Top Ten Cheap Vacations

Panama (instead of Costa Rica)
San Blas islands of Panama
The gorgeous San Blas islands of Panama (Frank Gaglione/Photodisc/Getty)

5. Panama
Seen those commercials where singer Rubén Blades urges you to visit Panama? Well, even if you haven't, better listen up and head there now, because tourism in this Central American country is heating up as people realize it has everything Costa Rica has to offer—great beaches, volcanoes, and rain forest—but at a better bargain. Plus, there are more species of animals and preserved land in Panama than in Costa Rica. To learn about the local ecosystems, head to the Metropolitan Natural Park, only a ten-minute cab ride from Panama City, until you're surrounded by dense forest. The tour company Cox and Kings runs a tour in conjunction with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute research crane that allows visitors to travel into the tree canopy and get a glimpse of sloths, toucans, and iguanas. Continue your elevated perspective by climbing up Cerro Jefe in Chagres National Park, which on a clear day will give a view of the Panama Canal, as well as the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. To relax, head to the Pacific Coast region of Los Santos, where you'll find near-empty beaches, low-key boutique hotels, and great surf.
Panama Travel Guide


Published: 25 Mar 2009 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Panama

$83-$108
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DeVille Hotel Boutique
$129-$155
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Riu Plaza Panama
$27-$85
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Veneto a Wyndham Grand Hotel and Casino

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