If you are traveling to Panama for the first time, there are several things to consider to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Passport and Visa Requirements: Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond your travel dates and check if you need to obtain a visa before arrival.
2. Currency: Panama uses the US dollar as its official currency, so you don't need to worry about exchanging money. However, it's always a good idea to have some cash on hand for small purchases.
3. Language: Spanish is the official language of Panama. While you can get by with English in tourist areas, it's recommended to learn some basic Spanish phrases.
4. Health and Safety: Panama is generally a safe country to travel to, but like anywhere else, it's always best to take precautions. Consider getting travel insurance, avoid walking alone at night, and take care in busy tourist areas.
5. Climate: Panama is a tropical country with a rainy season (May-November) and dry season (December-April). Be prepared for humidity and sudden rainstorms, especially during the rainy season.
6. Transportation: Taxis and Uber are readily available in Panama City, but be sure to negotiate the fare before getting in. Buses are also a popular mode of transportation throughout the country and are generally safe and affordable.
7. Attractions: Some of the must-see attractions in Panama include the Panama Canal, Casco Viejo (the old town of Panama City), and the San Blas Islands. Plan your itinerary in advance to make the most of your trip.
Panama is generally considered to be a safe country, with a low crime rate compared to many other Central American countries. However, there are still areas and neighborhoods that may be more dangerous than others, and petty crime like pickpocketing and theft can occur in tourist areas.
The National Police force is responsible for maintaining law and order in Panama. The force is divided into several departments, including the National Directorate of Intelligence and National Directorate of Special Services. The police are generally well-respected, but like any law enforcement agency, there have been reports of corruption within the force.
To ensure safety, it is recommended to exercise common sense precautions such as avoiding displaying expensive jewelry and electronics in public, not leaving valuable items in your car, staying alert in crowded areas, and using authorized taxis. It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and research the areas that you plan to visit in advance.
Overall, Panama is a beautiful and welcoming country with plenty to see and do. By taking care of these things before your trip, you'll be well-prepared to enjoy all that Panama has to offer.