Travel Information

AIRPORT & GROUND TRANSPORTATION INFORMATION

The Westin Playa Bonita is approximately a 40-minute drive (13.7 miles) from Tocumen International Airport (airport code PTY).

Hotel’s Private Taxis: The Westin Playa Bonita has its own private taxis that you may book for airport transportation. The current flat rate is $45 USD from Tocumen International Airport to the Westin and $42 USD from the Westin to the airport. Tipping is not customary, but it’s good to round up the fare for good service. You may book the hotel taxis in advance through the hotel concierge at conciergew@westinplayabonita.com. You may pay the taxi drivers directly in cash only (no credit cards), or you could have the taxi charge added to your guest room folio. You may also request these taxis at the concierge desk to get to restaurants and local attractions.

City Taxis: Licensed, registered taxis in Panama are yellow, and have plate numbers replicated on the sides of the vehicle. They do not have meters, and instead calculate fares based on how many zones are traversed. White unmarked vehicles known as “tourism taxis” operate out of airports, charging slightly more for private transportation.

  • Tourism (White) Taxis from Airport: One-way taxi fare between the airport and Westin Playa Bonita is approximately $40-50 USD. Be sure to use these white taxis (official tourist taxis) and confirm the price of your ride before you depart the airport. Taxis do not use meters and they do NOT accept credit cards – they only accept cash (USD). Tipping is not customary, but it’s good to round up the fare for good service. After you pick up your luggage, you will find the white tourist taxis outside the exit.
  • Regular (Yellow) Taxis: These taxis can be flagged down anywhere. The driver is not likely to speak English, so it is good to show them your destination address in print. These yellow taxis are generally very affordable but take cash only. They do not have meters, and instead calculate fares based on how many zones are traversed. Be sure to have plenty of $1 USD bills as they may not have change. On occasion taxi drivers will try to charge foreigners more than they should, so it is good to ask how much the taxi ride will cost before entering.

Private Transfers with Panamazing: Panamazing, the hotel’s in-house destination management company, offers private transportation between the airport, Westin Playa Bonita, and Gamboa Rainforest Resort (for those doing a pre or post stay there). They are offering the ISHRS a 5% discount which is reflected in the pricing on our group link which you can access by clicking this link: https://www.panamazing.com/ishrs/

Uber: Uber is widely used in Panama City and serves the airport.

Hotel Parking: ISHRS attendees receive complimentary self-parking as guests at the Westin Playa Bonita.

PASSPORTS & VISAS

No visa is required for nationals of the United States of America and over 100 other countries, which can be found here. Those from countries which do not require a visa may stay in Panama up to three months.

Presently, the maximum amount of time that one can stay in Panama on a tourist visa is 30 days. To apply for a visa, make sure that you are in possession of a passport that is valid for at least three months after the time you enter Panama, a round-trip air ticket, and adequate finances equivalent to at least $500 USD per person.

Visit the following link for visa information in Panama: https://www.embassyofpanama.org/visas-1

Additional information on Panamanian embassies and visa applications:
https://www.embassyofpanama.org/visa-application-online-for-countries-where-there-is-no-consular-presence

HEALTH & SAFETY INFORMATION

We expect all exhibitors, attendees, and guests of the 2022 ISHRS World Congress to abide by the ISHRS’s COVID-19 policies and protocols. At a minimum this will include local mandates, and realizing this is an evolving situation, all parties acknowledge that said policies and protocols are subject to change.

At present all congress attendees, including exhibit booth personnel, will be required to attest that they and any guests they bring to social events have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and will not attend the meeting or social events if they feel unwell or display any symptoms of COVID-19.

As you make your travel plans, we recommend the following:

  • Consider purchasing travel insurance to cover your personal travel-related expenses. Read the legal language carefully to assure that the policy covers pandemics and specifically COVID-19.
  • Stay informed of travel policies set by the airlines at the time you book your ticket and when you travel.
  • Note that all travel reservations are made at your own risk. The ISHRS cannot make guarantees around individual travel plans. At any time the situation may change, and it may be the case the ISHRS must cancel the in-person component of the meeting at the last minute. Accordingly, we recommend that you purchase a travel insurance policy to cover these expenses.

Panama’s current COVID-19 Guidelines: https://www.tourismpanama.com/plan-your-vacation/advisories/

About Vaccinations: In addition to the COVID-19 vaccination, the CDC and WHO recommend the following vaccinations for Panama: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza.

Medical and Other Insurance: Check with your personal medical insurance plan before leaving your home country to ensure you have adequate traveling insurance.  Visitors are urged to take out insurance to cover loss incurred in the case of cancellation, medical expenses and damage to or loss of personal effects whenever traveling outside of their own country.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Language: The official language is Spanish. English is also frequently spoken.

Currency: The US Dollar circulates freely. The Panamanian currency, the Balboa, has parity with the US Dollar. The Balboa only exists in coins – all notes in circulation are US Dollar.

Population: The population of Panama City is approximately 880,000.

Time Zone: UTC / GMT-5, which is the same as Eastern Standard Time (same as New York City), but Panama does not follow daylight-saving time. (So, during the World Congress while the USA is still on Daylight Savings Time the local time in Panama will be equal to the US Central Time.)

Weather: Located in the tropics, Panama has just two seasons: the dry season that runs from December to March and the much longer wet season that lasts from mid-March to December. During the wet season the rains usually only come for a short burst in the afternoon, which is typical for rainforest. It will be humid.

In October the temperature is generally between 77°F and 86°F (25°C and 30°C). There is approximately 12 hours of daylight. The Westin Playa Bonita has umbrellas available by the exits.

Recommended Attire: For the ISHRS World Congress the attire for the ISHRS World Congress is business and for the Gala Dinner it is formal/black tie or a costume representative of your country. When out in Panama, due to the warm and humid climate, it is recommended that you wear light weight clothing. You may want to carry an umbrella, especially if out in the middle of the day when it’s most likely to rain. The hotel has some umbrellas available by the exits.

Local Taxes: Sales tax (or VAT) is 7% in Panama and is called ITBMS (Impuesto a las Transferencias de Bienes Corporales Muebles y la Prestacion de Servicios). This rate applies to all goods and services except for food, medicine, and health services.

Credit Cards: Credit cards are widely accepted in Panama’s urban areas. Visa is the most popular, followed by MasterCard and American Express. Discover is gaining ground. Diners Club is rarely accepted.

Tipping:

  • Restaurants: Restaurant bills do not include gratuities (check to be sure). Adding a 10% gratuity is customary.
  • Taxis: In Panama it is not customary to tip taxi drivers but rounding up taxi fares is a great way of showing your appreciation.
  • Hotel: Bell Service should be tipped $1-2 USD per bag. Housekeeping Service should receive a $1-2 USD tip per day.
  • Tour Guides: Tip your tour guide up to $10 USD for a full day tour, less for shorter tours.
  • Spas: It is customary to tip at least 10% for spa services.

Shop Hours: Shopping malls typically open between 10:00AM-10:30AM and close between 8:00PM-10:00PM, and are open seven days a week.

Electricity: The electricity in Panama is 110 volts, frequency 60 Hz. The photo below shows the wall receptacle designs found in Panama, which are plug types A and B.

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