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?