Travel Tips

Preparing for Panama

You may be wondering what to bring, how to prepare, and what you can expect when you get there. No worries! We are here to help, every step of the way. Below you will find our Precoa Escapes packing guide as well as some travel tips. 

Check out our FAQs page for answers to commonly asked questions or email us at

Download Your Packing Guide

Know Before You Go

Travel tips to help you prepare for your adventure.

  • Panama is a hot, humid, tropical climate so we highly recommend packing lightweight, breathable fabrics. 
  • Sunscreen and bug spray are essentials!
  • Consider packing a reusable water bottle.
  • Check your excursions for any clothing or shoe requirements. 
  • Swimsuits and flip flops are generally only seen on the beach or at the pool. In Panama City, people tend to dress a bit nicer with short sleeved button downs, pants and loafers for men and dresses with heels or dressy separates and sandals for women. 
Preparing for the Flight
  • Download Entertainment: To pass the time while flying, consider downloading your favorite books, podcasts, music, movies and TV shows to your device.
  • Charge Up: Before leaving for the airport, ensure all of your devices are fully charged and charging cables are accessible in your carry-on.
  • Snacks and Drinks: Consider packing a few of your favorite snacks and drinks for the flight, but be sure to check TSA guidelines before bringing any liquids through security.
Panama Culture and Interactions
  • Panama is a fairly laid-back country, both in terms of its manners and lifestyle. Treating others with respect is important, and taking the time to be polite is necessary. Importance is placed on personal appearance and hygiene. Panamanians try to maintain a neat, conservative appearance when in public. Panamanians generally greet each other with a handshake or hug. Men shake hands with one another, unless they are related or close friends, in which case they may hug. Depending on the person they are meeting, women will either shake hands, hug, or kiss on the cheek. Panamanians value personal space, so touch during a conversation is somewhat unusual. Maintaining eye contact is also important and is seen as a sign of integrity. Below are a few more tips to keep in mind as you travel.
    • Panama is a very safe country but it’s always a good idea to stay in a group at night and avoid walking alone.
    • Make copies of your IDs and important contact phone numbers.
    • Leave valuables in your hotel room safe.
    • Do not carry all of your money on you.
    • When dining out, a 10-15% tip is customarily given to the server. Taxis add a tip into the price, as do hotels, which are required by law to include a 10% tourism tax. Bargaining is not widely practiced in Panama, although you may be able to get a discount when buying handicrafts at local markets. (Gratuity is already prepaid for all Escapes Excursions.)
Common Words & Phrases

It’s always helpful to know a few words and phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting. With Spanish being the official language of Panama, some words and phrases may already be quite familiar, and we’ve included a list below:

  • Que xopa: What’s up?. This is a very common greeting. 
  • Buenas: A catch all term for “hello”. Panama is a very friendly place and even strangers greet each other in passing. In more formal settings, the form ‘Buenas Dias’ (Good Day) or ‘Buenas Tardes’ (Good Evening) should be used instead.
  • Por favor: Please.
  • Gracias: Thank you.
  • Donde esta…?: Where is…?
  • Buen provecho: Enjoy your meal.  
  • Buco: A lot.
  • Ta’ cool: It’s all good or that’s okay.
  • Dale pues: It’s okay or I’m agreeable to that.
  • Esta salada: Literally to be salty, but in Panama it means to have bad luck. 
  • Chiva: A small bus.
  • Pinta: Beer.
  • Vino tinto: Red wine.
  • Fren: Friend
Customs & Immigration
  • When traveling to Panama guests must pass through Customs and Immigration. Customs Declaration Form will be handed out during the flight. At the Immigration Counters, guests will be asked to show their passport. They will also be asked to participate in a non- evasive biometric scanning. English language skills are limited in this area, but the process is quite easy.

    Guests will then proceed to the luggage claim area immediately after Immigration. After bags have been collected, guests will be directed to the Customs area. Customs will ask for the Customs Declaration Form. When the agent takes the form, bags and carry-on pieces may be put on the scan.

    Guests may then proceed and pick up their personal belongings at the other end of the scan and exit Customs to the right side through the glass doors where they will be met by one of our representatives that will be holding a sign with the Precoa logo and direct them to the pre-arranged vehicles. The transportation representatives are attired in red shirts with the Precoa logo and Khaki pants.