EPDM Coatings
rvupgradestore.com Composet Products
RV Life Magazine RV Park Reviews RV Trip Wizard

Author Topic: RV'ing to Panama  (Read 6091 times)


  • Posts: 4
RV'ing to Panama
« on: August 05, 2007, 06:28:49 PM »
My wife & I are planning a trip to the Panama Canal & back. Has on this forum anyone done this? What should we expect as far roads, diesel fuel, propane, campsites, dumping stations Etc. along the route? We have a 05 duramax & Artic Fox slide in camper.


  • Administrator
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 46042
  • Celebrating 25 years of The RV Forum online.
    • RV Forum web site
Re: RV'ing to Panama
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2007, 04:25:22 PM »

Looks like nobody has responded. Try using the Advanced search link above to search for prior discussions on Panama. I believe there were a couple.
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.


  • Posts: 2
Re: RV'ing to Panama
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2007, 09:38:01 PM »

I was in Panama not too long ago, but not RVing.  It was a cruise through the Panama Canal, so I can offer little real information on RVing.  On my shore excursion into Panama off the ship and in Costa Rica, diesel fuel seems abundant.  It's priced by the liter.  One of the tour guides said the cost was about $4.00 per liter.  Seems pretty pricey, but the supply seeems abundant. 

Your local automobile association probably has touring and camping information for foreign countries.


Newt & Jan

  • ---
  • Posts: 407
    • JaNewt  eMart
Re: RV'ing to Panama
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2007, 02:05:44 AM »
One of the tour guides said the cost was about $4.00 per liter. 

So a little over $15 per gallon.  Ouch.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
If you ain't the lead dog, your view never changes


  • ---
  • Posts: 1410
    • Seaworthy.com, Your Bahamas and Caribbean Cruising Advisory
Re: RV'ing to Panama
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2008, 08:09:09 PM »
I've traveled extensively in Mexico and Guatemala.  Fuel is not a problem, only pricey, cheaper in Mexico though.  On the major highways in Mexico truck stops are often found for overnight stays.  If you're heading down the east coast of Mexico be aware that speedbumps, "topes", are everywhere, and are particularly concentrated in and around Veracruz.  You'll find these things in the middle of nowhere with the only building around being someone's house!  And they usually come in pairs and fours.  Driving is particularly hazardous at night since cattle and other large animals are likely to be found on the roads (usually not on the major highways though, but you can never be sure).

In southern Mexicio, particularly in the state of Chiapas, be prepared for frequent stops by Immigration (Immigracion), Customs (Aduana), the police (policia), and the army.  Stops are more frequent heading north.  I was stopped 12 times within three hours of leaving Tapachula bound for Veracruz.  They're looking for guns, drugs, and rebels, especially in Chiapas which is a hotbed of revolutionary activity.  Yes, the soldiers will be armed with automatic weapons, but you have nothing to fear unless you're a rebel or running contraband.  And it will help if you know a little Spanish, or at least try to speak it, the locals are more than willing to help you with your Spanish.

The roads in Guatemala are a bit better than those in Mexico for the most part, and cleaner as well.  Even some of the major 4-lanes in Mexcio can be quite rough.  The road ARE well marked though, at least the major roads.  For Mexican Insurance I used Sanborn (google them), they also have some great guide books for Mexico with mile markers and places of interest, I love 'em! 

I'd suggest getting your pesos before entering Mexico, and as you head south you'll need each country's currency once you cross their borders.  Banks can supply the local currency and most have ATMs that will work with your Visa or Mastercard.  At the border between Mexico and Guatemala you'll find lots of money changers with huge wads of pesos, Quetzales (Guatemalan currency), and US Dollars.  Their rates are not as good as the banks, but if you need a few pesos these men are the ones to see.  But be careful, some of the more unscrupulous ones will quote you one rate and give you another thinking that the stupid gringo won't catch it.  Make sure you agree on a price BEFORE you hand them any money, and make sure they count the money into your hands slowly.  If the Casa de Cambios in Brownsville, Texas are giving you 11 pesos for the dollar, expect the money changes at the Guatemalan border to sell their pesos for 10-10.5, and if you're changing your pesos for Quetzales, get just what you need at the border to avoid taking a loss on the black market exchange...you'll need 10Q to clear in, and then when you get on down the road find a bank in Guatemala City or HueHueTenango for a better rate.  One last thing, don't hang around the border town (at the Talisman Bridge) just outside Tapachula at night; it's not a good spot for gringos at night, or some locals for that matter. 

I hope I've not said anything to deter anyone from traveling here.  The countryside is beautiful, the people friendly, and the shopping outstanding. 

« Last Edit: March 06, 2008, 08:11:56 PM by Luca1369 »
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.
I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson

A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tsu (570-490 BC)

Tom in VB

  • ---
  • Posts: 16
    • Papillon's Travels
Re: RV'ing to Panama
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2008, 08:21:38 AM »
The national currency is US dollars and being the former British Honduras English is spoken everywhere.  Roads were good and the coast is superb.  However I was just there for one day on a cruise ship but would have no problem returning with an RV.

Our day in Costa Rica should good main roads.

Panama City looks like Emerald City in Oz, the rest has a more wild and wooly appearance.

Travel wisely

Consider Europe: see our blog www.papillontravels.net

Tom in Vero Beach
Tom in Vero Beach


  • ---
  • Posts: 113
Re: RV'ing to Panama
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2008, 06:22:15 PM »
I lived in Panama for four years in the early 80's and loved it.  I've also driven a motor home twice to Honduras, traveling once along the west coast through Acapulco and once through Veracruz.  It is a fascinating drive but you need a strong stomach for potential danger.  As one of the earlier writers indicated, Chiapas can be politically unstable.  In the more northern parts of Mexico we found everyone very friendly.  From Chiapas on south we were viewed with suspicion and distrust.  In Chiapas we ran iinto a roadblock of stones and about 30 rock throwing people.  My husband drove through the crowd and did not stop, but it was scary and we did end up with a smashed side window.
About 15 miles south of San Salvador we were hit by a drunk driver at 8:30 one Saturday morning.  We were detained by the police for three hours while they investigated the accident.  Unbelievably scary.  Damage to our motor home was about $35,000.    We were traveling dental missionaries and during that particular incident some of our equipment was stolen as I directed traffic around the vehicles and my husband attended to the drunk driver.
There was also the incident where my husband accidentally ran into a lady's fried chicken stand in Guatemala and 30 angry peasants appeared from nowhere and put boards with nails sticking out of them in front of our front tires.   Once we bought the chicken we were free to go.
Having said all this, it was the adventure of our lives.  Some advice - you will be accosted at each border crossing by people who want to assist you through the rubber stamp process.   You can do it yourself and much cheaper but may not be worth the hassle.  Usually several small tokens of money will need to change hands just to get through it.  That's just part of doing business.
Never drive at night.  Always look way ahead at the road and do not be surprised if you encounter road subsidence just around the corner or what appears to be a perfectly good road.  We found the roads in Guatemala very narrow with no shoulders.  It made for rather difficult driving.  Honduras roads by comparison were very nice. 
We used Sanborn's for Mexican insurance but they do not insure for Central America so you have to buy that elsewhere.  Sorry, I can't remember what we used.
We had no problems finding campgrounds as far as San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas but after that it became more difficult.  We sometimes stopped in a small town, parked in the square and talked to the local police about staying there.  Never a problem and nothing is going to happen to your vehicle as everyone is watching it as it is rare to see an RV so far south.
In all it is a fun trip if you have a spirit of adventure.  We encountered many young people traveling in VW buses and backpacking their way through Central America.  It really is very appealing to many.
One last thing, if you have vehicle breakdowns you can usually get your vehicle repaired cheaply and easily in Mexico and Central America.  No tossing away the part and buying a new one.  They work well at repairing what you have.    Do make sure you have at least one good spare tire.  You will probably need it.  We used ours and tried to buy another as we were still far from Honduras and found that we couldn't get a replacement even in Mexico City.   I'd probably plan on taking two spares.
2007 Allegro Bay
1999 Mazda Miata