Sometimes it seems Panama has more taxis than mangos. Sometimes, if it is raining at knockoff time, it seems there are no taxis at all. In Panama City fares are based on a zoning system. A cabbie must show you his zoned map of the city if you challenge his charge. If you have a bunch of places to visit around town, the easy way is to hire a cab by the hour, negotiable. Prices differ between small taxis and large taxis. Between Tocumen Airport and Panama City’s hotels the official rate is $10.00 a person if you share the cab with up to four others, $ 14.00 if you share with one other person, or $25.00 if you want the vehicle to yourself.
A new service is being offered now in Panama which makes calling a taxi as easy as clicking on your smart phone. Two companies offer the service. Easy Taxi, Tel. 225-936 (easytaxi.com.pa) and Tuchofer (Tuchofer.com). Both have Apps that can be downloaded from App Store or Google. From their GPS-enabled smart phones clients can call a cab and track its progress. Tuchofer will even accept credit cards.
INTERNATIONAL BUSES: Tica Bus departs from the Albrook Bus Terminal daily at 11:00 a.m. for San Jose, Costa Rica. Cost: $110 round trip. Tel: 314-6385. Round trip to Managua Nicaragua costs $190 and to Guatemala $306. Tel.: 314-6385.
To San Jose the bus costs about one fifth of the air fare, takes about 16 times as long.
BUSES TO THE INTERIOR Buses of all shapes and sizes orbit the nation in a tooting infinity of apogees and perigees. The interior, which in effect means all the country west of the Canal, is served by buses ranging from Greyhound quality, for the trunk route to David, to mini-buses which hop, skip and jump to and from between the beach resorts and about everywhere else. To stop the bus, yell “parada”.
Buses leave from the Gran Terminal at Albrook.
BUSES IN PANAMA CITY
A fleet of modern buses (Metrobus) dominates the streets nowadays. You can only pay with a card, available at Metro stations or the Albrook bus terminal. The same card can be used on the Metro.
Departs: Panama 7:15 a.m. Arrives Colón 8:15 a.m.
Departs: Colón 5:15 p.m. Arrives Panama 6:15 p.m
Panama’s new Metro has one line with 13 stops and takes 25 minutes to run from end to end. Users must purchase a multi-use, rechargeable card available at the Metro’s stations or can use their Metro bus cards. The card allows users to board the Metro buses and permits the holder to pay for the exit fee at the Albrook Bus Terminal.
Visitors who ride the Metro train should consider stopping at Via Argentina for its restaurants and bars, Iglesia del Carmen to see the landmark church, and Albrook Mall, the end/start of the line, where an elevated walking path leads to the largest mall in Central America. For more details, visit http://www.elmetrodepanama.com.
LAUNCHES TO TABOGA / CONTADORA
Taboga – Calypso Queen 314-1730 / 314-1729.
Contadora y Saboga – Sea Las Perlas 391-1424.
Contadora y Viveros – Ferry Las Perlas 6200-0080
Airlines with schedule passenger flights
Tocumen International Airport Tel 238-2700.
- Air France – France 237-2700
- Air Canada – 238-2700
- American Airlines -North America 269-6022
- Aruba Airlines – Caribbean 396-7127
- Avianca/Taca – Central & South America, Miami 206-8222
- Avior – South America 238-4605
- Air Transat – Canada 238-3801
- Condor – Gemany 238-2700
- Conviasa – South America 238-2700
- Copa Airlines – North, Central, South America 217-2672
- Delta Airlines – North America 214-8123
- Iberia – Spain 217-9900
- KLM – Holland 340-5849
- Spirit Airlines – North America 238-3840
- Santa Barbara Airlines – South America 238-2700
- Tap – Portugal 238-2700
Panama Pacifico Airport Tel: 316 1567 (former Howard Airforce Base)
Viva Colombia – Colombia 316 1072
Marcus Gelabert Airport 501-9272
Air Panama – San Jose, Medellin 316-9000
Bocas Del Toro Airport 757 9289,
Nature Air – Costa Rica 757-7303
Domestic airlines fly from Marcos A. Gelabert Airport at Albrook with scheduled flights to all parts of the country. They also offer charter flights to any of the republic’s 150 or more airstrips.
AIR PANAMA: Tel.: 316-9000 Perlas lslands: Contadora, San Jose, San Bias: Corazon de Jesus, Achutupu, Playon Chico, Puerto Obaldia y Muletupo. Darien: Garachine, Sambu, Bahia Pinas, Jaque. Bucas del Toro, Changuinola, David, Pedasi
COPA AIRLINES - David 217-2672
AIRCRAFT & HELICOPTER CHARTER: Helicopteros Personales 315-1542.
SHOPS: Usually open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Malls are open later and on Sundays.
CURRENCY: The U.S. dollar. Panama’s own coins match U.S. coins in size and value, and are thus acceptable in casino slot machines.
LANGUAGE: Spanish is the language. English is widely spoken and understood in the cities.
English AA Meetings: 6614-1513 (Raúl). Meetings on Monday 8:00 p.m., Tuesday 7:00 p.m.,Wednesday 8:00 p.m. in Bld. 758, Calle Romulo Escobar Bethancourt, Balboa. http://www.aapanama.org
NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS - Information line, 24 horas, 6735-3030, http://www.napanama.org
Kiwanis Club: 232-6256 – Tuesday 12:30 p.m. in the Union Club.
Rotary Club: 226-2683 – Thursday 12:30 p.m. in the Union Club.
Club Activo 20-30: 270-2030 – Wednesday 8:30 p.m. in the Union Club.
CINEMA- Movies are in English with Spanish subtitles. Cost $4.00 per person.
DRIVERS LICENSE- Visitors can drive up to 90 days with a foreign driving license.
HOSPITALS- Panama has a number of very up-to-date hospitals the principals being Centro Médico Paitilla (tel. 265-8800), Clinica San Fernando (tel.305-6300), Hospital Nacional (tel. 207-8100) and Hospital Punta Pacífica (tel. 204-8000)
AMBULANCE SERVICE- Emi Panama 236-6060
ELECTRICITY- 110 volts; 60 cycles.
TIME ZONE- Eastern Stardard time. Daylight Saving Time is not observed in Panama.
CURRENCY EXCHANGE- Red Plus. In the banking area, Calle Manuel Maria Icaza, Torre Magna Corp, Ground Floor, Locale 2. Tel: 214-7720. http://www.gruporedplus.com
PANAMA NATIONAL HOLIDAYS
It is wise to be aware of Panama’s National Holidays when the whole country closes down and businesses and banks are closed. Most are fixed dates but Good Friday and Carnival vary each year since they are calculated from the date of Easter.
Jan 1 – New Year
Jan 9 – Martyr’s Day
Feb 17 – Carnival Tuesday
April 3 – Good Friday
May 1 – Labor Day
Nov 3 – Independence from Colombia
Nov 5 – First Cry of Independence (from Colombia) in Colon
Nov 10 – First Cry of Independence from Spain in Los Santos
Nov 28 – Independence from Spain
Dec 8 – Mothers’ Day
Dec 25 – Christmas Day
English only & Bilingual Schools in Panama
Knightsbridge Schools Int. Panama - Tel: 202-0877
Boston School International - Tel.: 833-8888 - http://www.bostonschool.edu.pa
King’s College - Tel.: 6378-4265 / 282-3300 - http://www.kingscollege.com.pa
Balboa Academy - Tel: 302 0035 - http://www.balboaacademy.org
International School of Panama - Tel:293 3000 - http://www.isp.edu.pa
Metropolitan School of Panama - Tel: 317 1130 - http://www.themetropolitanschool.com
Crossroads Christian Academy - Tel: 317 9774 - http://www.ccapanama.org
French School of Panama - Tel:316 2270 - http://www.ifpanama.com
Colegio Episcopal de Panama - Tel: 223 4836 - http://www.cep.edu.pa
Colegio St Mary - Tel: 315 0724 - http://www.stmarypa.com
Academia Interamericana - Tel: 271 0012 – http://www.aip.edu.pa
Oxford School - Tel.: 265-6422 - http://www.ois.edu.pa
PACIFIC BEACH AREA
Panama Coast International School - 6786-0854 - http://www.panamacoastinternationalschool.com