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Why this underrated Latin American country is perfect for every type of traveler

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The Latin American region is enjoying a tourism boom in recent years, with popular countries like Costa Rica and Mexico experiencing record visitor numbers. However, there are other countries in this area that are a bit slower to rebuild their tourism industry in the post-pandemic climate.

One amazing destination that still flies under the radar among travelers is Panama, a major country that connects North and South America, and of course shows off the world famous Panama Canal along the way.

Beach view in panama

While Panama isn’t exactly a secret, it is still overlooked by many and remains quite underrated as a vacation destination. However, this is likely to change in the near future as it is becoming increasingly connected to more major cities in the US with direct flights, not to mention gaining more recognition, especially with ecotourism and surf tourism.

The reality is that Panama is really expanding its hotel sector, and the country is preparing for its moment in the spotlight. Therefore, it is better to arrive early to experience it when the country is still authentic and bargains can still be found.

Panama meets all the requirements for all types of visitors. It is safe and beautiful, the country is easy to navigate, it is full of culture and nature, and it offers something unique for everyone, no matter what they are looking for.

@katelyn_roth Replying to @blahblah1231231 ♬ original sound – KristyLee

Here’s why Panama is perfect for every type of traveler:

The culture seeker:

With a location that bridges two continents and sits at one of the world’s most important commercial crossroads, it’s easy to understand that Panama is a melting pot of cultures.

Although it is a Central American country, Panama also shows great influence from South American, Caribbean, North American, American Indian, Spanish and African cultures.

A visit to Panama City will put you in the middle of a cultural crossroads, including one of the oldest and largest Chinese communities in Latin America.

Of course, a visit to Panama is not complete without witnessing the wonder that is the Panama Canal, and the Miraflores Visitor Center is the popular choice and can be easily reached from the city by public transport or tour.

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A cargo ship entering the Miraflores locks at the Panama Canal in Panama

The Bougie on a budget commuter:

While Panama isn’t the cheapest destination in Latin America, it’s still easy to visit on a budget. Even in the trendy Casco Viejo of Panama City, you can find cheap hostels and apartments, and transportation is extremely cheap.

Uber is very low-cost, and if you stick to local and street foods, it’s easy to not break the bank for dinner. Tip: Casco Viejo has no end of rooftop bars to enjoy the views; head to one of the lower priced ones (like a hostel) for cheap drinks.

Getting to the other areas of Boquete and Bocas del Toro can be done on long bus rides for those on a budget, although if you’re careful with prices, you can get cheap flights.

One area that could be a splurge is the stunning San Blas Islands (Guna Yala), so be sure to do a lot of research to find out how to save costs here if necessary.

@lilmsawkward I was expecting to spend a lot more so I’m happy with my breakdown lol. This is a complete breakdown of how much a trip to Panama City Panama cost me. I wouldn’t say this was a budget trip for me, plus traveling solo can be a bit more expensive. The monkey island tour, salsa lessons, and cooking class were booked on Airbnb. San Blas Tour with Panama Heavens. Comment a question and I’ll answer you. Should I make more of these? #cost breakdown #travelcostbreakdown #travel budget #justtravel ♬ The sun shines – Bob Marley

The nature lover:

With a neighbor to the north as famous as Costa Rica, it makes sense that Panama is also full of nature to marvel at. More than sixty percent of Panama is covered in forests, more than any other country in Latin America, and the city even has a rainforest and Natural Park just a stone’s throw away.

Many visitors (myself included) have said they saw more wildlife in Panama than in Costa Rica, and for a fraction of the cost. The country has sixteen national parks, each offering stunning views and abundant wildlife, with tropical forests and tropical reefs to explore.

Hikers love to head to Boquete, the small coffee town nestled in the mountains, popular with expats and retirees. But be careful on the trails, as there have been some notorious incidents here in the past.

Aerial view of the Panama Canal, Panama, Central America

The lonely traveler:

As one of the safest countries in Latin America, Panama is an excellent choice for female solo travelers. Almost everyone is fluent in English, and ride-sharing apps are readily available and dirt cheap.

Public transportation is easy to navigate, and the Panama City subway is surprisingly modern and safe. Getting around the country is easy thanks to buses or night flights, and you’ll see plenty of other solo travelers in the hubs of Bocas del Toro, Boquete, and Panama City.

Keep in mind that Panama City has many areas that you shouldn’t venture into, although it’s unlikely that any tourist would actually do so. Stick to the beaten path here in places like Casco Viejo and you’ll be fine, but don’t be alarmed by all the armed guards patrolling the area.

Of course, there are areas of the country that are off-limits, including the Darien Gap, which is an important and very treacherous area in the south of the country. This is where hundreds of thousands of immigrants make a treacherous journey on their way to America, and no average tourist would go here anyway, so be careful.

@stays For my solo outdoor traveling foodies going to Panama 🥰🇵🇦 #Panama #justtravel #blacktravelblogger #blacktrips #travellersolofemale ♬ Sunday Vibes – Blessings and MEDICINE

The beach bum:

The long, S-shaped isthmus of Panama is a world-famous example of what happens when two large marine environments are separated by a fairly narrow piece of land.

With the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific to the south, Panama has its fair share of beaches. With a total coastline of almost 3,000 kilometers, those seeking beaches are spoiled for choice.

Just outside of Panama City, you can take a day trip to the charming island of Taboga or stay closer to the city at one of the many beaches and watch the tankers arrive, waiting their turn to enter the canal.

True beach lovers know that paradise is a little further from the city and can be found on the otherworldly San Blas Islands (also known as Guna Yala). This archipelago is located in the Caribbean Sea and is made up of small islands scattered among 400 km of crystalline waters. Getting to San Blas is a bit difficult, but it is well worth it. Many opt for a multi-day sailing trip en route to Colombia.

friends swimming in panama

Another famous beach destination is Bocas del Toro, in the north of the country, just across the border with Costa Rica. A popular backpacker destination, Bocas del Toro is a small part of the mainland with an archipelago of many islands, most of which can be visited via small water taxis.

While the main town of Bocas can be a bit congested, spread out and hit other small islands and you are much more likely to fall in love with Bocas. Starfish Beach and Playa Bluff are popular spots to spend the day, but venturing further afield will result in more nature and fewer crowds.

The Pacific side of Panama also has some wonderful beaches, some more suitable for surfing and others for swimming. Santa Clara and Farallón are good options and are a 3-hour drive from Panama City.

Coiba beach in Panama, Central America

The first timer:

Panama is an ideal choice for travelers looking to immerse themselves in the waters of Latin America and may feel a bit intimidated by all the diverse and amazing options.

The official currency in Panama is the USD, and almost everyone speaks English, which makes it easier than in other countries in the region for the first-time traveler.

The ride-sharing apps are easy to use and help navigate the big city, and the rest of the country is well laid out for a tourist route, so chances are you’ll be surrounded by others in case you’re feeling a little off. overwhelmed.

While the country of Panama is safe, of course, no place is perfect, so remember normal precautions apply and keep that in mind when traveling across the country.

old town casco viejo panama

traveler alert: Don’t forget travel insurance for your next trip!

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com