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Panama on low budget?

Hi there!
I plan to go to Panama in March for a week - ten day trip, and have just started researching via forum and soon guidebooks.
I’ll fly to San Hose and later will enter Panama
Could you suggest some nice spots to visit in Panama, at low budget levels of comfort?
Resorts and travel companies, are out of the question…
My interests would be beaches, culture, villages, forest, the Panama canal of course… well, maybe too ambitious for backpacking? We’ll see…
I hope to move around with public transport, stay at simple hotels/ hostels, walk around cities and villages, have some daytrips to nature from there, possibly on our own with other travelers, or with the help of a local guide .
what do you think?
Many thanks, happy travels to all!
Nikolaos

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