Driving In Panama

Understanding the basics of the rules of the road and driving habits in Panama will make your experience a safer one.


Several rental car companies are available in Panama including major companies such as Avis, National, Thrifty, Budget and Hertz. Weekly car hire rates are from around USD 250 (162 EUR) per week.

Driving in Panama can be more hazardous than you might expect, often due to busy intersections, dense traffic and poor driving habits. Flooding can take place during the April to December in the rainy season, occasionally making city streets impassible and washing away some roads in the interior of the country.

Drivers circulate on the right hand side of the road and sign posts and traffic lights are identical in style to the USA. But here the similarities seem to stop: usage of horns is far more common in Panama and drivers do not hesitate to use them regularly to communicate to others. They are a vital piece of equipment to drivers in Panama. A polite, quick tap on the horn at the traffic lights means, ‘wake up, the lights are green!’ Taxi drivers use a double tap to prospective passengers to indicate that they are available, while a long blast on the horn will indicate that you have perhaps cut them off or performed some other equally reprimandable offense!

As a tourist, your national driving license is valid in Panama for up to 30 days, after which time you will have to obtain a temporary permit that expires at the same time as your tourist card.

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