://www.panamacanalcountry.com/amador/index.html
Travel to Azuero
There are frequent daily buses from the Albrook Bus Terminal to Chitre and Las Tablas. The bus from Panama City to Las Tablas costs around $10.00 and the trip takes approximately 5 hours. The bus from Las Tablas to Pedasi costs about $2.00-3.00 and takes approximately 45 minutes. If you would like to take the bus from Las Tablas to Pedasi, please plan to arrive in Las Tablas before 6 PM. To transfer between bus stations in Las Tablas, the local taxi fare is approximately $1.50. Taxi service from Las Tablas to Pedasi can range from $20-25.00, but this cost can be split between various passengers. Bus rides in Panama can be cold, as air-conditioning is often put on high – please layer clothing as you feel appropriate to make your ride most comfortable. Buses traveling to the interior make only one pit stop in Penonomé.
Directions to our Pedasí Office
Our Pedasí office is located on the corner of the street that goes towards El Bajadero/El Arenal Beach, in front of the Libadi Distributor in Pedasí, Panamá. It is the first left turn as you come into Pedasí town from Las Tablas. Our Pedasí office hours are 8 am – 5 pm, Monday through Friday.
Despite its rural location, Pedasí is a diverse place and its food prices are accordingly diverse depending on your preferences. A typical Panamanian lunch can cost you $2-3, while international grocery items can cost the same or more than they do in your home country.
General Information on Panama and the Azuero
Panama City is a cosmopolitan center (population about 1,200,000; population of the entire Republic is about 3,400,000) with good hotels, restaurants, department stores, pharmacies, theaters, etc. Prices are about on par with a U.S. city. Modern medical facilities are readily available. Both hospitals and clinics require cash payment. United States paper money is used in Panama, and US coins are interchangeable at equal value with those of Panama. English is widely understood in Panama City but not on the Azuero peninsula. A conversational knowledge of Spanish is very useful.
The climate on the Azuero Peninsula is strongly seasonal with a 5-month dry season (mid-December through May). The rains increase to a maximum in November and usually end in December. Seasonal sea surface temperature near Achotines ranges from 17 to 29° C and surface salinity from 29 to 34 ppt. In the dry season it is hot and in the wet season it is hot and humid. Sea conditions can range from calm to stormy and the surf is large enough at times to restrict vessel operations. Visibility for diving can range from a few feet to over 50 feet.
A few visitors have encountered irritation from mosquito and sand fly bites, rashes, fungal infections, and minor infections from scratching insect bites and from contact with coral. Stinging bees, wasps, spiders, scorpions, and ants are present; persons with a history of sensitivity to stings should bring appropriate medication. Malaria and Yellow Fever are absent from the Pedasí area but endemic in other parts of Panama (mostly in the Darien area). Dengue fever is a disease present in Panama, but cases in the Azuero region are rarely fatal. Footwear should be worn for protection against parasites. Shoes and clothing left on the ground should be checked for scorpions. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants can be useful for evenings near the beach as the sand flies can be abundant. At times there are stinging jellyfish in the local waters and as stingrays are found in the surf zone it is advisable to shuffle your way out on sandy beaches.