Cost Panama


How much does traveling in Panama cost? Can you travel around on a smaller budget or do you need to bring a bag of money?

Panama is not the cheapest country in Central America. Where Costa Rica has the image of being pricey, Panama is too. But that doesn’t mean you should forgo it on a smaller budget. Even if you have less to spend, you can still visit Panama, you just have to choose a little more what you spend your money on. Below we give an overview of the possible costs that you can expect. A distinction is made here between the basic backpacker and the backpacker+ for whom it can all be a bit more luxurious. The costs described are per person per day, unless otherwise indicated.


In Panama, Balboa, which is equivalent to the U.S. dollar, is the currency used. The only difference is that the Balboa has a $1 coin instead of bill, otherwise it is identical. If you want to withdraw cash, it is good to keep in mind that you can withdraw a maximum of $250 per day and there is a $5 transaction fee per withdrawal.


Overnight stays are one of the biggest expenses incurred. A bed in a dorm in a hostel costs between €10 – €15, a 2-berth room with (shared) bathroom costs around €35 per night, with the more luxurious variants available from €50. If you sleep alternately in a dorm and occasionally want your own room then you can expect to pay around €17.50 on average per night. If you prefer to sleep a little more privately and luxuriously, count on an average of €30 per person per night.

Food and drink

Panama has the so-called Fondas, which are eateries that serve local dishes for between €5 – €10. On average, a coffee costs €2.50, a beer €2, a lunch €5 – €10 and a dinner €10 – €15. Many ho(s)tels also have access to a kitchen, and the supermarkets have all the usual products for sale.

If you cook a lot yourself and occasionally eat out or get street food with the occasional coffee or beer on the terrace, you can expect to pay €17.50 on average per day. If you like to eat out and it can be a bit more luxurious, you can take into account an average of €40 per day.


The activities in Panama are in the interior often the hikes you can do. Most hikes are free and for hikes that are better maintained you often pay a few dollars. A snorkeling or diving tour in Santa Catalina is easily €80. A visit to Bocas del Toro can be done pretty well on budget, but for a visit to the San Blas Islands you can quickly count on €100 per day. Depending on what you are going to do, set your budget.


Public transportation in Panama is excellent. There are very regular buses for the longer distances (around €10) and minibuses for the shorter distances (around €5 or less). There are also shuttles that run between the highlights. An easy way, often a bit faster, but also more expensive. For a ride between Santa Catalina and Panama City you will easily spend €60, by public transport the same ride will cost about €20.

If you want to go a short distance by cab, agree on a price in advance. Often it is a matter of a few euros at a time.

In Panama City, you can travel very easily and cheaply by bus or subway. Each ride costs about €0.30.


Other other expenses include laundry, bank transaction fees, a SIM card with data and souvenirs. Free internet is available in many places in Panama, called “Internet Para Todos” (internet for everyone). You create a country once and then can connect in all the places that have it.

For all other costs we charge €75 per person.


And what is the total cost of all that?

Excludes a tour to the San Blas Islands, as the number of days and mode of travel gives large differences in cost.

The basic backpacker

Average per night €17.50 (dorm and private room alternated)

Food and drink per day €17.50

Activities total €150

Transportation total with public transportation €125

Other €75

Total for 3 weeks €1060 average €50.48 per day


Excludes a tour to the San Blas Islands, as the number of days and mode of travel gives large differences in cost.

Average per night €30 (private room or apartment with private bathroom)

Food and drink per day €40

Activities total €150

Transport total with public transport and occasional shuttle €225

Other €75

Total for 3 weeks €1920 per person, average €91.43 per day