By Gabriella Aldeman
International travel is full of mystique and adventure, but logistics can be overwhelming. That is, unless you’re travelling to Panama. With a large percentage of English speakers, the use of the dollar as its currency, and potable tap water, Panama is one of the most comfortable destinations on the map while retaining an air of exotic paradise.
These are the top eight reasons why Panama is the easiest destination on your travel bucket list.
English is the second most spoken language in Panama. This is not surprising, since the United States had a presence in the country for almost a hundred years. You’ll find that most client-facing professionals are proficient in English, especially in tourist areas in the city and the countryside, and there are English speakers available to help at shopping centers, restaurants, and tourist destinations. In sites and museums, you’ll find translated subtitles and English-speaking tour guides.
The official currency of Panama is the US dollar. Panama also prints their own version of coins that circulate along the US penny, dime, and quarter. They have the same value but feature different engravings. This means that you get to skip the hassle of currency exchange and just bring your wallet as is — plus, you get to take back a few interesting-looking cuaras as souvenirs.
Need to reschedule your trip? Panama has beach weather all year long. In the city and throughout the islands, the thermostat stays constant in the mid-80s. If you prefer more temperate weather, visit the mountainside, where the temps range from the upper 50s to the mid 70s. Panama only has two seasons—rainy and dry—but the dry is still pleasantly warm and the rain doesn’t last longer than a few hours.
If you live in the continental US, travelling to Panama is a breeze. It’s only a 2.5-hour flight from Miami and operates on a similar time zone as the US (either EST or CT, depending on Daylight Savings). Considered the hub of the Americas, Panama’s Tocumen International Airport (PTY) is a connecting point for air routes continuing to Central and South America. Consequently, all major airlines fly to Panama several times a day. And no tourist visa is required for Americans, members of the European Union, and several other countries.
Have you ever had to brush your teeth with bottled water? This is a reality for many travelers, but not those traveling to Panama. Except for a few remote areas of the country, tap water is safe to drink. This means cleaner food in restaurants, reduced plastic waste, carefree teeth brushing, and the ability to refill your water bottle anywhere you go.
While there are safe and unsafe areas in all countries, as a tourist in Panama, you’ll find mainly friendly faces. Aside from a few pockets, Panama is one of the safest countries in Central America. So, during your stay in Panama City, go for a walk, take the taxi, stop a local for directions, and buy food and souvenirs from street vendors.
Panamanian citizens and indigenous natives are friendly to American tourists. Not only that, but tourists will find a good balance of well-known brands alongside the local offerings. You will find it easy to shop at a grocery store or pharmacy and recognize many of the major brands from home. No need for electrical adapters either. So, no need to pack heavy — chances are, if you left it at home, you can buy it in Panama. Craving food from home? You’ll find major restaurant chains sharing the landscape with local Panamanian eateries.
Panama is the bridge of the Americas. Connecting two oceans and two continents, its biodiversity is unique. So, go bird watching, snorkeling, or whale watching. Try the best coffee in the world, sip the local rum, and eat ceviche. Visit the myriad of beaches and lush coffee farms. Take in the music and the culture. Or simply relax on a hammock with a view.
A visit to Panama takes the stress out of traveling — especially for those staying at the Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo. Packing is a breeze, transportation is reliable, and you don’t have to worry about currency conversions. If you’re the type of person who feels they need to take a vacation after having a vacation, Panama is the place for you.