Panama has been one of my favorite travel destinations and I’d been dreaming of going there someday. Recently, when I managed to visit the country for the first time, I fell in love with it for the second time. The heart of international shipping and the server of connection point between the Caribbean and the Pacific, Panama is one of the major tourist destinations since the last few years since the introduction of cheap flights from the US. More and more Americans have decided to retire and settle in in Panama. The most famous tourist areas include, but not limited to, Boquete, Bocas del Toro, Panama City and the San Blas Islands. However, going to lesser-known places will reward you with cheaper prices of things, vistas and food.
Accommodation and Food
I was quite surprised to know that the accommodation and food in Panama is pretty cheap.
- A night in a hostel dorm cost me USD13, with range usually starts between USD11-USD15. For USD40, you can get a private room in a hostel in a double room.
- Budget hotels with air-conditioning, private bath and sometimes simple breakfast will cost you around USD40-USD60 per night.
- As for the food, the local food vendors cost me about USD2-USD5 per dish with rice, beans and chicken.
- If you need to eat western food, restaurants usually cost USD7-USD10 per meal, with a nice meal complete with wine cost around USD30-USD40.
Transportation and Activities
The cost of buses around the country is between USD10-USD20 per ride. For overnight buses, I had to pay about USD25 and traveling from one side of Panama City to the other side of it cost me about USD4. There are also available intra-country flights but I never took them because they are really expensive. Prices of activities in Panama vary accordingly with most day hikes start around USD50, two-tank dive at about USD60 and coffee tours are USD25. If you would like to visit the world-famous Panama Canal created in 1914, a visit is USD15. You can also experience the popular San Blas Island cruise for four to five days at USD300.
Money Saving Tips
While I was traveling across Panama, I figured out a few simple money saving tips include carrying small change for taxi drivers and shop assistants.
- They usually do not accept USD20 bills when you’re buying inexpensive items.
- Always make sure that you break your notes before getting a taxi or going for a shopping.
- Eating at the local stands is one of most common money saving tips and to refill your bottle with tap water is completely safe.
- There’s no need to spend your money every now and then on buying a new bottle of water. Other than that, I would stick to beer most of the time in Panama.
- It starts at USD0.50 and to USD1. For mix drinks, it cost me USD2. Spend less, save more, and have a real good time.
There are old part of the country with some stunning places to visit. On the opposite side, you’ll find ruins from colonial days among the developing parts of it. Overall, Panama is a good place to spend a few days or weeks eating and sightseeing. Organize your trip carefully and come back home with a memorable experience – just like what I had.