Traffic and chaotic driving in Panama City is enough to scare anyone off from driving, but throw in high prices for rental cars and insurance, you would be better off relying on good ole’ Uber (or Cabify).
Buses and the metro are good options, though they may not get you where you need to be. Uber/Cabify are safe, reliable and affordable methods of getting around the city. Sign up here to get a discount for your first 3 rides on Uber.
Looking to explore Panama and don’t want to rely on public transportation? Find instructions here on how to obtain your Panamanian drivers license. Remember: once you have submitted your residency application, you cannot legally drive in Panama without a Panamanian license.
Don’t get stranded! First thing on your list when arriving in Panama is to head over to a cell service provider and purchase a SIM card (typically USD 2-5) along with a pre-paid 5-day, 2-week or a 28-day plan (prices vary). Cell service providers include:
Make sure to download WhatsApp before your trip as it is the main method of communication in Panama.
While we try to minimize time spent at the immigration offices, it is inevitable that you will still wait for a couple of hours with nothing to do. We recommend bringing water, some snacks (vending machines are available) and some source of entertainment to keep you busy. Some favorites include Netflix, Spotify and of course Kindle.
Panama City is bustling and you will find much to see and explore. Check out our blog here on the best things to do in Panama. Similar to other cosmo cities, restaurants can be a hit or miss. Degusta is a great app which allows you to search restaurants nearby with various filter’s including ratings, price ranges and special promotions.
Fit In With The Locals
Panama is an international hub and you will meet people from all around the world. However, English can be somewhat limited. Google translate will definitely come in handy but in the meantime, practice some common Spanish phrases.
- Buenos dias – good morning
- Muy bien – very good
- Buenas tardes – good afternoon/afternoon
- Puerde ayudar me? -Can you help me?
- Estoy perdido – I´m lost
- Disculpe – excuse me
- Buenos noches – good night
- No se – I don´t know
- Quanto es? – how much is it
- Por favor – please
- Como estas? – how are you?
- Habla inglés? – do you speak English?
- Hasta luego – see you later
- Dónde está el baño? – where is the bathroom?