Panama, a small yet diverse country in Central America, boasts stunning landscapes, a rich cultural heritage, and an abundance of attractions for tourists. From the famous Panama Canal to the bustling capital city of Panama City, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this tropical paradise. However, like any other travel destination, the costs can quickly add up. But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with these 15 tips for visiting Panama on a budget.
Plan Your Trip During the Low Season:
The low season in Panama typically falls between May and November. During this time, you can expect fewer tourists, lower prices on accommodations, and discounted tours. While the weather might be a bit more unpredictable, with increased chances of rain, the savings and fewer crowds can make it worth the trade-off.
Book Your Flights in Advance:
The cost of airfare can make up a significant portion of your travel budget. To save on flights, book your tickets well in advance and keep an eye out for deals and discounts. Additionally, consider flying during weekdays
and at off-peak hours to score the best prices.
Stay in Budget Accommodations:
Panama offers a wide range of budget accommodations, including hostels, guesthouses, and budget hotels. Staying in these types of accommodations can save you a significant amount of money compared to staying in more upscale hotels or resorts. Make sure to research and book your accommodations in advance to get the best deals.
Utilize Public Transportation:
Panama’s public transportation system is not only affordable but also reliable and extensive. Buses and metro services are available in major cities like Panama City, while long-distance buses can take you to other parts of the country. By using public transportation instead of taxis or rental cars, you can save a considerable amount of money.
Eat at Local Restaurants and Street Food Stalls:
One of the best ways to save money while traveling is by eating like a local. Avoid touristy restaurants and opt for local eateries and street food stalls, which offer delicious and authentic Panamanian cuisine at a fraction of the price.
Shop at Local Markets:
Instead of shopping at supermarkets or convenience stores, visit local markets for fresh produce, snacks, and other essentials. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also get a taste of local culture and support small businesses.
Take Advantage of Free Attractions:
Panama has plenty of free attractions that you can enjoy without spending a dime. Some examples include the Amador Causeway in Panama City, which offers beautiful views of the city skyline and the Panama Canal; Casco Viejo, the historic district of Panama City; and Metropolitan Natural Park, a large urban park with hiking trails and panoramic views.
Utilize Student and Senior Discounts:
If you’re a student or a senior, make sure to carry your ID with you, as many attractions, tours, and transportation services offer discounts for these groups.
Save on Activities by Booking Group Tours:
Many tour operators in Panama offer group discounts, so consider joining a group tour to save on activities and excursions. Additionally, booking tours in advance or directly with the tour operator can often result in better deals.
Be Flexible with Your Itinerary:
Being flexible with your travel plans can lead to significant savings. For instance, consider visiting less popular destinations or opting for less expensive activities when your first choice is too costly.
Travel with a Companion or in a Group:
Traveling with others can help reduce costs, as you can split expenses such as accommodations, transportation, and food. Plus, traveling with a companion or in a group can make your trip more enjoyable and memorable.
Learn Basic Spanish Phrases:
While many Panamanians in tourist areas speak English, knowing some basic Spanish phrases can be helpful for navigating public transportation, ordering food, and bargaining at local markets. Being able to communicate in the local language can also lead to more authentic experiences and potentially better deals.
Use a Prepaid Travel Card or Local Currency:
Using a prepaid travel card or exchanging your money for the local currency, the Panamanian Balboa (PAB), can help you avoid high fees and unfavorable exchange rates often associated with using credit cards or withdrawing money from ATMs. Be sure to research the best options for your travel needs before departing for Panama.
Bring a Reusable Water Bottle:
Tap water in Panama City and other major cities is generally safe to drink. By bringing a reusable water bottle, you can save money on buying bottled water and reduce your environmental impact. However, be cautious in rural areas where tap water may not be safe to drink; in these cases, opt for filtered or bottled water.
Research and Plan Ahead:
Finally, one of the best ways to save money while traveling is by doing thorough research and planning ahead. Make a list of the attractions you want to visit, research budget-friendly options for accommodations, transportation, and food, and create a rough itinerary for your trip. By being well-prepared, you can avoid unexpected expenses and make the most of your budget.
Visiting Panama on a budget is entirely possible with the right planning and smart choices. By following these 15 tips, you can enjoy the beauty, culture, and adventure that Panama has to offer without breaking the bank. So pack your bags and get ready to explore this vibrant and diverse country while keeping your wallet happy.