Without any real train infrastructure, buses are the primary way that most Panamanians — and many travelers — get around. The buses run frequently and are cheap enough, but if you have a few more dollars to spend you may want to make your travel a little easier. The Hello Travel bus shuttle company makes a good alternative to going it alone. For the extra cost, they can also make getting around Panama a little less stressful.
They have regular air-conditioned shuttle services to and from the more popular destinations, including:
♦ Boquete to Bocas del Toro
♦ Boquete to Santa Catalina
♦ Bocas to Puerto Viejo (Costa Rica)
♦ Bocas to San Jose (Costa Rica)
♦ Boquete to ‘Lost and Found’ (backpackers jungle hostel in Chiriqui)
The cost is in the $30-$40 range for trips within Panama, and a little extra for trips to and from Costa Rica.
We took their shuttle from Santa Catalina to David for $30 per person. The shuttle vans take small groups of around 12 to 20 people, and can be a little cramped when full (which they usually are). All luggage and backpacks are secured safely on the roof, with a tarpaulin cover.
They depart/terminate in central locations in town, and make regular bathroom breaks.
Of course, if you just take the standard Panamanian buses you’ll pay half the price.
We tried both, and found the Panamanian buses to be just fine, and certainly no more crowded than the Hello Travel shuttles.
In any case, their shuttle buses don’t travel to many of the places you might want to visit, such as Boca Chica for instance. For these other destinations, you have no option but to take a local bus – or a taxi if you’re really flush.
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