Is Panama safe for Americans?

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Panama, a Central American nation known for its diverse landscapes, rich history, and the world-famous Panama Canal, offers American tourists a wide range of experiences from its bustling cities to its pristine beaches and lush rainforests. While Panama is generally considered safe and welcoming to visitors, it is essential to be aware of potential risks and challenges that may arise during your visit. In this article, we will discuss the primary concerns for American tourists in Panama and provide guidance on how to navigate these challenges. To avoid these risks it's a good idea to purchase travel insurance.

Petty Crime

Although Panama has a relatively low rate of violent crime, petty crime such as pickpocketing or theft can still occur, particularly in urban areas and popular tourist spots. To minimize the risk of theft, it is essential to:

Be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution in crowded or unfamiliar areas

Secure your belongings and avoid displaying expensive items or large amounts of cash

Use reputable transportation options, such as registered taxis or rideshare services

Keep copies of important documents, such as passports and credit cards, in a separate location

Road Safety

While Panama's main highways and roads are generally well-maintained, driving can still present challenges due to erratic driving behavior, unfamiliar traffic rules, and poor road conditions in rural areas. To minimize risks while driving in Panama, it is essential to:

Familiarize yourself with local traffic rules and regulations

Drive defensively and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles

Avoid driving at night in rural areas, where lighting may be limited

Use a reliable GPS navigation system to avoid getting lost

Health Risks

Travelers to Panama may be exposed to certain health risks, such as waterborne illnesses, vector-borne diseases, and foodborne infections. To minimize these risks, it is essential to:

Visit a travel health clinic before departure to ensure you have the appropriate vaccinations and medications

Practice good hygiene and avoid consuming tap water or uncooked food from street vendors

Use insect repellent and protective clothing to minimize the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever and Zika virus

Outdoor Activities and Safety

Panama's diverse landscapes offer exciting opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking, surfing, and wildlife watching. However, these activities can pose risks if travelers are not properly prepared or aware of their surroundings. When engaging in outdoor activities, it is essential to:

Choose appropriate routes and activities based on your fitness level and experience

Check weather conditions and follow local safety guidelines

Carry necessary safety equipment, such as a map, compass, and first aid kit

Inform someone of your travel plans and expected return time

Sun Exposure and Dehydration

Panama's tropical climate can cause sunburn, heatstroke, or dehydration if travelers do not take proper precautions. To minimize these risks, it is essential to:

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water

Wear lightweight, breathable clothing and sun protection, such as a hat and sunglasses

Apply sunscreen with a high SPF regularly

Limit exposure to the sun during peak hours (typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.)


While Panama is a beautiful and generally safe destination for American tourists, it is essential to be aware of the unique challenges and risks associated with visiting this diverse country. By taking appropriate precautions and staying informed, you can mitigate these risks and fully enjoy the natural beauty, history, and cultural experiences that Panama has to offer. For these reasons, be sure to buy travel insurance.