Sunday, August 7, 2022

Stay Safe & Healthy in Panama

North AmericaPanamaStay Safe & Healthy in Panama

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Stay Safe in Panama

Most of Panama is very safe. People in the rural areas are generally extremely friendly and helpful. If you want to visit Latin America but are paranoid about safety, Panama might be a good place to cut your teeth. One exception is the border region between Panama and Colombia, which is considered extraordinarily dangerous because of Colombian rebel groups and drug traffickers. Most of Colon City is considered dangerous [www], and some parts of Panama City are a bit grim, especially El Chorrillo, Curundu and El Marañón, poor and crime-ridden areas. The old colonial neighbourhood, Casco Viejo (also called San Felipe), has a bad reputation among travellers and some Panamanians, but it is quickly being gentrified. During the day, San Felipe is perfectly safe for foreigners. At night, the main streets and squares and the bar and restaurant district towards the tip are also safe, but visitors should exercise caution when travelling north on Avenida Central towards Chorillo.

Stay Healthy in Panama

Panama is known for its excellent medical care, which has recently made it a hotspot for medical holidays.

Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for all visitors over 9 months of age in the provinces of Darien, Kunayala (San Blas) and Panama, excluding the Canal Zone. Most countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination before allowing travellers to enter Panama.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control [www] report that there is a risk of malaria in rural areas of Bocas del Toro, Darién and San Blas provinces; no risk in Panama City or the former Canal Zone. NB: Chloroquine is no longer effective in San Blas province.

Dengue fever is endemic, especially in Darien province.

Tap water is safe in almost all towns, with the exception of Bocas del Toro, where it is recommended to use bottled water.

Travelling women should be aware that the humidity and heat of the tropics can favour yeast infections. Three- and five-day treatments are available in pharmacies, but should be obtained from the pharmacist.

There are many hospitals that can provide first-class care to tourists. Many accept international insurance policies, but your insurance company may require you to pay upfront and submit a claim form. Check with your health insurance company before you travel to find out the requirements for submitting a claim for reimbursement abroad, as you usually won’t receive an itemised bill (including diagnosis and treatment codes) if you don’t request it. Here are some of the best facilities in Panama City:

  • Hospital Nacional [www] – Modern private hospital on Avenida Cuba, between 38 and 39 streets, tel. 207-8100.
  • San Fernando Hospital Clinic
  • Hospital Paitilla is a well-equipped hospital where traditionally the wealthy upper class of Panama goes for treatment.
  • Punta Pacifica Hospital [www]isa newly opened hospital near Multiplaza Mall and is now operated by Johns Hopkins International. It attracts some doctors from outside Paitilla.
  • Santo Tomas Hospital is considered by many emergency physicians and medical professionals to be the best for trauma care because of the number of trauma patients. Like Cook County Hospital in Chicago, the medical teams at Santo Tomas see many types of trauma every day and are well equipped to treat these cases. Once a patient is triaged, they can be transferred to a private facility.

Farmacia Arrocha, a pharmacy chain, has branches all over the country. Gran Morrison’s department stores often have pharmacies too.

The new 911 system is now only in operation for medical emergencies. Most of the coverage is in and around Panama City. However, during major holidays or national celebrations, 911 units are stationed throughout the country, including Las Tablas, David, Chitre and Santiago.

Medical evacuation flights are not as organised as in the EU, Canada and the United States. Until a medical helicopter service is operational, the only option for rapid evacuation within the country is to charter a small plane or helicopter that can carry a stretcher. Fees are charged to a credit card or paid in cash. Contact air charter companies for a quote. Typically, a medical flight in a small twin-engine plane from David to Panama City costs $4,000. Helicopters are significantly more expensive. A new air medical transport service for private members is now available. Membership for tourists costs $10 for 90 days of coverage.

Foreign evacuation flights are usually operated by air ambulance services from Miami and cost between US$18,000 and over US$30,000 depending on medical necessity.

Travellers with pre-existing conditions or those at risk should check their insurance cover for these flights. Do not assume that the credit card’s travel insurance will cover the costs. Many only cover up to $1,000.

Cleanliness and personal hygiene: Toilets are amazingly clean and well-maintained, even in the most remote areas and smallest restaurants in the country. They far surpass most North American public facilities in this regard. In most areas, it is customary to dispose of toilet paper in the designated wastebasket, not in the toilet. Most remote areas do not have adequate septic systems to handle toilet paper waste. This is especially true along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.

How To Travel To Panama

By air International flights arrive at Tocumen International Airport (IATA: PTY), located about 30 kilometres east of Panama City (from all countries) or at David Airport (from Costa Rica with AirPanama). PTY Panama City is well connected to the Americas and offers non-stop flights to almost 20 countries in the...

How To Travel Around Panama

By bus There are two types of buses in Panama: those on the highway and the "city buses" (metro buses) that have replaced the Diablos Rojos (Red Devils). The highway buses run constantly between the terminals in Panama City and various destinations along the Pan American Highway and then return to...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Panama

Countries whose citizens have a passport valid for at least 6 months at the time of entry do not require a visa for entry to Panama: (among others) Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Uruguay....

Destinations in Panama

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Accommodation & Hotels in Panama

Panama's hotels are as diverse as its geography. Panama City has as much glamour and glitz as New York, without the high prices. You can find 5-star hotels in the heart of the city or venture into the smaller neighbourhoods where former canal barracks have been converted into guesthouses....

Food & Drinks in Panama

Food in Panama In the big cities you will find all kinds of food, from French haute cuisine to the freshest sushi. There are Arabic, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican restaurants... whatever you feel like. Outside the cities, the choice is largely Panamanian, with seafood and beef in abundance, thanks to the...

Money & Shopping in Panama

Panama is home to the largest free trade zone in the hemisphere, the Colon Free Trade Zone. There are also a number of large American-style shopping malls, such as Multicentro, Albrook Mall, Multiplaza Pacific and the newest Metromall. However, prices vary considerably from mall to mall - Albrook is...

Festivals & Holidays in Panama

1 January, New Year's Day9 January, Martyrs' Day (Panama)Shrove Monday. The Monday before Ash Wednesday.Shrove Tuesday. The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.Good Friday - Death of Christ1 May, from 1 May to Labour Day1 July. (every 5 years) Inauguration of the President3 November. Separation Day (from Colombia).4 November. Flag Day5...

Language & Phrasebook in Panama

When you cross the border between Costa Rica and Panama, you will notice a distinct change in dialect. True to its Caribbean orientation, Panamanian Spanish is much closer to Puerto Rican than to Tico or Nicaraguan. For students with Mexican or European Spanish, this may take some getting used...

Internet & Communications in Panama

The most popular app for calling and texting in Panama is WhatsApp. Viber is also used. With these apps you can call and text for free with people who use the same app. This is the case for many Panamanians. Panama has one of the most advanced telecommunications systems in...

Traditions & Customs in Panama

How to dress The Panamanians seem to care about their appearance. Don't try to dress up to fit in, just be yourself. That means you don't have to wear a suit everywhere either. Just dress conservatively and smartly. For men, clean jeans and a shirt with a pressed collar are sufficient...

Culture Of Panama

Panama's culture is derived from European music, art and traditions brought to Panama by the Spanish. The hegemonic forces created hybrid forms by mixing African and Amerindian culture with European culture. The tamborito, for example, is a Spanish dance that was mixed with African rhythms, themes and dance movements. Dance...

History Of Panama

Panama was mainly colonised by the Spanish. Scotland, which was an independent country at the time, made a short-lived attempt at colonisation in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The failure was so spectacular that it led to the bankruptcy of the Scottish treasury and subsequently to the...



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