Travelling in Panama and Costa Rica is some of the most expensive trips I have ever taken in my life. Both Central American nations are not cheap to visit. US dollars are widely accepted in Costa Rica and Panama stopped using its own currency (with the exception of coins). This is the result of the heavy American presence in both nations that is causing prices to go up.
After travelling to both Central American nations, I am glad they are over and done with as I look forward to completing the rest of the other Central American countries.
My 4 days spending breakdown while travelling in Panama
- Flight from Asuncion to Bogota to Panama City – $54 USD ($70.20 CAD) + 50,000 Aeroplan points per person
- Taxi from the airport to W Panama Marriott hotel – $33 USD ($42.90 CAD)
- Breakfast buffet tip – $5 USD ($6.50 CAD)
- Uber – $24.60 USD ($31.98 CAD)
- Hampton Inn – $49.50 USD per person ($65.14 CAD)
- Gamboa Airbnb – $21.10 USD per person ($27.05 CAD)
- Airbnb near the Panama City airport – $18.56 USD per person ($24.13 CAD)
- Gamboa Sloth Sanctuary entrance fee – $23.54 USD ($30.60 CAD)
- Food – $49.21 USD ($63.97 CAD)
Total cost of travelling in Panama
- $278.51 USD ($362.06 CAD)
The average daily cost of travelling in Panama
- $69.63 USD ($90.52 CAD) per day
Total cost of travelling in Panama without flights
- $224.51 USD ($291.86 CAD)
The average daily cost of travelling in Panama without flights
- $56.13 USD ($73 CAD)
Total points and miles spent while travelling in Panama
- 100,000 Aeroplan points
- 1 Marriott “Category 5” free night stay E-Certificate
My god, Panama is an expensive travel destination. Everything is in US dollars and I’m so glad I finished travelling in this country; otherwise, I would go broke.
If I can turn back time in Panama, I would have definitely stayed in more Airbnbs. When I stayed in an Airbnb in Gamboa instead of the resort, it was hands down one of the best decisions I’ve made.
I would have also avoided taking any taxis altogether. Uber is priced well and would use that to get around Panama City.
My 3 days spending breakdown while travelling in Costa Rica
- Flight from Panama City to San Salvador to San Jose – 64,661.54 Colones ($126.90 CAD, $97.62 USD) + 20,000 Aeroplan points per person
- Flight from San Jose to Toronto to Montreal to Vancouver – 61,329.10 Colones ($120.36 CAD, $92.58 USD) + 66,000 Aeroplan points + 8 eupgrades for two individuals
- Aloft Marriott hotel – 33,293.81 Colones ($65.34 CAD, $50.26 USD) per person
- PCR Test – 60,984 Colones ($128.70 CAD, $99 USD)
- Uber – 9,800 Colones ($19.23 CAD, $15.37 USD)
- Food – 23,555.56 Colones ($46.23 CAD, $36.94 USD)
Total cost of travelling in Costa Rica
- 253,624.01 Colones ($497.74 CAD, $397.77 USD)
The average daily cost of travelling in Costa Rica
- 84,541.14 Colones ($165.91 CAD, $132.59 USD) per day
Total cost of travelling in Costa Rica without flights and PCR test
- 66,649.37 Colones ($138.80 CAD, $104.53 USD)
The average daily cost of travelling in Costa Rica without flights and PCR test
- 16,662.34 Colones ($32.70 CAD, $26.13 USD)
Total points and miles spent while travelling in Costa Rica
- 106,000 Aeroplan points for two individuals (PTY-SAL-SJO and SJO-YYZ-YUL-YVR)
- 8 eupgrades for two individuals
- 1 “category 5” free night stay E-Certificate with Marriott hotels
At first glance, my expenses in Costa Rica looks very high. After taking a closer look, it’s because I booked my flight home and getting a PCR test done that inflated the cost quite a bit. Costa Rica is by no means a cheap travel destination but it’s not as expensive as highlighted in this spending breakdown.
I also stayed at nicer hotels because Karen and I were at the tail end of our trip and we wanted to relax somewhere nice before flying home.
One interesting thing to note about Costa Rica is that using your Aeroplan points there is quite favourable because of how Air Canada calculates how many points you need to redeem. You can easily use your upgrades to get a business class upgrade after redeeming your points in Economy.
I am happy to have completed visiting these two expensive Central American countries. After travelling there, I have no desire to return to either of them. Both countries felt too Americanized. I like Americans but If I wanted an American experience, I’ll drive down to Seattle from Vancouver.
Locals were friendly in Panama and not so much in Costa Rica (they are probably sick of gringos). I still have five other Central American countries I’d like to visit. Hopefully, my experience there won’t be as eye-bleeding expensive and much more pleasant.