Is Panama safe? Every time you consider traveling to a new country the first question that normally comes to mind is if the country you are visiting is safe for tourists.
Is Panama safe? Travel Safety Tips You Must Know
The short answer is YES. But you must consider petty theft and avoid certain areas, especially at night. Be smart and don’t wear anything that will call too much attention to you as well as keeping your valuables in your sight at all times.
If you’re looking for safety in Central America, look at Panama. Known for its famous canal, this country not only offers an important trade zone but is also considered one of the safest destinations in the region. To ensure a safe experience, here’s what you need to know.
Is it safe to go to Panama City?
Panama City is one of the main Latin hubs in Central and South America, because of it’s ideal location and the famous Panama Canal, Panama City is a bustling and very international city. You can freely walk in most areas of town and Uber is always a great option to safely move around the city.
Do you have to have a visa to go to Panama?
As a US Citizen, you do not need a visa to go to Panama and you can get an entry for up to 180 days. Check this link for a complete list of countries that require Visas to US Citizens.
Is Bocas del Toro Panama safe?
We are currently working at beautiful Bocas del Toro in Panama. As with most Latin countries, there is plenty of dangerous zones and neighborhoods that should be avoided and especially at night, but if you apply common sense, Bocas Del Toro is quite a safe travel destination for tourists.
Beautiful Waters of Bocas Del Toro / Panama
Is panama safe to travel to? – A Safe Haven in Central America
Panama is often regarded as a hidden gem in Central America. While it’s true that no destination is entirely devoid of risks, Panama offers a safer haven for travelers compared to its neighbors, such as Costa Rica and Colombia. However, like any other place in the world, it’s crucial to stay informed and vigilant. Here are some valuable safety tips for an enjoyable and secure experience in Panama.
Navigating Crime Hot Spots
While Panama is generally a safe country, there are areas with higher crime rates that travelers should be aware of. It’s wise to exercise caution and avoid the following places:
Colón, Panama – Colón is considered a no-go zone, both during the day and at night. Many government agencies have issued stern warnings about travel to this coastal city.
Bastimentos Island, Bocas del Toro – After dark, Bastimentos, the largest island in Bocas del Toro, has unfortunately witnessed incidents of muggings, attacks, and assaults targeting tourists. It’s safer to stay on the main island (Isla Colon) or nearby Isla Carenero, which has a close-knit local community and a police station.
Panama City – Be cautious, especially at night, in areas like Calidonia, El Chorillo, and San Miguelito, where incidents like shootings are not uncommon. Additionally, remain vigilant for pickpockets at bus stations and busy shopping areas.
Safety Measures: To stay safe in these areas, ensure your belongings are secure and avoid displaying valuable items. Keep your bags closed and preferably in front of you. Always carry a photo ID or a copy of your passport with your entry stamp.
Alcohol and Drug Laws
Panama, as a transit point for drug trafficking from South America to the United States, has strict drug laws. It’s crucial to be aware of the following:
Drug Possession – Even having small quantities of drugs, including marijuana, can lead to serious legal consequences. Being in the company of someone using drugs can also result in arrest. Penalties for drug offenses can be as severe as 15 years in prison.
Police Checkpoints – To combat drug trafficking, police checkpoints are common on weekend roads between cities. Cooperation and compliance with authorities are essential.
Alcohol Consumption – Individuals over 18 years old can purchase alcohol in Panama. While public alcohol consumption is accepted in certain areas, it’s prohibited in specific parts of Panama City, including family-friendly spots like Parque Omar.
Safety Measures: Exercise discretion regarding drugs and never engage in or support illegal drug activities. Regarding alcohol, respect local laws and avoid public consumption in restricted areas.
Safety in the Darien Gap
The Darién Gap is a remote and challenging region that engineers bypassed when constructing the Pan-American Highway. In recent years, it has gained notoriety due to safety concerns:
Drug Traffickers – The Darién Gap is a known area for drug traffickers near the border with Colombia. Kidnappings, murders, armed robberies, and mysterious deaths have been reported. Authorities are on high alert for human traffickers and illegal immigrants.
Natural Hazards – The Darién jungle presents risks, including impassable swamps, dangerous wildlife, disease-carrying insects, venomous spiders, and large snakes. If you decide to visit, do so with a local guide during the dry season, and be cautious.
Safety Measures: For your safety, it’s advisable not to venture into the Darién beyond Yaviza in southern Panama. The dangerous zone starts at the end of the Pan-American Highway, approximately 230 kilometers southeast of Panama City, and extends to the Colombian border. The area includes Darién National Park, privately owned nature reserves, and tourist resorts. Always prioritize safety when exploring remote regions.
Narco Boats and Maritime Crime
Panama faces the challenging issue of criminal drug activity, which extends its reach to the waters embracing both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, encompassing even the renowned San Blas Archipelago. This sprawling network of illicit operations has created a cause for concern among authorities and travelers alike. Visitors must remain vigilant and informed about the potential risks associated with these criminal activities to ensure their safety and the overall tranquility of their trip. Understanding the current situation and taking preventive measures can go a long way in mitigating any potential risks that may arise while exploring the beautiful waters of Panama.
Drug Transportation – High-speed boats and drug submarines are used for transporting illicit substances between Panama and other Latin American countries. Traveling by sea between Colombia and Panama may put you in the company of individuals involved in drug trafficking.
Safety Measures: When traveling by boat or along the coastline, be cautious. Avoid touching any suspicious packages or items floating in the sea or on remote beaches, as these may be associated with drug trafficking.
Panama Safety for Female Travelers
Panama, like many places, has issues with street harassment, including catcalling and unwanted attention towards women:
Street Harassment – Whistles, catcalls and unwanted attention are common. Female travelers are advised to stay vigilant, mainly when walking alone.
Transportation – If you’re traveling at night, consider using rideshare apps instead of traditional yellow taxis. Share your live location with a friend for added security.
Taxis and Public Transport in Panama City
While taxis are a common means of transportation in Panama City, it’s essential to be aware of potential issues:
Taxis in Panama City – Some taxis in Panama City are known for their speed, and drivers may remove seat belts from the back seats or hide them. In certain situations, drivers may pick up multiple passengers along the same route.
Safety Measures: Regarding ensuring your safety in Panama, taking precautionary measures while using transportation services is crucial. One way to minimize risks is by avoiding getting into a cab that already has passengers. It’s also advisable to request that the driver refrain from picking up additional passengers while you are aboard.
Furthermore, it is highly recommended to confirm the fare with the driver before getting into the cab. This step serves as a valuable preventive measure and can help prevent future disagreements or misunderstandings regarding the cost of your journey. By establishing an explicit agreement upfront, you can bypass potential conflicts and ensure a smooth and secure transportation experience.
Car Rental and Purchase Scams
In recent years, there has been an increase in scams related to car sales and purchases involving robbery, theft, and extortion. Travelers should exercise caution when engaging in such transactions:
Social Media Transactions – When meeting people from social media or online groups to buy or sell items, take extra precautions to ensure your safety.
General Panama Safety Tips for Travelers
Overall, Panama is a safe destination, and you can have an enjoyable and secure experience by following these general safety guidelines:
Exercise Caution – Avoid standing out as a tourist, keep a low profile, and avoid displaying expensive items.
Respect Local Laws – Adhere to local regulations and follow any guidance from government travel advisories regarding areas to avoid.
Embassy or Consulate Information – Be aware of the location of your embassy or consulate in case you require assistance.
Language Skills – Learning some basic Spanish phrases can be beneficial for communication with locals.
Panama is a beautiful country with much to offer, and with proper precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable visit. By staying informed, respectful of local laws, and aware of your surroundings, you can make the most of your travel experience in this welcoming nation.
Is Panama Safe For Americans ?
There are tons of tourists from all over the world in Panama. Being an American Tourist in Panama does not make it any different. Make sure you stick to the tourist areas and don’t be flashing your belongings around.
Is Panama City safe for tourists ?
The historic Center of Panama City is beautiful and one of the main attractions in the city. Here is where you will find most high-end boutique hotels and restaurants. This is an area completely safe to walk around, make sure you don’t wonder too much outside of the main streets as some dodgy neighborhoods are just around the corner and you might not want to find yourself in the wrong side of town, especially at night.
Traveling inside of Panama can be easily done by Plane, bus or even car rental.
You’ll be surprised how most of the infrastructure in Panama is well developed and organized. Don’t expect American or European standards, but overall you’ll have no problem getting around in Panama.
Panama is a beautiful country with plenty of interesting places to see and explore. We encourage you to visit Panama and make sure you stay safe while traveling to Panama.
How safe is Panama? In our travel scale from 1 / 10 – 1 being the scariest and 10 the safest we rate it at 7. So if you are asking is panama city safe? we can comfortably say that if you stick around to the best areas you will feel pretty safe.
Planning a trip to Panama, learn how to get cheap flights.