Panama, Costa Rica Border Crossing – Guide

Panama, Costa Rica Border Crossing

Crossing the border from Bocas del Toro is really quite easy and after I read one post I knew how to do it, however that post was 6 years old, so I thought I would update everyone on how to do it without paying $25USD for a shuttle. I went from Bocas Town to Puerto Viejo however it is the same the other way, in in reverse! Read on for our info on Panama, Costa Rica border crossing.

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Step 1: Bocas del Toro to Almirante

From Bocas various water taxis go straight to the mainland town of Almirante and costs $6USD per person. They leave from several terminals in Bocas along the front street near the water, just ask for a water Taxi to Almirante. Note, if you have already bought a return ticket from when you came to Bocas, you must go back to the exact location you were dropped off as another company won’t honor the return ticket.

Where the water taxis leave you in Almirante will be a bit of a walk to the bus terminal in Almirante, so expect to pay $1 per person for a taxi if you choose to take a local bus to Changuinoloa.

the boat to begin the Panama, Costa Rica border crossing journey

In the water taxi

Step 2: Almirante to the Border

Here there are two options:

  1. Local bus – although slightly cheaper ($2usd) this option is also harder as the bus station of Almirante is a far walk (taxi’s are $1usd per person) and only goes to the town of Changuinola (15km from the boarder). From there you will need to get another shuttle or bus. This is cheapest but you cuald waste some time waiting around for the correct buses and transferring.
  2. Direct shuttle – from the boat terminal in Almirante there is a shuttle (air conditioned mini-bus) that will take you for $5USD all the way to the boarder! You will not have trouble finding this as everyone will be trying to sell it, just at a special price of $10USD. But you after reading this won’t pay more than $5USD!

We did the second easier option as the price difference was so small and it was just much more convenient! I would recommend this option especially if you don’t feel like spending your whole day in bus stations.

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Step 3 Border to Puerto Viejo or San Jose

Once you reach the boarder you simple cross the train tracks pay the exit fee of $4USD on Panama side (I would not pay the fee as you already get your exit stamp before paying and no one checks and if they do you simply walk 50 meters back and pay it 0 but you didn’t hear this from me.) Then, walk down the hill to the right after passing Costa Rica immigration where the shops are.

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Remember, like Panama, Costa Rica requires proof of exit. We didn’t get asked this time but I hear it is quite common. I use the website http://www.returnflights.net/ to make a fake flight booking confirmation. Make sure you look up an actual real flight and enter those details in case an immigration officer does look into if your ticket is real. Don’t use the website, flyonward as they charge for the ticket and normally do not even follow through with sending the ticket.

Once finished with Costa Rica immigration, you can get a mini-van for  $5USD to Puerto Viejo or you can walk up the road, take your first right an you will find the bus station. From their it is $3USD to Puerto Veijo but you can also get a bus to San Jose.

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It is that simple! Thanks for reading our Panama, Costa Rica border crossing guide

-Daniel