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panama travel protocols

Requirements to Travel to Panama

To enjoy your trip to Panama, you must comply with the following documents and regulations:

  • Valid passport within at least six months of expiration
  • Return ticket to the country of origin or the next destination to visit
  • Proof of economic solvency of at least five hundred dollars (USD $500.00) in cash, credit card, bank reference, work letter, or traveler's checks. Some nationalities must present a higher amount. We recommend validating this information with the consulate of Panama in your country or with your airline.
  • Address of the place of lodging and purpose of travel.
  • Some nationalities must present a tourist visa before their trip to Panama. If this is your case, we recommend going directly to the Panamanian consulate in your country. For any other query, visit the National Migration Service of Panama page or check with your airline.
  • The yellow fever vaccine is mandatory for all people traveling from Brazil, who must present the international vaccination certificate issued by ANVISA at least 10 days before arrival. Exceptions:
  • Currently, there are no restrictions or requirements specific to COVID-19. However, in this link , you can always review updated information.

For more information, visit Tocumen Panama .

Biomuseo at Amador Causeway

Welcome, and have a good trip!

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Caution October 19, 2023

Worldwide caution, update january 10, 2024, information for u.s. citizens in the middle east.

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Panama Travel Advisory

Travel advisory july 17, 2023, panama - level 2: exercise increased caution.

Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.

Exercise increased caution in Panama due to  crime . Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do not travel to:

  • Parts of the Mosquito Gulf due to  crime .
  • Parts of the Darién Region due to  crime .

Read the  country information page  for additional information on travel to Panama.

If you decide to travel to Panama:

  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on  Facebook  and  Twitter .
  • Review the  Country Security Report  for Panama.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the  Traveler’s Checklist .
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest  Travel Health Information  related to your travel.

Parts of the "Mosquito Gulf" – Level 4: Do Not Travel

The “Mosquito Gulf” is an extremely remote and inaccessible area along part of the north (Caribbean) coast.

Do not travel within 10 miles of the coastline, from Boca de Rio, Chiriqui to Cocle del Norte. Drug trafficking and other illicit activities occur in this area.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in this region as U.S. government personnel must obtain prior approval before traveling there and face additional restrictions before such travel is approved.

Visit our website for  Travel to High-Risk Areas .

Parts of the Darién Region – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Do not travel to the following areas of the Darien:

  • All areas south of Jaque to Manene to Yaviza to Lajas Blancas cities to the Colombian border
  • The city of Lajas Blancas
  • The city of El Salto

Criminal elements and drug and human trafficking networks operate in these areas. Police presence and emergency response are extremely limited.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in these regions as U.S. government personnel must obtain prior approval before traveling there and face additional restrictions before such travel is approved.

Travel Advisory Levels

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Panama Travel Restrictions

Traveler's COVID-19 vaccination status

Traveling from the United States to Panama

Open for vaccinated visitors

COVID-19 testing

Not required

Not required for vaccinated visitors

Restaurants

Not required on public transportation.

Panama entry details and exceptions

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Can I travel to Panama from the United States?

Most visitors from the United States, regardless of vaccination status, can enter Panama.

Can I travel to Panama if I am vaccinated?

Fully vaccinated visitors from the United States can enter Panama without restrictions.

Can I travel to Panama without being vaccinated?

Unvaccinated visitors from the United States can enter Panama without restrictions.

Do I need a COVID test to enter Panama?

Visitors from the United States are not required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test or antigen result upon entering Panama.

Can I travel to Panama without quarantine?

Travelers from the United States are not required to quarantine.

Do I need to wear a mask in Panama?

Mask usage in Panama is not required on public transportation.

Are the restaurants and bars open in Panama?

Restaurants in Panama are open. Bars in Panama are .

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Panama Is Reopening for International Visitors in October

"Our beautiful country, rich in nature, biodiversity, and cultural heritage is once again ready to be discovered," Panama's Minister of Tourism said.

panama travel protocols

Panama announced it will reopen its borders to international visitors on Oct. 12, with several new COVID-19 precautions in place.

Travelers to Panama must present negative COVID-19 test results, taken within 48 hours of arrival. Those whose results are older than 48 hours will be required to take a rapid COVID-19 test at the airport, at a cost of about $30. There are no arrival restrictions based on country, anyone can enter Panama.

“After closing our borders to travelers in late March, we are excited to safely welcome visitors back to Panama,” Panama's Minister of Tourism, Ivan Eskildsen, said in a statement shared with Travel + Leisure. “The new health and safety protocols reflect our continuous hard work and dedication in protecting both Panamanians and our visitors, and through our efforts, have earned the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels stamp of approval. Our beautiful country, rich in nature, biodiversity, and cultural heritage is once again ready to be discovered.”

Before checking in for a flight, passengers must also complete an electronic affidavit, agreeing to comply with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 measures in Panama . If a traveler is deemed to have contracted COVID-19 upon arrival, they will have to quarantine for seven days at a hotel, paid for by the Panamanian government. They will be tested again at the end of the quarantine period.

Face masks are required in all public spaces and electronic payments at shops and restaurants are preferred to reduce person-to-person contact. Visitors should also obey social distancing measures and follow directions on signs when posted.

Anyone looking to dine in a restaurant should consider making reservations in advance as seating is limited as restaurants have to abide by social distancing between tables. Tours are also operating with limited capacity, down to 50% in ground transportation vehicles.

While travel health insurance isn’t required for entry into Panama, it is highly recommended.

Earlier this month, Colombia reopened its borders to international flights and several Caribbean islands have been doing the same.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. When in a new city, she's usually out to discover under-the-radar art, culture, and secondhand stores. No matter her location, you can find her on Twitter , on Instagram or at caileyrizzo.com.

Guide to Traveling in Panama

panama travel protocols

TripSavvy / Anna Haines

Panama is so much more than its famed canal . The country’s curvy, narrow land mass serves as a physical—and cultural—land bridge between North and South America. But despite its global significance, Panama is often overlooked by tourists.

While Panama is more expensive than the rest of Central American countries, its natural beauty is unsurpassed. Imagine hundreds of idyllic, deserted islands scattered through warm seas ; densely forested wilderness; creatures as incredible as those in Dr. Seuss’s most imaginative books. Panama’s skinny isthmus holds all this, and much more.

Where Should I Go?

Panama City is one of the most cosmopolitan, culturally distinct, and enjoyable capital cities in all of Central America. Modern commercial buildings blend with cobbled streets and Spanish colonial architecture of centuries past. West of the capital lies the Panama Canal, the legendary feat of humankind that unites two entire oceans.

Panama’s most striking and popular archipelagos are Bocas del Toro and the San Blas Islands in the Caribbean, and the Pearl Islands in the Pacific. The Pearl Islands were featured on a season of the reality TV show, Survivor. The San Blas islands are noteworthy for being populated by the Kuna Indians—remarkable artisans. Book a long-term room on a major island (specifically, Bocas Town in Bocas del Toro, and Contadora in the Pearl Islands), and use it as a base to explore Panama’s hundreds of remote islands and islets.

Other worthwhile destinations are Boquete in the Chiriqui Province, an ecotourist’s dream in the southeast featuring volcanoes, waterfalls, and even the elusive quetzal; Boquete, a quaint town overflowing with flowers; and the Anton Valley, the largest inhabited dormant volcano in the world.

What Will I See?

Docked against Costa Rica in the northwest and Colombia in the southeast, Panama’s mountains, forests and oceans boast an exceptional biodiversity. In fact, the animal species of this unique country are as varied as any region in the world. Panama is home to 900 bird species —- more than the entire land mass of North America!

Those interested in experiencing true rainforest can visit the Soberania National Park, just 25 miles north of Panama City. The Bastimentos Marine National Park in Bocas del Toro offers some of the best diving and snorkeling in Central America.

Darien is one of the most dangerous areas in Panama, but also one of the most fascinating. The Pan-American highway, which stretches from Alaska to Argentina, is broken only at the Darien Gap -— the rainforest in Darien is impenetrable. Travel to Darien is not recommended, but if you insist, book an experienced guide.

How Do I Get There and Around?

As in every Central American country , local buses — often garishly painted American school buses — are the least expensive mode of transport in Panama. Destinations like Colón, Panama City, and David are also served by larger and more comfortable express buses. Outside more populated areas, paved roads can be rare. In those cases (like venturing to Bocas del Toro, for example), booking a seat on a small aircraft is the preferable option.

To travel to Costa Rica in the northwest, you can either book a plane from Panama City or an air-conditioned Ticabus .

How Much Will I Pay?

Partially because of its use of the United States dollar, Panama is one of the most expensive Central America countries to visit. While rooms usually start at $12-$15 USD a person, travelers can reduce costs by taking advantage of local cafes, markets, and transportation. More affluent travelers will find a pleasing selection of plush resorts, especially among Panama’s islands.

When Should I Go?

Panama’s rainy season usually between June and November, with rainfall much higher on the Pacific side of the country.

In Panama, Holy Week (the week of Easter) is similar to Semana Santa in Guatemala , with colorful religious processions and festivities. In February or March, Panama celebrates Carnaval, a boisterous nationwide fiesta most notable for its lively water fights. Visit Kuna Yala in February to see the grand Independence Day celebration of the indigenous Kuna people. Book a room early during any holiday, and be prepared to pay extra.​

How Safe Will I Be?

In the larger cities of Panama, such as Panama City and Colon, extreme caution should be taken at night. Passports must be worn on your person at all times—carry it, along with important documents and large sums of money—in an underclothes money belt. Keep an eye out for helpful Tourist Police with white armbands.

In the thickly forested, far southeast region of Darien (which borders Colombia), guerillas and drug traffickers remain a real threat, and while this area is still visited by intrepid travelers, we don’t recommend travel there without an experienced guide.

While traveler’s diarrhea is the ailment you’ll most likely experience (and you can reduce your risk by drinking bottled water and peeling all fruit), vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever are recommended for all travelers to Panama. Make sure you take prophylaxis against mosquito-borne Malaria , especially in rural regions—see MD Travel Health for more specific information. Like Costa Rica, Panama is also a popular destination for “health tourism”, or traveling abroad for inexpensive medical services.

Edited by Marina K. Villatoro

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Panama Entry Protocols: Tocumen International Airport / Photo credit to Graciela V Toscano (Facebook)

Panama Entry Protocols Announced for its October 12 Tourism Reopen

  • by James Dyde
  • May 30, 2021
  • News , Panama , Travel

Panama announces new protocols for entering the country once international flights start up again on October 12.

In a move guaranteed to stress out citizens, expats, and tourists alike, the Panamanian Civil Aviation Authority announced today, that from October 12, anyone entering Panama will need to produce a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of arrival.

This marks a change from the current rule (applicable only to nationals and residents, as tourists can’t enter Panama yet) mandating a test within 96 hours of arrival, followed by two-weeks self-quarantine.

Once Tocumen International Airport reopens to tourists on October 12, the 96-hour rule gets tightened to a 48-hour rule.

Arrivals who bring their 48-hour tests will no longer need to quarantine.

Gobierno de Panamá establece medidas sanitarias para las personas nacionales, residentes y extranjeros que ingresen al país?? a partir del 12 de octubre.? #TocumenTeCuida ♥️ pic.twitter.com/VE0775VeXo — Aeropuerto Tocumen (@tocumenaero) September 24, 2020

Arrivals without the negative test results will undergo a rapid test at the airport (at their own expense), before passing through immigration.

If the test is negative, they can go on their way.

If the rapid test turns out positive, the arrival will go straight into mandatory isolation at a Ministry of Health hospital. After a week in isolation they’ll get an antigen test. If that test is positive, they’ll need to continue isolating for another week. If negative, they can leave hospital and carry on with their lives.

Panama expects these rules to be in place until at least the end of the year, at which point they’ll review them again.

Panama’s La Gaceta Oficial published these protocols today, meaning they’re now law. They apply to anyone entering Panama, including Panamanian citizens returning home. The only exceptions will be airline crews and humanitarian personnel.

The rules also state that anyone can enter Panama as long as they have the test. All nations and specific US states can enter Panama from October 12.

In early September, the Panamanian government announced international tourism would restart on October 12.

Tocumen Airport has been operating as a transit hub since August, and will restart domestic flights again on September 28. That marks the start of Panama getting domestic tourism up and running before international tourism returns on October 12.

Gobierno de Panamá mantiene el 12 de octubre como fecha para la reactivación de vuelos comerciales internacionales.✈ pic.twitter.com/XbQpzb0yjB — Aeropuerto Tocumen (@tocumenaero) September 23, 2020

Those traveling to Panama from October 12 will most likely find it hard to find a COVID-testing center with a 48-hour or less turnaround time.

When Costa Rica reopened its borders to tourism on August 1, it too had a similar 48-hour test requirement. In the end, they had to relax that rule to a slightly more flexible 72-hour requirement.

Many travelers trying to get into Costa Rica, though, still find even that a challenge. There’s zero doubt that people trying to travel to Panama will have the same issues.

It remains to be seen if Panama relaxes them like Costa Rica did, once they find virtually nobody able to enter.

James Dyde is the editor of www.centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.

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James Dyde

James Dyde is a British immigrant to Costa Rica and the editor of this website. He has lived in Central America since 2000 and retains a deep love for the region. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.

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Panama Removes All Covid-19 Restrictions For Travelers

Panama has finally lifted its Covid travel restrictions back to normal pre-pandemic entry guidelines . As of today, vaccinated and non-vaccinated travelers will be allowed into the country.

Panama in recent years has become one of the top tourist destinations. Nestled between Costa Rica and Colombia, the country due to its affordability and nature. Travelers have been eager to visit Panama once again, without restrictions, to enjoy its beauty, culture, and the great outdoors.

Latin America in general has had an interesting relationship with Covid management. Early on, the region had the most relaxed covid restrictions across the globe compared to Europe and the United States. However, as the covid cases began to get severe and multiply in numbers, Central and South America began to follow suit.

Eventually all of Latin America has begun to ease restrictions. Argentina being one of the first, which at some point had the most strict Covid policies in the world. Logging the least cases during Covid’s prime. Now they have abandoned all policies in order to encourage tourism within the region.

Since September 15th, Panama has started to relieve most of its restrictions. Except for the unvaccinated who had a tougher time entering the country. Now that Central America has become one of the most sought after destinations in the world to visit, the Panamanian government has transitioned into pre-pandemic normalcy.

Despite relying heavily on tourism dollars and sea trade, Panama had subjected the unvaccinated to tougher controls – up until now. However, with reports arising to confirm Central America, of which it is a part of, as the world’s new favorite travel destination, we can understand why the Panamanian Government would adopt a much more relaxed stance.

Now travelers can enter Panama with or without proof of vaccine. No PCR or Antigen test before boarding the plane. No quarantine for those who are unvaccinated. All policies from the pandemic have been removed and they are now in a pre-pandemic state.

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Panama Travel Tips

Last Updated: September 1, 2023

tropical palm trees and beaches in Panama

Its importance in global trade has helped the country proper (it’s one of the most developed in the region). And in recent years, Panama has also become a major tourist destination as flights from the US have become increasingly affordable and more Americans begin to retire here.

Most travelers visit Panama either at the end or the beginning of their journey through Central America here and stick to the well-worn tourist trail of Bocas del Toro, Boquete , the San Blas islands, and Panama City but, if you head to some of the lesser-known destinations, you’ll be rewarded with better food, amazing scenery free of tourists, and lower prices.

Panama is a beautiful country with an up and coming food scene (finally because, honestly, the food here is a bit bland) that I would say you need longer than you think to explore!

This travel guide to Panama can help you plan the perfect trip there without breaking the bank.

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Panama

Click Here for City Guides

Top 5 things to see and do in panama.

traffic and city skyline views in Panama City

1. See the Panama Canal

Opened in 1914, the Panama Canal is one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World and sees around 13,000-14,000 ships cross between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean each year. The Canal is 80 kilometers (50 miles) long and raises ships an impressive 27 meters (85 feet) using a complex lock system. It took a decade to create, relying on the labor of over 40,000 people — and over 5,000 of them died in the process. The Miraflores Locks are the easiest to reach from Panama City. Admission is $20 USD, and this includes the exhibitions at the visitor center as well as seeing the ships pass through from the observation deck.

2. Hang out in Bocas del Toro

Bocas is Panama’s most popular backpacker destination, combining a laid-back Caribbean attitude with the pristine natural setting of jungles, forests, and mangroves. Surfing is extremely popular here and there are always water taxis to take you to secluded coves, beaches, and the best snorkeling spots. This area is made up of three main islands: Isla Colon, Isla Bastimentos, and Isla Carenero. Bastimentos is calm and there are fewer people here so it’s a nice place to chill out away from it all. This area is also home to the Ngäbe and Naso Tjerdi indigenous cultures.

3. Relax in Boquete

Boquete is a laid-back village located in the mountainous region of the Chiriquí Highlands. There are several coffee plantations nearby, the ‘Mi Jardin es Su Jardin’ private garden, and several hiking trails of varying difficulty should you need to stretch your legs. This is a wonderful place to hike, bird watch, try some of the delicious regional coffee, and enjoy nature. One of the highlights here is the Volcán Barú volcano, where you can hike or take a 4X4 jeep tour up to the summit to catch the sunrise. The views are truly spectacular and you can enjoy panoramas of both the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts at the same time.

4. Sail the San Blas islands

This collection of 378 islands is a popular spot for sailing and boat tours (there are lots of resorts here too). These mostly uninhabited islands are under control of the Guna indigenous people and are still very rustic (no Wi-Fi, limited electricity), allowing them to maintain their raw beauty for ecotourism. The lodging there is made up of simple huts, hammocks, and tents. You can also opt to do a sailing tour around the area and stay on a boat. Most 3-day/2-night sailing tours cost around $285 USD, including food, while a 4-day sailing trip costs $559 USD. You can also visit on a day trip if you’re short on time

5. Tour a coffee plantation

Other things to see and do in panama, 1. check out the ruins of panama viejo.

Founded in 1519 by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias de Ávila, Panama Viejo (“Old Panama”) was once the country’s capital. It was one of the Pacific coast’s busiest Spanish trading towns until it was destroyed by Captain Henry Morgan in 1671. The remaining ruins are spread out over 57 acres and include the original cathedral (you can climb the bell tower for an amazing panoramic view), a hospital, and churches and convents. Because of it is historic significance, in 1997 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with Panama City’s historic Casco Viejo neighborhood. Admission is $15 USD for adults and $2 USD for kids. It’s only a 10-minute drive or 30-minute bus ride from Panama City.

2. Bike along Amador Causeway in Panama City

This 6-kilometer (4-mile) causeway is made from the excavated rocks of the Panama Canal and links Panama City with three islands: Flamenco, Naos, and Perico. It’s an easy ride and you’ll have a view across the canal on one side and the city skyline on the other. There are plenty of restaurants to stop at along the way too. You can rent bikes on the causeway; expect to pay $10-20 USD for a rental.

3. Take the Panama Canal Railway

The Panama Canal Railway connects Panama City with Colón and runs from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean with this scenic 76-kilometer (47-mile) route. The train is an old-fashioned locomotive complete with an observation car that offers views of the canal, Gutan Lake, and the passing rainforests. The three-hour round-trip journey costs $50 USD ($30 USD for children aged 2-12).

4. Visit Portobelo

Christopher Columbus named this settlement Puerto Bello or “Beautiful Harbor” when he arrived there in 1502. Over time, it was shortened to Portobelo . The settlement became an important town at the northern end of the Gold Road, and its 18th-century fortifications were built by the Spanish to protect their gold from pirates. You can still see the original canon battery and the crumbling ruins of the fort. Portobelo is also a good launching point for sailing trips to San Blas. The cuisine in Portobelo has a lot of African influences as well, including curries, coconut, seafood, and fragrant spices (head to Casa Congo for an authentic taste of Congolese food).

5. Hit the beach in Pedasi

Located on the Pacific side, this town is located five hours from Panama City and is known for its surfing. Though it has become a haven for expats in recent years, it’s still not really “on” the tourist trail. Not a lot of people go here and you’ll have the beaches mostly to yourself. The water is warm and you can find surf lessons at Shokogi Surf School starting from about $40 USD for one hour for a private lesson and $30 for a group class in Playa Venao. This is also a prime spot to see humpback whales from May-November.

6. Hike in the rainforest parks

Parque Metropolitano is a rainforest in the center of the city, a short 15-minute walk from the Albrook Shopping Center. Admission is only $4 USD and, if you hike up to the top of Cedar Hill, you’ll have fantastic views over the city. Keep an eye out for sloths, toucans, hummingbirds, pacas, monkeys, and anteaters. Parque Soberania (admission $5 USD) stretches along the shores of the Panama Canal and is the most easily accessible rainforest from Panama City. This park is a bird watchers’ paradise, with over 500 different species. The ride from Panama City takes 25 mins. Parque Chagres (also $5 USD) is a bit further away (it’s about 65 kilometers/40 miles north of Panama City) but worth the trip for the variety of wildlife: 114 mammal species (including big cats), 96 species of reptiles and 396 species of birds!

7. Spot wildlife at Volcan Baru

Volcan Baru is the only volcano in Panama, and, at 11,500 feet, also the highest point in the country. The lower slopes are home to dozens of coffee plantations, while the higher ground is part of the Volcan Baru National Park. Bring your camera as the rainforest here is a good place to spot the colorful Resplendent Quetzal, which is considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world for its bright coloring. Expect to pay around $75-85 USD for a guided hike. For $120-150 USD, you can take a bumpy 4×4 ride up to the summit at the crack of dawn to see the sunrise. You can also hike the volcano independently.

8. Surf in Santa Catalina

Santa Catalina, located on Panama’s Pacific Coast, a six-hour drive west of Panama City, is a hotspot with the surfing community. Only 300 people live in this town on the Pacific coast, so don’t come here expecting fancy resorts or high-end dining. This is the place to be if you want to catch some fantastic waves and relax on some sandy beaches. If you want to learn how to surf, check out the surf camps where you can pay $225 for two-day camps and that includes accommodation, food, surfboard rentals, and lessons. For private lessons, expect to pay around $40 USD for a two-hour class.

9. Canoe to Embera Indian Village

To get to this village, which is located inside Chagres National Park, you’ll need to paddle up the Chagres river in a dugout canoe and then walk through a rainforest, giving you the chance to really immerse yourself in the surrounding nature. When you finally meet the Embera tribe you’ll be offered traditional food, music, and dancing followed by the chance to buy the tribe’s handicrafts or go for a swim under a waterfall. Day tours from Panama City cost between $85-175 USD per person, depending on how many people are going.

10. Explore Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo (“Old Quarter”) is the historic district of Panama City and the oldest city in all of the Americas. These days, the city’s red-bricked streets are lined with restaurants, cafes and bars, though the Spanish-colonial style architecture makes Casco Viejo feel worlds apart from the glitzy skyscrapers of the newer parts of Panama City. There’s a coastal fortification walk, churches, and cute little squares to admire. It’s a popular place to stay and eat in and watch the sunset from one of the many rooftop bars. Head to Mercado de Mariscos (the fish market) for a $3 USD cup of ceviche (a dish of diced fish that has been cured in lemon juice, with onions, peppers, and spices).

  For more information on specific cities in Panama, check out these guides:

  • Boquete Travel Guide
  • Panama City Travel Guide

Panama Travel Costs

along the river in Boquete

Note: Panama uses both the Panamanian Balboa (PAB) and US Dollars. Even though the PAB still exists, US Dollars predominate in day-to-day use (you’d be hard pressed to even find Balboas when visiting Panama).

Also, be advised that ATMs can be found in all larger towns and in touristy areas like Bocas del Toro, but if you’re planning to venture off the beaten path, check beforehand if there’s an ATM, or take out enough cash in advance. The San Blas Islands, for example, do not have any ATMs. Be aware that in most of Panama outside the capital, cash is king, and credit cards aren’t accepted in a lot of places.

Accommodation – Accommodation is cheap in Panama with a night in a hostel dorm costing $12-30 USD for a 6-8-bed dorm. A 10-bed dorm is usually around $10 USD. Private rooms range from $25-45 USD per night. All hostels offer free Wi-Fi and some include free breakfast.

Prices don’t really fluctuate much in the off-season – you might end up paying $1-2 USD less per night, but it isn’t significant.

Camping is available around the country at $5-10 USD per night for a basic plot for a tent without electricity.

Budget two-star hotels start around $30 USD per night. For a 3-star hotel or higher, expect to pay at least $65-80 USD per night. In the off-season, prices drop $5-10 USD per night.

Airbnb is available around the country, with an entire home or apartment starting at $50 USD per night (but average double that price or more). Private rooms start at $20 USD per night but usually average triple that price. Book in advance for the best deals.

Food – Panamanian cuisine features rice, black beans, yuca (a starchy vegetable similar to the potato), plantains, beef, chicken, and seafood. Common dishes include empanadas, chicken and rice, fried fish, and ceviche (a raw fish dish with lemon).

Local food-stall meals cost around $3-5 USD and get you chicken, rice, and beans. In a specialty coffee shop, you’ll pay between $3.50-5 USD for a coffee in Panama City, and between $2-4 USD in Boquete. Fish markets anywhere in the country usually have freshly-caught lunches for around $6 USD.

Breakfast is around $5 USD in a sit-down restaurant while a sandwich in a restaurant with table service averages $6-9 USD. Restaurants with table service generally cost around $10 per meal but remember to avoid restaurants with English menus as they’re usually more expensive.

For a nice meal with wine, expect to pay around $40 USD for 2-3 courses. A pint of domestic beer at a bar costs around $2.50 USD.

If you want to cook for yourself, expect to pay between $35-50 USD for a week’s worth of groceries including staples like fruit, veggies, rice, beans, and some meat.

Backpacking Panama Suggested Budgets

If you’re backpacking around Panama City, expect to spend about $45 USD per day. This includes staying in a hostel dorm, limiting your drinking, cooking your meals, using public transportation to get around, and doing mostly free and cheap activities like hiking and wandering the Old Town.

On a mid-range budget of around $150 USD per day, you can stay in a private Airbnb, enjoy a few drinks, eat out for a few meals, take the occasional taxi, and do some paid activities like visiting the canal.

On a “luxury” budget of $220 USD per day or more, you can stay in a hotel, eat out for all your meals, drink more, take more taxis, and do whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.

Panama Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Panama isn’t hugely expensive but it is more expensive than other countries in the region so you’ll have to work a little to save money here. Here are some of the best ways to save money in Panama:

  • Travel off-season – Traveling is cheaper during the rainy season, between April and November. Most tourists visit Panama between December and April – that’s when hotel prices go up, especially in popular destinations like Bocas del Toro.
  • Eat at the local food stands – Meals at local food stalls cost between $4-5 USD. You’ll get rice, chicken, beans, and a drink. I didn’t love the food in Panama (it’s quite greasy) but at those prices, it made eating very cheap.
  • Avoid taxis – I found taxis here to be a complete rip-off. As my friend JP says, “You get Gringoed.” They were also far more unwilling to negotiate. I’d try to avoid them if possible.
  • Refill your water – In most of the country, you can drink the tap water. There’s no need to always buy new water bottles so save yourself a few dollars a day and fill up from the tap. The only places you can’t drink from the tap are the islands (including Bocas del Toro). To ensure your water is safe, use a LifeStraw water filter .
  • Stick to beer – Beer is much cheaper than cocktails so stick to beer if you go out drinking. It’s much cheaper!
  • Carry small change – Most taxis and small shops won’t accept larger bills for small purchases so make sure you carry change.
  • Embrace the bus! – Long-distance buses in Panama are a few steps above the infamous “chicken buses” so often found here in Central and South America. While a far cry from luxurious, they are good enough for long-distance journeys if you’re on a budget (there are still plenty of chicken buses though if you want to give them a try!).
  • Stay with a local – There are tons of hosts (and lots of community events) in the larger cities of Panama, making this a great country to Couchsurf in. Pick up some tips and save some money by staying with a local!
  • Barter hard – If you’re hopping ferries around Bocas del Toro make sure you barter hard. Much like the taxis in the city, you’ll likely be charged more than the locals so barter hard and make sure you know what you should be paying.

Where to Stay in Panama

Panama has plenty of fun and social hostels to stay at. Here are some of my suggested places to stay:

  • Hostal Casa Areka (Panama City)
  • Magnolia Inn Casco Viejo (Panama City)
  • El Machio (Panama City)
  • Bambuda Castle (Boquete)
  • Spanish By the River (Boquete)
  • Bambuda Lodge (Bocas del Toro)

How to Get Around Panama

A boat along the beautiful shores of the San Blas Islands in Panama

Long-distance buses are usually modern and air-conditioned, and night buses exist for longer journeys (like Panama City to Bocas del Toro). There is no online ticket booking system in Panama, you just show up at the bus station and buy your ticket at the counter.

For most routes, you can buy same-day tickets, but for night buses and longer journeys, it is recommended to buy your ticket a day in advance. Expect very basic buses in the smaller towns around the country – you’ll be riding Diablos Rojos (“Red Devils”): old repurposed American school buses that are colorfully painted.

There are two companies that offer services from Panama City all the way to Costa Rica: Expreso Panama and Tica Bus. Their ticket offices are inside the main bus station in Panama City which is inside the Albrook Mall.

Train – Train travel doesn’t exist in Panama. The Panama Canal Railway operates one train between Ciudad Panama and Colon on weekdays and that’s it.

Flying – Air travel is possible within Panama but is not recommended. The most common domestic connection is between Panama City and Bocas del Toro. The 1-hr flight is between $130-$145 USD. You can also fly from Panama City to David (near Boquete), Pedasi, Chitre, the San Blas Islands and the Pearl Islands. The 1-hr flight from Panama City to David costs $134 USD, vs. a 6-hr bus ride for only $9 USD.

If you’re on a budget, I wouldn’t recommend flying.

Car Rental – It is safe to drive in Panama, but be aware that rental agencies are scarce outside Panama City. Rentals cost around $15-20 USD per day. Websites like Expedia often advertise car rentals from $1 USD per day, but be aware that rental agencies charge additional fees and insurance. Most rental agencies require drivers to be at least 25, though some will accept drivers at 21 if they have a credit card.

For the best car rental prices, use Discover Cars .

When to Go to Panama

Panama has a short dry season between December and April, which is when you’ll get to enjoy clear blue skies. That said, Panama is less than 9 degrees north of the equator, which means temperatures are consistent year-round. The lowland regions are always hot and humid, but the highlands (Boquete, El Valle, Cerro Punta) can give you a bit of retreat from the heat – at least at night when it is a little cooler there.

Daytime temperatures in Panama average 30-33°C (86-91°F), and nighttime temperatures are around 21-23°C (69-73°F).

The rainy season lasts from May to December, but keep in mind that it usually only rains from late afternoon into the night. That means mornings and early afternoons can still be enjoyed. The rainiest month is November. If you visit during the rainy season, pack a rain jacket and avoid the highlands.

You never really have to avoid peak-season crowds in Panama; it’s never very crowded here, aside from certain areas (like Panama City) where cruise ships dock and crowds flood the streets for a few hours each day.

How to Stay Safe in Panama

Like neighboring Costa Rica, Panama is one of the safest countries for traveling and backpacking in Central America . That said, you’ll still want to be vigilant for petty crime.

Petty theft (including bag snatching) is one of the most common types of crime in Central America and it happens a lot in parts of Panama City as well as Colon. Always be vigilant and make sure your bag is properly worn and never left unattended.

The only city in Panama that is considered dangerous is Colon. Colon has the highest homicide rate of any municipality in Panama and you don’t want to wander after dark. Panama City, Herrera, and Chiriqui also have higher petty crime rates than elsewhere in the country so keep your valuables secure and do your best to fit in.

Some neighborhoods in Panama City can be a bit sketchy, including Curundu, El Chorrillo (which surrounds the neighborhood of Casco Viejo) and El Marañón. Avoid these areas after dark and don’t flash valuables like your phone or expensive jewelry.

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, However, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.).

The Darien Gap, the border region between Panama and Colombia, is considered extremely dangerous due to Colombian rebel groups and drug traffickers who operate there, but it isn’t really on travelers’ itineraries so it’s unlikely you’ll be anywhere near that but, if you are, keep a watchful eye out.

Don’t carry more cash on you than you’re planning to spend, and leave your passport and credit cards in your hotel room/hostel. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID.

Keep an eye out for common scams against tourists , such as fake ATMs, taxis that don’t use a meter, and questionable tour operators.

If you experience an emergency, dial 911.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.

Panama Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

Panama Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Central America and continue planning your trip:

Do You Need Travel Insurance for Costa Rica?

Do You Need Travel Insurance for Costa Rica?

The Best Tour Companies in Costa Rica

The Best Tour Companies in Costa Rica

The 6 Best Hostels in Panama City, Panama

The 6 Best Hostels in Panama City, Panama

Is Belize Safe to Visit?

Is Belize Safe to Visit?

Is Central America Safe to Visit?

Is Central America Safe to Visit?

How to Get Around Central America on a Budget

How to Get Around Central America on a Budget

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  • Transportation
  • Booking Resources
  • Related Blogs

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Panama Healthy Travel Packing List

Pack items for your health and safety.

  • You may not be able to purchase and pack all of these items, and some may not be relevant to you and your travel plans. Talk to your doctor about which items are most important for you.
  • This list is general and may not include all the items you need. Check our Traveler Information Center for more information if you are a traveler with specific health needs, such as travelers who are pregnant, immune compromised, or traveling for a specific purpose like humanitarian aid work.
  • Remember to pack extras of important health supplies in case of travel delays.

Prescription medicines

  • Your prescriptions
  • Travelers' diarrhea antibiotic
  • Suture/syringe kit Kit is for use by local health care provider & requires a letter from your doctor on letterhead stationery
  • Altitude sickness medicine
  • Medicine to prevent malaria

Medical supplies

  • Glasses Consider packing spare glasses in case yours are damaged
  • Contact lenses Consider packing spare contacts in case yours are damaged
  • Needles or syringes (for diabetes, for example) Requires a letter from your doctor on letterhead stationery
  • Suture kit Kit is for use by local health care provider & requires a letter from your doctor on letterhead stationery
  • Diabetes testing supplies
  • Epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens)
  • Medical alert bracelet or necklace

Over-the-counter medicines

  • Antihistamine
  • Motion sickness medicine
  • Cough drops
  • Cough suppression/expectorant
  • Decongestant
  • Medicine for pain and fever Examples: acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen
  • Mild laxative
  • Mild sedative or other sleep aid
  • Saline nose spray

Supplies to prevent illness or injury

  • Hand sanitizer or wipes Alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol or antibacterial hand wipes
  • Water purification tablets See CDC recommendations: Water Disinfection .
  • Water purification tablets May be needed if camping or visiting remote areas
  • Insect repellent Select an insect repellent based on CDC recommendations: Avoid Bug Bites
  • Permethrin Permethrin is insect repellent for clothing. It may be needed if you spend a lot of time outdoors. Clothing can also be treated at home in advance.
  • Bed net For protection against insect bites while sleeping
  • Sunscreen (SPF 15 or greater) with UVA and UVB protection. See Sun Exposure .
  • Sunglasses and hat Wear for additional sun protection. A wide brim hat is preferred.
  • Personal safety equipment Examples: child safety seats, bicycle helmets
  • Latex condoms

First-aid kit

  • 1% hydrocortisone cream
  • Antifungal ointments
  • Antibacterial ointments
  • Antiseptic wound cleanser
  • Aloe gel For sunburns
  • Insect bite treatment Anti-itch gel or cream
  • Bandages Multiple sizes, gauze, and adhesive tape
  • Moleskin or molefoam for blisters
  • Elastic/compression bandage wrap For sprains and strains
  • Disposable gloves
  • Digital thermometer
  • Scissors and safety pins
  • Cotton swabs (Q-Tips)
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Health insurance documents Health insurance card (your regular plan and/or supplemental travel health insurance plan) and copies of claim forms
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination If required for your trip, take your completed International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis card or medical waiver
  • Copies of all prescriptions Make sure prescriptions include generic names. Bring prescriptions for medicines, eye glasses/contacts, and other medical supplies.
  • Family member or close contact remaining in the United States
  • Health care provider(s) at home
  • Lodging at your destination
  • Hospitals or clinics (including emergency services) in your destination
  • US embassy or consulate in the destination country or countries

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Tourist Hotline

The National Tourism Authority  of Panama has established a new hotline for tourists.  Dial 178 from any telephone to receive information on hotels and tourism, visa policies and procedures for Panama, or to report a crime and receive assistance from the Panamanian authorities.  English-speaking operators are available.

Entry/Exit Requirements

Please visit the Department of State’s  Country Specific Information for Panama  page for detailed information about Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security, Medical Facilities, Traffic Safety, and a number of other issues.

For further information about Panamanian laws and regulations, please visit the  Embassy of Panama  website or the website of Panama’s  National Migration Service .

Traveling with Minors- Minors (children under 18) who are Panamanian citizens (including dual citizens ) or legal residents of Panama are required to present both parents’ identification documents, birth certificates, and notarized consent (in Spanish) in order to exit the country if not accompanied by both parents. The consent must also be apostilled if it was signed in the United States. A child born in Panama may automatically obtain Panamanian citizenship. Non-resident foreign minors are excluded from these provisions.

Safety Travel Articles

The Consular Affairs/Office of Policy Coordination (CA/P) compiles news articles chosen for their general interest to Americans who travel. The articles address safe travel, are informative and memorable, and appeal to wide audience.  Although State is not the author of these articles, CA/P believes the information in these types of articles are useful and informative.

Tips to avoid being victimized on vacation . “No one knows better than the police which tricks criminals are using to prey on unsuspecting tourists.”

12 lessons learned from a life on the road .  “Rule No. 1: Travel is no fun. Really. If you think it’s all about smiling stewardesses attending to your every whim, friendly hotels offering fawning service, and romantic sunsets on the beach, it’s time for a reality check.”

Arrested abroad: A rare snapshot of trips gone wrong. “If getting arrested is your measure of trouble, the answer is Mexico. More specifically, it’s Tijuana, followed by Guadalajara, Nuevo Laredo and, across the Atlantic, London.”

Passport rule helps collect child support. “The new passport requirements that have complicated life this summer for thousands of travelers have also uncovered untold numbers of child support scofflaws and forced them to pay millions.”

Foreign roads can be deadly for U.S. travelers. “Motor vehicle crashes — not crime or terrorism — are the No. 1 killer of healthy Americans in foreign countries. And the threat to travelers is poised to increase dramatically as worldwide economic growth gives more people access to motor vehicles.”

If kids fly solo, get youth to it .  “How the Sims kids ended up fending for themselves in Salt Lake City is an object lesson for anyone putting kids, especially teens, on flights alone this summer — and we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of children winging their way between divorced parents, to camps, adventure trips and more — when there are unprecedented delays, missed connections and canceled flights derailing even seasoned travelers.”

Travel by Boat or Yacht in Coastal Areas

Notice to U.S. boaters: The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens navigating Panamanian waters on private vessels to adhere to regulations established by the Government of Panama.

These include respecting the length of time the Government of Panama grants transiting crews to remain in country, and adhering to the Panamanian Government’s prohibition against operating unlicensed businesses from foreign vessels. The Embassy has received reports of crews and vessels overstaying their legal time limit in Panama, particularly in the San Blas Islands area, and engaging in tourism-related businesses without proper permits.

Information on Panamanian Government regulations is available to arriving mariners at Panama’s Ports of Entry.   Please note that there are registration fees required for the use of your boat in some coastal areas.

Additional Assitance

  • State Department, Consular Affairs – 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
  • Panama Country Information
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panama travel protocols

The latest Department of State travel updates and guidance on travel.state.gov .

  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Enroll Now
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Visit the official list of embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions from the U.S. Department of State.

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panama travel protocols

Latest update

Exercise a high degree of caution in Panama overall due to the threat of violent crime.

Higher levels apply in some areas.

Panama Map April 2023

Panama (PDF 725.47 KB)

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Local emergency contacts

Fire and rescue services, medical emergencies.

Call 911, or go to the hospital.

Call 104, or go to the nearest police station.

Advice levels

Exercise a high degree of caution in Panama.

Exercise a high degree of caution  in Panama overall due to the threat of violent crime.

Do not travel to the Darien Gap, beyond Yaviza.

Do not travel to the Darien Gap, beyond Yaviza, due to the threat of violent crime.

See  Safety

  • Protests are causing significant disruption to essential services, including transport and food. Avoid protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent. Monitor local media and follow advice of local authorities.
  • Panama has high crime rates. Petty crime is more common than violent crime. Take care of your belongings, especially in transport hubs. Violent crime includes armed robbery and muggings. Avoid high-crime areas of Panama City. Only use ATMs in banks or shopping centres. Don't go out alone.
  • Colombian guerrilla groups and drug traffickers are active in the Darien Gap, near the Colombian border. Violent crime is common. Do not travel to this area.
  • Popular protest areas include the University of Panama, the National Assembly, the Presidential Palace, and main roads. Protests can turn violent. Avoid large public gatherings.
  • The hurricane season is from June to November, but storms can happen year-round. They can cause flooding and landslides and disrupt services. Know your hotel or cruise ship's evacuation plan. Find your nearest shelter.
  • Panama experiences earthquakes. Tsunamis can also happen. Know the tsunami warning signs and move immediately to high ground. Don't wait for official alerts.

Full travel advice:  Safety

  • Yellow fever is widespread. Get vaccinated before you travel.
  • Malaria is a year-round risk in Bocas del Toro, Darien and San Blas. It's not a risk in Panama City. Consider taking anti-malarial medication. Other insect-borne diseases include Zika virus, dengue and chikungunya. Ensure your accommodation is insect-proof. Use insect repellent.
  • HIV/AIDS is common. Take precautions if you're taking part in high-risk activities.
  • Waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases include hantavirus, hepatitis, tuberculosis, rabies and brucellosis. Drink boiled or bottled water. Avoid raw or undercooked food. If you're bitten or scratched by an animal, get immediate medical help.
  • Some private hospitals and clinics are good. Facilities outside Panama City are limited. If you're seriously ill or injured, you'll need medical evacuation to the United States. Ensure your travel insurance covers this.

Full travel advice:  Health

  • Don't use or carry illegal drugs. Penalties for drug offences are severe. They include long prison sentences. Officials may also arrest you if you're with someone who's using drugs.
  • Always carry photo identification, such as a certified copy of your passport.
  • If you're under 18, abide by all curfews in Panama City. Police can detain you if you're out past the curfew time without a permit.
  • Understand and follow local laws. It's illegal to take photos of official buildings. If you're in a traffic accident, you must wait with your vehicle until traffic police arrive.
  • Ask for permission before photographing anyone, especially women, children and Indigenous people.
  • Same-sex relationships are legal, but they aren't socially accepted in all areas. Consider avoiding public displays of affection.

Full travel advice:  Local laws

  • Ongoing protests are causing significant disruption to transport services. Your travel plans may be disrupted. Check with your airline or travel provider.

If you arrive by air or land, you won't need a visa. You'll be granted an initial stay of 180 days when you arrive.

  • Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. You should contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Panama for the latest details or check with your airline or travel provider.
  • You must obtain an entry stamp from immigration officials upon entry into Panama. You may be fined up to USD1,000 if you don't do this.

Full travel advice:  Travel

Local contacts

  • The  Consular Services Charter  details what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
  • Australia has a Consulate in Panama City. The Consulate doesn't issue Australian passports.
  • You can get full consular help from the Australian Embassy in Mexico.
  • To stay up to date with local information, follow the embassy’s social media accounts.

Full travel advice:  Local contacts

Full advice

Crime levels are high in Panama.

Petty crime

Petty crime is common, mainly pickpocketing and bag-snatching. You're most at risk in Panama City and Colon.

Take extra care of your valuables in:

  • bus terminals
  • public transport

To prevent petty crime:

  • be alert after dark
  • avoid being on the streets alone
  • pay attention in crowded areas

Violent crime

Armed  robbery and muggings  occur in Panama. Violent crime is less common than petty crime.

Hotspots for crime in Panama City include:

  • San Miguelito
  • El Chorrillo
  • Veracruz Beach
  • Parque Soberania
  • Panama Viejo
  • Casco Viejo
  • shopping areas on Avenida Central

Armed criminals may target you at Madden Dam, a tourist site in the Chagres National Park.

' Express kidnappings ' also happen, where criminals force you to withdraw money from ATMs.

To protect yourself from violent crime:

  • avoid high-crime areas in Panama City
  • travel with others
  • only use ATMs in controlled areas, such as banks or shopping centres
  • pay close attention to your personal security

Scams and fraud

Credit card and ATM fraud occur.

House break-ins and robbery  scams  also happen. Criminals may gain your trust and then rob your house.

Be aware of your surroundings. Always keep your credit card secure.

Colombian guerrilla groups and drug traffickers are active in the Darien Gap, near the Colombian border.

Violent crime is common, including:

  • murder, including of foreigners
  • armed robbery
  • disappearances

The danger zone starts at the end of the Pan American highway at Yaviza and extends to the Colombian border. This area includes the Darien National Park and privately owned nature reserves, and tourist resorts.

Be aware of landmines in the area. 

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it doesn't make payments or concessions to kidnappers.

More information:

Cyber security

You may be at risk of cyber-based threats during overseas travel to any country. Digital identity theft is a growing concern. Your devices and personal data can be compromised, especially if you're connecting to Wi-Fi, using or connecting to shared or public computers, or to Bluetooth. 

Social media can also be risky in destinations where there are social or political tensions or laws that may seem unreasonable by Australian standards. Travellers have been arrested for things they have said on social media. Don't comment on local or political events on your social media. 

More information:   

  • Cyber security when travelling overseas  

Civil unrest and political tension

Demonstrations and protests.

Protests and demonstrations can happen:

  • on campus at the University of Panama
  • at the National Assembly
  • at the Presidential Palace in Panama City
  • on main streets and highways

Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.

To protect yourself during periods of unrest:

  • avoid demonstrations, protests and public gatherings
  • monitor the media for reports of potential unrest
  • avoid affected areas
  • follow instructions from local authorities

If you encounter a protest, leave as soon as it is safe.

  • Demonstrations and civil unrest

Terrorism is a threat worldwide.

Swimming safety

Panama doesn't have many lifeguards. Rescue equipment at public beaches is limited.

Strong currents and rips can make swimming dangerous.

The Bay of Panama is polluted with untreated sewage and industrial waste.

If you decide to go swimming:

  • check conditions with your hotel or local authorities before entering the water
  • never swim alone

Climate and natural disasters

Panama experiences  natural disasters  and  severe weather , including:

  • earthquakes
  • volcanic activity

In the event of a natural disaster:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location
  • monitor local media and other sources
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • keep in touch with your friends and family

To get alerts and advice, register with:

  • Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency

Hurricanes and severe weather

Severe weather  can happen, including:

Severe weather may affect:

  • access to ports
  • road travel
  • essential services, such as communication, water and electricity

The hurricane season is from June to November. Storms and hurricanes can happen in other months.

The direction and strength of hurricanes can change suddenly.

If there's a hurricane or severe storm:

  • you may get stuck in the area
  • flights could be delayed or suspended
  • available flights may fill quickly
  • adequate shelter may not be available

If a hurricane is approaching:

  • know the evacuation plan for your hotel or cruise ship
  • identify your local shelter
  • monitor alerts and advice from the  National Hurricane and Tropical Prediction Center

Earthquakes and tsunamis

Panama experiences  earthquakes . Tsunamis can also happen. 

Get to know the earthquake safety measures for each place you stay and visit.

To receive tsunami alerts, register with the  Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System .

If you're near the coast, move immediately to high ground if advised by authorities, or if you:

  • feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up
  • feel a weak, rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more
  • see a sudden rise or fall in sea level
  • hear loud and unusual noises from the sea

Don't wait for official warnings, such as alarms or sirens. Once on high ground, monitor local media.

Travel insurance

Get comprehensive  travel insurance  before you leave.

Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won’t pay for these costs.

If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.

If you're not insured, you may have to pay many thousands of dollars up-front for medical care.

  • what activities and care your policy covers
  • that your insurance covers you for the whole time you’ll be away

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition. 

See your doctor or travel clinic to:

  • have a basic health check-up
  • ask if your travel plans may affect your health
  • plan any vaccinations you need

Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.

If you have immediate concerns for your welfare, or the welfare of another Australian, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or contact your  nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate  to discuss counselling hotlines and services available in your location.

  • General health advice
  • Healthy holiday tips  (Healthdirect Australia)

Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Medication with pseudoephedrine is banned in Panama.

If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Panama. Take enough legal medication for your trip.

Carry a copy of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating:

  • what the medication is
  • your required dosage
  • that it's for personal use

Health risks

Insect-borne diseases.

Yellow fever  is widespread in Panama. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal virus spread by mosquitoes. It's prevented by vaccination. Get vaccinated before you travel.

Zika virus  is also widespread. If you're pregnant, the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care recommends that you:

  • discuss travel plans with your doctor
  • consider deferring non-essential travel to affected areas

Malaria  is a risk throughout the year in Bocas del Toro, Darien and San Blas. It's not a risk in Panama City.

Outbreaks of  dengue  and  chikungunya  also happen.

To protect yourself from disease:

  • make sure your accommodation is insect-proof
  • use insect repellent
  • wear long, loose, light-coloured clothing
  • consider taking medicine to prevent malaria

Get medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash, bleeding nose or gums, or a severe headache.

HIV/AIDS  is common in Panama.

Take steps to reduce your risk of exposure to the virus.

Many  hantavirus pulmonary syndrome  cases are reported in Los Santos province.

To protect yourself:

  • don't touch live or dead rodents, burrows or nests
  • avoid activities that stir up dust, such as sweeping or vacuuming

For outdoor activities:

  • choose a campsite that's open and dry
  • don't rest in tall grass or haystacks
  • remove any food that may attract rodents

Other health risks

Waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases are common, including:

  • tuberculosis
  • brucellosis

Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.

  • Infectious diseases

Medical care

Medical facilities.

Some private hospitals and clinics are good. Facilities outside Panama City are limited.

Many doctors and hospitals need cash payment before treating you, even in an emergency.

If you're seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be moved to the US or another country with better facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive. Treatment in the US can be extremely expensive.

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our  Consular Services Charter . But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Penalties for drug offences are severe. They include lengthy prison sentences in local jails.

Authorities may arrest you for illegal drugs if you're either:

  • carrying even a very small amount of drugs, or
  • with someone who's using them
  • Carrying or using drugs

Proof of identity

You must always carry an ID, such as a certified copy of your passport.

If you're aged under 18, curfews may apply in Panama City.

To be out after curfew, you'll need a special permit.

Police can detain you for violating the curfew. A guardian will need to collect you from the police station.

In Panama, it's illegal to:

  • take photos of an official building
  • fail to wait with your vehicle after an accident until traffic police arrive

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you’re overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.

  • Staying within the law and respecting customs

Dual citizenship

Panama recognises dual citizenship.

  • Dual nationals

Local customs

Get permission before photographing anyone, especially women, children and Indigenous people.

LGBTI information

Same-sex relationships are legal, but not socially acceptable.

Consider the risks of public displays of affection.

  • Advice for LGBTI people

Visas and Border Measures

Every country or territory decides who can enter or leave through its borders. For specific information about the evidence you'll need to enter a foreign destination, check with the nearest embassy, consulate or immigration department of the destination you're entering. 

Visa-free travel for short stays

To enter, you'll need to show proof of:

  • the equivalent of $US500 or a credit card
  • a return or onward travel ticket

If you're transiting on a cruise ship and Panama is a port of call, you won't need a visa. An immigration official will stamp your passport, and you'll be granted a stay of up to 90 days.

If you arrive by another type of boat, you'll need a visa.

You must obtain an entry stamp from immigration officials upon entry into Panama. You may be fined up to USD 1,000 if you don't do this.     

Entry and exit conditions can change. Contact the  nearest Panamanian embassy or consulate  for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.

Entry into Panama

Travel via the united states.

If you're travelling through  the US , ensure you meet all US entry or transit requirements, even if you are transiting through Hawaii. 

  • Travel advice for the US

Travel via Canada

If you're travelling via Canada, you'll need an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) for Canada. 

  • Canada travel advice

Travel via Chile

If you’re travelling via Chile, ensure you meet all current entry or transit requirements.

  • Travel advice for Chile

Yellow fever vaccination

You may need a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter Panama. Some airlines may want to see one when you leave.

Find out about returning to Australia  after exposure to yellow fever .

Airport requirements

You'll need to pay a departure tax at the Tocumen Airport in Panama City. Check if your airline ticket already includes this cost.

If you're travelling to the US, you'll need evidence of an onward or return ticket. This applies even if you can enter the US under its visa waiver program.

Travel with children

Children who are Panamanian dual nationals or residents require additional documents to leave Panama without both parents.

Documents include:

  • their original birth certificate
  • notarised consent  from non-travelling parents

If these documents are from outside Panama, you must have them  verified with an apostille stamp .

  • Advice for people travelling with children

Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you’re just transiting or stopping over.

Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.

You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.

The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport’s expiry date before you travel. If you’re not sure it’ll be valid for long enough, consider getting  a new passport .

Lost or stolen passport

Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.

Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:

  • In Australia, contact the  Australian Passport Information Service
  • If you're overseas, contact the nearest  Australian embassy or consulate

Passport with 'X' gender identifier

Although Australian passports comply with international standards for sex and gender, we can't guarantee that a passport showing 'X' in the sex field will be accepted for entry or transit by another country. Contact the nearest  embassy, high commission or consulate of your destination  before you arrive at the border to confirm if authorities will accept passports with 'X' gender markers. 

  • LGBTI travellers  

The local coin currency is the Panama Balboa (PAB).

The banknote currency is the US Dollar (USD).

Beware of counterfeit currency, especially $US50 and $US100 notes.

Access to money

Only exchange money at official banks and exchange services.

ATMs and credit card facilities are widely available. Check with your bank to make sure your cards will work.

Local travel

Driving permit.

You can drive with:

  • an International Driving Permit (IDP)
  • an Australian driver's licence

You must get your IDP before you leave Australia.

Road travel

Driving hazards in Panama include:

  • poor road conditions
  • inadequate street lighting
  • poor vehicle maintenance

Driving at night is dangerous. There are often night roadworks on the Pan-American Highway. There may not be signage for these roadworks.

Don't move your vehicle if you're in a motor vehicle accident. By law, you must remain at the scene until the traffic police arrive.

If you plan to travel by road:

  • check your travel insurance covers it
  • learn local traffic laws and practices
  • lock doors and keep car windows up, even when moving
  • avoid travel at night
  • Driving or riding

Motorcycles

Make sure your travel insurance covers you when using a motorbike, quad bike or similar vehicle.

Always wear a helmet.

Only use registered taxis. It's best to arrange them at your hotel.

To reduce your risks if using taxis:

  • don't hail taxis on the street
  • never share taxis with strangers
  • always sit in the back seat

Public transport

Avoid public transport. Local buses don't follow set routes and are poorly maintained.

Many international cruise liners visit Panama.

The Pacific and Caribbean coastlines are transport routes for illegal drugs. Consider this security risk before deciding to travel by sea.

  • Going on a cruise

DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.

Check  Panama's air safety profile  with the Aviation Safety Network.

Coiba Island

If you plan to visit the National Park on Coiba Island, you'll need a special permit.

Contact the  National Authority for the Environment  (ANAM in Spanish) or your tour operator.

Emergencies

Depending on what you need, contact your:

  • family and friends
  • travel agent
  • insurance provider

Call 911 or go to the hospital.

Call 104 or go to the nearest police station.

Always get a police report when you report a crime.

Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Consular contacts

Read the  Consular Services Charter  for what the Australian Government can and can’t do to help you overseas.

Australia has a consulate in Panama City, headed by an Honorary Consul. The consulate provides limited consular assistance to Australians in Panama. The Consulate can conduct passport interviews and provide provisional travel documents for emergency travel to the nearest Australian embassy.  The Consulate can’t issue Australian passports. You can get full consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Mexico City.

Australian Consulate, Panama

PH Midtown, 10 th floor, office 10-4

San Francisco Panama City, Panama

Phone: (+507) 667 73833 Email:  [email protected]

Australian Embassy, Mexico City

Ruben Dario 55 Corner of Campos Eliseos, Polanco Colonia Bosque de Chapultepec 11580 CDMX Mexico

Phone: +52 55 1101 2200 Website:  mexico.embassy.gov.au Email:  [email protected] Facebook: @AusEmbMex Twitter: @AusEmbMex

See the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.

24-hour Consular Emergency Centre

In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:

  • +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
  • 1300 555 135 in Australia

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Route to Retire

Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete

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Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete

I’m very excited to say that my in-laws have officially booked flights to visit us next month. But traveling to Panama isn’t for the faint of heart.

If you’re not an avid traveler, you’re probably going to run into some stumbling blocks along the way. Heck, even if you are a regular traveler, you’ll probably run into your share of quirky issues. The difference is that it might be a little easier for the regular traveler to know what to do when things do happen.

As most of my loyal readers know, we’ve become more routine international travelers over the years. Between living in Panama with a few visits back and forth to the U.S. every year as well as the cruises we enjoy so much, we spend a lot of time flying.

My in-laws, on the other hand, don’t do a lot of flying. And with them traveling to Panama to visit us, we want to help ensure that their trip goes as smoothly as possible.

Initially, I was going to create a guide with information and photos for them to take with them on the trip. I took a lot of photos throughout the airports when we recently came back from our trip to the U.S. to help with this mission.

But then I realized that there are probably a lot of readers that could benefit from this as well. So I’ve decided to make this into one awesome guide to help out anyone traveling to Panama. I’ll take you through some things to be aware of, preparations to take beforehand, and how the airports and flights will flow. My hope is to get you from the U.S. to Boquete without too many headaches.

So let’s get started!

One or two days involved in traveling to Panama?

The closest commercial airport to Boquete is Enrique Malek International Airport (DAV) in David. This is a little less than an hour away from Boquete. However, the chances of you finding a flight flying directly into David are slim to none.

Almost all flights will first fly into Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama City before taking the hour flight to David.

That means you have some options with getting to Boquete:

  • Book a reservation from your hometown airport to the David airport. Just know that you’ll likely be flying through PTY to get there.
  • Book a reservation from your hometown airport to PTY in Panama City. Then book a separate reservation from Panama City to David.
  • Book a reservation from your hometown airport to PTY in Panama City. Then have a driver you hired beforehand drive you straight to Boquete (or rent a car)
  • Book a reservation to San Jose, Costa Rica (ie on Southwest) . Then book a separate flight from San Jose to David.
  • Book a reservation to San Jose, Costa Rica (ie on Southwest) . Then take the bus from San Jose to David

Here are a few thoughts. First off, I’d skip traveling through Costa Rica for now. We had fun passing through there and even took the bus from San Jose to David once, but that was pre-COVID. Every country’s entry requirements are different and they’re constantly changing. Until we get back to normal, do yourself a favor and just focus on abiding by one country’s rules instead of two. It’ll save you some heartaches.

Bus from Costa Rica to Panama

That leaves you with a few options and how you choose to roll is a matter of personal preference. We’ve done them all and they all work.

Driving from Panama City to Boquete

When we first scoped out Panama in 2017 on a sort of recon mission, we had rented a car so we could drive across the country to check out the different places. Now that we’ve been there and done that, I wouldn’t do it again. The insurance is stupidly expensive on car rentals here and driving in Panama City is not considered fun by most ex-pats because of how crazy busy it is there.

That said, it’s still an option and it’ll take you about 6-8 hours to drive from Panama City to Boquete.

If you don’t need a car while in Boquete (or plan on just renting one when you get here) , you can also hire a driver to take you from Tocumen airport to Boquete. The nice thing is that if you don’t speak a lick of Spanish, that can make life a lot easier for you. You get your baggage, walk outside, and a guy’s standing there holding a sign with your name on it.

Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete - Luis Arce

You don’t have to worry about anything else. He/She handles everything and gets you to wherever you’re staying in Boquete… easy peasy. In some cases, you might even get to Boquete sooner than if you were flying to David.

You can find different drivers offering various prices but we’ve been very happy with Luis Arce who we’ve used a couple of times. He charges ~$500 per carload. So you can either just go yourselves and pay that price or he can work on finding others to share the ride. If that happens, then the cost per person drops. Great guy, extremely responsible, and speaks English.

There are several other drivers that ex-pats tend to rave about as well. Marc Vargas is a name that I’ve heard quite a few good things about, for instance.

You could also take the public bus from Panama City to David for cheap. However, I’m not recommending that during these times.

Flying from Panama City to David

As of this writing, Copa Airlines is only flying from Tocumen airport to David once per morning daily except Tuesdays and Thursdays. That means you’re likely going to be spending the night at a hotel in Panama City and catching your flight to David the next morning.

If you go this route, here’s something interesting to know. The option to book your flights in one reservation from your hometown all the way to David is simple – click book and you’re done. But here’s the thing, it’s usually a lot cheaper to book that small Panama City to David flight as a separate reservation. For some reason, when you put it all together, they up-charge you a good chunk of change.

And, even if you book everything as one reservation, you’re still required to get your bags at Tocumen airport and then go through security again anyway for your next flight. Look, I don’t make the rules, I’m just telling you what I know.

The only other airline flying back and forth between Panama City and David is Air Panama . The nice thing is that they’re flying to David 1-3 times a day depending on the day of the week with flights as late as 4:15 pm. That means you can possibly book your reservation so you don’t need to spend the night in Panama City.

The downside is that they don’t fly out of Tocumen International Airport (PTY) where you are likely flying into from the U.S. Instead, they fly back and forth out of Panama City Albrook Airport (PAC). It’s about a 20-30 minute drive from PTY to get there… not the end of the world, just a little bit more to add to the day.

Again, whatever works best for you.

Staying at a hotel near the Panama City airport

If you’ve chosen a path that leads to you staying overnight near Tocumen airport (PTY), the nearby airports that a lot of ex-pats tend to stay at are the Riande Airport Hotel or the Crowne Plaza Panama Airport .

We’ve stayed at both and they each have their good and bad but either should do you just fine for a night. The pool at the Riande looks nicer (though we didn’t have a chance to swim in it) , but I prefer the Crowne Plaza’s rooms and atmosphere.

There are other hotels you can check out to find what you like. Those just seem to be the most popular ones that I hear talked about among the expat community.

Plan on using a hotel shuttle if offered, Uber, or a taxi to get to your hotel and back to the airport.

Transportation from David to Boquete

Except for the case of a hired driver taking you directly from Panama City to Boquete, you’ll need transportation from David airport to Boquete.

There are a few options to make this happen:

  • Find a friend
  • Take a taxi
  • Take an Uber
  • Hire a driver beforehand

If you’re staying with someone in Boquete, obviously getting picked up from them is generally going to be a nice way to go. It’ll take a little stress out of your trip. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay for a ride.

If you speak decent Spanish or want to get that Panamanian vibe, go with a taxi. It’ll likely run you about $35 more or less and there will be plenty of drivers around at the David airport.

Uber’s a little newer here in David and came around at exactly the wrong time (right when the pandemic started) . However, you’ll sometimes see a few cars floating around in the app. If you’ve got the app installed, give it a shot and see if anyone’s available. The cost will probably be cheaper than a taxi at around $20 to get you to Boquete.

Hiring a driver beforehand can also be helpful. You can find the contact info for drivers by posting on any of the expat Facebook groups. I mention a bunch of those groups in my post Moving to Boquete or Visiting? The Ultimate List of Tips!! where you’ll also find a lot of other great info.

A hired driver will be a more costly option but can be good if you don’t want to go a different direction for some reason. For instance, when we first moved here, we had the three of us plus a total of 6 suitcases and our backpacks. Hiring an English-speaking driver in a van just made things a little less stressful so it was worth it for that one time ($50 per person) .

Phone preparation for traveling to Panama

Ok, you have everything booked… what a pain in the butt! Now it’s time for something a little easier. When traveling to Panama, you’ll want to do a few things on your phone to get yourself prepared to visit.

Cell service when traveling to Panama

The first thing is that you’ll want to do is figure out how you’ll get phone service. Depending on your current cell phone provider, you might already be able to just use your phone when you get here ( some T-Mobile plans or Google FI , for instance) . That makes life a lot easier.

If not, your carrier may let you schedule dates you’ll be out of the country ahead of time. They’ll charge you stupid rates of maybe $10/day like Verizon does , but if convenience wins over money for you, setting that up beforehand can be an easy way to go.

You could also opt to just connect to WiFi spots and not have cell phone access anywhere else. That means you’d be set at airports, hotels, some restaurants or stores, the place you’re staying in Boquete, etc. That’s tough and not something I have the courage to do but to each his/her own.

If you decide to go the WiFi route, please be sure that you have a VPN installed and in use for security on your phone. I highly recommend NordVPN and it’s what we use on our computers and phones. It’s secure, inexpensive, and easy to use.

Another option is to get a SIM card from a Panamanian provider here. You pop that into your phone and that provides you a Panamanian phone number. You’d be charged international rates to call back to the U.S. from a phone number they wouldn’t recognize anyway, so I wouldn’t recommend that. However, with the data plan you get, you could contact friends and family at home through messaging apps like Facebook Messenger.

You could get an overpriced plan and SIM card at Tocumen airport in Panama City or wait until you’re in Boquete. You can simply walk to town and get setup through carriers such as:

  • +movil (Cable & Wireless)
  • Tigo (formerly Movistar)

I pay $39.22 (taxes and fees included) for each of our phones through Tigo. That’s per month and includes unlimited data… much cheaper than what you’d get through using some of the U.S. cell phone providers’ “traveling abroad” plans. But again, this is cost versus convenience so do what makes sense for you.

Apps to install and setup

Unless you’re a proficient Spanish speaker, when traveling to Panama, you’re going to want to have some apps prepared and ready to go on your phone. Here are some recommendations…

Google Translate ( Android / iOS )

Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete - Google Translate

This is a gimme, but I need you to do one other step before just installing it and calling it a day. I want you to download Spanish to be available offline (your phone’s default language such as English is automatically made offline) . That way, regardless of whether you have cell phone service, you can still use the app to get help if needed.

On Android, just click on the hamburger menu in the top left of the app (the three stacked lines) , select “Offline translation”, and then find and select the download icon for Spanish under “All available languages”…

panama travel protocols

The steps should be similar for iPhone as well.

WhatsApp ( Android / iOS ) / Signal ( Android / iOS )

If you don’t already know this, almost the entire world does most of their communication through WhatsApp… except for the U.S. Ironically, WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, a U.S. company.

Anyone you talk to here will communicate via WhatsApp. If you’re exchanging phone numbers or calling a taxi, it’s all done through WhatsApp messaging. Begrudgingly, I recommend that you get the app setup and installed so you can communicate as needed.

The reason I say begrudgingly (which spell check has now corrected for me twice!) , is that Facebook has faced some pressure lately on some privacy changes they’ve made to WhatsApp. It’s still safe to use and they’re not able to hear your calls or anything like that (that’s encrypted) , but they have more wiggle room than they should.

Regardless, it’s still the go-to app here and likely will remain that way.

In the meantime, a lot of users are switching to more privacy-centered apps such as Signal (another is Telegram) . We each have WhatsApp and Signal installed on our phones. If I can communicate with someone through Signal, that’s the route I’m going. If they don’t have the app installed, I’ll fall back to WhatsApp. I suggest you use a similar approach.

Uber ( Android / iOS )

Uber is not everywhere in Panama, but it’s big in Panama City. It also just started in David at the beginning of the pandemic (oops) .

Whether you’re heading to a hotel in Panama City or trying to get around in David, Uber is generally less expensive than a taxi. But even if you have mixed feelings about using the app and undercutting prices on already-cheap Panamanian rides, there are two reasons to have it installed when traveling to Panama:

  • If you don’t speak Spanish well, Uber helps you get around that. All the information on where you’re going is in the app so confusion is alleviated.
  • You can use a U.S. credit card. For small rides, this isn’t a big deal, but for something like David to Boquete, it’s helpful. And because the transaction goes through Uber, you won’t be charged foreign transaction fees on your credit card.

Google Maps ( Android / iOS )

I know, you already have this one installed. And that’s good because it’s good to know where you’re at, what’s around, or where you’re going.

But, do you have offline maps set up on it? In particular, since you’re traveling to Panama, do you have maps of Panama set to be offline?

No? Well, let’s rectify that. If you’re on an Android phone, click on your profile picture in the top right of the Maps app. Next, select “Offline maps” and then “Select your own map.” Pinch and zoom to find the area to select and then hit the “Download” button. For Panama, I needed to do three sections to get the whole country.

panama travel protocols

The steps for iPhone users should be similar.

As a side note, I also have MAPS.ME installed ( Android / iOS ). It’s a great alternative to Google Maps and makes offline maps much easier to download than Google’s method.

Kayak ( Android / iOS )

This one isn’t a must, but I love this app. Kayak is a fantastic place to look and book your travel plans (flights, hotels, cars, etc.) .

However, there’s a piece of functionality that’s become so essential in my travel plans… it’s called “Trips.” In a nutshell, whenever I get an email receipt for travel I booked (like a hotel or flight reservation), I forward it to a Kayak email address and it automatically groups everything together and adds it to a trip for me (because it knows my email address) . So simple.

When I’m ready to travel, I have an outline of my entire plan in chronological order and can click through to see all the details, including the original email. This is great when traveling to Panama and back because there are usually a lot of different travel entities involved. I can even share the itinerary with friends or family who need to know our specific plans.

Another great feature is that the app syncs and keeps your plans available offline. So even on the plane, I can see what time our next flight is or find whatever I need to know. The app also provides useful notifications like flight check-in reminders, gate changes, baggage carousel numbers, etc.

Another popular alternative to Kayak is TripIt and I’ve used that before, but I just like Kayak better… and it’s 100% free.

Helpful Spanish phrases when traveling to Panama

Although Spanish is good to learn if you’re moving to Panama, I understand that might be a lot to ask if you’re just visiting. However, just because I’m a nice guy, I thought I’d throw in a list of phrases that you might find helpful. It’s not all-encompassing, but that’s what Google Translate’s for!

  • Do you speak English? — ¿Tú hablas Inglés?
  • Could you speak more slowly, please? — ¿Puede hablar más despacio, por favor?
  • I don’t speak Spanish very well. — No hablo español muy bien.
  • I don’t understand. — No entiendo. [An example could be “No entiendo ‘nuevo'” to explain that you don’t understand what that word means]
  • More slowly, please — Más despacio, por favor.
  • I am learning Spanish — Aprendo español
  • I don’t speak (or understand) Spanish well. — No hablo (o entiendo) español bien.
  • My Spanish is not very good — Mi español no es muy bueno
  • Excuse me, can you help me? — ¿Disculpe puede ayudarme?
  • Nice to meet you — Mucho gusto
  • The check, please — La cuenta, por favor
  • Do you take credit cards? — ¿Aceptan tarjetas de crédito?
  • How much? — ¿Cuánto cuesta?
  • Where is the bathroom? — ¿Dónde está el baño?
  • Help! — ¡Ayuda!
  • I don’t know — No lo sé
  • SIM card — tarjeta SIM
  • Stop [when on the bus] — Parada
  • Here is my stop. [when on the bus] — Aquí está mi parada.
  • The next stop is mine. [when on the bus] — La próxima parada es mía.
  • How do you say… — Cómo se dice…
  • See you [as in “see you later”] — Nos vemos
  • It’s ok – Está bien
  • Have a nice day — Que tenga lindo día
  • How’s it going? — ¿Cómo te va?

Documentation needed when traveling to Panama

These are unprecedented times we’re living in. Dealing with international flights during a pandemic is not something the world is used to doing.

We’ve personally experienced flying back and forth between the U.S. and Panama a few times so far during COVID times. From a humanitarian flight last July to our more recent flight last month , it’s gone from scary to a lot more relaxed. The airlines are still being careful, but it’s not as crazy as it was during the unknown at the start of the pandemic.

And along with those procedures constantly changing and adapting, so are the requirements needed to enter different countries. As of right now, here’s what you need to know:

Negative COVID test or proof of vaccine

Up until recently, traveling to Panama required that you provided proof of a negative antigen or PCR test taken within 48 hours of arrival in Panama. That was a real pain to do in the fall of last year , but it seems to be easier lately with more options available in the U.S. In some places, it might be free and in others, it might run you a little bit of dough (they make the test free and charge you for an “office visit” or other garbage) .

Panama also started offering the option to take the antigen test at Tocumen airport when you arrive. The cost is $50 and I’ve heard a lot of good feedback that it’s quick and easy to have done.

panama travel protocols

The problem with that option is that if you test positive while there, they put you in a “quarantine” hotel for a week or two. Personally, I’d rather not take that chance and would rather know where I stand before I left from the U.S. So taking the test in the U.S. has been the route we’ve been going each time.

However, just last week, Panama has announced that you will now be able to present proof of being completely vaccinated instead of a negative COVID test. That’s a big deal! I know some folks are either opposed or not worried about getting the vaccine, but for those of us that get the vaccine and travel a lot, this will make life a lot easier.

We’re still waiting for the final details to be presented, but you can find more information in the travel guidelines on Panama’s Tourist site .

Affidavit that you’ll stay COVID safe after traveling to Panama

Another requirement in place when traveling to Panama is that you fill out an affidavit before entering the country…

Prior to check-in, all incoming travelers will be required to complete an Electronic Affidavit (sworn statement) agreeing to: • Comply with all sanitary control measures outlined by the Ministry of Health of Panama. • Provide localization information for residence while in Panama. • Confirm that you are healthy (no symptoms of any respiratory illness) and that you have not been exposed to COVID-19 within the last fourteen (14) days. Panama Tourism Site – https://visitpanama.com/information/travel-guidelines/

This was a hot mess when they first introduced it. You can either do it out online before your flight and receive a QR code to present or they’ll give you a hard copy on the plane to fill out. It’s great in theory, but I don’t think they have everything rolling the way it should be.

Sometimes I could get the online form to work and sometimes I couldn’t. On our last trip back to Panama earlier this month, I got it to work successfully for all of us… and then no one asked to see it.

In other words, you’ll want to go through the motions to get this filled out electronically, but it’s not a big deal to just fill it out on the plane. And even if you do get it filled out, it seems like it’s not that important for anyone to see.

You can get to the form at https://login.panamadigital.gob.pa/Registro but I suggest you check out the affidavit instructions on the Panama Tourism site first.

  • Customs declaration

This one’s an easy one because you don’t need to do anything beforehand. While you’re on the plane traveling to Panama, the flight attendants will pass out a form for you to fill out. It’s a one-page document and you only need one per household (if you have the same last name) .

All you’re doing on this form is declaring if you’re bringing anything unusual into the country. The form will walk you through everything and what you might need to declare. Hang onto this because you’ll be presenting it to customs after you pick up your luggage (if you checked any) .

Proof of outbound flight or other means of exit

As a tourist, you’re not able to stay forever and Panama wants proof that you’re not planning to do that. That can be as simple as having your return ticket or email confirmation of your flight out.

Immigration won’t always ask to see this, but if they do, you better be prepared to present it.

Thoughts on packing for traveling to Panama

I’m sure you can find some guides all over the internet on packing and can figure a lot of this out yourselves. Just remember that Boquete is generally about 75° F daily with overnights usually in the lower to mid 60’s. But you should also account for hot temps of any other areas you might be traveling to (beaches?) and cooler areas (i.e. airplanes) .

So I’m just going to mention some other things you may or may not have considered bringing for on the flights and at your destination:

  • A pen for filling out the forms on the plane I mentioned
  • Hand sanitizer / Disinfectant wipes for the planes (though they have been handing out wipes on most flights now)
  • Travel/Neck pillow – if you plan to sleep on the flights
  • Snacks for on the plane, at any hotels, etc.
  • Your Kindle Paperwhite or other eReader
  • Cash, including a fair amount of one dollar bills for tipping (bellboys, restaurants, etc.)
  • Layers for the planes – we get cold and usually have a couple of layers to add or remove as needed
  • An external battery to keep your cell phone charged during travel if you have one
  • A pair of pants (for any activities like horseback riding or hiking)
  • At least one long-sleeve shirt or light sweatshirt for cooler evenings
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Bathing suits if you’re planning on going to the beach
  • Phone charging brick and cable so you can plug in once you get to wherever you’re staying

Bear in mind that Boquete is not a place where you’ll be dressing up a lot. It’s a very casual town and you can probably skip all the unnecessary formal wear. If you’re not moving here and only spending a week or even two, you can probably get away with a carry-on if you’re selective about what you bring.

On the note of how much cash, that can vary based on a few factors. One is obviously how much you plan on buying while there. Some places take credit cards and some don’t. But if you don’t have a credit card that covers foreign transaction fees (most don’t) , you’re going to get dinged hard here. I have some of my favorite credit cards here and I note the ones that exempt foreign transaction fees.

Be aware that the ATMs here generally charge about $5.25-$5.75 to use… with a maximum withdrawal of $250 per transaction. That can add up real fast.

So, unfortunately, I can’t give you a good number on how much cash to bring. Hopefully, you can determine a good number based on this information though.

Arriving at Tocumen airport in Panama

Finally, we’re onto the fun part… getting to Panama! Let’s talk about what to expect when you arrive at Tocumen airport.

Where you start off at the airport is going to depend on what airline you flew in on. The key though is that once you get in the airport, look for the overhead signs that say “Equipaje” (“Baggage Claim”) . Regardless of whether you checked a bag, that’s the direction you’ll want to head. Follow the signs closely because there are places where it can get confusing.

Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete - PTY Airport

Eventually, the baggage claim signs will lead you to a location where you’ll be heading downstairs… get in line. But before you do, it might be good to step off to the side and get out all the documents you’re going to need:

  • Negative COVID test results or proof of vaccination
  • COVID affidavit
  • Proof of outbound flight

Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete - Stairs to baggage claim at PTY

There will be an employee at the top of the stairs and he/she will let you know when it’s your turn to head down.

Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete - COVID review at PTY

At the bottom of the steps, another employee will let you know when it’s your turn to talk to a “health worker” (not sure what they’re actually called) . These are the folks that will want to see your passports and your COVID results or vaccine proof. They might also ask for your affidavit… or they might not.

Once you’re done with this process, you’ll head in the opposite direction of the tables. This is the immigration area. There’ll be signs for tourists, residents, and Panamanians. You’ll want the one for tourists (turistas) .

As you can see, the lines (or lack thereof) made for a good day for us…

Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete - Immigration and customs

The immigration officer will need your passport and customs declaration. He/She may ask you some basic questions like:

  • Are you here for business or pleasure?
  • What are you planning to do while in Boquete?
  • How long are you staying? They might ask for proof of exit plans as well (your flight out of Panama) .

Once you get through customs, you’re off toward the baggage area (even if you didn’t check any bags) . You’ll also find another line right there to exit through security. Get your suitcases first if you had any and then get in line for security.

Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete - Baggage claim at PTY

At the front of the line, an employee will direct you to a booth to head to or one of the security employees may wave you over. The security person may ask you for your passport. They’ll also ask you to put all your suitcases, backpacks, handbags, purses, etc. on the belt. They’ll all pass through the x-ray machine which you can then grab on the other side once the security person gives you the ok to pass.

That’s it – you’re now ready to get out of the airport. Head to the doors marked “Salida” (“Exit”) where you’ll take a quick left to make your way to the airport exit.

Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete - Exit out of PTY

At this point, you can head outside…

Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete - Outside of PTY

This is where you can meet your ride, catch an Uber, get a taxi, or find your airport shuttle.

panama travel protocols

Good news! Traveling to Panama City was the hard part. Now you just get to hop on a short flight to David (if that’s the option you chose) and then make your way up to Boquete.

With flights between Panama City and David a little less frequent right now, we’ve been spending a night at a hotel in Panama City before heading to David. The fun part is heading back to the Panama City airport from the hotel. On the past couple of trips, we’ve taken an Uber because the shuttle service started too late in the morning for us.

Unfortunately, when we’re traveling to Panama, we generally each have a giant suitcase plus a backpack because we’re usually spending a month or longer in the U.S. So picture all that luggage. It makes me laugh when we request an Uber and this shows up…

One small Uber for 3 passengers, 3 suitcases, and 3 backpacks!

Somehow though, our driver miraculously fit everything in the car! It’s only a few minutes to the Tocumen airport anyway so it’s not that big of a deal.

Two airlines fly between Panama City and Boquete: Air Panama and Copa Airlines. Air Panama goes between the two cities but they fly out of Panama City Albrook Airport (PAC). I haven’t flown out of that airport yet so I can’t give you much information on that trip.

So I’m going to take you through flying out of the Tocumen airport to David. Most likely, you’ll be flying on Copa Airlines since that’s the only airline running between Tocumen and David right now.

When you get into the Tocumen airport, head over to the Copa Airlines check-in area to get your boarding pass and any needed bags checked. After that, you’ll make your way to the left of the Copa counters. You’re looking for a staircase on the left-hand side. It’s easy to miss but there are a few vending machines in the area as well. You’ll see the stairs going up more easily but you’ll want to use the stairs to the left of those to go downstairs.

Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete - Heading to domestic departures

When you get to the bottom of the steps, turn left where you’ll see Banco National de Panama. You want to go out the exit doors to the left of the bank. That’s correct, you are actually exiting the airport (I didn’t design this place!) .

Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete - Heading to domestic departures

Ok, you’re outside – hang an immediate right following the sign that says “Vuelos Nacionales” (“Domestic Flights”). You’ll be looking directly at a wall marked with the same words. Head into the door to the right of that sign for domestic departures.

panama travel protocols

Welcome back into the airport!

You now get to go through security. Plan on throwing any bags, wallets, cell phones, etc. onto the belt to be passed through the x-ray machine.

panama travel protocols

Before you know it, you’ll be in the waiting room where you can sit and await your flight. Feel free to bring up my blog to read while you’re waiting there!

panama travel protocols

As of this writing, Copa has been boarding from the back to the front of the plane and they call out the rows accordingly. Be aware that sometimes it’s tough to understand the announcements because they don’t use an intercom.

Here’s the best part.. you thought you were going to just jump on your plane, right? Nope.

When your row is called, you’ll present your boarding pass to the employee at the desk and then head through the door out of the airport… again. This time you’ll be herded right onto a bus. Hop on and enjoy the ride!

panama travel protocols

The bus will drive you to your plane where you’ll likely head up a staircase and around a bend leading you right onto your plane… how’s that for an adventure?! Nobody ever said traveling to Panama was going to be easy!

But that’s it – relax and enjoy your quick flight. Hopefully, they’ll provide you with a disinfectant wipe, bottled water, and a bag of those delicious fried plantains as a snack. On our last trip, I was disappointed that we got yucca chips instead… boooo!

Yuquita Chips

Welcome to David airport!

You made it! You’re about an hour away from enjoying beautiful Boquete! Don’t worry, this one’s pretty quick.

As of right now, your plane isn’t going to be landing right by a terminal. Instead, you’ll head down the portable staircase off the plane in the middle of the airport… start walking. The good news is that it’s a beautiful area. The bad news is that it’s probably going to be pretty hot out there!

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Time to wait in line to get your temperature taken…

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Then you get to wait in line to pick up your suitcases. If you don’t have any checked bags, you can skip this line.

panama travel protocols

After you grabbed any checked suitcases, head to the main airport and out the door where you can grab a taxi, Uber, shuttle, or whatever transportation you have lined up.

panama travel protocols

I’m not going to kid, traveling to Panama isn’t the easiest trip to make. I do hope though that you find it worth it once you get to Boquete. It’s a beautiful little town with so much to offer!

If Panama’s on your radar as a possible place to retire to, check out Retire in Panama Tours . It’s a first-rate way to see different parts of the country, learn about the pros and the cons of living here, meet other ex-pats living here, and gain a lot of the right resources to make the transition easier (immigration attorneys, for example) . Oscar, Rod, and Megan are great people, too. They have the knowledge to guide you through Panama, answer your questions, and ensure that Panama’s the right place for you. Check out Retire in Panama Tours for more info!

Well, that turned out to be one heckuva long guide to help prepare you for traveling to Panama. I hope you found this information useful!

If so, consider signing up for my mailing list where you’ll receive a weekly email with more great info like this. I’ll even send you some cool spreadsheet templates that I think you’ll enjoy!

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

17 thoughts on “Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to Boquete”

panama travel protocols

Whew! Almost seems easier to stay at home. However, I’ll brave it. I’ll be there in a couple of weeks. Thanks for the explicit help!

panama travel protocols

It’s a long day or two depending on how you’re traveling here, but I hope you find it worth it, Warren! 🙂

panama travel protocols

We are considering becoming expats in either Costa Rica or Panama. We’re familiar with CR but not Panama. We are definitely waiting until the covid chaos is closer to the end. It is a similar pain to simply return to the US as well. The testing and such is just all extra expenses we are avoiding. (Where we live has been 99% normal the entire time so we would be in for a shock, I think!)

We love international travel and have taken our kids all over the world. But we’re content to stay domestic for now. But that travel itch is building!

Thanks for the write up! Panama is definitely on the short list of next countries to visit.

Haha, I get it on the travel itch! I have a feeling by late summer we’ll start to see things return to a closer “normal” than we’ve had for a while now. Hopefully, doing international travel will be a little smoother then. Right now, we had to do the COVID test to get back to the U.S. (we paid $40 each here in Boquete) but got free tests in Texas before we headed back to Panama.

Depending on your view on the vaccine, that could make it much easier down the line. It’s looking like my in-laws will not need to get the test coming to Panama since they’ve been vaccinated. However, they’ll still need to get the test before heading back to the U.S. (for now at least).

Hope you end up making it down here at some point, Scott! 🙂

panama travel protocols

Wow this is one heck of a comprehensive guide. Thanks for all the info and pics Jim!

Haha, it might be a little much, but it should be helpful for visitors who haven’t been here before. Are you coming to visit now that you have this guide, Bob? Not sure if this would be a surprise or not, but there are really quite a number of Canadian expats here in Boquete! 🙂

panama travel protocols

Jim, My wife and I visited Boquete in 2017. This fall, in October, I’m ready to return to start the Pensionado process. We’d live in Panama the best 6 months of the year, travel internationally and keep a small place in Austin Texas for as long as we can afford it. Your article was amazing and full of solid advice. It answered most of my “what about?” travel questions. Last time we rented a car in David without incident and found driving in Panama pretty easy in the countryside. We would like to rent a small 3/2 for six months beginning next January in the Boquete area. I’d like to arrange that during the October recon visit. Do you have any suggestions about renting a car beyond the 30 days from Thrifty or Budget at Malek? What about insurance coverage? I hope we will have a chance to talk, so I can follow in your footsteps (my wife Kim might be a few steps behind though…-:)

Hi Bob – glad you found the post helpful. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about renting cars here for more than 30 days. We’ve only rented a car a few times here and each time was only for 1-3 days.

My suggestion would be to post these questions in a couple of the ex-pat Facebook groups that I mention in my post Moving to Boquete or Visiting? The Ultimate List of Tips!! . I would bet that someone there has run into this before and would have some good ideas and helpful information on long-term renting of cars.

panama travel protocols

Wow, if I ever travel to Panama, I’m going to use this guide Jim! Very comprehensive!

I’m actually amazed you had pictures of so many of the little twists and turns in the process! How is traveling back to the United States? Is it any easier? I assume you need some kind of negative COVID test before you can enter.

You are correct – right now you need a negative COVID test to get back into the U.S. The good news is now it’s much easier to get one with rapid results. That was a real hurdle even only 6 months ago. The other thing that’s good is that the airlines, particularly here, have been very careful and have some good safety procedures in place. That makes me feel much better when traveling.

panama travel protocols

Jim, following and reading your blog has really made me want to go to Panama after I retire early. There are hundreds of countries that I could visit but I would choose Panama just because I chose to follow this blog, haha.

Your bus pictures really remind me of the good old days where I used to take buses for long distance trips. Public transportation in America just isn’t all that good.

Haha, I hope I didn’t skew your thoughts too much! It’s a wonderful country but what I love might not be the same for others. I’ve only ever taken one long bus trip (from Costa Rica to Panama) just for the adventure of it and it was actually very non-dramatic – comfortable ride and pretty easy trip… fun time!

panama travel protocols

Hi Jim Thank you as usual for a comprehensive writeup. One question re the Kayak. I registered using my gmail login, how do I forward my existing flight that I booked earlier to show on Kayak? Thanks you.

Never mind, found it, you forward the email of your booking to [email protected]

Glad you found it, Zion – yup, it’s that simple. One thing to be aware of (although this is unusual for most folks) – if you have more than one email address where you receive trip info, you’ll want to add that into your profile. Otherwise, Kayak won’t know who it’s from when you forward the email.

panama travel protocols

Hi Jim, can you speak briefly about the return flight from David to Panama City? Two questions on that topic: 1. Do you need an additional negative COVID test to return? And 2. Do you have to go back through customs in Panama City upon arrival?

I saw this on the Air Panama site today, which doesn’t look promising: “Statement from the Health Authority (MINSA) establishes that every passenger departing on flights from the city of David (DAV) must present their negative COVID test carried out within a maximum period of 48 hours at the time of boarding.”

Hi Chris – as of right now (07/08/21), my understanding is that you do need a negative COVID test coming into the country of Panama that must be taken within 48 hours of your arrival in Panama (not just your boarding time, but your arrival time). Hopefully, they’ve changed that but I haven’t heard anything about that.

And yes, you go through customs at Panama City when coming into the country. It’s very similar to the U.S. where you spend quality time waiting in line until you talk to an immigration officer who asks you a few questions about your plans in Panama. They usually speak some English too so that makes it a little easier.

As far as your note, you are correct – you do now need to have a negative COVID test when traveling between some provinces (i.e. leaving Chiriqui). We just got back to the U.S. yesterday and killed two birds with one stone. We took our COVID test the day before our flight out of David. We then presented our negative results for our flight from David to Panama City. We then stayed overnight at a hotel and the next day we were able to present the same test results at the airport for our flight to the U.S.

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COVID-19: travel health notice for all travellers

Panama travel advice

Latest updates: Health - editorial update

Last updated: February 19, 2024 10:34 ET

On this page

Safety and security, entry and exit requirements, laws and culture, natural disasters and climate, panama - take normal security precautions.

Take normal security precautions in Panama

Colón and some areas of Panama City - Exercise a high degree of caution

Exercise a high degree of caution in Colón and some areas of Panama City, due to high levels of crime.

Region beyond Yaviza - Avoid all travel

Avoid all travel to the areas beyond the town of Yaviza in Darién Province to the Colombian border, due to the extremely high level of violent crime.

Mosquito Gulf - Avoid all travel

Avoid all travel to the Mosquito Gulf, from Boca de Río Chiriquí to Coclé del Norte, due to the high level of illegal activity such as drug smuggling and human trafficking.

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Region between Yaviza and the Colombian border

Avoid all travel from the end of the Pan-American Highway (past Yaviza, about 230 km southeast of Panama City) to the Colombian border. This area includes parts of Darién National Park and privately owned nature reserves and tourist resorts.

Colombian guerrilla groups and drug traffickers are present in this area. The level of violent crime is extremely high, with numerous reports of:

  • kidnappings
  • armed robberies
  • disappearances

If you choose to visit this region despite this advisory:  

  • be extremely vigilant at all times
  • review your security situation regularly
  • leave a detailed itinerary with family or friends

Mosquito Gulf

Avoid all travel to the Mosquito Gulf, from Boca de Río Chiriquí to Coclé del Norte.

This is a very remote part of the country with limited road access. There are high levels of illegal activity such as drug smuggling and human trafficking along the coast.

Petty crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs.

  • Ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
  • Avoid displaying signs of affluence or carrying large sums of cash
  • Use ATMs located in public areas or inside a bank or business
  • Don’t walk alone after dark
  • Remain vigilant in all public places, especially at airports and bus terminals

In Panama City, high-crime areas include bus stations and shopping areas on Avenida Central as well as the following neighbourhoods:

  • Ancón
  • Curundú
  • El Chorillo
  • San Miguelito
  • Juan Díaz
  • Parque Soberania
  • Río Abajo
  • Veracruz Beach

Theft from hotel rooms occurs in both urban and resort areas.

Residential break-ins and robberies also occur. They are more likely to happen when nobody is home. Criminals may also try to gain your trust then enter your home.

  • Stay in busy, reputable and well-protected hotels
  • Always verify the identity of a visitor before opening your door
  • Ensure that windows and doors are secure and locked in both private and commercial accommodations

Violent crime

Violent crime is not frequent, but does occur. There have been violent crimes committed in the cities of Colón and David, as well as in some beach communities.

Express kidnappings have also occurred. Criminals abduct victims, usually for a few hours, and force them to withdraw money from ATMs in exchange for their release. 

Demonstrations

Demonstrations occasionally occur. They can lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. Police may use tear gas and other methods to disperse crowds. 

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local and social media for information on ongoing demonstrations
  • Check your route before travelling and be prepared to modify your plans in case of disturbances and roadblocks

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Women’s safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.

Incidents of assault, rape and sexual aggression against foreigners have occurred, including at beach resorts. In some cases, hotel employees have been implicated.

  • Avoid walking after dark, especially alone
  • Avoid deserted or under-populated areas
  • Exercise caution when dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances
  • Don’t accept invitations or rides from strangers or recent acquaintances

If you are a victim of a sexual assault or other crime, you should report it immediately to the police and the Embassy of Canada.

Advice for women travellers

Water activities

Lifeguards don’t usually supervise beaches. Tidal changes can cause powerful currents, and riptides are common. Several drownings occur each year.

Rescue services may not be consistent with international standards.

  • Consult residents and tour operators for information on possible hazards and safe swimming areas
  • Follow the instructions and warnings of local authorities

Tour operators may not adhere to international standards.

If you undertake adventure sports, such as diving:

  • choose a well-established and reputable company that has insurance
  • ensure that your travel insurance covers the recreational activities you choose

If in doubt concerning the safety of the facilities or equipment, don’t use them.

Water safety abroad

Adventure tourism

If you engage in adventure tourism:

  • never do so alone
  • always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
  • buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
  • ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
  • ensure that you’re properly equipped
  • ensure that you’re well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
  • inform a family member or friend of your itinerary
  • obtain detailed information on each activity before setting out

Road safety

Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country. 

Drivers often drive dangerously.

Night construction on the Pan-American Highway is frequent, and the highway is not well-lit.

  • Keep car windows closed and doors locked at all times
  • Be prepared for possible roadblocks

Public transportation

Public transportation has improved in the recent years but may be unreliable.

Local buses within Panama City don’t always follow a regular route. Due to the risk of theft, when travelling by bus:

  • be aware of your surroundings
  • protect your belongings

Taxis and ridesharing

Registered yellow taxis are generally safe if located at a taxi stand, which are usually found at malls, hotels and main transport hubs.

They are not metered. Fares are calculated according to the number of zones crossed to get to a destination. It's preferable to have small bills available to pay taxi fares.

When using a taxi:.

  • agree to a fare before departure
  • tell the driver you don’t want to share a taxi, since they may attempt to pick up additional passengers
  • always sit in the back of the vehicle

Rideshare apps are commonly used throughout the country.

If you use a trusted ridesharing app, confirm the driver’s identity and the licence plate before getting in the car.

The following areas are known as transportation corridors for narcotics:

  • the southeastern coast of Comarca Kuna Yala

Coiba Island

  • the Mosquito Gulf
  • the entire length of the Pacific coast

These areas are especially dangerous at night. Boaters should be wary of vessels that may be involved in smuggling.

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

Information about foreign domestic airlines

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

We have obtained the information on this page from the Panamanian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with the  Foreign Representatives in Canada .

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.

Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Regular Canadian passport

Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you expect to leave Panama.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Other travel documents

Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Useful links

  • Foreign Representatives in Canada
  • Canadian passports

Tourist visa: not required for stays up to 180 days Business visa: required Student visa: required

Length of stay

If you wish to stay in the country for more than 180 days, you must change your residency status.

To renew your stay as a tourist, you must exit Panama for at least 30 days. Immigration authorities may deny you re-entry if you try to renew your stay in Panama by travelling out of the country for a short period of time and returning as a tourist.

Panama National Immigration Service (in Spanish)

You need a permit from Panama’s National Authority for the Environment to access Coiba National Park. Contact your tour operator to obtain it.

Criminal record

You may be refused entry to Panama, even for transit purposes, if you have a criminal record.

Other requirements

Entry stamp.

You must obtain an entry stamp from immigration officials upon entry into Panama. You may be fined US$1,000 if you fail to do so.

Exit or onward ticket

Immigration officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay.

You must register your biometrics (fingerprints and facial scan) at the port of entry.

Cash or credit card

You are required to have the equivalent of US$500 or a credit card when entering Panama.

Children and travel

Learn more about travelling with children .

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

Relevant Travel Health Notices

  • Global Measles Notice - 31 August, 2023
  • Zika virus: Advice for travellers - 31 August, 2023
  • COVID-19 and International Travel - 31 August, 2023
  • Dengue: Advice for travellers - 19 February, 2024

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your  routine vaccinations , as per your province or territory , are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

Yellow fever   is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country   where yellow fever occurs.

Recommendation

  • Vaccination is recommended depending on your itinerary.
  • Contact a designated  Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre  well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites .

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada * It is important to note that   country entry requirements   may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest   diplomatic or consular office   of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.

There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

Practise  safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.

Malaria  is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is caused by parasites spread through the bites of mosquitoes.   There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this destination. 

Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic before travelling to discuss your options. It is recommended to do this 6 weeks before travel, however, it is still a good idea any time before leaving.    Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times:  • Cover your skin and use an approved insect repellent on uncovered skin.  • Exclude mosquitoes from your living area with screening and/or closed, well-sealed doors and windows. • Use insecticide-treated bed nets if mosquitoes cannot be excluded from your living area.  • Wear permethrin-treated clothing.    If you develop symptoms similar to malaria when you are travelling or up to a year after you return home, see a health care professional immediately. Tell them where you have been travelling or living. 

In this destination, rabies is carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions , including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. Rabies treatment is often available in this destination. 

Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals). 

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

  Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.

The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Typhoid   is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.

Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.  

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

There is a risk of chikungunya in this country.  The risk may vary between regions of a country.  Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.

American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease)   is a risk in this country. It is caused by a parasite spread by infected triatomine bugs. The infection can be inactive for decades, but humans can eventually develop complications causing disability and even death.

Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from triatomine bugs, which are active at night, by using mosquito nets if staying in poorly-constructed housing. There is no vaccine available for Chagas disease.

  • In this country,   dengue  is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
  • Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
  • The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites . There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue.

Zika virus is a risk in this country. 

Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.

During your trip:

  • Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
  • Use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact, particularly if you are pregnant.

If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you should discuss the potential risks of travelling to this destination with your health care provider. You may choose to avoid or postpone travel. 

For more information, see Zika virus: Pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette , which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •   washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) , HIV , and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

Medical services and facilities

Good health care is available in private hospitals and clinics in Panama City. Quality of care varies greatly in public hospitals throughout the country, which are limited outside Panama City.

You may have to pay in advance, in cash, to obtain medical services.

Medical evacuation can be very expensive and you may need it in case of serious illness or injury.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a   travel health kit , especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad .

Panama’s legal system is complex. Reporting a crime differs greatly from reporting a crime in Canada and may vary among Panama’s provinces. Local authorities generally do not speak English or French. Therefore, you may require a translator or legal representation.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines and long jail sentences.

Drugs, alcohol and travel

Identification

Panamanian law requires all individuals to carry official identification documents at all times. Authorities may jail and fine you if you fail to produce identification upon request.

There may be curfews for minors (under 18 years old) in Panama City.

Police may arrest minors who are outside alone late at night in Panama City if the police believe they’re involved in suspicious activities. Police may detain minors until they can contact the parents, who may receive a fine.

Photography

Indigenous persons may ask you for a small fee if you take picture of them.

Ask permission before taking photographs of individuals, particularly of children and women.

2SLGBTQI+ travellers

Panamanian law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex.

However, 2SLGBTQI+ travellers could be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.

Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

You can drive in Panama with your Canadian driver’s licence for a period of up to 90 days.

Although vehicle insurance is mandatory, many Panamanians drive without it. In the event of an accident:

  • call the police
  • don’t move the vehicle until a police officer tells you to do so

You should carry an international driving permit.

International Driving Permit

Investments

If you plan on buying property or making other investments in Panama, seek legal advice in Canada and in Panama. Do so before making commitments. Related disputes could take time and be costly to resolve.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Panama.

If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Panama, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements .

Travellers with dual citizenship

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. The convention applies between Canada and Panama.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Panama, and if the applicable conditions are met, you may apply for the return of your child to the Panamanian court.

If you are in this situation:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • contact the Central Authority for your province or territory of residence for information on starting an application under The Hague Convention
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Panama to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.

  • List of Canadian Central Authorities for the Hague Convention
  • International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
  • Travelling with children
  • The Hague Convention - Hague Conference on Private International Law
  • Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
  • Emergency Watch and Response Centre

The currency in Panama is the balboa (PAB).

It is used interchangeably with the U.S. dollar (USD).

There have been issues with counterfeit US$50 and US$100 bills. Carry only small bills of U.S. dollars.

Hurricane season

Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.

These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.

If you decide to travel to a coastal area during the hurricane season:

  • know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
  • be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
  • stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
  • carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
  • follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
  • Tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons and monsoons
  • Large-scale emergencies abroad
  • Active storm tracking and hurricane watches and warnings  - United States’ National Hurricane Center

Rainy season

The rainy season extends from April to December. Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.

Earthquakes and tsunamis

Western Panama is located in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes and tsunamis can occur.

A tsunami can occur within minutes of a nearby earthquake. However, the risk of tsunami can remain for several hours following the first tremor. If you’re staying on the coast, familiarize yourself with the region’s evacuation plans in the event of a tsunami warning.

In the event of a natural disaster, follow the advice of the local authorities.

  • Earthquakes  - What to Do?
  • Tsunami alerts - U.S. Tsunami Warning System
  • Latest earthquakes - U.S. Geological Survey

Local services

Emergency services exist but may be limited. In case of emergency, dial:

  • police: 104
  • medical assistance: 911
  • firefighters: 103

Consular assistance

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Panama, in Panama City, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services .

Risk Levels

  take normal security precautions.

Take similar precautions to those you would take in Canada.

  Exercise a high degree of caution

There are certain safety and security concerns or the situation could change quickly. Be very cautious at all times, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.

IMPORTANT: The two levels below are official Government of Canada Travel Advisories and are issued when the safety and security of Canadians travelling or living in the country or region may be at risk.

  Avoid non-essential travel

Your safety and security could be at risk. You should think about your need to travel to this country, territory or region based on family or business requirements, knowledge of or familiarity with the region, and other factors. If you are already there, think about whether you really need to be there. If you do not need to be there, you should think about leaving.

  Avoid all travel

You should not travel to this country, territory or region. Your personal safety and security are at great risk. If you are already there, you should think about leaving if it is safe to do so.

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panama travel protocols

  • Passports, travel and living abroad
  • Travel abroad
  • Foreign travel advice

Warnings and insurance

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office ( FCDO ) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice .

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and see support for British nationals abroad for information about specific travel topics.

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram . You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance . Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

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The Impact Of Travel Restrictions In Panama: What You Need To Know

  • Last updated Oct 25, 2023
  • Difficulty Beginner

Annie Rangel

  • Category United States

travel restriction panama

Welcome to the tropical paradise of Panama! A land of mesmerizing beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture, this Central American gem has always been a popular destination for adventurous travelers. However, due to recent travel restrictions, the country has become a tantalizing dream for many. In this article, we will explore the impact of travel restrictions on Panama, the measures taken by the government to ensure the safety of its citizens and visitors, and the hidden treasures that await those fortunate enough to explore this captivating nation once its borders reopen. So, sit back, relax, and let your imagination transport you to the land where rainforests meet turquoise waters, where ancient ruins whisper stories of the past, and where adventure lurks around every corner. Welcome to Panama, where dreams of travel can become a reality once again!

What You'll Learn

What are the current travel restrictions in panama, are there any exemptions to the travel restrictions in panama, how long are the travel restrictions expected to be in place in panama, what documentation is required for travel to panama during the restrictions, are there any specific quarantine or testing requirements for travelers entering panama.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect travel worldwide, it is important to stay informed about the current travel restrictions in different countries. In this article, we will focus on the current travel restrictions in Panama.

Panama, like many other countries, has implemented travel restrictions to control the spread of the virus. These restrictions may vary depending on the current situation and can change frequently. It is crucial to check for the most up-to-date information before planning any travel to Panama.

Here are the current travel restrictions in Panama as of [insert date]:

Entry Requirements:

  • All travelers must present a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken no more than 48 hours before arrival in Panama.
  • If a traveler does not have a negative test, they may be required to take a rapid test at the airport at their own expense.
  • Children under 12 years old are exempt from the testing requirement.

Quarantine:

Currently, there is no mandatory quarantine for travelers who present a negative test result. However, travelers may be subject to health screenings upon arrival.

Health Insurance:

All travelers must have health insurance that covers COVID-19 treatment and related expenses. This insurance should be valid for the duration of their stay in Panama.

Domestic Travel:

Domestic travel within Panama is allowed without significant restrictions. However, travelers should still follow any local guidelines or regulations put in place by the areas they are visiting.

COVID-19 Protocols:

Travelers must adhere to local COVID-19 protocols, such as wearing masks in public places, practicing social distancing, and following hygiene guidelines.

It is important to note that the situation can change rapidly, and travel restrictions may be tightened or eased based on the current COVID-19 situation in the country. Therefore, it is advisable to regularly check for updates from official government sources or contact the Panamanian embassy or consulate before making any travel plans.

In conclusion, travelers planning to visit Panama should be aware of the current travel restrictions. These include presenting a negative COVID-19 test, having valid health insurance, and following local COVID-19 protocols. It is crucial to stay informed and follow the guidelines provided by the Panamanian authorities to ensure a safe and smooth travel experience.

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Panama has implemented travel restrictions as a preventive measure to control the spread of COVID-19. However, there are certain exemptions to these travel restrictions. Here are the details:

  • Panamanian citizens and residents: Panamanian citizens and residents are allowed to enter the country without any restrictions. They may be subjected to health screenings upon arrival and are required to comply with any quarantine or self-isolation measures that may be in place.
  • Foreign diplomats: Foreign diplomats and their families are exempt from the travel restrictions. They are required to follow the protocols set by the Ministry of Health and may be subjected to health screenings upon arrival.
  • Humanitarian flights: Humanitarian flights carrying medical supplies or providing assistance are exempt from the travel restrictions. However, passengers on these flights may still be subjected to health screenings and other protocols.
  • Cargo flights and transport of goods: Cargo flights and the transport of goods are considered essential and are exempt from the travel restrictions. This ensures the continuous flow of essential supplies and goods into the country.
  • Medical emergencies: Individuals with medical emergencies or those seeking medical treatment in Panama are exempt from the travel restrictions. They may be required to provide medical documentation and undergo health screenings upon arrival.

It is important to note that even if travelers qualify for exemptions, they may still be subject to health screenings, quarantine requirements, or other measures set by the Panamanian health authorities. It is advisable to check with the Panamanian embassy or consulate in your country for the latest information and requirements before making any travel arrangements.

In conclusion, while Panama has implemented travel restrictions, there are exemptions in place to allow certain individuals to enter the country. These exemptions include Panamanian citizens and residents, foreign diplomats, humanitarian flights, cargo flights and transport of goods, and individuals with medical emergencies. However, it is important to follow the protocols and requirements set by the health authorities to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

How Poland is Implementing Travel Restrictions to Curb the Spread of COVID-19

As the world continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions have become a commonplace measure to limit the spread of the virus. Panama, like many other countries, has implemented travel restrictions to protect its citizens and prevent the further transmission of the virus. The duration of these restrictions can vary depending on the evolving situation and the efficacy of containment measures.

In Panama, the travel restrictions initially went into effect in March 2020, when the country closed its borders to all incoming international travelers. Only Panamanian citizens, residents, diplomats, and those with special permits were allowed entry. These measures were put in place to control the spread of the virus and ensure the healthcare system was not overwhelmed.

Since then, the government of Panama has periodically reviewed and adjusted the travel restrictions based on the prevailing conditions. The duration of the restrictions has depended on factors such as the number of active cases, the rate of transmission, and the capacity of the healthcare system. The goal has always been to protect public health while carefully considering the economic impact of these measures.

As the pandemic has progressed, Panama has gradually eased certain travel restrictions while maintaining others. For example, in October 2020, the country began allowing international commercial flights to resume under certain conditions, such as mandatory testing and quarantine measures. These measures were put in place to strike a balance between facilitating travel and protecting public health.

However, it is important to note that the duration of travel restrictions can change depending on the evolving situation. New variants of the virus and fluctuations in cases can prompt governments to tighten or loosen travel restrictions accordingly. In recent months, Panama, like many other countries, has seen a surge in cases due to new variants, leading to the reinstatement of stricter measures.

To provide a more concrete example, let's consider a hypothetical scenario: if the number of cases in Panama suddenly spikes, making it difficult to control the spread of the virus and overwhelming the healthcare system, the government may decide to reinstate stricter travel restrictions. This could mean closing borders to all incoming international travelers once again, suspending international flights, and imposing mandatory quarantines for those entering the country.

In conclusion, the duration of travel restrictions in Panama, like many other countries, is constantly evolving. It is determined by a range of factors such as the number of cases, the rate of transmission, and the capacity of the healthcare system. Travel restrictions are put in place to protect public health and prevent the spread of the virus. As the situation changes, governments adjust these measures accordingly to ensure the safety of their citizens. Therefore, it is essential for travelers to stay updated on the latest travel advisories and regulations to avoid any disruptions in their travel plans.

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Traveling to Panama during the current COVID-19 restrictions requires certain documentation to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey. It is essential to have the necessary paperwork in order before embarking on your trip. In this article, we will outline the documentation needed for travel to Panama during the restrictions and provide a step-by-step guide on how to obtain it.

  • Negative COVID-19 Test: One of the primary requirements is a negative COVID-19 test result. All travelers, regardless of vaccination status, must provide proof of a negative test taken within 48 hours before arrival in Panama. This test must be a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or antigen test. Ensure that the test result clearly shows your name, date of test, and the laboratory or healthcare facility that conducted the test.
  • Health Declaration Form: Along with the negative test result, every traveler must complete a health declaration form. This form gathers important information about your health and travel history. You can find this form on the Panama Digital platform, which is accessible through the official website of Panama's Ministry of Health.
  • Travel Insurance: Travelers to Panama must have valid international health insurance that covers COVID-19 treatment and accommodation expenses in case of an extended stay due to the virus. The insurance must have a minimum coverage of $50,000 for medical expenses and at least $2,000 for lodging.
  • Confirmation of Lodging: As part of the entry requirements, it is necessary to present proof of a confirmed hotel reservation or accommodation during your stay in Panama. This confirmation of lodging ensures that you have a place to stay and minimizes the risk of undocumented travelers.
  • COVID-19 Vaccination Record: While not mandatory for entry, having your COVID-19 vaccination record with you can potentially ease the immigration process and any potential health checks upon arrival. It is advisable to carry a copy of your vaccination card or any official document proving your vaccination status.
  • Entry and Exit Requirements: Aside from the above documentation, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with Panama's entry and exit requirements. Depending on your country of origin, there may be additional regulations to follow or specific entry permissions required. Stay updated with the latest travel advisories and consult with the embassy or consulate of Panama in your country for the most accurate information.

It is important to note that the COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving, and travel restrictions and requirements may change at any time. Therefore, it is essential to check the latest updates and guidelines from official sources before planning your trip to Panama.

In summary, to travel to Panama during the COVID-19 restrictions, you will need a negative COVID-19 test, a completed health declaration form, travel insurance, confirmation of lodging, and, if available, your COVID-19 vaccination record. Additionally, stay informed about entry and exit requirements and any updates to the travel guidelines. By ensuring you have the necessary documentation in order, you can have a safe and seamless journey to Panama.

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As the global pandemic continues, many countries have implemented travel restrictions and requirements to help control the spread of the virus. Panama is no exception, and there are specific quarantine and testing requirements for travelers entering the country.

Firstly, it is important to note that the requirements may vary depending on the traveler's country of origin. Panama has classified countries into different categories based on their level of risk. These categories determine the specific measures that travelers from each country must follow upon arrival.

For travelers arriving from countries classified as high-risk, such as those with a high number of COVID-19 cases, stricter measures are in place. These travelers are required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test result taken no more than 48 hours before boarding their flight to Panama. Additionally, they are required to undergo a rapid COVID-19 test upon arrival at the airport.

Upon arrival, all travelers, regardless of their country of origin, must complete a health declaration form. This form gathers information about the traveler's health status and any potential exposure to the virus. It also includes contact information in case further follow-up is required.

In terms of quarantine requirements, travelers from high-risk countries must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival. This quarantine can be carried out at a designated hotel or lodging facility, or at the traveler's residence if certain conditions are met. The quarantine period starts from the date of arrival in the country.

It is worth mentioning that the quarantine requirement may be waived for travelers who can present a vaccination certificate showing that they have received all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the Panamanian health authorities. However, it is important to check the specific vaccine requirements and guidelines in place at the time of travel, as these can change.

It is essential for travelers to stay informed about the latest requirements and guidelines set by the Panamanian government. These requirements may be subject to change as the situation evolves, so it is important to regularly check official sources, such as the Panamanian Ministry of Health, for the most up-to-date information.

In conclusion, Panama has implemented specific quarantine and testing requirements for travelers entering the country. These requirements vary based on the traveler's country of origin and their vaccination status. It is crucial for travelers to comply with these requirements to ensure the safety and well-being of both themselves and the local population.

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Frequently asked questions.

Yes, Panama has implemented travel restrictions and entry requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, only Panamanian citizens, permanent residents, and foreign diplomats are allowed to enter Panama. Certain exceptions may be made for individuals with special circumstances with prior approval from the National Immigration Service.

Yes, all individuals entering Panama are required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival. Quarantine must be completed at a designated hotel or residence approved by the Ministry of Health.

Domestic travel within Panama is allowed, but certain areas may have specific restrictions or lockdowns in place to control the spread of COVID-19. Travelers are advised to check with local authorities before planning any domestic trips.

Yes, flights are operating to and from Panama, but the availability of flights may be limited. Travelers are advised to check with airlines or travel agencies for the latest information on flight schedules and availability.

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Discover Panama: From the capital to the Canal to its Caribbean beaches and tropical jungles

The monuments, restaurants and hotels of the old town of panama city, the colonial fortresses of san lorenzo and portobelo, excursions to learn about the emberá ethnic group and a visit to the panama canal are the milestones of a complete route through the latin american country.

Panama

Panama — the youngest nation in Latin America — united Central and North America with South America, while connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific. It’s a small country of enormous contrasts, filled with diverse tourist attractions.

Like small floating corks in the immense bay, countless gigantic merchant ships wait their turn to change oceans in front of the Panama Canal. The capital, Panama City, outlines its imposing profile of skyscrapers against stormy clouds.

Ancient enclaves such as Casco Viejo — the Old Town of Panama — and Panamá Viejo are in the same capital, but they’re not the same as modern Panama City, much of which is crowded with skyscrapers. The capital is the Latin Manhattan, or the Hispanic Hong Kong — an important financial center and a modern, cosmopolitan and multiracial metropolis, with great cultural offerings.

One institution that stands out is the Biomuseum. Brightly-colored and containing Panama’s ecological history, it was designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry . Meanwhile the city’s leisure and gastronomy scenes are equally interesting and varied: it is possible to enjoy nature in the nearby Metropolitan National Park — hiking, bird-watching, or enjoying incomparable views of the city skyline — to restaurants offering the best international cuisine.

The outside of the Biomuseo in Panama City, a project by Frank Gehry.

Panama Viejo — “Old Panama’ — is the colonial city that was built over Indigenous territory, before the pirate Henry Morgan destroyed it in 1671. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, it’s designed in a reticular shape — oriented towards the four cardinal points — and has the classic Spanish plaza mayor or main square at its center.

About 20 minutes away by car, in the district of San Felipe, is Casco Viejo (“the Old Town”). Having suffered repeated fires over time, its current configuration dates back to the end of the 19th century. Efforts have been made to preserve and restore colonial, neoclassical and Art Deco buildings. Today, it’s very inviting for visitors, who can stroll through quiet cobbled streets during the daytime to enjoy the monuments, elegant restaurants and fine shops. In the night, however, it’s significantly noisier: several old mansions have been converted into nightclubs.

The Plaza Mayor, Plaza de la Independencia or (the most popular) Plaza Catedral have always been the epicenter of the Old Town. They’ve witnessed major national events, such as independence from Spain in 1821, or the separation from Colombia in 1903. Here, there are two emblematic buildings: Santa María La Antigua, which is a basilica with a notable baroque-colonial style, and the Central Hotel Panamá, the first luxury hotel that was ever built in the country. Over its 150 years of life, it has accommodated major personalities, such as Theodore Roosevelt.

Other interesting places and monuments in the Old Town are Plaza Simón Bolívar, Plaza Herrera, the Church of La Merced, the Church of of San José — famous for its legendary Golden Altar, a notable baroque altarpiece covered in gold leaf — the Oratory of San Felipe Neri, the Church of San Francisco de Asís, the ruins of the Convent of Santo Domingo and the Church of the Society of Jesus, which housed the first Panamanian university. Among the official and civil buildings, you can check out the Bolívar Palace, the Palacio de las Garzas — the presidential palace, named after the storks that walk the courtyards — the National Theater, the Góngora House (one of the oldest in the country) the Boyacá House, the Heurtematte Houses, the Calvo Mansion and the Art Deco House.

The Central Hotel Panamá, the first luxury hotel that was ever built in the country, in front of Plaza de la Independencia, in the Old Town of the Panamanian capital.

In the Old Town, there are accommodations and tables for all types of budgets. Among the hotels and restaurants to highlight, one of the latest and most notable establishments is recommended: La Compañía, a tasteful hotel, converted from a Jesuit convent. Several architectural and archeological elements from different periods remain, while the residential wings and themed restaurants relate to the esthetics and cuisines of the different countries that had a presence in or historical influence on Panama (Spain, France and the United States). Even if you’re not going to sleep or eat, it’s advisable to visit.

Another excellent and brand new hotel is the Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo, located in a privileged location on the edge of the Pacific, with unbeatable views of the Panama City skyline. Good restaurants to enjoy Panamanian cuisine and have a drink in the Old Town are Casablanca and Lo que hay (“whatever there is”).

View this post on Instagram A post shared by CASABLANCA (@casablancacasco)

Let’s get back to Panama Viejo, the name given today to the archeological site that preserves the ruins of the original city of Panama, which was founded by Pedrarias Dávila in 1519 and destroyed by the English pirate Henry Morgan. In its heyday, it was the place where gold from Peru arrived. After crossing the isthmus and changing oceans, it was sent to Spain. Among the ruins, there’s an old tower, which used to be the church-cathedral. This large area, occupied by the remains of Old Panama, is undoubtedly worth a visit.

panama travel protocols

Colonial fortresses and Caribbean beaches

“In a single day, I counted 200 mules loaded with silver and gold… piles of silver ingots piled up like stones in the streets. In a few days, everything was loaded into a fleet [made up] of eight galleons and 10 merchant ships.” This is how, in 1637, the English clergyman Thomas Gage described the incredible spectacle that he witnessed in the streets of the port town of Portobelo. Years before, Bartolomé de las Casas, the Dominican friar who chronicled the colonization of the West Indies, had written something similar, referring to the enormous movement of precious metals that took place in the port of Nombre de Dios, located in contemporary Panama: “From there, it embarked for Spain [after arriving] from Peru… enormous amount of gold, never seen, nor even dreamed of.”

For almost three centuries, the two trails that linked Old Panama along the Pacific with the Caribbean — Camino Real and the Camino de Cruces — were, in the colonial era, the routes along which the most wealth traveled in the world. Created by the Spanish monarchy, a naval force was charged with protecting the enormous quantities of gold, silver and precious stones that, coming from the Viceroyalty of Peru, regularly arrived in Old Panama. From there, the immense treasures continued their journey, until reaching the port of Nombre de Dios and then Portobelo, on the Atlantic coast. From here, the West Indies Fleet finally delivered the precious shipments to Spain.

To protect the circulation of so much treasure from English piracy , Spain built different fortifications at key points along the trade routes that crossed the isthmus. One of them was the San Lorenzo Fort, located on top of a high cliff overlooking the mouth of the Chagres River in the Caribbean. The stronghold — ordered to be built by Philip II of Spain — was designed by the expert engineer Bautista Antonelli. Over the centuries, the place suffered different attacks by privateers and British sailors (Francis Drake, in 1596; Henry Morgan, in 1671; Edward Vernon, in 1740). An obligatory visit allows travelers to enjoy spectacular views of the jungle, the river and the ocean, while witnessing a magnificent example of military defensive architecture.

From Old Panama on the Pacific, to the Atlantic or Caribbean ports, the two aforementioned routes could be followed in colonial times: one by land (Camino Real) and the other by land, river and sea (Camino de Cruces). Both reached Nombre de Dios and Portobelo. As the port town of Portobelo had better conditions than Nombre de Dios to organize the defense of the enclave, with the passage of time, all commercial activity eventually was concentrated there. For this reason, Portobelo preserves remains of several fortifications that protected its bay and its natural port, the most important being the San Jerónimo Fort, the San Fernando Fort and the Santiago Fort.

All these defensive enclosures, unlike that of San Lorenzo, are still awaiting their well-deserved restoration. However, at sunset, its old walls made of coral stone and the many cannons scattered along its walls make for an evocative experience. The fortifications of Portobelo have also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980.

panama travel protocols

One Renaissance building that has recently been restored is the splendid and historic Royal Customs headquarters, built in 1630. From here, the colonial transoceanic trade was administered. The Church of San Felipe, which houses the famous and venerated Black Christ of Portobelo, is another obligatory stop. Wandering around the town, one can imagine the frenetic and chaotic hustle and bustle that the city experienced when the Fleet of the West Indies arrived with products from the Peninsula. If you stop for a drink in this town, located about two hours by car from Panama City, a good place to eat is El Castillo, which has a magnificent patio facing the sea. Casa Congo is another establishment that also hits the spot.

The surroundings of Portobelo offer plenty of opportunities to go hiking in the nearby natural parks, or to enjoy the clear waters and Caribbean coves spread throughout the area’s coastline. A good plan could be to travel by boat along the coast towards Isla Grande, where you’ll spend the night at the Candy Rose Hotel, or at the Bananas Village. But before that, and throughout the day, you should try to sail through the mangroves , take a dip, sunbathe, or go snorkeling in one of the many coves or water spots that are found along the route.

It’s a good idea to eat in the small coastal town of Cacique. There, you can choose between several places. Trying shrimp and fried fish with plantains at Margarita’s small Caribbean restaurant won’t disappoint. She does it all with love: she cooks and she serves the four tables herself.

Aerial view of the Panamanian city of Portobelo.

Tropical jungles and lost paradise

Getting to Playa Muerto isn’t easy or quick. First, from Panama City, you have to drive five or six hours on bumpy roads. Then, from Puerto Quimba, three more hours by speedboat along the Iglesia River, along the Pacific coast, until you finally reach the northeastern end of the Darién Biosphere Reserve, a national park and another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Playa Muerto is a remote place that can only be accessed by sea. But when you reach it, you’ll find a small, lost paradise that’s almost surreal. The town, made up of members of the Indigenous Emberá ethnic group, leads a way of life that’s in deep harmony with nature. It seems like it’s from another time. A naturally conservationist community, the residents are careful to preserve their cultural identity, their traditions and their environment. It’s not a coincidence that the word Emberá means “good man.”

Secluded from the world , on the edge of the jungle, near a wild, idyllic beach full of palm trees, 200 members of the community live in houses built on stilts. They fish for protein and grow everything they need — bananas, cassava, rice, corn, coffee — at the mouth of the Jesús River, or in the South Sea.

The Emberá have their own language. They adorn themselves and paint their bodies colorfully. And, while they’re no strangers to certain advances and comforts of modern society, they persevere in keeping their ancestral rites and customs alive. Women, for example, usually go about topless, cooking directly over fire and serving food and drinks in bowls made from gourd (a type of large fruit similar to the coconut).

Members of the Emberá community.

Playa Muerto is a perfect destination for travelers eager to experience beautifully-preserved nature, while sleeping, eating and living in the community that the Emberá have long maintained. Nowadays, the few visitors who venture here are either passengers on small cruise ships who reach the beach by canoe and spend time with the Indigenous community, or small groups of tourists that enter the jungle to explore the region, taking all kinds of treks to bird-watch or locate the tracks of jaguars and pumas. At certain times of the year, you can also see whales in the ocean, or see several species of turtles laying eggs.

Only a handful of local organizations offer these activities. Among the most professional and recommended are Ecotour Darién and Dynamo Travel. Their respective managers, Erasmo de León and Gustavo Zevallos, are very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the practically virgin Darién ecosystem. They, along with the Panama Tourism Authority, are also helping the Indigenous population of Playa Muerto to maintain their culture by providing them with supplementary resources and creating appropriate opportunities, so that their community can enjoy sustainable development.

And, of course, the Canal

According to Jerónimo Welchs, an expert guide for Aventuras 2000, the main Panamanian tour operator, no one who visits Panama should leave the country without visiting the Canal. It was Emperor Charles V of Spain who, in 1534, was the first to study the possibility of building a canal in Panama that would link the Atlantic with the Pacific through the narrowest part (50 miles) of the Panamanian isthmus. But the project had to wait until 1880 for the French engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps to try and bring it to completion.

After more than eight years and 20,000 dead workers, the project was suspended, until it was resumed by the United States, which completed the canal in 1914. Since then, the Panama Canal has continued to operate normally. In 2006, to allow larger ships to cross, it was decided that what practically amounted to a second canal had to be created, with wider, longer and deeper locks. This was inaugurated in 2016. Today, the Panama Canal continues to be one of the main sources of income for the country (6.8% of GDP), while representing 6% of the world’s commercial transportation.

View of the Panama Canal from the Agua Clara Visitor Center.

This impressive work of modern engineering — as well as the maneuvers of large cargo ships making their way from Gatún Lake to the Atlantic Ocean — can be seen from the Agua Clara Visitor Center, near the city of Colón. You can also watch a film that offers all kinds of details about the Canal: its history, the functions of the artificial Gatún Lake, the biodiversity of the environment that the project is built through, the operation of the locks, the number and types of boats that cross per day and the cost of cargo. The closer you get to Panama City, it’s also possible to learn everything about the Canal from the Pacific side at the Miraflores Visitor Center.

The country’s tourism slogan tries to convey, among other things, that, in Panama, there are many things to experience and discover: “We dare you to live for more.”

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IMAGES

  1. The Panama Travel Handbook 2019-2020

    panama travel protocols

  2. Panama Entry Protocols after October 12, 2020

    panama travel protocols

  3. Panama travel guide, tips and itinerary

    panama travel protocols

  4. Guide to Traveling in Panama

    panama travel protocols

  5. Plan your trip to Panama with this beginner's guide of what to do in

    panama travel protocols

  6. Panama has opened its borders to all countries

    panama travel protocols

COMMENTS

  1. Requirements to Travel to Panama

    Plan Your Vacation / Travel Requirements Requirements to Travel to Panama To enjoy your trip to Panama, you must comply with the following documents and regulations: Valid passport within at least six months of expiration Return ticket to the country of origin or the next destination to visit

  2. Panama International Travel Information

    ... [READ MORE] Embassy Messages Alerts 7th High-Level Security Dialogue between Panama and the United States Joint Statement Fri, 02 Feb 2024 VOTING IN 2024 U.S. FEDERAL ELECTIONS Mon, 22 Jan 2024 Alert: December 20 Demonstrations Tue, 19 Dec 2023 Demonstration Alert (December 6 Update) Wed, 06 Dec 2023 View Alerts and Messages Archive Quick Facts

  3. Travel Advisory for Panama

    Travelers to Panama may experience border closures, airport closures, travel prohibitions, stay at home orders, business closures, and other emergency conditions within Panama due to COVID-19. Visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Panama. Do not travel to: Parts of the Mosquito Gulf due to crime.

  4. Panama

    Hide Travel Health Notices Be aware of current health issues in Panama. Learn how to protect yourself. Level 1 Practice Usual Precautions Updated Dengue in the Americas February 09, 2024 Dengue is a risk in many parts of Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Some countries are reporting increased numbers of cases of the disease.

  5. Panama Travel Advisory

    July 17, 2023 Panama - Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution C Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed. Exercise increased caution in Panama due to crime. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory. Do not travel to: Parts of the Mosquito Gulf due to crime. Parts of the Darién Region due to crime.

  6. Entry into Panama from "High Risk" countries, including the United

    Travelers to Panama from high-risk countries, including the United States, are not required to take a COVID-19 test to enter Panama, nor observe quarantine if they present proof (digitally or physically, from the WHO, FDA, or EMA), of being fully vaccinated.

  7. Can I travel to Panama? Travel Restrictions & Entry ...

    COVID-19 testing Not required Quarantine Not required for vaccinated visitors Restaurants Open Bars Masks Not required on public transportation. Panama entry details and exceptions Foreign citizens regardless of their vaccination status and purpose of travel can enter Panama. COVID-19 testing Quarantine Ready to travel? Find flights to Panama

  8. Panama Is Reopening for International Visitors in October

    Published on September 30, 2020. Panama announced it will reopen its borders to international visitors on Oct. 12, with several new COVID-19 precautions in place. Travelers to Panama must present ...

  9. Guide to Traveling in Panama

    There is much more to do when you travel to Panama than just visiting the Panama canal. Here's a quick guide for Panama travel. ... TripSavvy's editorial guidelines. Updated on 06/26/19. TripSavvy / Anna Haines. Panama is so much more than its famed canal. The country's curvy, narrow land mass serves as a physical—and cultural—land bridge ...

  10. Panama: COVID-19 Entry Requirements Travelers Need To Know

    All travelers arriving in Panama must present a negative 72-hour COVID-19 PCR or Antigen test OR proof of vaccination. The test results must be in English or Spanish. Unvaccinated visitors without a COVID test upon arrival will have to take a test at the airport for $50. Casco Viejo street in an old part of Panama City Quarantine Entry Requirements

  11. Panama (Panamá) (Travel Restrictions, COVID Tests & Quarantine

    Panama deny entry to travellers who have been to South Africa, as well as the United Kingdom in the last 20 days. All land and sea borders are closed. Vaccinated travellers are exempt from all testing and quarantine requirements by showing proof of vaccination. The last dose of the vaccine must have been applied at least 14 days before arrival.

  12. Panama Entry Protocols after October 12, 2020

    Panama announces new protocols for entering the country once international flights start up again on October 12. In a move guaranteed to stress out citizens, expats, and tourists alike, the Panamanian Civil Aviation Authority announced today, that from October 12, anyone entering Panama will need to produce a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of arrival.

  13. Panama Removes All Covid-19 Restrictions For Travelers

    Panama Removes All Covid-19 Restrictions For Travelers. R. Peña. October 7, 2022 · 2 min read. 1. Panama has finally lifted its Covid travel restrictions back to normal pre-pandemic entry guidelines. As of today, vaccinated and non-vaccinated travelers will be allowed into the country. Panama in recent years has become one of the top tourist ...

  14. Panama Travel Guide (Updated 2024)

    The 1-hr flight is between $130-$145 USD. You can also fly from Panama City to David (near Boquete), Pedasi, Chitre, the San Blas Islands and the Pearl Islands. The 1-hr flight from Panama City to David costs $134 USD, vs. a 6-hr bus ride for only $9 USD.

  15. Travel Advisory for Panama

    On October 26, the State Department changed its Travel Advisory for Panama from Level 4: Do Not Travel to Level 3: Reconsider Travel. The Embassy advises all U.S. citizens to read the full travel advisory at travel.state.gov or on the Embassy webpage at pa.usembassy.gov . The decision to change the Travel Advisory reflects several recent ...

  16. Panama

    Panama Healthy Travel Packing List. Pack items for your health and safety. You may not be able to purchase and pack all of these items, and some may not be relevant to you and your travel plans. Talk to your doctor about which items are most important for you. ... Perspectives: Why Guidelines Differ; Maps & Travel Medicine ;

  17. Travel in Panama

    Tourist Hotline. The National Tourism Authority of Panama has established a new hotline for tourists. Dial 178 from any telephone to receive information on hotels and tourism, visa policies and procedures for Panama, or to report a crime and receive assistance from the Panamanian authorities. English-speaking operators are available.

  18. Panama Reopens: Here's How To Do It Right

    Panama reopened to international travel on October 12, after closing its borders in March due to the pandemic. ... not only did the country establish new health and safety protocols, but Panama ...

  19. Panama Travel Advice & Safety

    Avoid protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent. Monitor local media and follow advice of local authorities. Panama has high crime rates. Petty crime is more common than violent crime. Take care of your belongings, especially in transport hubs. Violent crime includes armed robbery and muggings. Avoid high-crime areas of Panama City.

  20. Traveling to Panama? The Ultimate Guide in Going from the U.S. to

    Negative COVID test or proof of vaccine. Up until recently, traveling to Panama required that you provided proof of a negative antigen or PCR test taken within 48 hours of arrival in Panama. That was a real pain to do in the fall of last year, but it seems to be easier lately with more options available in the U.S.

  21. Travel advice and advisories for Panama

    Back to top Safety and security Region between Yaviza and the Colombian border Avoid all travel from the end of the Pan-American Highway (past Yaviza, about 230 km southeast of Panama City) to the Colombian border. This area includes parts of Darién National Park and privately owned nature reserves and tourist resorts.

  22. Panama travel advice

    17 February 2024 Updated: 14 November 2023 Latest update: Information on political demonstrations in Panama ('Safety and security' page). The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office ( FCDO)...

  23. The Impact Of Travel Restrictions In Panama: What You Need To Know

    In summary, to travel to Panama during the COVID-19 restrictions, you will need a negative COVID-19 test, a completed health declaration form, travel insurance, confirmation of lodging, and, if available, your COVID-19 vaccination record. Additionally, stay informed about entry and exit requirements and any updates to the travel guidelines.

  24. Discover Panama: From the capital to the Canal to its Caribbean beaches

    Discover Panama: From the capital to the Canal to its Caribbean beaches and tropical jungles The monuments, restaurants and hotels of the Old Town of Panama City, the colonial fortresses of San Lorenzo and Portobelo, excursions to learn about the Emberá ethnic group and a visit to the Panama Canal are the milestones of a complete route through the Latin American country

  25. Exclusive: Panama Canal does not plan transit restrictions at least

    The Panama Canal sees no need for further vessel transit restrictions until at least April, when its authority will evaluate water levels at the end of the dry season, Deputy Administrator Ilya ...