Trip To Panama City from David

We drove to Panama City for the holidays. I drove to the Bridge of the Americas in Panama City and then turned the driving over to a more accomplished and experienced resident. Following are a few photos that will provide a small taste of the drive. Most of the photos were taken beginning at the bridge, since I was no longer driving.

The following photo is representative of the highway between David and Santiago. For the most part, it was in very good shape. You always have to be alert for small ruptures in the highway, but I didn’t see any that would have punctured a tire between David and Santiago.

Since I was driving, I only took two photos of the drive to PC. The next photo is after you leave Santiago. The highway is two-lane from David to Santiago and becomes four-lane from Santiago to Panama City.

One thing that I didn’t get a photo of that I intended to take was of the munecas that were were along the road. The munecas resemble scarecrows. Some are made to resemble public figures such as George Bush or Martin Torrejos. On New Years’ Eve at midnight the munecas will be set afire. At least that is what I understand. I saw them on the way up and saw none on the trip back to David.

The drive to and from Panama City goes through many beautiful areas. I wish I could have taken a few photos, but one thing that the government does not spend money on is scenic exits for photo shots. The highway is very good in general, but if you have a flat and need to change a tire, there is none to little shoulder to accommodate your doing it.

I was a little surprised to see more problems with the road from Santiago to Panama City than from David to Santiago. Luckily, with a four-lane road you can move to the other lane when the lane you are in is too rough.

When we reached the Bridge of the Americas, I moved to the passenger seat. The following two photos are entering and on the Bridge of the Americas.

This is my first view of the city landscape.

Once over the bridge, you enter one of the poorer and more dangerous areas of Panama City. This is also where the majority of bombing during the US invasion took place. I understand that in many of these buildings, the plumbing fixtures have been ripped out and many of the building, the residents share one bathroom per floor. It is not a good idea to drive this area with the windows down and the doors unlocked. It is also not a good idea to get lost and need to stop and ask directions.

There is a double decker highway being built to ease the traffic situation. You can see the construction going on in the next photos.

The rest of the photos will get us deeper into the city. You will notice that there is a lot of construction going on. Land movers, cranes on skyscrapers.

I was wondering how the skyscraper cranes worked and came across this interesting video.

Well that is the photos I took on the trip to Panama City. Hope you enjoyed the ride.

45 thoughts on “Trip To Panama City from David

  1. Glad to know you made it safe back to David. Mom and I got back this morning from PC. We had a great time seeing family, friends, going out to eat, window-shopping, etc. but are definitely very happy to be back in David. When in PC, I drive but it is a stress-filled activity, specially when you want to park and there are no spaces available and if you do get a parking space, when you come back, you have the harrassment of the “bien cuidao” guys asking for their “tip”; the beggars, sellers and whomever you could imagine at the intersections; the constant honking and exhaust fumes from the “diablos rojos” buses, etc.
    It’s great to be back home in David!!

  2. Thanks for the pics Don. My wife and I are going to Panama from Cape Breton, N.S. in Feb. We are renting a vehicle at the airport and plan to drive to Boquete. I was in Panama about 5 years ago and found the driving tolerable but it sounds like it is getting worse.
    Is there a planned route map from the Tocumen airport to the interamerica hwy? Thanks, Dawn & Dan

  3. Hi Dan. I wish I could help, but I have never driven from Tocumen into the City. Maybe someone else will comment on how you get to the InterAmerican HWY from the airport.

  4. My wife and I will be in Farallon del Chiru in April and plan on driving to David to see the family with whom she stayed way back when she was an exchange student.

    Thanks for the road report. Do you have any more tips for the extranjero making this trip? Where to gas up, what to avoid, how to keep safe, etc.

  5. I don’t know where Farallon del Chiru is. There are plenty of places to fill up. Price goes up the farther west you get in Panama.

  6. Don Ray:
    The pictures on Avenida Balboa show some of the widening they are doing now. I am surprise you did not mention it. For your readers, you can get an idea of the project at this site:
    http://www.cintacostera.com.pa/
    Also, to get out of the airport to The Interamerican Hwy (roughly, remember I do not live in Panama anymore), you can take the VIa Aeropuerto toward Panama and get to the entance of the Corredor Sur (5 minutes maybe), and take the Corredor Sur toward Panama City (toll road in several areas) all the way to Paitilla (it ends there). Then take Avenida Balboa toward Panama, to the Cinco De Mayo area, go around the Legislative Palace and take the Avenida de los Martires towar d the Bridge (or west) which will take you to the Bridge of the Americas and to the interior (Pan American Hwy) Total time about 45 minute to 1 hour, more if going at Peak traffic times.
    Can also ask at the rental counter at the airport. they might have maps.
    I hope it helps. Maybe Mr Omar Upegui can check if this instructions are correct.
    Jaime^

  7. On my ‘scouting’ trip to Panama three years ago, I rented a car in PC to drive to Boquete. I was able to find the Interamerican highway by hiring a cab driver and paying him $5 in advance to lead me to the highway. Worked great and I made the drive to Boquete! I don’t drive in PC any more. (And now taking cabs seems to be an increasing danger.)

  8. Hi Fran. Thanks for taking the time to comment. The taxi idea still isn’t all that bad an idea. I always have a friend lead me out of the city.

  9. Just wanted to confirm Jaime’s directions from the Airport to the Interamerican Hwy. Although Jaime has not been in Panama for some years, his directions are accurate.

  10. Thank you all for the help. It is so nice to know there are people out there who want to share information to help others. Thanks again. Dawn & Dan

  11. Planning on visiting in March. Please give me more info on the increasing dangers of the “cabs” Also can you recommend a good cigar store in PC ? Thanks

  12. Hi DR – we concur with Jaime & Lilia – the Corredor Sur is the only way to get from Tocumen to PC and beyond. If you’re taking a taxi to a downtown hotel, the driver will probably say no because of the tolls, but assure him that you will pay the tolls (have change or small bills with you). It is quicker & safer…
    On a recent trip to PC from Chiriqui, we tried to plan a ‘stress-free’ trip by staying at an hotel at Amador – the first exit off the Puente de las Americas – parking the car and taking taxis from there. The best laid plans… that morning there was a serious accident on the approach to the Puente which was then closed for most of the day. We were re-routed to the other bridge and were 20 kms from our hotel. We were so-o-o-o-o lost and there is NO map in existence that will get you across the city and to Amador… We ultimately hired a taxi to guide us, which was the best $3 we ever spent.

  13. Hi Dan. Most cabs will be fine. If you are declaring money, your risk goes up. I have no info on cigar stores.

    Hi DSD. Forgot to have a plan “B”, or was the hired taxi driver plan “B”?

  14. For Dennis, Alaska:
    When in PC, for cigars, go to “Bodega Mi Amiga” located on Avenida Porras or also called Via Porras. You won’t go wrong! Although Bodega Mi Amiga is a liquor store, they have an excellent stock of both fine liquors and cigars.

  15. I have a very good friend who ocassionally enjoys a cigar. I have learned a lot about cigars through him. He explains that although Cuban cigars are (Cohiba, Partagas) very good, since cubans have emigrated to Latinamerican countries and followed the tradition, you can also fine very good cigars in Dominican Republic (they also have Partagas), in Nicaragua (Padrón) and in the Yucatàn Peninsula of Mexico (Hoyo). Even in Panama, you can also find a very good cigar at the entrance of Penonomé, there is a small store (COSTA) where a box of 25 cigars is approximately $80. Panamá exports tobacco leaves which are grown here in Sortová, Chiriquí.

    For myself, I believe that smoking is very bad for your health and second-hand smoking even worst.

  16. I knew there was a story there. I agree with you. I enjoy cigars more when they are smoked in adjoining country and not near me. 🙂

  17. Thanks for the input, I’ll try and not pollute your personal spaces !!
    DR what did you mean about declaring money ?? Thanks

  18. Hi,

    For the folks staying at the Decameron and planning to visit David if you would like to do the trip in a small plane rather than driving it will cut the trip down to about an hour. I have a small plane that I keep down the road at Chame and am down to Boquete to visit friends every now and again. There is an airstrip adjacent to the Decameron and for a share of the flying expenses you would be welcome to tag along. Please forward your contact info if you are interested.

    Allan

  19. We will be visiting from Alaska also. And in March!
    Can you recommend a hotel in Panama with a pool for a night, and what airlines fly to David?
    Thanks, Patty

  20. The airlines from Panama City to David are Air Panama and Aero Perlas. It has bee quite a while since I stayed in a PC hotel. I have stayed in the Granada and one down the street which was cheaper, but I have forgotten the name.

  21. Hi.
    Maybe someone can give me some advice on this. I’m thinking of adding three extra days onto my vacation in early April 2010, after a guided tour, so that I can see Boquete on my own. Is the direct route between PC and David worth taking the time to see by car? Is it possible to rent a car in PC and drop it off in David?
    On the other hand, maybe flying both ways and spending the extra day in Boquete is a better use of the time.

    Any insights or opinions on this will be appreciated. Thanks.

  22. If it were me, I would fly and rent a car in David. I think they try to chartge drop off fees and the 6/7 hours are a pain. You wind up driving into the sun part of the drive and if you drive at night, you better know the roads.

  23. Additional input, If you like the view of the country than a drive would add to your experience of Panama and all its beauty, however that same time could be better used in David and Volcan as well as Boquete. If you aren’t well versed on driving here or the roads I don’t recommend driving after dark to David as the road s are often under construction and the work areas don’t have reasonable safety mechanisms in place to warn the public and they are often an accident waiting to happen.

    One thing to keep in mind, your time line of April is going to be in the rainy season so that adds an additional layer of hazard to any driving you may undertake. For what it’s worth the best time to visit Panama is between January and March as the rain stops for a while. Late December early to mid January is better as things are still moist and green adding to the experience. One other thing don’t bring any $100 or $ 50 dollar bills as lots of venders in Panama don’t want to except them, this only causes hassle for one on a vacation.

    Good luck and your choice to Visit Panama is the right one, hotels and nice B&B’s in Volcan are reasonable and worth every penny, you wont be disappointed if you plan your trip wisely.

  24. All good advice AJ. However if one is coming to Panama to see if it would be a good place to live, then more time is needed as well as experiencing the rainy and dry seasons.

  25. Thank you Don and AJ.

    I’ll fly to David this trip and spend the extra time around Boquete and Volcan. On a later trip maybe I’ll do the drive to David and check out the Azuero Peninsula on the way.

    The tour that I’m taking was booked until the third week of March, which is what determined my travel dates. (I had hoped to go in February). So I’ll be in Chiriqui province during the first few days of April. My research indicates that to be the earliest part of the rainy season, so it shouldn’t be too bad. But it is Panama and rain is part of that experience – I’ll come prepared. And I’ll bring small denomination money (I hadn’t considered that).

    Thank you!

  26. We are going to Panama for 9 days in late January and want to do a lot of hiking. Any recommendations?

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