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 135 comments

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  1. Bruna

    Hey Joey, I have to catch a flight at 7:42am (it’s a connecting flight, I’ll arrive the day before, so no need to check in etc). Do you think it’s safe to take the bus at around 5am? Is it reliable at this time?

    • Joey Bonura

      Hi Bruna,

      The bus should be reliable at this time. However, Uber just lowered their rates to the airport and now you can get there for around $10 – $12 so it might be worth the extra money to not deal with the bus.

  2. Josh

    Did this yesterday, the restaurant is now called “Chicken Port” and it is well signed all the way to the bus stop now. Everything else is still the same, thanks!

  3. Wae Hildebrand

    Hey great blog and information, really helped me out.
    Just wanted to provide an update: the restaurant has changed names and is now called Chicken Port and there are now a number of signs with arrows along the path so it is almost impossible to get lost

  4. Asha Raymond Stephen

    Hi could you help us fine a bus that would take my husband and I to Tocumen airport we are staying at Avenida Miguel A. Brostella, Panamá 507, Panama. Our flight leaves 12:30am Saturday. Thanks much!

    • Joey Bonura

      Hi Asha, I don’t recommend using the bus at this time. You could use Uber or Cabify for $25 instead. If you haven’t used Uber before then put in promo code UBERPTYLIFE and you’ll get $4 off your first three rides. Or with Cabify you can put promo code JOEYB1 for $5 off.

  5. Paul Wilson

    Hi, We arrive at Tocumen airport at 10:40am and fly out at 7pm. I want to go to Casco Viejo and Punta Culebra nature reserve. Is this possible using buses in timeframe? Only need a quick look (1 hour at nature reserve and look around old quarter. I do not use a mobile so Uber out of the question and taxis are quoting US$50 from airport to Punta Culebra. Cheers Paul

  6. jim crowl

    What time does regular service start in the morning? My flight gets in in the middle of the night, so I can’t see trying to find or pay for a hotel a few hours before checkout time—will just hang out in the airport 3-4 hours and look for something in the morning….hopefully I can find a hotel who will let me leave my luggage if I am too early.

  7. Sam

    Wow, GREAT site (I think the Fortaleza tour looks good also!).
    I arrive to PTY at 8PM, would the bus option be safe enough at that hour? In another comment you mention that the bus is safe enough until you get into the city, but that was during the day. I typically take public transport everywhere and until I read that comment I wouldn’t have given it a second thought otherwise.
    Thanks for your help.

    • sam

      Thanks so much Joey, I’ve had some personal issues and forgot all about this question as almost couldn’t make my trip, but it’s all worked out well and I’m off in a couple of days – but only just remembered I asked you this, so again thanks for the answer and sorry for not replying earlier. Very much appreciated!

    • Sam

      Firstly please let me apologise for my late reply. Since asking this question I’ve had some issues and almost couldn’t take my trip so I completely forgot about this (amoung other things). Having said that all has worked out well and I arrive in Panama tommorrow having just remembered your webpage so thanks so much it is very helpful…. To the he bus is it!

  8. Emilia

    Hi great info. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’m arriving to this airport. But I just realised that for my departure I need to take the plane from another airport which is Aeropuerto Internacional Panama Pacifico. It seems there is no public transport. I am not very combortable to travel by taxi there. It is not only expensive but I’m afraid I can take a fake taxi and have problems. My plane is at 7.45 am so I guess I should be there after 6am. I’ve read somebody went to this airport by a bus towards Veracruz and somewhere near the airport got off and took a taxi which should cost $1.5. Do you have any info about this option?

    • Joey Bonura

      Hi Emilia, I recommend using the app Uber. From Panama City to the Panama Pacifico Airport should cost less than $10 and its the safest way to get around. You can enter my promo code UBERPTYLIFE and get your first ride free!

  9. Erika de avila

    Hi joey, i’m going to stay for a night in casco viejo and planning to take the city bus from the airport, is it safe? I arrive at 2:30 pm to panama and according to how long it takes i guess i’ll be arriving around 5:00 to casco viejo… i’ll be traveling with a carry on, do you think it’ll be dangerous? Is casco viejo dangerous to walk during the late afternoon/night?
    Thanks!

    • Joey Bonura

      Yeah during that time it will be very safe. Once the bus gets off the highway and into the city you should take a taxi or uber to Casco Viejo because the bus doesn’t go directly there.

  10. Mark

    Hi Joey,
    Do you know , if this route is good at night/early morning? I have a flight out of PTY at 5 in the morning, so I was thinking of taking a bus at 1 or 2 am.
    Thanks

    • Joey Bonura

      Hi Mark, I don’t recommend taking the bus at this time because it’s not reliable. It technically runs 24 hours but at 1 or 2 am there’s no telling how long you would wait. Better to use Uber for $25

  11. Alfredo Néri

    Hi Joey. Thanks for this helpful post! I have a flight from Tocumen next Tuesday at 11 a.m. and I'm planning to take the bus to the airport at the Multicentro stop. I was wondering where I can find the schedule of the bus. Do you know if it runs hourly? Thanks

  12. Asha Luqman

    Joey, can I take the free shuttle to Albrook Mall without a same day Boarding pass. I read somwhere that they do not let you get onto the shuttle if you do not have a flight the same day.

  13. Gary Ma

    I followed this valuable step by step instruction yesterday, taking the Corredor Sur bus to Albrook. Travel time on Saturday 2pm was about 30 minutes. I already had a Rapi-pass from previous trips and was able to reload the balance at the machines after exiting customs. Thanks Steve!

  14. Jonas Hsu

    I am thinking if I take the free shuttle from Tocumen airport to Metromall (which is listed on the airport website). Is there any vendors at or around the mall area sell Metrobus card?

  15. Joey Bonura

    At noon you won't have a problem using it. Should go by every 20 min. There are also some white busses you can use that say Tocumen – Corredor Sur and they take cash so you dont have to worry about giving someone money to scan you through on the metro bus. But just take whichever one comes first.


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