Do-It-Yourself Tourism

Panama is one of the safest countries in the Americas and Panama City is one of the safest metropolitan cities anywhere. Unlike other places in Latin America, purse-snatching and pick-pocketing are rare. Nevertheless, like anywhere, you should use your common sense: don't flash your Rolex in downtrodden parts of town. It is best to avoid the run-down, slum-looking areas altogether.

One exception to this safety is the Atlantic side city of Colon. Outside of the Colon Free Zone and the Cruise Port can be unsafe.

Getting Around:

By Land

Taxis:
Taxis are cheap. A taxi from the airport is $20 but besides that, you can go anywhere in Panama City for less than $5.

Private Taxi Service:
If your Spanish is not great or you just want to relax and leave everything in capable hands, we recommend you contact Judy of Easy Travel Panama which specializes in personalized ground transportation and sight-seeing service by private taxi. From the minute you touch Panamanian soil, you will have a knowledgeable and English-speaking driver/guide at the Tocumen International airport to receive and assist you. Their rates are very reasonable- for example $25 an hour for your private taxi with an English speaking, knowledgeable guide. An airport pick-up is $40. Easy Travel offers transportation throughout Panama City and other nearby popular destinations. Contact Judy at
Email: easytravel@cwpanama.net
Tel: (507) 6617-4122

If you are a backpacker, Panama is very easy to get around. From the Albrook Terminal you can get a bus to anywhere in Panama and also to Costa Rica. Domestic fares are cheap- the most you'll pay is about $20. Once you come to a town, you can rely on the local minivan buses or taxis to get around. Again, they are cheap. In Bocas for example, most in-town taxi rides are between one to two dollars.

Buses:

You can also get around by bus. At Albrook National Bus Terminal (507) 232-5803) buses leave for each province every half hour. International bus lines: Panaline (507) 314-6383 and Tica Bus (507) 314-6385.

Railroad:
Panama Canal Railway (317-6070) can take you from Panama city to Colon.

By Air

Airport
There is a domestic airport in albrook with two main airlines, Aeroperlas Regional (507) 315-7500
and Air Panama (507) 316-9000) with flights to David, Bocas del Toro, San Blas and more.

Charters

Aero Taxi: (507) 315-7520
Areocharters: (507) 315-0271

Helicopters:
Helipan: (507) 315-1836
Helix: (507) 315-0078

By Sea

Ferrys to islands off the coast of Panama City such as:
Taboga: (507) 314-1730
Contadora: (507) 214-3719

Phone calls

Local calls are 10 cents and the bright blue Cable and Wireless phone booths are everywhere, although some take calling cards only. For international calls, bring an international calling card with you or purchase one at a drugstore here-the rates are cheap-around 10 cents a minute. You can also rent a cell phone with international calling.

Health

Sanitary conditions are excellent in Panama. Even tap water is safe to drink. You won't experience the stomach upsets so common to travel in most Latin American countries. There is no danger of tropical diseases like malaria in the Panama City or in any of the other places commonly frequented by tourists. However if you plan a overnight jungle trek, as a precaution malaria medicine may be advisable. In any case, remember to pick up your free health insurance card for tourists at the airports Tourist Information Center that will cover the costs of accidental medical emergencies throughout the first 30 days of your stay in Panama.

Hospitals:

Centro Medico Nacional: (507) 227-5444
Centro Medico Paitilla (507) 265-8800
Clinica Hospital San Fernando (507) 305-6303

Emergencies:
Police: 104
Fire: 103

Newspapers

The international edition of The Miami Herald is available daily in hotel news stands and drugstores. A good online source of news for visitors is The Panama News.

In Spanish, La Prensa, and El Panama America are the major daily newspapers.

Electricity

110 volts just like in the States.