Most long-distance buses leave from the capital’s impressive Gran Terminal de Transportes (www.grantnt.com ). It’s pretty gran, all right—huge and two stories high. Buses arrive on the top floor and leave from street level, which is where all the ticket booths are. Destinations are posted on each booth, and a schedule of hours and intermediate destinations is sometimes posted behind the ticket seller. The Gran Terminal now has a website listing details and prices for all destinations, which would be super swell if the list wasn’t two years out of date, which it was the last time I checked. It also gets the prices for some destinations wrong by a factor of ten, which doesn’t inspire confidence.
There may be more than one bus headed to your destination at any given time. If a bus that has your destination as a final stop isn’t convenient, look for one that has it as an interim stop. Those heading to Santiago, for instance, can buy a ticket at the Santiago booth or, say, the David  booth (Santiago is on the way to David). There’s a US$0.05 departure fee for long-distance bus service, payable at the turnstiles on the way to the buses; change machines are nearby. Using the bathrooms in the terminal costs US$0.25.
Panama City  and local area buses also operate from the terminal, including buses to Tocumen International Airport (look for the “Tocumen, Corredor Sur” bus). They leave from the ground floor, on the side facing the shopping mall. Destinations are signposted.
The ground floor has shops, pharmacies, a half-dozen banks and ATMs, a branch of the low-cost Niko’s Café cafeteria, two U.S.-style food courts, pharmacies, places to take passport-size photos and laminate ID cards, places selling cheap mobile phone and phone cards, and other businesses likely to be of interest to travelers. However, the last Internet café disappeared and there is no indication of a new one arriving. The terminal is next to a shopping mall, Los Pueblos Albrook Mall, and a movie multiplex, Cinemark. A few notable services include:
Farmacia Albrook (10 a.m.–11 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 8 a.m.–10 p.m. Sun.), one of two pharmacies more or less next door to each other.
HSBC bank (10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Sat.), which has a 24-hour ATM. There are now lots of ATMs, but if there are crowds or you’d rather not withdraw money at a bus terminal, use one of the ATMs in the shopping mall next door.
Telxpress (tel. 269-1055, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. daily), which offers international phone-call service at prices that tend to be excessive.
The bus terminal’s information desk downstairs is useless.