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Public Transportation in Las Tablas

Learning how to get around using public transportation in Las Tablas is an important step in adjusting to life in Las Tablas. In this article, we cover the local public transportation options.

Las Tablas, a picturesque town known for its vibrant culture and traditional Panamanian festivals, offers a glimpse into a more laid-back lifestyle. Public transportation in Las Tablas is not as extensive or sophisticated as what you might find in a major metropolitan area like New York City or London. The town primarily relies on buses and taxis to get around, with no subway or train system in place. For expats considering a move to Las Tablas, the question of whether one can live comfortably without a car is a valid concern. While the town is walkable and the public transportation can get you to most places, the convenience of having a car cannot be understated, especially for trips outside the town or for carrying groceries and other goods.


In Las Tablas, buses are a common sight and serve as the backbone of public transportation. They are known locally as “colectivos” and can be seen traversing the main streets, connecting Las Tablas with surrounding areas and other cities. The buses are typically painted brightly, often with intricate designs and patterns, reflecting the colorful culture of Panama. Safety on these buses is generally not a concern during the day, as they are frequented by locals and tourists alike. However, as with any location, it’s wise to be more cautious at night and to keep an eye on your belongings. The cost of riding a bus in Las Tablas is quite affordable, with fares usually under a couple of dollars depending on the distance traveled. Routes cover the main areas of the town and extend to nearby beaches and communities. For expats and tourists, these buses offer a cost-effective way to explore the region, though understanding the schedule and routes may take some time to master. Anecdotes from locals suggest that while the buses are reliable, they may not always adhere to a strict timetable, so a flexible approach to travel is advisable.


Taxis in Las Tablas offer a more direct and private mode of transportation. They are readily available and can be hailed on the street or found at taxi stands throughout the town. Taxis do not have meters, so it’s important to agree on the fare with the driver before setting off. Prices are generally reasonable, but as an expat, you might find yourself subject to the “gringo tax,” where fares are slightly higher for foreigners. It’s a good idea to ask a local or your hotel for typical rates to ensure you’re paying a fair price.Safety in taxis is generally not an issue, but it’s always prudent to use common sense, such as avoiding unmarked taxis and not traveling alone at night if it can be avoided. Taxis can be a great option for those times when you need to carry more than you can handle on foot or when the weather is less than favorable for walking.


Las Tablas is a walkable town with most amenities and attractions within easy reach on foot. The town’s layout is straightforward, with a central square and streets radiating from it, making it difficult to get lost. Walking is not only a healthy option but also allows expats and visitors to immerse themselves in the local atmosphere, stopping at small shops and street vendors along the way.While walking is generally safe, it’s important to be mindful of the heat, especially during the midday sun, and to stay hydrated. Sidewalks can be narrow or uneven in places, so comfortable walking shoes are recommended. For expats living in the town center, walking combined with occasional bus rides can be sufficient for daily needs, reducing the necessity of owning a car.

Overall Considerations

For expats contemplating life in Las Tablas without a car, it’s certainly feasible, especially if you plan to stay within the town’s limits and enjoy a slower pace of life. The combination of buses, taxis, and walking can cover most transportation needs. However, for those who wish to explore more remote areas, visit neighboring towns frequently, or require more flexibility in their daily schedule, having a car might be a more convenient option.The charm of Las Tablas lies in its simplicity and the ease with which one can become part of the community. Whether you’re relying on public transportation or considering purchasing a vehicle, the friendly locals and the relaxed atmosphere will surely make your experience in Las Tablas a memorable one.

Expats talk about Public Transportation in Las Tablas

“A taxi takes you anywhere in the Las Tablas area for $2.50, not including any tip. The guagua, the bus, costs sixty cents and comes every hour. If you want to travel to another city or even country there are buses for that too. It’s a great system and not expensive. Everything is diesel and efficient. Everything is safe,” commented an expat living in Las Tablas.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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