Being the capital city and the largest city of Panama, Panama City is the most modern city not only in Panama, but the rest of Central America.
Panama City is very attractive for tourist since it is considered a cheap city. However, the growth of skyscrapers and the increasing number of wealthy people in the city lately, made it expensive, but at the same time, more luxurious and interesting.
Its large population comes from many different parts of the world and the citizens are friendly and helpful and would love to give you some advice. It is a great city for shopping, entertainment and night life. Nowadays, Panama City is well known as The Dubai of Latin America.
Warnings & Dangers in Panama City
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Panama City has a high crime rate. Wherever you go, use licensed taxis, be careful in la Vieja ruins area, especially at night and avoid poor neighborhoods like El Chorillo. Avoid Santa Ana, Curundu, and San Miguel. It is advisable to keep an eye on your belongings at all times due to the high levels of criminal activity.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
As long as you use the licensed taxis, you will not encounter any problems. But bear in mind the fact that there have been reports of traveler being robbed and assaulted by taxi drivers. Taxis do not have a meter since fares are set by the authorities. During rush hour some buses can get crowded, but it is a safe means of transport in Panama City. If you decide to walk, pay attention when crossing the street since Panamanian drivers are aggressive, they do not slow down on a crosswalk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
Tourists in Panama need to be aware that petty crime, such as pick-pocketing and bag-snatching is common, so as to watch their personal possessions at airports, bus terminals and on public transport. There are high-crime areas where you need to be especially attentive such as Calidonia, San Miguelito, Rio Bajo, El Chorillo, Ancon, Curundu, Veracruz Beach, Parque Soberania, Tocumen, Panama Viejo, Casco Viejo and shopping areas on Avenida Central.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
When it comes to natural hazards, heavy rains may cause flooding and landslides. The hurricane season lasts from June to November. Panama is subject to earthquakes, too.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
There have been reports that travelers have been targeted by armed criminals, especially at Madden Dam and that muggings have happened. The usual targets are people walking alone. The best advice is not to resist and hand over your valuables or give them what they are after. Incidents often happen near the ATMs.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Terrorist attacks are not likely to happen in panama, but you need to avoid protests and demonstrations, and pay attention to any suspicious activity since terrorism attacks which cannot be predicted.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
Scam risk in Panama exists and it is very developed. Starting form taxi drivers will try to overcharge you, to a tap on the shoulder or getting something spilled on you in order to distract you and rob you. Pay special attention when in crowds. Credit card skimming is also frequent, so remain attentive around ATMs or when paying by your credit card.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women cannot feel completely safe in Panama, especially at night, and they should not walk alone. Even though many female travelers had no problems in Panama City, there have been reports of assault.
So... How Safe Is Panama City Really?
Even though, an experienced tourist would say that Panama City is not dangerous place, there is a need to be careful in some parts of Panama, certainly in the evening. Tourist should stay out of Santa Ana, Curundu and San Miguel, watch their belongings and use licensed taxis to avoid over-charging and problems with some drivers.
As long as you stay away from these areas and practice common sense, you can stay safe in the city since most people are outstandingly friendly and helpful. Just be smart traveller as anywhere in the world.
- Visas - The entry requirements besides the valid passport and a visa for the countries that it is necessary to obtain it before coming to Panama, some airlines may require passengers to have a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before being allowed to board flight, since Panama is listed by the World Health Organization as endemic for yellow fever. The countries that need a visa to enter Panama are Australia, Canada, Japan, and the US.
- Currency - The official currency in Panama is the balboa. ATMs are widely available and credit cards are accepted. Beware the ATMs which might "cancel" transactions at the last moment while still debiting money from your account. Counterfeit currency exists in Panama, so pay attention when getting the change.
- Weather - Panama City has a tropical savanna climate, which is characterized by the wet season from May through December and the dry season from January through April. Temperatures are constant around 27 °C.
- Airports - Tourists who want to come to Panama City can come via Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. Another airport is Gelabert/Albrook Domestic Airport, used only for domestic flights or Panama Pacifico International Airport, located about a 20 minutes from the city center.
- Travel Insurance - Travelers are always advised to get travel insurance before starting their journey, no matter where they travel and how dangerous that place is.