Travel Tips on Panama
From Aventuras Panama
Keep in mind that Panama is a new tourist destination, which has its ups and downs.
Before even booking with us make sure you will be able to depart from your country. You will need a passport with an expiration date of at least 6 months after your arrival date.
On health information I will refer you to the experts, CDC HERE. Tap water in Panama is one of world´s best. Incidence of Malaria, Yellow Fever, etc. is not usual but you might be unlucky so play it safe.
If you wish to make your best out of your experience in Panama book an itinerary as soon as possible before your arrival. Many persons believe that they can get cheaper prices once they arrive. On their arrival these persons will find out that prices were the same or went up (Aventuras Panama usually only provides discounts to groups of 10 or more persons).
Other recurrent mistake from visitors is to procure first logding and transfers, and them contact Aventuras Panama for day trips. Our main business are trips, not lodging and transfers. As a Tour Operator, Aventuras Panamá usually has better pricing on these resources than a normal tourist, and we price them to you at usually your rate or less to procure your business in a tailor made package that includes our activities. If in doubt, compare quoting separately lodging, tranfers, and trips against our quote including the same. It is much easier to work with a single company such as Aventuras Panama, than many others to achieve the same results. Now, if you are using time sharing, or miles, or employee pricing to procure lodging, them keep in mind that you will only be able to do trips that depart from that specific lodge.
Usually, a person travels to visit, or to do something very specific, and not to be lodged in a specific hotel. Therefore, if in doubt, it is important to consult with us if you can do a trip of your choice staying in an specific hotel. Panama is small, but you can not do Chiriqui River Rafting staying in Panama City, unless you flight both ways in the same day. Or a Boquete Tree Trek staying at Baru Lodge(which is in Panama City). Many of desired trips are simple not at reach from all hotels. We invite you to trust us with lodging options, just share with us your expectations on it.
The worst part of not booking an itinerary ahead of time is to find out on arrival that there is not a trip departure on desired date or there is not availability on it. You can secure a trip booking in advance.
Avoid contacting us for quotings or booking during High Season. At this time we are focused on alredary booked trips.
Panama City is simply not a friendly city to drive on. Lack of signals, on going construction projects such as city metro and overpass, trafic jams, and aggresive local driving culture are enough reason to avoid driving on it. Also, taxis tariffs are usually very cheap. All our trips include hotel pick ups within Panama City. Now, if you are going away from Panama City, it could make sense to rent a car. Just find your way from the car rental to the closest highway (Corredor Norte or Corredor Sur which bypass the city), and avoid getting into the city (unless it is a sunday, the only day it make sense to be driving in the City).
If traveling close to Costa Rica in the west, or east as far as Chepo or north by Portobelo or farther make sure you have your passport with you. Many times there are inmigration check points in these areas and you will have a very unpleasant time if you can not show that you are legally in the country. I do recommend to have your passport at all times, even within the city, or at least a color copy of it. Yes you could be a rightfull tourist but if the police is performing security checks on the road, or in a night club you will be entirely at their mercy if you can not show that you are legally in Panama.
Local activities does impact your traveling plans. It is very important to be aware of them ! I had had persons trying to make plans to visit Guna Yala on Carnival with 2 days in advance notice. That is crazy ! Even if there is a place to lodge you, we won´t be able to assist you because we won´t risk it to have you complaining to us that it took you for ever to get there due to trafic jam, and crowds begging for boat rides (domestic plane tickets are usually sold out 2-3 weeks in advance). I also had a group booking for a Mamoni River Rafting that were staying at an hotel that took us an extra hour drive in order to bypass avenues that were closed in a preparation for an Iron Man event. We are not perfect but we surely are more aware on local activities than visitors.
Seasonality also impacts your activities. If you are an outdoor person I do not have to illustrate you about the importance of it. Do not attempt to travel to Panama for the best year river rafting between Feb through Jun. Although there could be some rafting options the river are at their lowest water levels by April-May due to the transition between the Dry Season and the Rainy Season. Fishing, kayaking, biking, hiking, surfing, and about other every outdoor activity have its best and worst season. We will be happy to assist you on it.
Pack the right amount, and class of gear and clothing. If you are going rafting or hiking make sure you have good shoes for it. You can not swim or hike well with flip-flops !
If you find any other travel tip that we should post here we welcome your suggestions. Panama will surprise you, enjoy it !