Almost all of the people that come to Paso Canoas get here because they plan to cross the border between Panama and Costa Rica.
The town itself does not offer much and is on both sides of the border. Paso Canoas is not an official free trade zone, but nevertheless it is a popular shopping destination among Costa Ricans. There is one store after another along the back roads that turn off the main road that leads to the border. There are several banks in Paso Canoas, which makes this a good location to change traveler checks or deal with other banking activities.
For travelers that have enough time, a trip over the border to Panama is recommended. The currency in Panama, the balboa, is fixed with the dollar. That's why it's no problem to pay with dollars in Panama. The influence of the USA is highly visible in Panama City. In contrast to San Jose there are many skyscrapers in Panama City. In 1999 the US military left the Canal Zone and transferred the Panama Canal to Panama.
Visitors who plan to see both coasts of Costa Rica and are already in the south of the country should consider the option of crossing in Panama, instead of going back to San Jose or Cartago. In Panama you have to travel through David and Almirante to reach the border on the Caribbean side. There you can reenter Costa Rica and step on Costa Rican soil again in Sixaola.
It is not possible to take rental cars over the border, but some car rental companies do work together with their branches in Panama. They can arrange for you to switch the rental car at the border. Some motorcycle rental companies in Costa Rica allow you to cross the border with their vehicles.
As in Costa Rica it is no problem to travel by bus in Panama. People who cross borders in Panama should consider staying some time at the beautiful Bocas del Toro, on the Caribbean side of Panama.