Traveling in Panama

By | October 22, 2021

Airplane: The regional airlines Aerotaxis and Aeroperlas fly between the capital Panama City and all major cities in the country. Heliplan also offers helicopter flights.

Smaller commercial airports in Panama are in Paitilla Aeropuerto Marcos A. Gelabert (PAC) and in Davis, Chiriqui Enrique Maleck (DAV).

Rail: Panama Canal Railway Company’s passenger trains run between Panama City and Colon.

Car: Panama City is connected to Colon by the Trans-Isthman Highway.

Rental cars can be found at airports and in larger cities. To rent a car, you have to be at least 23 to 25 years old, depending on the company. The national driver’s license is valid for 3 months in Panama.

Buses go to practically all destinations in Panama. Fares are low, but travel times are often quite long.

In Panama City’s urban traffic, numerous buses and minibuses run on fixed routes between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. Standard fares apply.

Taxis in Panama run without a meter, agree on a price with the driver before you start your journey.

Panama – money

Local currency: According to homosociety, there are two legal means of payment in Panama: 1 balboa = 100 centavos and 1 US dollar = 1 cent. The Balboa is pegged to the US dollar at a ratio of 1: 1.

Currency abbreviations: BA, PAB and US $, USD.

Banknotes: Balboa banknotes are not in circulation, there are coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos.

US dollar banknotes are available in denominations of 1, 2 (rare), 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 US dollars, US coins are valued at 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents and 1 US dollar Dollars in circulation.

Currency Exchange: the only bank – The Banco Nacional de Panamá at Tocumen International Airport is responsible for changing currencies into US dollars. Outside the airport, only a few exchange offices (casa de cambio) change foreign currencies into US dollars. Euros are hardly accepted, so you should have enough US dollars in cash with you, as thesecurrencyis legal tender in Panama. Larger bills (greater than 20 US dollars) are not accepted in some shops, however, smaller denominations are recommended.

Credit Cards: in better hotels, travel agencies and restaurants in Panama City as well as in larger cities in Panama you can often pay with the usual international credit cards (especially Visa, but also Eurocard / Mastercard). Outside of larger cities, you are usually dependent on cash.

ATMs are relatively widespread in Panama (except perhaps in remote regions). Machines with the red ” sistema clave” symbol accept credit cards such as Mastercard, Visa, American Express and cards from the Plus and Cirrus systems. Most of the time, the Panamanian bank charges a fee of $ 3 per withdrawal, the limit per action is between $ 200 and $ 500.

Travelers checks should be made out in US dollars, but they are not often accepted; only banks can exchange travelers checks for cash.

Foreign exchange regulations: no restrictions on entry and exit. From an equivalent value of 10,000 US dollars, however, there is an obligation to declare.

Bank opening times: Mon – Fri 8 a.m. – 1.30 p.m., Sat 8.30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Health and Diseases in Panama

Vaccination protection

When entering from a yellow fever area, proof of a valid yellow fever vaccination is required.

The Federal Foreign Office’s health service will provide vaccination protection against tetanus, hepatitis A and diphtheria, protection against hepatitis B, typhoid and rabies is recommended for longer stays (more than 4 weeks) and / or special exposure.

Furthermore, the standard vaccinations for children and adults should be according to the recommendations from the Robert Koch Institute to be up to date.


In Mexico, malaria occurs all year round, for the most part the form malaria tertiana, but in eastern Mexico also malaria tropica (partly with chloroquine resistance). There is a medium risk of malaria in rural regions of the provinces on the Caribbean side and in the border area with Colombia ; there is a low risk of malaria in lower-lying, rural regions of the other provinces. Very low or no malaria risk in cities and in the area around the canal.

Nocturnal Anopheles mosquito is responsible for the transmission of malaria. If malaria (especially tropical malaria) is left untreated, it can be fatal in non-immune Europeans. Malaria can break out weeks and months after the actual mosquito bite. Therefore, even after returning from Panama, if you have a fever, you should consult a doctor who should be advised of your stay in the malaria area.

Depending on the route, chemoprophylaxis (taking tablets) may be recommended. There are various prescription drugs on the market for malaria prophylaxis (for example Doxycycline, Malarone or Lariam). An experienced tropical or travel doctor can advise you on the choice of medication, their intolerance and side effects and personal adjustment.

In addition to malaria, mosquitoes transmit other infectious diseases and are recommended as preventive protection when traveling in Panama

  • wear light-colored clothing covering the whole body (long trousers and shirts). This both during the day (dengue) and in the evening (malaria).
  • Regularly apply insect repellent to all exposed parts of the body
  • to use a mosquito net in the regions mentioned above


The risk of a life-threatening infection with HIV / AIDS always arises from sexual contact and drug use (for example unclean cannulas or syringes or cannulas). The use of condoms is therefore always recommended, especially with casual acquaintances.

Diarrhea and cholera

Most diarrheal illnesses can be prevented with proper drinking water and food hygiene.

Some basic rules

Never drink tap water but, for example, bottled water. If bottled water is not available, filter and disinfect water or boil it off. Also use drinking water to brush your teeth or wash the dishes. Peel, boil or disinfect food. Make sure that no flies get to your food. Hands should be washed often with soap, always after a bowel movement, before preparing food and before eating. If appropriate, disinfect your hands as well, use disposable towels.

More infectious diseases in Panama

Leishmaniasis, leptospirosis, Chagas disease

Dengue virus infection, transmitted by diurnal mosquitoes, is common in Panama. Therefore, you should definitely protect yourself from insect bites during the day (see above).

Before traveling to Panama, you should seek advice from a tropical medicine specialist.

In addition to my general disclaimer, please note the following important note:

A guarantee for the correctness and completeness of the medical information and liability for any damage that may occur cannot be assumed. You stay responsible for your healthy.

Traveling in Panama