Even by the modest standards of mainland Bocas del Toro , the down-at-the-heels border town of Guabito (pop. 14,360) has little to offer visitors. It’s simply a place to pass through on to the way to or from Costa Rica .
There are no hotels and no appealing places to eat. The nearest place with significant services is Changuinola , about a 20-minute drive away.
The border crossing is on an elevated railway trestle on the edge of the Río Sixaola. The combination immigration, customs, and IPAT office is right on the train tracks next to the bridge that crosses the river.
For more information on what to expect when crossing the Panama border, please visit our Panama Border Crossings page .
The border runs right down the middle of the Río Sixaola. Travelers must cross the railroad bridge on foot or in a vehicle. The bridge was built in 1908 and has been deteriorating ever since.
It’s a real embarrassment to Panama  that the half of the bridge under Costa Rican control is freshly painted, at least superficially well-maintained, and has a protected walkway for pedestrians, while the Panamanian half is rusted, dilapidated, and forces pedestrians to walk right on the tracks.
It’s not the most inviting way to enter a country, but it makes for a comical photo. The border crossing is quite casual, and anyone who wants to can wander out on the bridge to take a look.
Buses and taxis are available downstairs from customs and immigration.
Buses to Changuinola run about every 25 minutes, 5:30 a.m.–8 p.m. The trip takes 30 minutes and costs US$1. There are no direct buses from Guabito to Almirante, Panama City , David , or anywhere else you’re likely to want to go. Take a bus to the Changuinola bus terminal and change there.
Taxis should charge around US$6 to Changuinola and US$20–25 to Almirante. This is per ride, not per person. Taxi drivers and “tour guides” sometimes try to take advantage of clueless new arrivals at the border, so be polite but firm and don’t get ripped off.
Buses from Sixaola, on the Costa Rican side, leave for San José, Costa Rica , at 6 a.m., 8 a.m., 10 a.m., and 3 p.m. The ride takes 6.5–8 hours. (Remember: Costa Rica time is one hour earlier than Panama time.) Another option is to take a bus from Sixaola to Puerto Limón and transfer to a San José bus from there.