Safety is the number one priority for any solo female traveler, whether you are an experienced solo traveler or just beginning.
Despite how ugly and scary the world can be, it still offers many safe places for solo female travelers. One of those places is Panama.
According to the Solo Female Travel Safety Index, Panama ranks 1 out of 4 on the index, with one being the safest.
Here are the six safe places where for solo female travelers. These places have been vetted by many other solo travelers, including myself, who lived in Panama for two years.
1. Panama City
The capital of Panama has a familiar Miami vibe that maintains a Latin American charm. Like any metropolitan city, it has a lot to offer.
The city has a relatively low crime rate, but travelers will want to be cautious of pickpocketers.
Besides keeping your belongings close and secure, tourist areas can provide a safe atmosphere. Casco Viejo and ex-pat neighborhoods such as El Cangrejo provide a mixture of tourists and locals.
When I was living in the city, many people were out at night because of the city’s high temperatures during the day. I’ve spent many nights walking in parks and along the Cinta Costera, a pathway along the ocean, and felt safe. No matter the night, I would always be greeted by other locals and tourists enjoying the night air.
Safety tip: It’s best not to walk around with your phone out or in plain sight. If you rely on your phone’s GPS to get around, use headphones with voice navigation. If you need to look at a map to get around, walk into a shop or corner store to pull out your phone and view your maps. By doing these two things, you’ll look less like a tourist and avoid being a target for petty theft.
2. El Valle de Anton
Surrounded by a cloud forest and nestled in the green mountains is a small and charming town in the middle of an extinct volcano.
El Valle de Anton offers travelers a peaceful escape from the busy capital city. It is a place to connect with nature with hiking trails such as Cerro Cara Iguana. There’s also a butterfly house and majestic waterfalls like The Pozos Azul and Chorro El Macho.
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In a town with less than 8,000 people, it’s easy to feel safe, but being aware of your surroundings is still essential.
Safety tip: Biking is a great way to see the town and visit the sites. But, if you leave your bike somewhere, lock it up to avoid it being stolen.
3. Bocas Del Toro
A little piece of paradise that attracts travelers from all over the world, Bocas del Toro is a great place for solo female travelers. Located on the Caribbean side of Panama, the town has laid-back beach vibes that will make you feel welcome when you arrive.
Because it is a place for tourists and local families, Bocas (as it’s often referred to) has strict rules. For instance, being shirtless when walking around town is prohibited.
As it is a requirement to be appropriately clothed, it can invite a sense of security.
Safety tip: While enjoying the white sand beaches, it’s essential not to leave your personal belongings unattended.
Another beach town that can be easily overlooked, Pedasi is a safe, friendly town for solo female travelers.
The town sits on the edge of pristine beaches and offers visitors a chance to explore nature through the lush mangroves that grow along the river. It is excellent for kayaking, fishing, whale watching, and visiting the infamous Iguana Island.
Many international families in the area contribute to Pedai’s welcoming and safe vibe. I enjoyed the friendly vibes when I traveled through this quaint little town.
Walking throughout the city felt safe and comfortable, with color murals painted on various buildings and walls. There are also lovely coffee shops and bakeries to visit.
Safety tip: Reach out to the residents in Pedasi. Most people there will be happy to meet you and lend a helping hand.
5. Playa Venao
A little further up the coast from Pedasi is Playa Veano, a surfer’s paradise. A small town where surfers from all around the world come seeking to ride the perfect wave.
The town has slowly developed over the years; therefore, you won’t find the skyscrapers and commodities you get in Panama City. Instead, you’ll get various restaurants, beach parties, hostels, and hotels within walking distance from the beach.
Playa Venao is far from many major cities, and with fewer people come less crime. The party vibe scene was alive and well when I lived there. Yet, amongst the techno music and dance parties, there was a vibe that everyone was there to have a good time. The biggest threat was the mosquitoes.
Safety tip: While most people are friendly and welcoming, practicing the buddy system when being out at night is always best.
6. Santa Catalina
Panama has two coasts, one on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and one on the Atlantic, which is why another beach town makes this list.
Santa Catalina is known for two things, surfing and scuba diving. But exploring natural habitats, such as Coiba National Park, is another option.
When I solo traveled to Santa Catalina, I felt safe between the mix of locals and foreigners in the area.
Safety tip: Stay at local hostels to meet other travelers to go out in groups with.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com