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Safety in San Carlos

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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Safety in San Carlos

I am looking to travel to San Carlos for a couple of months mid January to mid March. I planned on renting a car to see the sights and to just get around. I am wondering how safe the area is for tourists. I realize I need to use common sense and be aware of my surroundings but is there anything else I should be aware of?

Also, We spent a month in St Croix last year and we felt safe and we drove all around the island and of course we again used common sense. We were told the areas to stay away from at night and we did... Besides that, we're not people who are going to be out super late anyways. Is there any reason why we shouldn't get a rental car? Thanks for every and all input!

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St. Croix
St. Croix
U.S. Virgin Islands
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Atlanta, Georgia...
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1. Re: Safety in San Carlos

San Carlos is a nice area. It's a popular middle class retirement community for Panamanians and expats, and it's close to Gorgona. Like anywhere in Panama, you have to be careful to protect against break-ins and petty theft. Make sure doors and windows are locked. Never leave anything visible in your car, not even loose change.

Rental cars are expensive, but for a long term stay in San Carlos, you'll need one. The banks and supermarkets are in Coronado, as are a number of restaurants. And, with a car, you can go cool down in El Valle. (You're going to be there during the driest and hottest time of the year; Panama's "summer.")

The biggest cost is going to be the mandatory insurance. If you can get collision, theft, etc. from your credit card company, that will save a lot. But, you'll still need the mandatory liability. It's either $18.50 or $23.50 per day, depending on the type of car you rent. However, Thrifty has a stripped down liability for $16.99 per day. It doesn't include the barebones collision coverage included in the standard mandatory liability, PROVIDED you're getting collision coverage through your credit card company.

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Panama
Panama
Central America
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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2. Re: Safety in San Carlos

Thank you for all the info ESPECIALLY regarding the car. I was looking on Carrentals.com and found a car for just under $500 for TWO months! I thought that was amazing. Question though.... If my insurance covers me out of the country and I can prove that, would I still have to get the "mandatory" insurance? That makes quite a difference. That could add quite a bit to the cost of a car but I believe it makes sense to have one of you're going to be there for that length of time. My hope was to do day trips around Panama and not just stick in one place. Thank you SO much for the info!!

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Panama
Panama
Central America
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3. Re: Safety in San Carlos

Depending on where you plan on visiting, I would recommend getting a 4WD with higher ground clearance. If you are on the Panamamerica Highway or in the urban areas you will be fine with a sedan, but if you want to explore farther afield the roads are full of fairly large holes and broken pavement. Even in parts of Coronado the roads resemble more an artillery range than a road.

virginia
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4. Re: Safety in San Carlos

We visit San Carlos frequently and have always felt very safe. It is close to Coronado for the grocery shopping, yet far enough away that you don't have the crowds that Coronado gets.

There are many local car rental agencies in Coronado that rent cars on a monthly basis with insurance included. Two car rental companies that I would recommend are Gold Coast Auto and Coronado Cars. The website Coronado Concierge has contact info for both agencies. If you decide to rent from one of them, ask about their fee to transport you from Tocumen Airport. The maximum you should pay is $115 one way (and that is on the high side).

Atlanta, Georgia...
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5. Re: Safety in San Carlos

Also check out Amber Moon Taxi for transportation to Coronado/San Carlos. They get great reviews and their price for 2 people to San Carlos is $90.

Before you go thinking about renting a 4WD, you better read the fine print in your insurance. Most policies (such as AmEx) exclude any damage that occurs on "unimproved" roads. That means anything that isn't paved. I can tell you that I've traveled all over the area where you're staying. I've never needed anything other than a sedan or a 2WD SUV. If you go off road, you are very honestly where you really don't need to be. In Coronado, having a 4WD is absolutely absurd. We visit our friends who live there all the time. There may be potholes, but the terrain is flat. Absolutely flat.

RE your question on being covered by your insurance out of country. The only 3rd party insurance accepted in Panama is the insurance offered by the credit card company which is used to pay for the rental. The only way you might be able to argue that point is if you bring copies of your insurance policy in Spanish. Even then, I seriously doubt they will accept it. In fact, if you try that at any rental company at Tocumen, not only will they not accept it, they will insist that you buy full coverage from them -- including collision, etc. that's normally covered by your credit card.

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Panama
Panama
Central America
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