Tocumen Airport

Travel Hack: How To Pay Only $1.25 Getting To And From Panama Airport

Typically a trip to Panama’s Tocumen International Airport means finding a REALLY nice friend to drive or shelling out $25 for a cab ride there. But if you want to save a ton of money you can try this “travel hack” by using the Metro Bus to get to the Panama airport and pay only $1.25. Here’s what you have to do:

From the airport to Panama City

Step 1: Exit the airport and head to the right

Walk to the right

Walk towards Restaurante Selles.

Step 2: Enter the hallway next to the restaurant

Walk through entrance

The airport has installed ZERO signs that say this leads to the pedestrian walkway going to the main road. At first, it will look like you are entering somewhere that you are not supposed to but this is the correct way.

Continue in the hallway

Continue through the back hallway and outside.

Continue through the walkway

Step 3: Cross the street

Cross the street

Once you reach the end of the walkway, you need to cross the street to get to the bus stop with busses heading back to Panama City.

Step 4: Get on the Tocumen-Corredor Sur bus

They DO NOT sell Metro Bus cards at the airport. If you are a tourist trying to use the bus you will need to kindly ask someone if you can pay them a $1.25 to swipe you through with their card. Wait for the Tocumen-Corredor Sur bus to arrive and DO NOT get on any of the ones that say Via España because it will take forever to get back to the city. Alternatively, you can get onto one of the large white buses that say Tocumen on them, and these accept cash. Once you are on the bus, you can get dropped off anywhere on Avenida Balboa or take the bus all the way to the Albrook terminal and transfer to another bus or hop on the Metro.

From Panama City to the airport

Step 1: Board the Tocumen-Corredor Sur Metro Bus

Tocumen Metro BusYou can either board this bus on Avenida Balboa on the side of the road closest to the ocean or take the Metro or Metro Bus to the Albrook terminal and transfer to the Tocumen-Corredor Sur bus. I live in San Francisco, so I take the Cinta Costera-Panama Viejo bus to Multicentro Mall and then use the pedestrian bridge to cross the street and catch the bus at that bus stop. The cost of the Tocumen-Corredor Sur bus is $1.25 instead of the standard .25 cent fare because it uses the highway. Do not use the Tocumen busses that do not say, Corredor Sur, because these go a long way and it can add hours to your travel time. Alternatively, you can use the white buses that say Tocumen on them, and these accept cash.

 Step 2: Get off at the airport stop

Tocumen Stop

The bus ride from Multicentro to the airport is approximately 30 minutes and if the voice recordings that announce the stops are working you need to get off at the stop that announces “Aeropuerto.” It’s the stop that has a covered walkway right in front of the airport.

Step 3: Continue on the walkway

Tocumen Walkway

The walk from the start of the walkway to the airport is around 7 minutes, and it’s pretty straightforward.

Tocumen Walkway 2

You will go through a parking lot and then after that go through this entrance and follow it until the end.

Tocumen Walkway 3

The hallway ends at the entrance of the airport.

Step 4: Head up to the second floor

Tocumen Entrance

The pedestrian entrance leads to the level with arriving flights so just head up to the second floor to check into your departing flight.

My total travel time for walking out the door of my apartment to arriving at the doors of the airport was 1 hour and 15 minutes, so it’s longer than taking a taxi, but it’s worth the savings. Here is a breakdown of how long each step took so that you can better plan your trip:

2:00 pm – Arrived at the bus stop closest to my apartment

2:05 pm – Bus arrived

2:20 pm – Arrived at Multicentro and crossed the street to wait at the next bus stop

2:45 pm – Tocumen bus arrived

3:15 pm – Arrived at the airport

I would recommend leaving your house extra early if you are trying to catch a flight or even do a trial run a few days before your flight to see how long it takes.

Also, this is NOT a trip you want to do with large luggage (I think they won’t let you on the bus with a giant suitcase). It’s best to do this for short trips where you just have a small carry-on bag or suitcase.

Remember, using the bus is only recommended if you have small carry-on luggage. Otherwise, I recommend paying the extra money for a taxi or uber.

Enjoy the savings!



There are 131 comments

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  1. Joey Bonura

    Hi Jeff, At that time I wouldn't recommend using the bus because it will not be reliable. The airport has wifi you can connect to and call an Uber for $25 but sometimes it doesn't work so you could just use roaming really quick to call one. Or an official airport taxi will cost you $30 (don't let let charge more than that and you also are not required to tip).

    You can also follow the steps in the article to get to the main road and get a taxi off the street and negotiate a ride for $15-$20.

  2. Marta Amorós

    Joey Bonura I have tried to enter your promo code but it didn't work 🙁 I really would appreciate if you knew other promo codes to use Uber to get to the airport. Thanks!

  3. Joey Bonura

    Hi Natasha, Yes you should have time to visit Casco Viejo for about two hours if you have a 5 hour layover. You can follow the instructions and get off at the "hospital del niño" stop on Avenida Balboa (ask busdriver or someone else if the audio announcemnets are not working), cross the street and then you will be on the cinta costera waterfront park. You can walk along this and it leads to Casco Viejo. To get back to the airport you will want to go to the bus stop on Avenida Balboa that is a little past the fish market or take a taxi if you are short on time.

  4. Joey Bonura

    Hi Ash, if you stay in the city center you will easily be able to see the city via public transit. Here is an article I worte that covers how to visit some of the key touristic areas via bus and metro: http://pty.life/explore-panama-city-metro-bus/. I also offer private tours of Panama City and recommend it as a good first day activity to do so that you have a good layout of the city and can go back and visit your favorite spots later in the week: http://pty.life/experience/

  5. Joey Bonura

    Hi Ash, if you stay in the city center you will easily be able to see the city via public transit. Here is an article I worte that covers how to visit some of the key touristic areas via bus and metro: http://pty.life/explore-panama-city-metro-bus/. I also offer private tours of Panama City and recommend it as a good first day activity to do so that you have a good layout of the city and can go back and visit your favorite spots later in the week: http://pty.life/experience/

  6. Joey Bonura

    Hi Jayant, yes that would be plenty of time to be able to see the canal. From the airport you can take the Metro Bus directly to the Albrook bus terminal and from there transfer to the Miraflores bus to see the canal. Just in case you are interested, I offer 4-5 hour private tours of Panama City and I can make sure you are able to see the canal and several other important sights in time to make it back to your flight. Here is a link with more information: http://pty.life/experience/

  7. Joey Bonura

    Hi Jayant, yes that would be plenty of time to be able to see the canal. From the airport you can take the Metro Bus directly to the Albrook bus terminal and from there transfer to the Miraflores bus to see the canal. Just in case you are interested, I offer 4-5 hour private tours of Panama City and I can make sure you are able to see the canal and several other important sights in time to make it back to your flight. Here is a link with more information: http://pty.life/experience/

  8. Joey Bonura

    I wouldn't recommend using a bus at this time because it's going to be extremely unreliable. It technically runs 24 hours but there are not set times that you can expect it to go by so it's better to use it between 7am and 9pm when its making stops about every 20 minutes. You can use Uber to get to the airport for $25 and if you enter my promo code UBERPTYLIFE you get $10 off, so your ride will cost just $15.

  9. Jayant Kanitkar

    Hello Joey, we have half a day (11:30 am to 6:30 PM) on Sunday May 22 – layover at PTY airport. Will we be able to take Metro to Albrook Mall and then MetroBus to visit Panama Canal Locks and return in time? Can we buy Metro ticket (is that the same as MetroBus) at the airport, also where and how to buy tickets, which trains to take, how long it takes, etc. Thanks. Your website is very helpful – wish we had more time to spend. (Would you suggest something else instead?)

  10. Ash Khan

    HI Joey ,
    Your information is awesome , I am planing to go ,and want to stay at the city centre , do you suggest what would be the best way to see around city and want to go to canal as well .


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