Another Successful Border Hop

It was time to get the passports stamped, so we headed off for a visit to Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica. We have enough travel plans these days and didn’t want to do anything major, so an overnight visit to this pretty, laid back town was just the thing.

Going to Costa Rica is no problem. We got stamped out of Panama and walked to the Costa Rica checkpoint. There, the official was on his cell phone and didn’t even ask us anything, just stamped our passports and we were on our way.

Coming back, this was our first experience with the new tax to get out of Costa Rica ($7.00). If you are facing the windows at the checkpoint, on your left is a hallway behind these offices. There, in the middle of the hallway on the left was another office. Thankfully there was an official there to help us through the process of scanning our passports into a machine, putting our credit cards in, and then taking out the receipt. It wasn’t difficult and reminded me of a check in process at the airport. The machine was just a bit picky about how the passport was passed through the scanner, and there were a few things to touch on the touch screen. When we were done, off we went with our customs paper, tax receipt, and passports to get stamped out of Costa Rica which was fast and easy.

Of course, the most challenging part is getting back into Panama and I was ready. Big, noisy trucks were going by and I couldn’t hear a thing the official was saying so I handed over my passport. When she looked up at me I handed her the print out of our airline reservations back to the US in July. When she looked up again I handed her the printouts of our bank statements for 3 months. She looked at everything, handed it back, stamped the passports, and we were done! Whew! Even when you think you know what you are doing, there is always that niggling little worry that something will happen so it’s a relief when the whole process is done.

We took buses on this trip and I’m always appreciative of the Panamanian buses. The assistant helped me out of my backpack and stored it for me. He helps everyone with their packages, keeps track of all the various points where people get on and off, and collects the various amounts of money. He gets out at some points to recruit riders and communicates with the driver at stops and starts. He calls out the upcoming stops along the way, and does all these activities with a smile. The Costa Rican buses are fine too but there isn’t the assistant so you are more on your own to manage your stuff and get yourself off at your destination.

Of course, if I go anywhere I will have a camera with me.

If you need more information about doing this border crossing see my previous posts

We have been to Puerto Jimenez before too. If you want to see previous posts on that, just type “puerto jimenez” in that search box in the sidebar on the right and you’ll find them.

It was a nice little getaway, but it’s always nice to be home!


About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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18 Responses to Another Successful Border Hop

  1. Hugo Ernst says:

    How much was the C.R. Tax? Hopefully not as much as the exit tax at the San Jose airport.


  2. marica says:

    Thanks for the post Kris and the new info about crossing to CR. We are doing it next week.


  3. Jerry says:

    Thanks so much Kris. Every nugget of information helps us prepare. How long did you have to stay out of Panama before you re-entered?? Just overnight?


    • It seems most people just stay overnight. You used to be able to leave and come back immediately but that doesn’t seem to work anymore. Some say the rules (which no one can find in writing) say 72 hours. Overnight seems to be the thing to do these days. Tomorrow, who knows?


  4. Anonymous says:

    Puerto Jimenez looks muy tranquillo. Thanks for the update about the tax. I thought CR had forgotten they were going to have one. jejeje


    • It is a very laid back place and we enjoyed our time there. And no, unfortunately, CR remembered to put the tax in place. I remember hearing it was a mess for awhile when there was no way to actually pay it, but it seems they are getting organized now.


  5. Karen Ama Panama says:

    Always great to read this helpful information. I’m curious if the buses have bathrooms? Or do they stop along the way? We take the bus from Madison to Chicago all the time and it’s really a very nice bus and plenty roomy. I don’t mind driving in Chicago, but it’s just so much easier not having to stop for the tolls and then I get to spend the time in deeper conversation.


    • The big buses that go from here to Panama City have bathrooms, and they stop midway at a cafeteria that has bathrooms. The other buses that I’ve seen don’t, but from here to the border is less than an hour. But, since you pay according to where you get on and off, I suppose you could always get off for a break and catch the next bus going your way. I agree, it’s nice to take the bus and let someone else worry about the driving, and you can relax and do your own thing.


  6. Karen Ama Panama says:

    I guess I forgot it was that close to Cost Rica. We don’t plan on having a car right away, so we will be riding the bus a lot at first. We will get a car eventually once we get our bearings. There’s so much to do but I’m looking forward to it. We are well on our way!


  7. Kathy Jones says:

    I am going in a couple of weeks. What is the best bus to catch from David to do the border crossing, my first time at this. What is the best place to stay overnight . New to this group and love all the info. Look forward to going to next dinner in June


    • Look for the bus “Frontera” Do you know where the big buses to Panama City are? Go down the side where all the buses load up and it’s at the opposite end of the terminal from them. There are signs hanging above that should help or just ask anyone. In CR we took a bus to Golfito and a ferry to Puerto Jimenez just because we like it there. Others have stayed at the border. Check with Holly ( or Cindy ( I think they have done that. Be sure you have your plane reservations and your proof of solvency (bank statement or $500 cash)!


  8. Richard says:

    Another bus line you can take is TICA. You must go, physically, to Albrook Station in Panama (City) to purchase your ticket and make the reservation (they have a window near the middle), and they will pick you up at a designated location along the way to San Jose, anywhere within Panama. They have two departures a day, one that leaves midday (express, no stops within Panama) for a few more dollars, and midnight (local). Actually, it’s about 11AM and 11PM. Fee is about $24 each way. They stop (15-20 minutes, each) at a restaurant in Panama and a restaurant in Costa Rica (plus the 1-to-2-hour stop at immigration!)… and there’s a toilet onboard. Carry your own water.

    And, yes, you must, must, must have your airplane tickets to show you are leaving Panama and a recent bank statement showing $500 or more dollars. Frankly, you DON’T have to show you are going to USA or Canada or England. They only want to see that you are leaving Panama and going someplace ELSE. I once forgot to bring an airplane ticket receipt, but just happened to have an unused flight to Colombia in my backpack (sometimes it’s cheaper to get a dogleg ticket!)… and they took that. Whew!


    • Good to know, thanks! This time we were only going from David to Golfito though, pretty simple on the local buses. I always have a flight back to the US to see family so I’ve never tried it with a flight to somewhere else. I can see how they might not look at that part so closely though.


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