Panama City can be difficult to navigate at first. The city has a public bus system, but signage is only in the local language, and although the city is currently upgrading its fleet, the old buses can be crowded and confusing for newcomers. Taxis are the most common way to get around in Panama City, as an average ride is roughly US$3 to most parts of the city. Taxis are not metered, and can be hailed on the street or ordered by phone (although a dispatch fee is often charged). Taxis can also be hired at an hourly or weekly rate, which can be cost-effective for frequent sightseeing and dining trips. Rental cars are available, but the local driving is very aggressive and self-driving can be the source of frustration rather than convenience.
Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Flat two-pin plugs are the norm.
The official currency is the Panamanian Balboa (PAB), equal to 100 centesimos, but US Dollars are accepted everywhere at a rate of B1 = US$1. Balboa are available only in coin denominations. The only paper currency used is US dollars. It is easy to exchange currency in Panama at banks, exchange shops, hotels and the airport. Avoid the black market. The best rates are offered at the larger banks. Old, creased and dirty foreign notes may be refused for exchange. Most major credit cards are widely accepted. There are many ATMs in Panama City. Banks are usually open from 8am to 1.30pm on weekdays.
The international access code for Panama is +507. Coin and card-operated public telephones are available, cards being sold at stores and vending machines. Cell phone providers offer GSM networks, and there are roaming agreements with most international mobile operaters. There are several internet service providers in Panama and internet cafes are widely available in Panama City.
Emergencies: 104 (Police); 103 (Ambulance).
|New Years Day||1 Jan||1 Jan|
|Martyrs Day||9 Jan||9 Jan|
|Carnival Monday||3 Mar||16 Feb|
|Carnival Tuesday||4 Mar||17 Feb|
|Good Friday||18 Apr||3 Apr|
|Labour Day||1 May||1 May|
|Independence from Columbia Day||3 Nov||3 Nov|
|Flag Day||4 Nov||4 Nov|
|Colón Day||5 Nov||5 Nov|
|The Uprising of Los Santos||10 Nov||10 Nov|
|Independence Day||28 Nov||28 Nov|
|Mothers Day||8 Dec||8 Dec|
|Christmas Day||25 Dec||25 Dec|
Panama City has a tropical climate, with temperatures staying constant all year round, ranging from 90°F (32°C) during the daytime to 70°F (21°C) in the evening. Humidity is generally high, especially during the rainy season, which is between October and November. The best time to travel to Panama City is between December and March.
The only public transport into Panama City is provided by minivans dubbed Taxi de Turismo, which can be booked from the Information Booth in the arrivals hall. The transfer time is about half an hour.
Car hire companies represented in the arrivals hall are Alamo, Avis, Barriga, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National and Thrifty.
Regular taxis operate day and night at fixed prices depending on the number of passengers, but are not metered. An average rate for 1-2 people into Panama City is US$25, for three or more it's US$10 per person. The taxi rank is outside the arrivals area.
There is a bank and ATM on the departure level. A restaurant and coffee bar are situated on the mezzanine overlooking departures, and snack bars in arrivals. Last-minute gifts can be bought at several stores on the first and second floors, including duty-free. Baggage storage is available, and information booths are located in arrivals.
Parking at Tocumen International Airport costs just 3c per minute for the first hour, 2c per minute for one to five hours, and 1c per minute for over five hours.
No wifi services are currently available, but internet services are available at a charge of US$2.50 per hour.