Backpacking in Costa Rica/Panama

Old Nov 23rd, 2008, 05:33 PM
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Backpacking in Costa Rica/Panama

I'm planning to go backpacking in Central America this December for 10 days. I want to fly into San Jose Costa Rica, make my way down to Panama City and fly back to the States from there.

I'll spend two days in San Jose and then head to the border. After crossing, I'm going to Bocas for a couple of days. Then I was going to take a bus to Panama City via David/Boquete and spend Thurs-Sun there.

I know Costa Rica is highly traveled by tourists. However, I'm not sure about Panama. From what I have read it is safe as long as you don't travel down towards Colombia in the Darien region. I don't plan on going any further south than Panama City.

I am traveling on my own and from what I hear there are plenty of backpackers in these places so going solo shouldn't be a problem. My main concern is crossing the border on foot. If anyone has any suggestions or comments about the safety in these areas please let me know.

Thanks!
teddrews is offline  
Old Nov 23rd, 2008, 07:05 PM
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Have you booked your plane ticket yet? You say, "I want to fly into San Jose ..." which makes me think your itinerary is not set in stone. If that's the case, I don't hear much reason for you to go to Costa Rica at all. San Jose is the only place you mention. Unless there's some compelling reason you need to be there, why not fly in and out of Panama City and keep it simpler?

As for the itinerary you spell out, it's straightforward. The same bus that goes from San Jose to Cahuita and Puerto Viejo takes you to Sixaola, one of the two crossings open to foreigners. It drops you right at the border. Most people get off and walk across the border on foot. Follow the crowd, but many local people don't bother with border formalities. You will have to, so stop on the Costa Rican side, and then again on the Panamanian side, to exit and enter properly.

On the Panamanian side you'll find formal and informal taxis to take you to Changuinola, the first city inside the country, a few miles away. You can also take a taxi all the way to Almirante, from where you can catch a boat to Bocas.

There frequently seems to be some guy on the bus still in Costa Rica when you get close to the border. He asks all the foreign-looking travelers if they'd like transport to Bocas. He knows all these foreigners are NOT going to Sixaola. I've piled into the back of a truck on the Panamanian side with a bunch of other travelers, all for about $10 to include road and boat transport to Bocas. It worked fine. I don't know if that price is still current.

Try to take the 6 a.m. bus form San Jose. It gets you to the border about 11:30-noon. Panama is one hour later than Costa Rica, so you lose time making the crossing. Any later bus from San Jose puts you at the border much later in the afternoon.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Old Nov 24th, 2008, 05:10 AM
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Consider PTY return cheaper than

Open Jaw in SJO out PTY.

www.ticabus.com PTY to SJ

SJ Bocas easy border crossing

there are unsafe areas stick with

the crowd money belt dress down

you should be fine...
qwovadis is offline  
Old Nov 24th, 2008, 06:58 AM
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Tica Bus would take you to the border crossing closest to David, but not near Bocas del Toro.
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Old Nov 24th, 2008, 02:49 PM
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Thank you for your replies. I haven't booked my ticket yet. For whatever reason the best fare I found was to arrive SJO and leave out of PTY.

I went to Costa Rica last year. I flew into Liberia and stayed in Tamarindo. The only reason I was really going to fly into SJO was because Bocas is close to the border.

My initial thought was to take the bus south from SJO and make my way down to Panama City seeing something different the entire way.

I guess I felt it would be somewhat of an adventure making my way down to Panama. If I fly in and out of PTY I would go to Bocas from PTY and then return the same way and see the same sites.

Is the trip from SJO to PTY worth doing considering my time frame of 10 days? I also heard it rains a lot in Bocas in December. Is this true? Is Bocas a place I should still check out?
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Old Jan 30th, 2009, 05:02 PM
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zoo
 
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Did you take this trip yet???
I am doing the Liberea to panama trip my self. Maybe you got some good info. for me.
[email protected]

thanks zoo
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