I already did many border crossings, but this one was by far the worst one—border crossing from Costa Rica to Panama. Long waiting time, flight ticket to country of residence, 500 USD in cash, or proof that you have enough money in your bank account as well as a $7 tax document required.
It costs 57.75 USD and is supposed to take about 15 hours. We check-in 45 minutes before departure and leave San José on time.
The bus is quite comfortable, and I manage to fall asleep very quickly. In no time, we arrive at the border, more precisely at 4.30 am.
The bus driver asks us to leave the bus, and we walk to the passport office. We are the only ones there, and it should go very fast.
It should …. until we find out that the office does not open before 6 am. The bus driver did not say anything and left meanwhile to the Panama border.
We have to wait outside in the dark. At least it is warm, but there is really nothing to do.
The office opens at 6 am, and I finally get my stamp. Now we have to walk 500m to the Panama border. Waiting in line again.
After 30 minutes, it is my turn. I forward my passport, and the border official asks for a flight ticket to my county of residence and 500 USD in cash.
It is a new law, and they are really checking it! Alternatively, it is possible to show a credit card or any other proof that you have enough money. They only accept USD.
Additionally, tourists have to pay $7 exit tax in advance at a Bancredito office. You have to show proof at the immigration office!
Finally, everyone on the bus got his stamp. So we are ready to go!? … I wish. We have to go with all our luggage to a small room where the border officials check all bags one by one.
It is almost 8.30 am when we can finally continue our trip to Panama City. It was super tiring, and I only want to sleep.
After a few kilometers, the bus stops in front of Mc Donalds. Free Big Mac for everyone as compensation for this nightmare.
It is 4.30 pm when we arrive in Panama City. The whole trip took in the end 17.5 hours!
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