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PANAMA CITY- FAQ

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Panama City, Panama is served by Tocumen International Airport (IATA code PTY) which is located 13 miles northeast of Panama City. When you arrive at the Tocumen International Airport, make sure to avoid any problems by booking an official taxi company such as Amber Moon Panama Taxi Service (tel. +507 6664-0171) or Panama Your Way (tel. +507 836- 5693). The cost for a cab is about $30 USD from the airport to Panama City.

How do I get around at Panama City?

Most guests to Panama City use taxis in order to get around. Always negotiate the fare before getting in the taxi. If you think it is too much, then ask another driver. You will most likely get a much better fare if you catch a taxi away from the tourist areas. Feel free to negotiate or suggest a fare to the driver; the worst that can happen is the taxi driver will say no. A taxi to most parts of the city should be about $10. For very short trips, expect to pay only a couple dollars. The fare may increase slightly for extra passengers. Many available taxis will honk at pedestrians as they pass by which means that they are available for a fare. Just hold out your arm to express interest. Other ways of getting around include bus, rental car, boat and walking.

Is it safe to walk in Panama City?

Yes, Panama City is walkable, but not very walker friendly. Between construction, uneven sidewalks, big curbs, no crosswalks/cross lights, drivers entering/exiting streets with no turn signals, and the heat/humidity, it's not an ideal walk, unlike most major cities. We suggest that you use taxis to get around the city.

Is Panama City safe? Are there any areas I should avoid?

Yes, Panama City is safe and you can still enjoy this beautiful city and what it has to offer as long as you take care of your personal belongings at all times and be aware of your surroundings. If you decide to rent a car, remove all valuables from your car, and keep windows up and doors locked while driving. Make sure to use only licensed taxis (regular licensed taxis are yellow) and tell your driver not to pick up additional passengers on your way to your destination.

Be careful in the Panama la Vieja ruins area. There are tourist police, but it is best not to wander into adjacent neighborhoods alone, especially at night. Casco Viejo is relatively safe after dusk, but avoid poor neighborhoods like El Chorillo. Avoid Santa Ana, Curundu, and San Miguel. The safest neighborhoods are in the center: Marbella, El Cangrejo, Obarrio, San Francisco, and the Banking Area. However, keep an eye on your belongings at all times.

What are the customs for tipping in Panama? Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Panama is the Panama Balboa. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for Panama Balboa upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.

I do not speak Spanish. Will many people speak English in Panama?

No, Spanish is the official language of Panama and a vast majority of Panamanians speak Spanish as their first language. About 15% of Panamanians speak English.

Are there any vaccination requirements to visit Panama?

Yes, You should be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria- tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. For the latest updates visit the Centers for Disease Control website at https://www.cdc.gov/ on the internet. Zika is a risk in Panama. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. Therefore, pregnant women should not travel to Panama.

Do I need a visa to visit Panama?

No, a visa is not required for entry into Panama. U.S. citizens need a valid passport to enter Panama. U.S. citizens with expired or damaged passports may not be allowed to enter and could be sent back to the United States at their own expense. The website for Panama’s immigration and naturalization office (https://migracion.gob.pa/) has the most up-to-date information. Before you travel to Panama, check the website for visa and other entry requirements.

Can I drink the water in Panama?

No, the water is not drinkable in Panama. We suggest that you carry bottled water with you. Most tourist areas will have bottled water available for purchase.