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How to Plan a Trip to Panama: Frequently Asked Questions

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Tropical beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Tropical beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Whether you're a seasoned traveler or setting foot in Central America for the first time, we are here to provide answers to your most frequently asked questions, ensuring that your trip to Panama is nothing short of extraordinary.

From traversing the iconic Panama Canal to discovering hidden gems in the lush jungles, Panama offers a multitude of experiences for every type of traveler. Whether you're envisioning encounters with exotic wildlife, delving into the country's indigenous cultures, or simply basking in the sun on its golden coastlines, Panama is endlessly captivating.

By addressing your frequently asked questions, we hope to alleviate any concerns and equip you with the necessary knowledge to create a memorable and hassle-free experience.

  1. Can I travel to Panama?
  2. When is the best time to visit Panama?
  3. How many days should I spend in Panama?
  4. Where is Panama?
  5. What are the most popular destinations in Panama?
  6. What are the best islands to visit in Panama?
  7. Does Panama have good beaches?
  8. What should I do on my trip to Panama?
  9. Is Panama a good place for hiking?
  10. Where can I see wildlife in Panama?
  11. How do I travel around Panama?
  12. Is Panama a good destination for families?
  13. Is Panama suitable for senior travelers?
  14. Is Panama suitable for couples or honeymooners?
  15. Is Panama safe to visit?
  16. What language do they speak in Panama?
  17. What vaccinations do I need to travel to Panama?
  18. Which airports should I plan for?
  19. What currency does Panama use?
  20. How can Zicasso help me plan my trip to Panama?
  21. Where can I find recommended itineraries for my trip?

Can I travel to Panama?

Panama is open to American travelers without restriction.

For more information on where you can visit in Central America, browse our guide on where Americans can travel now.

Learn more: Plan Your Trip to Panama

When is the best time to visit Panama?

The best time to visit Panama is during the dry season, from December to April. During these months, Panama sees less rainfall and while crowds may be larger, especially around holidays in December and April, the cooler days and minimal rainfall offer a more pleasant experience.

The dry season generally starts in mid-December and lasts until mid-April. February and March are great times to visit because they are still during this season, but often have fewer visitors than between Christmas and New Year or during Easter week.

The wet season may sound intimidating, but it is also a good time to visit to explore Panama with fewer crowds. You can expect some rainfall, but that’s generally limited to the afternoons making May to August enjoyable times to explore and discover Panama.

Learn more: Best Time to Visit Panama

How many days should I spend in Panama?

Our advice is to plan your Panama trip for nine to 10 days. You can still enjoy visiting Panama in less time, but nine to 10 days offer a great amount of time to experience the wider beauty of the country, from the mountains to the beaches.

Anything shorter will make you feel rushed or require you to choose between the different regions, taking away the ability to enjoy the cloud forests, jungle, islands, and beaches in the same trip.

The more time you have in Panama, the better, with up to two weeks giving you plenty of time to enjoy the wide range of wonders the country possesses. Visit indigenous communities, trek the mountains, search for wildlife from quetzals to howler monkeys, and island hop along remote archipelagos for a sense of seclusion or to view marine life like whale sharks and dolphins.

Where is Panama?

Panama is in Central America and links the region to the upper edge of South America. Bordered by Costa Rica to the north and Colombia to the south, Panama is a wonderland of tropical jungles, luxurious coastlines, and lush cloud forests.

Its location near the equator, nestled between the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, results in a temperate climate, with approximately 100 microclimates affecting the wildlife, marine life, and wilderness across the regions.

What are the most popular destinations in Panama?

Here is a list of the seven most popular cities, towns, islands, and national parks to visit:

  • Panama City
  • Bocas del Toro
  • Boquete
  • Volcan
  • Golfo de Chiriqui National Marine Park
  • Coiba National Marine Park
  • Azuero Peninsula

The best places to visit in Panama offer immersive experiences resulting in new perspectives for every kind of traveler, whether looking for heritage museums or rainforest excursions, glistening beaches or dense canopies singing with birdlife. Hike in search of tremendous waterfalls or learn how to cultivate delicious local coffee. Depending on your timeline, you may choose to visit them all or discover the places that best fit your travel style and interests.

What are the best islands to visit in Panama?

Visitors often travel to the Panamanian islands to indulge in the beauty of the Caribbean or the splendor of the Pacific, with the promise of golden sands and sunlight. The following list shares the best islands to visit:

  • Isla Carenero
  • Isla Bastimentos
  • Isla Cristobal Area
  • Taboga Island
  • Isla Bolaños
  • Isla Contadora
  • Isla Iguana

Explore the beauty of tropical Panama with accessible archipelagos, remote shores, or protected marine parks, with each island offering a unique experience perfect for an unforgettable memory. Snorkel, scuba, sail, relax on the beach, or kayak around pristine lagoons as you embrace island life in Panama.

Does Panama have good beaches?

Panama's beaches are breathtaking, offering fine sands and clear waters, with the following list offering a number of beaches you should visit during your Panama vacation:

  • San Blas Islands
  • Red Frog Beach
  • Starfish Beach
  • Coiba National Park
  • Punta Duarte
  • Playa Estero
  • La Punta Isla Grande

Whether you are eager for a romantic stroll on remote sands, interested in finding family-friendly waters, or are committed to the surf, one of these beaches will be right for you.

What should I do on my trip to Panama?

Embrace the tropical sunlight on golden sands, explore Spanish ruins in Old Panama City, or sail between enchanting islands as you indulge in the beauty of the country. Here are a few of the best things to do during your Panama trip:

  • Discover the engineering marvels and surprising beauty of the Panama Canal on a half- or full-day excursion
  • Meet with local indigenous communities to learn about their culture, traditions, and connections to the surrounding landscapes
  • Kayak on the transparent blue waters of the Caribbean or Pacific for remarkable panoramic views of island and mainland coasts
  • Witness the magnificent wildlife when trekking the trails in search of animals like howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, or resplendent quetzals
  • Sample local flavors, including Panamanian coffee, tea, and rum, which are cultivated and produced in specific regions around the country

Learn more: Top Things to Do in Panama

Is Panama a good place for hiking?

Outdoor activities like hiking are some of the most exciting activities to enjoy in Panama, giving you unfettered access to the untamed scenery. Whether mountainous trails or coastal panoramas, here are some of the best places for hiking in Panama:

  • Parque Natural Metropolitano
  • El Camino Real
  • Volcan Baru
  • La India Dormida at Antón Valle
  • Parque Nacional Soberania

Where can I see wildlife in Panama?

Wildlife in Panama is pervasive, whether on land in national parks or in the waters of the Caribbean Sea. The unique blend of environments makes it possible to view remarkable birds or schools of hammerhead sharks. The following list offers some of the most popular places to see wildlife in Panama and what you may find there:

  • Darién National Park - jaguars, macaws, Central American tapirs
  • Boquete Cloud Forest - resplendent quetzal, sloth, white-faced capuchin monkeys
  • Coiba National Park - white-tip reef sharks, eagle rays, humpback whales, hawksbill turtles
  • Camino de Cruces National Park - toucans, red and green macaws, parrots, crested eagle
  • Bocas del Toro - bottlenose dolphins

How do I travel around Panama?

There are many types of transportation options in and around Panama, from traveling by car or bicycle in Panama City to traveling by boat around the islands, but the best method for long-distance travel is by plane.

Panama has many different types of terrain that includes mangroves on the coastline, steep mountain slopes along the interior, and dense tropical forests, each making modes of ground transportation much more difficult and requiring roads to weave and wind around the natural landscape. Depending on how much time you have, travel by road can eat into your schedule by requiring hours for a transfer, if not a full day to travel between locations.

Flying is the easiest, fastest, and most effective way to travel throughout Panama when transferring between regions.

Is Panama a good destination for families?

From enticing landscapes to friendly beaches, Panama is an epic destination for families with children of all ages. Whether traveling with toddlers or small children and in need of a quiet beach or exploring with teenagers and looking for a more exciting excursion to keep everyone interested, Panama’s diversity is a treasure.

Explore the museums of Panama City, dive into pristine waters on a marine-life safari in search of starfish and reef-tip sharks, or fly through the sky on a zipline.

How you choose to experience Panama wholly depends on your family’s interests, goals, and needs, but the country offers fabulous opportunities to fulfill the wishes of any type of family.

Is Panama suitable for senior travelers?

Panama is a great destination for senior travelers. The country is welcoming, with a comforting tropical warmth that can immediately create a relaxed ambiance for such travelers. Seniors of all ages, mobility, and activity enjoy the variety Panama offers, with cultural, active, or recreational excursions further supported by private tours with knowledgeable guides.

Hike, cycle, or lounge on island beaches scattered across the mainland’s coast. Visit wildlife sanctuaries, discover the history and flavors of local coffee, or meet with indigenous communities for a different perspective on life and history in the country.

Your senior Panama vacation can be as adventurous or relaxing as you prefer.

Is Panama suitable for couples or honeymooners?

Couples and honeymooners embrace the remote beaches, secluded islands, and private ambiance of the jungle terrain during a Panama vacation.

The contemporary amenities across the country offer delightful luxuries, while the backdrop of the varied terrain can still make the experience feel like a romantic adventure. Share in delightful overwater bungalows or journey into the jungle on a guided night tour to find nocturnal wildlife.

Discover the beauty of the crystalline water as you wade into the Caribbean Sea or enjoy the wonders of the tree tops by basking in a view from hanging bridges.

Is Panama safe to visit?

Panama is a very safe destination. With marvelous beaches and a rich sense of history, the country’s popularity has helped keep it very safe for visitors from around the world.

Petty crime such as pickpocketing is possible in busy public spaces around urban areas like Panama City, but as with anywhere in the world, paying attention to your surroundings and practicing common sense will keep your valuables protected.

When visiting Panama’s many national parks or wilderness areas, even with a guide, it’s important to remember the outdoors are not the same as a zoo. The animals, whether a tiny frog or a fuzzy sloth, a curious toucan or a protective jaguar, are wild.

What language do they speak in Panama?

The official language of Panama is Spanish.

The majority of the population speaks Spanish, but its historical ties with the United States have resulted in many locals, especially in popular travel areas, speaking English. You should have no trouble communicating during your trip and when you travel away from the beaten path, your guide can assist with any translations should you arrive in rural towns where English speakers may not be as prevalent.

What vaccinations do I need to travel to Panama?

Several vaccinations are recommended by the CDC for visiting Panama. You can consider the list on your own or learn from your Zicasso travel specialist as you plan your trip.

As with any international journey, we recommend consulting your doctor or travel nurse regarding vaccination recommendations for the areas you will visit.

Which airports should I plan for?

Panama has over 100 airports serving domestic and international destinations, but most arrivals from North America land at Tocumen International Airport (PTY). The country has more private airstrips per square mile than any other country on the planet and below is a list of the main airports for international arrivals and departures, as well as domestic airports you may use during your Panama vacation:

  • Tocumen International Airport (PTY)
  • Bocas del Toro International Airport (BOC)
  • Marcos A. Gelabert International Airport (PAC)

What currency does Panama use?

The official currency of Panama is the balboa (PAB)

Panama also accepts the United States dollar as a standard currency, with the price of the balboa tied directly to that of the dollar, making it easy to pay in either currency during your trip.

You should always carry cash, whether in balboas or US dollars, in case of an emergency when visiting remote towns, regions, or islands. While large urban areas like Panama City will have plenty of ATMs, with businesses, restaurants, and accommodations accepting credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, more rural areas or island towns may not accept credit cards or have ATMs.

How can Zicasso help me plan my trip to Panama?

You can plan your trip design, secure your accommodations, and book your tours for Panama with the help of a Zicasso travel specialist. With inspiration from our Panama vacations, you can start building an idea of how you would like to experience the Central American country.

When you are ready, complete a trip request where you can share additional details and information, set a rough trip budget, and outline the duration of your vacation. Once submitted, a member of our Travel Care team will be in touch to discuss your ideas in more detail. They can use your insight and interests during the planning process to match you with a Panama travel specialist capable of fulfilling your requests.

Your top Panama travel specialist will work with you to create a custom trip or plan for one you have found in our collection. They will handle accommodation and tour bookings on your behalf and be available for the duration of your vacation should you need to contact them with questions, suggestions, or emergencies.

Learn more: How to Plan a Zicasso Trip in 4 Easy StepsHow to Plan Your Zicasso Trip Budget in 3 Easy Steps

Where can I find recommended itineraries for my trip?

Male golden browed chlorophonia at Boquete, Panama

Male golden browed chlorophonia at Boquete, Panama

Panama is a country of natural beauty, wondrous wildlife, and rich history, immersing you in the splendor of nature and contemporary luxury. Indulge in crystal-clear waters and gold-sand beaches or emerald rainforests and the emphatic calls of nearby howler monkeys as you find inspiration with our Panama vacations. These trips can help you plan your own itinerary, with recommendations for where to go and what to do.

As you look forward to your Panama trip, learn more about where to go, what to do, and more, with deeper insights from our local specialists found in our Panama travel guide.

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