How to travel solo from Bocas del Toro to Puerto Viejo without a shuttle

There are a shuttles from Bocas del Toro to Puerto Viejo which costs up to $ 30.- without exit fee of Panama. You can save almost $20.- if you do the same by yourself. More adventure for less money. A real backpacker does it solo=)

First part is a rough overview of the route Bocas del Toro (Panama) to Puerto Viejo (Costa Rica). More Information about the whole trip you will find in the second Part. Part 3 are some useful spanisch questions with translation in Englisch. If you need the exact time for the buses have look at puertoviejosatellite.com. If you going the other way check out Charlies blogpost for getting to Bocas del Toro from Puerto Viejo.

Overview

  1. Take a boat taxi from Bocas Town to Almirante (Mainland Panama). 30min. $6
  2. Walk 5min to the bus station in Almirante. $0
  3. Take the bus to Changinola. 40min. $1.45
  4. Switch the bus in Changinola to a yellow school bus going to Sixaola. 35min. $1
  5. Get the Exit Stamp and pay the Exit fee for Panama. $4
  6. Get the Entry Stamp in Costa Rica. $0
  7. Walk 3 minutes to the bus going to Puerto Viejo. $0
  8. Take the bus to Puerto Viejo. 50min. CRC 1590 = $3

Total costs incl. exit fee doing it by yourself = $15.45

Shuttle incl. exit fee = $34.-

Total savings= $18.45

 

More details

  1. Take a boat taxi from Bocas Town to Almirante (Mainland Panama). 30min. $6.

    The boats leaving from Bocas town from the port „Taxi25“. It costs $6 and it takes 30minutes. Locals only pay $5.

  2. Walk 5min to the bus station in Almirante. $0

    Leave the landing stage in Almirante and go left. Walk to the main road. Now go right. Walk 2min an on the next corner you will see on your left the bus station.

  3. Take the bus to Changinola. 50min. $1.45

    You will also see a sign  at the bus station with the letters „Changinola“. You should take the bus under this sign. They will collect the fare after some minutes of driving. The trip from Almirante to Changinola takes around 50min.

  4. Switch the bus in Changinola to a yellow school bus going to Sixaola. $1

    Ask the peolpe: „Donde esta el bus hasta la frontera Sixaola?“ (Where is the bus to the border of Sixaola). They will point to a a big yellow shool bus, same as in the Simpsons. Take this one by asking while entering (safe is safe): „La frontera Sixaola, si?“ If the driver is nodding, get in. If not try another one.

  5. Get the Exit Stamp and pay the exit fee for Panama. $4.

    Walk up the stairs. Go left. You will see the old small bridge. In front of  brigde on your right side, there is a window with a little panamanian flag. That’s your window! There you pay $4 exit fee and you will get a ticket. Walk back. Take the stairs on your left and 50 in front of you will find the migracion for your exit stamp. Wait in the right line (Exit Panama). They scan your fingers, take a picutre of you and then they will give you the exit stamp. You don’t need to show the exit ticket which you paid 4$.  I assume you also first can get the exit stamp and then pay the $4 exit fee. Walk back to the bigger new bridge. Show your exit ticket ($4) and walk in to Costa Rica.

  6. Get the Entry Stamp in Costa Rica. $0

    Congrats. You are in Costa Rica. After finishig the brigde, walk 30m and on the left you will find the migration where you get the entry stamp. You have to fill out a little white paper. Go in and ask for it. „Puedes dar me el papel blanco?“ (Can you give the white paper?). They didn’t check my flight out of Costa Rica. If you want to be safe and want to have something to show them. Check out this page: www.returnflights.net.

  7. Walk 3 minutes to the bus going to Puerto Viejo. $0

    Walk down of the bridge platform and take a right. Walk 2min and on your left there is the bus station of Sixaola with white buses going to Puerto Viejo.

  8. Take the bus to Puerto Viejo. 55min. CRC 1590 = $3

    You can buy the ticket with USD. They will give you back Colones (CRC). The bus ride to Puerto Viejo will take around 55min.

Useful spanish questions

You will see, I’m also not the best spanish speaker. But with those phrases you will make it until Puerto Viejo.

  1. „Donde esta el barco hasta Almirante?“
    (Where is the boat to Almirante?)
  2. „Donde esta la estacion del bus para ir a Changinola?“
    (Where is the bus station to go to Changinola?)
  3. „Donde esta el bus hasta la frontera Sixaola?“
    (Where is the bus to the border Sixaola?)
  4. „La frontera Sixaola, si?“
    (Border Sixaola, yes?)
  5. „Donde esta la migracion para hacer el stampa?“
    (Where is the migration for the stamps?)

There you are. Send this blogpost to your friends who are still in Bocas del Toro. They maybe are looking for some help. Enjoy Puerto Viejo!