Known for The Panama Canal and Panama hats; this country has SO many more incredible things to offer. Stunning Caribbean islands, incredible mountain ranges, and thundering waterfalls. Adventure, hiking, scuba diving and great food are on the list of things you can expect from this phenomenal country.
How to Get There
The most common way to get to Panama is by flying into Panama City. If you are traveling from Costa Rica there are a few bus options that will take you to David or Almirante (where you catch the ferry to Bocas del Toro). It is also popular to take a sailing tour to the San Blas Islands from Columbia if you are traveling from South America.
Best Time to Travel
The temperature in Panama remains consistent through out most of the year, but the humidity gets high during the rainy season, especially in the mountains and higher elevations. Although it`s a beautiful destination to visit year round; the best time to travel is in the dry season.
Dry Season: December- April
The local currency is the Panamanian Balboa which is linked one to one with the United States Dollar. The USD is also widely accepted throughout the country.
Average Daily Budget
Our average daily budget in Panama was $60 USD per person per day. This does not include our 2 night 3 day tour to Isla Escudo de Veraguas which was $300 per person. We traveled throughout Panama using buses, Uber, and renting a car. For accommodation we primarily used Airbnb and cooked a lot of our own meals.
Daily Budget Breakdown:
- Transportation: $ 18 USD per person per day
- Food & Drinks: $14 USD per person per day
- Accommodation: $ 22 USD per person per day
- Tours & Activities: $6 USD per person per day
- Isla Escudo de Veraguas: $300 USD per person for 3 days
The recommended vaccinations for traveling to Panama are: hepatitis A & B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, MMR (measles, mumps & rubella), and Tdap (tetanus, diphheria and pertussis). Always double check with a local travel clinic before you leave to make sure all your shots are up to date. Passport Health is also a good resource to check out the required travel vaccinations.
Airbnb and hostels are the the most affordable options for traveling in Panama. Most of the places also offer a kitchen that you can take advantage of if your trying to save some money.
Budget: $15 USD per person/night: Staying in a shared room in a hostel. This really only makes sense price wise if you are traveling on your own.
Mid Range: $35-70 USD for 2 people/night: A private room in a local hotel or B&B. These are typically quite simple but comfortable with an attached bathroom and shower.
In popular tourist areas the restaurants can be quite expensive. If you`re on a budget either eat where the locals eat or cook your own food. The grocery stores in Panama are awesome and offer plenty of fresh food.
Meals: $4-15 USD per meal per person
Some of our Favorite Local Dish’s:
- Ceviche: Seafood that is ‘cooked’ by soaking in an acidic citrus juice.
- Sancocho de gallina Panameño: A light chicken soup with potatoes, corn, cilantro and plantains.
- Tostones: Fried plantains.
- Carimañolas: This popular breakfast dish is a fried yuca fritter stuffed with cheese and seasoned ground beef.
The transportation through out Panama is very good and the main highways are in excellent condition! Double Decker buses travel main routes such as David to Panama City multiple times each day. Hoping on a local bus is quite safe and comfortable and the taxis are fairly affordable.
Local Bus: The cheapest transportation option in Panama is to take the local bus. We always felt very safe and the tickets are usually only a few dollars per person.
Double Decker Bus: These large buses travel between major tourist locations in Panama. They are super spacious with reclining seats, a bathroom, and air conditioning. The cost to travel from David to Panama City is around 20 USD per person.
You`ll want light, airy clothing when traveling to this hot and humid country. In Panamanian culture; dressing well is very important. Bocas del Toro is considered the most laid back area and men are still stopped by the police if they try to walk around without a shirt. Shorts and tank tops are fine for the most part as long as all your bits are covered! Make sure to bring some hiking gear if you plan to stop at Boquete and dressier clothes if you plan to go out in Panama City.
- Stay in a hostel or Airbnb that includes a kitchen and stock up on grocery’s to make your own meals.
- Eat from local restaurants or street carts once a day to significantly decrease your food budget.
- A tip of 10% is appreciated at restaurants; always check your bill as sometimes it is added on automatically.
- Use Uber instead of taxis in Panama City.
- Travel between destinations on the local buses.
- Haggle with taxi drivers before hoping in.