Though Panama City  is just a 25-kilometer drive from Tocumen, there’s no satisfactory public transportation to or from it.
To be sure of getting a licensed taxi driver, book through the taxi-cooperative booth in the arrivals lounge (ground floor). The fare to Panama City is US$25 for one or two persons. There’s an extra charge of US$2.40 to pay for the toll road, but it’s well worth the savings in time. Most destinations in the former Canal Zone —including Amador, Albrook, Clayton, and “Kobby” (Kobbe Beach, home to Playa Bonita Resort and Spa)—run US$30–35 for one or two people.
Other fares available at the booth include Gamboa  (US$45) and Colón  (US$65) for up to four people. Those passing through Panama who have a long layover can get a tour of the Panama Canal  for US$60. More ambitious tours are also offered. Add US$10 to most of these fares for a third person.
Pay at the booth and take the receipt. Your driver will be pointed out to you, most likely a neatly dressed man with a clean, late-model car.
It’s not customary to tip taxi drivers in Panama. Panama City taxis should charge about US$20–25 for the trip back to the airport, but settle on the price before getting in the cab.
It may be possible to save a few dollars by negotiating with other taxi drivers, licensed or otherwise, who hang around the terminal, but there’s a risk of getting ripped off or worse by an unscrupulous character. These guys often try to take tourists to hotels that pay them commissions.
A few hotels in Panama City  offer airport pickup and drop-off for less than the cost of a taxi; ask when making room reservations.
It’s possible to take a bus into the city, but it’s a hassle and should only be attempted by those on a tight budget. Buses do not stop at the terminal. To catch one requires hauling your luggage outside the grounds of the airport. There’s a bus shelter on the roundabout a hot and humid half-kilometer away on the main road.
The fare is US$0.25 for a more-frequent non-air-conditioned bus, but it’s well worth coughing up extra change for an air-conditioned bus if one passes by. The final stop is at Plaza Cinco de Mayo in downtown Panama City, a trip that can take 105 hours in traffic.
Buses that travel along the Corredor Sur are far quicker; look for a sign that says corredor painted on the bus. Buses run frequently but erratically. There is no luggage storage compartment; you’ll have to squeeze on with all your gear. I don’t recommend attempting all this at night, which is quite likely when your plane will arrive.
On the return trip, Tocumen-bound buses can be caught in front of the artisans’ stands on Plaza Cinco de Mayo. Tocumen-bound buses also stop along Calle 50; there’s a stop next to Panafoto (Calle 50 and Calle 49A Este). Buses to and from Tocumen also stop at the Gran Terminal de Autobuses in Albrook, which is a safer option for those arriving or leaving at night. Be sure the bus stops near the airport. Passengers are dropped off with their luggage at the roundabout outside the airport.
Rental cars are available at the airport. All the major companies have offices there. Only those planning road trips outside Panama City should fool with them, though, because driving and parking in the city is a hassle.
The quickest route between Tocumen and Panama City  is by way of the Corredor Sur, a toll highway to the airport that starts on the eastern outskirts of the city, rather than on the congested surface streets. The toll is US$2.40 to the end of the line. The Corredor Sur section of the drive takes only a few minutes, but heavy traffic in Panama City can slow getting to or from the highway. Allow at least an hour to drive between Tocumen and most parts of the city, more during the height of morning and evening rush hours.