What does a trip to Panama cost in 2024?

What do airline tickets cost?

Airline tickets to Panama

We flew from Brussels to Panama with Iberia, with a layover in Madrid.

Cost including 23 kg of checked baggage: € 720 per person. Are you doing almost the same distance, but you’re traveling without checked baggage? Then you are sure to find airline tickets for up to €600. 

How long in advance to book?

After keeping an eye on prices for some time, we decided to book the tickets 7 months in advance, partly because we were stuck with certain dates. But was it cheaper in the end? We kept tracking the prices, they went up and down from time to time, up to €40 per person less.

Domestic flights

Panama is not that big, so it is not really necessary to take a domestic flight. But if you want to make the whole tour AND don’t feel like taking the 12-hour long night bus from Bocas del Toro, a domestic flight is convenient.

In just one hour, we flew with Panama Air from Panama City to the archipelago of Bocas del Toro. In fact, it became my most beautiful flight ever!

You can book the flight up to a short time in advance. However, we did this several months in advance, especially since we would be going during the busy carnival period. The flight only goes a few times a day. We chose the 1 p.m. flight, which worked out perfectly with our check-out and check in times.

These are small planes that hold up to only 50 people, so if you want a guaranteed seat, it’s best to buy tickets as soon as you know your schedule.

The flight from Panama City to Bocas del Toro has cost us €95 per person, including checked baggage. Without checked baggage, this would be about €60.

Total cost of flights

In total, two of us paid €1,738.49 on the international flight, domestic flight and airport parking (for a month).

What does transportation cost?


You can travel all over the country by bus, and it’s quite cheap too. Some examples:

  • Bocas del Toro – Panama City: $28 – a 12-hour trip
  • Santa Catalina – Sona: $4.85 – a 2-hour trip
  • Sona – Panama City: $10 – a 5-hour trip

Panama City is also home to the so-called “Diablo rojos,” colorful, old American buses. Those cost you only 50 cents per ride. A ride on the regular bus costs one dollar.



A shuttle is more expensive than the regular bus, but usually, also a lot faster. You are often picked up at your hotel and dropped off at your next hotel.

  • Bocas del Toro – Boquete: $30 + 7% VAT
  • Boquete – Santa Catalina: $35 + 7% VAT
  • Santa Catalina – Panama City: $60

Prices seem to be pretty much the same everywhere, so it doesn’t matter whether you book the shuttles online or at a local office. We booked our shuttles from Bocas del Toro to Boquete, and from Boquete to Santa Catalina through Hello Travel Panama. From Santa Catalina to Panama City, we took the regular bus.

Cabs and collectivos

In Panama City, cab prices are negotiable and keep in mind to arrange a price on forehand. We find Ubers easier, and so we took mostly Ubers. Twice we took a cab, and then we kept Uber as a target price and went only a little above. Within the city, you often spend no more than $3 to $5 dollars. The longest trip was from Panama City to Gamboa, about 45 minutes, this cost us $20.

In Boquete, there seemed to be less room for negotiation because there was sometimes more demand than supply. There, we just accepted the price they quoted. To a trail a few miles out of the center, this was often no more than $6 to $8 for the two of us.

In Bocas del Toro, there are shared cabs and fixed prices. For example, we paid $2 per person from Nowhere to the center of Bocas Town. Only at night it can be a little more expensive. A water cab often costs around $5 per person.

A collectivo, a kind of shuttle for short distances and which runs at certain times, usually costs $2.50.

Renting a car

We normally rent cars through Sunnycars. Here you have maximum insurance, so there is never any hassle in case of damage or an accident. Many people rent a car in Panama City and return it in the town of David, near Boquete.

A rental car makes your trip a lot more expensive, but of course it gives you a lot of freedom too. For a rental car, including all-in insurance, you will spend about €50 per day.

Check car rental prices through Sunnycars here. You can always cancel free of charge up to 1 hour before the rental start.

We only wanted to rent a car for one day when we were in Boquete. We did this at Boquete Cowboy Cars, which we also had a very good experience with. This cost us $50, including a $10 one-time cleaning fee.


Total cost of transportation

In total, two of us paid €379.79 for the shuttles, a rental car (1 day), Ubers, (water) cabs and buses.

How much does accommodation cost?

Accommodation is fairly pricey in Panama, but also depends on the “luxury” you want.

If you settle for a dorm, you’re pretty cheap in Panama. For €15 to €35 you will find something nice. If you want a private room with shared bathroom, you pay on average between €35 and €50 per night. For a hotel room with private bathroom, you can go as crazy as you want, but often starting at €50. Our cheapest room was €59 and the most expensive €137.

The most convenient thing to do is to set a budget in advance. Thus, I wanted to spend an average maximum of €95 per night on hotels (we had something to celebrate 😉 ). Not counting San Blas.

In Bocas del Toro, we slept in a kind of hobbit house. Then in a cottage on the water, in Boquete we slept in a castle and in Panama City we always had a view of the skyline. In other words, we did it pretty crazy this trip in terms of accommodation, and so this can be much cheaper.

For €70 to €80 a night, you’re already pretty luxurious, and especially if you book early.


Total cost of accommodations

In total, we paid €2,299 in accommodations for 24 nights with 2 people. That comes out to €95.79 per night. These were all beautiful accommodations in prime locations.

We made some last minute changes that made some hotels more expensive AND we opted at the end for a super-deluxe stay in a beautiful nature reserve, which cost no less than €137 per night, including breakfast. We do have to mention that all the most expensive hotels had breakfast included.

We did not include San Blas in these calculations, you will find that cost in the next section.

Excursions / activities

Excursions take up a fairly large portion of the budget in Panama. Below we show some prices of the excursions per person. We did not do all the excursions ourselves 😉


  • Guided India Vieja hike: $45
  • Zip line: $65 + $15 for a USB with the photos
  • White water rafting: $65
  • Coffee tour: $30
  • Access The Lost Waterfalls trail: $10
  • Access The Pipeline trail: $5

Bocas del Toro

  • Zapatilla Island: $30
  • ATV rental full day + jungle access + gasoline + 2nd person: $155
  • bioluminescent plankton excursion (bioluminescent plankton): $30

Santa Catalina

  • Coiba snorkel day tour: $80 – $100 depending on provider + $20 National Park fee
  • Coiba dive day tour: $150 + $20 National Park fee
  • Boat to Isla Catalina (return) $30
  • Kayak rental all day: $40
  • Surf lesson: $35
  • Surfboard rental all day; $10

Panama City

  • Emberra + monkey island + transfer Panama City: $120
  • Poin Panama: $80
  • Entrance Panama Viejo: $15


  • Aerial streetcar: $45 + 7% VAT
  • Bike rental at the Chino: $6 + $4 per hour

Multi-day excursion in San Blas

San Blas was perhaps the most expensive excursion we have ever done and immediately the longest and most inclusive. A visit to the San Blas Islands cannot be missed when you go to Panama. At least, if you like bounty islands.

If you start researching prices, you will see that there are a lot of options. Ranging from $130 for a day tour to $510 for 4 nights. Per person yes.

We opted for the “3 days, 2 nights” tour, and even then there are huge choices. But what is the difference? Prices are based on the island’s beauty factor, accommodation options, size and quality of food. Actually, cheap is expensive here. If you decide to do this expensive tour, do not choose the cheapest one, because chances are it will be a bad experience.

We chose the Yanis Island and the private over water bungalow.

Cost: $270 per person. Includes transportation, 6 meals and tours. There is also an additional $23 per person as an “entrance fee” to the Kuna Yala area. You can read more about my experience on San Blas here.

Total cost of excursions

In total, for two people, we paid €1,388.72 in excursions and entrance fees. This includes the San Blas excursion that took up more than a third of the budget.

What does food & drink cost?

For a good breakfast in Panama, you pay between $6 and $10.

A normal dinner in a restaurant costs between $10 to $15. If you eat in a “fonda,” a place where mostly locals eat, you will spend between $4 and $8 per meal. In Panama, you also see many Mexican restaurants, where you generally spend $4 per taco.

A burger at a stand usually costs $5, a dollar more if you want cheese on it.

Soft drinks or a juice costs about $2. Half a liter of water will cost you $0.50, $1 for one liter, and $2 for two liters.

Our restaurant costs went up seriously in Gamboa. There you pay $30 per person + 7% VAT for the dinner buffet.

Want to do your own shopping? Pay close attention to supermarket prices, as some products can be quite expensive. For example, cheese is very expensive. Usually they do sell individual cheddar slices, so you don’t spend $10 all at once. But even strawberries and vegetables, for example, are much more expensive there than here in Belgium! Our “money-saving” lunch meal from the supermarket was often hot dogs. Not expensive and super tasty!

What does alcohol cost in Panama?

A national beer (Balboa) from the supermarket will cost you about $1 in Panama.

At bars or restaurants, a beer usually costs $2.50. With outliers of up to $5 at the fancier spots, such as a rooftop bar in Panama City or Gamboa. On San Blas, we paid $2 a can of beer.

Wine often costs $6 a glass; one time we found it for only $4. In the supermarket, you can find bottles of wine starting at $6.

A cocktail costs between $6 and $15 dollars, depending on the location and view.

Other costs

Getting the laundry done

Those who travel more than 3 weeks will undoubtedly have their laundry done. This usually costs $10 per bag. What is considered a bag? When you go grocery shopping, you most likely buy a green, reusable bag, that size is counted as one bag.

You usually get your laundry back within a few hours, ironed and folded. Tip: don’t bring clothes that are too tight, chances are your clothes will shrink slightly in the dryer 😉

SIM card

We bought an eSIM in Panama instead of a physical SIM card. This one was slightly more expensive than buying a SIM card locally. This cost me $32. 50 for 5 GB on 30 days. 

Do you also want an eSIM? Through Airalo, get $3 off with the code: KIMBER7371


Insect Spray

DEET or insect repellent is better bought in Panama, not in Belgium, or other non-tropical countries. We were advised to OFF Deep Woods spray by locals, and it also turned out to work super well. In our opinion, the orange version worked a lot less well.

We paid $8.75 a bottle and used up two during our month in Panama.


In Panama, it is normal to tip if you are satisfied. About 10% is “normal. Wages are quite low and life in Panama is comparatively expensive, so a tip is greatly appreciated by locals.

Bank fees in Panama

Cash withdrawals in Panama cost $6.50 each time, and you can withdraw a maximum of $250 per transaction. Only once we find an ATM that charged only $5.50.

In most restaurants and hotels you can just pay by card, which cost us nothing extra thanks to Wise & Revolut.

We were able to save a lot of money in bank fees thanks to our Wise and Revolut cards. Had we done this through our own Belgian banks, we would have lost a lot more. Read more about it here!

Total bank charges

In total, we paid €125 in local bank fees + fees applicable at Revolut and Wise. Spread over 8 $250 withdrawals.

Conclusion: what does a month of travel in Panama cost?

In total, our 4-week trip to Panama for 2 people cost about €7,500. Our breakdown:

  • Flights + parking: €1,738.49
  • Accommodations: €2,299
  • Excursions: €1,388.72
  • Transportation: €379.79

The above added up to €5,787.59. That means we additionally gained €40 per person per day on food, drinks, tips, laundry, souvenirs and other groceries.


What does Panama cost per person per day?

We spent €110 per person per day – not including airfare. But there’s a big caveat to that. We did lots of cool excursions, slept in special hotels in the best locations, often took shuttles instead of public transportation, went out a few times and drank lots of beers.

Sometimes we did eat in fondas, made our own breakfast/lunch, and bought alcohol from the supermarket.

Last but not least, it was high season, and also during the week of Carnival, which also drove up prices.

So this can be much cheaper, especially don’t be put off. You can easily save on accommodation, transportation, excursions and other expenses. For €60 per person per day, you certainly can travel in Panama.

Panama may not be the cheapest country, but you can make it as expensive or cheap as you want!