Panama

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Panama Money-Saving Tips

Sample Comida Corriente

Save cash nationwide by opting for comida corriente (set meals), which generally cost less than $5.

Fly around

You can get almost anywhere by bus, but if your time is limited take advantage of regional airlines like Aeroperlas to save yourself a few days of travel time.

Rainy day

Even during the dry season it’s not a bad idea to pack waterproof shoes and a rain coat. There’s always a chance of a light sprinkle.

Land-sea combo

Consider a cruise. Panama City and the Canal are both major cruise ship ports, making it easy to pair a trip to Panama with a trip to the Caribbean, Mexico, or South America.

Come decirlo?

Locals appreciate foreigners who attempt Spanish, but years of U.S. control of the canal has given Panamanians some of the best English skills in Latin America.

Heat wave

Combat scorching temperatures year-round with sun block, breathable clothing, and sandals. Don’t forget to drink lots of water to avoid dehydration.

Panamanian time

Expect tardiness – it’s not uncommon for guests or tour guides to show up thirty minutes to an hour late. The bus is also far from on time and "two-hour" tours frequently take four hours.

Small change

Although credit cards and $20 bills are standard use in Panama City, unless you have small change, your scratch may be worthless in the provinces.

Currency

The Balboa is the Panamanian Dollar, but it hasn’t been printed since 1941 when the country started using the US dollar. They still mint their own coins, but they are used interchangeably with their U.S. equivalents.

Carnaval

Tens of thousands of people crowd the streets at key parties around the country during Carnaval. Try Panama City for reggaetón, parades, and heavy drinking. For a traditional Catholic fest, visit Las Tablas.

Baseball

In January, when the last vestiges of the rain season have disappeared, baseball games occur throughout the country. Grab a seat, a dog, and enjoy.

Traditional cuisine

Ropa Vieja, one of Panama’s most traditional dishes, is shredded flank steak served with rice in a tomato-based sauce.

Museum of biodiversity

The Frank O. Gehry designed Bridge of Life (aka Museum of Biodiversity) will become a window into Panama’s rich natural life when it opens steps from the canal at the end of 2008.

Devilish entertainment

Portobelo’s “Diablos and Congos” Festival in late February is a landmark festival of Panama’s Cimarrones - West African slaves who ran into the bush to set up new villages - and features congo dancing, devil costumes, and cultural workshops.

Duty-free

All of Panama isn’t duty free, but certain areas are, including the Tocumen airport, the area around the city of Colon, and cruise ship terminals.

Splurge for Less

Travelers who fantasize about Tahiti should investigate Panamanian resorts like the Coral Lodge in the San Blas Islands. The property's over-the-water bungalows recall the South Pacific at about two-thirds the price and a quarter of the distance for American travelers.

Molas

Complex reverse appliqué embroidery called molas are hand-stitched by Kuna women, and are among the country’s most memorable crafts. Find them in artisan markets throughout Panama.

Travel in the Sweet Spot

Apart from holiday times when the entire country seems full, the shoulder season months of December and April offer the best of both worlds: nice weather, lower prices, and a lack of crowds. For even better prices, consider traveling during October through November; visitors who can endure thunderous spurts of rain in the afternoon and early morning will find empty beaches, hotel bargains, and the same humid temperatures as the rest of the year.

Compare Rates to Panama






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