About Panama (PA)
Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean, and bordering Costa Rica and Columbia, Panama occupies a unique place in Central America, geographically as well as historically. It is perhaps best known for the Panama Canal, which was finished in 1914 and allows ships to cross between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. For visitors, Panama offers a dynamic and modern capital city, spectacular beaches and biodiversity that rivals what you will find in Costa Rica.
Booking a car rental in Panama will allow you to discover this vibrant country at your own pace. Start in Panama City, where you can cross the Panama Canal, stroll through the historic quarter of Casco Viejo (which is also referred to as San Felipe), or visit the city’s acclaimed Biomuseo. The eastern Darien region has secluded nature reserves. Guna Yala, an indigenous region, has strikingly beautiful—and unspoiled—islands with unparalleled snorkeling opportunities.
For the most part, the main roads in Panama are in good condition. Be careful, however, in rural areas, where you may encounter roads of significantly less good quality. Note that most of the roads in Darien Province, for example, are unpaved. Wherever you are in Panama, drive with caution and stay alert. You may encounter heavy traffic, and across the country a high number of accidents is caused each year by drunk drivers or drivers who are speaking on the phone.
Choosing your car
Major Panama car rental providers include Enterprise, Hertz and Budget. Consider getting a car with a 4x4 transmission if you are headed to Darien Province or other rural areas. A great choice for a cheap car rental in Panama is a budget compact car, such as a Ford or Kia. A mid-size such as an SUV is ideal for families or groups of 3—5 people. Larger groups, or groups traveling with a lot of equipment, can go for a 7—12 person people mover or mini van.
Tips and advice
If you are involved in a road accident with your car hire in Panama, stay at the scene until the police get there. This is a legal requirement.
The speed limit on the main highway (the Interamericana, which is part of the much longer Inter-American Highway) does not exceed 100 kilometers per hour. Limits are lower throughout the rest of the country.
Most rental car agencies have an age limit of 25 to rent a car in Panama. Some agencies may allow you to rent a car at the age of 21, if you present a credit card.
Keep your passport with you at all times. If you are pulled over, you will be required to show it.
Do not leave any valuables in your car rental in Panama. It is also advisable to empty the car trunk at night and keep your belongings with you in your hotel room.
If you plan on bringing or renting any beach or diving equipment while in Panama, be sure to book a car hire that is spacious enough.