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Help with Itinery/transportation decisions?

Miami, FL
2 posts
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Help with Itinery/transportation decisions?

I booked a trip for my bf and I to Panama City, from Thurs Mar 18 - Mon Mar 22 . . . we're arriving at 1:15am on the 18th, and departing at midnight on the 22nd, so just about 5 full days.

We've both never been there before, and I know for sure we'll want to do the obligatory Locks trip, and trek around El Valle for a day. The BF loves loves coffee, and I saw the Boquete would be a great place to visit, but gosh a plane ticket would run about $400 for us just to spend the day orso out there! I've considered doing a 1 way flight and 1 way rental car, but that's about the same cost, as the rental companies tack a $180 fee for the drop-charge of the car. The bus sounds like a kind of option, but would it really be that comfortable if we did an overnight?

I bought my tickets from Spirit, and got a pretty decent deal on them, and don't want to go overboard on the trip with the given economy, but also want to be able to maximize the trip.

Can anyone recommend if there are closer coffee plantations for us to visit? Or if I should take the bus? Or if I should just get a rental car from Panama City and drive to and from Boquete? How far is the drive from El Valle to Boquete? I can't even get mapquest to map out the drive

What I've kinda sketched so far was (with rental car):

1.5 days in Panama City,

1.5 in El Valle,

1.5 in Boquete

last day return to Panama City.

Is this reasonable? Or can anyone recommend a better itinery? Help, please?!!

Panama City, Panama
Destination Expert
for Panama
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1,971 posts
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1. Re: Help with Itinery/transportation decisions?

If you want to see coffee farms the Boquete is the only place - if you go to Boquete you really don't need to go to El Valle.

The drive to Boquete is about 6 hours (I have done it in 5-1/2 but then I really know the road and where the police like to set up their radar traps!!!!)

It's not a bad drive so if you did 2 days in Panama City, left no later than noon you could be in Boquete before dark - heaps of options for places to stay at all price levels.

then drive back - if you wanted to stop along the way you could spend the night at Las Lajas - for a bit of beach time - leave Boquete early morning and have most of the day on the beach - www.laslajasbeachresort.com - decent option.

Hope this helps


Medellin, Colombia
Destination Expert
for Panama City
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3,842 posts
99 reviews
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2. Re: Help with Itinery/transportation decisions?

Andrew's advice will work, but just to add, when he makes it to Boquete in 5.5 hours he is driving prety hard. I can make it to David, about 30 minutes from Boquete in 5 hours but that is with one quick stop at the McDonalds in Santiago, you won't have time to site see in between. Also if you are unfamilar with Panama, just getting out of the city can be a bit of an adventure.

My suggestion - unless you fly don't go, you will spend almost 2 days driving and you only have 5. Rent a car and go to El Valle and Santa Clara and maybe check out Portobello & Fort San Lorenzo on the Atlantic side. with the new highway finished it is an easy trip/

New York City, New...
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3. Re: Help with Itinery/transportation decisions?


would you recommend a reliable and inexpensive car rental agency in Panama City?

Thank you,


Miami, FL
2 posts
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4. Re: Help with Itinery/transportation decisions?

Thanks Andy and CDY!

Hmmmm .. . decisions decisions. .. I tried toying with the idea of flying into David, and then just renting a car and driving back to Panama City, but the drop charge is $180 (there's no way of getting around this one right?).. .. may as well just fly back and forth in that matter. . . but such a waste of $400 for a day orso of flying!

Can you tell me how far is El Valle from Boquete? I'm so lost - I can't even get google maps or map quest to map out the directions for me!

I figured we'd only need a day n a half orso in Panama City. . . Boquete just sounds really interesting, as my boyfriend is a coffee fanatic.. . lol, but El Valle seems pretty neat as well with the hiking and mud baths! .. . .*sigh* and we "have" to do the obligatory panama canal. . .. .

Chicago, IL
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14 reviews
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5. Re: Help with Itinery/transportation decisions?

My wife and I just got back from 2 weeks in Panama. We drove from PC to Pedasi then Pedasi to Boquete and agree with the time +-. We hit a horrendous rain storm in Veragus, so the trip was made longer-you are in the dry season so it may not be an issue. The roads are pretty good, but they are not US quality highway if that is what you are picturing. You do go through small towns, often the routes are unmarked-particularly if there is a detour.

The coffee is really good in Boquete-I think as good if not better than Blue Mountain. We had a great stay in Boquete-recommend Villa Marita, then got a private driver to drive us to Bocas (airlines cancelled flight) for $100. The road is absolutely terrible-washed out on Caribbean side-like driving through a road project.

Most of the car rental agencies are about the same price. I used NU (Continental) and got a car with 70,000 km and four nearly bald tires-so, again, this is not a US standard that you may be looking for. The car did make it with only a couple of flats!

All this being said, even with Boquete being our favorite place in Panama, given the limited time and ease of travel, El Valle and the Pacific beaches maybe the "sane" solution given the time and the need to be back in time for your return fight.

Depending on how intense you tour, you can hit Panama Vieja, Casco Viejo and the Miraflores Locks easily in a day. My wife and I are city dwellers so we wanted to spend most of the time in nature, hence the perspective. We enjoyed the view from the top of Cerro Ancon and liked staying at LaEstancia.

Hope this is helpful-it is a beautiful country with very friendly people.

6. Re: Help with Itinery/transportation decisions?

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