Panama City Travel Guide
Tribes: Who likes this place?
What the scores mean:
These scores tell you how well-liked a place is in each Tribe. Gogobot Tribes are groups who share a certain travel style, like Family Travelers or History Buffs.
Which Gogobot Tribe do you belong to? Join now
- 88%Budget Travelers
- 78%Business Travelers
- 77%Adventure Travelers
- 61%Nightlife Lovers
- 56%History Buffs
Member Reviews (56)Write a review
- Panama City
I like to Travel
I like to Travel To and In Panama
Considering a location for my next employment, I thought about the areas I had visited through my world-wide-wanderings as a pilot in the U. S. Air Force and then for the CIA. While I have lived and worked in many nice places, some of them, like Bangkok – are off my normal chart / Europe – to expensive / the Caribbean islands – nice to visit, boring to live / Panama – to, to, ah wait, I remember Howard Air Force Base. Howard AFB is just across the Panama Canal from Panama City – A Nice City. I remember the great climate – the hospitable people – the wonderful food. The beaches – the jungle – the low cost of living – Ha, worth a checkout. And one of the best things about Panama – they use the U S Dollar. They call their currency the “Balboa”, using U.S. paper bills – but Panamanian coins. These coins are interchangeable with U.S. minted ones and are the same size – VERY convenient. Overall, a nice, relaxed environment to consider for my future.
There is a Non-Stop flight from my home in Dallas [DFW] to Panama [PTY] that operates seasonally [so check on it] but not when I composed this Blog - American Flt #2101. Many airlines [American, Continental, Delta and others] offer 1 stop service from Dallas.. I chose American [I worked there for awhile] and then called direct with my Frequent Flyer number. Hint – when you decide just which airline you are going to use – call and get one of their Frequent Flyer cards – it makes the staff give you any benefits of doubt, and generally an extra smile.
I then went onto the internet and located a Real-Estate company in Panama and asked about a tour around the properties available. This is a good way to get to know the city, and what you get for your money renting or buying – an important consideration if you plan to move [or MAYBE plan to move]. The “Real Estate Tour” average cost is $50, but well worth it if you have any idea to move to Panama or just learn about the city.
I did not arrange for a tour right off, but got the telephone number and told them I would call when I was squared away down there. I asked for a hotel recommendation and was told that the Hotel Las Vegas was a reasonable place. I looked it up on the internet [firstname.lastname@example.org] and it looked very nice. So I called the Las Vegas [using Penny Talk], received a room cost of under $50 a night, asked if they could arrange a Taxi for me [for $15] – I like to have Hotels arrange taxis for me, in that it eases the way through most any airport. A caveat here – if you have a “Name Brand” hotel – Hilton, Intercontinental, Marriott, etc.- they will send one of the Hotel cabs, at about twice the cost of a “Street” cab. A non-chain hotel –like the Las Vegas - will send a “Street” cab – at the proper rate – and it will be a safe journey as generally the staff know the local drivers that hang around the property.
SO – I was ready.
My America Airlines Flt 2274 – a spacious Boeing 737-800 – departed on-time on a beautiful Thursday morning. On the 2+45 flight to Miami, I hardly had time to read the “American Way” – the airlines in-flight magazine. It was interesting enough so that I read just about every page, and the puzzles in the back of the magazine were just enough challenging to make them fun to try. I carry a paperback western with me whenever I fly – but did not have to open it on this leg.
In Miami, the connection time was only 45 minutes, but that was time enough to stop by the Duty-Free and get a bottle of Jack Daniels – stop at a sandwich place and grab a Ham-Cheese with a Mojito – and make it to the gate in plenty of time.
The Boeing 757 from Miami to Panama was moderately full, but I had an open seat next to my aisle seat – very comfortable. The 2+50 flight seemed to pass quickly. After spending about ½ the flight dreaming through the “SkyMall” [the neat stuff you can buy for home delivery], I did get a few chapters in my Lassiter western read. All in All – a very pleasant flight.
During my career as an Airline Captain, I have flown into about 100 International airports. I have to honestly say the arriving in Panama is one of the nicest – easiest – No Problem airports - in existence. Just be aware that you can pick up the blank Visa [Tourist Card] at the bottom of the stairs – that is so you do not have to be delayed [and delay other arriving pax]. You pay your $5 fee to the Immigration officer – and step over to the Baggage area. The Baggage carrousel was running when I got there, and my suitcase came out in a short while. At the Customs area – you can push a button to give yourself a “Green Light” if you have nothing to declare – and you are on your way.
Coming out of customs into the open terminal area, I spied a chap with a sign listing my name. Rolando welcomed me to Panama – took my bag – escorted me to his very clean Toyota – and off we went. The drive into the city takes about 35 minutes. This was a bright-sunny day and gave me a nice clear view of the area east of the Panama City. There was some Government housing – some rather poor areas – then middle class homes – then in view were, it seemed like, 100s of buildings with cranes on them. Panama City is truly a growing city. The Hotel Las Vegas is right in the middle of the upscale Congrejo neighborhood. This area centrally located in the City and within walking distance to shopping areas, restaurants, schools, pharmacies, and several banks. It is a classy area and many of Panama´s most influential have made their permanent residences in this area.
My arrival at the hotel was smooth. A valet attendant [a soft-spoken regular chap – not a “Fancy Uniform” type] – greeted me and took my bag inside. The Front Desk also greeted me, took my Credit Card information, I was shown up to my room – and there I was, feeling very comfortable and happy and serene. The hotel was nice. Downstairs is the Italian restaurant -. Pomodoro. It has a small enclosed dining room [for when it is drizzling] – and a large open dining area with trees and flowers– and is arguably the best Italian food in town [the Tiramisu is World Class]. Also in the hotel is The Wine Bar. A place for wine lovers, the Wine Bar has more than 300 wine selections as well as cheese, pizza [The Small Hawaiian pizza with a glass –or two- of a good Chianti, is my choice]., and an in-house live music trio.
The hotel is right on the corner – cattycorner to the Veneto Hotel & Casino – Wyndham Grand Hotel. The Veneto is a good place to relax –– have a fine Cuban cigar and a cool drink while you watch an NFL game on Sunday.
The next morning I strolled down the street past the front of the Veneto to the Monolo. This café would fit in any upper-middleclass neighborhood in the U.S. It has a great breakfast menu, and the open air porch is a great way to “people watch” as you enjoy your meal.
My interest this day was to check out one of the “Off Shore” lawyers. Having purchased property overseas before, I knew it was best to check everything out with the Legal people first. The chap I called – an American – came over to the hotel and drove me to his office. He explained all the possibilities – quoted me what I believe to be very fair prices – and gave me a very comfortable feeling. Panama law is very protective of the “Common Man” – both Panamanian and Foreign – and while it is possible to get ripped off if you are careless [or should I say Stupid], being careful will keep you protected as well as you might be here in the U.S..
They also have a law called the “pensionado”. Requirements for the pensionada visa are minimal. You only need to prove that you have good health, no criminal record and an income of US$1000 per month. The pensionada program lets you bring in household goods without paying duties, and you can import a new car for personal use every two years. You can enjoy discounts of 15% to 50% on hotels, restaurants, movies, public transportation and many other services.. “Panama offers what is probably the best package of (financial) benefits for seniors on the planet,” according to an article in Smart Money Magazine. Many places gave me this discount just because I look like a Pensioner.
Taxi’s throughout Panama are plentiful, and can be easily recognized by their numbered markings, however, they come in all size, shapes and colors. All fares are based on zones or areas, and not determined by meters - cab drivers are required to carry a copy of the zone chart with them at all times. Most fares within the metropolitan area average between B/2.00-B/2.50, and for each addition person there is a B/.0.25 surcharge. Trips from Panama City to Tocumen International Airport cost approx. B/20.00 per person, with each additional person paying B/.5.00. The standard hourly rate for taxi rental is B/.8.00, however, that can vary depending on the type of service you are requesting, so establish a price before departing
On the weekend I took a taxi for a two-night stay at the Coronado Golf & Beach Resort, just 60 minutes away by modern highway from the City. This was a very nice community around a Golf course which is aimed towards foreigners’ retirement living. My interest was sparked because of the Stables just beside the property where I rented a horse for an hour [$5]. It was a very clean and well kept stable and the horses all looked happy and healthy.
On Monday I arranged a taxi to the development now being promoted at the old Howard Air Base – PanamaPacifico. This Base was given to the Panamanian Government by the U.S. after we gave up the canal. Panama then sent out Requests for Proposals and after deep due diligence, awarded the contract to a British company. It will be, with its preexisting infrastructure, one of the largest mixed-use developments in the world
The vision forRecommended for:
- Panama CityMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsBudget Travelers+ 4
The economic discrepancy between locals and tourists is palpable. It can be disheartening at times to see the local culture driven out and American developments taking over. The locals are a bit abrasive to tourist, especially americans. Very popular nightlife in the city, however. Rich and relevant history, plus very cheap food bump it up to 3 stars.Recommended for:
- Panama City
Panama City is an amazing city!! You must climb ancon hill (cerro ancon) - you can take a taxi and ask the driver to wait for you. The view from the top of the hill IS spectacular - you can see the colonial quarter of the city - Casco Viejo - as well as the new skyscrapers and the canal. If you have the time, you should also walk around the alleys of Casco Viejo and visit the cathedral, as well as other beautiful churches, the canal museum, and the president's residence.
- Panama City
I am a city dweller so I always have a great time when I visit and explore a new city. Panama City is no different. It's not incredibly large, but it's certainly bustling. The people are friendly and the food is good. What more can you want? Oh, and cabs here are incredibly cheap if you do it right.
- Panama CityMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsBusiness Travelers+ 5
We are so impressed by the affluence and modernization that are displayed by the beautiful skyscrapers yet, there are parts of town that still retains its more humble roots. Panama City has it all: modern, traditional, humble, and luxury.
- Panama CityMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsBudget Travelers+ 9
Amazing city! Great buildings and culture. Must go to the fish market and get fresh ceviche! You can get any kind of seafood inexpensive. Be careful however one side of the road is very touristy and safe and then literally across the road is the ghetto. Must see the old town, mall, and fish market
- Panama CityMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsBudget Travelers+ 13
Very young feeling city. It actually feels a bit like Miami. You can still see much of the lingering influence of effective U.S. occupation of much of the city and the canal area, which gives Panama City a unique feel in latin america. The city is growing rapidly and there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm and optimism in the city.
- Panama City
Panama City is a mix of old world and new world and of course the Panama Canal. A great place to go for both site seeing and a decent party vibe.
When speaking with the natives / taxi drivers, the old world is driven primarily by its history as a trading port (one of Spain's first - Spanish Conquistadores used this city as a launching pad against the Incans). One of the old world characters that is discussed is Captain Henry Morgan (Yes, Captain Morgan's rum) who sacked the city in 1670s. Branded a Pirate by the Spanish / local Panamanians and a knight by the English - go figure. If you find this character interesting, you would be inclined to visit Panama's war ruins and Panama Viejo (the city that he sacked). The city's old world architecture (Casco Viejo) is fun to see if you never seen 17th century architecture...although you better see it now since they are in the process of "updating" many of its buildings and roads...which in my opinion will render the place looking like pirates of the caribbean at Disneyland.
The new world is cosmopolitan. Behemoth skylines being constructed by internationals (for example, Donald Trump was building a new tower in 2011). The hotels are trendy as are its nightclubs. The culture reminds one of Miami - dress to impress. However, compared to other trendy metropolitan cities; it's more show than go in my opinion. But a fun city regardless.
The outdoor activities leave a lot to be desired and are a trek from the city. If you want to do these kind of activities...I would suggest not being in Panama City.
- Panama CityMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsBusiness TravelersFoodies
I had a great time in Panama City. I was mainly there to see the canal and the Bridge of the Americas. I have a thing for major geographical features, and crossing the Pacific side of the canal satisfied that.
- Panama City
Panama city is known as "The Center of the World and Heart of the Universe!" Modern, vibrating, a rich melting pot of diversity and rich in its own culture. A must visit, not just another city, bathed by the Pacific and Atlantic, people are warm and friendly, making you feel at home!
- Panama CityMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsBudget Travelers+ 6
Central America's capital of international finance, called by locals the “Dubai of the Americas”. At the crossroads of two oceans and two continents, Panama City is a dynamic tropical metropolis full of foreign investors talking shop in upscale cafes, expat fortune-seekers toasting their fates in wine bars, cranes stalking the rooftops of a skyline that seems to grow before your eyes.
The more modern areas of the city have many high-rise buildings, which together form a very dense skyline. There are currently more than 110 high-rise projects being constructed, with 127 high-rise buildings already built. The city holds the 40th place in the world by highrise buildings count.
- Panama CityFirst to Review
Unlike any other city in Central America. It was one of my last places to stop on my 2 month journey and I found the sky scrappers, the a/c malls and movie theaters of the new town very reminiscent of America (which I appreciated.) Don't like finding the USA in Central America? Cool, stay in the old town and explore dilapidated colonial buildings and views of the harbor. This is one of the coolest cities for its diversity of things to do and an incredible mix of old and new!
- Panama City
I give the City a #4 just because of the traffic these days--hard to get around for appointments. The City though has lots to see and do: Can visit the ruins of Panama Viejo, shopping, just taking a walk on Balboa Avenue is neat--can see the Bay of Panama and ships anchored there, waiting to transit the canal. There are casinos in all the hotels and entertainment--you can meet Panamanians who enjoy a drink and socializing with their friends--dancing is a sport in Panama and the dance floor is packed.
Featured on Gogobot
by Terry Gardner
Trips that include Panama City
By Ed Adams
By Maria Bermudez
By Ed Adams