Panama is famous for its 48-mile (about 77-kilometer) canal that links the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. But Panama is not only about this engineering marvel; it is much more than that for travelers.
This Central American country is an amazing blend of hip city life and jungles with abundant wildlife. The contrast is glaring and worth touring.
Reaching Panama is easy, and its plethora of experiences make it one of the most attractive tourism destinations in the world. Vacationers can enjoy the experience of two different oceans in just a matter of a few days along with mountains and rainforests. If you’re planning to visit, along with plane tickets and hotel reservations, be sure to purchase travel medical insurance or travel insurance to stay covered in case of any unexpected emergencies.
Panama Travel Insurance and Entry Requirements
Panama currently only requires medical insurance for those on a digital nomad visa. Tourists are not legally required to have travel insurance, but it is strongly recommended.
Panama is open to visitors from all countries, regardless of COVID vaccination status. Those who are fully vaccinated (at least 14 days after final dose) by a WHO, MA, or FDA-approved vaccine are not required to present a negative COVID-19 test so long as they can provide digital or physical proof of vaccination status.
Those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated must present a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR or rapid antigen test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Panama.
If you cannot present this test, you will be required to take a rapid antigen test at the airport at your expense (cost of $50). If you test positive, you will be required to enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine at your expense.
Travelers 17 years of age and younger are exempt from the testing and vaccination requirements if they are accompanied by an adult.
You must present a completed Electronic Health Affidavit to the airline or carrier prior to boarding for Panama.
Things to Do for Travelers in Panama
Panama is a fascinating amalgamation of culture, modernity, and serenity. There are several reasons why you must visit this country at least once in your lifetime, and after that, you won’t be able to stop yourself from visiting again.
Here are the top experiences you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Panama:
- Explore Panama Canal on foot, or sail through it: This canal is a prime example of engineering brilliance. It stretches through the center of the country and was designed as a shortcut shipping route. You can see the Panama Canal from three main places: Gatun Locks, Miraflores Locks, and Pedro Miguel Locks. Miraflores Locks is closest to Panama City, and you can visit a museum to learn about the canal’s history and how it works. The museum plays a 20-minute-long film about the Panama Canal, don’t forget to watch it.
- Whale watching at Coiba National Park: The only word to describe the Coiba National Park in the Gulf of Chiriqui province is “paradise”. From white sand beaches and sparkling clear waters to palm trees fringing the coastline, everything about this park is dreamy. The most intriguing part of the region is not what is above the water, but what you might encounter below it. This national park is a hotspot for humpback whales, whale sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, and hundreds of other marine species.
- Watersports in Isla Taboga: It is Panama’s favorite spot for its sandy beaches and water sports. You can ride jet skis, speed boats, and take chartered fishing trips. The second-oldest church in the Western Hemisphere is located in the Isla Taboga, and you can get a great view of Panama City from the top of the island.
- Hike to Sendero Los Quetzales: It is one of the most amazing trails in Panama. The 5-mile (about 8-kilometer) route starts from the east of the town of Cerro Punto, and it takes between 4–7 hours to hike through it. The hiking trail moves through the Parque Nacional Volcán Barú cloud forest and follows the Caldera River, crossing it several times along the route. The trail ends in the mountain above the town of Boquete. The trail is not well marked; therefore, hire a guide or join an organized tour to stay safe.
- Relax on the San Blas Island: If you want to experience and explore the rich culture of Panama’s indigenous people, the Kuna, then you must visit this island. The Kuna tribal people are protective of this place and consider it as their own, but they are open to welcoming visitors. Members of the tribe are stationed at strategic locations, and for a nominal fee, they allow visitors to stay on the island for the day.
Travel Risks for International Travelers in Panama
Traveling is supposed to be stress-free, but going to a new country may expose you to unseen dangers. Although Panama is a safe country, muggings and petty crimes are prevalent. Here are some frequent risks visitors are exposed to in Panama:
- Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and rabies are health risks in the country. Hence, it is highly recommended to get vaccinated before your trip.
- Adventure activities such as hiking, trekking, scuba diving, deep-sea diving may lead to mishaps. Hire experienced guides from reputable agencies to stay under safe supervision.
- Avoid being anywhere near public demonstrations and follow instructions of local authorities to stay safe.
- Severe tropical storms, floods, or earthquakes sometimes have been known to strike the country. Natural calamities can result in canceled flights or trip cancellations.
- Some local tour agencies may try to dupe unsuspecting travelers. Try to deal only with reputable agencies. Put in the research beforehand to get a feel for their reputation.
Panama Travel Medical Insurance for International Travelers – FAQs
The healthcare system in Panama is quite efficient and less expensive than in European countries. But if you need sudden medical care during a holiday, you will have to pay upfront, and the cost of treatment could still overwhelm you. Travel medical insurance coverage can ensure your peace of mind during your vacation.
Do I need travel medical insurance for Panama?
Until 2011, tourists could access free medical care in Panama. But many tourists were taking advantage of it by getting costly procedures done here for free. So, the Panamanian government has revoked this facility.
Visitors aren’t legally required to have travel insurance before they enter the country, but as wise men say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Why buy travel medical insurance for Panama?
Accidental injuries and illnesses are always possible risks when you travel to Panama. Travel insurance will ensure that you will not have to bear too many financial losses for the risks you may face in Panama.
When you buy travel medical insurance, you will be able to enjoy a hassle-free trip.
Panama Trip Cancellation Insurance for International Travelers - FAQs
Trip or flight cancellations in Panama can happen due to natural calamities, unethical travel agencies, or curfews, all of which are beyond your control.
So, when you buy trip cancellation insurance, you won’t have to worry about financial losses—even if you are not the one cancelling the trip.
Why buy trip cancellation insurance for Panama?
Trip cancellation is an unforeseen situation, but travelers could still face the financial loss of their prepaid, non-refundable expenses for things like airfare and hotel reservations. You can recover these losses and some of the frustrations of trip cancellation by buying trip cancellation insurance.
Trip cancellation insurance will help reimburse these costs if you have to cancel your trip for one of the reasons explicitly listed in the policy’s certificate wording. Before purchasing, read the fine print of your plan so you know what you’re buying.
What all is covered under travel insurance for Panama?
Travel insurance in Panama covers situations like:
- Medical evacuation
- Loss of baggage and important documents
- Cashless treatment during a medical emergency
- Trip cancellation or delays
When you buy travel insurance, you are more likely to enjoy a peaceful vacation.
Before You Travel to Panama - Do This
Buy comprehensive travel insurance for yourself and your family members. Enter some basic information about the travelers and your trip, compare a variety of options, and select the one that best fits your needs.
Make copies of all your documents and keep them in a safe, secure location during your time abroad.
Pack sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and a good pair of walking shoes.