Panama Travel Information
Panama is a breath-taking tropical paradise! This gorgeous country offers serene beaches, wild and diverse forests and a vibrant cities, which guarantee a well-rounded vacation for tourists with a variety of tastes. Panama has been attracting tourists for decades, but has recently begun drawing in investors and migrants looking for a tranquil and mesmerising place to call home. This little piece of paradise is undeniably one of the most idyllic travel destinations in the world, so in order to make the planning process just as relaxing as your trip, we have compiled a page filled with all of the entry and exit requirements for you.
Entry and Exit
All tourists will require a valid passport with open visa pages. It is essential that the passport be valid for up to 6 months from the departure date. Tourists will also need to show proof of a return ticket, sufficient funds and a health certificate may be requested. Tourists travelling from the following destinations will not require a travel visa/tourist card for stays of up to 90 days.
- United States of America
- Countries from the European Union
- United Kingdom
- South Africa
- New Zealand
A tourist card costs around US$15 per applicant.
Please Note: Tourists travelling from other countries that have a valid visa for: Australia, Canada, EU, USA and the UK will not require a tourist card in order to enter Panama.
Travel Insurance is recommended.
There are no restrictions in place on import/export into Panama.
All travellers are required to pay an Airport Embarkation Tax of US$40 per passenger. This amount can either be included in the airfare ticket or is payable at the airport of departure.
It is also recommended that tourists visit a medical practitioner 4-6 weeks prior to departure and obtain a full medical evaluation. All annual vaccinations should be up to date prior to travel, as well as the necessary vaccinations, immunisations and preventative medication in order to ensure a safe and healthy trip.
The following vaccinations are recommended for tourists travelling to Panama:
- Hepatitis A
- Yellow Fever – if travelling from an infected area.
Malaria Prophylaxis is recommended in certain areas and during certain times of the year. It is also advised that all tourists make use of mosquito nets in the evenings and use mosquito repellents throughout the day and night. Anyone experiencing a high fever or nausea and vomiting after travelling through a high risk area must seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Please Note: Tap water should be avoided in Panama and only boiled or bottled water should be consumed or used to brush teeth. Powdered or tinned milk is also recommended. Fruit and vegetables should be peeled and cooked before consumption and all meat and meat products should be well-cooked.
Travel Facts for Panama
Panama boasts a tropical maritime climate. The weather is usually hot and humid during the long wet season which extends from May to January. The dry season is a lot shorter and begins towards the end of January until the end of April. This mild tropical climate makes it the perfect destination for a summer vacation, as well as a more comfortable retirement destination.
Unlike most Central American countries, Panama is totally excluded from the hurricane belt and experiences very few natural disasters. This warm and wet climate is comfortable and enjoyable for many, but tourists who prefer cooler and dryer climes can stay around the jungle area where even the brief rain showers miss a few regions.
The weather in Panama seldom drops below 21◦C, with the mountainous region seeing average temperatures of 15◦C. With summer temperatures peaking at around 34◦C, a summertime vacation is ideal in this beautiful tropical country.
Panama falls under the UTC/GMT – 05:00 time zone, and the country does not make use of daylight savings time.
Panama’s official currency is the Panamanian Balboa - named in honour of the famous Spanish explorer Vasco Núnez de Balboa. As of 2015 the Panamanian Balboa (PAB) is pegged with the US Dollar (USD) and is at par with the United States’ official currency.
The plug outlets found in the USA and Canada are very similar to the outlets used in Panama. Panama uses a 110-120 Volt AC current. If your appliance uses a higher or lower voltage, it is advisable to bring along an adaptor and voltage transformer.
Panama’s international country code is +507. Hotels and payphones will have a directory with country codes listed. in order to phone an international number the following format will be used: 00 (country code) (area code) number. Panama numbers consist of the country code and eight digits.
Internet is quite freely available in the relatively urbanised areas in Panama. Hotels, resorts, restaurants and coffee shops offer wireless internet services and there are a number of internet cafés in the area. Cable & Wireless Panama, Cable Onda, Movistar, Claro and WIPET are the main internet providers in the country.
Medical Ambulance: 2 699 778
Fire fighters: 103
Address: Building No. 783
Avenida Demetrio Basilio Lakes
Clayton, Panama City
(+507) 317 5000
People and Landscape
Panama has approximately 3.9 million inhabitants with the number growing at a steady rate. 70% of the population is made up of the Mestizo community, with another 14% made up of the Zambo community. The remaining 16% of Panama’s population is made up of the white and Amerindian communities.
Spanish is the only official language in Panama, with English being used frequently with the growing tourism market. Regional creoles can be heard in rural areas, although this is on a much smaller scale.
Panama is extraordinarily culturally enriched and displays a vibrant and multicultural culture throughout the country. The Panamanian culture is strongly influenced by Spanish heritage, and displays a European element that makes for an enjoyable cultural vacation. This friendly community tends to come across rather formally in the beginning, but soon warms up and displays a unique sense of warmth that compliments the tropical surroundings.
While Spanish is a major contributor towards the national culture, the variety of ethnicities has contributed to making the Panamanian culture delightfully unique and colourful. Music, colour, food and dance are all very strong elements of culture in Panama with festivals being celebrated vivaciously throughout the country. The Black Christ Festival is one of the most famous festivals in the region. During these cultural and sometimes religious festivals tourists will be sure to hear the jazz, salsa, calypso and Vallento musical sounds floating along the air.
Roman Catholicism is the most prominent religion in the region with 25% of the population identifying themselves as Evangelical Christians. Free religious practice is a very important factor in Panama, and every citizen has the freedom to choose and practice their own choice of religion.
Panama boasts a remarkable landscape that is laced with over 500 rivers. This combination of forests, mountains, beaches, wet plains and pastures guarantees a beautiful scenic backdrop for every occasion.
From white sandy beaches to rockier coastlines of black and grey, the beaches are simply one remarkable aspect of this incredible country. Marshlands are also significant in the country with forests and jungles displaying lush greenery and a mystical element that will enchant every tourist.
Panama is home to a diverse wildlife population with 14 national parks and more than a dozen forest and wildlife reserves. With over a thousand bird species, reptiles, amphibians and mammals in the region, as well as miles of protected colourful coral reefs and an amazing marine life, Panama boats a natural presence unlike most countries.
Be sure to visit the region between Boquete and Zero Punta, to see Mexico’s national bird living in protected freedom. The Quetzal has made its way from Mexico and has been even used as the name sake for Guatemala’s official currency. This majestic bird is a must see!
In the large cities of Panama, there is a very good selection of restaurants to choose from. Typical dishes that you would find in Panama include, ceviche (fish in lime juice, onions and peppers), palacones de plátano (fried plantains), sancocho (Panamanian stew with chicken, meat and vegetables), tamales (seasoned pie, wrapped in banana leaves), carimañolas and empañadas (pancakes with meat, chicken or cheese). Coconut milk is widely used in Panamanian meals, examples include Guandu (a type of bean) and tamales (corn pie with meat filling). In coastal areas, a lot of seafood is eaten and is offered here in great variety.
A popular Panamanian drink is Chicas, made from fresh fruit juice, which is usually drunk diluted with a little water.