Panama border crossings


Costa Rica – Panama border crossing

What do you need?


》Extra dollars to pay for your follow-up trip (dollar is the currency in Panama)

Helpful to know:

At practically every border crossing you will find many pulperias, small stores, where you can buy soda and snacks. And often you can easily exchange money with the people walking around there, as there are very few border crossings with an ATM/ cash machine. Check in advance what the current exchange rate is, then you can negotiate with that.

Panama has 2 land border crossings with Costa Rica. One on the southern side of the country near David (Paso Canoas) and one on the Caribbean side (Sixaola). You can cross the border on an organized shuttle from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to Bocas del Toro, for example. But you can also make it very easy to cross the border by land yourself. From Puerto Viejo de Talamanca you can cross the border very easily. By shuttle, for all convenience and that costs around €35 (even if you are coming from Panama). But easy cost cutting can be done by taking the buses yourself. From Puerto Viejo de Talamanca take the bus to Sixaola, which goes at 40 minutes past whole and once an hour. But be sure to check the times on the schedule that almost every hotel has on display or ask about it, because the times are still sometimes changed. The bus takes over an hour to Sixaola and costs 2010 colones/€3. You pay on the bus and arrive at the border (Sixaola) a few 100 meters away. If you go to Bocas del Toro, chances are several men on the Costa Rica side of the border will be willing to offer you a ride in a shuttle to Almirante or help you with the process. It is advisable to politely decline them. It all speaks for itself.

First you pass a few stores and then a tax office. This is where you pay your exit fee of $9. If you pay with via the QR code below you will pay $8. You will be given a receipt. Then you continue walking towards the bridge and arrive at the migration office of Costa Rica. There you show your receipt and your passport. After getting your stamp, you can walk across the bridge and thus cross the border into Panama.

On the Panama side of the bridge, walk to the left where you will find the Migration Office of Panama. You’ll need your passport, vaccination proof and they want to know when you’re leaving the country. However, you do not need to show this. After getting your stamp, you can continue on your way.

If you are in Panama and want to go to Bocas del Toro/David, you have to go to Terminal Changuinola (bus station, 11 km away). This can be done by (shared cab) and costs about $2.50 per person, depending on how many people are going. Then transfer to the bus to Almirante, for about $4. In Almirante, take a cab to the port for $1 (5 minutes) per person. From there, take the boat to Bocas (Bocas Town, Colón) from one of the providers for $6. For David, transfer at the Almirante bus station to the bus to David (4.5 hours, $10).

On the Panama side of the border, people from (among others) Caribe shuttle are also waiting. There were 4 of us in the end and we were able to get a deal for $14 per person, which included a bus to Almirante and the boat to Bocas del Toro. Almost as expensive, but faster and easier. Both options, shuttle and public transport, are doable, so be sure to see what is convenient at the time. From the border to Almirante/the port takes about an hour.

Border crossing Colombia – Panama

What do you need?


》Vaccination certificate (Covid-19)

》Copy of your photo page of your passport if you are crossing the border by sea.

Helpful to know:

Panama and Colombia are connected by land, but it is not possible to cross the border by land. To still travel from Colombia to Panama or visa versa are 2 options. You can travel from Colombia to Panama by plane or by (sailing) boat.

The first option is pretty straightforward. The only thing you need besides your passport when you enter Panama is your (Covid-19) vaccination certificate. As soon as you arrive at the airport in Panama, anywhere, it is advisable to immediately withdraw some cash at the airport. This makes it easier to travel directly on by cab or public transport. In Panama, the currency is Balboa, which is also equivalent to the USA Dollar.

Traveling by sea to Panama from Colombia is a very common option. Not only common, it’s also the coolest border crossing you’re likely to experience. Your trip begins with a crossing of the open sea and will end with several days of island hopping through the tropical San Blas Islands. Then the trip ends in Panama City where you can continue your journey.

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