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Top 10 Things to do in Panama, Where to Stay, Important Things You Need to Know

Tags: panama

From rich archaeological landmarks listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites to historical influence dictates the vibrant energy of each bend in the country, Panama is one of a few countries with something for every traveller type. This exciting country is home to top attractions, a variety of accommodation options, and humble locals. It always goes beyond their expectations.

Panama is a landlocked Central American country that shares a border with Costa Rica and serves as an exclusive gateway to South America– making it the ideal starting point for any Central American trip.

Planning a trip to an exciting destination such as Panama might be overwhelming since you will likely hear not-so-good things about it. So, if you have thought of exploring a new destination with an intense culture and a tropical setting, Panama should be on your list.

And in this guide, we will answer all of your questions that are popping into your mind, ranging from when is the best time to visit Panama, things to do in Panama, something you should know before travelling to Panama, and where you can stay. Most importantly, to persuade your partner why you should consider it as a honeymoon laidback. 

We’ve spent a lot of time and work on this list for you so if you can’t read everything right now, just pin it so you can return to it later

What to Visit in Panama

Panama is more than just a canal; it has more than you might think. Begin with a great beach vacation, even during the Christmas holiday or attending a local carnival; spectacular celebrations never cease in Panama. Your journey across this small country will be an experience you’ve never had before. So, to ask your question if Panama is worth visiting, yes, absolutely it is. Your itinerary is most likely to be overloaded with exciting things to do in Panama. Here, I will explain why we always consider Panama the emerald, vibrant heart of a constantly grey country.

  • Panama is Always Close to You

Panama has a great option that doesn’t exist in most Central American countries, easily accessible to both North and South America. If you are located in one of these countries or are already in Central America and haven’t been to Panama before, you ought to reconsider it on your next vacation.

Yes, it is the voice of the stewardess, and you are about to embark on one of the most memorable journeys of your life. Just 2.5 hours away from Miami, Panama is an excellent destination for a mini holiday — just fly into Panama City and buy your flight tickets to be in the capital in no time. “Welcome to Panama! The temperature is 31°C. We hope you had a pleasant journey and that you have a wonderful holiday ahead of you!”

From Panama, you can plan to visit the Caribbean islands of Bocas del Toro, 45 minutes away from Panama City. Even most international flights land in Toro airport, and then you can catch a plane to Panama. That means you can plan to visit many worthy destinations from here and don’t spend much time moving through incredible islands without paying a fortune. 

  • Your Dollars Can Make Sense Here

You have to think about many considerations when it comes to travelling across the world. Money has a significant portion of it. You have to know their local currency and its value compared to your currency and how to change it. It would be better to be prepared with local notes before departing, or it would be better to proceed with the changing process once at your destination.

What if there is no place to get pocket money in the airport! What if I couldn’t find an atm, or it refuses to deliver cash, or by credit card is not acceptable! How I could even reach my hotel!

Perhaps you will be required to pay with your home currency, which may be worth far more than you expect. On the other hand, you may spend less and save your cash for something more enjoyable.

Take a deep breath, sit down, and relax! It’s just a small sample of questions that are looming around your head. Fortunately, Panama has ended this hassle since your dollars are totally accepted anywhere. However, Panama has its own currency, around the same value as the dollar. Thus, there is no need to get into this fuss and just depend on your currency.

  • Great Weather All Year Long

For me, one of the most important things I always consider when choosing to travel to a country or keep searching for other alternatives is the weather. I will never feel good when the sun is fierce, or the cold is chilly. And you have no clue how much it bothers me to be soaked to the skin by heavy downpours. Almost all of these scenarios are a nightmare to contemplate. I need a pleasant breeze and warm sunlight throughout the day, with the ability to walk about the city at night without shivering. Thankfully, Panama has it all. 

The average temperature ranges from 25°C – 32° C. If you don’t mind going around in the rainy season, don’t be stuck with a strict time and come here any time of the year. But generally, the best time to visit Panama is between December and April, dry months. Also, keep in mind that October is the wettest month of the year. And February is the driest. However, you have to be mindful that booking your hotel and flight in the driest months will be somewhat costly since they are high season, particularly at Christmas. Set a plan before scheduling your trip and define your priorities.

  • Marvellous Beaches and Great Activities

Panama offers respite from the urban madness among cool, shady trees, pristine beaches, and mentally-stimulating structures. There is no shortage of shore excursions; the six provinces of Panama are coastal cities with a tropical atmosphere. No matter where you plan to stay, each bend has to offer you something different, and the entire beaches are packed with enthralling activities like paddleboarding, surfing waves, snorkelling, and parasailing.

Or rent a boat and drift the ocean to take in the sunset offering a stellar vista if you plan to spend your honeymoon here. If you are willing to make something with less effort, stretch on the sun-drenched beaches, or join a yoga session. Around shores, you can rent a bike and embark on running trails or cycle paths that will let you explore more and interact with locals. Along the way, many hotels and resorts are dotted to let you alike keep amused and relaxed. Simply spending one night here will be enough to clear your head and restore your energies. Imagine waking up staring at a long stretch of white sandy beaches. It’s something you should go for right away.

  • Coffee is just WOW!

Every country has a clutch of traditions, cultures, and cuisines, and the more exciting part of travelling is to get close and personal with all of them. But when we said that coffee is one of your simple reasons to come to Panama, we meant it. Panama is one of the most significant coffee producers, and people are enjoying their time while sipping their coffee all day. 

Forget about your Starbucks daily cup of coffee or any other coffee house you used to get your morning drink. It is no surprise that as you travel across the country, you will inhale a wonderful scent that represents the variety of flavours you will be able to enjoy. Don’t let anything stop you from tasting them all. If I were you, I would never hold myself on a tight leash, and I would most correctly go on each coffee to take advantage of being there and get a package to go back with me to my home.

Asking about how to communicate with locals here? No worries at all. Most people are masters in English, especially in tourist attractions.

  • Intensive Culture and Glorious History

Panama is a place made to impress everyone interested in history and explore other nations’ unique cultures. Thanks to its actual location, it lies at the crossroads of many different cultures, melting them all and creating its unique and characteristic one. Panama city is packed with museums of ancient rustic and contemporary art. However, you can still find touch from Spanish and other Caribbean heritages to give you insight into an authentic experience.

The aspects of their vibrant legacy can be noticed in every living component, starting from their colourful costumes, all designed by local items, to the decor of almost all stalls and markets reflecting the scenes of pollera. And not to mention the music that will come under your skin and give the brain a good workout. A strong desire to dance will beat you while roaming around each neighbourhood because of infectious melodies drifting from bars. It’s a cultural treasure for everyone open to immersing themselves in a glorious past that comes with impressive monuments. And it’s simply a basic fraction of its immediate history; many archaeologists consider that buried relics underneath its ground might be more significant than what they uncovered.

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  • Panama is On Your Budget

Okay, I need you to enlighten me with your answer about this: “What is stopping you from going on travel right now?”

Let me guess! Taking an extended leave from work is not an option! Maybe— or covid-19 makes things worse to move around the world without concerns! Also, a good excuse.

Or you don’t have enough money to take this action! No, it doesn’t work in Panama since it’s one of the most affordable tourist destinations compared to what it offers. Nearly all of its cities have all capabilities to satisfy you with a fair budget – except for the capital, which might be more expensive than other smaller cities. However, it still has many options to let you be pleased and entertained— making it perfect for backpackers or solo travellers who intend to capture the sense of adventure more than anything else. Most importantly, large public parks occupy almost half the country, and most of them offer you free admission or a low-cost ticket. That’s why, if you are looking for free activities, Panama has an abundance of them. 

Things You Need to Know Before Traveling to Panama 

Panama is not the kind of country that’s like “Let’s go to Panama!” before doing profound research and exploring things you can do and things tourists should not do in Panama. Of course, something you can explore here goes beyond your wildest dreams simply because it has much of all you want to chill out and unwind. Just remember that the Caribbean and Pacific oceans are lapping all its coasts, offering vast stretches of all sorts of amusement. But with not so good a reputation for gangs and drug trafficking, you could not feel it would not be a bright idea to hit up this region even though we all agree it’s intriguing.

To put an end to this ado, we have gathered some essential tips and things you need to know while visiting Panama. Here we go! This insider guide goes based on our lessons while browsing Central America and other savvy travellers.

  • Panama is the Safest Country in Central America

One of the most common questions frequently asked when mentioning exploring Panama.

“Okay, I got it! Panama is an excellent spot with turquoise water set against sprawling rainforest filled with exotic plants and wildlife. But I need to know, is Panama safe for tourists? Or let me be more apparent, how is the level of safety in Panama?” My friend posted this to me when we were planning to visit Panama.

And I will repeat my answer to him right here. Panama is relatively safe. Indeed, it’s the safest country in Central America, and thanks to its pristine beauty and historical heft, the government is doing a great job to keep this country safer to keep it a hotspot destination for tourists.

However, you need to be cautious and have a sense of smartness while moving through the country. Above all, it’s always a good idea to trust in your gut. When it tells you, “Man! You should turn around and don’t have to go to this place!” then, just turn around and skip this place.

It would be best if you didn’t even think about exploring some places since they are dedicated to drug trading and armed gangs.

 “How could I even know that it’s a no-go place!” Another good question and a tricky one at the same time. There is no strict way to identify a place as hazardous; for example, there are some seriously dangerous neighbourhoods in Panama City you should avoid at all costs, like San Miguelito and Curundú. And remember: follow your instincts; if there is anything that does not seem right, avoid doing it entirely.

  • Panama is Not a Canal

There is something more popular in Panama than its canal. It’s the lifeblood of the world economy. Or you could tell that Panama has gained its international reputation and power because of its channel. Even this canal has turned out to be an attraction. And there is no shame about it since this canal can literally control the up and down of the trading movement.

However, as a tourist, you have to do more than just visit the Panama canal and have brilliant photos posting them on your Instagram with the hashtag #thisispanama.

Panama is a tropical paradise and an exciting cultural destination with attractions for all tastes. It’s an idyllic place for holidays or those who are thriving to embark on jungle explorations. Yes, it’s not a big country. Still, I think it is enough to know that it comes to the first option for all people who think to retire. Or who have already reached retirement age and need a quaint place to relax and leave all their chaotic hearts behind and start over after a long heretic journey throughout their lives.

It’s said that Panama offers something of everything. However, it depends on where you will go – world-class hotels, art museums, historical sites, and the pulsing rhythms of a unique culture. But it’s important to understand that not all things are found in the same place. If you want to discover all the best places to visit and things to do, you need to go further than just checking the capital.

And if you do so, there is nothing to worry about when it comes to the infrastructure. Even smaller towns don’t face any problems related to a power shortage or something like that. And if there were even the slightest chance that anything may go wrong, it would be resolved in no time.

  • Pack Light Clothes, No Matter When You Will Travel

As we mentioned before, the winter season from December to April- is the best time to visit Panama. Be mistaken and pack your coats and heavy layers of clothing, assuming that the weather will be cold like in a hometown. The opposite is pretty fitting— this period is considered a high season because of its incredible weather.

Additionally, the humidity in Panama is likely to be high, which may cause some difficulty for persons who have respiratory issues. But take a deep breath! Even if you are one of them, there is nothing to be concerned about during the peak season. Just make sure you have your medication and inhaler with you if the worst happens.

Consequently, your heavy garments will most likely be worthless here, and you will get nothing in exchange for carrying your large suitcase and may be paying an additional fee for your baggage at the airport.

Instead, a raincoat is a must here, and you will use it a lot if you head to Panama after April, and even in December, it is possible to rain in wild areas. If the weather forecast does not indicate rain, do not put too much stock in such news. Nature never ceases to amaze us!

Plus, an umbrella is something you shouldn’t gamble with. Pack it right now as you will badly need it further.

You can walk around the country wearing a shirt and shorts, enjoying its fascinating coast lined with golden-sand beaches. And don’t forget to bring your walking shoes here since there are plenty of jungles filled with rich resources and we will love to discover them.

And because Panama is about a beach vacation and a long walking tour, bring your sandals with you.

  • The islands of Panama are a must-visit

 Besides its golden coast of beaches, Panama is packed with breathtaking islands lined on both sides. You are invited to visit San Blas Archipelago, Bocas del Toro, or Coiba island or make time to check them all. But you don’t need to miss them all. Most of its islands have been well paved to be an attraction point and are ready to receive tourists worldwide.

You can find some simple cottages amongst trees to offer you a camping experience, and it would be perfect for couples on their honeymoon.

Or you can join an excursion to spend a one-day trip with a group. Our only advice is not to try to come here on your own. It’s not so safe, and you will need a guide to help you find out the best diving spots and observe swarms of fish. And don’t fret — many travel companies will customize a package to suit your needs and tailor a trip to meet your choices. You must, however, take caution when selecting a reliable service and avoid falling prey to tourist traps.

Side Tip: when choosing your tour agency, be sure that they will take you to the small communities where you can feel the Spanish colonial power that ruled Panama for over 300 years. This strong influence is evident in Panama’s colonial architecture in decorative arts, such as the glazed tiles in its churches, convents, and some relics from ancient buildings. 

Obviously, you will learn more about the history of this charming country. And yes, that’s why Spanish is the official language in this region.

  • Panama Comes With Spectacular Phenomenon and Mighty Skyscrapers 

No place on the planet can offer you something like watching the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean and turning around to watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. Yet, Panama can do it. And if you think of Panama as a primitive community in which people make a living by fishing and roaming around forests almost nacked to find something to eat or grill, you are so wrong.

Perhaps there are a few tribes who are steadfast in their customs, but they are still in the minority.

Anyway, you should pay a visit to Panama City, and when you arrive, try not to be too taken aback by the sight of lofty buildings dotting the coastline of this glistening metropolis.

And however, some political unrest happened from time to time; this city hasn’t surrendered and continues growing and becoming one of the top tourist attractions in Central America.

Among these imposing towers, you’ll discover some elegant restaurants with an unrivalled view of the ocean, or you may choose to stay in a luxurious hotel next to expansive swaths of the sea, which is a popular choice for tourists.

Panama is one of the easiest ways to explore, thanks to the perfect metro network in the capital linking all parts of the city altogether. Affordable, safe, and comfortable! For diving more into the attractions of Panama, a taxi or “Chivas” is also a great option to navigate through the country.

Don’t bring as much as you think you’ll need. If you’re planning on staying for a long time, you’ll be happy to know that American things -if it’s a big deal to you— are readily available at every shop. And it’s handy to find a good restaurant along the way offering a bunch of international dishes, and if you are willing to savour local platers, they are on offer as well.

  • Invest in Panama Travel Insurance

Heading to a country like Panama needs some arrangements to make your journey trouble-free. Since you will explore woods and go hiking, it’s most likely to dip into the mud and get bitten by poisonous insects or snakes. Or of these scenarios could happen. We don’t say that to discourage you from visiting this lovely nation — it is beautiful, and you will be pleasantly surprised by its fascinating culture — but rather to persuade you to exercise prudence.

Because of current global security concerns and the high number of patients in need of help, it is not uncommon to discover certain businesses temporarily closed or unable to get adequate healthcare. 

Or worse, if you have planned and booked your accommodation and flights, then surprise! Panama has announced another state of emergency or curfew in response to the increase in coronavirus cases. If your bookings do not include a refund option, you will stand to lose a great deal of money.

That’s why travel insurance is brilliant at this time. It will be your assistant when any one of these scenarios happens and secure the full refund of your money.

Panama City is a thriving spot where the health care is excellent, and the people are kind and willing to provide a helping hand whenever you need it. There are many options and packages available; you just need to pick the right one covering all expenses you need. This insurance will be helpful if you intend to go far from the capital to explore hearty food, chaotic streets, pretty sceneries, and various stunning landscapes. Otherwise, there would be no need to pay for it.

  • Most Countries Don’t Need a Visa

One of the most significant advantages of travelling to Central America is that most countries don’t require a visa from European and American citizens and other countries. You just need a Tourist Card from the airport for $20.

You may inquire at the Panamanian embassy in your country about the possibility of entering without a visa. However, regardless of your passport, be prepared for a stricter inspection process at the airport. Please don’t take this as a personal attack; believe it or not, everyone who attempts to enter Panama is subjected to this procedure. And in a country with a long history of drug smuggling, it makes sense to do so.

Moreover, don’t expect a smooth departure. These challenging measures also align with people about to leave the country, especially from Tocumen International Airport.

You will see long lines waiting to check their tickets, and don’t forget to print out your boarding pass in advance. Sometimes your e-ticket can be accepted; other times, you might hear something like, “Sorry sir, printed please!”

TFW! You certainly would be a little missed about that! So, print it out before going to the airport.

Last but not least, you will be checked twice before allowing you to catch your flight. Come as early as possible to be ready for this complication.

Also, don’t be shocked if you’re requested to dispose of any empty water bottles you may have. For no reason, the airport’s authority in Panama thinks it’s a threat to national security. Get it or leave it, but it’s better to get it once you are out of your country.

Side tip: The Panama City International Airport provides an elite concierge service, “VIP Arrival Service,” in which a friendly gentleman will meet and greet you at the airport and oversee the entire check-in process while you relax with your coffee. Another agent will question you about your name, nationality, occupation, and other pertinent information – no queues, no intimidating inspections, and it will cost you $100.

Things to Do in Panama

Feel Panama’s Pride: Panama City Has Tons of Reasons to Visit

There are a lot of things that spring to mind when you think about Panama City. Perhaps you can see yourself wearing this cute Spanish chapeau while dancing to the catchy beat of the “despacito” song in your head. Alternatively, you may conjure up a beautiful coastline and embrace a glass of wine while lying on a white sandy beach. Or, you can imagine yourself lounging in a hammock between picturesque palm trees, enjoying a refreshing tropical beverage. Even though you don’t understand a word, the whole backdrop appeals to you to join.

Panama City is a one-stop shop. 

While the city does have some issues (what nation doesn’t?), this land also has so much more than people see on tv.

However, I am passionate about many aspects of this city because you are about to explore that Panama City is not just about breathtaking beaches and delicious cocktails in which people are packed to breathe in the sunlight and have fun times. This city will exceed your expectations.

First and foremost, you should be aware that this city is separated into two significant portions, each with its unique set of attributes and charms. Your tour will take you between ancient landmarks and archaeological riches, while the contemporary half will give you a sensation of being in New York. That means whether you are a history buff or a beach lover, both options are lined together. It would help if you discovered all of them, and we will never be disappointed. 

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Discover the Off-Beaten Adventures: Casco Viejo

Location: the northern coast of Panama City

How to reach: The best option is to get the bus from the nearest station to your destination and get out at Calle 26 Este bus stop. Within a 6 minutes walk, you will get to Casco Viejo.

Side tip: you can always use Uber in Panama. It’s convenient and safe.

Price: Free access

Roughly 6% of the gross domestic product in Panama goes to tourism. This proportion is expected to continue to rise as the government pursues a promising plan to establish Panama as one of the world’s premier tourist destinations shortly. Most tourists to Panama City come to this area to learn more about the city’s history as a Spanish colony, and it always blows their minds. It has been hailed as a must-see destination that goes above your expectations. 

Why Should You Visit Casco Viejo?

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, wandering around Casco Viejo means that you will meet all the wonders of Panama City. A vibrant district with tons of eye-catching attractions, Casco Viejo has blinded the Spanish heritage with authentic Panama style of architecture, creating a decent space for everyone who wants to lose themselves in narrow lanes and almost ruined buildings.

However, according to many visitors who chose to stay here while spending their vacation in Panama, Casco Viejo sounds like high approval ratings to everyone who loves the nightlife and being in the heart of the buzzing city.

Things to Do:

  • You could name over 100 things you can do in Casco Viejo, but if you wanted to know the top of them, then it would absolutely be to roam around the entire district and don’t ever leave a single street without exploring its gems. Weaving in Panama’s history is a sensory experience.
  • Joining a guided tour to let you know all the worthwhile attractions here is another good option. 
  • Take your breath at one of the cosy cafes that stuffed the area and take in the entire experience of being in Panama City.
  • Restaurants and hipster bars are available along your way, delivering different cuisines and lip-smacking multiple fish food dishes.
  • Myriad museums can be spotted here with a great collection of artefacts and paintings. If I were you, I wouldn’t contain myself to discover them all. 

Things not to Do:

  • Don’t buy mineral water in Panama. Save your money and drink from the tap directly.
  • Don’t hold a lot of cash while you are around. It makes you an easy target for thieves. Instead, use your credit card or make a daily withdrawal that you need to spend while hanging out.
  • Don’t bring your passport or important documents out with you. Please leave them in a secure place to save yourself the agony of discovering that your valuables have been stolen or lost. And how much pain and challenges would follow this nightmare.

Pro Tip: The tourist area of Casco Viejo is relatively safe, but it is recommended that you cautiously tread when exploring its streets and avert stockpiling your belongings in one place to avoid having your belongings stolen by pickpockets. 

The Land Divided, The World: Panama Canal

Location: Isthmus of Panama connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans

How to reach: No matter where you are in Panama City, take a cab to the canal. It will cost you around $20. For less-expensive options, catch the bus and drop off at Esclusas Miraflores station. Keep walking for 10 minutes. The canal will be right there.

Price: $5

Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific seas, and it is one of the most popular and congested destinations in Panama City. And as a result of its significance, it has developed into a tourist destination that provides access to a limitless number of breathtaking vistas and other sites.

Why Should You Visit the Panama Canal?

Undoubtedly, the Panama Canal is a place worth visiting, and I’ll tell you why. This marvellous structure is one of the seven world’s wonders of the modern world. As the only canal linking two oceans, it is always packed with trucks and huge ships about to sail to the other side of the world.

Panama Canal is home to different cafes, offering you a terrific view throughout the day. But as you know, nothing can beat a panoramic ambience during the sunset.

Not only that, but you can also take a trip to see the canal museum, which will give you a better understanding of the history of this man-made feat of engineering.

Wanna make it on your own? It is also accessible here since the museum provides English-language descriptions for each installation on display.

Things to Do:

  • Have shade from the bustling city and heat and come to canal park to catch some cool air and snap away unaffordable shots.
  • The Panama Canal is a popular travel destination for many reasons. You will need a tour guide to explain these reasons to you.
  • Make enough time to enjoy the dining experience while sitting at one of the awe-inspiring waterfront restaurants.
  • Please make your way to the Miraflores Locks, which is the most fabulous place to observe the marvel of how this canal works to give the whole globe what keeps it going.
  • Attending a movie at an IMAX cinema in the mall behind the canal will provide additional entertainment.

Things not to Do:

  • Don’t check out your hotel without keeping a copy of your ID in your pocket. If you are apprehended without having anything that identifies you and explains why you are in this position, I will allow you to picture the worst-case situation in which you find yourself. And please don’t take that as an insult; the police just need to secure everyone’s safety while also removing the disgrace that has plagued Panama for decades.

Pro Tip: Please keep in mind that ATMs will charge you a withdrawal fee each time you attempt to get some cash. If you are not okay with this, you may carry some dollar notes from home, but please remember that you should not make them visible to everyone when strolling about the city. Alternatively, please put them in a secure location at your hotel.

The Power of Nature: Monkey Island Panama, Why Not? 

Location: north of the Miraflores Locks, Gamboa

How to reach: The only way to get to Monkey Island is by boat. You can reserve your trip ahead of that, which will take you around 4 hours. 

Price: $100 including transportation.

Side tip: This trip will sail through the Panama Canal, and it’s good to know that it’s packed with crocodiles. It could make you reconsider your travel if you could be panicked or have issues with crocodiles (like me)!

Suppose you want to soak up Panama’s experience and explore its natural treasures in its imposing rainforest. In that case, you need to go further than Panama City centre and head to a place like Monkey Island.

Why Should You Visit Monkey Island Panama?

Your excitement will arouse when you board a boat to drift through Panama Canal till you reach Gamboa island. It’s an extra pleasure to see your small boat beat the giant ships sailing around you.

If you’re looking for something to get your adrenaline pumping while exploring the beauty and power of nature, this tour will do the work well.

To be honest, if Panama were the world’s largest exporter of something, it would be monkeys. It has an abundance of them with almost extinct strains. Contact the company with the best package and don’t forget to ask for an English tour guide to help you spot the best places to find monkeys and other lovely creatures.

Things to Do:

  • Embark on a sea expedition and let your guide explain all the natural phenomena you will witness during your trip to Monkey Island.
  • Head to Sloth Sanctuary, in which you can see multiple kinds of sloths and take crazy shots with them.
  • Take advantage of being there and wandering around Gamboa islands. It will give you a great insight into the wildlife in Central America.
  • The best part of this trip is that you will get close and personal with the Panama Canal. No, you sail through it and see how it really works and why it has this international heft. It’s a priceless experience to delve into Panama’s history.
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Things not to Do:

  • Don’t change your hotel to travel through the country and visit places such as Monkey Island. If you have some worries about heading to places far from Panama City could be a waste of time, it’s not the case here. Being in the capital will allow you to see more attractions than you might plan, and you can make it your starting point every time you need to dive into its magnificent offerings. Instead, if you changed hotels to be closer to your next destination, you would be limited to the only places around, and I am sure there will be a few.
  • Don’t make a Monkey Island trip a separate one. Alternatively, plan to visit Panama Canal simultaneously, but make sure to come here as early as possible before your boat excursion to have enough time to explore the Miraflores Lockes and other attractions around.
  • Don’t engage so warmly with people you don’t actually know. As a foreigner, some locals may attempt to take advantage of you by selling you drugs or anything else that would let you “have fun!” Please don’t fall for this and keep yourself safe.

Pro Tip: Please keep in mind that you will not be able to set foot inside the island; instead, you will only be permitted to approach as near the shore as possible, and monkeys will do the trick. They will leap up against you to snatch up on what you offer, play with your kids, and participate in your picture. It’s a hilarious experience, and you will remember it later as one of the most delicate things to do in Panama.

No Room For Boredom: Navigate Around Soberania National Park

Location: 38FR+P38, Las Cumbres

How to reach: The best route you can take is to request an Uber ride. On the other hand, you may call a tour organizer to ensure your round-trip transportation and eliminate the stress of figuring out how to get back to your hotel.

Price: $5 as an entry fee, and if you plan to camp in the park, you have to pay another $5.

Curious about exploring the wildlife of Panama? Continue reading to learn about some intriguing destinations, helpful tips, and the best of Panama that should be on your bucket list.

But for now, we will start with Soberania National Park. Located close to the town of Gamboa, within 25 km away from Panama City, 

Why Should You Visit Soberania National Park?

Panama may be a wonderland for those who desire to be near nature’s beauty and biodiversity. It provides you with a blessing setting that allows you to inhale some fresh air. Soberania National Park is an idyllic spot for a day trip in which we promise you to be amused in every single moment with a whole heckuva a lot about.

It’s no surprise that people fascinated by birds called this park home since it’s an habitant to over 5000 different species. Your journey can begin by watching sloths of toucans and red-bellied woodpeckers. I don’t like owls so much! Trust me, you will change your mind once you observe crested owls watching you with lovely eyes.

Things to Do:

  • Soberania National Park is a perfect shrine for every voyager who is enthusiastic about exploring Panama’s natural surroundings and secrets.
  • Charge your phone to the fullest, or maybe it would be great to bring your camera and be ready for countless photos you will need to capture. Every bend has soared as a picturesque point of interest.
  • You will be invited to visit the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, which will help you know more about the park’s history, lifting Panama’s standing as a natural heritage site offering world-class experiences for amateurs, scientists, and adventurers alike.
  • Climb till the top of the Observation Tower to take in the breathtaking views over the park and endless stretches of landscapes.
  • Gamboa Rainforest Reserve has added an important tag to Panama’s tropical rainforest wealth stuffed with scream-enticing activities and other magnificent attractions. Don’t forget to check it out before turning back.

Things not to Do:

  • Don’t expect that you will follow your diet here. You are most likely to hit all your fitness goals since there are mouth-watering cuisines, sweet desserts, and everything.
  • Don’t wear an outfit that indicates you are a tourist. Find out how you may dress in a way that is both comfortable and simple yet does not draw attention to yourself as a potential target for crooks. Keep in mind that while travelling, affluence usually comes with problems. 
  • Don’t go to Panama before reading recent news about mass demonstrations that could be erupted due to chronic economic disparity and dissatisfaction with the quality of living and, most importantly, the laws on visas and tourism. In Panama, changing rules seems to be a daily routine.

Pro Tip: Those who like trekking will have a fantastic opportunity to cover significant distances along with the Camino de Cruces, which dates back to 1527. Continue on your path until you reach the banks of the Chagres River, where you will relish admiring a spectacular vista.

Other Attractions in Panama City

  • You must include the Metropolitan Archcathedral Basilica of Santa María la Antigua on your sightseeing tour of Panama City. This stunning church will capture your attention as soon as you see its majestic facade. Plus, its interior is worth having a look at for a pleasant moment and a good break from the energetic centre.
  • For souvenirs and traditional goods alike, visit Paseo Las Bovedas lined with stalls and kiosks for terrific deals. You can buy some indigenous Guna Yala crafts, woven baskets, shirts, and other brilliant handmade works.
  • Stroll down the main squares like Amador Causeway with its famous rainbow-cloured landmark “Panama.” It’s a hot and sweet 6 km pathway linking the city centre with the small islands of Naos, Flamenco, and Perico.
  • Still, if there’s one thing Brazil is known for worldwide, it will be biological diversity exposed everywhere from national parks to myriad islands. And suppose you don’t know enough about its irreplaceable treasures, you will need to make time to visit Biomuseo, a museum that will let you learn more about the genuine reality of this charming country.

Where to Stay in Panama City?

Best Hotels for families:

Summit Rainforest & Golf Resort (around $82 a night)

El Panama by Faranda Grand Hotel (around $106 a night)

Best Hotels for couples:

JW Marriott Panama (around $180 a night)

Plaza Paitilla Inn (around $121 a night)

Best Hotels and Hostels for solo travellers:

El Machico Hostel (around $17 a night)

Zebulo Hostel (around $12 a night)

Nothing Can Beat Gorgeous Panama’s Islands: Bocas del Toro

Location: the Caribbean Sea, near the southern edge of the island of Colón

How to reach: The best way if you plan to start your journey by Panama City is to fly to Albrook International Airport, Bocas del Toro, taking 50 minutes for $80- $240. Bocas del Toro is accessible by bus for less expensive options that will take you to the island from Panama City in 10 hours. Then, book a trip on a fairy by ferry for $40.

Price: A night here could cost you around %65 without lodging. 

A small province with a gregarious and dynamic Carrabin coast, Bocas del Toro is the coolest spot for a beach vacation in Panama. It ranks as the best tourist destination here for those looking to relax and unwind in a charming city that does not lack life’s amenities.

Why Should You Visit Bocas del Toro?

Now, you have stepped inside one of the pristine beaches in Panama, hosting swanky hotels and vast jungles with a wide range of mountains. Bocas del Toro offers panoramic views everywhere you turn around. You don’t need to cut down your expenditures to have a deeply satisfying experience, and many free activities are in store for you. 

Bocas del Toro is home to two fabulous national parks and three islands mixing to blend in this marvel because it’s time for a crash course in everything Panamanian to be had. This city is absolutely a pretty destination for families and couples.

Things to Do:

  • Spend a whole day stretching on a dunched-sunny and sandy beach with everything from imbibing the unbeatable atmosphere to tasting refreshing cocktails and appreciating the scenery.
  • For memorable moments, you can hire a boat and drift through the Caribbean and when the sun is about to leave, just watch this incredible hued-pink sky.
  • Many kayaking journeys are taking off the island; you can catch one of them for a more exciting experience.
  • Go hiking and uncover some of the natural world’s wonders and forests and spot plenty of unparalleled wild animals.
  • Enjoy scuba diving to the seabed and look for groups of aquatic organisms to identify. You may like to participate in a brief training session before taking the initiative on your own.

Things not to Do:

  • Don’t be surprised when the price of a drink will fluctuate during your stay, mainly if you visit during the high season. In general, inflation in Panama does not seem to be slowing down, and no one is certain when it will reach a climax. Try to take it easy and avoid visiting any places during seasonal times if at all possible.
  • Don’t drink from the tap if you are away from the capital. That said, it is not as clean as you expect. Mineral water would be better in such distant islands.
  • If you are willing to get off-beat tracks, favelas, or slums in Panama, don’t expect to find it always safe, especially in districts like the Plaza Cinco de Mayo, yes a lifetime experience of a whole lot of culture and history. But remember, a local guide will help you tackle all these headaches. 

Pro Tip: Since robbery incidents are a big deal in Panama, consider wearing a money belt, it’s practical and will save your savings away from pickpockets.

Other Attractions in Bocas del Toro

  • Don’t forget to check out Starfish Beach, which has a reason for being given that name. When you go on diving expeditions, you will find yourself surrounded by a plethora of incredible starfish. The beach is ideal for water sports, and there are a lot of vendors on the beach that provide beverages and fresh fish meals.
  • Allow the soothing waters to wash over you on Isla Zapatillas. This lovely island is for everything you’ve ever wanted. Kids who are enthusiastic about swimming and crafting sandcastles will find it to be an ideal setting. If you are lucky enough to be able to remain for a long time, you will be able to see swarms of dolphins and sloths.
  • It is recommended that you pay a visit to Plastic Bottle Village, which is not only a tourist attraction with a unique design, but it also has a fantastic concept to raise awareness about the dangers of using plastic and how it hurts the environment tremendously. This location serves as both a museum and a hotel simultaneously. This guest home is a peaceful place to enjoy captivating traditional parties or just take a trip around to learn more about our ecology and how to preserve it from the toxins of plastic pollution.
  • Isla Pajaros, one of the most picturesque spots in Bocas del Toro, comprises two topped-greeny coves brought together to form an excellent natural arch over the ocean, with birds flitting around in the background. You may spend your time here fishing, taking stunning photographs, or just relaxing in the soothing waves of turquoise water.

Where to Stay in Bocas del Toro?

Best Hotels for families:

Bambuda Lodge (around $124 a night)

Tropical Suites Hotel (around $154 a night)

Best Hotels for couples:

Urraca Private Island Eco Resort (around $251 a night)

Skully’s House (around $151 a night)

Best Hotels and Hostels for solo travellers:

Selina (around $38 a night)

Palmar Beach Lodge (around $29 a night)

Feel an Impulse to Explore More: the Azuero Peninsula is a Must

Location: southern Panama

How to reach: The only way to get to this magnificent island is to catch a bus from Albrook to Macaracas. From where catch a cab to the Azuero Peninsula. Prepare yourself to avoid tourist traps, dodgy taxi drivers, and unforeseen theft occurrences by being well-versed in the latest travel safety measures. The whole journey takes 4h 14m, and it will set you back by $10-$20.

Price: Spending a day here could cost you around $65 without lodging.

Feel your heart beating and come to discover one of our favourite islands in Panama. Plan your trip so that you can watch the sun go down while lying on the beach.

Why Should You Visit the Azuero Peninsula?

If you are looking for romantic getaways to spend a whole day with your sweetheart or are willing to surprise her with a marriage proposal, forget about all previous destinations; this peninsula will fool her into saying yes! (kidding! It’s perfect for this, though, as you’ll see.)

Many unmistakable lodging options will encourage you to sit there wondering, “Oh dear! Is there a more gorgeous site on the planet than this?” We want to help answer that question. Simply, no, not at all!

Also, you can divide your time between trekking around the peninsula and engaging in some hilarious activities like sailing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling, surfing, and much more. Alternatively, you may go across the ocean, catch fish, and then cook what you have gotten. Wow! It’s exactly what you’ve been hoping for all your life.

Things to Do:

  • Make plans for a panoramic night on the Azuero Peninsula and bask in the region’s enchanting ambience and scenery.
  • The Azuero Peninsula is more about blue beaches; it provides you with a comprehensive insight into the culture of this glorious country in which you will glaze at their framing and cooking traditions.
  • Prepare to participate in a folklore festival with the locals, including dancing, swinging, listening to nice music, and drinking. It’s going to be a journey to remember.
  • Remember to roam around some tiny villages like Pedasí. It’s a beautiful place packed with ancient architecture dating back to when Panama was a Spanish colony.
  • Hire a bike to uncover all the beauty of this peninsula. This journey will allow you to come across local vendors and markets to buy souvenirs or bring some snacks.

Things not to Do:

  • Don’t be overwhelmed when you are navigating small villages of Panama due to violence and kidnappings-related news. You have no issue visiting your destination; I bet you feel safe while travelling across the country. When you remark that Panama is not very secure, this just means that you need to travel smart. And smart means always travelling in a group, which will make your vacation even more pleasurable and, most importantly, safe.
  • Don’t miss your chance to buy some indigenous goods from local markets. Many beautiful woven crafts can be found in the Azuero Peninsula for super low prices.

Pro Tip: Always use your common sense when walking around secluded cities and avoid attempting to apprehend someone who has already succeeded in stealing your belongings by chasing them down. Accept what you have been through. However, if your passport was included, call your embassy as soon as possible to inform them of your situation.

Other Attractions in the Azuero Peninsula

  • A day trip to Isla Iguana, where you can spend your time swimming in crystal clear water, enjoying sports in the ocean, or doing other low-energy activities while learning about the country’s local culture, is a great idea! It is also recommended that you stop at Playa El Ciral and Playita El Faro on the Azuero Peninsula, two of the most famous beaches, which have an irresistible vibe.
  • No matter what kind of traveller you are, you should not pass up the chance to spend a night at Villa Camilla Boutique Hotel. It’s perfect for prominent families offering seven rooms, or you can share it with your friends. For couples, on the other hand, it comes with a seductive setting that includes all you could need for a remarkable trip. ($72 for a night)
  • Hiking is an excellent way to explore fascinating surroundings. That’s why you are invited to visit the Cerro Haya National Park. Because one day you will leave your life behind, make it unforgettable, which I am sure – will be once you have the opportunity to watch numerous impressive herds of wild creatures, including little turtles and crocodiles.
  • Make memories never fail and attend a local festival in Panama like Carnival in Las Tablas. It’s one of the most energetic parties in town, and it constantly draws in a large number of people who are pulled in by the intense experience. Thanks to its unique colours, crazy costumes, and humorous entertainment, this event will be all its own.

Where to Stay Near the Azuero Peninsula?

Best Hotels for families:

Casa de Campo (around $89 a night)

Eco Venao (around $73 a night)

Best Hotels for couples:

El Sitio Hotel, Restaurant & Bar (around $71 a night)

Hotel Casa de Campo Pedasí (around $88 a night – for 2 persons)

Best Hotels and Hostels for solo travellers:

Selina Playa Venao (around $33 a night)

Hotel Kambutaleko (around $74 a night)

Explore More Before You Are Run Out of Time: Chiriquí

Location: the western coast

How to reach: You have two ways: the first one (more expensive but most accessible) is to fly to David airport and then catch a cab to Chiriquí, the whole journey takes 1h 29m for $60 – $290. 

The second (less costly but maybe tricky) includes buying a bus ticket from Tocumen Airport to Albrook Airport. Then take another bus from Panama City (San Antonio Panama) to Chiriquí. The whole journey takes 7h 24m for $40 – $70. 

Price: Spending a day here could cost you around $200, including lodging.

You may be worried about being victim to a slew of articles that push you to do the best things in Panama or explore more about Panama, and then you would face reality; not all places are worth neither your money nor time. But that’s why we have created this guide, and we are here to help you avoid that horrible scenario. Chiriqui may lie a long way off the beaten path, but your efforts will be rewarded in t

This post first appeared on Travel Blog, Culture And Travel Vlogs From ConnollyCove, please read the originial post: here

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Top 10 Things to do in Panama, Where to Stay, Important Things You Need to Know


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