Before You Go
Passports, Tourist Cards, and Visas
Citizens of the United States, Canada, most of western Europe, much of Latin America, and a few other countries do not need a visa to enter Panama, but their passport must be valid for at least six months beyond their date of entry. Tourists from these countries are normally allowed to stay in Panama for up to 90 days.
Nationals of other countries must apply for a stamped visa or authorized visa, which are available through a Panamanian consulate or embassy.
All visitors should make sure their routine immunizations are up to date. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov/travel) recommends that travelers to Central America be vaccinated against hepatitis A and, in some cases, hepatitis B. A typhoid fever vaccination is also recommended, though the chance of contracting the disease in Panama is slim. A rabies vaccination is recommended for those who expect to spend a lot of time outdoors, particularly in rural areas.
Those planning to travel to rural parts of Panama should probably be vaccinated against yellow fever and may want to consider antimalarial medication. Yellow-fever vaccinations are recommended, but no longer required, for those arriving in Panama from a country where yellow fever is endemic. This includes much of South America.
Getting There and Around
Panama’s main international airport is the newly renovated Tocumen International Airport, about 25 kilometers from downtown Panama City. Rental cars are available at the airport, but only those planning road trips outside Panama City should consider this option. The better way to get to Panama City from the airport is by taxi or bus.
Those traveling on to other major destinations within Panama can fly out of Albrook Airport, just a few kilometers from Panama City. Long-distance regional buses are also available at the Gran Terminal de Transportes in Panama City.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition