Accommodation in Panama
Panama has all types of accommodation and for all pockets.
It is true that it is a little more expensive than the surrounding countries, but in terms of quality and price, I really don’t have many objections.
So depending on your possibilities and what you want to spend, you will not have great problems to find something that suits you.
I also tell you, if you are going to travel during the high season, such as Christmas, Easter or the November 2nd holiday (and the three days following), I do advise you to book in advance, as everything is usually full.
And when I say everything, that’s practically everything.
We had some problems finding accommodation in Santa Catalina, as we were looking for it as soon as we got there.
Between the fact that the bus was delayed due to traffic jams when we left Panama City (it was November 2nd), and that it was that holiday, we had a hard time finding a place to stay, but we managed to get it
- Surface area: 75,500 km²
- Population: 3.4 million inhabitants
- Density: 46 inhabitants per km²
- Mixed race: 57% mixed race (of Amerindian and European origin), 18% white, 15% black, 5% mulatto (from Africa and Europe), 5% Amerindian (indigenous)
- Capital : Panama City with 1,330,000 inhabitants
- Highest point: Baru volcano, 3,475 m above sea level
- Bordering countries: Costa Rica to the west and Colombia to the southeast
- Dimensions: 772 km from east to west, between 50 and 190 km from north to south depending on the location
Sites inscribed at UNESCO
- Fortifications of the Caribbean coast of Panama: Portobelo, San Lorenzo (1980)
- Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá (1997)
- Coiba National Park and its Special Marine Protected Area (2005)
- Darien National Park (1981)
- Reserves of the Talamanca-La Amistad Cordillera / La Amistad National Park (1983)
Language in Panama
The official language of Panama is Spanish, so if you’re reading this blog, you won’t have any problem communicating with the locals, or rather with almost everyone.
And I mean almost everyone, because there are areas where Spanish is not spoken, and you can even meet people who do not speak it.
This situation can happen in the area of Bocas del Toro, since there is a community that is of Antillean and Jamaican origins.
The language they speak is a mixture of English, French and Spanish.
You may understand single words, some of them, but understanding sentences is practically impossible, among other reasons because of their accent.
And this area is not the only one with its own language.
In the Guna Yala region, the Guna Yala Indians have their own language, and this one is impossible to understand.
When you arrive in San Blas, you will see that there are Indians who do not speak Spanish, although most do.
Panama Itinerary in 17 days
- Day 1: Arrival in Panama City
- Day 2: Panama City
- Day 3: Panama City – Soná – Santa Catalina
- Day 4: Santa Catalina
- Day 5: Santa Catalina – Coiba – Santa Catalina
- Day 6: Santa Catalina – Boquete
- Day 7: Boquete – Route of the Quetzals
- Day 8: Boquete – Bocas del Toro (Columbus – Bastimentos)
- Day 9: Bastimentos – Zapatilla Cay
- Day 10: Bastimentos
- Day 11: Bastimentos – Colón – Almirante – Panama City (night bus)
- Day 12: Panama City
- Day 13: Panama City – San Blas (Chichimé)
- Day 14: San Blas (Chichimé)
- Day 15: San Blas (Chichimé)
- Day 16: San Blas (Chichimé) – Panama City
- Day 17: Panama City and back
How to get around in Panama
Get around in Panamá Renting a Car
If you want to take a road trip from Panama City to other cities, and have the freedom to visit the country at your own pace, a good idea is to rent a car. Here you can compare the available offers and rent a car at the best price.
Gastronomy in Panama
Buff, what to say about the gastronomy in Panama, simply delicious.
If there’s one thing I’m sticking with, it’s ceviche.
Although it’s typical of Peru, there are many other countries where it’s eaten regularly.
In Panama I tried to eat ceviche every day, am I crazy? No, it was just delicious.
Patacones are also typical, what is this? Well, they are male bananas cut into somewhat wide slices and fried, delicious.
And if you like spicy, I think there is no country where I have tasted better spicy than Panama, and look how spicy I am.
Without a doubt, in Panama I think you won’t go hungry, maybe you’ll get a few extra kilos, but it’s worth it.
For us, the best ceviche we had was at the Panama City Seafood Market, a must see.
And if you don’t like Panamanian cuisine and want to eat other things, don’t worry, you’ll also find food that’s not so typical, but that you’re used to.
Panama Travel FAQ
Is it expensive to travel to Panama?
Panama is not an expensive destination, but it is not cheap either.
By working the country with dollars, everything is more expensive than any other country around, except Costa Rica, which is more expensive.
Places like Bocas del Toro or, especially San Blas, are more expensive to travel to, but it’s still an affordable country to travel to.
Travelling to Panama on your own?
If you have doubts between traveling to Panama on your own or on an organized trip, we are sure you can travel on your own.
Panama is a country where moving is easy, whatever the destination you want to go, you will be able to get there.
To the places that are less touristic, maybe there are less frequencies of transportation, but without a doubt it is a perfect country to do it by yourself.
Is tipping mandatory?
Tipping is still a topic of discussion in Panama.
There is usually a general rule of tipping 10%, although it is not mandatory at all.
There are restaurants that add it to the bill, which is a good idea to ask first if it is included or not
What type of clothing is ideal to bring on a trip to Panama?
With how hot it is in Panama, there is nothing better than bringing the simplest and most comfortable clothes possible, as well as a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses.
For those who decide to go hiking, it is essential to bring long pants, a pair of sneakers and a good mosquito repellent.
In the coldest destinations in the country, located in the province of Chiriqui, a coat or light jacket is enough.
Is it a good idea to rent a car and drive in Panama?
Unlike the chaotic and congested streets of Panama City, the rest of the nation is quite relaxed and easy to drive, and even more so if you take into account the fact that the Panamericana (the country’s main highway) is in optimal condition and more signposted than a few years ago.
It is essential that the person has a valid driver’s license to rent a car for a period not exceeding 90 days.
It is a good way to know the country with total freedom.
If this is your favourite option, we recommend you to do it through our partner where you will find a wide range of options and very good offers:
What is the recommended travel budget for traveling to Panama?
This is a very relative question since, as in any destination in the world, the budget will depend on what you want to do and how long you want to stay in Panama.
By throwing out an approximate figure of how much you would spend per day, I calculate that $20-$25 divided between lodging, food and a few extra expenses on the street.
Of course, the quoted price may be lower if you prefer Couchsurfing accommodation or if you want to cook most of your meals
In an emergency, what number should I dial?
The phone number you should have in mind is 911, which allows you to contact the fire department, police and medical services.
The great thing about 911 is that it covers the entire nation, which is not bad at a time when domestic tourism is constantly growing
What is the local currency in Panama ?
The currency is the US dollar, although it is normal to hear Panamanians use the term Balboa (in honor of Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa).
In 2011, $1 coins began to circulate, something new until then.
What kind of vaccines should I get to travel to Panama?
A vaccine against yellow fever is suggested, especially in the rainy season.
During the year you may hear cases of dengue fever, but they are very few and the highest percentage of incidences occur in remote areas. In any case, it is always good to take measures and carry mosquito repellent to keep them at bay.
How is the climate throughout the year?
From December to May is dry season and the rest of the months is rainy season, but as a good tropical country that is Panama, you will find much sun throughout the year.
Regardless of the time of year, the average temperature remains around 29°.
The biggest advantage is that, even in the coldest part of the country (the highlands of Chiriqui province), you won’t have to wear as many clothes for the cold.
Which are the main airports in Panama?
The Tocumen airport, located about 23 kilometers from downtown Panama City, is the most important and largest airport in the nation.
Regarding domestic flights, the company Air Panama is the one that provides flight service to the whole country and its center of operations is Albrook airport.
It is located 15 minutes from downtown Panama City.
What can I visit in each province of Panama?
First of all, the republic is divided into 9 provinces and 5 indigenous comarcas (Guna Yala is the most famous of all the comarcas).
Below is a list of the provinces, indicating the highlights of each:
Bocas del Toro: Colon Island.
Chiriqui: Boquete, La Amistad International Park, Cangilones de Gualaca, Volcano Village and Cerro Punta.
Cocle: The Anton Valley, the beaches of the Pacific (El Palmar, Santa Clara, Rio Mar).
Colon: Portobelo, Isla Grande, Chagres National Park.
Darien: The Darien National Park, The Patiño Bay.
Herrera: Chitré, Parita, Sarigua National Park.
Los Santos: La Villa de Los Santos, Pedasi.
Panama: Taboga, Panama la Vieja, Casco Viejo, Contadora.
Veraguas: Coiba Island, Santa Catalina, La Yeguada.
Is Panama safe?
At a Central American level, Panama is pretty quiet, and has even made the list of the 5 least violent countries in the Americas.
But nothing is perfect in life, and to say that everything is peace and love would be to pretend to cover the sun with a finger.
Certainly, and as in many places, there are robberies, pickpocketing and other types of crime where tourists become the main victims, but it is not something that happens so often.
Most of the time these events occur through the carelessness of the traveler.
As I usually suggest, use your common sense and always ask about the safety of a place before visiting it.
As a suggestion, avoid the city of Colon (its level of danger is high) and those regions of the Darien that have had a history of conflict with guerrillas and narco-paramilitaries.
Can we drink tap water in Panama?
At least in the main cities, the quality of the water is excellent, so there will be no need to resort to purifying tablets.
In rural areas, the most prudent thing would be to buy your water bottled
What kind of food is usual in Panama?
The gastronomic variety is immense in Panama, and historically this is thanks to its geographical position as a transit country.
Visitors will find that foods such as rice, salads, beans and meats are abundant in the Panamanian diet.
It is also normal to eat fried foods, especially at breakfast.
The national dish is sancocho, which is a chicken soup and is eaten a lot in the Azuero region and central provinces.
Can you cross from Panama to Colombia by land?
Not at all.
There are no roads or makeshift trails passing through the vast, dense Darien jungle to Colombia.
What many do is cross by sail to Cartagena from the San Blas islands.
The company San Blas Adventures is the one that offers the best service and has good prices.
Another alternative, which is cheaper, is to travel from Puerto Obaldía (Panama) to Turbo (Colombia).
When to travel to Panama? Good question if you are still not clear about the date for your trip to the Central American country.
Roughly speaking, there are two seasons and three seasons in Panama.
The seasons are dry and wet, and the seasons are high, low and mid
The dry season corresponds to the months from December to April, and the wet or rainy season to the rest of the months.
You also have to take into account that in Panama City or the Panama Canal area it rains an average of 300 days a year, there is nothing there.
The best time of year is undoubtedly the dry season, but if you get caught during the high season which corresponds to Christmas, Easter or the November 2nd holiday that lasts four days, you may find yourself having trouble finding reasonably priced accommodation.
So I advise you to look for accommodation in good time if you are going on those dates.
We arrived on the 2nd of November holiday, and found some problems regarding accommodation.
How is the Internet, Wifi and Phone Coverage in Panama ?
In Panama you will find Internet via WIFI in all the accommodations except in some islands farther away from San Blas.
Nowadays internet is really useful to be able to book accommodations, consult, etc.
So If you want to have internet constantly when you travel to Panama, the best option is to buy a SIM card.
The country has a good mobile phone network and operators vary according to region.
What is the Currency in Panama, balboa or dollar ?
In Panama there are two currencies that are legal tender and have the same value, the dollar and the balboa. So you’ll be able to pay in both currencies.
In several occasions you will pay in dollars and you will be given back balboas, but the most common use is that of the dollar.
If you like to collect coins, or know someone who does, keep some balboas as a souvenir.
How to buy a SIM card in Panama ?
There are several companies operating in Panama, Digicel, Claro, +Móvil and Movistar. You can buy SIM in Panama City when you arrive. Avoid Movistar as their coverage is not the best in Panama. The best options for price and coverage are Claro and Digicel.
What is the Language in Panama ?
Spanish is spoken by all Panamanians except sometimes by certain indigenous communities, notably the Kunas who have their own dialect
However, most of them understand the language.
The Spanish of Panama is more similar to that of the Caribbean than of Central America
Its pronunciation is more nasal than in South America
The particularity of Panamanian Spanish is the shortening of words by deleting the last syllable or the last consonant.
What is the Voltage in Panama ?
The current is 110 V, plugs with 2 flat American plugs
How is the Telephone & Internet in Panama ?
The dialling code to reach Panama is 00507
In major cities or tourist areas, you will have no trouble finding wifi, especially in hotels of a certain standard and the “modern-style” cafés found in the big cities.
Is Panama Worth Visiting ?
Nature is a constant in Panama, Deforestation is almost non-existent, and to a large extent, that is due to the large amount of money involved in the Canal. Thanks to this income, Panama does not need to exploit land, deforest it and destroy the fauna and flora. So, as you can imagine, the natural parks are impressive. Unlike other countries, Panama has that still wild point. That is, mass tourism has not arrived, so they keep the essence intact. It’s definitely a destination worth seeing
- Visit Panama Travel Guidelines: https://visitpanama.com/information/travel-guidelines/
- U.S. Embassy to Panama Travel Advisory: https://pa.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/
- Panama Reopening Plan and Flights: https://ticotimes.net/2020/10/02/panama-plans-october-12-reopening-for-international-flights
- Panama COVID-19 Testing Info: https://livinginpanama.com/panama-travel/require-covid-test-48-hours-before-arrival/
- Taxes in Panama: https://www.greenbacktaxservices.com/blog/8-ways-living-panama-us-taxes-abroad/
- Panama Travel Restrictions: https://flattenthecurve.global/panama
- World Nomads Panama Travel Updates: https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-safety/central-america/panama/latest-panama-travel-alerts-and-warnings
- Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/visitpanama/
Now Your Turn
Now I would like to know, do you have any question ?
Or maybe do you have some information to add ?
Either way, let me know in the comments below