FAQ about Panama

Today, Panama is a country that has gone unnoticed in the route of most travelers from around the world. Although the famous Panama Canal is still the main attraction of many tourists, I must also mention the rest of the internal destinations that have become a space in the travel guides as favorite places to visit in the region. City of Panama, Boquete, Bocas del Toro, Santa Catalina or Guna Yala (popularly known as San Blas) are just some of the places that have gained enormous importance in the last 10 years, and this is thanks to the peculiar attraction of each one, which has allowed that tourism will shoot up in a big way. If you came to this post looking for basic answers about Panama, then you're in luck. In recent months, I have received any number of questions from my country in my email or social networks, some more specific and detailed than others, which has made me investigate a little more. At the same time, I do not pretend to believe that I have each and every answer (it is almost impossible for anyone to know every detail about their own country), but I do know what is necessary to clear the essential doubts of those who plan to come to Panama and have little information in advance.


Is Panama safe?
At the Central American level, Panama is quite calm, and has even been on the list of the 5 least violent countries in the Americas. But nothing is perfect in life, and to say that everything is peace and love would be to try to cover the sun with a finger. Certainly, and as in many places, there are robberies, pickpocketing and other types of criminal acts in which tourists become the main victims, but it is not something that happens so frequently.
Most often these events occur due to carelessness of the traveler. As a soil I suggest, use your common sense and always ask about the safety of a place before visiting it. As a suggestion, avoid the city of Colón (its level of danger is high) and those regions of Darién that have had a history of conflicts with guerrillas and narco-paramilitaries


What is the difference in hours between Spain and Panama?​
The difference in hours between the two countries is 7 during summer time in Spain, and 6 hours in winter. To explain it better, Spain would be 7 hours ahead of Panama in summer, while in winter the advance would be 6 hours

What kind of food is the usual in Panama?​
The gastronomic variety is immense in Panama, and historically this is thanks to its geographical position as a transit country. Visitors will find that foods such as rice, salads, beans and meats are abundant within the Panamanian diet. It is also normal to eat chips, especially at breakfast. The national dish is the sancocho, which is a chicken soup and is eaten a lot in the region of Azuero and central provinces


It is advisable to drink tap water?
At least in the main cities, the water quality is excellent, so there will be no need to resort to purification tablets. In rural areas, it would be prudent to buy your bottled water

What can I visit in each province of Panama?
First of all, the republic is divided into 9 provinces and 5 indigenous comarcas (Guna Yala is the most famous of all the regions)

What kind of vaccines should I buy to travel to Panama?
A vaccine against yellow fever is suggested, especially in the rainy season. During the year, cases of dengue are heard, but they are very few and the highest percentage of incidents occur in remote areas. In any case, it is always good to take measures and load with mosquito repellent to keep them at bay

What is the local currency?
The currency is the US dollar, although it is normal to hear Panamanians use the term Balboa (in honor of the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa)

Can you cross from Panama to Colombia by land?
No way. There is no road or improvised road that passes through the huge and dense jungle of the Darién towards Colombia. What many do is cross on a sailboat to Cartagena from the islands of San Blas. The San Blas Adventures company offers the best service and has good prices 

What kind of clothes is ideal to bring to Panama?
With the warmth of Panama, there is nothing better than bringing the most simple and comfortable clothing possible, as well as a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. For those who decide to go hiking, it is essential to wear long pants, a pair of shoes and a good mosquito repellent. In the coldest destinations of the country, located in the province of Chiriqui, a coat or light jacket is enough. Is it mandatory to tip? The subject of the tip is still a topic of discussion in Panama. There is usually a general rule of giving 10%, although it is not mandatory at all. There are restaurants that add it to the account, which you should ask before if it is included or not

It's a good idea to rent a car and drive in Panama?
Unlike the chaotic and congested streets of Panama City, the rest of the nation is quite relaxed and easy to handle, and more so if one takes into account the fact that the Panamericana (the country's main highway) is in optimal conditions and more marked than a few years ago. It is essential that the person has a valid driver's license to rent a car for a period not exceeding 90 days. It is a good way to know the country with total freedom