Pasa Canoas is The Frontera!
You may find them listed differently on different maps or even on different zoom levels of digital maps. Rest assured, they are the same place. Here I have an image where they were listed as both on the same zoom level on Google Maps. When I zoomed in further, it was simple Frontera. Zoomed out, it was Pasa Canoas. Don’t let it confuse you or all of my confusion will have been for naught!
The Panama – Costa Rica Border Experience
I once again chose to take the Tica Bus for this journey to Panama. I got off the bus and found the line for people departing Costa Rica. This was probably one of those times where knowing spanish would be helpful, but I managed with the help of some people who knew the universal language of caveman. “Ugh Ugh” point “Ugh Raa Raa.” got me through rather simply. Fill out the customs form, stand in line and explain to the teller you don’t speak spanish with a “Ugh.”
Once you’re done with that line, you go out in the street and try to figure the rest out from there. Unless you look at my map that explains it of course! but by the time you get done explaining to the Costa Rica departure person why on earth you want to go to Panama, there’s nobody to follow! I just kinda walked straight until I noticed the Tica Bus sitting next to a building. That building is shown on the map below. Get in the entrance line and wait. Panamanians are the slowest people on earth, you’ll be waiting a while. If you are not traveling by bus, there’s some half decent bathrooms and a McDonalds marked on the map as well.
People come from miles around to shop at the duty free facilities here, so it can get pretty crowded. They are also pretty accustomed to foreigners and despite the area resembling a wild west town (which made me want to stay), the people are friendly and helpful.
I know this post won’t be very interesting, but I want to keep it simple. Pasa Canoas, Panama – Costa Rica can be a bit confusing. Just take a good look at the map and maybe keep a picture of it. It’s especially confusing coming back into Panama without a Tica Bus to look for. The Costa Rica customs area is just a tiny shack compared to the massive Panamanian building.
I hope this helps anyone passing through the Pasa Canoas border crossing.
*** Final note: When entering Panama I was asked not only for a return ticket, but also for a credit card! I have been told that they will accept seeing $500. Apparently this is to ensure that you can afford your trip. I believe I was also asked for an exit ticket when I returned to Costa Rica, but I’m not 100% sure on that one.
View Pasa Canoas / Frontera in a larger map