Panama is safe for your travel, visit, or living

Asserting that Panama is safe, it’s nonetheless prudent for potential visitors or those considering a move to evaluate safety concerns. The initial impression of travel warnings may be unsettling, yet distinguishing between accurate information and misconceptions is crucial. 

Panama is safe and offers certain locales that are ideal for tourists and expatriates, characterized by a rich cultural tapestry, contemporary facilities, and picturesque nature. For those looking to explore Panama for the first time or considering it as their next living destination, it’s crucial to gather up-to-date information and tips from fellow travellers and expats. 

Panama boasts a variety of environments, from bustling cityscapes to serene beaches and lush rainforests, making it a versatile destination for vacationers and potential residents alike. 

Engaging with local expat communities can provide valuable insights into living in Panama, from finding housing to understanding local laws and customs.

Is Panama safe?

When deliberating on the safety of Panama for travel or residency, it’s essential to consider various factors that contribute to an individual’s sense of security. 

Firstly, Panama’s government is committed to maintaining safety for both locals and tourists, with visible police presence in tourist areas and efforts to improve safety standards. 

Secondly, the healthcare system in Panama is noteworthy, with several hospitals and clinics providing quality care, which is a crucial consideration for expats and travellers alike. 

Lastly, the country’s infrastructure, including transportation and road conditions, generally meets international standards, especially in urban areas, making travel within Panama relatively hassle-free.

Solo Female Travellers

Regarding the safety of solo female travellers, Panama offers a welcoming environment with the right precautions. Like in any destination, it’s recommended to stay in well-populated areas, avoid walking alone at night, and keep personal belongings secure.

Panama Crime

While Panama is a captivating country with much to offer, it’s prudent to stay informed about potential safety concerns. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, is relatively common in tourist areas, so it’s essential to be vigilant with personal possessions. 

Violent crime rates are lower compared to regional averages, but it’s still important to avoid certain areas at night. Scams and fraud can occur, particularly in the form of taxi overcharging or false tour guides, so always verify the credibility of services. The Darien Gap, a remote jungle area bordering Colombia, is advised against for travel due to its harsh terrain and the risk of encountering dangerous groups. 

Lastly, civil unrest and political tensions can arise, so staying updated on local news and avoiding demonstrations is advisable. Most Risk-Prone Areas in Panama City and the country and certain neighborhoods in Panama City especially after dark , such as:

  • El Chorrillo
  • Curundu
  • Santa Ana
  • Remote areas in the Darien Province near the Colombian border.

Health Care in Panama

The healthcare system in Panama stands out for its accessibility and quality, particularly in Panama City and other major urban areas.

Hospitals and clinics are equipped with modern facilities, and many healthcare professionals are bilingual, offering ease of communication for English-speaking expats and travellers.

The healthcare services are a mix of public and private provisions, with private healthcare being the preferred choice for many expats due to shorter waiting times and a higher standard of care. Panama also has a retiree program that includes discounts on medical services for eligible individuals.

Pre-travel Vaccines and Medications

Before traveling to Panama, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare provider about necessary vaccines and medications. Panama has country entry requirements for Yellow Fever vaccinations, especially if you’re coming from a country where the disease is prevalent. Vaccinations against

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Malaria
  • Rabies
  • Measles
  • Influenza

are recommended due to their presence or risk in the region. With the ongoing global situation, ensuring you’re vaccinated against COVID-19 and its variants is also crucial for your safety and that of others.

Safe Food and Water Precautions

In regions like Colon, Chorrera, and Bocas del Toro within Panama, the water quality often falls below standards suitable for human consumption, heightening the risk of travellers’ diarrhoea and Typhoid.

These areas necessitate particular caution regarding hydration and dietary choices to avoid these common travel-related health concerns. It is advisable to opt for bottled or thoroughly purified water and to exercise discernment in the consumption of foods, especially those that are raw or not fully cooked.

Insect Bite Prevention

In Panama’s tropical climate, especially in regions like the Mosquito Gulf, safeguarding against insect bites is vital to avert illnesses such as Chikungunya, American Trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), Dengue, and the Zika virus.

These diseases are predominantly spread through mosquito bites, with a higher risk in areas prone to water accumulation where mosquitoes proliferate. The Mosquito Gulf, known for its humid environment, necessitates extra precautions.

Animal Precautions

Rabies is a risk in Panama, primarily from dogs, bats, and other mammals. Avoiding contact with unfamiliar animals, ensuring pets are vaccinated, and seeking immediate medical advice if bitten or scratched can mitigate the risk of rabies. 

Pre-travel rabies vaccination might be recommended for travellers engaging in activities that increase their risk of animal bites.

Person-to-Person Infections

Awareness and precautions regarding person-to-person infections, such as HIV and AIDS, are important while travelling or living in Panama. Practising safe behaviours, including using protection and avoiding risky activities, is vital for preventing the transmission of these infections.

Insurance in Panama

Securing comprehensive insurance is paramount for anyone considering travel or residency in Panama. Among the recommended insurance services, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Panama stands out for its extensive coverage, including medical, travel, and expat insurance plans. 

Other reputable services also provide a range of options tailored to individual needs, ensuring peace of mind during your stay in Panama.

  1. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Panama
  2. Cigna 
  3. Mapfre

Local Law and Culture

Understanding local laws and cultural norms is paramount when visiting or moving to Panama. This segment will explore key aspects such as entry and exit requirements, the cultural stance on drugs and alcohol, the importance of carrying proof of identity, and considerations for 2SLGBTQI+ travellers. Familiarising yourself with these facets can significantly enhance your experience and ensure compliance with Panamanian regulations.

Entry and Exit Requirements

Navigating through Tocumen International Airport involves adhering to specific entry and exit protocols.


  • A valid passport with at least 3 months’ validity from the date of entry.
  • Proof of onward travel, such as a return ticket or an itinerary for the next destination.
  • Evidence of sufficient funds, typically around $500 or a credit card.
  • A completed health declaration form, if required.


  • Check-in with your airline for any specific requirements.
  • Ensure your passport and any visas are in order for the next destination.
  • Pay any departure taxes if they haven’t been included in your airfare.
  • Pass through immigration and security checkpoints in a timely manner.

Drugs, Alcohol, and Travel

Panama has a vibrant culture that often includes social drinking, particularly during festivals and holidays. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the strict laws regarding drug possession and consumption, which can lead to severe penalties. 

Alcohol consumption is regulated, with specific laws in place during national holidays, such as dry laws (ley seca) prohibiting the sale and public consumption of alcohol during election periods and certain religious observances.

Proof of Identity

In Panama, carrying a form of official identification, such as a passport, temporary or permanent residency card, is essential at all times. 

This is particularly important for expatriates and tourists, as failing to produce valid ID when requested by immigration or other authorities can result in fines or legal issues, especially if overstaying the allowed period of visitation.

2SLGBTQI+ Travellers

While Panamanian society is generally open and welcoming, it’s important to note that the legal recognition of same-sex marriage is not yet established, travellers should be mindful of these legal limitations and the broader cultural context, navigating their interactions with sensitivity and respect towards the local customs and legal frameworks in Panama.

Local Travel Contacts

For many international travellers, the assurance of consular support is a vital safety net while abroad. In Panama, travellers from countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia can access a range of consular services designed to assist in times of need.

These services include emergency assistance, legal advice, and passport services. Additionally, understanding local practices such as the currency used in Panama, which is the Panamanian Balboa and the US Dollar, can enhance your travel experience. Always check the latest travel advisories and consular support available before your trip.

Panama Emergencies

In an emergency, knowing who to call is crucial.

Fire and Rescue Services

  • Panama City: 103 (Fire Department)
  • Boquete: +507 720-2117 (Boquete Fire Department)
  • Coronado: +507 240-6777 (Coronado Fire Brigade)

Medical Emergencies

  • Panama City: 911 (General Emergency Line)
  • Boquete: +507 720-3243 (Boquete Health Clinic)
  • Coronado: +507 240-3033 (San Fernando Coronado Hospital)

Panama Police

  • Panama City: 104 (National Police)
  • Boquete: +507 720-2022 (Boquete Police Station)
  • Coronado: +507 240-3030 (Coronado Police Department)

Embassy and Consular Contacts

For immediate consular assistance:

US Embassy in Panama 

The US Embassy in Panama City offers comprehensive consular services. Located at Ave. Demetrio Basilio Lakas, Building No. 783, Clayton, Panama.

Open Monday to Thursday from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM

Friday from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

Contact: +507 317-5000.

Canadian Embassy

The Canadian Embassy is situated in the World Trade Center, Tower A, 9th Floor, Panama City. It operates from

Monday to Thursday, 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM, and 12:30 PM to 4:00 PM,

Friday from 8:00 AM to 1:30 PM.

Contact: +507 294-2500.

Australian Consulate

The Australian Consulate, headed by an Honorary Consul, is located at Edificio de las Americas, Suite 1901, Calle Ricardo Arias, Campo Alegre, Panama City. Open

Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

Contact: +507 264-1148. 

Australian nationals requiring urgent assistance can call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre at +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas.

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