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Forum Post
03/13/07 21:21

Dress Code

Thank author of this post/commentMy friend told me that I should not wear shorts and sandals because it will make me look like a tourist. I know when I have visit places in the states that what most people wear. I don't understand why wearing shorts in a place with a climate like Panama would label you as a tourist. Do Panama have a dress code? Also, what other clothing items are off limits?
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This post has a total of 21 replies. Your feedback, comments, opinions and questions are welcome and encouraged.

This forum post has messages dated from 03/13/07 through 05/03/14, please be sure to read all the messages. If you feel it is old or outdated, please follow up with a question or comment and someone may be able to update it, or reply with newer information if you have it.

Comment 1
03/14/07 12:08
Thank author of this post/commentThere are different cultural norms of dress code that are acceptable or unacceptable. The dress code varies depending on the part of world. For example, unless at the beach or at a resort, the only people that you will see wearing shorts are probably teenagers and tourists.

Jeans are fine but women tend to typically wear them with dressier shirts. Sandals are perfectly fine but be aware that people there don't use Birkenstock's or those beachy sandals with Velcros. White socks with sandals is a definitely NO for both men and women.

Because of the humidity, wearing light weight fabrics is key. Personally, unless I know that I will be in air conditioning like for 90% of the time, I also avoid clothes that have lining. If you go to a restaurant or a club in the evening, people tend to dress more casual.

Personally, it's really your choice to make on how to dress for the trip.

Comment 2
03/14/07 12:17
Thank author of this post/commentThe dress code not very strict in Panama. It's just that some clothes or actions may label you as a tourists. You will not be single out or ridicule for wearing certain clothes. Panama city is a large cosmopolitan city, where people are used to seeing all kinds of people and clothing
Comment 3
03/14/07 16:25
Thank author of this post/commentPersonally I wouldn't care what I wear when I'm on vacation. If people think that I'm a tourist just by what I'm wearing, then so be it. It doesn't bother me in the least.
Comment 4
03/14/07 18:19
Deep South, Ga
Thank author of this post/commentNo, it really don't matter to me neither. I really don't like flashing my camera.
Comment 5
03/14/07 18:40
Thank author of this post/commentWell, I wear alot of t-shirts and jeans during the warm months. I will dress a little more dressy for dinner. So when I'm on vacation I usually wear shorts and t-shirts.
Comment 6
03/14/07 19:01
Montevideo, Uruguay
Thank author of this post/comment"it doesn't bother me in the least". Unfortunately tourists are easy targets for crime and "overcharging" in many places. The more you blend in the better [if your still having fun].
Comment 7
03/14/07 23:44
Hogstown, The Universe
Thank author of this post/commentMay I ask why you would be worried to be labelled as a tourist if that's what you are going to be? I mean if you are a tourist why do you feel you need to look different.

I live in a large cosmopolitan city and I see tourists downtown all the time. I don't look down on them I like to see them enjoying my city and I will quite often talk to them to find out where they are from and point out some of the places that they should see while they are visiting.

Comment 8
03/15/07 00:14
Vegas, baby
Thank author of this post/commentWhen I travel, all that matters to me is comfort. If people see me as a tourist, well, that's what I am! Obviously I would like to blend in as much as possible because I wouldn't want to be an easy target for crime but personally I just want to be able to wear whatever I wanted.
Comment 9
03/15/07 01:59
Thank author of this post/commentI'll be honest, I do try to find out how the locals dress wherever I'm traveling and try to pack accordingly. Even here in the U.S., there are states that you can be very casual and wear a T-shirt and jeans no problem to a restaurant, other places you do need to dress it up a little. So, if I can find out what the "dress code" is beforehand I'll try to adhere to it.
Comment 10
03/18/07 23:42
Thank author of this post/commentI'm with Karen. In the United States East Coasters dress very differently from West Coasters. Californians dress very differently from Washingtonians. It really all does depend on region how conservative or casual the dress is and then climate from there.
Comment 11
07/13/07 15:19
gabriela arosemena

wear whatever you want. being a tourist will make people be friendlier and help you out. also in panama most of us speak english, but don't be afraid to practice your spanish with us, we will enjoy it.

wear whatever you want, just make sure to HAGGLE ALL THE TIME, because people will try to take advantage of you.

Comment 12
10/08/08 17:58

why change the way you want to dress so other people will accept you.. dont worry about anybody and just go to have fun..
Comment 13
10/08/08 18:02

You want to dress to blend in so you are not a target of tourist crime.

Comment 14
11/10/08 10:40

No matter how you dress locals would be able to spot a tourist.
Comment 15
11/10/08 20:49

Surely, they will see you as a foreigner... but better they think you are an expat than a tourist!
Comment 16
02/03/09 03:41

I can't wait to go on my trip to Panama. Will someone tell me again what type of clothes I should remember?
Comment 17
02/03/09 16:20


We go to Panama all the time. It depends on where in Panama you are going. If you are staying on beach or in P City casual attire is fine. Average temp in the City is 80-85. It can get up as high as 90. If you are going into mountains, it is a lot cooler. 70-80. If you are going to the Boquete area, you will need a sweater at night. Outside of Panama City jeans or shorts are OK. If you are going to dinner in the City, Casual business attire great. Don't worry too much about dress, they are very nice. The women down there wear heels a lot. (Not Me) Just do your best. You'll be fine.

Comment 18
06/21/09 11:37

Its very true though, shorts and sandals could define you as a tourist. How many tv shows have you seen with any sort of tourist in them? Always depicted as a short sleeve button up with shorts, sandals and sometimes a goofy hat. Maybe its just a stereotype.
Comment 19
08/02/09 09:27

I wonder what harm there is in being labeled a tourist in Panama. Unless there is a different treatment accorded to them, that should not bother you at all. You do not dress to impress anyone and therefore if I am not attending a special occasion, I will wear what I feel comfortable in.

Society places us into boxes and stipulates the dos and dont's. Rules were made to be abided to and broken too

Comment 20
12/27/12 18:04
Arlington, Va
Thank author of this post/comment"don't dress like a gringo fool"

Like many third world countries, poorer people tend to dress well, to try and look better. so, if you dress like a fool (their words) you make them look bad.

This is what I was told by a local.

they do try and dress well down there. Some suits for men were pretty well priced too.

However, we just found it too hot.

Cottons are ok.

Comment 21
05/03/14 01:41
Thank author of this post/comment"There are dress codes."

You will not be allowed to dress like a slob if you visit government or municipal facilities. Women must wear blouses with sleeves and no shorts. Men must wear long trousers. You will not be allowed to visit the U.S. Embassy dressed like a tart or homeless person. Most public venues in Panama are casual dress but if in doubt and to avoid misunderstanding 'at the door' have a Spanish-speaking friend inquire beforehand.
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