All things considered, there really isn't a bad
time to take your Panama vacation. Before you do so, however,
you might want to check to see if you'll need a
Panama tourist visa. Nationals from countries like France, England and Switzerland
are not required to get a Panama tourist visa, nor do
they need to get what is known as a Panama tourist card.
If you are coming from the U.S., however, on top of a
valid passport that is good for at least six months, you'll
need to get either a tourist card or a Panama travel visa.
You can obtain the visa from the Panama Consulate, or
simply purchase a tourist card at the airline counter
before you take off. In May of 2007, the Panama government
stated that the Panama tourist visa would only be valid
for up to 30 days. However, generally, you can stay in
Panama with a visa for up to 90 days, and from there,
you can apply for extensions should you need them. If
you are coming from the U.S., and are just visiting Panama
for a short trip, your passport and tourist card should
suffice. It's best to check with your respective
government first, just to make sure you have everything
Once you arrange your documents for Panama travel, you're off to search for the best time to travel in Panama. Generally, when it comes to Panama weather, you can expect it to be hot and humid. Panama is a tropical country, and save for the Chiriqui Highlands, you can expect the year round temperature to average 75-85 degrees, year round. The average yearly temperature for the Chiriqui Highlands is around 60 degrees, so you should bring a jacket if you are heading to towns like Volcan and Boquete. There are really only two seasons for Panama weather, and they are the dry season and the rainy season. If you plan to go hiking in the Chiriqui Highlands, or perhaps in the Darien Gap, you might choose to avoid the rainy season, which runs roughly from mid-April to mid-December. The high season for travel in Panama is also the dry season. This falls between mid-December and mid-April, and it is known as summertime in Panama. This is when the Panama schools let out, and it is also the time when most Panamanians take their vacations. The nightlife is better during the Panama high season, as the locals are in more of a festive mood. The drawback to the high season in Panama is the fact that hotel rates tend to go up during this time. So, if you are traveling on a budget, you might choose to take your Panama vacation during the low season.
There are many great Panama places to visit, and you might take the weather into consideration before you go. If you like floral displays, perhaps you should take your Panama vacation at the start of the dry season. Across the country, flowers burst into bloom, and the vegetation everywhere just seems to be at its happiest. Some might align their Panama vacation with a specific Panama festival or event in mind. Every year in January, the Boquete Flower and Coffee Festival is in full swing, and it is quite the time to head to this splendid mountain town. If you are a fan of thunderstorms, then a trip to Panama during the rainy season might be in order. The storms during this time can be quite impressive, releasing thunderclaps that sound like bombs. Some parts of Panama experience significant precipitation year round. Even during the dry season on Panama's Caribbean coast, you can expect a daily downpour. The western Chiriqui Highlands get quite a bit of year round rain, as does Panama's treasured Bocas del Toro islands. If you are looking to do some scuba diving or snorkeling, you'll get different opinions about whether the dry season or rainy season is better. The dry season in Panama usually sees stronger winds, especially at the Panama beaches. This wind can stir up the oceans, causing some visibility issues. During the rainy season, underwater visibility can be compromised if you should be diving near an area where runoff occurs. If you are considering adding the Kuna Yala San Blas Islands to your list of Panama places to visit, many consider February and March to be the best months.
Other than some minor weather concerns, you might plan your Panama vacation around one of the Panama festivals. Every year on the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, the Panama Carnival takes place around the country. Arguably, the best Panama places to visit for Carnival are Panama City and the smaller city of Las Tablas. As far as the Panama holidays go, you can expect things to slow down quite a bit. Christmas and New Year's Day are celebrated in Panama, as are Easter Sunday and the November 3 Independence Day. Should one of the major Panama holidays fall on a weekend, it will usually be observed on Monday, so you can expect banks and offices to close, as well as some restaurants and stores. The November "Fiestas Patrias", or national independence holidays, can be pretty festive themselves, making November a pretty good month to consider.