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How to travel from San Jose, Costa Rica to Panama City, Panama

Panama City is yet another worthwhile destination where you can travel from San Jose, Costa Rica. Different means of transportation make going to Panama City from San Jose easy.

San Jose’s strategic location gives it access to nearby countries such as Nicaragua and Panama. Good thing these countries are efficiently connected by bus routes, shuttle services, highways, and airways.

Here you can find more information about Costa Rica transportation.

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How far is Panama City, Panama, from San Jose?

The distance between San Jose, Costa Rica, to Panama City, Panama, is 531.6 miles or 855.5 kilometers. 

Transportation Options from San Jose to Panama City

The following table outlines all transportation options from San Jose to Panama City:

MethodTravel timePrice
Bus from San Jose to Panama City16 hoursUSD 85-USD 115.50
Shared Shuttle from San Jose to Panama City10 hoursUSD 78
Private Transfer from San Jose to Panama City13 hoursUSD 750
Flight from San Jose to Panama City1 hour 18 minutesUSD 108-USD 162
Rental Car13 hours

Getting to Panama City, Panama, from San Jose

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1. Bus from San Jose to Panama City, Panama

Journey Duration: 16 hours

A direct bus trip connects these two cities, making this option both convenient and budget-efficient.

You can take a Tica Bus from the San Jose terminal by bus from San Jose to Panama City. A tourist-class ticket costs 85 USD, while the executive class costs 115.50 USD.

The differences between the two are in the trip timings and inclusive meals. Other than these, you are to board the same type of bus.

The bus trip from San Jose to Panama City takes sixteen hours. You will be transported from terminal to terminal, so it is best to research how to get from the main bus terminal in Panama to your final destination. 

Get your documents ready as you will be crossing borders for this trip. 

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GuateGo

On GuateGo, you can check all available transportation options in Costa Rica. It is a reliable and easy-to-use platform to compare prices & schedules and make a booking online.

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2. Shared Van Shuttle

Journey Duration: 10 hours

No known transport companies offer shared shuttle services straight from San Jose, Costa Rica, to Panama City, Panama. If you are keen on using this mode of transportation, you can ride Caribe Shuttle from San Jose to Bocas del Toro. This travel leg costs 78 USD and will run for ten hours. 

We recommend staying a few nights at Bocas del Toro before heading out again. It is a tourist destination in itself, so accommodations and activities to do are numerous.

From Bocas del Toro, you have to take a total of two buses and one water taxi. This route takes you to Almirante, David, and then to Panama City. In ten hours, you will reach the Albrook Bus Terminal.

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3. Private Transfer from San Jose to Panama City, Panama

Journey Duration: 13 hours

Interbus offers private transfers from San Jose to Panama City. Travel according to your schedule as the van picks you up at your hotel located in San Jose. The frequency of stops is in your hands, too, allowing you to enjoy the scenic view of Panama City more enjoyably.

The travel time from San Jose to Panama City via private shuttle is twelve hours. The total cost for this option is 750 USD for up to six passengers. This is the best option if you are traveling as a family or a group and cannot meet public transport demands regarding limited baggage and specific timings.

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4. San Jose to Panama City, Panama Flight

Journey Duration: 1 hour 18 minutes

You can book a flight from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) to Panama City Tocumen International (TCY) for a fare that ranges from 108 to 162 USD. Airlines such as Avianca and Copa have direct flights to Panama City. 

Traveling from San Jose to Panama City takes about one hour and 18 minutes by air. Of course, factor in the airport procedures you have to adhere to and add about two hours on top of that.

Booking a flight is undoubtedly the fastest way to travel between these two cities. Time efficiency comes with a cost, of course, so decide whether flying is the best option for you.

GuateGo

On GuateGo, you can check all available transportation options in Costa Rica. It is a reliable and easy-to-use platform to compare prices & schedules and make a booking online.

Looking For Transportation In Costa Rica?
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5. Driving from San Jose to Panama City

Journey Duration: 13 hours

If you have a private vehicle in San Jose, you can drive to Panama City, passing by the Paso Canoas border. The travel time to the Panama border is about five hours.

Aside from your personal documents, you will need an exit permit to bring your car onwards. Obtaining a permit entails securing some papers before your long drive.

The requirements include the vehicle exit permit, the vehicle title, the certificate of corporate standing if a corporation owns it, and a Power of Attorney should you not be on the list of legal representatives. Upon presenting these papers, you will have to purchase Panama vehicle insurance.

From the border, it is still a seven-hour drive to Panama City. You can choose to drop by places like the city of David to have a break. 

Unfortunately, you cannot easily take a rented car from one country to another as you will be crossing borders.

Best day tours in Panama City, Panama

Book Your Tour With Get Your Guide

Get Your Guide helps you find the best tours wherever you are heading to. It’s usually the first website I check when I plan a trip to a new place.

The following widget shows some of the best tours in Panama City, Panama.

Protect your trip: With all our travel experience, we highly recommend you hit the road with travel insurance. SafetyWing offers flexible & reliable Digital Nomads Travel Medical Insurance at just a third of the price of similar competitor plans.