Holiday Accommodation Options in Panama
Information about where to stay when taking a holiday or traveling in Panama...
Panama's coastline has accommodation to suit all budgets, from backpacker hostels to all-inclusive resorts. Popular destinations on the Pacific coast include Coronado, Santa Clara, Farallon, San Carlos, Santa Catalina and Playa Blanca. These resorts offer a wide range of accommodation options. There are also tour companies that can organize a wide variety of activities including sightseeing tours, water sports and fishing. The Pearl Islands offer a more secluded experience and seasonal whale watching.
Panama City has a variety of hotels. These include budget hotels offering basic rooms, mid-range establishments, and luxury five-star resorts. There are also several high-end, boutique hotels. Hotel star ratings are based on amenities provided in the room.
Hotel demand often outweighs supply in Panama City, which means that room rates can be disproportionately high. Reservations at midrange and luxury hotels should be made well in advance, particularly during public holidays, the Carnival period and the dry season.
Panama City has seen a rapid growth in high-rise development and construction in recent years. This means that the vicinity of a hotel may look very different from what was originally advertised on its website. If booking a room with a view, it is advisable to contact the hotel in advance to confirm whether the view originally advertised is still available.
Establishments often charge the same rates for one or two guests. Prices should also be inclusive of Panama's room tax, which is ten percent.
Hotels are generally plentiful outside Panama City, except in and around Santiago and Veraguas, where establishments are regularly full. Reservations should be made in advance where possible.
Self-Catering Apartments and Holiday Rentals
Furnished, self-catering apartments (aparthotels) are plentiful in Panama City and range in price. Some include the use of a pool. There are often price discounts for long-term stays. Panama City's Casco Viejo district has several luxury apartments which can be rented by the night. The city also has several condo hotels (private apartments or homes which owners rent out on a timeshare basis).
Outside of Panama City, holiday rentals may be more expensive.
Bed & Breakfasts (B&Bs) and Guesthouses
B&Bs and Guesthouses are growing in popularity in Panama. Most are located in major tourist areas such as Panama City, Boquete and Bocas del Toro. Many are run by American expatriates. Establishments range from mid-range to luxury and can vary in price, quality of accommodation and amenities.
Hostels are becoming increasingly common in Panama, particularly in Panama City, Bocas del Toro and the busy inland towns. Many hostels operate as modest hotels with a hostel option. They provide modest accommodation in dormitories with shared bathrooms. Private rooms and bathrooms, as well as amenities such as air conditioning, are often available at an additional cost. Some establishments include a cooked breakfast and use of facilities such as a swimming pool, hot tub, library and film screenings in their rates. Some hostels also serve as unofficial travel agencies, providing advice to guests on travel in Panama, Colombia and Costa Rica.
Note that in Panama City, hostels can frequently change premises due to escalating rents. It is advisable to confirm the location of a hostel in advance.
Eco-lodges are high-end establishments which provide quality, environmentally-responsible accommodation in natural habitats. They provide good opportunities for wildlife-watching and hiking.
Informal homestays are available throughout Panama. Details can be found at local tourist information offices.
Towns in Panama do not have campsites, but there are camping facilities in many of the country's national parks. Some hostels and eco-lodges provide the option to camp in their grounds.
Camping in Panama carries some risks. In rural and jungle areas, feral animals and poisonous species of insects and reptiles can pose a threat. Camping near standing water should be avoided due to the risk of malaria and dengue fever.