Driving in Panama
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Feb 18, 2013 6:09 AM Last Post By: ethelred
Dec 6, 2012 11:38 AM
Driving in PanamaWe normally prefer to take public transportation when we travel, but it's looking like it might make more sense to rent a car in Panama, given some of the places we'd like to go. We're from the U.S., and to be honest, we don't really love to drive in our own country, let alone in a place where we don't know the traffic rules and my Spanish is serviceable but far from perfect.
Thoughts about driving in Panama?
Dec 6, 2012 12:00 PM
1Thanks to the influences that having the Panama Canal brought the roads are quite good in Panama compared to some of its other neighbors. That means they are well constructed and for the most part well thought out with good signage and from what I have seen this alone improves the general driver. If I were to instruct someone to drive in central America I would have them start in Panama and then they could progress to the more challenging places. You will be fine. Take your time, be patient , don't speed.
Dec 6, 2012 2:36 PM
Dec 7, 2012 6:42 AM
3I agree with #1, roads in Panama are good in comparison to other countries in Central America.Besides the main highways, many secondary roads are also paved and in good shape.
Rules are enforced, so don't speed, wear your seat belt and don't drive (pass only) in the passing lane on the Pan American highway. Also take out full insurance and stay with your vehicle if you have been involved in an accident.
Driving in Panama City is an experience, don't get excited if someone honks their horn at you. Honking is their way to notify you of many things.
Get a good map and enjoy yourself . Driving yourself allows freedom and will make your trip far more enjoyable.
Dec 7, 2012 11:22 AM
Dec 9, 2012 8:51 PM
5Traffic rules in Panama City:
- when traffic lights are changing to red, that means go faster to get through;
- if at a junction, the exit is blocked by traffic, move forward as far as you can, even if that blocks the route for traffic in another direction
- if your crossing of a junction is blocked by traffic, you can move forward once there is psace, even if the lights are red against you
- watch out for buses or taxis stopping without warning
- watch out for vehicles changing lanes without indicating
Jan 16, 2013 8:04 AM
6We found that the driving itself was not difficult. Well, except one time in the hills above Boquete when we encountered a huge construction truck facing us on a one-lane road. We had to back up quite a way on a curvy road to find a place to get off the road. But what with the full insurance, which everyone told us to get, it was extremely expensive--$335 for just 6 days. We could have taken a lot of taxis for that amount, and probably should have, even though it was convenient to have the car.
Jan 16, 2013 10:11 AM
7That's not expensive. On my last trip to Miami, I had to pay more than that !
Feb 18, 2013 6:09 AM
8Thanks, all! We decided to take the plunge and rent a car, so we reserved a car with Thrifty and will plan on paying for full insurance just in case. For our two days in Panama City, we'll ditch the car and take taxis... definitely don't want to drive in the city.
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