Public transportation is one of the best ways to achieve and enjoy budget travel. Most countries in the world have much better–and much cheaper– public transportation systems than the United States.
That’s very true here in Boquete. Boquete really is a public-transit town—if locals aren’t walking, they are using the local buses or taxis. The town’s easily accessible public transit is a positive for visitors as well, but info on the options isn’t always easy to find.
Taxis and buses are readily available here, and very affordable. Information on buses from Panama City to David is good, and information on buses from David to Boquete is available, but information on the small local van buses, the collectivo/ urbanos, is harder to come by. This is Panama, things aren’t always written down, and things change. So if there’s no such thing as exact information, here’s as much anecdotal information as possible about the bus routes, prices, and schedules. If you use and know another bus route please send the information to the forum.
Traveling on the local transit not only gets you from point A to point B, it provides wonderful opportunities to get to know local people and see neighborhoods and locations you didn’t even know existed. The buses get crowded, but the riders and drivers are generally friendly and pleasant.
Lots of people here, visitors and some residents alike, have never used the small buses. I think often this is because they don’t know how they work, or where they go.
The Casa Solutions map of Boquete shows many of the neighborhoods by name, and helps you locate the bus routes. Many of the bus routes are loops. They start in downtown Boquete (El Bajo) and travel out into the surrounding neighborhoods and countryside dropping off and picking up people, both at the cement bus stops and almost anywhere if you put your hand up to signal them. They finish the loop back in downtown Boquete, near the bridge.
You get on the bus (downtown) at the corner of the Central Ave. by the Supermarket Bruña, or, for some buses, by the Supermercado Mandarin. When the bus fills up the driver will close the door and drive off. You don’t have to pay until you exit. Most fares are under $1. You can tell the driver ahead of time where you’d like to get off, but most of the time for an extra fee you can have the driver take you right to your door if it’s near the established route.
Here are some of the buses:
El Bajo, minibus, 7 days a week, until 8 PM, approximately every half hour, $.70 to $1. The loop starts in El Bajo, heads north past Café Ruiz, just before the baseball stadium it takes the Arco Iris right branch, winds up the hill and around past Il Pianista and Princesa Janca, past the Boquete Garden Inn, past the Rock, past the Feria, and right over the bridge back into Boquete downtown. Full loop about 30 minutes.
El Bajo, minibus, 7 days a week, heads North out of town past Café Ruis and past the baseball stadium to Bajo Mono and then back. Approximately every 30 minutes. Runs ‘til 6 PM.
El Bajo, minibus, 7 days a week, $2.00 each way, approximately every 30 minutes. Goes north out of town up past Finca Lerida, down to the Pipeline trailhead, and then back.
El Bajo, minibus, 7 days a week, $2.00 each way, approximately every 30 minutes. Goes north out of town, past the baseball stadium, and up to the end of Horqueta, and back downtown. Runs ‘til 6 PM.
El Bajo, minibus, 7 days a week, runs from downtown in a loop around Volcancito Rd., approx. every 30 min., ’til 6pm, costs $3.00 all the way around, and less, of course, partway.
The Volcancito/El Salto/El Bajo, minibus, does the same route, etc., but runs in the opposite direction.
Palmira / Boquete, minibus, 7 days, Palmira Central to downtown Boquete (park) is $1.00, every 15 to 20 minutes. To take the bus back to Palmira, catch it in front of Mandarin grocery store, across from the park.
Alto Jaramillo / El Bajo, small modern bus, 7 days, runs from downtown in a loop up and around Jaramillo, back downtown, $1.00.
Cantera/El Bajo, also known as the Seminario Bus, serves Alto Boquete as far as Valle La Oriana where it turns around (legally). It serves the new Policlinica and the Fundacion Pro Intagracion Para Personas Con Discapecidad (the Handicap Foundation.) Others may ride.
La Estrella / Boquete, small modern bus, runs to the small town of La Estrella several times a day. 7 days, $1.75 each way.
Caldera / El Bajo, small modern bus, heads South out of town to Alto Boquete, on out to Caldera and back downtown. 7 days, several times a day from 7am. $1.50 each way.