Can you imagine a place in the tropics with the combination of tall buildings and unexplored nature? A financial city with all the amenities of a modern metropolis and lonely islands with white sand beaches? A mix of people from all over the world and a diversity in its flora and fauna? Well, Panama is a country of contrasts and even though it’s quiet small, the diversity of its places and landscape makes you feel like traveling through different countries. Panama is one of the most biodiverse places in the world and is home to numerous plants and animal species, some of them you can only find in this country.
The country is the southernmost of Central America, situated between Costa Rica and Colombia. It is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea in the North and the Pacific Ocean in the South. There are buses between Costa Rica and Panama but if you want to go to South America you have to take a flight or a Sailing boat (highly recommended!).
Panamanians are nice people and I really like their easy-going, open minded attitude and the vibrant culture. Beside the authentic laid-back places and some indigenous groups, Panama has a lot of American influence. But that’s not surprising because the US was responsible for the construction and management of the Panamá Canal for almost 100 years and a lot of Americans came to work and settle down. You can see this Yankee influence in the architecture of the buildings and villages they built, products you can buy in shops, the use of the US Dollar as currency and so on.
Prices: Traveling on a Backpacker budget in Panama is not that easy: accommodation, food, transport etc. is quite expensive (30-50 USD per day). Especially trips for tourists in Panama City are very expensive, starting from 50 USD for a few hours.
The contrast of places also influenced my feeling of safety: On the one hand, there are very modern and developed places, especially in Panama City but on the other hand there are many poor people and districts with a high crime rate. On the countryside I felt much safer than in the city.
Places to visit in Panama
Due to the immense diversity in this country, you can do acitivies like hiking, rafting, surfing, diving, sightseeing, partying and relaxing on lonely beaches – there is something to do for every type of traveler.
- San Blas Islands: A Caribbean paradise with more than 300 islands
- Panama City: Modern buildings, the historic town Casco Viejo, National Parks, the famous Panama Canal and beaches around the city
- Boquete: The garden of Panama with a great landscape, hiking trails and famous coffee farms
- El Valle de Anton: A green and relaxed area not far from the city
- Santa Fé: A beautiful National Park with diverse flora and fauna
- Pedasí: A beach and surf paradise
- Bocas del Toro: Tropical Party Islands
- Coiba Island & National Park: Rich in biodiversity, with species that you can only find on this island and a unique marine life that makes it one of the best dive spots in the world. The island was a prison until 2004 and you can visit the old ruins of it.
Find out more information about these places in my other Blogs about Panama!
Food you should not miss trying:
- Empanadas: fried dough typically filled with meat, cheese and/ or vegetables
- Patacones: fried Plantain, is a side dish like French Fries
- Yuca: Vegetable that reminded me of a potato. You can find it fried like French fries or cooked, especially in soups.
- Sancocho: Typical Panamanian soup with Yuca & chicken. It’s said that you can find the best one in the Bingo 90 Casino
- Fried Fish with Patacones or coconut rice: You will find this in many places and it tastes delicious
Are you planning on traveling Panama or have you already been there? Leave your questions, recommendations and comments in the box below!