How Safe Is Panama for Travel?

Panama
Safety Index:
65

Panama FlagPanama : Safety by City

Panama is located in Central America, boasting two coastlines: one on the Caribbean Sea and one on the North Pacific Ocean, with Colombia (and, of course, entire South America) to the southeast and Costa Rica (and the North American continent) to the northwest.

The most interesting part about it, both geographically and from a touristic point of view, is that it’s located on the isthmus that forms the land bridge connecting North and South America and controls the Panama Canal – the world-famous canal that connects the North Atlantic Ocean via the Caribbean Sea with the North Pacific Ocean, probably the most important and best known shipping routes in the world.

Panama slowly grew into one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world: tourists can visit two different oceans and coastlines, go climbing mountains, hiking through rainforests and enjoy the impressive city life which offers to its visitors’ contemporary art, fashion and fine dining.

However, the central marvel and the biggest attraction is still the Panama Canal and it can be seen via an aerial view through the local operator, and you can even enjoy stunt and trick flights with veteran air force pilots and skydives over this engineering miracle.

Warnings & Dangers in Panama

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Panama is generally safe, but you should take precaution on the streets of major cities, and after dark. Be wary of pickpockets and bear in mind that mugging and violent crime are also part of this country's street life.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

Public transport is generally safe in Panama, but do be careful on buses and bus stops since that's where pickpockets and petty thieves operate. Bear in mind that bus stations tend to be high crime areas, and whenever possible opt for calling a taxi instead of hailing one on the street.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH

Pickpockets are a common occurrence on the streets of Panama and tourists are recommended to remain vigilant at all times when on the street. Make sure you don't flash your valuables on the street, be careful when withdrawing money from ATMs and of course, keep all your valuables in a safe place in your accommodation or safely by your side.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Ocean currents, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods are only some of the natural disasters that sometimes hit Panama.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

Violent crime exists in Panama and mugging and kidnapping isn't uncommon on the streets of Panama. In such a situation, hand over all your possessions immediately and do not resist. Avoid poorly lit and deserted areas.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : LOW

Although there haven't been any terrorist attacks in Panama's recent history, they shouldn't be ruled out so remain vigilant at all times.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM

Scams are very common in Panama, so double check your change, never pay anything upfront and negotiate everything in advance. Watch out for people sending you free drinks and never leave your drink unattended.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

Traveling to Panama is generally safe for solo women, but bear in mind that you should generally hike and explore in a company, never alone. Stay away from poorly lit and deserted streets and areas and from people that are visibly intoxicated or under the influence

So... How Safe Is Panama Really?

Generally, Panama is a safe country to visit.

When you visit Panama, you can count on friendly people offering you help with anything you need, especially in rural areas.

However, crime rates are high, and it’s not just the petty crime that’s the issue: violent crime is a common issue in Panama, though it’s on its way to getting eradicated.

There are parts of this country that you should definitely avoid such as the border region between Panama and Colombia, (considered to be extraordinarily dangerous due to the presence of Colombian rebel groups and drug traffickers), most of the city of Colon, El Chorrillo neighborhood of Panama City, and Curundu and El Marañón neighborhoods which are poor and crime-ridden areas.

Although at night the main streets and plazas and districts with bars and restaurants are safe, visitors should be more cautious after dark, especially if they’re moving north along Avenida Central towards El Chorillo.

Pick-pocketing and mugging is a common issue in Panama City, so tourists are advised to exercise caution, particularly in crowded areas such as train and bus stations, airports and on busy streets, as well as in public transport.

Useful Information

  • Visas - Many countries need a visa in order to enter Panama, while some, like the U.S and Australian nationals, do not need a visa for stays of up to 180 days. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 3 months beyond the date of arrival. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need a visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
  • Currency - There are two official currencies in Panama: United States Dollar and Panamanian balboa. ATMs are mostly available throughout the country, except in some isolated areas, while credit cards are accepted in some establishments such as restaurants and upscale hotels, but may not be accepted everywhere.
  • Weather - The climate in Panama is tropical maritime climate, which is characterized by a hot and humid season with plenty of precipitation (which lasts from May to December) and a short dry season (lasting from January to May).
  • Airports - Tocumen International Airport is the busiest international airport of Panama City, the capital of the country of Panama. It is, also, at the same time the busiest airport in Central America at the moment.
  • Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Panama, since it covers not only the costs of medical problems but also theft and loss of valuables.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Panama Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 28° C
Feb 29° C
Mar 29° C
Apr 29° C
May 28° C
Jun 28° C
Jul 28° C
Aug 28° C
Sep 28° C
Oct 27° C
Nov 27° C
Dec 28° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
323232323130303030293031
Low
°C
242525252525252525242424
High
°F
909090908886868686848688
Low
°F
757777777777777777757575

Where to Next?

40 Reviews on Panama

  1. great website

    great website i am doing a school project on panama and this helped my mom a lot

    1. J
      Jim Lowe says:

      Your mom is doing your report?

      1. J
        Jim's mom says:

        Don’t be a rat, Jim.

          1. A
            Anonymous says:

            WOW!

            XD

  2. E
    Esther Barrera says:

    Only one Hurricane recorded in Panama, Hurricane Martha, category one in 1969. Kidnapping is a rare crime.

    1. B
      Bevy kona says:

      Express kidnappings

      Kidnapping is not rare, it’s common. Express kidnappings wherein they take you to am atm, demand 300.00 and then let you go. They know most people can only get 300 at a time from the atm.

    2. M
      Marc S. says:

      No Hurricanes in Panama

      Martha made landfall in Veraguas Province, Panama, as a strong tropical storm–not as a full fledged “hurricane.” There are opposing currents on the two sides of the equator, in effect, canceling each other out. Panama is about 600 miles from the equator, but close enough to benefit from this. It’s impossible for a hurricane to actually cross the equator.

  3. my experience

    I have traveled to Panama 12 times and I have never had a problem. I travel alone and meet a friend or friends that live there. I have traveled many areas of the country and no problems. As a female, I am always cautious.

    1. Rena, what brings you back to Panama so many times? Do you have a list of places that are a must for first-time visitors?

      1. P
        Princess says:

        I am going for the first time doing my research on the country.

  4. S
    Sarah P says:

    Safe for couples travel

    Have traveled there a few times now and it felt very safe. Of course have your wits about you in any big city (Panama City and L.A. alike)

    The people are very helpful if you need directions or something and it’s much safer than the surrounding countries, likely because of how stable the government is in comparison.

  5. A
    Anonymous says:

    Panama is a safety country, there are not natural disaster , the crime is low and people vey kind. I liked it a lot.

    1. N
      Not going says:

      High crime rate

      Too many people from other countries come up missing. That change my mind

      1. A
        Anonymous says:

        Where you got that information from
        Because in my life time station in Panamá
        Never heard of too many people from different countries coming missing..
        Panamá is safe to visit and to retire. Just like any other big country you have to be careful off your suranding eras

      2. Do research

        Have no idea where you get your info from. This simply is not true, maybe you are thinking of the DR?
        I’ve lived in Panama for 4 years without problems or hearing excessive crime. Kind of the usual actually.

  6. M
    Michael says:

    Been to Panama about ten times and liked it so much I decided to purchase some land and build a house, never felt unsafe in Panama, I actually feel safer there than in the states

    1. A
      Anonymous says:

      Panama, great place, we too are building a home in Volcancito. For average the American, retiring here is not worth it. We have gun violence, and politicians who do not respond to the will of the majority of voters. You can live very well at half the price. We found the Panamanians to be some of the nicest people, we have encountered.

      1. Looking to retire . . . .

        Can you please explain by what you mean by saying, “For average the American, retiring here is not worth it.”
        Thanks!

        1. Army wife stationed twice in Panama

          My husband & I were ‘stationed’ in Panama twice. We loved it! You have to be ‘smart’ about where you go in Panama City. The shopping is great with wonderful bargains. There is a dry season (winter) and rainy season (summer). Both have their advantages. Our 2nd tour was when
          Noriega was in power. But we had a large presence of our military there, so it was OK then. We didn’t see our spouses much! So go & enjoy the Crossroads between the Americas!
          PS: read the book beforehand

      2. Love Panama!

        My wife and I lived on our sailboat in Panama, mostly in the San Blas for 2 years. Traveling through the canal 3 times. Overall a wonderful country. With great people. Yes there are some areas to avoid like Colon, the Columbian border area and some neighborhoods in Panama City. My wife and I walked a lot, including at night, took taxies and Ubers a real bargain. We stayed in a number of hotel of 4-5 star quality with 1-2 star pricing. Great food. Never ever had a problem. I come from a more dangerous country. Was visiting Panama this past March, just when Covid 19 hit. They were right on it ! Much better than a lot of major countries especially the US. We left Panama back to the US where there was much MORE covid that Panama.
        No, take it from a professional mariner, there are no hurricanes in Panama. It is south of the hurricane belt. A hurricane here would be considered extremely freak!
        I come from a country that has so much crime that many Europeans won’t vacation there. Much racial prejudice, hi crime and a very corrupt Oligarchic government. And guns EVERYWHERE. It’s called the United States of America. Was ready to move back to Panama when Biden got elected. May now try sticking it out and hope for improvement. But Panama a serious consideration as an alternative. As is Portugal.

        1. A
          Anonymous says:

          I get it… We bought a place in Costa Rica for the same reasons.

        2. A
          A US Patriot says:

          You sound like a biased, racist idiot. The United States is not and never was run by an oligarch. Biden, you mean the vessel for leftism and the totalitarian State with 47 Executive Orders in one week, yes that is why a new crop of North Americans are seeking to leave and move to Panama. Wake up!

          1. A
            Anonymous says:

            Amen! Another U.S. liberal freak who thinks Republicans are the ones destroying the country?? Moron. Ya so good to have our current liberal socialist dictators destroy capitalism, send billions of our taxes to support foreign countries and open the borders to unvetted illegals to render us reliant on government support. Ya who wants that President Trump who created a thriving economy with the lowest unemployment in history and safe borders!!!

          2. A
            All Knowing says:

            Stop being blind

            Trump did a lot of damage to your country, it’s going to take a long time to heal. The very rich run the USA and the rest who have been conditioned to believe that is a good thing, signed up with trump thinking he cared about them…. he does not. You are but minions sent out to disrupt peace and used as puppets to help with the destruction of democracy. Do you think taking away people’s right to vote is democratic? Do you think killing people and trying to overthrow your democracy because you simply didn’t like losing the vote is democratic? You are far from a US patriot if following an insane narcissistic oligarch and carrying out his bidding to disrupt the good, spread hate and racism. This is your idea of democracy? Put aside your hate for a change and show some compassion for fellow Americans and new immigrants who are the back bone of your country.
            Trump and friends are scum of the earth, using easily manipulated people like yourself to further their hold on monetary wealth.

          3. A
            Anonymous says:

            oh that smell...

            UFFF!! …I feel a “trumpet” smell in your words….or to Q..I don’t know but it smell bad, sound bad…any one feel the same? I bet that the US PATRIoT was at the assault to the Capitol , is it? Oh I’m sorry, is my bad…the “turistic visit to the Capitol”…you got what you want? or the fbi is still searching the videos? as far I know, the new crop of Americans seeking to live in panama or any alse place in the world is fliying out the “usa paradise.”.300 million guns on the street, tons of people with mental healt problems that can acces to assault tifles without any limitation and can show it on the strees as is happenning right now in Texas an that can do watheverer he whabt to do, american covind is sinking the world, the americans will be considered infected parias ( looks what happen in Europe right nown) politicians in both sides trying to use the virus to get benefits , monetaries or politics ah@!!! and the good proiud boys and antifa and many other groups of similar extremist ideology pushing the country to a civil war…., the climate change wih more flooding more fired more hurricane…all this is not a good reazon good reazon to leave this “country’?..
            And on top of that,.. you can imagine Mr TRUMP retuning to power in 2024? …the amount of entreitment that we are going to have in those years? a lot!! of course I’m goig to see it from PAnama, in my couch in front of tv , in CNN or FOX acconding on how I feel that day with my hands ,more right or more left, depends . I invite you US PATRIOT to drinks some americam beer, the one thet the patriots drinks, if you u dare to come and see the disaster on television,,, but far from the disaster. if you not wnt to come, I wish you luck if you are an American patriot, like the ones I met in Vietnem and Korea and who did not live to enjoy their real Patriotismi

  7. I have traveled to Panama.

    I have found it to be a safe friendly Country.

    But I like to have a local when I travel around, just to be safe.

    I am planning on visiting again.

  8. Very Safe

    I have visited Panama twice in the past two years. Never, I repeat never have I had any problems in Panama. I have been to Colon, Panama City and places in between. The people are friendly and willing to help you when you have questions. I have more fears walking the streets in the U.S. than in Panama. I have never felt threatened or have I ever been threatened while in Panama. Go to Panama and have a great time, you will not be sorry. Panama is a wonderful country.

    1. Dc

      I want to travel to Panama but I have no lot. if anyone helps me I can

  9. A
    Anonymous says:

    Personal opinión (Panamá)

    I’m from Panama travel Copa Airline they lost a suitcase never had an explanation for us. Coming back to the airport a man wanted money to let us get in the road to the airport. I love my country but it has really declined since the Americans left. The crime and trash everywhere is high. If we are nice or not depends if you travel to the interior. country people are the best. They welcome you to their home and share meals with you. They go out of their way to please you. But city people are not generous or friendly. I enjoyed the interior and it’s people.

  10. G
    George Farington says:

    Most economically progressive country in Latin America

    Panama is generally safe, and you do not see the violent crimes you see in the U.S. and never the gun violence. Definitely no psychos grabbing their assault rifles to shoot innocent kids in school.

    Although not as safe as Cuba, where crime (violent or non-violent) is all but non-existent and rated the safest county in the Western Hemisphere, Panama is a lot safer than Mexico and Guatemala. Honduras and El Salvador are extremely violent countries and the unsafest in Latin America.

    Panama is economically stable because of its political stability…six democratically elected administrations since the U.S. invaded and overthrew General Noriega.

    I recommend visiting and considering for retirement…

  11. A
    Anonymous says:

    Panama is a really safe place to visit. Natural disasters, man thanks goodness, I don’t remember the last time we faced a natural disaster in the country. Economically stable country and pick pocketing as you mention is really low. Kidnapping? No way, that almost never happens in the country. Gun violence in the street? Almost never happens unless you visit some ghetto places which are very uncommon even in the capital Panama City.

  12. Panama is a very diverse country!

    We have been to Panama several times and love it. The canal is an interesting visit as well as Panama City. But you need to go to El Valle and Boquette as well. Bocas del Toro is a unique visit also. Panama is a very diverse country and you can’t see it all in one visit. Therefore we will be returning as soon as possible.

    1. A
      Anonymous says:

      I was stationed there in the Navy 68-71. I enjoyed that tour more than any of my other tours, Spain, Germany. I always felt safe there, even in Colon, the
      nearest town to where i was stationed. Spent a lot of time in the “Club Florida”. met a wonderful lady there, Tai Li is what me and my friends called her. hated to leave and always wanted to go back but they closed the site
      where I worked.
      be safe

  13. S
    Shirely says:

    Response re politicians. Looking for somewhere to move out of the states if need be.

    Just like the states! Response re politicians. Looking for somewhere to move out of the staes if need be.

  14. A
    Artie Lange says:

    bought a house near Pacific Ocean

    I purchased a new home outside of Pedasi- last Fourth of July (2019) and a month later
    flew down to see it in person for first time !
    So happy I’m made this investment for part time residence, the people including expatriates are vey nice and helpful-
    my compliment is it reminds me of old Mexico- clean, safe, friendly, and smart- they build their roads to last-

  15. “No Stress”

    I love Panama. Since 2013 I have come here a few times and decided to retire and move here in 2020. The biggest perks for me are the friendly people and it’s not a crime to be a black man!

  16. P
    PanamaRene says:

    Dream Country - PANAMA !!!

    Panama is my dream country to live in (I’m American). I finally got a chance to go 2019 for my bday… All I can say is OMG…it was, was…wonderful, terrific, stupendous, amazing. The food was delicious and if you are American, plenty of Domino’s, Pizza H, Taco Bell we even went to a McD’s when the other local place we went to we found out was closed…and had a RUDE teenager serve us just like in the US ! Nice.

    Back to Panama…the people were amazing, the food, views…the accommodations … Ancon Hill was beautiful, the canal was cool, the 3 hotels were beautiful…the neighborhood call San Francisco was just wonderful to walk thru. There were some spots that looked like some areas here in the US, but guess what – I kept it moving just like I do here. I’m seriously thinking about retiring here and not because of the current administration…because of the climate in the US now. Like an earlier poster said, nice to be black and not looked @ sideways. Black female.

    I’ve done my research on Panama. Hurricanes are nill, last one in 1969ish, English is spoken even tho I’ll work on my Spanish, monetary system is something I’m used to, Uber’s are ridiculously cheap, I can teach English if I get bored, which I’ve done here and fortunately for me I can blend a bit, until I open my broken Spanish speaking mouth. Huge malls just like the US if that is your thing. Lots of historical things to do if that’s your thing, lots of different types of things to do, beach, hiking, food tasting. The skyline is absolutely amazing…my fav building is the F&F bldg or the screw tower. We found a nice expensive mall with Fendi, MK, Gucci and the like …I don’t really like hot, humid weather but I’ll deal w/it for the beautiful water and views. I’m old enough where I can just sit and watch the water w/some relaxing music and be happy.

    Go if you can.

    I’m working on going one to two times a year until I retire. I was told if I add my age (52) and number of years working (30) = 82 and it adds up to 80 I can retire. I want to get closer to 62 but not just 67…soooo maybe 7/8 more yrs and I’M OUT !!!

  17. The truth about crime in Panama

    Just like anyplace else, Panama has crime. New York has crime, San Francisco has crime etc. If you try to buy drugs, pick up a prostitute on the street, get obviously intoxicated in a bar, flash money, expensive watches etc you increase you risk. Much of the reported crime involves people that did a stupid thing and put themselves in harms way. Don’t carry a huge purse, hire a car a reputable car service, it’s easy and cheap. Don’t carry unessary credit cards or cash, why would you in the first place. Don’t overly share your info or brag about your income, wealth etc. Same advice I would give to visitors to most major US cities. As far as kidnappings go, the numbers are ridiculously low. If you leave valuables on a beach to go into the water it might get some attention just like it does in Hawaii and Florida. Act like a grown up in Pansms, be aware of your surroundings etc and you will have no issue at all Panama is a wonderful, safe place to visit it live.

  18. A
    An old surfer says:

    I am going to visit soon. I have friends in Boca del Toro. I will visit until I have figured it out. I am a single guy and a pro musician. I am used to living cheap. I plan on eventually owning property and home. I have no expectations of anything but a slower, relaxing life, in a country that seem to get along.

Rated 4.03 / 5 based on 40 user reviews.

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