Travel Arrangements

Most of us have family to visit, new places to visit, or other reasons to travel. Joel and I have made a few interesting trips but the majority of my travel is to visit family, especially now that I have grandchildren.

We are in David near the Costa Rica border. There has been talk about flights from a David to the US for as long as I can remember, but there are no signs that this will become a reality in the foreseeable future. So, you have to go to Panama City for an international flight. (Or possibly San Jose, Costa Rica if you find a great deal on tickets). Do you take the bus, fly, or drive?

I have no interest in driving to Panama City, and even less interest in driving IN Panama City. I’ve always taken the bus, gone to the Costa Inn because they have an airport shuttle (affordable hotel with a restaurant on site and breakfast). Sometimes though the timing doesn’t work out and I need something near the airport. (The shuttle only goes at 5 and 8 AM.)

I had been going to the Express Inn (google Express Inn PTY). It’s about $45-50 for a very basic room, but it seems to be going downhill over the last few years. I have more complaints about my last room than I want to list. There are no more takeout menus, and even the guy making less than wonderful sandwiches wasn’t there on my last couple visits. There is nothing in the neighborhood unless you want to walk over to the airport. Breakfast has also become worse and worse. Last time there was only coffee and some little rolls wrapped in cellophane. Check on line or with TripAdvisor for reviews to learn more. My last visit was so uncomfortable that I needed to make a change, but what?

The Riande has a highly recommended hotel near the airport but I thought it cost a lot more than I wanted to pay, usually well over $100. But our travel agent (shout out to Andrea Cook of Viaje Vacations) told me about where you can book a room for $70, not much more than the other place but a world above in comfort.

Here’s a few photos:

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. We still need to get to Panama City. There are two airlines. Air Panama lands at Allbrook on the west side if the city, and Copa lands at Tocumen, the international airport east of the city, which makes more sense if you are traveling on.

Keep in mind that a taxi from the city to the airport will run you $30-35 (or get a ride from Luis Arce). The bus is about $15 and takes all day. They make it as comfortable as possible but it’s still a lot of hours. The plane is about $115, but if you can avoid a hotel as well as a taxi ride, the cost is barely more than the bus. Even if you need a hotel, there is still no comparison in comfort. The actual flight is only about 40 minutes! (prices are without the retired people discounts)

I’m afraid I’ve become totally spoiled. I flew to Panama City, stayed at the Riande, and then caught a direct flight to San Francisco which allowed me to travel on to Seattle on the same day and arrive much less tired. I’m all for spending money frugally but sometimes it’s well worth spending a bit more for your comfort.

Check this page to find the people I mentioned, and a few others who are very good to know.

I made it to Seattle last week, thankfully before the new granddaughter arrived and now we are just hanging out, playing with my other granddaughter, and waiting. I know no one is pregnant forever but these last days…. if baby doesn’t come soon I think my daughter’s tummy is going to pop! But this is also a very special time to share together and I’m glad to be here.



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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16 Responses to Travel Arrangements

  1. mcmoller says:

    We usually stay at the Riande Aeropuerto when flying in or out of PTY;so convenient. Many times Oferta Simple has offers for around $76.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bernhard Gaider says:

    I haven’t checked out but you can also look at We just booked there and it was cheaper than the last Oferta we used. It was more than $70 but not by much. Another point of reference for taxi rides is we usually get a ride from the bus station (Albrook) to the airport for $25.


    • Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out. Funny, an oferta just came out, $74, regular price $160! No wonder I didn’t want to book that hotel. I don’t understand prices and how they can differ so much, and thank goodness for websites where you can get a decent price anytime you need one.


  3. Mary Snyder says:

    Kris, My husband and I are flying to Panama in late August to check it out for retirement. We’ve made reservations for Panama City and El Valle, but kind of wanted to be flexible for the rest of our 10 day visit. Can we find places to stay without a reservation? We’re not doing Bucas Del Toro this trip. We want to end up in Buquete eventually. Are there places that you think are important for us to visit to help with our retirement decision?
    Any help is so appreciated. My email


    • I’m no expert on accomidations, but August is off season here and I would think you could find places last minute. I’d check ahead though and find something for the next night where you plan to be, but that’s just me. As for where to visit, there are a lot of options in this small country. It depends on what you are looking for.


  4. Frederick Shaw says:

    Hi Kris, great post about travel logistics. It the old time vs money conundrum.
    Speaking of travel, Joanne and I are on our way to Panama today, July 1st, to start our new Retirement life in Volcan.
    We are exhausted from sorting, selling and packing 30 years of life in the same house, but we are ex cited to start living the Panamanian lifestyle. Let us know when you get back to David and we’ll get together and visit.
    Congrats on the soon to be grandchild.


    • Oh wow, how exciting! I remember what a hassle it is to finally be ready to go. There is some getting set up here and learning your way around, but a calmer life is in your very near future. I’ll be back at the end of the month, and thanks for the congrats 🙂


  5. jim and nena says:

    Hola Kris,
    In all our years visiting, we have never flown to David! We always have too much stuff to bring to family in the area that we would need our own plane. The express bus will haul tons of cargo, and takes the least time, and is often less crowded than the day time trips. The last trip with my sister, we took the day trip so she could see the countryside and it was fun to show her Panama from end to end. At one stop for passengers, the nance ice cream vendors boarded and we got her hooked on a new ice cream flavor! Oops.

    Waiting for the new arrival always seems to take forever. Plan some major event, that usually seems to do the trick! I have heard that walking does seem to move the project along, at least in my family. No marathons, just a leisurely stroll gets the process started. Praying for everyone involved (grandma included).
    jim and nena


    • Hola Jim. Yes, there are weight limits on the domestic flights and charges for going over. I can’t sleep on the bus and the one time I took the express it was miserable cold, so that’s not for me. I know a lot of people do it though. Baby is on her way as we speak, so there will be news soon!


  6. Barbara Legener says:

    Kris, I can’t thank you enough for your wonderfully helpful blog. I’ve been following your blog on and off for about 5 years. My husband, Bob and I are coming to visit Boquete in April. We’re hoping to retire in 3ish years, so it’s our first exploratory visit. Our biggest stress has been just getting there!!


    • Thanks! I’m happy to hear your I find the blog helpful. I hope you have a great visit and find that getting here isn’t as difficult as you fear. Are you flying Copa from Panama City to David? You’ll find people ready to point the way to the domestic flight, and taxis ready to help you in David. If you need a good driver in Panama City let me know. I know a couple people. Bien viaje 🙂


      • Barbara Legener says:

        Kris, we are flying into David via Copa. We get in 6:30ish, so we’ve opted to stay the night in David. I think we are taking a taxi to Boquete in the morning. They will drop us wherever we pick up a rental car so we can explore the area. We’re staying at the Gardens of the Hacienda. We’re very excited to come visit the area.


  7. Barbara Legener says:

    Kris, We are flying into David on Cops. We’re going to stay the night in David, then take a taxi to the Hacienda in Boquete where we will be staying. We’ll be picking up a rental car on Monday so we can get a good look of the area. Everyone we have contacted, ask questions to have been awesome! Your blog has been very helpful too.


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