If you live in Panama, invest in Panama, retire in Panama, or visit Panama, you’re going to need to figure out how to get around. Panama may seem like a small country, but with so much ecological diversity, two oceans, and dozens of towns, cities, and beaches to see, chances are you’ll want to get around as much as possible. Traveling around Panama involves transportation, hotel/homestay logistics, timing activities when available, and careful budgeting. All of this can be done with good planning, to ensure that your Panama vacation is stress free, and that you can travel around the country as much as you want. Here’s what we recommend.
Leave yourself extra time for EVERYTHING
Part of planning the most efficient way to travel around Panama is leaving yourself more time than you need to get it done. Weather in Panama can be unpredictable. Buses can frequently run into delays. Traffic can peak at times where it makes going places difficult. And most of all, you could find you want to spend longer in one place before leaving, and you should allow yourself to do just that. If you try to space out travel in Panama to spend more time in each place, you’ll generally have a better time. Longer travel days can also be tiring, and typically require more than one day after to fully absorb a new place.
Don’t drive, ride…
We know that for many people, driving a car from place to place is the easiest way they can think about getting around. In Panama, this is not always the case, especially if you are visiting places on limited time on a trip. Rather than rent a car, take a regional bus from city to city in the interior. You will get more rest that way, not worry about navigating roads in a foreign country and save a lot of cash. If you want a more private travel experience, you can hire a private car service. These services may seem like a luxury in North America, however the pricing in Panama is relatively cheap comparatively. If you have a journey of about 2-3 hours from one place to the next, it could cost you between $100-$250 for an entire car. That is a great value when split a few ways, for private transportation.
If you visit Panama City, you can also use ride-sharing services like Uber to get around for a matter of dollars. If you live in Panama and want to travel to explore more places, we still recommend you use a bus or car service for any trip over an hour. If you drive regularly in Panama, you’ll understand why. Just like tourists, the rest and de-stress are worth it, and then some.
Budget with leisure in mind
Panama is a country with great value when it comes to the prices of travel and tourism. However, it’s always good to budget a little more cash so you feel OK about splurging for leisure. Panama has so many fun things to do, see, taste, and buy, that if you budget yourself about 20% than originally planned, you’ll have options that will be worth it immensely as far as your overall trip experience. Excursions and day-long tours in Panama can cost about $50-$150 per person, and nicer meals can cost about $30-$50 per person. If you allow yourself a budget for these things, then no matter where in Panama you travel to, you’ll have options.
Another important thing to remember when you travel around Panama is to have patience. You’ll actually find that you can travel more efficiently when you’re patient too. Live in the moment, try to soak up as much of the culture as you can. Let life come to you. Panama has so much to offer for anyone who chooses to travel there. Enjoy the experience, and come back soon!