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flag Panama Panama: Travelling

In this page: Entry Requirements | Organizing Your Trip | Visiting | Living Conditions | Eating | Paying | Speaking | Useful Resources

 

Entry Requirements

Passport and Visa Service
National Directorate of Immigration and Naturalization
Diplomatic Representations
List of Panamanian Embassies worldwide
 
IATA Travel Center
 

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Organizing Your Trip

Means of Transport Recommended in Town

Recommendation
Getting around in town is usually done by bus or taxi.  The cost of a taxi ride depends on the areas visited.
Maps of Urban Networks
Maporama
Mapblast
UT Library on line

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Transportation From Airport to City Centre:


Airport

Distance

Taxi

Bus

Train

Car Rental
Panama City - Tocumen Intl (PTY) 23 km / 14 miles USD 20-25 / 25-30 min USD 0.60 / 60 min - -

Means of Transport Recommended in the Rest of the Country

Recommendation
Taking into account the distances, getting around in the country is usually done by bus.  Maintenance work on the road network is underway in the capital city and inside the country (Panama/Colon highway is being built and the Inter-American road is being widened).
Rail Companies
Panama Railway Company

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Airlines

Name Type Domestic Flights International Flights
Air Panama Commercial Yes Yes
Copa Airlines Commercial Yes Yes
Aeroplas Commercial Yes No

You Can Consult the List of Airlines Banned Within the EU. Look Also at the rating of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

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Traveling By Yourself

Recommendation
The road network is undergoing significant renovation in the capital and inside the country (the Panama/Colon highway under construction and the widening of the inter American road). It is highly recommended to drive with the great care or even better, to take a taxi ordered by telephone.  The law is that of survival of the fittest as the Highway Code is followed in a very haphazard way. Night trips are to be avoided. An international driver's license is required.
Road Maps
Map of panama
Interactive Map of Panama City
Find an Itinerary
Suggested Itineraries for Panama

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Visiting

Different Forms of Tourism

Historical
Today Panama City has the advantage of being able to offer a large architectural diversity.  The different structural styles that can be admired there originate from two distinct periods.  The first is the colonial period from which remain a few beautiful examples in Casco Viejo.  The second, much later, is associated to the opening up of the railway line linking Colon and Panama City as well as the construction of the canal.
Cultural
Situated along Panama's North-eastern coast on the Caribean Sea, the Comarca of San Blas has the singularity of being the only province in the country exclusively populated by an American Indian population, the Kunas, who call their land the Kuna Yala.  It is also the only one that is exclusively governed by an American Indian population.
Nature
If the Panamanian fauna and flora is too often ignored by travelers, the same goes for the many island and beaches of the Panama province, which are scattered on its Pacific coast.

Isolated and difficult to get to, the Archipelago de las Perlas islands make up the biggest group.  Amongst these islands, the most famous is without a doubt the Isla Contadora.

Beach
Situated between South America and Central America, Panama covers 75,517 km2 and offers magnificent beaches on the coasts as much on the Pacific side as on the Caribbean: 80 km separate the two oceans.  The Panama isthmus offers a considerable variety of landscapes and an astonishing eco-tourism.  The city of Panama City is a mixture of a modern metropolis (in surprising expansion), old colonial districts (classified as world heritage) but also the ruins of the old town before Captain Morgan sacked it.

A visit to the canal is unavoidable!  There is so much to see in Panama! Not only the local folklore but especially the semi-independent territories of the different American Indian communities.  The Kuna Indians live in a magnificent archipelago of 370 islands.  Panama offers a still mass tourism-protected eco-tourism:  50% more bio diversity than Costa Rica, 10 times more forest and 450 migratory bird species (that is more than from Portugal to the Urals).  For more information on tourism in Panama, refer to the Panama Tourism Office.

Tourism Organizations
Panama Tourism Board

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Living Conditions

Health and Safety

Health Precautions
MAIN HEALTH RISK

- All rural areas situated at less than 1,800 meters in altitude have malaria however, malaria remains rare in towns.  The existing strains are very resistant to chloroquine in the Amazon (zone 3) and moderately resistant in the rest of the country (zone 2).

- Dengue fever is present in the whole country including in towns.

- Yellow fever is endemic in the Magdalena valley, the Eastern range, the region of Uraba, Orenoque, the Amazon and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

- People with respiratory, heart or hypertension diseases can be made uncomfortable by the altitude or affected by altitude sickness.

- Tuberculosis is common in the country.

 

Systematically:

- Hepatitis A: the vaccination is available for children from the age of one year.  People born before 1945, grew up in a developing country or have a history of jaundice could avoid an unnecessary vaccination by testing for antibodies in the serous (immunoglobulin G - Ig G).  Hepatitis B: the vaccination is available for children from the age of two months.

- Diphtheria, tetanus, polio: to be updated if necessary (recall every ten years).

For Further Information on Sanitary Conditions
Weather forecast
Meteo Consult
For Further Information on Safety Conditions
Ministry of Commerce and Industry
 

Emergency Numbers

Police 104
Tourism Police 226.40.21 or 270.24.67
Panamanian Institute of Tourism, Legal affairs Management 226.30.15 or 226.70.00
Complaints center 262.69.79, 262.82.77 or 266.60.77
 

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Time Difference and Climate

Time and Time Difference
It is %T:%M %A In Panama (GMT-5 )
Summer Time Period
Panama is a tropical country and temperatures are generally uniform all throughout the year.  The average temperature is 81 degrees F (27° C).
 

Map of the Time Zone

Time zone

Type of Climate
The climate in Panama is very varied.  The mountains are the cause of three types of climate: the tropical humid zone of the Atlantic, the temperate zone of the Central Valley and the tropical zone of the Pacific characterized by its very hot summers and very intense rainy seasons.  The average annual temperatures vary between 90oF (32° C) on the coast to 63oF (17°C) inland. The Central Valley has an average temperature of 68oF (20°C)  all throughout the year and  is referred to as the eternal spring. The proximity of the equator determines the two seasons on the coasts:  a dry season from December to May, called summer. A rainy season starts in April or May and ends in December.
For Further Information
World Weather Information Service
 

Average Annual Temperatures and Rainfall

Climate

 

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Eating

Food Specialties
Panamanian cooking reflects its population, a mixture of Spanish, American Indian, African and Asian cooking.  The meals often start with a vegetable or meat soup, the main dish usually has beef, pork or chicken accompanied by rice, plantains, red beans, cassava or potatoes and a salad.  The desserts are made of all sorts of fruits (apples, citrus fruits, bananas, strawberries, etc) of which many are tropical fruits.  For more information on Panamanian cuisine (typical dishes and recipes) click here (Spanish only).
Drinks
The meals are accompanied by wonderfully tasting tropical fruit juices (lulo, passion fruit, pineapple, guava, papaya, tamarind or lemonade...) or sodas locally made and with a variety of flavors.  Coffee is served everywhere in little cups, even on the streets.
Dietary Restrictions
There are no food restrictions in the country.

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Paying

Domestic Currency
Panamean Balboa
ISO Code
PAB
To Obtain Domestic Currency
The Panamanian currency is officially the Balboa however, a Balboa has had the same value as the dollar since its beginning in 1904.  Panama therefore does not produce its own bills and uses United States bills.  On the other hand, Panama mints its own coins which are of the same size as US coins.  In the country Panamanian or US coins can be used indiscriminately, and traders give change with either.  The ISO code of the Balboa is PAB.
Possible Means of Payment
In the big cities, payment can be done by credit card; in the countryside and with small traders, payment is made in cash.

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Speaking

Official Language
Spanish
Other Languages Spoken
A lot of Panamanians speak English fluently. Several indigenous dialects are also spoken.
Business Language
Spanish and English, because of the many business and other relationships with the United States.
Getting Some Knowledge
See this link.
Free Translation Tools
Babel Fish :
Systran :
Dictionarios.com :

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Useful Resources

To Find an Apartment
"ENCUENTRA 24" real Estate Agency

Compre o Alquile (in Spanish)
To Find a Job
Computrabajo (Spanish only)
Tecoloco

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Last Updates: October 2014