Panama is just starting to take off as a major tourist destination, and many areas remain deliciously free of crowds while offering the same pristine wilderness and action-packed adventure as its more popular neighbor, Costa Rica. Panama is but a thin squiggle of a country, but it has a wealth of diversity packed within its borders, from lush rainforests to sultry beaches to craggy mountain peaks—all of which can be reached by a short drive or flight. The Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean are so close to each other that you can swim in both in 1 day. If you’re a nature lover, consider that Panama is a land bridge between North and South America, and hundreds of wildlife species—more than 900 species of birds alone—meet here at the isthmus, providing a rich environment for eco-travel. 

Panama is a safe country, too, and Panamanians are some of the friendliest people in Latin America. So many residents speak English that it could almost be called Panama’s second language. And in comparison to Costa Rica’s, Panama’s infrastructure and capital city are decidedly more modern, and travel budgeting is easier considering that the country’s national monetary unit is the U.S. dollar. 

So now the question isn’t whether you should go, but when? What is the best time to visit, and which destinations should you visit? How can you preplan a trip and find cheap deals and other tantalizing offers? These are just a few of the questions that this guide answers to help you plan an unforgettable vacation. 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.