Are you heading to Panama in the near future and are wondering how much money to save up in advance? Back in the summer I spent 17 days in this beautiful country and wrote down all my expenses to give you a clear overview of what costs you might encounter when planning your Panama itinerary. So let’s get into it: How expensive is Panama?
The official currency in Panama is the Panamanian Balboa. This currency, however, is only available in coins. It just so happens that 1 Balboa = 1 US $. So if you get cash out of the ATM it will be in dollars and also everything will be paid in dollars. Most places do not accept cards so make sure to always carry around enough cash. This should preferably be in smaller bills as some places do not have enough change to accept a $50 bill.
Panama was the first country in Latin America that I ever visited so I do not really had anything to compare it to. I expected it to be quite cheap which was not really the case. Price wise it is still cheaper than Europe, especially public transportation is really cheap but it is not comparable with any prices in South East Asia.
But let’s break down all my expenses!
How expensive is Panama: Accommodation
Accommodation wise I always stay in Hostels, but I also do not mind paying two/three dollars more a night to stay in a hostel that is better located or has more tours to offer. One factor that I always consider when booking accommodation, is how easy it will be to socialise.
In total I spent 16 nights in Hostels, which summed up to a total price of $250. In total therefore I spent around $15,6 a night.
But apart from maybe Bocas del Toro you can always find a hostel for $10.
Food & Drinks
I’m really bad in cooking so I probably just cooked my own food twice. Usually I would go for just cheap takeaway and I went out for dinner like once. Food in a supermarket is actually quite expensive at times so sometimes it is indeed more convenient to get food somewhere else.
In 17 days I spent $186,5 which is a total of around $11 a day.
Organised tours are a good way of getting to see some amazing parts of the country and also to meet new people. When I was in Panama I did a Tour to the San Blas Islands, went on a Coffee Tour in Boquete and also did a boat tour in Bocas del Toro. I also included surf boat rentals in this category.
I also did two dives in Bocas, which will also be calculated in the tour category.
All of this summed up to a total of $317, leading to a daily calculated budget for activities of 317/17 = $18,65.
This category includes all alcoholic drinks and entries to clubs or the Filthy Friday Pub crawl in Bocas del Toro.
I didn’t end up going out as often, but sometimes we would just have a beer at night after a long day of surfing in Santa Catalina. I’m sure it is possible to spend a lot more money on nights out.
My total was $88,5, which sums up to daily costs of $5,2.
Transportation is not that expensive in Panama if you mainly stick to public transportation. Instead of Taxis, you are better of taking an Uber as it is a lot cheaper. Also more save at night time.
I was taking public transportation for most of it, expect when I arrived at the airport late I got a cab and then from Santa Catalina to Boquete I treated myself with a shuttle, as I didn’t feel like changing busses three times.
My total transportation costs within Panama were $133,5. That summed up to $7,86 a day.
Shopping & Random Stuff
Now in this category you will find everything that does not really fit anywhere else. This includes for example postcards, a T-shirt or even doing laundry.
The total was $41, which is $2,4 a day.
Conclusion: How expensive is Panama?
Adding up all my daily expenses it summed up to a total daily budget of $60,71. Wow, quite expensive!
It has to be said that I was only traveling for a month in total so I did not have to watch out for every dollar as my total travel time was limited.
I’m sure Panama can be done a lot cheaper. The most expensive thing was the San Blas Island Tour which was about $140 alone. That can be avoided for example. Food wise I lived pretty cheap but it is definitely possible to cut down on accommodation costs.
Have you been to Panama? Did you spent more or less than you originally planned? I’m curious, because I definitely spent a lot more than I wanted to.
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