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Driving from Tocumen airport to San Carlos

Mass
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Driving from Tocumen airport to San Carlos

We will be renting a car at Tocumen airport and driving to San Carlos for 1 night and than onto Pedasi. Can anyone give us driving directions. We have some directions from Google maps are these accurate

Panama City, Panama
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1. Re: Driving from Tocumen airport to San Carlos

Someone else gave detailed directions to get to the highway west - I think that was in the early part of the year.

Google - we can't say without knowing what google has told you.

Beardo

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2. Re: Driving from Tocumen airport to San Carlos

googles directions

West on Av Domingo Diaz

Right onto Av M Zarate onto Corredor Norte

Right onto Auto Pista Araijan Chorrera to Centenario to Autopista Panama La Chorrera

Take ramp to Carretera Panamericans

Nancy

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3. Re: Driving from Tocumen airport to San Carlos

I would not recommend that route. Distance is shorter, but it much harder to navigate.

I recommed getting a toll card and taking Corredor Sur. (There is good signage coming out of the airport.) As you come into the city, follow the signs for Cinta Costera/Avenida Balboa. Stay on Cinta Costera. You'll see signs for Puente de las Americas and Avenida de los Martires. Take the exit to Avenida de los Martires. This will take you directly to Puente de las Americas (Bridge of the Americas).

If traffic is backed up badly leading up to the bridge, then take the exit for Albrook and Corredor Norte. This will take you to a large traffic circle. On the other side is Albrook (Marcos Gelebert) Airport. Don't exit onto Corredor Norte (it's easy to do. If you do, just take the next "Retorno" to the left and do a U-turn.) Instead, follow the signs to Avenida Omar Torrijos. This will take you North past the airport, past Clayton (Ciudad de Saber) past Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks and on to Puente Centenario. Take Puente Centenario across the Canal.

About five miles past either bridge, you'll come to a Y if you're coming from Bridge of the Americas or you'll see an exit if you're coming from Centennial Bridge. The signs will point one way to La Chorrera and Carretera Panamericana and the other way to Autopista and Arraiján. Even though Carretera Panamericana translates to "Panamerican Highway," don't take it! It's the old highway and you'll get lost in La Chorrera. instead, take the Autopista.

San Carlos is a tiny community beside the road just a few kilometers past Coronado. I hope you have good directions (such as "turn right at the yellow house") for where you are going in San Carlos, because unless you're going to one of the AIs, the signage is very poor in that area .. as it is in much of Panama.

Mass
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4. Re: Driving from Tocumen airport to San Carlos

Thanks GB

That sounds best

We will be staying at Manglar Lodge in San Carlos for 1 night than onto Pedasi.

Our plan was originally to rent a car in Albrook, but we arrive at PTY at 2;30 on Saturday and Avis at Albrook closes at 5Pm. We think this may be cutting it to close. What do you think of renting at Tocumen thru Avis. Any advise is greatly appreciated

Nancy

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5. Re: Driving from Tocumen airport to San Carlos

Since you are going straight through the ciy (by-passing it, really) getting the car at Tocumen shouldn't be a problem.

I have rented (once) from Avis at Tocumen. That was a long time ago. I try to avoid renting there just because the agencies often try to take advantage of the tourists. I trust you are using insurance from your credit card company. They may try to pressure you into taking additional insurance. The only required insurance is the $18.50 to $23.50 mandatory liability waiver. Refuse the rest (as long as your credit card company provides full coverage.)

I'm assuming you've read the other posted warnings about rental cars in Panama -- particularly the car inspection. While taking pictures of the car is a lot of time wasting overkill (the form is the only record that counts) it is very important that you walk along with the inspecting agent and make very sure every nick, scratch and ding is marked on the form ... no matter how small it is. Pay particularly close attention to the under part of the front bumper and the wndshield. Make sure the spare and jack are in good shape, too.

When you return the car, they will inspect it again, using the same form. Anything they see that isn't marked on the form you will be charged for. This is why you need to be very dilligent. Some rental agencies charge for the same nick in the windshield over and over. A typical ploy of the Tocumen rental companies is to "discover" new damage to the car. They figure when you return the car, you're in a hurry to catch your flight and won't take the time to argue. Leave yourself time to argue when you return. If it's on the form, they'll back down.

When driving, be aware of the time. It's best not to drive at night ... even when you know where you are going. Doubly hard when you're not sure. It gets dark quite suddenly at about 6:30 pm. If you do get stuck driving at night, slow down and be very careful. People and livestock walk in the roads at night and there are no shoulders in many places -- just deep ditches.

Panama City, Panama
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6. Re: Driving from Tocumen airport to San Carlos

As gb says in all points.

Av. Domingo Diaz is the old highway. The two corredores were built to relieve it but it is still often clogged.

About a kilometre from the airport you need to turn off for "Panama cuota" rather than "Panama libre".

At the end of the Corredor Sur, you get various choices. Better is Ave Balboa viaducto but the other entries to Ave Balboa are OK.

That is six lanes divided into two sections. If you get on to the right hand section, you need to get across to the left hand section to take the route up to the viaduct at the end.

Edited: 23 December 2013, 00:39
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7. Re: Driving from Tocumen airport to San Carlos

In other words, when you enter the area called Paitilla, and you have a choice of taking "Cinta Costera" to your left or "Avenida Balboa" to your right, stick with Cinta Costera.

As a little bit of worthless history, Avenida Balboa used to run along the Gulf of Panama. It was high rent district. (Still is.) The U.S. embassy had a prime location on the boulevard and the Balboa monument jutted out from the sidewalk over the ocean. Then, a few years ago, they did a huge landfill project and created Cinta Costera. The marina at Miramar became landlocked, they filled in about two hundred yards along the bay and built eight lanes of roadway divided by soccer fields, basketball courts and wide walking lanes.

The bayfront "Avenida Balboa" was relegated to being four westbound lanes on the inside of Cinta Costera. Do I bemoan it? Not at all. Cinta Costera has far fewer traffic problems. But, it is a bit confusing when traveling west. Just stick to Cinta Costera and watch the signs for Avenida de los Martires.

Edited: 23 December 2013, 01:46
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8. Re: Driving from Tocumen airport to San Carlos

Gb - I will check next time but I think that there are several choices all marked Ave Balboa - and at one point the right lane goes up on to a viaduct that leads in to the left carriageway whilst the left lane goes down in front of the mall to join the right carriageway.

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9. Re: Driving from Tocumen airport to San Carlos

Beardo -- please do check. As I recall, right where Corredor Sur goes under Via Israel there is a sign -- Cinta Costera to the left and Avenida Balboa and Calle 54 E to the right. That curve and the signs can be a little confusing because everything is happening at once -- entering and exiting traffic, the curve and trying to follow the signs. I do know that if you get onto Avenida Balboa, you have to be careful to get back onto Cinta Costera to make the ramp up to Ave. de los Martires.

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10. Re: Driving from Tocumen airport to San Carlos

I finally checked.

Just before passing under Via Israel, there is a sign which show Cinta Costera and something else in the left lane, Cinta Costera and Av. Balboa in the centre lane. I saw no further mention of Cinta Costera. After Via Israel, Calle 50 is signed to the right. The other two are "Ave Balboa - viaducto" and "Ave Balboa".

I am sure that Ave Balboa refers to both parts of road.