Taxis in Panama City

Information about getting around Panama City by taxi...

Taxis are the main mode of transportation in Panama City. There are a few taxi companies with company phone numbers and dispatch, but these are fairly recent innovations in Panama. The majority of taxis are privately owned and operated.

Taxis are plentiful, but can be very hard to hail. When a driver does pull over it is not uncommon for him to refuse to take a passenger to their destination ("No voy"), although this is illegal.

Multiple fare passengers in one cab is common practice in Panama, but should be avoided at all costs as it can be dangerous.

As independent cabs are not regulated, there is no standard pricing system. The driver may not have any identification and they may charge whatever fare they think they can get from the passenger. These taxis are not held to any safety or maintenance standards.

Hotels are a good place to try to hail a taxi, as many of them stop by hotels when they are free. However, it is not advisable to allow the hotel staff to help, as they may charge an inflated "hotel fare".

Fares

Within the downtown area of Panama City, US$2 is the average price for a ride. From downtown Panama City to Casco Viejo should be around US$5, and to the Causeway approximately US$7. Travel to or from the airport costs around US$30.

Taxi rates were formalized and organized by zone in 2008. This means that passengers should be charged a standard fare, however, the rate card may not be available for reference.

  • For an example of taxi rates in Panama City: Click here (in Spanish)

Most buildings and houses in Panama do not have numbers, and streets do not often have standard names. In order to explain a desired destination, explicit directions based on main roads and landmarks will be needed. Drawing maps can also be a useful tactic. It is helpful when arriving in Panama to learn what locals consider to be important landmarks and to memorize all possible landmarks near the home from all possible directions.