We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Travelling with family and need transfers

Which Panama City hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Chilliwack, BC
Level Contributor
11 posts
20 reviews
Save Topic
Travelling with family and need transfers

I will be travelling to Panama with my husband and three young kids for two weeks at the start of July. We will be staying at the Sheraton Bijao AI and wonder the best solution in getting from the airport to the resort, then getting transfers back to Panama City for a day (or half day) tour of the city, before going to the Sheraton Four Points in Panama City. Any thoughts on a good tour company that can accommodate the five of us with these requirements, or is it easy/safe enough to bring along the GPS and rent a car.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Level Contributor
51 posts
30 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Travelling with family and need transfers

We recently returned from a family trip to Panama. We used Rudy's tours for transfers from the airport and also arranged 2 tours with him. We were happy with the service.

Panama City, Panama
Level Contributor
2 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Travelling with family and need transfers

Hola

You can do both. Either have a private car for your family or rent a car. It takes from Tocumen to Sheraton Bijao aproximately 02hrs....it will be more confortable to have someone to take care of it.

How old are your children? They are alot of tour choices for the whole family (Rainforest, Boat ride, wildlife, history, etc) waiting for you.

Atlanta, Georgia...
Destination Expert
for Colon, Isla Grande, Portobelo
Level Contributor
4,548 posts
18 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Travelling with family and need transfers

Do not attempt to get around Panama City with a GPS. For a number of reasons: US GPS doesn't work in Panama ... you have to get it programmed for Panama. 2) GPS can't keep track of the construction detours (of which there are plenty) nor can it keep track of the constantly changing directions on various streets. Panama is an absolute maze of one-way streets. 3) GPS has no idea which neighborhoods are safe to drive through and which are not. It only knows which route (in mileage) is faster (doesn't know that either) from Point A to Point B. GPS will very easily and quickly get you into barrios the Police won't enter without armored vehicles.

Best way to get around Panama City: taxis.

Chilliwack, BC
Level Contributor
11 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Travelling with family and need transfers

Omg! You have some awesome points. My husband is thinking we will use a shuttle service. We have looked at Panama Trails. Are you familiar?

Chilliwack, BC
Level Contributor
11 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Travelling with family and need transfers

Thanks for the info. Looking at mapquest, ot says it should only take about 45 minutes. It is nice to have some actual experience saying otherwise. My twins are 9 and our son is 11. They love to do everything. Is there anything close to the Bijao Resort that is safe and fun for them?

Atlanta, Georgia...
Destination Expert
for Colon, Isla Grande, Portobelo
Level Contributor
4,548 posts
18 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Travelling with family and need transfers

LN -- who lives in nearby Coronado -- is probably the best source of information on private transfers to the Pacific beaches and on activities for kids in the Bijao/Santa Clara area. I usually rent a car and I tend to stay away from the AI resorts.

BTW - I didn't mean to discourage you from renting a car -- just from renting and using it to get around Panama City. Once you're out of Panama City, taxis become scarce and having a rental car gives you a lot of freedom to explore places like El Valle, other beaches and try different restaurants.

There are lots of safe activities for your kids. I think they would enjoy El Valle a lot. There are trails to hike, a zoo, waterfalls, mud bath/hot spring and an open air market.

At the beach, be careful to check the surf before letting the kids go in. At times, there can be an undertow. Also, at low tide, you need to watch out for rays and the water is too murky to see them.

Chilliwack, BC
Level Contributor
11 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Travelling with family and need transfers

GB. This is awesome info. I have looked on Google maps and see that there is quite a distance between the Bijao and El Valle (which is where I would like to see ;) ). It would be a matter of getting there. There must be some tourist-trap tour operators at the hotel that could hook us up.

Regarding the car rental: I would like the convenience and comfort of enjoying the scenery instead of battling traffic with a car rental. Maybe our next visit.

Awesome advice. Back to doing research. That is a mom thing. I would rather be over prepared than wonder what we are going to do next, or worse, miss out on something fun.

Thanks so much!

Atlanta, Georgia...
Destination Expert
for Colon, Isla Grande, Portobelo
Level Contributor
4,548 posts
18 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Travelling with family and need transfers

The distance from Bijao to El Valle is between 20 - 30 minutes.

Do have fun!

Chilliwack, BC
Level Contributor
11 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Travelling with family and need transfers

That is so do-able. Thanks for the great tip! Will let you know how it goes.

Panama City, Panama
Level Contributor
34 posts
71 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Travelling with family and need transfers

Well GPS works everywhere provided you have satellite signal. However, when it comes to navigation using a GPS in Panama is pretty much USELESS as somebody pointed out:

- Too many streets that change direction according to time of day

- Too many closed (main) roads due to the construction of the Metro line and construction of many bridges.

- Directions of streets (and closures) are at the order of the day, so ANY GPS map of Panama (navigation) will get obsolute by midnight (so to speak).

- GPS is not aware of bad neighbourhoods that you MUST avoid at all costs.

And last but not least, you really don't want to be flashing an expensive gadget here in Panama unless you want to be seen as prime target. As always exercise care and common sense. I use a GPS for Points of Interests and Geocaching but I know where it is safe to use.