Map Source: Lonely Planet
Situated at the crossroads of the Americas, Panama is a tropical paradise just begging to be explored. Bordering Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the east, the sparkling Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south, Panama offers something for everyone. Whether you visit Panama for its thrilling adventure sports, world-class eco tourism, pristine virgin beaches, a family day at the Panama Canal, or a chance to experience 18th century architecture with old world culture contrasting with modern luxury (think the newest 5-star Trump Plaza Panama), you’ll find the perfect vacation in Panama.
Ecologically, Panama is one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet boasting an array of different species of mammals, flora, and fauna. Imagine a country slightly smaller than the state of South Carolina yet containing more than 10,000 species of plants, more than 225 species of mammals, 240 species of reptiles, 175 species of amphibians, and nearly 1,000 species of identified birds. Combine that with lush tropical rainforests, pristine rivers, man-made lakes, secluded beaches, mountainous cloud forests, and swampy mangroves; and it’s obvious why Panama is one of the top exotic vacation destinations in the world.
Top 10 Reasons to Visit Panama
- The Panama Canal – while there is so much natural beauty to discover and so many things to and see in Panama in addition to the Canal, no trip to Panama is complete without visiting the Panama Canal. And there are multiple ways to visit the Canal – tour Miraflores Locks Visitors Center, take a Panama Canal Full or Partial Transit Tour, or ride the Panama Canal Railway across the Isthmus and experience the Gatun Locks and Panama Canal Expansion Project Visitors Centers.
- Small and Easy to Visit the Top Attractions – the Panama Canal is only 15 minutes from downtown Panama; the Soberania National Park, boasting one of the most renowned birding trails in the world, is only 30 minutes away; the Pearl Islands boasting turquoise blue waters and white sand beaches are only a short 20-minute flight from Panama City; Boquete in the western highlands of Panama can be reached by a 45 minute flight and short land transfer; and El Valle, a mountain oasis nestled in the crater of an extinct volcano, is less than two hours away by car from Panama City.
- Family Friendly – there’s something for all ages and generations. Climb the tower in “Old Panama,” hike some of the best birding trails in the world, choose from nearly 20 national parks, take a jungle tour to Monkey Island while relaxing at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort, or simply chill out on your own deserted island.
- Convenience and Comfort – Panama is only a two and a half hour direct flight from Miami and multiple US cities now have direct flights. Panama has a first class infrastructure; the US Dollar is the official currency; English is widely spoken; and there are many deluxe and luxury hotels offering the same quality and standards as those in the US.
- Safe and Excellent Sanitary Conditions – Panama City is one of the safest Latin American capitals and the interior of the country is extremely safe. The streets are clean (except Colon) and Panama is the only country in Latin America where you can drink the tap water. Typically Malaria and Yellow Fever are not a concern (unless traveling to the Darien or very select other locations in Panama).
- Inexpensive Exotic Destination – Panama is one of the most affordable exotic destinations in the world. Experience primary rainforest, pristine secluded beaches, and opportunities to see wildlife throughout the entire country. Panama is equally as beautiful as Costa Rica but significantly less expensive.
- World-Class Eco Tourism and Adventure – have the rainforest and your own waterfall to yourself while dining on locally grown organic specialties; climb to Panama’s highest peak atop active Baru Volcano reportedly the only place in the world with a view of two seas; or indulge in white water rafting, mountain biking, zip lining, sailing, diving/snorkeling, surfing, deep sea fishing, golf, kayaking the famed Panama Canal; or simply lounge around on pristine white beaches dotting the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean.
- Ancient Indigenous Cultures – take an epic journey up the Chagres River in a dugout canoe to visit a local Embera indigenous tribe. Learn about their culture and experience their day to day lives. Witness a traditional dance ceremony and take a swim with the local children in the river.
- Culinary Feasts and Pulsating Nightlife – Panama is a melting pot of cultures so culinary delights from around the globe are easily available. World-class casinos, sexy salsa and merengue clubs, and intimate bars with stunning city and water views contribute to one of the best nightlife scenes in the Americas.
- Top-Notch Shopping – Find modern shopping malls and upscale boutiques flaunting the latest styles and designer brands. Local markets and traditional arts and crafts stores can be found throughout Panama City. Plus don’t miss the second largest free-trade zone in the world.