Crossing the border from Panama at Guabito to Sixaola Costa Rica. If your traveling on foot across the border take the second office window on the right to get your passport stamped out of Panama. If you have arrived in a car either rented or your own you will need to visit the first office on your right. They will make sure all your paperwork is in order and they may want to see your title. Then proceed to the second office window for your passport stamp. The crossing is equally worrisome whether by foot or by car. The bridge is in horrible condition and has many missing boards and gaps. It is only wide enough for one way vehicle traffic. This bridge was originally made for trains and your car must straddle the tracks. Large semi’s and buses make this journey, so as long as you keep your car on the bridge you should be ok. Traveling by foot make use of the walkways on the right side of the bridge when available as the footing is much safer.
The first building on the right on the Sixaola side of the bridge has police outside of it. These police are there to check Panamanians and Costa Ricans entering Costa Rica. At the car spray station take the right hand side walkway to avoid walking through the insect spray used for cars. The first building on the left is where you will stamp into Costa Rica. Sometimes this can be a very slow line. Keep in mind Costa Rica wants you to show proof that your leaving when you stamp your passport into the country. If you don’t already have proof pass this building and take the long raised walkway farther down on the left. Here they sell bus tickets that will satisfy the officials of your exiting. Then of course return and get your passport properly stamped in.
If you have brought a car across they will spray it for insects at the far end of the bridge. Keep your windows up as they do not warn you in advance. If you do not have insurance specifically for Costa Rica you will need to park your car on the right immediately after the bridge. Take the steps down at the parking area and look to your right and you will see a place that sells car insurance. This can be purchased for a minimal length of time and a small price.
If your looking for a bus to take you farther into Costa Rica take the road that heads down and to the right after the parking area. Take the first right and head to the end of the road and the building is to the left. The buses also sometimes park up by the road right before they leave and a ticket can be purchased there as well. Taxis in Costa Rica are always red. Before you agree on a price for a location ask around as they will all have a different price with some offering a group rate.
Make sure you have all your paperwork completely squared away before you leave Sixaola. Shortly after leaving Sixaola there is a border patrol area that will check all your documents. Tourists usually do not have a problem here however the locals may be pulled off buses to be further investigated and occasionally they will search the luggage compartments of the bus.
If your traveling the reverse direction from Sixaola Costa Rica to Guabito Panama the procedure is much the same. However you will not need proof of exiting the country and you must purchase a tourist card. Tourist cards are five dollars each and are located in the first office on the left as you step off the bridge. This is the same office where they will stamp your passport into Panama.
If you need transportation take the stairs down to the left. This is where the taxi’s headed toward Changuinola park. If your heading on from Changuinola to David you will want the first bus terminal coming into town on the right. If your headed to the water taxi for Bocas (Isla Colon) you will want the second bus terminal that is on the left. The water taxi is accessible by a passenger van marked Las 60. Large buses at this terminal also go to Almirante where there are also water taxis to Bocas.