Today we have a guest post from intrepid traveller Jess Tripelio, who has some very nice things to say about the interior of Panama.
Ten Reasons Panama’s Interior Should Top Your Bucket List
Panama is a beautiful country known for its friendly people, stunning landscapes, and glitzy Panama City, but too many travelers stick to the beaches and the metropolises and ignore its interior. Although other parts of Panama definitely have their merits too, Panama’s interior is not to be missed! In no particular order, here are ten reasons the countryside provinces in the heart of Panama should be at the top of your travel bucket list this year:
1. The Scenery
Panama is lucky enough to have it all, from beaches to mountains. Whether you’re interested in climbing, trekking, or a whole host of other outdoors activities, Panama’s interior is sure to have something for you. Make sure you bring your camera; even the novice photographer will find that there’s no way to take a bad photo of the interior!
2. The Climate
While other parts of Panama can get a bit too warm, there are parts of the mountainous interior that retain a spring-like climate throughout the year. Boquete, in the Chiriqui Province, makes a great base for hiking, hanging out, and more—but you have plenty of other options as well!
3. The Food
Get away from the more touristy parts of Panama and you’ll be able to discover all the delights of traditional Panamanian cuisine. Root vegetables, rice and beans are typical parts of a meal, as is beef, pork or chicken. Depending on where you go, you may also find that seafood plays an important part in the diet. You’ll find corn in the diet as you would in other parts of Latin America, but in Panama, it’s usually made into a thick dough that can be used for dishes like arepas (thick maize cakes) or tamales (maize dough wrapped in leaves and boiled). Whatever you try, it’s sure to be delicious!
4. The Navigation
Panama’s interior is easy to traverse because a lot of it lies along one main highway or along offsprings from that highway. Coming from Panama City, you can take Highway 4 to Highway 1 and you’ll cross most of the country from east to west—although of course you’ll want to stop off at spots along the way! Instead of poring over maps as you drive, you’ll free up your eyes to take a good look at the breathtaking scenery.
5. The Language
They speak Spanish in Panama, but with a different accent than you might find in other parts of Central or South America. Actually, Panamanian Spanish is more similar to Caribbean or coastal Colombian Spanish—but if you’re looking for a place to learn or brush up on your Spanish, it’s a great choice. If you want to start before you go, you can use the free Duolingo app on your smartphone and learn at home or on the go. Just make sure you’re using a VPN so that the information your smartphone shares with the app is encrypted: hackers often target tourists.
6. The People
Talk to anyone who’s been to Panama and they’ll say the people are some of the friendliest they’ve ever met—and the further you get away from the bustle of the cities, the friendlier the people get! Whether or not you speak Spanish, you’ll find that people will try to get to know you or help you out of a tricky situation.
7. Carnaval in Las Tablas
Panama’s population is predominantly Roman Catholic, but that doesn’t prevent traces of older religions from sneaking into ceremonies. One of the most important ceremonies is Carnaval, and Las Tablas, in the Panamanian interior, claims to host one of the most traditional versions of the event. During this time, you’ll be treated to musical performances, parades, parties and much more!
8. It’s Visa-Free for Many Visitors
Visitors from the US, Canada, the EU, and more don’t need to worry about getting visas prior to their entry into Panama, as long as their stay will be for less than 180 days. And if your stay will be longer, you may even be able to get a visa extension for 30, 60 or 90 days. This makes it a very easy country to enter.
9. The Cost of Living
Panama City and the Panamanian beach areas often just aren’t the budget-friendly destinations that you’ll find in other parts of Central America. Move into the interior of the country, though, and you’ll find that prices drop considerably. It doesn’t meant that these cheaper areas are worth any less, either, it just means that they’re generally less touristic. Panama is great in that you really have options regarding your budget: you can do it on a shoestring if you want or you can splurge.
10. Because, Well—It’s Panama!
Really, it’s difficult to think of a reason not to travel to Panama. It makes for a relatively cheap vacation spot in a place that has everything from beaches to mountains and things of interest to everyone from foodie to photographer. If you’ve been to Panama, you know what I’m talking about—and if you haven’t been, there’s no reason not to put it on your bucket list!
Have you been to Panama’s interior? What was your favorite part? Do you have any recommendations for other travelers? Let us know in the Comments area!