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Best time to go?

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Washington DC...
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for St. Thomas
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Best time to go?

Is there a "best" time to go to Panama -- in terms of tourist crowds, weather, activities, events, etc.?

Brooklyn, New York
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for Sarapiqui
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1. Re: Best time to go?

Dry season is around December through April, maybe a little bit longer. But, that's when the tourists show up as well, not coincidentally.

Washington DC...
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2. Re: Best time to go?

Racandee...I see you are DE for Sarapiqui. I love the Sarapiqui region and all of Costa Rica, for that matter. But I've never been to Panama. How would you compare? I'm looking at the Canopy Lodge and Tower??

NYC
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3. Re: Best time to go?

The nice breezes start in January and the rain starts in May, however, since Panama is in the tropics even during the rainy season you could find days when it only rains a few hours during the morning then the sun shines through. Sometimes, it doesn't rain for days, but it does get very hot an humid. The rainiest months are in October and early November. Panama is a hot destination right now so I've seen tourists at all times during the year. Depending on the location you want to visit, there might be more rain in the mountains than by the beach areas.

Washington DC...
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4. Re: Best time to go?

Thanks so much! We're thinking of spending several days in Casco Viejo with tours from there and then a few days in Valle de Anton. Any advice/suggestions are appreciated.

Atlanta, Georgia...
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for Colon, Isla Grande, Portobelo
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5. Re: Best time to go?

"Nice breezes start in January"? Only if you think a furnace is nice. On the Pacific side, the breezes are hot and dry. That's why Panamanians call January - March their "summer." It's also one reason why February is the month when everyone goes on vacation and floods the beach and mountain vacation locations like Boquete, Bocas, the Pacific beaches and El Valle. It's when the grass turns brown and the flowering trees go dormant. When the birds and animals are harder to see. That's not my favorite time to be in Panama.

For Panama City, El Valle and the Caribbean coast (except Bocas) I much prefer May and June. And, typically, during those months the showers in those parts of Panama aren't in the morning. They typically come in the afternoon and at night. It's like Georgia in the summer. So, plan your outdoor activities for the morning.

BTW - you can see just about all there is to see in Panama City in a couple of days. You may want to reconsider "several days" in Casco Viejo unless you really love seeing the same touristy coffee shops, boutique hotels and the same 10 blocks over and over. While I'm glad it's become safer to walk the streets, I'm also very disappointed that it has become little more than a tourist mall with the facades of old, historic buildings. If you have the time, you might want to consider seeing other parts of Panama.

Edited: 10 June 2014, 04:12
Washington DC...
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6. Re: Best time to go?

gb... I'm a flexible traveler and don't mind the rain, etc., love the rainforest. However, I'm thinking of taking my sister along who has some mobility problems and I want to avoid having to take malaria meds if possible. I see the CDC recommends for areas east of Panama City. I had thought by staying in the old city we could do a day tour of the canal, maybe a cooking class, etc. from there and then spend a few days in the mountains for birdwatching. I like birds and animals and blooms. Any additional suggestions?

Atlanta, Georgia...
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7. Re: Best time to go?

Since your sister has mobility problems, make doubly sure whatever hotel you pick in Casco Viejo can accomodate her. They are generally small, boutique hotels with stairs. Panama doesn't have the same requirements about disability access as the U.S. If you can't find a hotel that meets your needs in Casco Viejo, you may want to consider the El Cangrejo district and hotels such as Milan, Tuscana Inn and Torres de Alba.

The only area in Panama where you need to worry about malaria is in the Darien. I have camped, hiked, canoed and spent days and nights in the jungle on many occasions. I have even taken a group of older Boy Scouts for nine days of trekking. I have never taken malaria medication. I don't say that to be macho, but to point out that in most of Panama, malaria isn't a problem. However, when you're outdoors, you do need to consider Dengue fever. There have been recent cases of Dengue in Panama City and Bocas del Toro. There is no medication you can take to prevent Dengue. So, use mosquito repellent with at least 50% DEET. (I like Cutter's Advanced because a little goes a long ways, and for me, it also repells chitras.)

For birds, animals and blooms, I think you'll like El Valle. You might also like the hot spring/mud baths, there. The Pipeline Trail near Gamboa is also good for bird watching. Also, consider the zoo and gardens at Summit Park (Soberanía Nat'l Park). It's a bit hilly, but the trails are paved.

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8. Re: Best time to go?

Well, if you really want to enjoy Panama beauty beaches and rivers it should be better to come from January until March, which is when the dry season is going on. However if you want to explore the rainforest then any time of the year could be good. In Panama, we have almost 9 moths of rainning.

9. Re: Best time to go?

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