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

Top holiday deals in Panama

Departing Days Price USD
29 Aug 2015 Panama Unveiled 10 $1996

All our Panama trips

Costa Rica & Panama Discovery

13 days from
USD $1,245
CAD $1,285
AUD $1,260
EUR €865
GBP £730
NZD $1,405
ZAR R12,610
CHF FR1,050

From the mountains to the sea, this Costa Rica and Panama tour is a real adventure from go to whoa. It's the perfect...

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Amazing Central America

29 days from
USD $2,595
CAD $2,675
AUD $2,730
EUR €1,805
GBP £1,515
NZD $2,925
ZAR R26,275
CHF FR2,185

Head from the forest to the beach on this amazing Central America tour visiting Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa...

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Ultimate Central America

58 days from
USD $5,080
CAD $5,240
AUD $5,190
EUR €3,400
GBP £2,975
NZD $5,725
ZAR R50,985
CHF FR4,120

This captivating adventure through Central America travels through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua,...

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Best of Central America

44 days from
USD $3,710
CAD $3,830
AUD $3,905
EUR €2,585
GBP £2,170
NZD $4,180
ZAR R37,585
CHF FR3,125

Have the ultimate Central American adventure on this classic tour from Mexico to Panama. Enjoy beaches, volcanoes,...

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Panama trip reviews

Our Panama trips score an average of 4.33 out of 5 based on 3 reviews in the last year.

Panama Unveiled, March 2015

Panama Unveiled, March 2015

Articles on Panama

Six life lessons I brought home from Mother India

Posted on Wed, 5 Aug 2015

When life gives you lessons, make lessonade.

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“Welcome to Jordan!” Seven tips to help you achieve total local immersion

Posted on Tue, 4 Aug 2015

Upon arriving in Jordan, the first thing you'll hear is, “Where are you from?” And the second, almost every time, is: “Ahhh…Welcome! Welcome to Jordan!”

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The undeniable benefits of Slow Travel

Posted on Mon, 3 Aug 2015

Our instinct is to cram in more highlights, more temples, more monks, more galleries, more meals, more wanderlust, faster faster faster, all in order to “maximise our time”. Enter Slow Travel.

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Chef and author Ivan Orkin shares the secret to ultimate Japanese ramen

Posted on Fri, 31 Jul 2015

In a city in where ramen enjoys cult-like status, Ivan Orkin's achievements would be no mean feat for a Japanese chef – for a foreigner they're unheard of.

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About Panama

At a glance

Capital city: Panama City (population 450,000)
Population: 3.4 million
Language: Spanish
Currency: USD
Time zone: (GMT-05:00) Bogota, Lima, Quito, Rio Branco
Electricity: Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin)
Dialing code: +507

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.

Panama weather chart

Geography and environment

Colourful Toucan viewing his surrounding from above, in Panama rainforest
Bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Panama shares land borders with Colombia and Costa Rica. With a typical tropical climate and environment, Panama has an abundance of rainforest, jungle, mangroves, islands, beaches and natural harbours. With around 500 rivers flowing through Panama, this Central American land - full of biodiversity - also has mountain ranges that dramatically cut through the mainland. Though many of Panama's mountains have volcanic origins, most are considered dormant and pose no threat to residents.

Top Picks

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

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.
Tipping (although not mandatory) is considered polite in Panama. Tip 10-15% in restaurants and cafes, and leave a small amount of money for porters, guides and taxi drivers.
Travellers will be able to access the internet at cyber cafes and hotels in Panama's large cities and tourist areas. Access to the internet is generally less common in rural and remote areas.
Mobile phone coverage is generally good in Panama's major cities, but may be less reliable in remote or rural areas. Ensure global roaming is activated before leaving home if you wish to use your mobile phone.
Panama has a combination of modern, flushable toilets (found in cities) and more modest squat toilets (found in rural areas), so prepare to encounter both while travelling in Panama.
Bottle of soft drink = 1 PAB
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
Tap water is considered safe to drink in Panama unless marked otherwise.
Major credit cards will be accepted by large hotels, shops and restaurants in the cities of Panama, but less so in rural and less developed areas. Be sure to carry other modes of payment just to be sure.
Panama's major cities and tourist-orientated towns have ATMs readily available. It's advisable, however, to withdraw cash before leaving the city as ATMs may not always be available in regional areas.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year's Day
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:

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 Australia?

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From New Zealand?

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From Canada?

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From US?

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From UK?

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The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to:

Responsible Travel

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.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914David McCullough
Panama FeverMatthew Parker
The Captain and the EnemyGraham Greene
Panama: A NovelCarlos Ledson Miller
The Tailor of PanamaJohn Le Carre