Frequently Asked Questions - Panama FAQ's
United States citizens are required to have a valid passport, and proof of onward passage, such as a return airline ticket, for entry into Panama as a tourist.
When entering the country, you may only bring up to one carton of cigarettes and 3 bottles of liquor. Like other countries, you may be fined and charged for leaving Panama with products made from endangered species.
U.S. Citizens should refer to the Embassy of Panama http://www.embassyofpanama.org/. Travelers from other countries should consult with the Panamanian consulate or embassy in that country to obtain the latest information on entry requirements.
All tourists must pay an exit tax of US$20.00, payable in cash at departing airport. This tax may have been included in your international airline ticket
Panama has a tropical climate, with a dry season (December through April) and a wet “green” season (May through November). The rains are often afternoon tropical showers. Humidity is high.
Temperature fluctuations within the country generally result from differences in altitude and distance from the oceans. In the lowlands, temperatures during the day range between 80 F and 90 F. Night times are cooler. The areas of El Valle de Anton and the Highlands of Chiriqui have a much cooler climate and a unique climatic pattern. In the Highlands the day range is between 45 F and 85 F.
Panama is outside of the Hurricane belt, and is generally not affected by the storms.
Light colored, loose fitting cotton clothes are recommended for the tropics. Bring along a hat, sun glasses, insect repellent, sunscreen and rain gear.
The highlands can be chilly at night and in the morning, so a sweater or light jacket would be useful. If you plan to hike, bring long pants and comfortable shoes.
Business clothing is formal. A light jacket for men and a tailored suit or a two-piece pants suit for women is recommended
Although the official language in Panama is Spanish, English is widely spoken and understood. There are seven living Indian cultures each with their own language: Kunas in the San Blas Islands on the Caribbean; Embera and Wounaanin the province of Darien; Ngobe Bugle in the provinces of Chiriqui, Bocas del Toro & Veraguas; and Teribes & Bokotas in Bocas del Toro province.
The national tourist agency Autoridad de Turismo Panameño (ATP) has its headquarters in the Centro Atlapa on Via Israel in Panama City. ATP also has an information counter located at the airport. In addition, there are many tourist centers dispersed throughout the country. The ATP offices found throughout Panama are there to answer questions and help visitors explore the country. That said, we find them to be only nominally helpful.
Telephone and international cable services in Panama are excellent. The country code is 507. If you wish to use your cell phone while traveling, make sure you have a phone with international capabilities and contact your service provider before traveling to set up service. Inexpensive cell phones are available for sale at many stores.
The balboa is the official currency of Panama.
The balboa has been tied to the U.S. dollar (which is legal tender in Panama) at an exchange rate of 1:1 since its introduction. Currently the only banknotes circulated are U.S. bills. Panama does not print banknotes, but does mint coins. The balboa is divided into 100 centésimos; coins are 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 centésimos. US currency is used throughout the country.
Visa American Express, Master Card and Diners Club credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and commercial establishments
The government of Panama is offering free health insurance coverage to travelers arriving at the Panama City airport. You should request the brochure and user card at the tourist information center near the immigration station. Should you require medical attention, you will only be required to present the card, along with a passport, at any health center for treatment. This is not a comprehensive plan and the insurance policy covers accidental death up to $20,000 (USD), hospitalization and medical expenses for injuries due to accidents or disease (contracted in Panama) up to $7,000, expenses for dental emergency up to $ 2,000, among others. The policy does not cover incidents caused by negligence, extreme sports or alcohol and drug use.
Panama was given the highest ranking (along with the United States) for tourist safety from the Pinkerton Intelligence Agency. But as with any foreign destination, it is not advisable to walk around the streets flashing your money or valuable belongings. Reports of people being pick-pocketed in Panama are rare, but it’s best to assume that pickpockets are around. Just use common sense and your intuition to protect yourself. Remember that the less attention you draw to yourself, the less likely you are to have an unpleasant experience.
U.S. Citizens should refer to the U.S. Department of State Consular Information Sheet on Panama. http://travel.state.gov