Panama Passport and visa provisions
Please follow the links below to information about Panama passport and visa requirements from the tourism board in Panama: http://www.visitpanama.com/about/passport-visa
You can also visit the site of the Embassy of Panama in USA to find more information: http://www.embassyofpanama.org/inmigration-and-visas/
The best way to get to know Panama is by having the transportation reserved before entering the country. That way you will not have to worry about getting from one place to the next. If you are adventurous and speak a little bit of Spanish you can rent a car and drive to each destination. Panama City has a lot of hotels but in the rural areas it is more difficult to find good hotels with availability so reserve your hotel before traveling. If your destination is far, like Bocas del Toro, San Blas and Boquete, the best way to get there is by plane.
Do not reserve a domestic flight for the same day of your international flight. There is only one airline and a lot of the times the flights are delayed for various reasons. This advice is even more important if you fly to San Blas to visit with the Guna Indians. Some areas can only be reached by plane. When there is bad weather the flights may get cancelled and you will have to travel the next day.
Although buses are the cheapest way of traveling, it is better to avoid them if you do not speak Spanish. There are buses to most of the main towns and destinations, but smaller villages in rural areas are not so easy to get to.
The prices for renting a car vary depending on the car you hire. If you are going to rural areas it is better to have a 4x4 vehicle. This type of vehicle is more expensive than a sedan. Renting a car gives you more independence but getting around Panama is not that easy. Main roads are usually kept up well but secondary roads can be in bad conditions. You will not find many street signs either once you leave the Interamerican highway. Police checkpoints and radar controls are very common and located throughout the country, especially near the borders and along the Interamerican highway.
There is only one passenger train connecting Panama City with Colon, alongside the canal. It operates only Monday through Friday. In the morning the train goes from Panama City to Colon and in the afternoon it returns to the city. The trip offers an excellent vantage point of the rainforest surrounding the canal.
In Panama you cannot drink tap water since it is not purified. Do not forget to buy bottled water. Most of the destinations in Panama are very hot and you will need to bring a bottle of water with you during your tours or transfers so you keep hydrated.
In Panama City you will find different restaurants offering national and international meals. In other tourist towns you will also find restaurants offering international and national meals but in rural areas you will find mostly national food restaurants. The price for a meal in Panama varies between US$5 and US$50 or more in some high end restaurants.
Swim in the ocean
You cannot swim at the Panama City beaches due to pollution but if you travel one hour along the Pacific coast you will get to many nice and warm beaches. If you prefer, you can also travel two hours from Panama City to the northeast and enjoy the Caribbean ocean. You can also enjoy both oceans from one of the many islands.
Panama has a warm climate and many times it rains for a short period. A light sweater or jacket is recommended for the nights and for cooler areas of Panama like El Valle de Anton and Boquete. Depending on your plans, we recommend to bring good hiking boots or tennis shoes. For the beach do not forget to bring sandals. You will also need sunglasses and sunscreen for sunny days. Bug spray is a must especially outside the city. Other things to bring are binoculars, flashlight (for rural areas), camera and swimsuit.
If you are planning on taking a domestic flight in Panama, we suggest you to travel light due to weight limits on luggage.
The standard Panama’s voltage is 110 volts. The sockets have two prongs and are similar to the US. Depending on your country of residence you will need a power plug adapter or a voltage converter.