- Do not go to Panama City without hotel reservations. For some reason, there are way too few rooms to go around, even though P.C. is a big, modern city with an incredible amount of residential high-rise construction going on. High end hotels or low end hostels were the same story.
- Negotiate with your taxi driver ahead of time. No meters can mean widely different fares.
- Do not get to your regional airport flight late. I went from P.C. to Bocas by regional airline (Aeroperlas), and the flight left 25 minutes early. That’s a first.
- Do not go to the Caribbean coast without rain gear. Even outside of the rainy season, it can rain very often.
- Sand flies can be murder on the Caribbean coast. Bring repellent and wear long pants and shoes at night or you’ll be itching for days.
- Bring a very up to date guidebook if you want to know prices ahead of time: prices on everything have at least doubled in the last 3-5 years. That’s even more amazing considering their currency is pegged 1-to-1 to the U.S. dollar and you can pay everywhere in USD.
- Bring earplugs if pounding music at 4am will trouble your sleep. It’s everywhere.
I’ve really enjoyed my time in this beautiful country. I’ve walked a rainforest in the city, seen toucans and dozens of parrots right in Panama City, gone wreck diving in crystal Caribbean waters, been face-to-face with huge toadfish, pipefish, and barracuda, seen the history-changing Canal, and polished off a few Atlases, Balboas, and Panamas (i.e., beer), and I’d lived to scratch about it. Thanks, Panama.