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Money and costs

Balboa (B/.)
Exchange Rates
Rates provided by Open Exchange Rates. Last updated January 31, 2015 20:36
Budget up to
  • Dorm bed: from US$7
  • Dine on comida corriente (set meals), visit markets and street stalls
  • Plan sightseeing via bus, DIY visits to beaches and waterfall hikes
  • Double room at a midrange hotel: US$45–US$120
  • Some fine dining, activities (snorkel rental or surf lessons) and regional flights
Top end over
  • Double room at a high-end hotel, resort or lodge: from US$120
  • Guided trips with bilingual naturalist guides
  • Internal flights and car rental

Panama uses the US dollar as its currency. The official name for it is the balboa, but it’s exactly the same bill, and in practice people use the terms dólar and balboa interchangeably. Panamanian coins are of the same value, size and metal as US coins, though both are frequently used. Coins include one, five, 10, 25 and 50 centavos (or centésimos) – 100 centavos equal one balboa. Most businesses won’t break US$50 and US$100 bills, and those that do may require you to present your passport.


  • Restaurants Tipping should be 10%; check to see if it's included in the bill.

  • Taxis Tipping is optional, but you can round up a dollar or two, especially at night.

  • Guides It is customary to tip US$1 to US$2 per person for day tours, with more substantial tips (from US$10 per day) for naturalist guides.