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Driving from San Jose, CR to Panama City, Panama

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Driving from San Jose, CR to Panama City, Panama

We're bunch of adventure freaks. We have a 2 week vacation next year and we plan to stay in CR for one week and drive down to Panama City, Panama for another week of vacation.

Is this a good idea? How long will it take? Is it safe? What about visas and other legal doc.?

We want to do this because we figure we can see much more than just flying. Any suggestions as to "must-see" spots?

Also, "must-see & do's" in both CR and Panama. We really enjoy the nature and beach activities. Any island trips that you might recommend? Thanks in advance~

Salt Lake City, Utah
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1. Re: Driving from San Jose, CR to Panama City, Panama

Are you renting a car? I don't think you'll be able to take a rental from one country to the other. You may want to take a bus or fly and then rent another car in Panama. If you have a car you can drive, it's a 10-12 hr. drive depending on how bad the border crossing is. The roads in Costa Rica are terrible.

Medellin, Colombia
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2. Re: Driving from San Jose, CR to Panama City, Panama

Don't even think about it., as tupai states you can't take a rental across the border.

I made the drive from San Jose to Golfito in June, it is about 30 kms for the Panama border, while on the map the drive does not look too bad, it is.

The problem is crossing the two mts in CR. Slow trucks, fast trucks, clouds, rain, one lane each way, construction delays, potholes you can lose a VW in, no guardrail or even shoulders in spots.

I drive a lot for work, all over the SE US, from Mts in Tn & carolinas to the crazies in Miami, nothing compares to driving those mts in CR.

It can be done but it takes 3 times as long as you would think.

I have done the drive 3 times, the last trip from Domincal to San Jose was in a rental that had its windshield wipers stop working going out of San Isidro heading up the MT, nothing I could do but keep going, through the rain and the clouds, it was a nightmare, but eventully made it.

Basically this is a long winded message to say FLY!

Rent a car in CR and explore(only drive during day) fly to Panama.

If you are just staying in PC area take taxis, if you want to see countryside rent a car, Panama is much easier driving than CR once you get out of PC.

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3. Re: Driving from San Jose, CR to Panama City, Panama

Thanks a bunch guys!!!! BTW, how much does it cost to fly from CR to Panama?

Mount Pleasant...
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4. Re: Driving from San Jose, CR to Panama City, Panama

I'll tell you what I did for an adventure a couple 2 years ago and would be willing to answer any questions. I was living in Europe and flew to Panama first (via Miami) arriving late at night. A buddy and I spent 4 nights in Panama City and then flew to David to go White Water Rafting and see Boquete and the surrounding area. We stayed there for 3 nights and then hitched a ride to the border and crossed over into Costa Rica at Paso Canoas. We then grabbed a cab for the 45 minute ride to the closest airport and flew a little plane ($70 each) to San Jose. It was more like an air taxi as they were waiting for us (I called and told them we were on the way). We then spent 2 nights in San Jose, took a van to Playa Jaco and spent 4 nights there and 1 night in San Jose on the way out. Honestly it was more fun than I ever would have imagined. I'm sure you can do it in reverse if you like and the only thing I would have done differently is either bus or car for the trip from Panama City to David. Too much to see along the way.

Edwards, CO
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5. Re: Driving from San Jose, CR to Panama City, Panama

My wife and I are wanting to do the same trip next March but only to David/Boquete where I have family. We are still trying to figure out the whole transportation thing, though. We really want to drive it ourselves but as we've discovered here, you can't take a rental across the border.

As far as must do and see, I'm only going to say you have to go into the Chiriqui highlands. Volcan and Boquete are absolutely beautiful. In Boquete I can personally recommend Boquete Garden Inn and the Kotowa Estate coffee tour. Also, taste something made from guanabana.


6. Re: Driving from San Jose, CR to Panama City, Panama

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