Panama in Central America is a great country to travel around. I spent two weeks in Panama backpacking the country solo travelling from the south to the north. I share the best places for solos below including recommended accommodation and how to get around. Happy planning!

Is Panama Safe For Solo Female Travellers?

Panama is a relatively safe country for solo female travellers but there are areas that you need to take care in. Panama city has the most amazing skyline but areas to avoid in Panama city at night are El Chorillo neighbourhood, and San Felipe neighbourhood (both near the old town). Places that you would feel comfortable here at night are the promenade which attracts families, runners and cyclists.

And Casco Viejo where there is the presence of tourist police. Within the poorer areas you may experience some cat calls from men. As with any country that you travel to, be aware of your surroundings at all times and always keep your belongings close to you.

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Isla Diablo

Travel Tips Panama

  • Use common sense when travelling. Don't leave your belongings unguarded in public places, and always keep an eye on your purse or wallet.
  • Be aware of who you're talking to and what information you share. Panama is a relatively safe country, but it's always best to be cautious.
  • Register with the local embassy or consulate. This way, they'll know you're in the country and can contact you if there is an emergency.
  • Buy a local SIM card – this is a great way to stay connected while traveling through Panama. You can purchase these at any mobile phone store for about $20 USD per month.
  • Make sure that all of your vaccinations are up-to-date before entering Panama as it’s a tropical country.
  • When in a supermarket, you are meant to tip the person who puts your things into bags.

Solo Travel Panama

Solo Travel Panama

Type of Girl about the Globe (GatG) – Island GatG, Nature GatG

Panama is a melting pot of cultures, with people from all over the world living and working together. This makes for an interesting and diverse culture that's worth exploring while you're in the country! One thing to keep in mind when traveling in Panama is that English isn't always widely spoken. Make sure you have a few phrases in Spanish under your belt to help you get by!

In Panama, you’ll find banana plantations, jungle, wildlife, street markets and sun-soaked beaches. The country is ideal for solo travel no matter what type of solo you are. 

  • Adventure GatG – Panama is the country for adventure: sail across treetops on a forest zip wire or try rafting through the many grades of rapids. 
  • Cultural GatG – Visit white sand Caribbean islands of Comarca Kuna Yala and learn the culture of the Kuna people: a huge contrast to the skyscrapers of Panama City.
  • Nature GatG – Take a jungle walk through remote wilderness at Pirre Mountain or if time is on your hands, trek the Camino Real. 
  • Ocean GatG – Dive at Isla Coiba, one of the largest coral reefs in the Pacific Coast or head to Bocas Del Toro instead. 
  • Party GatG – And when you’re adventured out, enjoy the nightlife at Santa Catalina or the Bocas del Toro islands, a popular surfing destination with naso indian villages. 
  • Wildlife GatG – See the toucan and other bird species in Soberania National Park.

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Best Places To Visit in Panama

Panama is the furthest country south in Central America and connects to the continent of South America. More known for its famous Panama canal, the country is actually barely touched by mass tourism. Over a third of its land is protected and the country is great for bird spotting with hundreds of different species including the colourful toucan. Starting in Panama City, I’ve covered all the best places for solos below. heading north through the country. 

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Panama City 

Panama City reminds me of Miami or Surfers Paradise in Australia. It has an amazing skyline with skyscrapers and modernity. But the city isn’t all modern and one of the areas to definitely visit here is Casco Viejo, the city’s old town. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of colourful colonial architecture, museums, churches, plazas and restaurants.

Walk along the waterfront promenade known as the Paseo Las Bóvedas, which offers views of the nearby Causeway Islands, the entrance to the Panama Canal, and ships passing through the Panama Bay.

Head to Plaza de Francia or Plaza Herrera for panoramic views of Panama City's skyline, including the modern skyscrapers of the downtown area and the Pacific Ocean.Or just enjoy a leisurely afternoon at one of the rooftop bars and restaurants. 

One safe place to spend an afternoon or an evening is along the Cinta Costera. This scenic spot that ends in Casco Antiguo (another name for Casco Viejo) has restaurants, bars and pop up shops as well as lovely views of the Panama Canal. You’ll also see people jogging or cycling along it making it a great spot if you need to go for a run.

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There’s the Amador Causeway to explore too. This causeway links the islands of Flamenco, Perico and Naos with restaurants, shops and even clubs. You get a great view of the city’s skyline from here and can see the the entrance to the Panama Canal too!

If you do come to Panama, there’s no doubt that you’ll be visiting the Panama Canal. This man-made waterway connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, making it possible to sail between the two without having to go all the way around South America.

The canal was completed in 1914 and is now a popular tourist destination for people who want to see this engineering marvel firsthand. There’s a museum where you can learn more about the canal’s history and construction and get interactive too. 

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San Blas Islands

If you’re in Panama City, the San Blas islands are only a short hop away. These islands are stunning. I even saw starfish here. Popular for their pristine beaches and cultural significance (you can learn more about the Kuna tribe who live here). These islands have been inhabited by indigenous people since pre-Columbian times and are still home to many Kuna Indians today. The capital city of this area is El Porvenir – which translates as “the future.”

Pearl Islands

Another group of islands are the Pearl Islands off the coast of Panama. These islands are ideal for scuba diving and spotting whales and you can explore these islands on foot or by boat, which makes them perfect if you're interested in exploring nature! You can either fly from Panama City (it takes 15 mins) or take a boat from the Amador Causeway instead. Make sure to visit between November to April. 

Playa Blanca

If you head to the Pacific Coast, Playa Blanca is a beach town on the Pacific coast of Panama near Farallon. It’s known for its swimming and snorkelling spots, and you can take boat tours to neighbouring islands. It’s also home to some great restaurants where you can try local seafood specialities. Or just relax in a beachside hammocks while enjoying breathtaking sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. Bliss…

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Gatum Lake

David

Head to western Panama to the city of David which offers a mix of nature within city life. It's a great starting point for exploring places such as Boquete and Volcán Barú, And you'll find busy markets where you can buy fresh food and local crafts. The city also hosts fun festivals with dancing and music that show off Panama's diverse culture. Plus, there are lots of green spaces and parks nearby where you can hike and see beautiful waterfalls.

Volcano Baru

If you love hiking, nearby David is Panama’s highest peak. Volcán Barú, towers over 11'000 feet above sea level with seven craters and hiking trails. To hike to the top takes about 8 hours round-trip or you’re heading to Boquete, you can get to the top in 90 minutes instead. If you’re there on a clear day, you can see both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean too. 

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Boquete

If you’re seeking somewhere quieter, away from the crowds, Boquete is a lovely little town. It’s located in the Chiriquí Province of Panama, known for its coffee plantations and lush, green landscapes.

I took a coffee tour here to learn more about the coffee process, but you can also zip line here or just soak in the natural hot springs. I loved the feel of this town and wish I could have stayed longer. It’s a great place to visit if you're looking for some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of city life!

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Bocas del Toro 

If you’re into surfing, snorkelling or scuba diving or just want to party on a Panama island, Bocas del Toro is where it’s at. This archipelago off Panama’s Caribbean coast has a laid-back vibe and beaches such as Starfish and Red Frog Beach.

You can hike through the jungle of Isla Bastimentos and take a chocolate tour, venture inside a bat cave, chill out in a hammock on a beautiful island or see dolphins instead! These islands are great for solos as it’s one of the easiest places in Panama to meet people. The main island is Isla Colon, and you take water taxis from here to the other islands. 

Tip – Aqua Lounge on Carenero Island is a water hostel just a two minute ride from Bocas Town. It holds weekly events and is a great place to chill in the day or at night.

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Casco Viejo in Panama City

Where To Stay in Panama

In Panama, you can choose from various places to stay, depending on your budget. Hotels offer a range of options, from budget to luxury, especially in popular areas like Panama City and Bocas del Toro. You’ll find the international chains in the capital city as well as smaller properties.

For budget travellers, hostels provide affordable accommodation with shared kitchens and lounges so you can meet others. Eco-lodges in places like Boquete and Gamboa focus on being environmentally friendly. Or if you prefer a cozy experience, consider staying in a bed and breakfast within the smaller towns.

All the accommodation have been recommended by myself and other solo female travellers from our solo community. * Click here for all other Panama accommodation 

Bocas Del Toro – Aqua Lounge. This bar and hostel is great for solo travellers. It's sociable and holds night events. Plus they have female-only dorms and private rooms too * Check rates and availability: Aqua Lounge

Boquete – Gaia Lodge. This cosy lodge is located near the river and is walking distance to everything. There's a garden to chill out in and a shared kitchen to cook in * Check rates and availability: Gaia Lodge 

David – Hotel Castilla. Located in the town centre, this 3-star hotel is close to the bus station. It's quiet and there's a choice of local and international cuisine. * Check rates and availability: Hotel Castilla 

Panama City – Nomads Republic Hotel. Close to restaurants and shops, you can choose from a room or your own studio apartment. The Wifi is fast too! * Check rates and availability: Nomada Republic Hotel 

Pamana City – Studio Coliving Hotel. With a swimming pool, fitness centre, shared lounge and terrace, this coliving place is the perfect accommodation in the city. * Check rates and availability: Studio Coliving Hotel 

Panama City – Sheraton Grand Panama. If you prefer to stay somewhere with more luxury, this 5-star hotel offers luxury rooms with a view of the Panama Canal. * Check rates and availability: Sheraton Grand 

Santa Fe – La Qhia Eco Retreat. With a garden, terrace, restaurant and bar, this hostel in Santa Fe offers shared dormitory rooms or private rooms for your own space. * Check rates and availability: La Qhia Eco Retreat 

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Best Area To Stay in Panama City

Panama City is quite big so if you’re unsure where to stay, here are my recommendations. 

  • Casco Viejo – often referred to as “old town”, this area has a quaint colonial feel with cobblestone streets and brightly coloured houses. It's also close to the centre of Panama City, so it makes for easy access to all major attractions in the city.
  • El Cangrejo – this neighbourhood is known for its lively nightlife and it's home to many of Panama City's best bars and restaurants. It's close to the financial district.
  • San Francisco – located on an island off of Punta Pacifica Beach, this neighbourhood is known for its vibrant nightlife scene with many bars and clubs. It’s also close to the financial district.
  • El Dorado – If you’re feeling flush, El Dorado (often referred to as “Billionaire Row”) is known for being one of the most expensive areas in Panama City. This is where you’ll find the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower and El Dorado Shopping Mall (which is home to over 350 stores)

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Panama Day Tours

Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated Panama activities and top things to see in Panama. Choose from a day trip to the San Blas Islands, a monkey island and sloth tour, a trip along the Panama Canal or a rainforest and village tour. 

Some of the tours require a minimum of 2 people but there are plenty to book as a solo including day trips and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online. * Check rates and availability for Get Your Guide tours

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Getting Around Panama

Getting around Panama is easy. There are boats to take you to the San Blas Islands and to Bocas del Toro. The country has a good bus system but you may need to change in a hub such as David. The buses are also known for having very cold air conditioning so take a fleece if you are travelling at night (and they may play horror movies onboard). 

Renting a car is a great option if you want to explore Panama at your pace. Keep in mind that driving in Panama can be a bit challenging, so it's best to familiarise yourself with the country's traffic laws before hitting the road.

There is a train line that operates between Panama City and Colón. It's a great way to see some of the country's beautiful scenery, but keep in mind that it can be quite slow moving.

If you're looking for an adventure, then consider traveling through Panama by boat. There are many different options available, including ferries and cruises.

Tip – Use Rome2Rio to help plan your routes and transport options.

Best Time to Visit Panama

The best time to visit Panama depends on what you're looking to do when you’re there. If you want to enjoy the beaches and warm weather, then travelling during the dry season (December to April) are the best months to visit. However, if you're interested in exploring the country's rainforest, then the wet season from May to November may be better as you get to experience lush landscapes and fewer crowds but make sure to take a rain coat for the occasional heavy rainfall. 

On the other hand, if you're looking to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, beach-going, or exploring Panama City without the interruption of rain, the dry season is the best time to visit. The months of December to April are popular for tourism due to the clear skies and sunny weather.

Keep in mind that specific regions within Panama may have slightly different weather patterns, so it's a good idea to research the particular area you plan to visit. Major events and festivals, such as Carnival in February or Semana Santa (Holy Week) in March or April, may influence your decision on when to visit based on whether you want to join in or avoid large crowds.

Panama has a tropical climate so no matter when you visit, be sure to bring plenty of insect repellent, as mosquitoes can be year-round. This weather chart shows the annual weather from January to December to help you to plan your trip. 

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FAQs  

  • Can I drink the water? Yes, it’s safe to drink the water in Panama but you may prefer to take a water filter bottle with you.
  • Is tipping expected? If you like the service you can tip approx 10% at restaurants and on tours. 
  • Fixed price or barter? It’s generally fixed price unless you’re at a market stall where you need to ask the price.
  • Any ATMs? The official currency of Panama is the Balboa (PAB), which has a fixed exchange rate with US dollars at one-to-one. This means that any amount you spend in US dollars will be converted into PABs before being withdrawn from your bank account
  • Which side of the road do they drive? They drive on the right-hand side in Panama.
  • Good for vegetarians? Panama has got better for vegetarians and vegans. You can find more restaurants in Panama City, Bocas Del Toro and Boquete. 
  • Any Seven Wonders of the World? No but the San Blas islands should be!

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