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Packing: Insect repellent, sunscreen, and sunglasses are essential to help protect you from the relentless sun and persistent mosquitoes. Panama's rainy season lasts from mid-April to December, and rain is common at other times, too, so a foldable umbrella or waterproof jacket is advisable.
Trouble Spots: Poorer neighborhoods in the capital (shaded on our Panama City maps), the city of Colón (other than the Colón 2000 cruise port, the free zone, the train station, and the hotels we list), and the border area with Colombia in the Darién. Using standard travel precautions, the majority of visitors have a hassle-free trip here.
Pacific or Caribbean? You can incorporate both coastlines during your visit. If you're in the center of the country, a highway zips you from Panama City to Colón in 45 minutes. The Caribbean side receives more rain, but myriad fans of Bocas del Toro, Portobelo, and Guna Yala don't seem to mind.