Before arriving in San Miguel, Panama, seriously consider a good affordable car rental from Skyscanner. Taking in the tourist attractions or going off the beaten path and exploring all this tiny country has to offer is much easier with a car.
Arrival in San Miguel
There are eight car rental companies at San Miguel Airport: Alamo, Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Budget, National, Dollar, and Thrifty. Cars range from small to large and as a rule, the better the car, the higher the rate.
Driving in San Miguel
Driving in Panama is almost the same as driving in the United States. International travellers must have a driver's licence from their country of origin and an international document such as a passport. The road to the Eastern Darien region is unpaved, but most roads in Panama are paved. Driving in the southern part of the country is not recommended because it is controlled by Colombian mercenaries and crime-ridden.
Fuel prices are regulated by the government, so it's a waste of time to try to find low-priced gas stations. They're easy to find, and most are open 24 hours.
Travellers don't have to worry about rush hour unless they plan on going to Panama City. There the peak hours are on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Since traffic is heavy in Panama City and is sometimes complicated by such things as poor road conditions and a lack of traffic law enforcement, the cautious traveller may want to avoid driving during those times.
Things to See and Do in San Miguel
When most people think of Panama, they think of the Panama Canal, a wonder of modern engineering. Locals claim it's the best thing to see in Panama. Adventures in the canal area include a hidden waterfall, kayaking through secret passages, discovering local flowers and wildlife, and fishing.
Panama is also home to several casinos, such as Ocean Sun (a Trump property), The Casino at Hilton Panama, and Sortis Casino. Ocean Sun has a rooftop bar with a pool that offers one of the best views in the country. The Casino at Hilton Panama has a small and intimate non-smoking casino with an interesting buffet. Sortis Casino is the newest casino. The house charges a 5.5 percent tax on all chips (not just winning ones) cashed out.
Side trips can be expensive, but the Antón Valley and El Nispero Zoo are worth the money. El Nispero Zoo has about 55 species of birds, many endemic animals, and an amphibian center. The Antón Valley is a volcanic crater, and guides take travellers up Sleeping Indian Mountain, where it's chilly at the summit. The trip includes a visit to Cerro La Cruz, a high point overlooking Panama City, and La Piedra Pintada, where travellers can see petroglyphs. There's also a stop at Chorro El Macho waterfall and hot springs.
Returning the Rental Car
Gas stations are nearly everywhere, so visitors will have no problem finding one close to the airport so they can return the car with a full tank.
The easiest way to see everything in Panama with by car, so be sure to look up the best rental prices on Skyscanner before a trip to get the best deals.