Panama is one of the newer hotspots for global tourism. While most people actually end up seeing this Central American country from the deck of a cruise ship passing through the canal, there’s a lot more to see and do in this up coming tropical paradise. There are dozens of quiet, little known beaches awaiting exploration on both coasts, excellent fishing off the Pacific coast, islands in the clear Caribbean sea, hiking trails through lush cloud forests, and eco-lodges where guests experience hundreds of exotic birds and other jungle wildlife. Not to mention, Panama also boasts a fine combination of good infrastructure and low prices.
All of the above and more help explain why Panama has become one of the most popular places for ex-pat retirement. Whether you plan on moving to Panama, investing in this growing country, or exploring for a few weeks, here are a few tips on preparing for the trip:
- Learn some Spanish: Learn as much as possible but start with the quick and easy phrases that you will be using the most.
- Become familiar with the history and geography of Panama: No one expects you to take a full scale history course on Panama but it’s always good to know more about the places you visit. General facts about Panama can be found in guide books and various web sites. As for geography, in general, much of Panama is a low lying, hot, and tropical isthmus. The Caribbean side tends to be more humid although anywhere from Panama City to the east is humid enough. There are fairly high mountains in the far west and a low mountain chain in much of the rest of the country. The wilderness area known as the Darien is found in the east and is the only major gap in the Pan-American highway. Several islands are also found off the shores of both coasts.
- Bring a bathing suit: Even if you happen to be in Panama for business, it would be a shame to not take some time off to visit a beautiful beach.
- Pack the sunscreen: Essential for the hot, tropical Panamanian sun.
- Make time for western Panama and Boquete: The area around David and Boquete is quite different from other parts of Panama. There are cooler climates on fairly high mountains, beautiful flower markets, and the chance to see the stunning Resplendent Quetzal.
- Plan a trip to Bocas del Toro: This set of Caribbean islands has become one of Panama’s biggest destinations. Go there and you will immediately see why this beautiful area is so popular.
- Think about staying at the Canopy Tower: Stay at this unique radar station converted into an award winning eco-lodge to watch parrots and other exotic jungle birds fly over the canopy of the Canal Zone rainforests.
- Stock your devices with Panama apps: Enhance your trip to Panama with apps like the Panama Birds Field Guide. This easy to use app will help you learn about and identify many of the beautiful bird species seen while experiencing Panama.
- Be ready and willing to explore: One of the most exciting things about Panama is the abundance of beautiful places awaiting discovery. It has become one of the few places on Earth where you can still find your own, secluded pristine beach, and see monkeys, toucans, and sloths in a capital city.
Enjoy your trip to Panama!