Panama: arrival and transport
How to get to Panama
Citizens of the European Union and Switzerland need a passport for their entry into Panama, which is valid for at least 6 months at the time of entry. A valid return or onward ticket is also required. Finally, you should have at least $ 500 in cash or a credit card.
Entry by plane
There are two international airports in Panama, the Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen near Panama City and the international airport in David. Since the latter is only approached from Costa Rica, the majority of (European) tourists will land in Panama City. The only direct connection between Europe and Panama is provided by the Spanish Iberia, from Madrid. Lufthansa, Air France and Delta fly over the United States(Miami) to Panama. There are also numerous regular direct flights from Central and South America into the country. If you want to get from Colombia to Panama, you will find the only really safe option in a plane.
land You can reach Panama by land from Costa Rica and theoretically also from Colombia. However, the last-mentioned overland route is currently not recommended, because it is only a narrow path (Darien Trek) that leads through the middle of the rainforest and is very dangerous because of fighting between the Colombian paramilitaries and the Panamanian border units. Added to this is the inhospitable nature of the rainforest, which is one of the densest in the world and has already cost many travelers their lives.
Traveling by train is not possible from Costa Rica or Kulumbia. However, you can take the bus from Costa Ricatake, which is quite simple, but involves strict border controls. The safest way to drive with your own car is via the Costa-Rican-Panamanian border crossing in Paso Canoas, which is currently open every day from 07:00 to 23:00 – at least in theory.
Entry by water
Anyone who can afford the “luxury” of a container ship and would like to travel from Europe to Panama with one has to dig deep into their pockets and expect a crossing time of three weeks. The Hamburg-based company Margis is happy to provide information on Tel.: 0 40 – 85 12 86 0. Other cargo ships depart from Colombia. They also take paying passengers. However, one should keep in mind that such ships often carry drugs or illegal immigrants and that tourists will also be jailed in the event of a police check.
Travel in the country
The most important traffic artery through the country is undoubtedly the Panama Canal, which opened in 1914 and is around 86 km long. It saves the ships the dangerous detour around the southern tip of America – Cape Horn. This shortens the distance from New York to San Francisco, for example, by a good 10,000 km.
Without a doubt, the Panama Canal is the most outstanding engineering structure in the country. After around 11 years of construction, the canal between the Atlantic and the Pacific was completed in 1914. It is used by around 10,000 ships every year. In a ballot in October 2006, around 78% of the population decided to expand the canal. From 2014, the locks and other facilities on the canal are to be expanded so that ships with a length of around 500 m and over 12,000 containers can also pass through the canal; which is currently not possible.
There is an international airport in Panama City. Six other, more regional airports, for example in David or in San Miguel on the island de Rey, enable relatively fast connections within the country. Domestic air traffic in Panama is served by the two regional airlines, AirPanama and Aeroperlas. They fly to all major regions of the country and are relatively inexpensive. (For comparison: A plane ticket for a one-way flight from Panama City to Colón currently costs 45 dollars.) Some areas of Panama such as Isla Contadora or (with some restrictions) Kuna Yala can only be reached by air.
traffic in Panama is quite insignificant or at least of secondary importance. There are 450 kilometers of rail, but these are only available to one railway line. This runs between Panama City and Colón. Since 2001 there has been both freight and passenger traffic on this route, which is guaranteed by the Panama Canal Railway Company. Passenger trains currently run Monday through Friday from Panama City to Colòn (7:15 a.m.) and vice versa (5:15 p.m.), with a one-way ticket costing $ 22 and a return ticket (Ida y Vuelta) $ 35. The fact that the journey by train is so expensive is due to the route that is very interesting for tourists, as it leads through dense jungle as well as along the Panama Canal and the locks.
Buses are the main means of transport in “public passenger transport”. The country’s bus system is quite efficient, reliable and inexpensive. Almost every place can be reached in this way. But there are only real bus stations in the bigger cities like Panama City or David. If you want to get on in smaller towns, you have to find out beforehand on which street the bus is to be stopped. When the time comes, you can simply stop the bus with a hand signal. To get off, you just shout “Voy a bajar” (= “I want to get off.”) And the bus stops where you want. If you plan to travel further across the country, you should get the bus tickets in advance at the bus station.
Taxis are also quite cheap in Panama and are recommended for trips to the airport, for example. You can also share it with other people, which is considerably cheaper.
In Panama, people drive on the right side of the road.
Panama can be explored quite easily with your own car or a rental car, especially since the road system in the country is in very good condition. A total of around 11,400 kilometers of road are available. If the roads are well developed by Central American standards, flooding occurs more often (especially from May to October), after which many roads can be closed. In addition, you should avoid being out at night as much as possible, because quite a few roads are poorly marked.
The famous Pan Americana runs through Panama, of course, which is paved all the way through Panama.
In Panama City you should be prepared for heavy traffic, too few street signs, bad roads and often missing traffic lights. Without harsh insistence on your own progress you can go straight on foot, because the driving style of the main cities is ruthless and hair-raising. In contrast to Panama City, driving in the rest of the country is stress-free and enjoyable.
In Panama, you can drive up to 40 km/h in cities. Up to 80 km/h applies on country roads and on motorways you can drive 100 km/h.
Points to note
Anyone involved in an accident in Panama must definitely notify the police. It is also a legal requirement to stay at the scene of the accident until the police arrive. In addition, you are not allowed to change anything at the crime scene, even if it blocks the whole street.
Petrol stations can be found all over the country. Many of them are open around the clock. A distinction must also be made between the three types of gasoline in the country: unleaded (Sin Plomo), super (Gasolina Super) and diesel.
cars Rental cars are also available in Panama. You only need the driving license of your own country, although it is necessary in the case of police checks or similar. it is more advisable to have the international driver’s license with you.
International license plate
According to Abbreviationfinder, Panama’s international license plate is:
Panama: Embassies and Consulates
Visit Countryaah for a full list of Panama embassies and consulates in each country around the world.
Representations of Panama in Germany
The Panamanian Embassy is located on Wichmannstrasse on the first floor of a five-story, modern, functional building. In addition to the Panamanian embassy, the Bolivian embassy is located on the ground floor of the building – next to lawyers and a practice for psychotherapy, which are also based in the building, along with others. Wichmannstraße is located in the Tiergarten district of Berlin-Mitte and is a cross street of Keithstraße, which in turn crosses Kurfürstenstraße.
Embassy of the Republic of Panama in Berlin
Tel: 0049 – (0) 30 – 22 60 58 11
Fax: 0049 – (0) 30 – 22 60 58 12
Consulate General of the Republic of Panama in Hamburg
Tel: 0049 – (0) 40 – 34 02 18
0049 – (0) 40 – 34 36 16
Fax: 0049 – (0) 40 – 35 37 71
You can find further honorary consulates in: Dresden, Kiel and Sauerlach.
German representations in Panama
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Panama City
Edificio World Trade Center No. 20
Calle 53 E, Urbanizacion Marbella
Tel: 00507 – 263 77 33
00507 – 263 79 91
00507 – 264 11 47
00507 – 263 46 77
Fax: 00507 – 223 66 64
Austrian representations in Panama
The responsible embassy is the embassy in Colombia in Bogota (see here >>>).
Honorary Consulate General Panama (without passport authorization)
Calle Sevilla Casa F 7b, Villa de las Fuentes No. 1
Tel: 00507 – 260 45 25
Fax: 00507 – 260 88 39
Representations of Panama in Austria
Embassy of the Republic of Panama in Vienna
Tel: 0043 – (0) 1 – 587 23 47
Fax: 0043 – (0) 1 – 586 30 80
Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Panama in Salzburg
Tel: 0043 – 662 – 82 36 42
Fax: 0043 – 662 – 82 36 42 12
Swiss representations in Panama
The embassy in Costa Rica is responsible (see here >>>).
Consulate General of Switzerland in Panama
Consulado general de Suiza
Edificio Bay Mall, 2 ° Piso
Oficina N ° 215
Avenida Balboa, Panama
Tel: 00 507 – 390 63 30
Fax: 00 507 – 390 63 30
Representations of Panama in Switzerland
The embassy in charge is the embassy in France in Paris:
Embassy of the Republic of Panama in Paris
Avenue de Suffren 145
Tel: 0033 – (0) 1 – 45 66 42 44
Fax: 0033 – (0) 1- 45 67 99 43
Consulat général du Panama in Geneva
Rue de Lausanne 72
Tel: 0041 – 22 – 715 04 50
Fax: 0041 – 22 – 738 03 63
Agence consulaire du Panama in Lausanne
Avenue de la Gare 26
Tel: 0041 – 21 – 311 11 11
Fax: 0041 – 21 – 331 17 10
Consulat du Panama in Lugano
Corso Elvezia 27
Tel: 0041 – 91 – 923 38 37
Fax: 0041 – 91 – 923 38 77
Formalities and visas
A visa is not required to enter Panama and for a stay of up to three months, but a passport is required.
Import and export of goods
The importation of weapons, explosives, ammunition and fireworks is strictly prohibited. And of course also the import and export of drugs of all kinds. The import and export of plants and animals protected under the Washington Species Protection Act is also prohibited and is punished with considerable penalties.
Panama: Travel Medicine and Warnings
In Panama, the following diseases, which are not common in Germany or Northern Europe, are to be expected:
- Dengue fever, especially in the jungle area and mangrove forests.
- Malaria, especially in the jungle area and the mangrove forests.
- Yellow fever
Vaccination Recommendations Vaccinations against the following diseases are recommended when traveling to the country:
- Yellow fever (strongly advised)
- Hepatitis A and B
Who pays for vaccinations in Germany?
Most children in Germany are vaccinated against a number of infectious diseases at an early age. However, the vaccination protection only lasts up to 10 years, in some cases even shorter. Therefore, before traveling abroad, you should carefully consider against which infectious diseases a vaccination is necessary or useful in the country concerned and whether the vaccination protection, if applicable, was not too long ago.
Most statutory health insurances have been reimbursing the costs for the following vaccinations since June 2007. There is even no 10 € practice fee – but the insured usually have to pay the statutory co-payment, which is 10% of the vaccine price – that is at least 5 € and a maximum of 10 €. Under these conditions, the following vaccinations are free of charge:
- Early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE)
- Yellow fever
- Hepatitis A and B
- Meningococcal meningitis
- Polyo (polio)
- Tetanus (tetanus)
Some health insurance companies also reimburse the cost of malaria prophylaxis. As a rule, private health insurance companies (inquire beforehand) also cover the costs mentioned.
Hazards/current warning notices
Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany
Telephone: 0049 – (0) 30 – 5000 – 2000
Fax: 0049 – (0) 30 – 5000 – 51000
Current warning notices:
Panama: Currency and Shopping
The official national currency of Panama is the
Balbao = 100 cents (centiésimas).
But the US dollar can be considered a second unofficial currency.
There are now only coins and no banknotes of the currency of Panama:
- 0.01 balbaos
You can find a currency converter here: www3.forium.de
Payment methods and bank opening hours
With credit cards you can pay in Panama City and most tourist centers without any problems, while in more rural areas you should rather rely on cash. Travelers checks are not very common. It can also happen that many stores do not accept US $ 50 and US $ 100 bills. As for the ATM terms s, so you should not rely on keinden case on them, but always enough cash to carry with you.
Bank opening times:
There are around 75 banks in Panama, with very different opening times. In general, however, the opening time is at least until 3:00 p.m. and some even until 7:00 p.m. on weekdays. On Saturdays, many banks are open until noon and some (especially those in the shopping centers) are even open on Sundays.
Shopping and souvenirs
Those staying in Panama City will find plenty of shopping opportunities and multiple malls in every part of the city. These include Albrook Mall, Multicentro and Multiplaza Pacific. While Albrook Mall is likely to be the cheapest, Multiplaza Pacific is more in the upper price segment. The majority of small shops (Mini Super) and kiosks offer the smaller things for everyday use. Hard cheese, basil or do-it-yourself and bath products are seldom or not available to buy. There are also good supermarkets in the more rural parts of Panama.
If you want to bring a typical Panamanian souvenir to your family and friends, you should refer to the Mola (= embroidery hand-made by the Kuna) and the Panama hat, which is traditionally the headgear of the men in Panama. Traditionally made handicrafts can be bought at the markets, especially in Balboa or at the Panama Viejo market in the capital.