After spending a couple of weeks in Panama’s capital city, I was desperate to escape to the countryside. Cue the small mountain town of Boquete. Getting from Panama City to Boquete may seem a bit complicated but once you know what you’re doing, the journey becomes easy.
A paradise for hikers, wildlife enthusiasts and those who want to enjoy a slower pace of life, Boquete has plenty to offer intrepid travellers! However, the lack of tourism infrastructure across the country can leave visitors confused when it comes to getting from A to B.
Never fear! I’ll share exactly how you can get from Panama City to Boquete, no matter your budget.
Read more: (opens in new tab)
- Best Things to Do in Boquete, Panama
- Where to Stay in Panama City, Panama
- Free and Inexpensive Things to Do in Panama City
A Guide to Getting from Panama City to Boquete, Panama (And Back!)
Panama City to Boquete Map
Flying to Boquete from Panama City
The distance between Panama City and Boquete is around 296 miles (476km). This means that the quickest way to get there is by flying. Boquete doesn’t have its own airport, so if you want to fly, you’ll have to search for flights from Panama City, either departing from Tocumen International Airport (PTY) or Albrook International Airport (PAC) to David (DAV). Copa Airlines and Air Panama both service flights from Panama City to David.
The flight takes around an hour and costs somewhere in the region of approx. $75-100USD, depending on when you book. Once you arrive at the airport in David, you’ll then need to make your way to Boquete.
There are two ways that you can do this:
- Head to the bus station in David and pick up one of the buses that goes to Boquete. These leave roughly every 25 minutes and the journey takes between 45 minutes and an hour. You’ll pay a little less than approx. $2USD per person for the bus. This payment will be taken on board in cash. You don’t need an advance ticket.
- The second option is to take a taxi from David Airport, also known as Enrique Malek International Airport. There is a taxi rank there and the journey to Boquete should cost somewhere between $30-45USD.
Bus from Panama City to Boquete
TLDR: Panama City Albrook Bus Terminal -> Bus to David -> Bus to Boquete
The most cost-efficient way to travel to Boquete from Panama City is to take the bus. This departs from the Albrook bus terminal and you don’t need to book in advance. As there is no direct bus to Boquete, you will need to buy a ticket to David and then transfer onto a bus heading to Boquete when you arrive.
To catch a bus from the Albrook bus terminal, you must have a public transport card. You will need this card to get through the metal barriers and access the departure area. You can get these from the machines dotted around the station and they cost approximately $2USD each. Once you have purchased the card, you must load it with credit.
You can do this using one of the machines inside Albrook station. If you are travelling as a couple, you will be pleased to know that you can both use the same card. Each tap through the barriers costs around $0.25USD and the same card can be used on public transport around the city, including on the metro system.
To get your bus ticket for David, head to the correct window. (This has changed since my visit. it’s now B-28 – thanks for the update Marie!). The departure times are usually displayed in the window and unless you state otherwise, they’ll sell you a ticket for the next bus. Prices for this service vary.
I paid around $15USD for my ticket to David in 2022 but I have seen prices online quoting up to $25USD. The price varies depending on whether you are booked onto an express service. Budget more money for the ticket just in case. If you’ve done this route recently and the price has changed, please leave a comment below!
The ticket will include the departure time, gate and seat number. You will need to keep hold of this. If you are travelling with a large bag, make sure you get this put under the bus. There will usually be somebody from the bus company loading bags. In exchange for your bag, they will give you a pink ticket. The other half of this ticket will be attached to your bag. Keep this safe, you’ll need it to retrieve your bag when you arrive in David.
The journey to David takes approx. 7 hours and there is usually a rest stop en route. This is a good place to restock snacks and travel sickness pills (if necessary). You can also use the toilet here.
Once you arrive at David, collect your bag and head around to the back of the station. You will likely have to ignore a few persistent taxi drivers on the way! Continue to walk past the bays until you find the one for Boquete. If you’re confused, you can always ask a local to help you. “Sabes dónde está el bus para Boquete por favor?”
Buses leave for Boquete from David roughly every 25 minutes or so. The journey takes around an hour and the price is less than $2USD per person. You don’t need an advance ticket, the money will be collected in cash once you are on the bus. Even if the bus you catch to Boquete is small, there is usually the option to store bags underneath. Simply ask the driver or the assistant to help you. The bus will drop you in the centre of Boquete Town.
Tips for Travelling from Panama City to Boquete by Bus
- Recline your seat before the other passengers get on. It can be a bit cringe to recline your seat when there is already someone behind you, take the opportunity to do so before they arrive.
- Keep a light jacket in your bag. The air conditioning on Central and South American buses is a source of pride and the drivers will keep it on, even when temperatures have dropped well below what is comfortable.
- Prepare for constant interruptions by street vendors. People will board the bus constantly in an attempt to sell you stuff. Don’t dismiss them all though, some of these snacks are delicious! Dulce de leche churros should not be missed!
- If you get travel sick, pick up some pills beforehand. The Panamanians are known for their aggressive driving.
- Make sure you know where your Boquete accommodation is and track your journey on a map. This means you can get off the bus closer to your destination.
Returning from Boquete to Panama City
If your time in Boquete is over and you need to return to Panama City, you can catch a bus to David from the north side of the main plaza. These depart regularly throughout the day. Once you arrive in David, transfer onto a bus for Panama City. The prices should be roughly the same in this direction.
In my opinion, Boquete is an essential stop on any Panama itinerary. While the transport options aren’t the smoothest, this how-to-guide on getting from Panama City to Boquete should demystify the process of travelling across the country and allow you to explore this incredible destination for yourself!
Have you travelled from Panama City to Boquete? Let me know your experience in the comments below!