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Articles about Panama

Plaza Bolivar, Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama

Casco Viejo, Panama

Casco Viejo, Panama Casco Viejo—“old quarter”, also called Casco Antiguo or San Felipe—is a neighbourhood in Panama City in Central America that has been inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1997.…

19 Feb 20 · 2 mins read
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Bridge of the Americas at Panama Canal Pacific entrance Panama

Panama City, Panama

Panama City is the capital and largest city of Panama, a country in Central America located on a narrow land mass (Isthmus of Panama) that connects North and South America.

19 Feb 20 · 3 mins read
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Touring Panama

The need to know

Getting around

Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Efficient express bus services go to most towns from Panama city. Most of these regular services have air-conditioning but are otherwise often in poor condition.

Accommodation

In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.

Tour guides

Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.

Geography, Environment, & Weather

Panama is bordering both the Caribbean Sean and the Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. covers a total area of 75,417 square kilometres and has a coastline of 2,490 kilometres.

The climate in Panama is tropical with high temperatures and humidity and not much seasonal variations.

World heritage sites

There are 5 sites in Panama listed on the World Heritage List. You can view the listed properties here: (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/pa). Panama’s listed properties include:

Archaeological Site of Panama Viejo and Historic District of Panama. Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo. Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection

Festivals & Events

Carnival de Las Tablas is the most famous cultural even in Panama, which takes place every year in March. Traditional folk songs and dances are performed and creates a lively and colourful celebration, which symbolizes harmony and togetherness.

The most important cultural event in Panama is the Fiestas Patrias which celebrates the country’s separation from Colombia in 1903 as well as the nation’s Flag Day, making it a particularly patriotic event.

The Panama Jazz Festival is a one of the most important Jazz festivals in the world. It takes place in Panama City every January.

Reading list

Panama History: The Conquest, The Spanish Colony, The War Years, The Society and Its Environment, Ethnic Groups, The Economy, Government
by Uzo Marvin

Modern Panama: From Occupation to Crossroads of the Americas
by Michael L. Conniff and Gene E. Bigler

The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914
by David McCullough

Eating & Drinking

Panama cuisine is influenced by its diverse population. In Panama City, you will find something from every corner of the world, including French, Japanese, Italian, Thai, Middle Eastern, and Chinese food. In regional areas, traditional Panamanian cuisine is a mix of Afro-Caribbean, indigenous, and Spanish cooking influences incorporating a variety of tropical fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Most Panamanian restaurants are casual — diners, beachfront cafes, and roadside fondas (food stands). Panamanian cuisine is based around coconut rice (rice made with coconut milk) and beans, and fried green plantains called patacones. A lot of Panamanian food is fried. Even breakfast is a selection of fried meats and breads. Panamanian food is neither spicy nor heavily seasoned; in fact, salt is often the only seasoning used in many staple dishes. Panama’s most famous drink is seco, a sugar-cane-distilled alcohol produced in Herrera and commonly served with milk and ice. Beer is Panama’s most popular alcoholic drink, and there is a wide variety of national brands – all light pale lagers. Panama is known for its high-quality coffee.

Health & Safety

As of writing, smartraveller.gov.au advises travellers to exercise a high degree of caution when travelling through Panama. Crime is a significant problem in some of Panama’s major cities, so keep your valaubles close and pay attention to your personal security.

Electrical Supply

Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply in Panama runs at 110V and 60Hz. Panama uses the Type A and Type B electric plug types, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.

Panama Tours

Crafted Tours for Mature World Travellers

1 Total
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Guatemala

27 days

Apr, Oct

Journey through Central America: Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Guatemala

Visiting Costa Rica, Guatemala

Join Odyssey Traveller as we go on a 27-day small group journey for mature and senior couples and solo travellers across Central America, exploring the history and diverse scenery of Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Guatemala.

From A$19,700 AUD

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Tour Reviews

Well balanced with city vs country, visits to remote dinosaur sites, town museums, a winery. The hands-on dinosaur dig and fossil preparation live-in at Lake Barraleas was superb and I could have spent more time there as we went out a lot. It was excellent with a great Argentinian team looking after us..

Participant 2017

Argentina Dinosaur dig including Titanosaur small group tours

Accommodation exceeded expectations in most cases.

Participant 2017

Argentina Dinosaur dig including Titanosaur small group tours

We were privileged to go where many tourists could not go but some of that was due to the presence of John Pickrell still we saw more and met more senior paleontologists that I had expected. All museums and other sites were a marvelous experience

Participant 2017

Argentina Dinosaur dig including Titanosaur small group tours

Well balanced, with a great group leader in John Pickrell. He was extremely informative and had great contacts so we saw behind the scenes at museums.We covered a lot of distance but with 2-3 nights in a number of places had plenty of free time to do your own thing.

Participant 2017

Argentina Dinosaur dig including Titanosaur small group tours

All guides were excellent. Each had done a lot of research on dinosaurs before we arrived and had a good sense of what we were after.

Participant 2017

Argentina Dinosaur dig including Titanosaur small group tours

FAQs

What is the time zone?

Panama has a single time zone, Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5). Daylight savings are not observed in Panama.

Is tipping customary in Panama?

If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping is appreciated in Panama, with small tips for hotel staff, tour guides, and servers in upscale restaurants. In restaurants, a tip of around 10% is customary.

What is the internet access like in Panama?

Wifi should be freely accessible in most hotels, cafes and restaurants in urban areas, though connection speeds can vary, particularly in more isolated areas.

Can I use my mobile/cell phone while in Panama?

Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Panama. Many providers will allow you to pay a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.

Responsible travel tips for Panama

  • Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although some locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
  • Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
  • Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
  • Before departing, make sure you have a number of balboa in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.
  • When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
  • Before departing on your trip, contact your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.

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