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Rent a car on a Sunday

Asheville, North...
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Rent a car on a Sunday

Hello, I will be arriving in Panama City late on a Saturday evening. From what I've read on these forums, it is best to avoid renting at Tocumen. I was planning to take a taxi to our hotel, then rent a car at Budget office near where we are staying in Multiplaza area, but now I am not sure they are open on weekends.

Since we are going to be spending time in Colon province and then coming back to Albrook to fly up to David, it seems like maybe it would be best to rent from an Albrook rental place.

Can anyone tell me if this seems reasonable and if so, a rental car agency in Albook area that would be open on Sunday?

Thank you.

- Les

Panama City, Panama
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1. Re: Rent a car on a Sunday

Don't know about the car rental. Where is the Budget office you mention ?

You say that you are staying near the Multiplaza. Note that the corner of Brasil and Israel is still in the middle of road works and is a mess. The only hotel I know in that area is the Courtyard which is caught up in the road works. Unless you have a reason for staying there, I suggest that you look elsewhere.

I use Dollar rental in Via Israel - their website says they are open Sundays. (But their Albrook office isn't).

Asheville, North...
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2. Re: Rent a car on a Sunday

Thanks for this information. Yes, we have reservations at Courtyard, partly because there is a Budget car rental place across the street, but when I went to book rental, I found out that location is not open Sundays. In fact, the only location open Sundays is Tocumen, and from these forums, it seems like that's not the best place to rent in terms of price and the fact you then have to drive more in the city.

Do you recommend another place to stay? We are not staying in PC on the front end of the trip for long - I was just hoping to take a taxi to a hotel the night we get in and then another short taxi ride to rent a car the next morning before heading out of the city.

I would like to avoid driving in the city as much as possible.

Panama City, Panama
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3. Re: Rent a car on a Sunday

I would have thought go for one of the places in El Cangrejo - which puts you closer to the roads out if you are heading north, or to Albrook.

Atlanta, Georgia...
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4. Re: Rent a car on a Sunday

On my most recent trip, my wife, two friends and I stayed at Torres de Alba. I rented twice with Dollar. They have an office next to the hotel on Ave. Eusebio Morales. Both experiences with Dollar were good. They were efficient, didn't try to force me into buying additional insurance and I had no trouble with the inspections. The second time, I picked up the car at Albrook (after returning from Bocas) and dropped it off at the Torres de Alba location, (after returning from El Valle). Most rental agencies have large drop off charges for any location other than where you pick up the car. Dollar didn't.

I would recommend you pick up your car from a downtown location near your hotel, but also on a route that is easy to get out of the city. I would also recommend asking the agency if you can drop the car off at Albrook without an additional charge.

I would also "ditto" beardo about avoiding the area around the Courtyard. Check out Torres de Alba or Toscana Inn. Both locations are close to rental car location and easy to get out of the city. If you'll let me know where you're staying and where you're picking up your car, I'll write directions for you. Where in Colón Province are you going?

Asheville, North...
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5. Re: Rent a car on a Sunday

I am able to cancel the reservation, so I will check out the other hotels you recommended, gb. Looks like the Dollar at Torres de Alba is open Sundays. I'll let you know where we get a reservation and really appreciate the offer to write directions.

Any problem with staying at Metro Mall area? That is where we are staying on the way back, a different courtyard, to be close to airport.

While in Colon province, we will base out of Shelter Bay. Maybe I should start a different thread to get advice on day trips from there.

Thank you all for the advice on Multiplaza area construction.

- les

Panama City, Panama
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6. Re: Rent a car on a Sunday

There's lots of hotels in the El Cangrejo area.

Metro Mall - every time I go near there, the traffic is atrocious. (That's why you need the corredor sur - to avoid that area !) Especially on a Sunday.

There were a couple of threads not too long ago with some detailed suggestions about things to do from Colon area - the forts and Portobelo etc

- Beardo

Edited: 17 February 2013, 19:30
Asheville, North...
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7. Re: Rent a car on a Sunday

I have taken the advice of Beardo and gb_williams, and changed my reservation when we arrive to the El Cangrejo area - after looking at several hotels, went with Torres de Alba.

However, I haven't reserved a car yet because no one answered the reservation line at Dollar yesterday and they don't have online booking. Is it best to reserve by phone or does anyone know a reliable and secure online reservation option?

For the return trip, unfortunately, I could not change the Metro Mall area reservation, as it was non-refundable. Would you recommend dropping the car on the way in and taking a taxi or attempting to drive to hotel at Metro Mall and on to Tocumen for drop off? In other words, just how bad is the traffic?

Atlanta, Georgia...
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8. Re: Rent a car on a Sunday

You can reserve online with Dollar. Look up locations and select the Hotel Panama location. That is on Ave. Eusebio Morales, next door to Torres de Alba. They were very good about letting me drop off the car at another location. Actually, I picked it up at Albrook and dropped it off on Eusebio Morales.

Here are the directions from Torres de Alba: continue on Eusebio Morales. It will curve to the right and you'll go past Restaurante Martin Fierro and El Granada Hotel on the right. Go right on Via España. Past the Hotel Continental (on your left) at the intersection where you'll see the white cathedral on your right, turn left onto Ave. Frederico Boyd. This will dead end at Ave. Balboa and Cinta Costera. Go right on Ave. Balboa/Cinta Costera.

You will need to make your way left to Cinta Costera -- the main road. Watch the signs for Ave. de los Martires and Puente de las Americas. Cinta Costera will make an "S" -- right, then left -- as it becomes Avenida de los Martires.

Watch the signs for Corredor Norte/Albrook/Miraflores. You'll exit right. Corredor Norte will continue right, but don't take it. You'll see Albrook's runway ahead of you and a very big traffic circle. Go left around the traffic circle and exit right onto Ave. Omar Torrijos. (You can also follow the small signs toward the airport.)

When you're on Ave. Omar Torrijos, you'll stay on it, going past Albrook (Gelabert) Airport ... past Clayton (Ciudad de Saber) ... past the locks of Miraflores and Pedro Miguel. The next intersection will be to Puente Centenario and Arraiján -- don't take it. Keep following the signs to Colón. You'll go past the turn off to Soberanía and Gamboa and now you're on the Madden Dam Road. This is a very beautiful stretch, taking you through virgin jungle. This is how it looked during the time of the conquistadores and Henry Morgan. Follow the signs to Colón and Autopista. You'll exit off this road and go onto the toll road to Colón.

If, by Shelter Bay, you mean Shelter Bay Marina -- that in the old Fort Sherman area, on the west side of the Panama Canal and Gatun Locks. To get there, continue heading for Colón, past Sabanitas (the turn off to go to Portobelo). After a few miles, you'll see the the main road is about to go up an overpass. You want to get into the right far right lane, here. Do not go on the overpass. This goes into Colón, which you will absolutely want to avoid. Instead, go under the over pass and turn left at the intersection. This will take you to the locks at Gatun. You'll cross Canal at the mouth of the locks. Just past the locks will be the a road to the right taking you to Shelter Bay Marina.

If you do find yourself heading into Colón, don't panic. The huge warehouses on your right are the Free Trade Zone. You'll be able to pull off to your right (or left) and turn around. Just go under the overpass and bear right.

This overpass area is a mess of new construction, so the roads may not be exactly as described. The points being: A, don't to into Colón; B, head for Gatun.

Panama City, Panama
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9. Re: Rent a car on a Sunday

That seems a convoluted way, gb - why not head north on the corredor norte or Tumba Muerte - and pick up the Colon highway directly ? Or if you do want to go past the Miraflores locks, pick up the corredor norte in the other direction, straight across to Albrook. - rather than get caught in the mess of roadworks on the Ave. de los Martires.

Atlanta, Georgia...
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10. Re: Rent a car on a Sunday

Why Cinta Costera? Because it's a heckuva lot easier to navigate. Trying to get to Corredor Norte, there are no signs. The traffic is horrible. The construction on Martires doesn't cause you to make detours (unless that has changed recently) whereas the construction at the Corredor Norte interchanges does cause you to take detours on unmarked streets. Yes, this is a longer route, but it's an easier route. And, if you're returning the car to Albrook, it's far easier to "backtrack" this way than to take a complete new route from Corredor Norte to Albrook.

Edited: 19 February 2013, 13:18