You most likely will not be staring at the canal the whole time during your trip (or you may not visit it at all).
Worry not, there are more fascinating things to do and see in the country.
Panama City has the Colonial Casco Viejo.
If you are more interested in relaxing, Coiba Island is a nice spot away from the busy city life of Panama City. Do not forget about Barú Volcano.
You will most likely share your travel experiences online on social media to make your friends and family jealous – I am not judging ;)
But before you share your colorful Panama experiences online, be aware that international roaming can be expensive.
Travel eSIMs can be a much more affordable way to stay connected, even in Panama.
How much will a travel eSIM for Panama cost?
You can get a travel eSIM for Panama for as little as 9 USD, with 1 GB for 7 days, up to 54 USD, for 5 GB, from Airalo, Holafly & Nomad.
While this may sound a bit pricey but international roaming will be even more expensive.
So yeah, these travel eSIMs can be worth it.
In this guide, I will go over the travel eSIM options offered by Airalo, Holafly & Nomad. Let's go.
Original publication: 10th of September 2022. Last updated: 10th of September 2022.
Table of Contents
eSIMs offered by the Panamanian Mobile Operators
Suppose you want to get the best service and reception available in Panama.
In that case, it is better to get a SIM card or travel eSIM from the local mobile operators, which in this case would be the Panamanian ones.
Not only will you not have to deal with latency, but you also get a higher priority on the network because you are a direct customer of the mobile operator instead of a roamer.
And with most travel eSIMs, you are roaming on the network(s) of the local mobile operator(s).
But that is not always the case – the slow speeds part, that is.
Some mobile operators throttle the speeds of prepaid customers because they want more people to get a postpaid plan.
Unfortunately, travelers cannot get postpaid plans – so one way to avoid throttling is by using a travel eSIM.
Yes – travel eSIMs sometimes have faster speeds than native prepaid customers because of throttling.
So, which Panamanian mobile operators offer eSIMs to prepaid customers?
Unfortunately, none of the local mobile operators offer eSIMs to prepaid customers.
However, you have these three options for getting an eSIM for your trip to Panama: Airalo (with Pancell Digital), Holafly & Nomad.
One of the main advantages of getting a travel eSIM for Panama is that (1) you do not have to try to speak (broken) Spanish to get a local eSIM, (2) you can set up the eSIM before arriving in Panama and activate it upon landing & (3) you do not have to deal with Panama's SIM card registration laws.
I have to mention that travel eSIMs will be more expensive than local eSIMs and SIM cards, but they are more convenient.
Moreover, I have plenty of experience with the eSIMs from Airalo, Holafly & Nomad, so I can vouch for them – so can many Phone Travel Wiz readers!
So let's go over what the travel eSIMs offer for Panama!
Airalo eSIMs for Panama (Pancell Digital)
If you have read any of my eSIM or SIM card buying guides before, then you know I am a big fan of Airalo.
Not only does Airalo have eSIMs for most countries (around 190 countries) of any eSIM platform, but they are also often one of the cheapest while offering fantastic service in terms of speeds and reception.
That is because Airalo usually partners up with the mobile operator with the best coverage, the fastest speeds, both, or even multiple operators.
That way, you get the best bang for your buck, I have to say.
In the case of Panama, Pancell Digital uses the Digicel Panama network.
So, which Panama Pancell Digital eSIMs are available? You have these two options:
- Panama/Pancell Digital 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 9 USD
- Panama/Pancell Digital 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 18 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
What do I mean with most popular?
75% of Phone Travel Wiz readers get the 3 GB Pancell Digital eSIM.
The rest (25%) get the 1 GB variant.
For Airalo eSIMs, the links above will automatically get you the Phone Travel Wiz exclusive offers available – a code is not necessary.
- Check out my Airalo eSIM reviews
Airalo Pancell Digital eSIM Pros
Are there any (more) reasons why you should get the Pancell Digital eSIM? Yes, there are:
- You can activate your Pancell Digital eSIM as soon as you land in Panama
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access to Digicel Panama's network
- Pancell Digital eSIMs are affordable (especially compared to roaming)
- Multiple top-ups can be purchased when you are out of data or when your initial plan expires easily on the Airalo site or apps
I could list many more pros, but these are the major ones.
Unfortunately, there are some cons to be aware of.
Airalo Pancell Digital eSIM Cons
Why should you not get the Pancell Digital eSIM?
- The Panamanian mobile operators, including Digicel Panama itself, have much more generous data allowances
- While you get access to Digicel Panama's network, your speeds may not be as fast as going with Digicel Panama itself because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
- There is no 5G NR access with the Pancell Digital eSIM (yet)
- You cannot call or text with the Pancell Digital eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
Airalo Pancell Digital eSIM Overall Thoughts
The Pancell Digital eSIM is a convenient eSIM that can be purchased before going to Panama and can be activated upon arriving.
You get access to one of Panamal's best networks with the Pancell Digital eSIM.
And everything, purchasing and topping up, can be done online on the Airalo website or Airalo app (downloading the app is recommended).
Remember, you cannot call or text with the Pancell Digital eSIM, as it is a data-only eSIM.
Nomad eSIMs for Panaman
Nomad is one of the eSIM players on the market that managed to grow quickly.
That is because it is one of the few premium eSIM players out there, often using multiple partners to bring you the best coverage and speeds out there.
As a result, Nomad is often (slightly) more expensive than Airalo.
But good people run the company.
For example, upon my recommendation, it started offering the Nordics regional eSIM – an eSIM that can be used in Denmark, Finland, Sweden & Norway.
And many more regional eSIMs are coming – I can promise you that!
Anyway, what did I mean with “often using multiple partners to bring you the best coverage and speeds out there” earlier?
In Panama, Nomad uses the Truphone network, which uses a combination of local networks (+móvil (Cable & Wireless Panama), Claro Panama, Digicel Panama & Tigo Panama (formerly Movistar)), allowing your eSIM to switch to the network with the best reception automatically.
This way, you will always have a connection (unless you are in the middle of a jungle, of course 🤪).
You have the following three options with Nomad for Panama:
- Panama 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 20 USD/20.50 EUR/17.50 GBP/26.50 CAD
- Panama 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 48 USD/48.50 EUR/41 GBP/63 CAD
- Panama 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 54 USD/54.50 EUR/46.50 GBP/70.50 CAD
Now, these prices are significantly higher when looking at the Airalo Panama Pancell Digital eSIM, especially the 1 GB variant.
And I can tell you that Phone Travel Wiz readers do not get the 1 GB or 3 GB variants at all – they too costly.
However, the readers who get the Nomad Panama eSIM go for the 5 GB variant.
But you can get 3 USD off your first Nomad purchase when using code ADU123!
I am looking out for you there 😏.
And, of course, just like the Airalo Panama Pancell Digital eSIM, you can also top up your Nomad Panama eSIM on the Nomad site or apps.
- Check out my Nomad eSIM reviews
Nomad Panama eSIM Pros
Are there any (more) reasons why you should get the Nomad Panama? Yes:
- You can activate your Nomad Panama eSIM as soon as you land in Panama
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access to multiple Panamanian networks, allowing you to always have the best coverage and speeds
- Nomad Panama eSIMs are affordable compared to roaming
- Nomad offers the most options (three) and longest validity (30 days) of any travel eSIM in this guide
- Multiple top-ups can be purchased when you are out of data or when your initial plan expires easily on the Nomad site or apps
But it is not all good news with Nomad though – there are some disadvantages.
Nomad Panama eSIM Cons
Why should you not get the Nomad Panama eSIM?
- Panamanian mobile operators have much more generous data allowances
- While you get access to multiple Panamanian networks, your speeds may not be as fast as going with the mobile operators directly because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
- Nomad has the most expensive plans for Panama in this guide
- There is no 5G NR access with the Nomad Panama eSIM (yet)
- You cannot call or text with the Nomad Panama eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
Nomad Panama eSIM Overall Thoughts
Overall, the Nomad Panama eSIM is an excellent premium eSIM offering the most options and longest validity in this guide.
And because the Nomad Panama eSIM uses multiple networks, you will always have the best reception when traveling around Panama.
The main con is that Nomad has the most expensive options in this guide.
And you cannot make calls and send SMS with the Nomad Panama eSIM because it is a data-only eSIM.
Holafly eSIMs for Panama
My relationship with Holafly is quite funny.
I knew they existed when they offered travel SIM cards for the Spanish market only.
Then they pivoted to the global market, still offering travel SIM cards.
Eventually, they started offering travel eSIMs for the Spanish market only again before going global.
There are many travel eSIM providers nowadays – new ones pop up every week like mushrooms, so I did not bat an eye.
Until they did something revolutionary.
In 2022, Holafly started offering unlimited data plans for its eSIMs.
And these unlimited data eSIMs can be used in various Asian countries, almost all European Union member states (except for Liechtenstein) & a few other countries, like Canada and the United States.
Unfortunately, unlimited data eSIMs are not available in Panama… yet.
I say yet because Holafly's goal is to offer unlimited data plans for every country it covers: 100+ countries.
And I can tell you that I get positive emails multiple times a week from Phone Travel Wiz readers that have used the unlimited data plans in East- and Southeast Asia, Europe & North America; they love these eSIMs.
For now, you have only one Holafly Panama eSIM (which also uses the Tigo Panama (formerly Movistar) network:
- Panama 6 GB eSIM for 15 days, costing 44 USD/47 EUR/34 GBP
Not much choice, as you can see.
You can get 5% off each and any Holafly purchase (so it does not have to be the Panama eSIM) when you use code PHONETRAVELWIZ – fantastic, right?
- Check out my Holafly eSIM reviews
Holafly Panama eSIM Pros
So, why should you get the Holafly Panama eSIM? Well, because of the following:
- Holafly Panama eSIMs are affordable compared to roaming
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access to Tigo Panama's network
- Unlike going with Tigo Panama (formerly Movistar) directly, you do not have to worry about SIM card registration because it is unnecessary
- You can activate your Holafly Panama eSIM as soon as you land in Panama
- The Holafly Panama eSIM offers the most data
Holafly Panama eSIM Cons
Why should you not get the Holafly Panama eSIM?
- You cannot call or text with the Holafly Panama eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
- Panamanian mobile operators, including Tigo Panama, have much more generous data allowances
- While you get full (4G/LTE) access to Tigo Panama's network, your speeds may not be as fast as going with Tigo Panama directly because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
- You cannot top up your Holafly Panama eSIM – you would have to buy another eSIM if you need more data
- There is no 5G NR access with the Holafly Panama eSIM (yet)
Holafly Panama eSIM Overall Thoughts
While you have only one option for the Holafly Panama eSIM, it is the most generous eSIM (in terms of data) in this guide.
And the price for the Holafly Panama eSIM is low compared to expensive Pay As You Go roaming rates for Panama.
But it still is not cheap.
Best eSIMs for in Central- and South America (not just Panama)
Unfortunately, you cannot use your Airalo Pancell Digital, Holafly Panama, or Nomad Panama eSIMs in any country than Panama.
However, Holafly has an eSIM covering the popular travel destinations in Central- and South America.
Sadly, Panama is not one of them, but I still want to introduce them to you because they will be much cheaper than buying multiple eSIMs, or SIM cards for that matter, per country.
I highly recommend going with the Holafly South America eSIM, which also covers parts of Central America, if you plan on visiting multiple countries in the Americas, as you will save a lot of money when you do so.
Holafly Central- and South America eSIM
While Holafly officially calls this eSIM the South America eSIM, it can also be used in a few countries in Central America.
And as many Phone Travel Wiz readers who visit Panama also visit neighboring countries, it will be better to get the Holafly South America eSIM for your travels.
The Holafly South America eSIM can be used in the following 13 countries:
This eSIM cannot be also used in Panama but once again, it would be useful for the aforementioned countries listed above.
You only have one option for the Holafly South America eSIM: 6 GB eSIM for 15 days, costing 44 USD/47 EUR/34 GBP.
Overview of the Best eSIMs for Panama (Airalo vs. Holafly vs. Nomad)
In this guide, I went over various eSIMs Panama.
Below is an overview of my recommendation order:
- Airalo's Panama Pancell Digtial eSIM (cheapest)
- Holafly Panama eSIM (most generous data plan)
- Nomad Panama eSIM (most eSIM options)
Remember to use code PHONETRAVELWIZ for Holafly eSIMs and code ADU123 for Nomad eSIMs – a code is not necessary for Airalo eSIM purchases.
Buying a SIM Card in Panama
Do these eSIMs not sound appealing to you, or does your phone not support eSIMs (but still thought this guide was insightful enough that you read it until the end)?
Consider getting a Panamanian SIM card instead – that linked guide is the most extensive SIM card buying guide for Panama on the web, packed with insightful information and tips.
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