Seven Tips to Help you Stay Safe & Enjoy Panama24th February 2015
The best vacations are the ones that go smoothly. Good planning can help…but smart travelers do more than make timely reservations or check weather patterns before packing.
They also take health and safety into consideration…no matter where they’re headed. With a bit of helpful information, you can stay safe, relax, and truly enjoy your vacation.
DISCOVER: 10 Best Things To Do In Panama
Panama is one of the safest countries in the region, but of course that doesn’t mean it’s entirely crime-free. Every city in the world has its good and bad areas, and it’s important not to let your guard down (as some do when they go into “tourist mode.”) Here are some useful tips to remember:
1. When in doubt, ask:
Most of Panama City’s metropolitan area is perfectly safe to walk or drive, day and night. However, it’s a good idea to ask a local before you go walking in unfamiliar territory. You will find Panamanians to be friendly and helpful. So whether you’re talking to a cab driver, hotel clerk, executive, or anyone else, don’t hesitate to get an opinion. In Panama City, the wide Cinta Costera is a nice, safe place to walk or jog. It’s well-lit, full of people of all ages (even in the evening), and leads right into the popular historic district of Casco Viejo. Just be sure not to stumble out of Casco Viejo and into the adjacent Santa Ana district, which is not yet gentrified.
2. Know your emergency numbers:
In Panama City you can dial 911 in case of a medical emergency, 104 to get the police, and 103 for the fire department. If you’ve grown up in the U.S., where 911 is all you need to know, then these three numbers may be hard for you to remember. Why not write them on the back of a business card and keep them in your wallet? They just might come in handy. By the way, you may be interested to know that Panama has a specialized tourism police corps, whose mission it is to serve tourists. You’ll see them patrolling the Casco Viejo area, ready to help with directions or questions.
3. Take your health seriously:
If you have health issues, learn how to describe them in Spanish or carry a note in your wallet detailing the issue and any medications your taking. If you have a life-threatening condition, like an allergy to latex, peanuts, or bee stings, wear a medical bracelet or pendant, too. Remember, conditions like asthma can be mild in some climates and become serious in others. No matter which country you travel to, be prepared for the worst-case scenario. I never carry my asthma inhaler when I’m at home, as my condition is very mild. But I keep an inhaler and medication in my toiletry case for when I travel, just in case. (And I check the expiration dates often).
If you’re curious about vaccinations and illnesses prevalent in Panama, you can check the websites of organizations like the World Health Organization. They’ll let you know if there are any current alerts. And never, ever leave your home country without travel insurance. The cost of healthcare in Panama is very low, so it’s easy to pay for minor things out of pocket. But major surgeries or lengthy stays in the best hospitals here can rack up a sizeable bill.
4. Safeguard against petty theft:
Crime in Panama tends to be non-violent and non-confrontational (one of the many reasons visitors feel so safe). You don’t hear about serial killers or snipers in this country, so it’s easy to avoid being a target if you’re not involved in organized crime or drugs, which are taken very seriously by police.
A little common sense is all you need to avoid being the victim of petty theft. Don’t leave your laptop or cell phone around and don’t hang your purse on the back of your chair. Preferably you may leave your most valuable items in your hotel in Panama City Panama. Happily, Panama City residents carry around fancy smartphones, drive new cars, and wear jewelry…so you are unlikely to stand out, even if you’re wearing a nice watch or carrying a camera.
5. Remember the law of distraction:
Even the smartest city slickers turn into distracted tourists when they’re somewhere new. It’s an unavoidable fact of life. Suddenly you fail to notice signs or heed announcements and you lose your sense of direction. Keep this in mind and you’ll be more aware of your stuff and your surroundings. If you’re sitting down for a beer or a bite, put your cell phone and sunglasses away instead of leaving them on the table. Before getting up, take a look around and make sure you’re not leaving your cardigan on your chair. Don’t take off rings or other jewelry when you wash your hands. The law of distraction dictates that anything you put down may well get left behind. Many visitors have had valuables returned by locals…but better safe than sorry, right?
6. Don't leave your ID behind:
Panama law requires that adults carry identification at all times. If you’re a visitor, you should be prepared to show your passport if requested by a police officer. Now, Panama is very permissive when it comes to liquor, so you’re unlikely to be “carded” anywhere. But if for example you rent a car and get pulled over, not having your passport (in addition to your home country driver’s license) is a no-no. If you don’t feel comfortable carrying your passport around, just make a photocopy. You don't have to copy every page—just the photo page and the page bearing your entry stamp.
7. Smile and enjoy yourself:
The best tip for a great vacation is to remember: most people are good. Don’t follow strangers into dark alleys, obviously…but don’t feel like you have to automatically distrust everyone. In fact, you’ll find that if you smile at Panamanians, they will go above and beyond to help you. Once you see how relaxed people are in Panama, you’ll understand why it’s rated so high for safety.
No comments on this article.