10. Panama is Inexpensive: Do More With Less
Because tourism is just beginning, prices are still modest and your money will go a long way. Panama was the first Latin American dollarized economy making currency matters easily handled. You'll get superior and personalized service at a lower cost. Panama's inflation has historically been very low and the cost of living is definitely inferior to the U.S.A., Canada and any country in Western Europe but the quality of life is absolutely superior. After visiting Panama you might even want to stay living here!
9. Panama is Tourist Friendly: WELCOME!!!
Since prehistoric times Panama has been a country of transit. Panamanians have been working close to foreigners for centuries. There is a long tradition of service to foreigners as an international crossroads and many people speak English as a second language. Panamanian people are amongst the friendliest in the world. They are known for their peaceful, get-along and fun loving nature.
8. Panama is Close: Easily Accessible Through Direct Flights
As most countries in Central America, Panama is just a short plane ride away. 15 major US cities offer direct daily flights to Panama City: Los Angeles, New York, Newark, Washington, Denver, Boston, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Worth, Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta and Orlando. Try United, Copa Airlines, Delta, American Airlines or Spirit Airlines. AirPanama has direct flights from San José, Costa Rica to David (30 minutes from Boquete) and Nature Air flies from San José to Bocas del Toro in case you want to skip flying to Panama City or if there is not any airline offering direct flights from your city to Panama. You can also fly from Europe via Madrid with Iberia, from Barcelona with Avior Airlines, from Amsterdam with KLM, from Frankfurt with Condor, from Paris with Air France, from Lisbon with TAP Portugal and rumors are that direct non stop flights will be also offered from London in the near future. From Europe you can also fly to Panama via the USA. Kayak is a good tool to find the cheapest flights to Panama from anywhere in the world. For more info about international and domestic flights in Panama go to our useful info section about Airlines in Panama.
7. Panama has 1st World Infrastructure
Panama has a sophisticated service-based economy, the second largest Free Trade Zone in the world, a banking sector with over 100 banks and many international corporations have their Latin American headquarters in Panama. The Panama Canal's expansion is one of the region's most ambitious projects and real estate and the tourism industry are booming. The highway and road infrastructure, hospitals and medical care, telecommunications and business services are excellent-comparable to the USA as noted in the ARRP's Modern Maturity magazine.
In Panama you can drink water from the tap and have a high speed internet almost anywhere in the country. Panama has one of Latin America's most exemplary and stable democracies. First rate hotels, restaurants and shopping on par with the United States but conveniently priced with Panamanian values.
6. Panama is Safe: Forget About Crime and Natural Disasters
Panama is one of the safest countries in Latin America for tourists and for residence. In fact, it is one of the safest tourist destinations anywhere. For this reason, dozens of multinational companies are changing their Latin American headquarters to Panama. More than 100 multinational companies have offices in Panama, including: Dell, Hewlett Packard, Procter & Gamble, Coca Cola, FedEx, United Airlines, PriceSmart, Citibank, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, Radisson, 3M, AES, Avaya, Caterpillar, Homewatch CareGivers, Johns Hopkins International Medicine, Telefonica, Sumitomo, Itochu, Mitsui, Sony, Matsushita, HSBC, Cable & Wireless, Harcrow, Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Nestlé, Roche, Peugeot, Western Union and Thunderbird. Ask any foreign resident and they'll tell you how safe they feel living in Panama compared to any other country in Central America.
Unlike other countries, taxi drivers are honest and purse-snatching and pick pocketing are rare. No express kidnappings or mafia/drug related crimes. But this does not mean that you can be foolish: take care of your personal belongings and do not be careless with your safety. In Panama we say, "la ocasión hace al ladrón"; something similar to temptation makes the thieve.
In Panama you're also safe from natural disasters. Panama is the only hurricane-free zone in Central America and the only country with non destructive earthquakes that unfortunately hit our neighbors.
5. Panama's History is Alive and All Around You
In Panama, history is not restricted to museums. It is all around you. In a stroll down the cobblestone streets of Casco Antiguo, past ornate seventeenth-century cathedrals. In the majestic ruins of old Spanish forts laid siege to by English pirates. In the proud, vibrant cultures and independent comarcas of our seven indigenous Amerindian tribes. In the thriving and lush tropical rainforests, virtually unchanged since the dawn of time. In the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal. And in the cultural and culinary legacy left by those who came to build it.
4. Experience Wildlife Up Close: Uncrowded Nature Observation
Come nose to nose with a red-naped tamarin monkey or a trio of colorful toucans. In Panama, you'll experience nature up close. Panama's expansive, tropical rainforests are among the richest and most complex ecosystems on the planet. Not surprisingly, Panama is home to the greatest number of animal species in the world. That includes 954 unique bird species and over 1,500 kinds of butterflies. Plus an astonishing number of mammals and reptiles. All of which makes Panama an eco-paradise for you. Spend the night in a treetop lodge in the heart of the rainforest. Discover a Resplendent Quetzal in Chiriqui's highlands. Explore the rugged wilderness of Parque Nacional Darién with a guide, and perhaps catch a glimpse of a jaguar. Or search for exciting finds along a coastal preserve.
3. Paradise Between Seas: Wide Selection of Islands & Beaches
Panama offers a sea of enticing choices: two beautiful oceans to explore. Will you swim in the blue waters of the Pacific? Or in the clear turquoise of the Caribbean? Wherever you go in Panama, you're never far from the water. Or a new adventure. Explore our tropical coastlines, with their gentle breezes and endless stretches of beautiful white or volcanic sandy beaches, perfect for sunbathing. Seclude yourself in a coral cay. Or discover the lovely, unhurried world of our three archipelagos: Las Perlas, Bocas del Toro or Kuna Yala. Head outdoors for snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, deep-sea fishing, rafting, kayaking and more. And when the sun goes down, relax over a delicious Panamanian dinner. Or sample our impressive array of international cuisines.
2. Ecotourism & Adventure: Exciting and Unique Active Pursuits
Panama is the natural bridge that unites the Americas and because of its unique geographical position it has the greatest diversity of wildlife in Central America. Flora and fauna historically endemic to South and North America have mixed and evolved over time in Panama (which literally meaning abundance of), resulting in tremendous bio-diversity.
Almost 1/3 of this natural link is covered by National Parks. There are said to be over 10,000 varieties of plants and 1500 species of trees, and more than 1,000 species of birds. This is more than can be found in North America and Europe combined, and it includes some of the rarest on Earth. There are also 220 mammals and 354 reptiles and amphibians.
There is a saying that in Costa Rica, there are 20 tourists to look at one bird, while in Panama there are 20 birds for one tourist to look at. There is much truth to this.
In Panama you can hike eco-trails, zip line in the rain and cloud forest, relax in hot springs, raft in class IV-V rivers, do rock climbing on natural walls, go on coffee tours, visit indigenous communities, do canyoning and rappelling, go scuba diving or snorkeling, do incredible surfing and much more.
Panama has not one, but 7 Indigenous groups. Each of them has preserved its own fascinating lifestyle. Many live in accessible locations and are happy to share their life and culture with visitors.
1. Panama is a Happy Country: Come and Be Happy!
The Central American country of Panama makes the top five, according to a study published measuring people's happiness and their impact on the environment. Vanuatu, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica and Panama complete the top five in the Happy Planet Index, compiled by the British think-tank New Economics Foundation (NEF). For comparison, the U.S. came in at #150, and the U.K. at #108!
The Happy Planet Index combines life satisfaction, life expectancy and environmental footprint. It measures the amount of land required to sustain the population and absorb its energy consumption or in other words it represents the efficiency with which countries convert the earth's finite resources into well-being experienced by their citizens.