On this page you will find our estimated cost of travel in Panama. Check out our suggested shoestring and more comfortable backpacking budgets for a country which acts as a linking piece between South and Central America. We also have info on the local currency plus typical prices for visitors.
How much does Panama cost?
Panama Travel Costs on a Shoestring Budget
US$30/day | 30 Panamanian Balboa
As one of the richest countries in Central America, costs are generally a bit higher than most parts of the region. Our Panama backpacking budget of $30/day reflects that and it’s comparable to the cost of travel in Costa Rica, another of the more expensive countries in the region. If you’re coming to Panama directly from North America or Europe though, you’ll still most likely find it very cheap.
It’s not that difficult to stick to this kind of budget with tasty and cheap street food available all over the country, while tap water is safe here and you can save a few bucks by just filling up a bottle as you will need to drink lots of water given Panama is a very hot place. The cost of accommodation is a bit higher than its Northern neighbours and the temptation to indulge in Panama’s nightlife, some of which is geared towards its wealthier visitors, can push your expenses up if you’re not careful but maintaining this budget and still having a good time is not impossible by any means.
Read about the Backpacking costs across Central America.
More Comfortable Panama Backpacking Budget
US$45/day | 45 Panamanian Balboa
Panama is not like somewhere like Nicaragua or Guatemala, where the travel industry is almost entirely geared towards more budget-minded travellers. In Panama, there is the potential to indulge in a bit of luxury every now and then and by allowing for $45 per day you can do that. The extra $15 could go towards a nice meal at night in one of the many fancier restaurants or possibly a short stay in one of the nicer hotels or resorts. You will still have to be a bit savvy though, particularly in the capital which is a popular shopping destination so it’d be wise to set aside a separate budget for shopping if that’s on your agenda.
The cost of some of the sites of interest and attractions are also relatively high for the region so if you’re the sort who likes to visit museums and cultural sites on a daily basis that can also push your costs up and $45/day may be a more realistic budget.
Panama Cost of Travel Insurance
You will also need to allow for the cost of travel insurance and any other pre-trip expenses. SafetyWing is one company that offers affordable and well-reviewed travel insurance cover for backpacking trips.
Is Panama expensive for backpackers?
Bus from Panama City to David (6-7 hours) – around $20
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – $6
0.5 litre local beer in a bar or restaurant – $1.50
Dorm bed in Bocas del Toro – from $10
Private double or twin room in Panama City – from $25
Entrance to Miraflores Visitor Centre (Panama Canal) – $15
Note, these prices haven’t been checked since 2016. Everything else on this page was updated in early 2019.
Compare Panama prices to the cost of travel in Mexico.
Currency – Panamanian Balboa/US Dollar
£1 = 1.31 PAB/USD
€1 = 1.14 PAB/USD
US$1 = 1 PAB
(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2019)
The US Dollar has been tied to the Panamanian Balboa since 1904. You can use either in Panama and essentially they are the same currency.
The Casa Monalisa is perfect for solo travellers in Panama City. Sociable place with budget beds.
This post was updated in January 2019.