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Pros/Cons of Travel to Panama?

Virginia
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244 posts
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Pros/Cons of Travel to Panama?

My husband recently suggested traveling to Panama this March for our daughter's spring break. We are a US family (Mom and Dad in their mid-40's, daughter is 13) who have enjoyed travel to Costa Rica and BVI as well as cities like New York and Rome. We like everything from exploring cities to scuba diving and hiking.

Could people give some input about the overall pros and cons of travel to Panama? I am looking for input on things such as personal safety, ease of travel, etc.

Thank you!

Atlanta
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for Jaco, Bocas Town
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1. Re: Pros/Cons of Travel to Panama?

Seems like you are well traveled, so same type of common sense and you will be fine with personal safety. For traveling around Panama I have used private transfers, taxis and domestic flights. The taxis are different because they don't have meters. Get an idea of what it should cost to go from point a to b. When you get a taxi agree on a price with the driver before you get in. Know some basic spanish and you should be good. Make sure to have $1 and $5 bills.

Olympia, Washington
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2. Re: Pros/Cons of Travel to Panama?

Panama is a very long country. There is only one airlines to use unfortunately to get from city to city; Air Panama. There are various regions of Panama to see and explore which are all very different because of the different tribes that settled them.

Renting a car is easy enough to do and once you are out of PC there is only one main road to any one major city. The cities you have mentioned that you have traveled too are not as "rustic" as what you might find here in Panama. You will find everything from a five 5 star resort and then hostels.

You didn't say how long you are staying. From Virginia you are most likely looking at pricing to PTY. Depending on what activities you are interested in; hiking, bird watching, snorkeling, hot springs, coffee plantation tours, etc. will determine which part of Panama you should concentrate on. You might be better off flying into Bocas del Toro and doing that area instead. There are manatee tours, chocolate plantation tours, snorkeling, diving, the famous starfish beach, etc. Or if your daughter wants to learn to surf there is Pedasi. There are so many options for things to do. I could give you a weeks worth of stuff here in Boquete for example. There are also buses that run all over the country because that's how the locals get around. The country dismantled the train years and years ago. A shame really. It would be very helpful in getting people from one part of Panama to another.

But the country is beautiful. The people are warm and friendly. The food is just rice and beans (nothing fancy about Panamanian food), but it's good and fresh. And we love it here.

Panama City, Panama
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3. Re: Pros/Cons of Travel to Panama?

You mentioned cities. By my definition of a city, probably only Panama City counts. You probably wouldn't want to go exploring in Colon anyway. In Panama City, probably the two main bases would be the old town - Casco Antiguo - and the El Cangrejo area, which has lots of restaurants and hotels. Those areas in particular - and most of the city - are pretty safe for visitors.

You should visit the canal to say that you have seen it.

LN
Panama City, Panama
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4. Re: Pros/Cons of Travel to Panama?

Also there is a surfing school in San Carlos, in the Pacific Beaches area, about 1-1/2 hour from PC.

FLOR VILLARREAL started a surf school and has won many surfing championships. She is located in San Carlos on the Pacific side. They also have surfboard rentals and the waves are very good this way. I know many surfers.....Check out her website:

http://www.panamasurfschool.com/

Cel(507) 6673-0820

contacto: panamasurfschool@gmail.com

contacto: flor@panamasurfschool.com

www.panamasurfschool.com

Oakland, California
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723 posts
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5. Re: Pros/Cons of Travel to Panama?

Honestly, Panama would not be at the top of my list of latin american countries to visit. It really depends though on what you want to see. If you're dying to see the canal, obviously you should go to Panama. Other countries I've visited and would put ahead of Panama include Guatemala and Colombia. Countries I've not visited but would put on the wish list ahead of Panama include Ecuador, Brazil, and Argentina.

Olympia, Washington
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321 posts
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6. Re: Pros/Cons of Travel to Panama?

Acek,

Don't leave out Costa Rica. It's beautiful.

And we've been to Chile, Argentina, Uruguay (another awesome country), Brazil and Nicaragua. I think everyone should visit every country in Latin America. I'm certainly going to try...

And just because I talk about Boquete its because I'm trying to get people to know that Panama is more than just the canal. Way more. It's a shame so many come by cruise ship honestly. They really don't get to see Panama the country.

Atlanta
Destination Expert
for Jaco, Bocas Town
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7. Re: Pros/Cons of Travel to Panama?

I love Panama and I have been to many other Latin American Countries. I would put Panama at the top of the list.

Long Island NY
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8. Re: Pros/Cons of Travel to Panama?

Getting around is the only con. Getting to Bocas requires an expensive flight or a long bus ride. Or maybe that 1 week is not near enough to do the country justice.

After that it is paradise. We were there in August with young teens. Click my name and it should take you to my reviews which will give you an idea of what my kids enjoyed.

LN
Panama City, Panama
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75 reviews
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9. Re: Pros/Cons of Travel to Panama?

Bus travel is cheap and very good, IMHO. Yes, Panama is a country, not an individual state........so travel from one end to another will be long, just as if you

were traveling from Virginia to California - traveling a country takes flights or buses.

We love Panama - bought a home 6 years ago (vacation home). And I think it is way more civilized than other Latin American countries.

Willemstad, Curacao
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2,298 posts
158 reviews
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10. Re: Pros/Cons of Travel to Panama?

Panama is indeed more than just PC. Boca del toro, islas perlas, Boquette, pedasi, NP altos campanas, san blas etc. It is relatively cheap to travel there. Also PC area has plenty of good restaurants and malls. It is a safe country but of course use your common sense.