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Panama Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit Panama in 2023

Welcome to Panama

The country of Panama is located in Central America, between Colombia and Costa Rica, and it has a population of 4 million. The capital is Panama City, which is also the largest city in the country. Panama is known for its beautiful beaches, fantastic wildlife, friendly locals, and delicious food.

This is a country full of joy and colors. The old and the new coexist in harmony, from cosmopolitan life to tropical beach paradises full of diversity you must know on your trip. Here’s the ultimate Panama travel guide for you to plan your trip.

Document checklist for Panama

  • Visa
  • Health Declaration
  • Valid passport
  • Sufficient funds
  • Return airline ticket

Essential Panama travel information

  • Currency - Balboa (PAB) and United States dollar (USD). $1 is equivalent to approx. PAB 1.01.

  • Daily budget for 1 person - The budget for one person is around PAB 64.

  • Languages - Spanish.

  • Socket type - Panama has two associated plug types, types A and B. Panama operates on a 120V supply voltage and 60Hz.

  • Time zone - The time zone in Panama is (GMT -05:00).

  • Top 3 cities to visit - Panama City, Chitré, and Santiago.

  • Top 3 landmarks/monuments - The Panama Canal, Casco Viejo, and Darién National Park.

Panama Electronic Affidavit

The Panama Electronic Affidavit or Health Declaration form, as it’s commonly known, is required for your journey to Panama. This is for the measures of control of COVID-19, so it is obligatory to have this document when you arrive in Panama.

Panama Electronic Affidavit explained

The Panama Electronic Affidavit is valid for one single entry. You can make the process through us and we recommend you do it 72 hours before your trip. The entire process is done 100% online.

Typical costs and budget for Panama

Here will let you know the costs and budget you should keep in mind when traveling to Panama.

Daily spending per person - The daily budget per person is around PAB 64/USD 64

  • Meals - The budget for meals per day is PAB 18/USD 18

  • Transport - Local transportation can be around PAB 9.09/USD 9.09

  • Hotel - A one person room is around PAB 28, and PAB 55 for a couple

A vacation to Panama for one week usually costs around PAB 438 for one person. Consequently, a two-person trip to Panama costs around PAB 876 for one week.

Transport and ways to travel around Panama

The transportation systems most used by travelers in Panama are buses, taxis or boats.

  • Taxi - Taxis are everywhere in Panama, so it will be easy to take one. It is important to ask about the fare before taking the trip.

  • Bus - Buses are the most local way to move within urban areas, and they are economical and cover a lot of routes. You can also use buses to travel to other places in Panama, for example, going out of Panama City.

  • Boat - This is a widely used mode of transport as it is the way to travel to archipelagos such as Bocas del Toro and Guna Yala (Islas San Blas) as Darién and other places. You can take a ferry or water taxi that will take you from Panama City to Taboga Island, Contadora Island, Colon Island, and the mainland in Bocas del Toro.

Safety in Panama

Panama is a country where you can feel safe; however, be careful, as you may be a victim of pickpockets. Here are some travel tips for Panama.

  • Have with you the number of emergency services.

  • Try to have contact with local people. This will make your trip more memorable.

  • Always take water with you to hydrate yourself because Panama can be very hot.

  • Read about the restrictions in Panama.

Weather in Panama

The best time to visit the country of Panama is between January and mid-April, which is this tropical country's driest part of the year.

In high season you will find a lot of festivals. Locals go out to have fun. So if you want to know a little more about this culture, you can go on the high-season dates. Panama has a warm climate throughout the year, but temperatures are high in December and through March, reaching up to 32ºC (90ºF).

Popular cities and towns in Panama

The most popular cities in Panama that you should visit on your trip are the following:

  • Ciudad de Panamá/ Panama City is known for being the capital and the most popular city in Panama. It is a modern city that is full of life. You can also find historical places, shopping sites, exquisite restaurants, and nightlife.

  • Chitré is a city that will amaze you with the mixture of old and new, and the cultural diversity is remarkable as you will find a lot of ex-pats.

  • Santiago, with a population of more than 100,000 inhabitants, is the capital of the province of Veraguas. Here you will find the most prominent mall outside of Panama City. So if you love shopping, this place is made for you.

  • David is the capital of the province of Chiriquí, and it’s the closest city to the border with Costa Rica. Tourism is one of its main engines, so you should go exploring.

  • Colón is the largest port city in Panama, situated on the Caribbean coast along the Panama Canal. It is lovely for travelers for its coral reefs, rainforest, and other attractions that will steal your heart.

Must do and see in Panama

Are you ready to explore Panama? Here, we will tell you some fascinating things you should do in this paradise.

  1. The Panama Canal - It's located very near Panama City. This is one place that attracts most tourists, since the Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. You can see this work of engineering in the Locks of Miraflores. Here you can see the crossing of large boats by the channel from a good panorama. In addition, you will find a restaurant and a museum.

  2. Casco Viejo - It is the historic district of the city of Panama. Founded in 1673, this is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Here you can see the picturesque buildings and its cobbled streets and squares with a unique vibe.

  3. Dariénn National Park - A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. Here you will find an abundance of wildlife, such as birds, monkeys, and sloths. You will also find the popular Darién Gap on the border between Panama and Colombia.

  4. San Blas - There are several islands on the Caribbean coast. Here you will find the Indigenous Kuna Yala tribe. You will feel in a very local place; although it is becoming very touristy, the locals have a tranquil daily life. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this Indigenous culture as they do many festivities and dances and enjoy the incredible beaches.

  5. Bocas del Toro- You can enjoy the beaches, dive, or surf here. It is one of the most famous places in Panama for its turquoise waters and relaxed atmosphere. Besides that, it is a more economical destination than other Panama places, making it very striking.

Typical Panama food to try

  • Ron Ponche - This is a Panamanian cocktail that Panama citizens love. It is a rum cocktail mixed with egg yolks, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and evaporated milk. This cocktail is essential among citizens in Christmas.

  • Ropa Vieja - It is a meat stew with spices such as pepper, cumin, and oregano. This is a trendy dish that you should try when you are in Panama.

  • Sancocho - It is a very traditional dish from Panama. It is a broth with vegetables, chicken, and some rice, and it uses culantro spice, which is essential for its delicious flavor.

Vaccine information for Panama

Here, you will find the updated information on the COVID vaccine and other vaccine requirements, such as the yellow fever. Just click on the CDC website and be prepared for this adventure.

One of the seven modern wonders is in Panama

The Panama Canal, near Panama city, was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. It’s considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers; hence, you will surely be surprised by its system.

Fun facts about Panama

  • Panama was the first Latin American country to adopt the US dollar as its official currency.

  • Panama is the only country in the world where you can see the sunrise in the Pacific Ocean and set on the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Panama celebrates not one but two independence days. The first was from Spain in 1821 and the second occurred 82 years later, celebrating Panama's independence from Colombia in 1903.

  • Panama has the second-largest duty free zone in the world, the Colon Free Zone, second in size only to Hong Kong’s.

  • The flora and fauna are incredible: 10,000 different plant species are native to Panama, including 1,400 variations of orchids, 678 ferns, and more than 1,500 types of trees.

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  • iVisa is NOT affiliated with any government agency. This site does not provide legal advice and we are not a law firm. None of our customer service representatives are lawyers and they also do not provide legal advice. We are a private, internet-based travel and immigration consultancy provider dedicated to helping individuals travel around the world. You may apply by yourself directly on the various government websites. The source of information: https://panamadigital.gob.pa/
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