One of the main streets in Bocas Town, Panama

Solo Travel: Is it Safe to Travel Alone in Panama?

If you’re travelling solo through several different countries, you’re probably going to come across some that are more safe than others. It’s never a good idea to assume that a country is safe to be in, especially in Central America. However, most countries in Central America are safe to travel in as long as you take precautions and keep your wits about you, and Panama is no exception.

Panama is famous for a few things, from cultural spectaculars like the Panama Canal to the island-hopping parties in Bocas del Toro (yes, your gal did both). But there’s so much more to see in Panama: untouched beaches in Guna Yala, hiking in Boquete, surfing on the Atlantic coast or scuba diving in the Caribbean. 

Until the recent increase in tourism to Central America, Panama wasn’t much of a tourist destination, but that’s all changing! 

I went on a four month solo adventure in Latin America at the beginning of this year, and I spent two weeks in Panama travelling by myself. It was completely worth it and, for the most part, felt reasonably safe to me.

Remember that the rainy season in Panama is from May to November, the summer months for Europeans. This can cause added logistical difficulties when you’re moving around, so bear this in mind when you’re planning.

Because their tourism industry is still developing, it can feel quite chaotic if you’re travelling from place to place by bus or boat. I actually met one guy who’d been put on an overnight bus going completely the wrong direction, even though the drivers had checked his ticket! So, double check where you’re going and keep an eye on your bags, but all in all you should be fine.

Common Sense for Solo Travelers in Panama

This isn’t unique to Panama but in fact to travelling anywhere: wherever there are tourists, there are pickpockets. It happens all over the world, including in Europe, and it happens in Panama too. It’s also easy to fall victim to street scams or petty theft if you don’t have your wits about you when you’re travelling.

I found myself wanting to keep my bag close to me and my cash at home when I was walking the streets of Panama City. 

Whilst Panama is a fairly safe country, it is a good idea to take precautions. A lot of thieves will go around looking for easy targets, so you’re usually fine as long as you keep your valuables well hidden. For solo female travelers, I wouldn’t necessarily say that you’re more at risk of being pickpocketed or robbed. 

Always ask at your hostel or hotel reception, but you can usually drink the tap water without any problems in Panama. Street food can be a little more iffy – stick to things that you see cooked on the grill or hot plate in front of you and avoid anything raw (salads and smoothies bought on the street are a big culprit for food poisoning, because they often aren’t washed properly).

When it comes to carrying cash in Central America, you have to find a balance between how much you want to carry on your person, and the sizable ATM fees in Panama. It costs upwards of $6.50 to withdraw money at a cash machine, so it makes the most sense financially to take out the maximum amount, which is usually $250 USD (which is the official currency in Panama). But who wants to carry $250 cash with them on the streets of Central America? Not me, that’s for sure. 

Luckily for me I was in Costa Rica before crossing to Panama, where I withdrew dollars for free which lasted me quite some time. If you’re travelling from Costa Rica to Panama, make sure you take out cash before you go and save yourself that $6.50!

Uber is legal and the safest way to get a ride anywhere in Panama.Costa Rica is a safe place, and it’s also home to some of the most diverse nature and scenery on the planet, especially for such a small country…

Read more about Central America: What to Pack for Backpacking in Central America

Travelling Alone in the Rest of Central America

Costa Rica is the safest country in Central America (and one of the safest in the whole of Latin America), but Panama comes in second. 

Of course, every country will have safer places and more dangerous places. Different countries in Central America, like Honduras and El Salvador, are known for high rates of violent crime, so wherever you go, make sure you do your research.

One of the best ways to find out where is safe is to ask the locals, and ask the people that work at your hotel or hostel. This is because the situation with regards to safety is always changing, and these people are likely to know the latest information about where is and isn’t safe.

Is it Safe to Travel Solo in Panama City?

Panama City is the capital city of Panama, known for its world-famous canal, and if you’re flying into the country it will most likely be the first stop on your trip. There are some areas of Panama City in which you have to be careful – there are plenty of safe areas to stay in Panama City, but there are some unsafe areas too. Make sure you do your research before you go! 

I stayed in Mamallena Hostel in Panama City, and whilst the hostel was very nice the area wasn’t great (and they’re up front about that in their advertising!). If you want to stay in a safer area, the best idea is probably to stay in the old town (casco viejo).

In general, as long as you practise some common sense, you will be fine in Panama City. If areas are less crowded or feel run down, only go there during the day with anything valuable well concealed. Try to stick to crowded areas and places that are more touristy, and you will be fine!

The Best Places to Travel Alone in Panama

Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is famous for its parties, especially Filthy Friday, which is the self-proclaimed only island-hopping bar crawl in Central America. Thanks to said party vibes, large crowds of tourists flock to this archipelago in the Caribbean Sea every year. Click here for my guide on travelling from Costa Rica to Bocas del Toro.

When I was staying in Bocas del Toro (or Bocas, for short), there were a lot of building works going on on the main island, Isla Colón, which we were told made the island temporarily less safe thanks to the influx of new workers. However, I never felt particularly unsafe and they are usually very safe islands.


Boquete is also very much on the tourist trail and, therefore, considered fairly safe. As always, you should watch your belongings, and as Boquete is a bit out of the way it can take some time to get there and you may pass through some less well known areas.

San Blas Islands / Guna Yala

The San Blas archipelago on the Caribbean coast of Panama is now officially known as Guna Yala. You can’t visit the perfect white sand beaches of the San Blas Islands without a guide or some kind of tour, because it’s so gorgeously remote and difficult to access. Guna Yala is owned and governed by the indigenous Guna community and crime there is almost unheard of.

El Valle de Anton

El Valle de Anton (also known as Anton Valley, which sounds so iconically British I had to laugh when I heard it), is a small town to the west of Panama City. It is also considered a safe place to visit in Panama, although the streets do get quiet at night time.


Overall, I had the best experience in Panama, and I would recommend it to solo travellers. Latin America can be difficult to navigate when you’re on your own, but I never felt like I was in much danger in Panama. 

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