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Location:Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica
Area:75,420 sq km
Population:3,928,646 (July 2021 est.)
Languages:Spanish (official), indigenous languages (including Ngabere (or Guaymi), Buglere, Kuna, Embera, Wounaan, Naso (or Teribe), and Bri Bri), Panamanian English Creole (similar to Jamaican English Creole; a mixture of English and Spanish with elements of Ngabere; also known as Guari Guari and Colon Creole), English, Chinese (Yue and Hakka), Arabic, French Creole, other (Yiddish, Hebrew, Korean, Japanese); note - many Panamanians are bilingual
Religion:Roman Catholic 48.6%, Evangelical 30.2%, other 4.7%, agnostic 0.2%, atheist 0.2%, none 12.3%, unspecified 3.7% (2018 est.)
Things to Do
1. Panama Canal
Visit the Panama Canal, an engineering marvel that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Take a boat tour and learn about the history and operation of this iconic waterway.
2. San Blas Islands
Explore the beautiful San Blas Islands, a tropical paradise with white sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise waters. Snorkel, swim, and relax in this idyllic setting.
3. Casco Viejo
Wander through the historic district of Casco Viejo in Panama City. Admire the colonial architecture, visit local shops and art galleries, and enjoy delicious food at the trendy restaurants.
Hike through the lush cloud forests of Boquete. Discover picturesque waterfalls, spot exotic birds, and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
5. Bocas del Toro
Experience the laid-back Caribbean vibes of Bocas del Toro. Explore the colorful streets of Bocas Town, go surfing or snorkeling, and relax on the beautiful beaches.
6. Panama City Skyline
Marvel at the impressive skyline of Panama City. Take a rooftop tour to enjoy panoramic views of the city, including the modern skyscrapers and the historic Casco Viejo.
7. Volcan Baru
Embark on a challenging hike to the summit of Volcan Baru, the highest peak in Panama. Enjoy stunning sunrise views and the sense of accomplishment.
8. Embera Village Tour
Immerse yourself in the rich indigenous culture of Panama with a visit to an Embera village. Learn about their traditions, see traditional dance performances, and try local food.
9. Guna Yala
Discover the unique Guna Yala (San Blas) culture and way of life. Visit Guna communities, learn about their customs, and sail among the stunning islands of the archipelago.
10. Santa Catalina
Surf the world-class waves of Santa Catalina. This laid-back coastal town offers excellent surf breaks for both beginners and advanced surfers.
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Panama has a tropical climate, with temperatures averaging around 25-30 degrees Celsius (77-86 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the year. However, temperatures can vary greatly depending on the altitude and location. Coastal regions are typically hot and humid, while the highlands are cooler and more temperate. Panama has two main seasons, the rainy season, known as the "green season," typically runs from May to December, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in October and November.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Panama depends on your travel plans and preferences. If you're looking to avoid the rain and enjoy warm weather, the dry season from December to April is the best time to visit. This is also the peak tourist season, so expect crowds and higher prices. If you don't mind some rain and are looking for fewer crowds and lower prices, the green season from May to November can also be a good time to visit. Additionally, Panama is home to many unique and diverse landscapes, some of which may be inaccessible during the rainy season, so it's important to plan your trip accordingly. The Caribbean coast is a great destination during the rainy season, as it offers a relief from the heat and humidity of the Pacific coast.
Panama offers a variety of hotels to choose from, including budget-friendly options and luxury resorts. In major cities such as Panama City, you'll find a variety of international hotel chains as well as locally-owned properties. In more rural areas and beach destinations, you may find smaller, more basic hotels or guesthouses.
Panama also has a growing number of hostels, which are a budget-friendly accommodation option. They often have shared dorm rooms as well as private rooms and offer a more social atmosphere than traditional hotels. Hostels are popular among backpackers and other budget-conscious travelers.
Another option for accommodation in Panama is vacation rentals, such as apartments or villas. This can be a good option for groups or families traveling together, as it allows for more space and privacy than a hotel room. Vacation rentals can also be a more budget-friendly option, as the cost can be split among multiple people.
Eco-Lodges and Camping
For those who want to be closer to nature, eco-lodges and camping are also options. These can be found in national parks and other protected areas and offer a unique way to experience Panama's natural beauty. Some of them offer sustainable tourism initiatives and opportunities to engage with local communities.
Panama has a variety of public transportation options, including buses, minibuses, and taxis. These are the most affordable option for getting around, but can be crowded and uncomfortable. The public transportation system is well-organized in some areas, but less developed in others.
Rental cars are also an option in Panama, but it is important to keep in mind that driving conditions can be challenging. The road infrastructure is well-developed in some areas, but less in others, and driving can be dangerous in rural areas. Additionally, it is a good idea to check with the rental agency and make sure that you have a valid driver's license and that your insurance covers you while driving in Panama.
Another option is to hire a private driver or tour company, which can be a convenient and safe way to get around the country, particularly if you plan to visit multiple destinations. This option can be relatively expensive but can also be more comfortable and reliable.
For traveling between different regions of the country, air travel is also an option, but the options are limited and prices can be relatively high. However, it can save a lot of time, especially if you plan to travel to remote places that are not easily accessible by land.
- The official currency of Panama is the Panamanian Balboa (PAB), which is equal in value to the United States dollar (USD).
- Both the Balboa and the USD are widely accepted and used interchangeably throughout the country.
Cash And Cards
- It is recommended to carry both cash and credit/debit cards in Panama.
- Major credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in most establishments.
- However, it is always good to have some cash on hand for small vendors and establishments that may not accept cards.
- ATMs are widely available in Panama, especially in urban areas and tourist destinations.
- It is advisable to use ATMs located inside banks or well-known establishments for security reasons.
- Most ATMs in Panama dispense both USD and Balboa, so make sure to select the desired currency before making a withdrawal.
- Tipping is not mandatory in Panama, but it is appreciated.
- In restaurants, a 10% service charge may be included in the bill. If not, a 10% tip is customary.
- Tipping hotel staff, tour guides, and taxi drivers is also appreciated.
Cost Of Living
- The cost of living in Panama can vary depending on your location and lifestyle.
- Panama City is generally more expensive than other parts of the country.
- Overall, Panama offers a relatively affordable cost of living compared to other countries in the region.
- Like any other tourist destination, Panama has its share of scams and tourist traps.
- Be cautious of street vendors and avoid purchasing counterfeit or illegal products.
- Avoid giving money or personal information to strangers and be wary of overly friendly individuals trying to befriend you.