Home to one of the world's most exceptional modern engineering marvels, Panama invokes historic nostalgia. Yet there's more to this Central American nation than the mighty Panama Canal, and travellers lucky enough to end up in Panama will be delightfully surprised by the uncrowded beaches, sensational surf breaks, magical rainforests and splendid colonial towns. It's high time the world's wanderers added Panama to their adventure agendas.
Panama Tours & Travel
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At a glance
|Capital city:||Panama City (population 450,000)|
|Time zone:||(GMT-05:00) Bogota, Lima, Quito, Rio Branco|
|Electricity:||Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin)|
Best time to visit Panama
Most of Panama revels in a tropical climate with year-round high temperatures and humidity. Travellers tend to visit during the dry season from around mid-December to mid-April, as the wet season (from May to November) usually results in sudden, frequent downpours mixed with bursts of sunshine. As with most other countries, the weather is cooler at high altitudes and much warmer in the lowlands.
Geography and environment
Top 5 Brilliant Beach Spots of Panama
1. Starfish Beach
This small beach in the stunning Bocas del Toro area is named for the hundreds of vibrant starfish that live here year round. A walk along the peaceful shore will reveal colonies of huge orange and red starfish lurking quietly beneath the water.
2. Zapatillas Cays
Another of Bocas del Toro's beauties, these two postcard-worthy islands are home to seriously stunning beaches with crystalline water, powdery white sand and coral reefs teeming with turtles and fish.
3. Isla Coiba
This rugged, Pacific coast nature reserve is rich in an incredible range of species, making it a wonderful place for divers and snorkellers out to spot a host of creatures. Marlin, swordfish, groupers, rays, sharks and eels can all be found within the coral reefs surrounding the area, and the clear water only makes spying them all the easier.
4. Playa Chiquita
This rough and remote wonder located on the Caribbean Coast is one of Panama's best kept secrets. Its isolated location means it's a little difficult to get to, but the tranquillity, space and natural beauty make the journey worthwhile. Don't expect beach bars and boutiques - just long stretches of sand with few people in sight. Beach bliss!
5. Isla Grande
This laidback Caribbean island offers an authentic slice of Caribbean life for those wishing to escape the more frequented tourist spots. Featuring beaches speckled with leaves and palm fronds, and small shacks selling fruity cocktails and fresh beers, this haven hand delivers relaxation Caribbean-style.
FAQs on Panama
Bottle of local beer = 1.50-2 PAB
Snack at a market = 2-3 PAB
Lunch at a café = 5-7 PAB
Three-course dinner at a restaurant = 20 PAB
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 9 National Martyrs' Day
Mar 29 Good Friday
May 1 Labour Day
Aug 15 Old Panama City Day (Panama City only)
Nov 3 Independence Day (from Colombia)
Nov 5 Independence Day (Colon City only)
Nov 10 First Call for Independence from Spain
Dec 2 Independence Day (from Spain)
Dec 8 Mother's Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Panama/public-holidays
Australia: Yes - on arrival
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Yes - on arrival
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
USA: Yes - on arrival
The cost of a tourist card on arrival varies by nationality.
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Panama Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Panama
1. Be considerate of Panama’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.
3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
4. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
5. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
6. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
7. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
8. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
|Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914||David McCullough|
|Panama Fever||Matthew Parker|
|The Captain and the Enemy||Graham Greene|
|Panama: A Novel||Carlos Ledson Miller|
|The Tailor of Panama||John Le Carre|