How Much Does It Cost To Visit Panama?

Discover the cost of traveling to Panama with our comprehensive guide.
Panama City Beach
Photo by Ruvim Miksanskiy on Pexels

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If you’re looking for a vibrant travel destination that offers adventure, relaxation, stunning landscapes, and cultural experiences, then Panama should definitely be on your list. As with any travel plans, one of the first things you’ll want to know is how much money you should budget for your trip. In this article, we’ll explore the various aspects of travel costs to Panama, from flights to accommodations to daily expenses, to help you plan your budget and make the most of your trip.

Understanding the Costs of Traveling to Panama

If you’re looking for a travel destination that offers adventure, stunning natural beauty, and rich cultural experiences, Panama is an excellent choice. With its tropical climate, beautiful beaches, and vibrant cities, Panama has something to offer every traveler. However, before you pack your bags and head to this Central American country, it’s essential to understand the costs of traveling to Panama.

Before we dive into the specifics of travel costs in Panama, let’s take a big-picture look at what will be included in your travel budget.

First and foremost, you’ll need to consider the cost of your flights to and from Panama. Then, you’ll need to calculate the cost of your accommodations, transportation within the country, daily expenses such as food, sightseeing, and activities, and souvenirs. You should also set aside some extra money for unexpected expenses and emergencies.

While Panama may not be the cheapest travel destination in Central America, it is easily accessible from the United States and has a range of options for travelers on all budgets. With careful planning and smart travel choices, you can enjoy a fantastic trip to Panama without breaking the bank.

Flight Costs

The cost of your flights will likely be the biggest expense in your travel budget. The cost of flights will vary greatly depending on your departure point, travel dates, and airline choice. On average, you can expect to pay around $500-$700 for round-trip flights to Panama from major U.S. cities. For international travelers, flights may be more expensive, with prices ranging from $700 to $1,000 or more depending on your origin city.

If you’re flexible with your travel dates, you can often find cheaper deals by booking your flights in advance or travel during the off-peak season. Also, you might be able to save some money by booking your flight through a third-party travel website that offers discounted rates.

Accommodation Options and Prices

The cost of your accommodations will depend largely on the type of traveler you are and the level of comfort you’re looking for. Panama offers a variety of options for every budget.

If you’re looking for budget-friendly options, hostels and guesthouses are a great option and can cost as little as $10-$15 per night. Mid-range travelers can stay in budget hotels or apartments, which will cost around $40-$60 per night. For those seeking luxury accommodations, there are plenty of fancy resorts that offer all the amenities, which can cost over $100 per night.

When selecting your accommodations, consider factors such as location, amenities, and reviews from other travelers. Many hostels and guesthouses offer free breakfast and have a communal kitchen where you can prepare your own meals, which can help cut down on food expenses during your trip.

Transportation Expenses

Getting around Panama is relatively cheap and easy. Taxis and buses are readily available and offer affordable transportation options. For short distances, taxis typically cost around $2-$3 per ride. For longer trips, buses are a good option. You can take the local bus, which is called a “diablo rojo” and is a colorful, converted school bus. These buses are very cheap and typically cost less than $1 per ride. Alternatively, you can take a regular bus or shuttle that runs between major cities, which cost around $15-$20 for a one-way ticket.

For those who want to explore more of the country’s natural beauty, renting a car is an option, but it’s more expensive. You can expect to pay around $30-$40 per day plus gas and insurance.

Visa and Entry Requirements

Visitors from the United States and many other countries do not need a visa to enter Panama for short stays. You will need a valid passport, and the length of your stay will be determined at the border when you enter the country. Visas are required for longer stays, so be sure to check the Panama immigration website for the latest visa requirements.

When planning your trip to Panama, it’s essential to factor in all the costs associated with travel. By doing so, you can create a realistic budget and avoid any unpleasant surprises during your trip. With its stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture, and affordable travel options, Panama is an excellent choice for your next adventure.

Daily Expenses in Panama

Once you’ve taken care of your transportation and accommodation costs, you’ll need to think about your daily expenses while you’re in Panama. Here are some helpful tips for budgeting for your trip.

Food and Dining Costs

One of the great things about Panama is the wide variety of food options available. From fresh seafood to traditional Panamanian dishes, there’s something for everyone.

If you’re on a tight budget, street food is an affordable and delicious option. Empanadas, tamales, and fried plantains are popular street food items that cost only a few dollars. For a sit-down meal at a local restaurant, you can expect to pay around $10-$15 for a main dish. If you’re looking for more upscale dining options, prices can range from $30-$50 per person or more.

But food in Panama is not just about affordability, it’s also about quality. Panama is known for its fresh seafood, which can be found at local markets and restaurants. Don’t miss out on trying the ceviche, a popular dish made with raw fish marinated in lime juice and spices. And for a sweet treat, try the tres leches cake, a sponge cake soaked in three types of milk and topped with whipped cream.

Alcohol in Panama is also reasonably priced, with beer and cocktails costing around $2-$5 per drink. If you’re a fan of rum, be sure to try the local favorite, Ron Abuelo.

Sightseeing and Activity Prices

There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Panama, from exploring the Panama Canal to hiking through national parks to relaxing on beautiful beaches.

The Panama Canal is a must-see attraction, and entrance fees are $20 for adults and $12 for children. But there’s more to Panama than just the canal. For nature lovers, a visit to the Soberania National Park is a must. You can take a guided tour to see the park’s diverse wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and toucans. Entrance fees are only $5 per person.

If you’re looking for adventure, there are plenty of options in Panama. Zip-lining through the rainforest is a popular activity, with prices ranging from $30-$50 per person. For a unique experience, you can take a boat tour through the mangroves of the Chagres River, where you can see crocodiles, monkeys, and exotic birds. Prices for this tour start at $60 per person.

Shopping and Souvenir Expenses

If you’re looking to pick up souvenirs or gifts for friends and family back home, Panama offers plenty of options.

Traditional handicrafts, such as woven baskets and hats and hand-carved wooden figurines, are popular souvenirs that you can find at local markets. Prices vary depending on the item and the vendor, but it’s always good to haggle and shop around for the best price.

But Panama is not just about traditional handicrafts. The country is also known for its jewelry, particularly its gold and silver pieces. You can find unique and beautiful pieces at jewelry stores and markets throughout the country.

And if you’re a coffee lover, be sure to pick up a bag of Panamanian coffee to take home with you. Panama is known for its high-quality coffee, and you can find it at local markets and coffee shops.

Budgeting for Different Types of Travelers

Whether you’re a budget traveler or a luxury traveler, Panama has a range of options to suit your needs. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to spend based on your travel style:

Budget Travelers

For budget travelers, Panama is a great destination as it offers affordable accommodations, cheap transportation, and budget-friendly dining options. There are many hostels and guesthouses in Panama that offer comfortable and clean accommodation at a reasonable price. You can also find many street food vendors and local restaurants that serve delicious and affordable meals. If you’re on a tight budget, you can explore the city on foot or take public transportation, which is very cheap. There are also many free or low-cost activities to enjoy, such as hiking, visiting museums, and exploring local markets. Overall, you can expect to spend around $30-$40 per day on food, accommodations, and activities.

Mid-range Travelers

If you’re looking for more comfort and amenities, mid-range hotels and restaurants will be your best bet. Panama has a wide range of mid-range hotels that offer comfortable rooms, swimming pools, and other amenities at a reasonable price. You can also find many restaurants that offer a mix of local and international cuisine. If you’re interested in exploring the city, you can hire a private tour guide or take a guided tour, which will give you a more personalized experience. Expect to pay around $100-$150 per day on food, accommodations, and activities.

Luxury Travelers

For those seeking luxury and high-end experiences, Panama has plenty of options. Five-star resorts, gourmet restaurants, and exclusive tours can cost upwards of $300 or more per day. Panama City has many luxury hotels that offer world-class amenities such as spas, rooftop pools, and private balconies with stunning views. You can also indulge in fine dining at some of the city’s top restaurants, which serve a mix of international and local cuisine. If you’re interested in exploring the natural beauty of Panama, you can take a helicopter tour or go on a private yacht excursion. Overall, Panama offers a range of luxurious experiences that cater to the most discerning travelers.

Saving Money While Traveling in Panama

While Panama is relatively affordable, there are still ways to cut down on your travel expenses. Here are a few tips:

Off-Season Travel

If you’re able to travel during the off-peak season (May to October) you’ll find cheaper flights and hotel rates. Additionally, many restaurants and tour operators offer discounts during this time.

During the off-season, you’ll also have the added benefit of avoiding the crowds. This means shorter lines at popular attractions and more availability at hotels and restaurants. You’ll also have a better chance of experiencing the local culture without the overwhelming presence of other tourists.

Taking Advantage of Discounts and Deals

Be sure to check online for discounted rates on flights, hotels, and activities. You can also save money by purchasing multi-day passes for certain attractions and opting for public transportation instead of taxis.

Another way to save money is to book your travel arrangements in advance. Many airlines and hotels offer early-bird discounts, so if you know your travel dates well in advance, you can take advantage of these deals. Additionally, some credit cards offer travel rewards or cash back on travel-related purchases, so be sure to check if your card has any such offers.

Eating and Drinking Like a Local

One of the best ways to save money while traveling is to eat and drink like a local. Street food is often more affordable than sit-down restaurants, and local beers and spirits are cheaper than imported brands.

When trying local food, be sure to ask the locals for recommendations. They’ll be able to tell you where to find the best and most authentic dishes. Additionally, many local markets offer fresh produce and other food items at a fraction of the cost of restaurants. This is a great way to save money and experience the local culture at the same time.

Finally, be sure to try the local drinks. Panama is famous for its rum, so be sure to sample some of the local varieties. Additionally, many bars and restaurants offer happy hour specials, so be sure to take advantage of these deals.

Comparing Panama to Other Central American Destinations

While Panama is a unique and exciting travel destination, it’s helpful to compare it to other Central American countries to get a better sense of the costs. Here’s a quick comparison:

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its lush rainforests, stunning beaches, and eco-tourism. However, it’s also known for being more expensive than other Central American countries. Accommodations, food, and activities are often higher in cost, with prices ranging from $50-$150 per day.

While Costa Rica is a beautiful destination, Panama offers a more affordable option while still providing similar experiences. In Panama, travelers can explore rainforests, relax on beaches, and participate in eco-tourism activities at a lower cost. Accommodations, food, and activities can be found for as low as $30-$50 per day.


Nicaragua is a less-traveled destination in Central America, but it’s known for its affordable prices and beautiful landscapes. Budget travelers can expect to spend around $20-$30 per day on food, accommodations, and activities.

While Nicaragua offers budget-friendly options, it may not have the same level of development and infrastructure as Panama. Panama has a modern and efficient transportation system, making it easier for travelers to get around and explore the country. Additionally, Panama has a more diverse range of activities and experiences to offer, from exploring the Panama Canal to visiting indigenous communities.


Belize is a top destination for snorkeling and diving, but it’s also one of the more expensive countries in Central America. Budget travelers can expect to spend around $50-$75 per day, while luxury travelers can expect to spend upwards of $300 per day.

While Belize offers unique experiences for water enthusiasts, Panama also has a variety of water activities to offer at a lower cost. From surfing in Santa Catalina to snorkeling in Bocas del Toro, travelers can enjoy water activities for as low as $20-$30 per day. Additionally, Panama’s diverse cultural heritage and history make it a more well-rounded destination for travelers looking to explore beyond just water activities.

One of the best things about visiting Panama is the variety of activities available to travelers. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful country. For example, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you can explore the lush rainforests, hike to stunning waterfalls, or even go zip-lining through the treetops. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more laid-back experience, you can spend your days lounging on the beach, sipping cocktails, and soaking up the sun.

In addition to its natural beauty, Panama is also home to a rich cultural heritage. From the colorful traditional dress of the indigenous people to the vibrant music and dance of the Afro-Caribbean communities, there’s a wealth of history and tradition to explore in Panama. You can visit museums and art galleries, attend festivals and concerts, or simply wander through the streets and soak up the local culture.

Of course, no trip to Panama would be complete without sampling some of the delicious local cuisine. From fresh seafood to hearty stews and soups, Panama’s food is a reflection of its diverse cultural influences. You can try traditional dishes like sancocho (a chicken and vegetable soup) or ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice), or indulge in some of the country’s famous coffee or chocolate.

When it comes to accommodations, Panama offers a range of options to suit every budget. From budget-friendly hostels to luxury resorts, you can find a place to stay that fits your needs and preferences. Many hotels and resorts offer all-inclusive packages that include meals and activities, making it easy to plan your trip and stick to your budget.

Finally, getting around in Panama is easy and affordable. The country has a well-developed transportation system, with buses, taxis, and even domestic flights available to take you wherever you need to go. Whether you’re exploring the city or heading out to the countryside, you can get around without spending a fortune.

Overall, Panama is a fantastic destination for travelers who want to experience all the beauty and culture of Central America without breaking the bank. By following these tips and planning ahead, you can make the most of your trip and create memories that will last a lifetime.


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