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Safety - petty crime versus violent crime

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Ottawa, Canada
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Safety - petty crime versus violent crime

I'm planning a trip to Panama in March 07.

How safe is the country crime wise compared to Europe?

Is it ok to walk on the streets in downtown Panama City with a big expensive dslr camera hanging from one's neck? Are there street beggars/kids that harass tourists?

I will definitely look like a tourist. I travel because of my hobby, photography, so going out and leaving my camera behind is not an option.

I am trying to get an idea of what to expect. I have traveled a lot in Europe to many cities (Rome, Prague, Madrid) that have a bad reputation for opportunistic crime like petty theft and pickpocketing. Never had a bad experience, never felt threatened, but I take the usual common sense precautions of carrying my money in a neck wallet and my camera bag is tied to my belt and locked. These sensible precautions will deter most pickpockets but will not help in a mugging, that is a theft with threat of violence. ("Give me your money...or else!")

I will be traveling alone and do like to explore out of the way spots (that's where the best photo opps are). Is it safe or practical to walk in Casco Viejo? What about hiking early in the morning in some of the parks that are close to the city, the Soberania National Park, the Municipal Natural Park?

Are there places to avoid, that are dangerous?

Thanks.......

CDY
Medellin, Colombia
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for Panama City
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1. Re: Safety - petty crime versus violent crime

Take the same precautions you would in Europe, stay out of Colon with or without your camera.

I was in Casco Viejo last month by myself with a small camera, no one bothered me, it was during the day. I have never seen many beggars in all my trips to Panama. I see a lot more here in Florida with "will work for food "signs.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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2. Re: Safety - petty crime versus violent crime

Panama has been traditionally a lot safer than its neighbors, but with the increasing population, tourism and immigration, that is changing. It will still be much safer than other LA countries. Use common sense. With few exceptions, because of the climate and distances, Panama city is not much of a "walking" city. Rather, you wll probably want to take taxi cab rides to the places of interest. Taxis are cheap ($1.50 in the city). You may even want to hire one for a day, and let them keep you out of danger zones. Some areas to stay away are Chorrillo, San Miguelito, Colon, Curundu. Casco Viejo is sort of a transitional neighborhood. It's never been very dangerous, but you have to be a little more careful than other areas. It shouldn't be a problem during the day, as there's a lot of police presence due to all the gov. offices in the area. If going at night (restaurant, etc.) just take a cab to where you're going. Violent crimes are not very common, but do happen, and can even happen in a "safer" area, such as mall parkings, etc., so be careful as you would be in any large city. The parks and the "interior" should be OK.

LN
Panama City, Panama
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3. Re: Safety - petty crime versus violent crime

Walked at night all the time in Panama City, looking totally like tourists, cameras, etc.. Felt safer in Panama City than a crime-ridden city near where we live in Florida.

Ottawa, Canada
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4. Re: Safety - petty crime versus violent crime

Thanks to all who answered.

Sounds good. I think I will just stay out of the more dangerous areas like Chorrillo, San Miguelito, Colon and Curundu and/or use a taxi or tour guide if I feel the need to visit these areas.

My main interest is wildlife, bird photography etc..., so I think I will be spending most of my time in the parks. Is hiking by yourself in the parks safe? I'm not thinking of going on a one-man hike 25 miles deep in the jungle, just hiking the most popular and well marked main roads and trails.

I am also thiking about staying at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort hotel. I've read some good and bad things here on TA about this hotel but for somebody who is more interested in wildlife rather then city life, it does not sound too bad.

LN
Panama City, Panama
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5. Re: Safety - petty crime versus violent crime

I stayed at B & B La Estancia right above Panama City, close to all and wildlife right at the balcony! Read the review under my profile name. You can walk to the top from this B & B of Ancon Hill (the highest point in Panama City - wonderful views of the canal too - and there are many birds there.

My experience with Gamboa is on this forum page and others also.

Check it out. If you like being at least 1/2 hour to 45 min. away from other restaurants (and the food at Gamboa is NOT to rave about and is very expensive) there you go.

We hiked the Metropolitan park in Panama City and saw many birds,

monkeys and only saw about two other hikers. It was quiet and beautiful and so close.

At Gamboa all there is is Gamboa. I am not the organized resort type person; like more ala carte and need food choices, especially because food in restaurants in Panama City is sooooooooo cheap.

6. Re: Safety - petty crime versus violent crime

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