5 reasons to visit Panama
The Panama Papers have revealed all kinds of murky financial corruption among the global elite. But don’t let that sully your opinion of this captivating little country. Here are five fabulous reasons to visit.
There are few places better for lovers of the great outdoors
It’s difficult to know where to start in Panama. Along the 2,000 or so miles of coastline, you will find some of most gorgeous white-sanded beaches in the world – many of them deserted, giving you your own private tropical paradise. And of course where there are beaches, there is sea. Panama is a hotspot for snorkeling, diving, sailing, kayaking – oh and you can surf some of the most famous breaks in Central America.
Then there are tropical rainforests to explore, bursting with exotic wildlife and lush flora. What better way to take it in than ziplining above the forest canopy? Or head into the mountains and take in the expansive coffee plantations – home to some of the best coffee growers in the world. Stop for a tour and learn about how the world’s best-loved drink goes from bean to beverage. Or stomp along one of the stunning alpine hiking trails before taking on the rapids with some white water rafting. Adventure is never far away in Panama.
Warm (really warm) weather
If you love the feeling of the sun on your back, let’s just say you won’t be left wanting in Panama. In this tropical climate the mercury typically camps around the low 80s region, though don’t be too surprised if the temperature soars into the 90s during your stay.
A cosmopolitan urban hub
Panama might be famous for its canal, but the capital city is anything but a backwater. In fact Panama City is a thrumming hub of skyscrapers, shops and world class restaurants – with the technological infrastructure (read: high-speed internet) to boot. Looking for something more authentic? Head for the Spanish colonial architecture, narrow streets and pretty little coffee outlets and markets of Casco Viejo – the old town.
Whichever direction you head in, Panama is a friendly and cosmopolitan place to be, with many different cultures (and languages) walking the streets. In fact Panama City stakes a viable claim as one of Central America’s most cosmopolitan urban centres. But English is a second language here and is widely spoken by the locals. The currency is the US Dollar and prices are incredibly affordable.
The culture shock
Panama City might have the infrastructure to rival most western hubs, but you don’t need to travel far from the city to experience an entirely different way of life. Panama is home to seven indigenous tribes, each with their own sovereign territory where they preserve their timeless cultures. They are extremely welcoming to mindful visitors – especially the Embera and the Guna. Don’t be surprised if you wind up being treated to performances of traditional dance and music. And in a move that demonstrates an admirable grasp of commercialism, you can buy handcrafted souvenirs too.
It’s almost impossible to write about Panama without referring to the canal. There’s a reason it’s cited as one of the world’s greatest feats of engineering. It’s 48 miles long and took 17 years to build. Enough rubble was excavated to go around the world four times. And by damming the Chagres River an area the size of Barbados was flooded. (The result is Gatun Lake, which is a beautiful place to visit.) Yep, that’s some feat of engineering alright. And it’s slashed the time it takes for cruise liners and 80,000 tonne freighters to travel from the east side of the Americas to the west side (and vice versa) – crucially removing the need to make the long and dangerous journey around Cape Horn. You can learn about the construction of the canal and watch as some of the world’s largest ships pass through at Miraflores Lock Visitor Centre or the newly constructed Panama Canal Expansion Observation Centre.
What are you waiting for?
Panama may not be on every travel lover’s bucket list, but that makes this secret of Central America even more worth the journey. Where else can you visit an indigenous tribe in the morning, go snorkelling in clear turquoise waters in the afternoon and feast on world class cuisine in the evening? Sounds fantastic to us! Just don't go without us! We provide travel insurance cover for all kinds of adventurous holidays and can cover your snorkeling, surfing or sightseeing trip - even if you have a medical conditions.