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- Capital city: Panama City.
- Currency: Officially, the currency is the Palamanian Balboa, which is worth the same as a US Dollar. As it’s only available in cent-pieces many visitors just use US dollars, which are also legal tender.
- Cuisine: Traditional Panamanian cuisine is influenced by Spanish, Afro-Caribbean, and indigenous culture. A staple dish to try is casado – a platter of coconut rice, beans, meat and local fruit and veg. Plantain is another speciality, both as a savoury side or cinnamon-sprinkled treat called tajadas.
- Tipping etiquette: Tipping is customary throughout Panama. 10% is expected in restaurants, and a 10% service charge is usually added to hotel bills.
- Saying hello: A simple ‘hola’ works perfectly well as a casual greeting. For a more formal hello, try ‘buenos días’.
WHEN TO GO
A dry heat sweeps over Panama from the Caribbean from mid-December to mid-April – ideal for beach dwelling or hiking to hidden waterfalls. The streets are quieter as it’s not yet holiday season, so you’ll have more space to explore. What’s more, there’s a number of festivals to enjoy, including showstopping flower (and coffee) festival, Feria de las Flores y del Café. And here, low season isn’t all that low. Temperatures float around the 30 mark through the rest of the year, the heat broken by welcome showers that cool the air.
For a day of adventure, take a canoe to Embera Village. Explore the rainforest, chase waterfalls and get to know the local tribe.
Top tip from SLH