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Top 5 Luxury Travel Tips for Visiting Panama

Following is a list of the main factors to consider prior to booking your luxury experience in Panama. You’re not traveling to Europe nor to North America, so best is to be informed.

Panama and other countries in Central America region for that matter are synonymous with passion, spirituality, heritage, sunlight, coastline, sandy shores, prosperity, and volcanic warmth. Inhabited by people whose ancestry traces back to ancient and diverse cultures. The blending of these cultures with Europeans and Africans has resulted in a distinctive and unparalleled fusion that characterizes the region.

Traditional Panamanian dress
Traditional Panamanian dress

Luxury travel, although certainly possible in some on the Central American countries is still in its early stages. Prepare yourself for the best luxury travel escapade in Panama by following our tips:

1. Book in Advance: Much like other luxury travel destinations around the world, including the best deals on luxury hotels, different accommodation possibilities and attractions are booked months in advance. When booking a private all inclusive catamaran charter in San Blas, we recommend doing so at least 6 months to a year ahead, otherwise you will not have the chance to book that catamaran with the best service, air conditioning and huge list of water toys. Same thing happens if you want to book a stay in one of the main Jungle Lodges available in Panama. Booking earliest possible is essential to not only enjoying the best deals, but like in much of the most sought out places, have your reservation come through and receive final confirmation.

Gamboa Resort Panama
Gamboa Resort

Coming from Abroad and need a flight into Panama? A study shows that you'll save an average of 10% by booking six months in advance instead of two months or less. American Airlines flies from the US to Panama for as little as $300/way if you book in advance. Budget airlines also have reasonable prices for flying to PTY Tocumen Airport in Panama City. Local flights from Panama to San Blas are private and have steady price throughout the year. Early booking is advisable due to the limited amount of planes available. Flying privately to San Blas is indeed a luxury compared to other means of entering San Blas such a road transfer.

Flights to San Blas
Flights to San Blas, local landing strip

2. Quality, Privacy and Exclusivity: You are looking for elevated comfort, uniqueness, and first-rate facilities. Popular and packed attractions with big queues and waiting times are not luxurious by definition. You do not want to fall into a tourist trap. Your luxury travel in Panama might involve traveling in private planes, dining at fine and exclusive establishments, staying in opulent hotels, and taking part in unique activities like spa services or upscale tours. Panama has this and much more to offer to international travelers with a discerning mind.

Hard Rock Hotel in Panama
Roof top bar at Hard Rock Hotel in Panama

Some destinations within Panama like the San Blas islands are considered a luxury destination but understand that land based accommodation offer is extremely basic for the most part and the only luxury hotels in San Blas are the floating condos with sails or catamarans as you would call it. Same thing happens with Bocas del Toro, the two poles coexist and the big island of Colon is packed with budget travelers. Head over to Bastimentos, the island next by, and you will find a totally different and luxurious context with Red Frog, a high end resort offering a catalog of luxury experiences.

Luxury catamaran rental in San Blas
Luxury catamaran in San Blas
Red frog beach resort
Red Frog Beach Resort

3. Customisation: Being able to configure all aspects of your trip can only be successfully implemented by travel agencies with enough resources to coordinate diligently all aspects of your trip.

Food on board catamaran charter  in San Blas
Lobster meal in San Blas

Responsiveness of the guest relations representative should be fluid and to the point. Check in and check out times, food and drink preferences, allergies, room distribution and allocation, activities included and all details have to be included either in your confirmation email or in forward communications. In Spanish we say "words are carried away by the wind" so best make sure your petitions are included in the feedback. Likewise all what’s included and not, should be informed to the finest detail before and after your reservation.

4. Travel Safe: The San Blas islands are completely safe and there is absolutely no crime or any safety concern while on your sailing trip and this is due to the vigilance of the indigenous and their tight communities where any issues are swiftly resolved by the chiefs. The rest of Panama is a different story and although touristic areas are totally safe, others have petty crime such as pickpocketing and purse snatching which can definitely be avoided if you follow simple precautions.

Casco Antiguo Panama
Casco Antiguo Panama: safe

- Ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times - Do not displaying cash if possible - Use ATMs located inside banks - Don’t walk alone after dark - Remain vigilant in all public places, especially at airports and bus terminals

El Chorrillo Panama
El Chorrillo, Panama, unsafe

The "juegavivo" is also not uncommon in Panama. This is the person who is constantly trying to pull a fast one. Be on the lookout for these characters. Know the neighbourhood you are visiting: Santa Ana is one of those locations, situated right next to Casco Viejo, a highly popular tourist hotspot for nightlife and enjoyable dining experiences. Although it is pricier than other places, it's charming and accommodating to tourists. However, venturing a few streets further may land you in less pleasant surroundings. While it isn't overly perilous for the locals, tourists are generally easier targets for thieves. There are other similar areas, such as El Chorrillo, Calidonia, and Cerro Batea, but they are sufficiently distant from touristic locations you might explore.

5. Patience Late minute changes such as assigning you a different room at your hotel, attraction times and other service conditions, specially during peak season are not uncommon in Panama. It is most important on your side to understand how any change affects you and the terms of the service and alternative possibilities available, such as compensations, upgrades and/or downgrades offered. If you have traveled to Panama and other locations around Central America you will have probably already experienced such modifications in conditions or service terms. "Stuff happens" and the issue here is not to get carried away by that feeling of unrest but to use the energy to repair the damage by understanding the situation and assessing alternatives offered.

San Blas catamaran cruise
Unbeatable San Blas catamaran cruise

When it comes to booking a catamaran in the San Blas islands you could either fetch a catamaran of one of the sole proprietors that works with only one boat in San Blas or you can go with a well stablished charter company that can provide an alternative in case that tor example, the catamaran engine fails or similar. Boats are componed on hundreds of parts and they fail, they really do fail and they do so at the worst moment!

Stay informed, as tourism in Panama develops, so do new luxury attractions, things to do and places to stay.


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