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Panama Travel Guide

Looking for an in-depth Panama travel guide?

Then you’re in the right place!

Located in Central America, the country of Panama has grown into an exciting travel destination in recent years.

Offering both big-city glitz and rugged adventures, Panama is one of the most exciting Central American countries for travelers. There’s so much to explore in this jewel of Latin America.

To get a feel for both the history of Panama and its modern culture, head to Panama City.

This city has been dubbed the “Dubai of Latin America” for a reason:

The skyscrapers and beachside luxury hotels are reminiscent of the infamous Middle Eastern destination.

There’s also the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Panama Viejo, where you can explore the ruins of the first European settlement on the Pacific Ocean.

And don’t forget to check out the Panama Canal, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

Panama is also a great destination for ecotourism with its many beautiful beaches, rainforests, and volcanoes. Here you can find unspoiled beaches like Santa Catalina and incredible hiking destinations like Boquete.

You’ll also definitely want to check out Bocas Town, a colorful beachside town that’s a whole world away.

Keep reading to dive into resources that will help you with planning a trip to Panama. If you’re traveling to Central America, you won’t want to miss this incredible destination!

Note: This ultimate guide to Panama travel contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Panama Map

Use this Panama travel map to begin planning your trip to this incredible country!

Panama map

Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.

Things To Do In Panama

Discover the best places to visit in Panama & the top experiences to have!

Panama Travel Advice

Use these Panama travel tips to plan the perfect trip!

Top Panama Tours

Explore Panama tourism & culture with a local through these recommended excursions:

  • Taste of Panama City: Walking Tour with Food and Drinks in Casco Viejo
  • Panama Canal Full Transit Tour from Panama City
  • Embera Village Day Trip from Panama City
  • Authentic Day Tour in Indigenous Guna Village in San Blas Islands from Panama City
  • Hiking, Waterfall & Zipline Adventure in El Valle de Anton from Panama City (El Chorro Macho waterfall included!)

Renting A Car In Panama

Need a rental car for your Panama trip?

Use Discover Cars to quickly compare your car rental options.

Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!

Panama Hotels

Click here to browse hotels in Panama!

Prefer self-contained stays? 

Click here to check out unique local rentals!

You can also use this map to search for local stays:

Panama Travel Insurance

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo or with a group on a Panama tour. When visiting Panama — or any other country in the world — make sure to get travel insurance to protect your health and safety.

In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

With coverage, you’ll have peace of mind as you embark on your Panama itinerary.

Click my referral link here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

Panama Travel Guide FAQ

Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about traveling Panama.

Q: What are some good tourist sites in Panama?

Panama’s top attraction is, of course, the famous Panama Canal. Located between Panama City and Colon, this modern engineering marvel connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

It’s definitely worth taking some time to watch the ships pass through the canal if you’re visiting either city. Even if you’re not into engineering, you won’t want to miss this incredible sight.

If you’re a hiker or nature lover, you’ll definitely want to check out Boquete, a small village on Panama’s Pacific side. Boquete is truly home to some of the best hiking trails in the world!

Here, you can experience “The Land of Eternal Springtime,” where flowers are constantly in bloom and the temperatures stay around 70 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.

There are tons of trails in the area that will take you through rainforests and up close with volcanoes. You can also explore the area via zipline or raft!

And you’ll definitely want to get some beach time in while visiting Panama!

One place to do this is Bocas del Toro, a collection of islands off Panama’s northeastern coast. If just chilling on the beach sounds a little too boring, the islands are also perfect for diving, surfing, and so much more.

Q: Is Panama dangerous for tourists?

While there are risks involved in any trip to Panama, it’s very possible to safely travel through the country.

Crime rates are very high in Panama, particularly in cities like Panama City and Colon. Both violent crime and theft are common, so always be aware of your surroundings and avoid going out alone at night in these areas. Keep any valuables close and hidden away, particularly in markets.

Also, be sure to only use licensed taxis throughout the country.

Drug trafficking is common in Panama and local authorities take this issue very seriously. You can get arrested for having even a small amount of drugs on you or for traveling with someone in possession of drugs. Keep this in mind as you travel throughout the country.

Also, avoid the Darien Gap area near the Panamanian-Colombian border, the epicenter of the drug trafficking business in Panama. The amount of criminal activity in the area makes it incredibly dangerous, particularly for travelers.

Q: What do I need to know before traveling to Panama?

While not required, travelers visiting Colon and areas east of the Panama Canal may want to get a Yellow Fever vaccine, as the disease is prevalent in these areas.

If you’re traveling from, or recently traveled to, a country with a high prevalence of Yellow Fever, you may need to provide proof of vaccination before entering the country.

Typhoid vaccines are also recommended if you are visiting smaller cities and more rural areas. Check with your country’s health department for full vaccine recommendations.

While Panama is fairly inexpensive for travelers compared to other parts of the world, it is one of the more expensive countries in Central and South America. You’ll be able to get some great deals while you’re in the country, but you may need to budget a bit more than you would for, say, Honduras, Guatemala, or Nicaragua.

English is also not widely spoken in Panama, so it’s a good idea to learn a few Spanish words and phrases before you go in order to communicate with the locals. Luckily, Spanish is typically one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers.

Q: Is it safe to travel in Panama City?

Panama City has grown into a bustling metropolis and is generally pretty safe for travelers. That said, crime rates are still high in the city, so it’s important to keep your guard up and any valuables out of sight to avoid pickpockets.

The parts of the city that are most popular with tourists are also popular with pickpockets, so use common sense and stay vigilant when out sightseeing.

Finaly, try to avoid neighborhoods that are known to be dangerous, like El Chorillo, Santa Ana, and San Miguel.

Q: Do I need a Panama travel visa?

Citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and several other countries do not need a visa to visit Panama for less than six months. Citizens of other countries may require a visa to enter the country, but visa waivers are available in some cases.

It’s recommended to view your country’s Panama International Travel Information page for the most up-to-date information on entry and exit requirements. You can also contact the Embassy of Panama.

Q: How many days should I spend in Panama City?

There are so many things to do in Panama, especially in Panama City. At the very least, you’ll want to allow three days to visit the Panama Canal (including the Miraflores Visitor Center), wander Casco Viejo, explore the ruins of Panamá Viejo (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), enjoy nature through Metropolitan Natural Park and Ancon Hill, and wander the various neighborhoods.

Remember, too, that there are numerous day trips and weekend trips to enjoy from Panama City, like the San Blas Islands, Monkey Island, Chagres National Park, the Pearl Islands, and Taboga Island.

You’ll really want to allot extra time for these local getaways.

Q: Are credit cards accepted in Panama?

Major credit cards are accepted around Panama — particularly Visa and MasterCard — though it’s recommended to carry cash for smaller establishments.

Additionally, you’ll want cash when visiting remote parts of the country.

Q: What is the best time to visit Panama?

While Panama is a year-round destination, most tourists like to avoid the rainy season and instead visit during the dry season between January and mid-April.

Q: What months are summer in Panama?

Summer in Panama runs from about December to April.

Q: Can you drink tap water in Panama?

You can drink tap water in many places in Panama, though not Bocas del Toro or the Comarca de Guna Yala.

On my trip, I drank the tap water in Boquete, El Valle de Anton, and Panama City and thought it was very tasty.

Q: What is the hottest month in Panama?

The warmest month in Panama is typically April.

Q: What is the local currency in Panama?

The local currency in Panama is the Panamanian balboa.

What would you add to this Panama travel guide?

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