Transportation in Panama
Taking public transportation in Panama is not recommended. But if you are adventurous you can take the buses, taxis or even the Metro in Panama City. The best option is to secure your transportation with a tourist company prior to arrival so you can travel with peace of mind. In Panama is also easy to move to far destinations by plane, and you will find an airstrip almost anywhere in the country.
Public buses and metro
Bus drivers speak only Spanish; a few of them know some English but you never know if you will get one of the few. It is difficult to understand the bus lines and there is not much information about it. There is a Metro system in Panama City, easy to use but the route is limited. You can take buses to different destinations in the interior of the country at the bus terminal in Albrook. Buses do not go to every town so you might have to take a bus to one destination and then a taxi to the town you are going so it can be a little exhausting and confusing.
Taxis are cheap but they tend to overcharge tourists. Like the bus drivers, taxi drivers speak mostly Spanish only. Taxis are old and not all of them cover a lot of routes. Some of them just stay in one part of the city and do not go to other parts of the city for anyone. Be prepaid to stop several taxis until you find one that goes to your destination. The hotels usually have taxis they call but it is going to be more expensive than the ones you can stop on the street. Also keep in mind that sometimes you will have to share a taxi, in Panama City they take more than one client at the same time.
There are car rental locations at Tocumen International Airport and throughout the country especially in the main destinations. It is not that easy to drive in Panama because there are not many road signs and many streets do not have a name. GPS devices are not very reliable in rural areas. There are also many radar controls on the Interamerican highway which can slow you down. However renting a car in Panama if you are on a strict budget helps with saving you money since private transportation and flights can be costly.
Having a private transportation company driving you around Panama is the best option. They will pick you at the airport and take you directly to the hotel. Or from a hotel to the next hotel without you having to worry about the road or taking the correct bus. The buses and cars used by these companies are in good shape and covered by special passenger insurance.
The main point of entry to Panama is the Tocumen Airport of Panama City. But there is also an international airport in David and seasonal aiports for charter flights from December to March. There are airstrips in San Blas, Bocas del Toro, Chitre, Pearl Islands and Changuinola which can accommodate smaller aircraft. Some areas in San Blas are only reachable by plane. Make sure you do not return to Panama City on the same day you have your international flight in case of flight cancellations or delays. These islands flights get delayed more often than you think. And since they leave from secluded areas there is no other flight to take back to Panama City on the same day.