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Backpack and Snorkel Travel Guide for Two Wonderful Weeks in Panama - Panama Purple Guide

This Backpack and Snorkel Travel Guide (Purple Panama Guide) provides an itineray that covers the highlights of Panama and ensures that you will be Making Memorable Moments on a relaxing vacation in Panama.

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Panama Travel Guide showing the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal
Panama Travel Guide showing Playa Larga at Isla Contadora in Las Perlas (Pearl Islands) in Panama
Panama Travel Guide showing Isla Pelicano at Comarca Guna Yala (San Blas Islands) in Panama
Panama Travel Guide showing the Ruins of Conjunto Conventual de La Concepción (La Concepción Convent) at Panama Viejo in Panama City, Panama

Introduction to Panama

Panama is the most developed country in Central America.  In Latin America, only Chile and Argentina were ranked higher in the 2019 Human Development Index.  The high living standard is especially visible in the capitol Panama City, but even if you leave the big city for rural areas, you will find roads in often excellent condition and people living in conditions that are far higher compared to other Central American countries.

Skyline of Panama City, Panama

One source of Panamanian wealth is, you guessed it, the Panama Canal.  Being a democracy for more than 30 years, Panama has built the largest financial center in Central America.  It certainly has helped that Panama was known as a tax haven for many years and to some extent still is.

Panama is also greatly profiting from being part of the Colón Free Trade Zone, which is the largest free trade zone in the Western Hemisphere.

 

Panama has a tropical climate and with it comes a large area of tropical rainforest and a large biodiversity.  The temperatures rarely exceed 90°F (32°C) for an extended period of time.  On top of that, Panama has incredible beaches.  Taking all this into account, it is easy understandable that Panama’s tourist industry is constantly growing.

Besides tourism, Panama is also offering generous retirement benefits and has therefore long been a favorite for US, Canadian and European retirees.

 

Other things to know about Panama:

  • Capital: Panama City
  • Flag:
Flag of Panama
  • Official language: Spanish
  • Time zone: EST (Eastern Standard Time), Daylight Savings Time is not observed
  • Currency: US dollar (the official currency is the Panamanian Balboa.  One Balboa is the same as 1 US dollar and only Balboa coins are minted, no bills.  With the exception of the 1 Balboa coin, all other Balboa coins are the same size and weight as the respective US coins).  Everybody accepts US dollars.
  • Country code: 507
  • Population: 4.25 million (2019)
  • Cars drive on the right side of the road
  • Internet sites: .pa
  • Independence from Spain: November 28, 1821

Best Time to Visit Panama

As a country with a tropical climate, Panama has a dry season and a wet season.  The driest months are typically December through April and the wettest months May through November. 

Be advised that the rainy season is not a total washout, however.  You will often have sunny skies for much of the day but there is a good chance for sudden, short-lived but heavy thunderstorms at around noon or in the early afternoon.  Some rural areas may be difficult to reach during the rainy season.

As for the temperatures, the difference between daytime temperatures is higher than between the seasons.  Please be advised that, the higher the elevation, the cooler it gets.

 

Climate in Panama City

Temperatures by Month in Panama City, Panama
Precipitation by Month in Panama City, Panama

Climate in Bocas Town

Temperatures by Month in Bocas Town, Panama
Precipitation by Month in Bocas Town, Panama

Two Week Itinerary for Panama

To fully appreciate the beauty of Panama, one would likely need to spend at least a month in this country.  If you have two weeks, then you will be able to see many of the highlights and, if you like it as much as we do, you will probably want to come back to explore the country even more, or just spend more time on your favorite beaches.

We rented a car in Panama City.  In general, driving a rental car in Panama is easy.  Roads, even in rural areas, are usually well maintained and most Panamanians are not rude or aggressive drivers.  Traffic signs like speed limits are frequent and easy to understand.  Outside Panama City there are actually not too many cars on the roads which makes for relaxed driving. 

In Panama City, however, driving is very much like in big cities in the US.  There are way too many cars on the roads and rush hour traffic is plain awful.  Avoid it at all costs.  Outside rush hour, driving a car is the best way to get to your destinations in Panama City.  Parking can sometimes be difficult to find but we were always able to find a spot even if it meant that we had to walk a few city blocks.

 

Many people suggest Waze as a GPS.  After we had some not-so-good experiences with Waze in Costa Rica, we used google maps for the entire Panama trip and had absolutely no problems.  Just make sure to save the road maps to our cell phone in advance so that you don’t need an active internet connection while you are driving.

Panama Travel Guide showing a Fuerte de San Jerónimo with two canons in Portobelo, Panama
Panama Travel Guide showing a starfish at Boca del Drago (Starfish Beach) at Bocas del Toro in Panama

Best Destinations in Panama - Panama Purple Guides

for a relaxing vacation in Panama and for Makring Memorable Moments in Panama:

Panama Travel Guide by Backpack & Snorkel showing the Skyline of Panama City, Panama
Panama Travel Guide by Backpack & Snorkel showing Panama Viejo
Panama Travel Guide by Backpack & Snorkel showing Casco Viejjo
Panama Travel Guide by Backpack & Snorkel showing the Amador Causeway
Panama Travel Guide by Backpack & Snorkel showing the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal
Panama Travel Guide by Backpack & Snorkel showing the San Blas Islands (Comarca Guna Yala)
Panama Travel Guide by Backpack & Snorkel showing the Pearl Islands (Las Perlas) of Panama
Panama Travel Guide by Backpack & Snorkel showing Bocas del Toro
Panama Travel Guide by Backpack & Snorkel showing the fort in Portobelo, Panama
Panama Travel Guide by Backpack & Snorkel - Panama Purple Guide

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