Panama is not at all times costly to go to. Touring right here is considerably cheaper than touring in Europe, Canada or the US however considerably pricier than Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador. 

It’s not the costliest nation in Central America – that prize goes to Costa Rica, carefully adopted by Belize – however thrifty vacationers might want to plan fastidiously and sacrifice a number of residence comforts to maintain prices to a minimal.

Happily, there are many methods to save lots of on meals, lodgings, transport and excursions. The beaches are free and there’s no scarcity of out of doors actions at Panama’s intensive and inexpensive national park system.  

Listed below are our prime suggestions for making your Panama journey bueno, bonito y barato (good, good and low cost).

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Rain over Panama City's skyline viewed from the water
Downpours will be temporary within the moist season, however can final for days.  © Guiga Pirá / Getty Pictures

Go to through the moist season

The wet season runs from Might to November in Panama. Lodge charges can drop 10–30% throughout this era, however you’ll have to cope with bursts of torrential rain. Most downpours are fairly temporary, erupting within the afternoon and clearing an hour or two later, however a number of days of steady downpours aren’t unknown. Sure actions, similar to birdwatching and white water rafting, are a lot better within the wet season. 

Bocas del Toro has a extremely changeable microclimate; the province is regularly moist when the remainder of the nation is dry, and typically vice versa. Worldwide flights to Panama are often most cost-effective in direction of the top of the moist season, September to November.

When you solely intend to go to western Panama, contemplate flying into Costa Rica

Lots of Panama’s greatest points of interest lay within the western provinces of Chiriquí and Bocas del Toro. When you don’t intend to journey past these areas, it’s typically (however not at all times) extra economical to fly to San José in Costa Rica after which journey overland to Panama. 

The direct bus from San José to the worldwide border at Paso Canoas is an hour or so longer than the bus from Panama City to David (the second-largest metropolis in Panama). You’ll must undergo immigration formalities, which will be time-consuming. 

The journey to Chiriquí is faster and cheaper in case you use intercity buses moderately than worldwide ones like Ticabus, which usually means longer commutes, greater costs and would not cease at David.

Take the bus to and from Tocumen airport

An official taxi from Tocumen Worldwide Airport to downtown Panama Metropolis can set you again USD $30–40. A shared taxi is cheaper at round $15 per individual if touring solo.

The most affordable is the Metrobus, which prices not more than $1.25. Earlier than leaving the airport, make sure you purchase a chargeable Metrocard, appropriate to be used on all Metrobuses and trains. They price $5 and are good to go along with $3 of fares included.

Be aware you have to a Metrocard to entry long-distance companies at Albrook bus station.

A low-rise hostel building on a beach surrounded by palm trees
Hostels are primarily present in main vacationer hubs © Damocean / Getty Pictures

When you’re single, keep in a hostel dorm

Single vacationers will discover the most cost effective digs in hostel dorms. Relying on location, you may get a number of facilities and clear quarters for $10–20 per night time. 

Hostels are widespread within the main vacationer hubs of Panama Metropolis, Boquete and Bocas del Toro, however much less frequent elsewhere.

{Couples} and teams ought to keep in motels

A personal room in an affordable resort is roughly the identical worth as a personal room in a hostel, round $30–50 per night time. By way of consolation, nonetheless, resort rooms are often superior. The cheaper, extra spartan rooms have followers and cold-water-only showers (air-conditioning can bump up costs by $15–20). 

Some motels have a handful of extraordinarily primary, ultra-cheap quarters ($15–20) with a shared lavatory; ask reception if they’ve algo más económico (one thing cheaper) or un quarto con baño compartido (a room with shared lavatory). 

After all, the primary drawback of utilizing motels is that you simply received’t have a shared kitchen at your disposal. 

When you actually wish to save, sleep in a hammock

When you don’t thoughts roughing it, a hammock is the most cost effective choice. Hostels usually cost $2–5 per night time for a pitch, and chances are you’ll discover locals ready to supply the identical service. 

Use mosquito repellent, nets and/or insecticide coils, particularly within the moist season. A heat blanket or sleeping bag could also be needed as temperatures can drop markedly at night time, even within the steamy lowlands. Be aware it is unsafe to sleep in a single day in public areas, together with the seashore.

Use public transportation in Panama Metropolis 

Panama Metropolis cab drivers are notoriously wily. Overcharging is the norm, particularly if you look like overseas. Worse but, town is regularly gridlocked, making journey by automotive sluggish and inefficient. 

To economize and problem, use Metrobuses and trains to get round ($0.25–0.35 per journey). When you should use taxis, attempt to agree on a worth earlier than getting in. And in case your driver seems to be an excellent one (lots of them are), seize their cellular phone quantity for future use. 

Keep away from vacationer taxis and taxis that wait exterior motels. They are going to definitely overcharge you. Ubers are often cheaper and simpler than taxis.

Go for buses over home flights 

Home flights are undeniably quick. You’ll be able to cross the whole nation from Panama Metropolis to David by aircraft in about an hour. However with most round-trip fares exceeding $120, home flights aren’t low cost and carry a hefty carbon footprint too. 

Though considerably slower (the identical journey from Panama Metropolis to David takes seven to 9 hours), the Terminales David-Panamá (TDP) or the Padafront buses are way more economical and environmentally pleasant.

Many different colourful fruits piled together in a marketplace
Decide up low cost fruit within the native markets for a funds breakfast © riderfoot / Getty Pictures

Gorge on fruit for breakfast

Recent fruit in Panama is nutritious, scrumptious, ubiquitous and low cost. Choices embody a rainbow array of regionally grown produce like pineapples, papayas, avocados, bananas, watermelons and oranges. 

Get fruit from road distributors and native markets (a fruit breakfast in a restaurant is comparatively poor worth). Smoothies are one other wholesome and financial choice.

Feast on carbs for lunch

When you intend to eat out lots, lunch is probably the most economical meal of the day. Road meals is skinny on the bottom in Panama, however low cost sit-down eateries abound and often provide cheap set menus and/or carb-rich lunch buffets for round $5 a head.

A typical Panamanian lunch consists of a fatty meat or hen principal with a beneficiant facet of rice and beans plus a number of slivers of (typically sweetened) plantain and a sugary drink. Sadly, vegans and vegetarians aren’t well-served in Panama.

You’ll be able to typically drink the faucet water 

With the exceptions of Bocas del Toro, Guna Yala and different distant areas, the faucet water in Panama is mostly secure for consumption. Save on {dollars} and plastic waste by refilling your reusable water bottle at a kitchen faucet.

A brightly coloured bird with big bill sitting on branch in the forest, Panama
Sourcing your individual guided excursions will be cheaper than utilizing an operator © Ondrej Prosicky / Shutterstock

Select guides and excursions fastidiously

Except occasions are very tight, you’ll want to splurge on a number of excursions. When you communicate Spanish moderately nicely, sourcing your individual native guides can work out cheaper than utilizing a tour operator. 

It’s greatest to hunt stable suggestions out of your resort or hostel they usually know the place the very best offers are. Most cities have an workplace of the nationwide Atmosphere Ministry, Mi Ambiente, and can level you in the precise course. 

A information to each day prices in Panama (US {dollars}) 

Dorm mattress in a hostel: $10–20
Primary resort room for 2: $30–50
Self-catering house (together with Airbnb): $70–100+
Public transportation in Panama Metropolis: $0.25–0.35, or $1.25 for toll roads
Espresso: $1–3
Lunch for 2: $10–20
Dinner for 2: $20–40
Beer on the bar: $1–3

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