BUENAS, intrepid travelers! Ready to embark on a wild ride through the labyrinthine streets of Panama? Hold onto your Panama hats because this is going to be a high-octane, whirlwind tour of taxi tactics that’ll make you an undisputed Panama cab-navigating ninja.
So there you are, fresh off the plane in Panama, looking like a deer caught in the headlights at immigration. But fear not, the saviors in yellow are here to rescue you! The first rendezvous with our yellow-jacketed heroes was at the taxi rank, where a barrage of English-speaking airport staff, armed with price tags, came to our rescue. With luggage hanging off our arms like designer accessories and our puppies in tow (not to mention a significant other desperate for a shower), who was I to argue with the $40 ride into town? Was it a king’s ransom? Mehhh! Did I care? Absolutely not!
Sooooooooo rumor had it that Panama City's taxis were as cheap as thrift store finds and as abundant as pineapple at a tropical buffet. We'd step out of our apartment, and voila, a cab would magically appear. Seriously, it was like having a golden carriage for the price of a pumpkin. Let's not forget about the thrill of being honked at every nanosecond as if we were superstars walking the red carpet. Annoying? Yes. But hey, we felt like celebrities!
Now, let me let you in on a little secret: You know those licensed yellow cabs with numbers on the side? Get in there. No, seriously, hop right in! These cheeky chappies may not have meters, fancy identifiers, or even quiet music. But trust me, they know their stuff.
Don't be fooled by appearances. That taxi with the battle scars, a cracked window, and music loud enough to wake the dead? It's your magic carpet ride. Oh, and did I mention the heart-stopping, adrenaline-inducing driving style? Think of it as a complimentary thrill ride.
In my adventures, I've come to realize that the shabbier the taxi, the more genuine the driver. Many are humble immigrants, fueling their dreams by sending money back home.
You'll meet all sorts: The chatty Cathy, the silent Sam, the English-speaking Edward. They might even offer you their number for future rides – they're like your personal chauffeurs. But remember, friend, it's a wild ride and you might find yourself on the receiving end of a price that has more zeroes than you'd like. Just remember to set the price before you buckle up.
A few Panama Pacifica pro tips: avoid grabbing taxis right outside your fancy hotel or the glitzy mall - unless you fancy getting ripped off. Instead, take a stroll onto the street and snag one of the yellow chariots zooming past. They're as plentiful as fish in the sea, I promise. Had one too many overpriced rides? Are you tech savy? NO?? Then it’s time to get tech-savvy! UBER is your best amigo in the hustling, bustling metropolis of Panama City. No more haggling, no more unknown fares. Instead, you get the red carpet treatment with drivers who are safer, cars that are swankier, and navigation that's a breeze. Plus, it's as cashless as a millennial's wallet.
Learn some Spanish magic words:
‘todo recto’ (straight ahead)
pare aquí’ (stop here) will have you sounding like a local in no time.
Where are my neighbors in CORONADO?!?! If you find yourself
in Coronado, Machetazo shopping center is your taxi hot spot!
In this tug-of-war between yellow cabs and UBER, the taxis have made a power move and joined the app bandwagon. You can now hail a yellow cab with an app like Taxi Usuario. Isn't that just hip and happening?
Now, sit back and indulge me as I delve into the realm of overcharging. Picture this: A swift ride that costs you just $4 daily, but today, the driver wants $10. What do you do? You flash your most charming grin, let out a hearty laugh, and say, "Nice try, buddy! Here's $5, and keep the change". Trust me, they'll take it, no hard feelings.
In the land where tipping is as rare as snowfall in summer, feel free to round up the fare or throw in an extra buck if you're feeling particularly generous. It's not necessary, but it'll definitely earn you some good karma points.
Before we wrap up this mind-boggling monologue about taxi adventures in Panama, let's circle back to UBER. Here, you get the peace of mind knowing who your driver is and where they're taking you. And the cherry on top? If you're willing to wait a tad longer, you can score an English-speaking driver.. but this is reserved for closer and inside of Panama City... I CANT WAIT FOR US TO GET UBER IN CORONADO!
Having spent quite a spell here, the thrill of riding in a yellow taxi, haggling over prices, and the quirky conversations with local drivers have grown on me. In fact, getting back home now feels like daylight robbery!
So there you have it folks, the lowdown on how to taxi like a champ in Panama. Keep these tips in mind, buckle up, and enjoy the ride. You're now officially equipped to navigate Panama's taxi jungle like a seasoned explorer. If the taxi game isn't for you... consider renting a vehicle from www.PanamaPacificaCarRentals.com, we have a wide range of SUVs, cars and crossovers to fit everyones needs. BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and lots more. We even have a bunch for sale if you're in the market! If you need help navigating the BUY, SELL, RENT ecosystem here in the 507, or are interested in reserving your FREE PANAMA REAL ESTATE TOUR, grab that smart phone and give us a call (or a text) at +507 6781-0333 and ask for Charla :-)