Paso Canoas (Costa Rica/Panama Border)
The Costa Rican/Panamanian border (the border is also referred to frontera in Spanish) in Paso Canoas is only about a 1.5 hour drive to Pavones (see Driving Directions from Paso Canoas to Pavones). Highway 2 dead ends at the border crossing. This is where the crazy intersection of unorganized traffic and taxis are. If you are looking to head toward Pavones, take a right at this intersection and follow the road and signs out of town. Just like any other Central American border, this one can be busy, confusing and hectic at times. But this border also has some great shops, cheap liquor stores, cheaper gas and ATM’s that could be worth the detour.
Border Crossing at Paso Canoas
If you are looking to head into Panama from Costa Rica, please take note of the following. Highway 2 from Costa Rica will end right at the border crossing in Paso Canoas. Although Costa Rica immigration/customs is about 150 meters before the actual border crossing so make sure you go here first to stamp out of Costa Rica.
When you go to the immigration/customs office in Costa Rica make sure you bring a pen to fill out the required immigration form. Obtain this form at the front desk. We suggest you ask for one before you get to the front of the line so you have time to fill it out and have ready when you are up in line. If you don’t have the form or have it filled out when you get to the front of the line, you can lose your spot.
Expect a slow process here at the office
Head toward the border crossing and find the immigration/customs office for Panama to get stamped into Panama. Just like Costa Rica, make sure you get your form while you wait in line and fill this out to have ready when you get to the front of the line.
**If you are entering Panama, they are going to ask you proof of departure of the country. You will need to show this with proof of a plane ticket or bus ticket. If you forget this you will have to buy a bus ticket for around $20. The same thing goes for when you come from Panama to Costa Rica.
City Mall – At the border crossing intersection, take a left and drive or walk about 200 meters. This department store is kind of the equivalent of a Walmart. It’s basically a grocery, pharmacy, appliance, electronic and clothing store all in one. It even has a McDonald’s. They have cheap prices and great deals on everything. This is great news if you want to buy all your groceries here and take them to Pavones. They have a wide variety of selections.
Mall of Jerusalem – Same as City Mall but they now have a Burger King, hehe. This is about 100 meters after you take a left at the intersection. They just completed new construction for their clothing department store and you can find name brands here.
Shops and Food – There are dozens small local shops along the border. You can find some good Costa Rican and Panamanian novelties and souvenirs here. There are also numerous little cafés and restaurants throughout the border as well.
Liquor stores – There are a handful of liquor stores in Paso Canoas (take a right at the intersection and go about 150 meters down the road, they will be on the left hand side) that you can stop in at a see a wide range of beer, wine and liquor. It’s cheap here so take advantage of this and load up. You can get cases of beer for around $12-$14, wine for as cheap as $4/bottle and bottles of Patron Tequila for $25.
Gasoline – If you think gas prices are expensive in the states, then you might be in shock when you see how much gas is here in Costa Rica. Panama has some of the cheapest gas in Central America (which is still more than the US) and there are a few gas stations at the border. At the border crossing, take a right and travel about 2-3 kilometers, it’s toward the same direction as Pavones. It’s a great idea to fill up your gas here before you head out to Pavones.
ATM’s – Just across the street from the border crossing of Costa Rica and Panama, there are two banks (Banco Nacional and Banco de Costa Rica). As mentioned in the Pavones section of our website, this might be your last chance to pull out cash for your trip to Pavones. Most businesses in Pavones accept cash only. Only the Supermercado Rio Claro (Supermarket) accepts credit/debit cards.