The city of Changuinola is located in the Bocas del Toro region of Panama. Many tourists go through Changuinola to get to their final destinations. Both bus terminals are on the street marked 17 de Abril. The local bus terminal is located near the police station. This is the place to catch the passenger van out to the water taxi’s that go to Isla Colon (Bocas). The correct van for the water taxi is marked Las 60. Buses are also available regularly everyday to Almirante. The Almirante bus parks closest to the side of the building. At the far end of the terminal from the large parked buses there are taxis parked in the parking lot. These taxis are especially for traveling to the border of Costa Rica. Since the road is rough these taxis are pick-up trucks. If you are traveling alone you may need to wait for more passengers.
The bus terminal at the other end of town is where you would catch a bus to David, or to the border of Costa Rica. Many taxi drivers are also willing to make these trips. Make sure your taxi or bus has air conditioning. A long trip can be torture without if your not used to the weather.
The airport in Changuinola provides flights to Panama City, David, and Isla Colon. Changuinola is often a stop on the way from Panama City to Isla Colon for fueling.
There is a wide variety of restaurants in Changuinola. Panamanian food is available starting at about two dollars a plate. Very few of the Restaurants here offer air conditioning. One with air conditioning is located at the non local bus terminal and its called Pizzeria Aladino. This restaurant offers not only pizza but other American favorites. They also carry icecream. The Chiquita banana restaurant is convenient to the local terminal. It is located directly across the street (17 de Abril). They do provide fans for the customers and you can pick out your own cold drink on your way to a table. They serve mostly Panamanian style foods.
If your going to buy any clothing in Changuinola check out the Lobo. The Lobo is right next to the local bus terminal. It carries a lot of clothing at reasonable prices for all sizes. The Lobo store also carry a variety of other things if you have forgotten something for your trip. Ask at the counter if you need assistance in English.
For snacks, drinks, fresh donuts, and a wider variety of dairy products than any of the other local stores go to Romero’s. This store is two blocks from the local bus terminal and somewhat kitty corner to the police station. It is a modern grocery store for this area and does have air conditioning. Romero’s has a pharmacy inside and an ATM. They also carry diapers, formula, bug spray, batteries, and sun lotion. They even have some reading material in English at the registers.
If your taking a taxi right around the towns center it will cost fifty cents per person. Occasionally they will charge more if you have baggage.
The Alhambra hotel is located above the Banco de Panama which is also on 17 de Abril. This is a budget friendly hotel that has very large rooms with many beds. Perfect for a large family or a group traveling together. This hotel does have air conditioning and hot water. The Carol hotel is on the same road and is also very reasonable priced. The Carol hotel is around twenty dollars a night and includes air conditioning and hot water. The rooms are small and have two beds per room. There are also TV’s in each room. Both of these hotels are on the second floor. They have balconies which are great for watching the many parades Changuinola has.
Internet access is available for one dollar an hour at Arco Iris. This is behind the buses acrossed the street at the local terminal. They also have copy machines should you need copies of your passports or other documents. Arco Iris can also develop both digital and regular photographs.
Changuinola is generally a safe city during the day and evening. When all the shops on the main street close up its time to get off the streets.