How Safe is Panama? – What You Need to Know!

Let’s delve into a question on the minds of many travelers and expatriates: “How Safe is Panama?” In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the safety landscape of this Central American country, providing you with valuable insights and practical tips to ensure your peace of mind while exploring Panama’s wonders. From uncovering the truth about safety concerns to offering expert advice on staying safe and making the most of your experience, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re planning a vacation or considering a move, understanding Panama’s safety is essential. Join us as we navigate through the intricacies of safety and security in Panama, empowering you to make informed decisions and enjoy all that this beautiful destination has to offer!



Is Panama Safe?

Yes, Panama is a secure destination for both visitors and residents alike. Regarded as one of the safest countries in Latin America, it boasts a crime rate of 44.10 per 100,000 people and a safety index of 55.90, as reported by the World Population Review. Now, let’s delve into the various factors that contribute to Panama’s safety.


  • Safety At Night
    Regular patrols are conducted in major cities and populated areas like downtown districts and Panama City’s Casco Viejo neighborhood. Nevertheless, especially solo female travelers should remain vigilant, stick to well-lit areas, and avoid shady neighborhoods. Utilizing taxis or Uber for nighttime transportation is advisable over walking alone.


  • Public Transportation
    Public transportation in Panama is generally safe, comprising buses, mini-buses, and the metro as common modes of travel. However, it can become crowded during rush hours, with instances of pickpocketing not uncommon. Drivers are also known to occasionally drive fast and erratically. Staying alert, particularly in crowded vehicles, is recommended.


  • Street Harassment
    While street harassment can occur in Panama, it is not widespread. Women may experience catcalling or lewd comments, particularly in larger cities like Panama City or Colon. However, such incidents are typically more bothersome than threatening. As with any destination, staying aware of surroundings, avoiding poorly lit or less crowded areas, especially at night, and dressing conservatively are recommended.


  • Petty Crimes
    Petty crime in Panama is of moderate concern, with pickpocketing and bag-snatching common, especially in crowded tourist areas such as Panama City and Bocas del Toro. Vigilance, common sense, and keeping belongings secure are essential. By taking proactive measures and remaining alert, most potential risks can be avoided.


Safest Place to Visit in Panama

Traveling should be a source of enjoyment, relaxation, and excitement, not anxiety. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the safest destinations to explore in Panama:


  • Panama City: Panama City has been the epicenter of prodigious real estate development in recent years and an international banking center. The district is well policed, at least during the day, and most crimes are the low-key and opportunistic type you’ll encounter in any major city. You will have no problems if you stay alert and follow big city rules.


  • Boquete: A quaint mountain town along the Caldera River, Boquete captures the hearts of travelers worldwide. It has a laid-back and respectful atmosphere, although it’s always wise to exercise proper caution. Locals are typically friendly and welcoming, but remember that your experiences may vary depending on time and location.


  • Coronado: A beach town just outside Panama City, this well-developed area hosts many summer homes and vacationers. The area is well-patrolled by police and security guards, and the locals are friendly and welcoming.


  • Bocas del Toros: The laid-back tropical vibe of this popular destination on Colón Island is many people’s favorite place in Panama. The town is generally quiet with minimal hustle and bustle. However, you should stay in well-lit areas, avoid secluded spots, and always be aware of your surroundings to ensure your safety.



Tips to Help you Stay Safe & Enjoy Panama

Panama is not entirely crime-free, every city in the world has its good and bad areas, and it’s important not to let your guard down. Here are some useful tips to remember:


  1. Be aware of your emergency contact numbers: In Panama City, dial 911 for medical emergencies, 104 for police assistance, and 103 for the fire department.


  1. Seek guidance when uncertain: While much of Panama City’s metropolitan area is generally safe for both walking and driving day or night, it’s advisable to seek advice from locals before venturing into unfamiliar areas. Whether you’re consulting a taxi driver, hotel attendant, or anyone else, don’t hesitate to ask for their insights.


  1. Protect Yourself from Petty Theft: Despite its low violent crime rate, petty thefts can occur. To minimize risks, keep valuables secure and out of sight, especially in crowded places. Use anti-theft bags or body pouches for important items and stay alert in tourist areas. Simple precautions can greatly enhance your safety.


  1. Mind the Law of Distraction: Even the sharpest individuals can succumb to tourist distractions in unfamiliar environments. Heightened awareness of surroundings and belongings is crucial, as per the law of distraction, where items left unattended are easily forgotten. Stay vigilant to minimize the risk of misplacing belongings.


  1. Remember to carry your identification: According to Panamanian law, adults must have identification on them at all times. As a visitor, it’s essential to be ready to present your passport if requested by a police officer.


Safety and Security in Panama

You might be astonished to discover that Panama is an incredibly safe haven for expats, retirees, and digital nomads. According to Statista, in 2023, Panama received a Global Peace Index score of 1.94, a decrease in the score compared with the previous year which was 1.88. The score placed the Central American country in the 68th position out of 163 countries included in the global rank. Regionally, Panama ranks among the most peaceful countries in Latin America. The level of crime in this upper-middle-income nation isn’t nearly as high as in many other Latin American countries.


For American expatriates, Panama frequently offers a sense of safety compared to their native land. However, there are specific neighborhoods and areas where you need to watch out. Places like El Chorillo face risks due to gang activity, although violent crimes against tourists in the city are uncommon. It’s advisable to steer clear of these areas for safety. Moreover, vigilance is crucial in bus terminals, tourist spots, and bustling shopping streets to deter pickpocketing incidents.



In conclusion, while the question of “How Safe is Panama?” may linger in the minds of travelers and expatriates alike, our comprehensive guide has shed light on the safety of this captivating country. By adhering to the expert tips provided and exploring the safest places Panama has to offer, you can navigate its security with confidence. Remember, with proper awareness and precautionary measures, Panama can be enjoyed to the fullest. So, whether you’re planning a vacation or contemplating a move, rest assured that understanding Panama’s safety is paramount to ensuring a fulfilling and secure experience in this remarkable destination.

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