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renting a car in Panama

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Illinois
posts: 126
reviews: 14
renting a car in Panama

Hi I will be in Panama for a week in November - need help on the best rental car companies.

Whats the best company to rent from with the least hidden charges?

What is the best, closest location to the airport and what are the rules about the rental insurance (take it? dont ? take the most basic?)

I am looking to rent a mini SUV for 2 people and tons of luggage - we are staying in the City for a day or two - then on to Pedasi for a week to fish and surf.

Thanks for any suggestions.

418

301 replies to this topic
Panama City, Panama
posts: 533
1. Re: renting a car in Panama

First a suggestion - don't get a rental for the days you plan on spending in PC. Terrible traffic, hassle finding parking, difficult city to navigate (lack of signage, construction) and over aggressive drivers. Use taxis while in the city, rent the day you plan to leave for Pedasi.

Best company - don't really know, I've always had good luck with Thrifty in Panama. YMMV.

Insurance - if you have good coverage from your credit card you can save a few bucks. Just make sure you can prove you have the coverage and most likely will will still be required to carry the mandated local coverage. Success in using your existing insurance seems to vary between individuals even when using the same rental company. This is Panama.

Another suggestion - check the car closely for damage before leaving the rental company. Take pictures of existing damage. Might help you avoid a hassle when you return.

Have fun.

Steve www.panamanotes.com

Edited: 12:32 pm, September 05, 2011
Panama City, Panama
posts: 5,790
reviews: 78
2. Re: renting a car in Panama

I have used thrifty often in the past........and suggest it for my visitors. NEVER

a problem!

Arizona
posts: 25
3. Re: renting a car in Panama

Take a good map. Thrifty had NONE last week. If you opt for the GPS be careful, it will send you the wrong way on one way sreets. Lots of construction on the highway down the peninsula to Pedasi. plan for extra time and unless you have business in Chitre , take the route that goes around the town instead of thru it.If you stay in Pedasi try Posada Destiladeros. Awesome beach, friendly people, amazing food, good wine.Paid $150 a nite but we were on a bluff with the ocean steps away,very private.

Panama City, Panama
posts: 5,790
reviews: 78
4. Re: renting a car in Panama

Holey Moley ! $150 a nite in Panama, no less in Pedasi, yet i Off season!! That has "gringo" all over it ! There are other possibilities near or on the ocean much much less money..............

Illinois
posts: 126
reviews: 14
5. Re: renting a car in Panama

We are staying at the ocean lofts and our plan was to rent the car as soon as we arrive at the airport - and park it at the hotel for the night - cab it around PC and then the next a.m. head out to Pedasi because I hear it will take about 6 to 8 hours due to construction on the highway. Same on the way back - park the car for the night at the hotel in PC and cab it around and return the car on our way to the airport to go home.

Unfortunately I am not sure if we can do the canal tour because of the traffic and travel times to Pedasi - but I we will try.

Thanks for the suggestions on the car. I have been to Costa Rica several times and the first time we did not know and took all the insurance. But quickly learned to only take the basic on future rentals. Thanks for the picture suggestion also.

Medellin, Colombia
Destination Expert
for Panama City
posts: 3,221
reviews: 72
6. Re: renting a car in Panama

You won't be able to get out of the mandatory liablilty - so add about $12 a day for that - the roads in Panama are much better than CR - only difficult place to drive is the city - and once you are used to it is not too bad - biggest problem is that it is always congested - also very few road signs

Illinois
posts: 126
reviews: 14
7. Re: renting a car in Panama

My biggest concern about the car rental in Panama is the insurance. In CR the streets were good in most areas - but the first time we traveled to CR and went to Thrifty - we almost got the feeling if we did not take their insurance they would call ahead to the thugs down the street to do something to the car. They told us a story about a people telling you the car has a flat and when you pull over they break the windows to get your stuff - or that if you park someplace for dinner or shopping - that your car could be damaged. They even made us sign a statement saying we were told of the dangers... so the first time we took all the insurance. We later learned our lesson and took only the basic. And on our second, third and fourth trip - there was no signing anything and all the warnings. Maybe someone complained.??

Arizona
posts: 25
8. Re: renting a car in Panama

Where in Pedasi?

Medellin, Colombia
Destination Expert
for Panama City
posts: 3,221
reviews: 72
9. Re: renting a car in Panama

Only place I ever had a problem with a car was CR - broken into at the beach - so maybe the stories were partly true - plus CR has a lot more tourists and alot more bad guys targeting them - easy pickings.

Arizona
posts: 1
reviews: 38
10. Re: renting a car in Panama

We have used Hertz several times with no problems. Once you're out of the city, the roads are in decent shape and fairly well signed. Avoid heading out of the city on Fri evening and back into the city on Sun evening. You'll be sitting in traffic for a long time along with all the Panamanians who escape to their beach or mountain houses for the weekend.

In the city, unless you know your way around and have alternate routes planned in case of traffic snarls, taxis are highly recommended. They are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. Ask in advance of others (not the driver) what you should pay for your destination. Taxis are not metered, so upon arrival if you ask what you owe, the driver knows that you are uninformed and likely will quote a price 2 or 3 times what you should pay. Know the appropriate fare in advance, and upon arrival just hand the driver that amount, say "gracias" with a smile and get out. Be prepared to tell the taxi where you want to go by naming a nearby, well-known hotel, restaurant or store. Addresses are not very helpful as streets are seldom marked. Also, be prepared for the driver to stop to pick up other passengers along the way if they are headed in the same direction. Realize that once in a while the driver will decline to take you because your destination is not in a direction he wants to go. Don't take it personally. Just flag down the next taxi.

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