With the Darien Gap making it impossible to cross with a cheap bus, the only realistic option is to be at the mercy of the airline industry. If you look up flights on Priceline or other sites that gringos use, flights may be from $200 to $300 to get to Medellin or Bogota. Even the local Panamanian airline AirPanama charges around $150 for the brief flight. Luckily, there are flight options that are often overlooked…
Wingo is a Colombian airline that seems like a knockoff of budget airlines like Spirit. It is a bare minimum airline that only includes your flight, carry-on bag and taxes within the price. This is the perfect option for a resourceful backpacker that has a light load with them.
How do I get to the Panama Pacifico Airport?
The Panama Pacifico Airport (BLB) was only recently opened for civilian use in 2015. It is located on the outskirts of town where the old American military base was located. This location is not very straightforward on how to travel via bus, so many people end up taking an overpriced Taxi.
The bus that can drop you off near the entrance of the airport is the Veracruz bus from the Albrook Terminal. This route can be unpredictable due to traffic conditions, so leave super early if you want to go this route. Check out this guide on how to get to Albrook via bus from Tocumen.
When you arrive at Albrook, make sure you purchase a Rapipass card. You will need this card in order to get past the barrier to the Veracruz bus. This will cost $2 plus whatever amount you choose to load onto the card. You may also beg a plead other people to use their card and give them cash.
Once you have your card sorted out, make your way to the food court. Look for where the bathroom is and walk past it. You will eventually find Turnstiles with various buses on the other side.This is where you will finally utilize your card and pay the 10 cent entrance fee.
Ask around for where the Veracruz bus if it is not plainly in sight. Many of the Veracruz buses are “Diablo Rojo” buses or just repurposed American school buses. Board the bus and let the driver know that you will need to stop off near the airport. The fare should be $0.75 and you pay as you get off. Sometimes these buses are not so good at advising you when you’re nearing your stop so remind the driver or his help during the middle of the trip.
The bus will drop you off several hundred meters south of the airport. You may walk up to the airport if you are daring, or wait for a taxi to pass by and pay $2. Taking the taxi is recommended if you are pressed for time.
The airport itself is very basic since it is pretty much just a converted military airport. It is missing restaurants, convenience stores or public Wifi. Be sure to bring your own snacks or water to eat before checking in. There is a gas station nearby the bus stop, so make your last minute purchases or restroom breaks there.
There are plenty of rooms to rent for $10-$15 in Colombia via Airbnb. You may use my invite link to get up to $40 in credit for your accommodation..
Uber is a great way to get out of a jam when you don’t know the local language. The prices are similar to local rates, so you can avoid getting scammed by taxi drivers. Use my coupon code jonathang13239ue to get the first ride for free.
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