The Tocumen International Airport is the main airport in Panama, and you most likely will be flying into this one. It is located about 20 km from the center Panama City, and there are a few options available for easily getting to the city, taking approximately 25 minutes.

Here are five easy ways to get from the Tocumen airport to your hotel in Panama City…

Taxi ($30)

The most traditional way people get from the airport to Panama City is by taxi, and this costs $30 for 1-2 people and a bit more for 3-4. After you get your luggage off the baggage claim and exit the doors to the pickup area, there will be a few guys yelling if you need a taxi. Don’t bother with these guys because all they will do is carry your bags 5 feet over to the taxi pickup area and then rudely ask for a tip. Walk to the taxi stand located outside yourself to grab a cab for $30 to a destination within Panama City (other rates can be found here). Tipping the taxi drivers at the end of your ride is also not necessary.

Taxi Hack ($10-$15)

You can save at least half the cost of the official taxi rate by simply walking to the main road and hailing a cab off the street from there. It’s a little confusing how to get to the main road from the airport as a pedestrian, but you can follow the steps I have listed in this article. This “taxi hack” will require some bargaining power and you can expect to pay $10-$15 depending on how good your Spanish and negotiating skills are.

Uber & other apps ($12-25)

Using Uber and other transportation apps is a safe, simple, and affordable way to get from the airport to Panama City. The only downside to this is that you will need to have a data connection or try to use the airport’s spotty wifi to be able to use the apps.

Uber: Approximately $12 plus you can save $10 on your first ride with promo code UBERPTYLIFE.

Cabify: $25 plus you can save $10 on your first ride with promo code JOEYB1. This app also allows you to schedule a pickup in advance.

Pineapple Shuttle ($9)

For just $9 / person, Pineapple Shuttle runs three times, providing transport between the airport and many of the hostels in Panama City. You don’t have actually to be staying at one the hostels, but these are the pickup / drop off points so check out this list to see which hostel is closest to your hotel or hostel.

Bus ($1.25)

If you’re feeling adventurous, want to save a ton of money, and have the extra time then taking the bus into the city is pretty simple. You can follow my step-by-step guide, complete with pictures, on how to do that here. You should only take the bus if you have a small carry-on or backpack because it can get crowded and you want to be courteous of other passengers.


Experience Panama City


I'm Joey, a guy from Louisville, Kentucky that packed up and studied abroad in Panamá at the age of 20 and haven't moved back since. What started as a semester trip to Panamá has turned into 10+ years of living in Latin America and becoming a full-time travel blogger. I now rotate between living in Panama City, Bogotá, and Lima. Follow me on Instagram @joeybonura for more updates on my life abroad!


  1. Beata Gruosso Reply

    Hello! I stumbled upon your blog with trying to get some information regarding shuttle/car/taxi transportation from the airport to panama city and back. we are travelling in the beginning on Feb with myself/husband and our 15 month old son. I can not seem to find much information regarding travelling with a toddler and car/taxi accessibility. any help with tips would be greatly appreciated as I do not want to feel overwhelmed at the airport with a baby and having trouble with getting to our hotel. Ideally I would like to have a service or plan already in place at a reasonable price. Any advice on transport with two suitcases, a stroller and an infant? any help is so greatly appreciated.

    many thanks! We cannot wait to visit Panama!

  2. robert becker Reply

    Hi Joey. Could you update your “check out this list” for the pineapple shuttle service please? I am coming to PTY in feb and am trying to figure out how to best get into town. Since I will have a carry on and shoulder bag I guess the bus would be out. Also, would it be easy to get a sim card at the airport and then use uber or cabify?

  3. Hi Joey, I’m passing through Panama on my way to Aruba. I have a 2.5 hour layover. Is it possible to leave the airport and do any sightseeing within that time frame?

    • Joey Bonura

      Unfortunately 2.5 hours isn’t enough time to leave the airport, get to the city (it’s 30 min away with no traffic), and get back. Hopefully you can make it back when you have more time!

  4. Do you want transporatation facility from your desired airport to your current city? Then the information posted in this blog will help you a lot to choose your comfortable transporatation medium. Your blog specifies the easiest and most cost effective way to reach your desired destination from Tocumen airport to Panama city. Now almost every country provide airport shuttle service to make the transporatation of their passenger comfortable and hassle free. Venture country also provide shuttle service with quality, reliability and in affordable prices.

  5. Hi Joey, I love your comprehensive guide to Panama. One question though – can one get by without speaking Spanish? I ask because we’re planning a trip there in September for approx. 2 weeks so needed to know. 🙂 Thanks….

    • Joey Bonura

      Hi Zara, Most of the tourists that come do not speak Spanish and they get by ok. Just be prepared to use lots of hand signals!

  6. Great article! Regarding taking a bus from the airport….is it now possible to buy a fare card at the airport? The nicer buses don't take cash so unless another passenger is willing to sell you a swipe of his/her fare card you're screwed.

  7. If you want to take an Uber you'll most likely need to speak Spanish. This is because the airport isn't allowing Ubers. So if you request one, they'll call you to arrange a pick up point that won't get them into trouble.

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