Download GPX file for this article
8.9524-79.535393Map mag.png

Panama City

From Wikivoyage
Jump to: navigation, search
For other places with the same name, see Panama City (disambiguation).
Panama city at night

Panama City is the capital of Panama.

Understand[edit]

Panama City is a very multicultural place, with large populations from many different parts of the world. Spanish is spoken by most, and many speak some form of English. Customer service is slowly improving, and surprisingly dismal in hotels. However, on the streets, Panamanians are for the most part extremely friendly and helpful and would love to give you some advice.

There's great shopping, from high-end stores in the malls around Paitilla and in the banking district around Via Espana, to veritable bargains around La Central (Central Avenue, now turned into a pedestrian walkway) and the Los Pueblos outdoor mall. You can also find many ethnic stores (mostly Chinese and Indian), in certain parts of the City.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

1 Tocumen International Airport (PTY IATA). is located in the San Miguelito District, 32 km (20 mi) southeast of Panama City (it's part of the San Miguelito district, which has been incorporated as a separate city but essentially exists as part of Panama City). The airport is a hub for Copa Airlines, and is also served by American Airlines (Dallas/Ft.Worth, Miami Airport); Delta Airlines (Atlanta Airport); United Airlines (Houston, Newark); Avianca (Bogotá, Colombia, San José (Costa Rica), San Salvador and Managua). Most major Central American airlines, and several South American airlines and European Airlines also fly here. Tocumen is the biggest and best connected airport in mainland Central America. There are at least six daily flights to and from Miami Airport, two from Orlando and Atlanta, and three daily flights from Houston, 1 from Los Angeles LAX, two from Newark, and 1 from New York's JFK. There are daily flights to Mexico City; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Caracas, Venezuela; Santiago, Chile; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Asunción, Paraguay; Havana, Cuba; Kingston, Jamaica, at least 7 Colombian cities (Medellín, Cali, Pereira and Bogotá included) and several international destinations. There's also service to Madrid Barajas Airport and service to Amsterdam Schiphol with KLM. Tocumen International Airport on Wikipedia Tocumen International Airport (Q1420178) on Wikidata

Getting to the city center from Tocumen is unfortunately not easy, as the metro does not yet serve it. Taxis cost $30, which can be reduced to $10 if you can find two other people to share with. Depending on traffic, the trip can take well over an hour.

There are metrobuses (modern, air-conditioned buses) which cost $1.25 to get to the city center from the airport, but these buses only accept fare cards, not cash. At the airport there are only machines to top up fare cards, but not to buy them. However, the bus is always full of people going to and from the airport, so you can probably find someone willing to pay your fare with their card and you pay them back in cash. Take the bus going to Albrook, from the bus stop that is across the street, farther from the airport, by the billboards. To get there follow the "public transport" sign by turning right as you exit the terminal, then follow the fence along to the right, cross the small parking lot, and follow the (mostly) covered sidewalk the rest of the way -- or just follow people. It's no more than a 5-minute walk. There are at least two different bus routes that go to the Albrook bus terminal; take the one marked Corredor Sur if at all possible for a half hour trip (depending on traffic), or take the local bus (Via España) for a slow (at least 1.5 hr) trip. You can buy a fare card for $2 at the Albrook bus terminal once you get there. Albrook in turn is served by the metro.

Getting back to the airport, you can catch a bus at the 5 de Mayo station. Head down the stairs in the pedestrian underpass to the bus station, and go left to platform 1, doors 'C' (Corredor Sur to Tocumen). At 4pm on a weekday there can be a substantial wait and the ride takes 50min due to rush hour.

Also, forget anything you may have heard about the red devil buses -- they no longer serve the airport, although they are still common in the city.

Domestic flights leave out of 2 Gelabert/Albrook Airport (PAC IATA), a former US military airfield (Albrook Air Force Base). Domestic airlines are safe, and many fly very modern small jet aircraft. There are daily flights to every major town and city in the country. The only carrier is AirPanama (Aeropuerlas shut down in 2012). Unlike Tocumen, this airport does have a metro station in close proximity, however the airport terminal is at the western side of the runway (and the metro station is to the east near the Albrook bus terminal) and walking to the metro station is not feasible.

Panamá Pacífico International Airport (BLB IATA), a small airport previously known as Howard Air Force Base. VivaColombia offers daily flights to Medellin and Bogota. Taxis ask $30 for a ride to the city. You'll cross the Panamá Canal on the way.

By train[edit]

The only train service is between Panama City and Colón on the Panama Canal Railroad. It's mostly a freight train, but it has a very nice passenger car. The train ride offers excellent views of the Panama Canal and the tropical rain forest. In a way it is the only "transcontinental commuter rail line" in the world as some people live in Colon and work in Panama City or vice versa and commute using this train. Trains arrive at 3 Corozal Passenger Station (Estación de Pasajeros de Corozal). which is in western suburbs near Albrook Airport.

By bus[edit]

Panama City has one of the most modern bus terminals in Latin America, the 4 Gran Terminal Nacional de Transporte (commonly referred to as "Albrook"). It's the main hub and well organized. The bus terminal is next to the Albrook airport (the domestic airport) and it is very easy to find a bus here.

The long(er)-distance buses leave from the eastern side of the terminal on the ground level and you have to go through turnstiles by paying $0.10. Arrivals are usually on the first floor above the terminal building. All of the international buses ("tica buses" too) start and end in this terminal.

The metrobuses serving the bus terminal arrive and leave from the western side of the bus terminal (between the bus terminal and the Albrook Mall).

Within the terminal, you can buy a "RapiPass 3en1" card which can be used in the metrobus, metro and terminal ($0.10 terminal fee at turnstiles and toilet use). The card costs $2 and needs to be topped up. Turnstiles can only be accessed with this card (no cash payment possible), however people are generally very helpful and you can ask someone to swipe you through and giving the $0.10 to that person instead.

There are two food courts in the terminal, one at the southern end and one at the northern end. There are many drinking water fountains throughout the terminal. Toilets cost $0.25, are clean and can be paid with a $0.25 coin or with the RapiPass. Access to the metro station is via a bridge in the center of the terminal.

By boat[edit]

Get around[edit]

Map of Panama City
Miraflores locks, Panama Canal

By taxi[edit]

One of the easiest ways to get around town is by taxi. Taxis do not have a meter. Fares are set by the authorities, and are determined based on what section of the city you are starting at and what section of the city you are going to, with a surcharge for every additional person. The cab driver should have a table (which may include a map) that will show the costs for the fare, and they are required to show it to you if you ask or you can check Autoridad del Tránsito y Transporte Terrestre [dead link].

Fares are around $1.25 for travel within one zone, and the longest fares within the City at about $5. Keep in mind that the former Canal Zone is in a different section, and it will be at least a $5 fare. The surcharge for additional passengers should be $.50/additional passenger, and there's also a $.40 surcharge if you call a cab (at least these were the prices a few years ago). A taxi to or from the international airport typically costs $30 including tolls if you take the Corredor Sur highway. A taxi to the Amador Causeway costs between $5 - $10. Cab drivers do not expect tips, and they may pick up additional passengers along the way. The rule is that unless there's little to no deviation from the first person's route, the first person picked up is the first person dropped off, otherwise they will ask if it's ok to pick up the other fare. Cabs can also be rented for the day, and the fares again are set (probably around $20-$25). In this case, they will expect a little extra (tip and/or lunch).

Beware, taxi drivers will frequently try to overcharge visitors, sometimes up to many times the actual price, and will not have or know about any table as mentioned previously. If you are clearly a visitor and asking for the price, chances are the driver will say whatever they think they can get away with and you can try haggling down. It can help to ask locals what the price should be then negotiate based on that.

Panoramic view, Casco Antiguo

By bus[edit]

Diablo rojo[edit]

Getting around by bus is also cheap and convenient. Fares are $0.25 and the destination of the bus is written across the front windshield in large letters. Buses are privately owned and drivers usually compete with each other for passengers. For this reason, buses have colorful decorations to attract customers. During rush hour some buses can get crowded, and it is not unusual to see 3 people seated on a 2-person bench and lots of people standing along the aisle. It is not advised to use buses during these hours.

As of 2013, the "red devils" have been phased out from the main city routes, but they still connect the city with outlying suburbs.

Metrobus[edit]

The city has begun replacing the flamboyant "red devils" with modern, air-conditioned city buses ("MetroBus," look for the orange sign to find stops), but the red devils are still around. The MetroBus buses do not accept cash, so make sure to buy a fare card at one of the city's many malls before using them.

Bus fare is $0.25 for regular route and $1.25 for corredor route (Corredor Norte and Corredor Sur) and the same prices for transfer. You can buy and recharge MetroBus card at many places around the city (Puntos de venta).

There are no maps or schedules at the stations so using the bus system can be frustrating without knowing the common name of the destination and/or adequate Spanish for inquiring.

By metro[edit]

A Metro opened in 2014 and is by far the preferred method to get to the places it serves. Unfortunately, there are still many places of interest not served by it, but expansions are underway.

A single ride is 35 cents regular price with discounts for the elderly and students. The last train leaves at 10 pm all week with the first train leaving at 5:00 am Mondays to Saturdays and 7:00 am on Sundays

The Panama Metro opened on April 5, 2014. In its first week of operation, more than a million passengers used the Panama City Metro. It is the first heavy rail service in mainland Central America.

Line Two is still under construction and the estimate is that it will be finished in 2018. A third line is planned for the future but construction has not yet started as of 2016.

By car[edit]

Car travel in Panama City is notoriously difficult. During weekday work hours, traffic jams are continuous. Many street intersections lack traffic signals creating right-of-way confusion. Short distances may be quicker on foot or other means of transportation. During holidays like Carnival the traffic can be expected to be worse.

Car rentals are available from major corporations like Hertz at Panama's Tocumen International Airport.

All taxis in Panama are required to be painted yellow by law. Hitch hiking is not uncommon.

Check points run by the national police occur at strategic locations to prevent the movement of illegal persons and goods.

See[edit]

The Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District (Casco Viejo) of Panamá are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Casa Gongora, Casco Viejo
Cathedral tower, Panama Viejo
  • Panama Canal. An absolute must if you're in Panama City. The most visited place on the canal is the Miraflores locks. You can also take a luxury train along the canal to Colón, or obviously take a boat! Panama Canal on Wikipedia
  • 1 Miraflores locks (A one way cab to Miraflores locks should cost around $6. Or take the new metrobus line Albrook-Miraflores from 'D - Via España' platform at Albrook (though not very frequent, probably only one bus per hour) for $0.25, which stops right in front of the visitors center. It is also possible to take a local bus from the Albrook bus terminal for less than $1 going in the direction of Gamboa or Paraiso. This bus stops on the road by request and you will have to walk to the visitors center for about 10-15min). The most visited place on the canal are the Miraflores locks, where you can watch the huge boats go by and visit the air-conditioned visitor center with a museum, a movie theater and a fancy restaurant ($25 for the lunch buffet).


To avoid disappointment, you'll want to ensure you will see some boats on your visit. Be sure to check the real time tracker to see which boats are due in.
Miraflores locks visitors center (with observation deck and museum): adults $15, children 6-12 years $10, lower for residents. Miraflores Locks on Wikipedia

  • Casco Viejo. Casco Viejo is the historic part of town, where you will find many colonial style government buildings, cathedrals and museums including a Canal Museum or a small Panama History Museum. It is currently under massive renovation, with crumbling shacks next to beautifully restored colonial buildings. There are a number of accommodation options in Casco ranging from hostel pricing up to very expensive colonial suites. The area hosts a large number of eclectic events ranging from operas and musicals at the national theatre to block parties and fashion catwalks in the open plazas. Casco Viejo also offers some of the finest dining options in Panama City. Getting here from the airport by Metro bus, you can get off at 5 de Mayo stop (popular stop under a highway) then walk about 15-20min heading south towards the water on Avenida Central, a pedestrian mall with many shops and markets, which leads directly to the old town. Casco_Viejo,_Panama on Wikipedia
    • 2 Canal Museum, Plaza de la Independencia, San Felipe (between Calles 5a and 6a). $3 for adults. Panama Canal Museum on Wikipedia
    • 3 Panama History Museum, Avenida 6a Central, Plaza Catedral, San Felipe, +507 501-4128. $1 for adults.
  • 4 Panama Viejo. Tue-Sun 8:30AM to 4:30PM, Mon closed. The site of the ruins of the original city of Panama that was sacked by the pirate Henry Morgan in the 1600s. The city was later moved to Casco Viejo. Today Panama Viejo is home to one of Panama's national parks with the buildings left in unrestored states. It is well worth the visit but read the safety warnings and ask park employees about where it is safe to visit as the park is surrounded outside by one of the city's dangerous areas. Adults $12, children and students $5; prices include the museum, park and lookout. Panamá Viejo on Wikipedia
  • 5 Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador) (It is possible to travel to the end of the causeway by metrobus (line: Albrook-Amador), which runs from the central bus terminal (Albrook) from 'E - Corredor Sur, Zona Este' platform (with frequency of about one bus per hour). Taxi fare from central city is around $7). The Amador Causeway connects four little islands (Naos, Culebra, Perico and Flamenco) to the mainland. From the causeway, there is a lovely view of Panama City, the Puente de las Americas, and the numerous islands far in Panama Bay. Many Panamanians like to spend their weekends jogging, riding a bicycle or roller-blading down the causeway, or having a meal or drinks in one of the many restaurants and bars on the islands. Bikes are available to rent in many different varieties including recumbents and multi-person bicycles, starting at about $3.50 per hour. From the causeway you can also arrange day trips by ferry to one of the surrounding islands with boats leaving early in the morning. Causeway_Islands on Wikipedia
  • 6 Punta Culebra Nature Center. This nature center run by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute is located on Culebra Island. It has a few fish tanks with Pacific, Caribbean, and freshwater sea life, a small pool with a sea turtle and a few little sharks, and a tank where children can touch starfish and other sea creatures. There is also a little forest where a family of sloths lives. Admission adults $5. Marine_Exhibition_Center_of_Punta_Culebra on Wikipedia
  • 7 Biomuseo (There is a metrobus stop (line: Albrook-Amador) right in front of the building.). Tue-Fri 10.00AM-4.00PM, Sat-Sun 10.00AM - 5.00PM, Mon closed. Designed by the architect Frank Gehry. Biomuseo on Wikipedia
  • Mi Pueblitos. The pretty deserted museum (entrance free) on the slopes of Cerro Ancon showcases the different ethnicities of Panama. There are several artisans producing curios. The outdoor museum is close in proximity to El Chorrillo so be very careful about straying outside of boundaries or into unsupervised areas. Upon last visit it was not recommended to climb Cerro Ancon.

Do[edit]

  • Help A Sailboat To Cross The Canal. All sailboats that want to cross the Panama Canal needs by law 5 crew members when crossing the locks due to the complexity of handling these boats in these narrow locks and tieing and untieing it to the walls, other boats etc. The job called "linehandler". The owners of the boats can either hire local help or look for volunteers in exchange for the experience, food and drinks. The process takes 2 days due to long waiting times and the slow movement. You sleep on the boat during these time. It is a unique way to experience the Canal, sailing and have a closer look on the locks. A website created to connect between the volunteers and the boat's owners and to give more information.
  • 1 [dead link]Metropolitan Natural Park (MNP) (Parque Natural Metropolitano) (It is within walking distance from the Albrook bus terminal (about 20min) and walking there during daytime seemed ok). This park is a nature reserve very close to the city and offers well maintained hiking paths and a small visitors center. One of the trails leads up a hill and from there you have great views over the skyline of Panama City. Register and pay first at the visitors center, where there are also toilets and drinking water fountains to refill your bottles. $5. Metropolitan Natural Park on Wikipedia
  • Soberanía National Park. This national park is in close proximity to the Panama canal and offers good hiking trails. One trail, the pipeline trail, is a 17km long dirt road, mostly covered by the surrounding vegetation, gives the chance to see lots of birds and wildlife. Access to this trail costs $5. The trail head starts near the town Gamboa, close to the docks of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) port. About 2km into the trail, you can turn left and visit the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center. Entrance for that for non-residents is $30 before 10:00AM ($20 after that) and only 25 people are admitted at a time. To get to Gamboa, you can take a bus from the Albrook terminal (its stop there is located at the north-eastern end through the food court. It costs $1 one-way, but leaves only very infrequently. It is best to check for bus times in advance directly from where the bus leaves by asking bus drivers or terminal employees. Soberanía National Park on Wikipedia

Learn[edit]

  • Casco Antiguo Spanish School, Avenida A and Calle 4, +507 838 5592, e-mail: . 8AM to 8PM. Casco Antiguo Spanish School's 1 on 1 and small group Spanish classes provide real world language skills, allowing you to put down the textbook and experience Panama first-hand. Offers a "Survival Spanish" Course for Expats, Crash Course for Travels, private lessons, Intensive Courses, and business Spanish. $195/week.
  • Spanish Panama Spanish language school, Via Argentina, Ed. Americana #1A, El Cangrejo (Ed Americana, #1A), +507 213-3121, e-mail: . 8:30AM-8:30PM. Learn Spanish in Panama City’s central and expat friendly neighborhood at Spanish Panama. Spanish language immersion programs include airport pickup, tours and ecotourism, cultural activities, Spanish classes, and salsa dance classes. Business Spanish for Panama is also offered. min $300/week.

Buy[edit]

  • Calidonia area has plenty of street markets.
  • 1 Avenida Central. A pedestrianized street leading to the Casco Viejo from Estacion 5 de Mayo. Very local, very cheap shopping street. Full of budget department stores and shops. Lots of locals.
  • 2 Albrook Shopping Mall. Has good value and high quality clothes and more as well as a cinema, arcade, and bowling alley. Right next to the Albrook bus terminal.
  • 3 MultiPlaza Mall. Upmarket mall, higher prices, better quality products. It has an adjacent Marriott Courtyard hotel.
  • 4 MultiCentro Mall. Upmarket mall, not as popular as MultiPlaza and Albrook. Metrobuses to Tocumen airport (via Corredor Sur) stop at the bus stop south-east of the mall.
  • 5 Metro Mall. A large indoor mall that was the most recent build in Panama City. It has an adjacent Marriott Courtyard hotel.
  • Los Pueblos Mall. The first mall built in the city. very local, very cheap, and outdoor. It's across the main street from Metro Mall but is inaccessible on foot.

Crafts[edit]

Panamanian crafts High end crafts can also be purchased from shops in the Centro de Artesanias in Balboa neighborhood or in the shops of Mi Pueblitos. Indian stores on every major shopping district (El Dorado mall and surroundings, Los Pueblos, and along Via Espana) also sell many Panamanian souvenirs. Gran Morrison is also a place to find many handicrafts.

Eat[edit]

Check out Panama Restaurant Week, which doesn't happen every year, but when it does it is a fantastic option to try great restaurants at good prices. Despite its name, it lasts 15 days, with dozens of participating restaurants offering special participating menus at fixed, lower than normal prices.

Budget[edit]

There's several cafes along Via Argentina. The Spanish sandwich shops offer excellent sandwiches, coffee, and churros. Try Manolo's Churreria (don't miss the churros rellenos, pastries filled with dulce de leche and rolled in sugar) or Del Prado. Sandwiches should cost from $3-$5. Also on Via Argentina is El Trapiche, serving traditional Panamanian food for under $12/person. They serve excellent breakfast food.

There's an abundance of Chinese restaurants, and some can be very affordable. Try some around El Dorado, they should be pretty authentic.

  • Niko's Cafe has several locations around the City. Owned by Greeks, they are all open 24 hours and the have a good selection of sandwiches and hot food served all day long.
  • Don Lee is a Panamanian chain serve Chinese fast food, and definitely worth a try.
  • Doraditos Asados in Chanis. An extremely popular Panamanian restaurant that's always full and can take an infuriating amount of time to order. That said it's likely always filled by locals because the prices are cheap and the food is extremely good. In particular the rotisserie chicken (a full one costs about $5) is a local favorite with two types of chimichurri to choose from.
  • Fish market outside of Casco Viejo. Entering Casco Viejo there's the main fish market for the city exists and has recently undergone some refurbishing. There are some restaurants upstairs where the fish is obviously very fresh and the prices are cheap.
  • Restaurante Poly (Corner of 26th and Avenida Sur) A very crowded, noisy and not very hygienic restaurant, it's however a truly gastronomic experience. Do not miss the delicious fish soups and the bistec picado, both for under $2 each.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Lung Fung, on Transistmica Avenue. Serves some of the best Chinese food in the city. It will be a different experience. Try dim sum any day of the week (expect long lines on weekends), although it has lost some of its charm now that the wait staff speaks such good Spanish instead of only Cantonese or Haka.
  • Marbella. A very old school Panamanian restaurant on Balboa Avenue. It's a Spanish place specializing in seafood. Excellent paella and overall good seafood. Prices are stuck in 1984, so a hearty plate of paella will set you back $13, and there's only one item with a higher price on the menu.
  • Van Gogh. This nice little Italian restaurant is right near the Via Venteo Casino. It has great food, great service, and a great atmosphere. It is one of the best Italian restaurants in Panama City.
  • 1 Capital Bistró Panamá, Calle principal de San Felipe, Local 1. Kitchen opens 6:30pm. Amazing views of the city's skyline. Chillout music and large sofas on the upper terrace. $18-28.

Splurge[edit]

  • [dead link]Manolo Caracol. Is an excellent restaurant in the Casco Viejo that serves tapas. Each day the chef invents a new fixed menu with seasonal ingredients. Meals are $30 without drinks.
  • Puerta De Tierra. Another excellent restaurant in the Casco Viejo. The restaurant is primarily a steak house but has some very appealing appetizers also.
  • Ten Bistro. Calle 50 and in Multiplaza Mall is another excellent choice serving contemporary cuisine.
  • [dead link]Casa Del Marisco. Seafood restaurant located in the banking area walking distance away from the Marriott. The food here is quite good but also pricey.
  • Sake. Located on the ground floor of Torres de las Americas office tower by Punta Pacifica hospital, is Panama City's hottest sushi restaurant. Probably the best sushi in the city but the city is not known for its sushi. If you're only here for a short while and not desperate for a sushi fix, there are better options for the price.
  • Miraflores Restaurant. Situated at the top of Miraflores Visitor Center. The terrace section overlooks the Panama Canal and tables are most likely reserved in advance. Buffet is around $30 without drinks. It is open from 10AM to 10:30PM (much after the visitor center is closed), so if you need to see the canal late night (and can afford to spend extra for dinner), Miraflores restaurant is the place to be. (The Miraflores Lock opens both way in the night, so you are definitely going to see a couple of ships pass by).

Drink[edit]

Buy and try some Panamanian and Cuban coffee while you're here. It will be some of the best you've ever had.

Calle Uruguay is a neighborhood filled with bars and discos for wealthy Panamanians and foreigners.

  • La Casona de las Brujas, Casco Viejo. An interesting bar on an inner courtyard of a building, attached to an art gallery in Casco Viejo. Lives bands play a variety of music styles.
  • Taberna 21 is a local hangout serving great cheap beer and Spanish tapas.

Sleep[edit]

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under $50
Mid-range $50 to $150
Splurge Over $150

Budget[edit]

  • [dead link]Jungla House Hostel and B & B (El Cangrejo (Modern City Center)), Calle 49 a Oeste y Via Argentina, RINA building #11 (Via Argentina last left, building on left next to Dermocenter, 3 building before Hotel Las Huacas), +507 214-8069, +507 6668-5076. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. "Tree Top" level rooms overlook the hotel/casino district of the city. Dorm rooms and private rooms come with and without AC; communal area with TV, movies, free internet with decent wireless signal throughout facility. Walking distance from bars/clubs, restaurants, shopping, casinos, and supermarkets. VIP entrance for the guests in several of the city's clubs. There is a huge communal kitchen. Equipment rental for excursions, airport transfers and reputable boats to Colombia through San Blas can all be arranged. Mirador Adventures (www.miradoradventures.com) tour office on site. $12-$14 per person (dorm beds), single $35, double $49.
  • Luna's Castle Hostel, Calle 9na Este, +507 262-1540. Set in a Spanish colonial mansion built upon the water´s edge in Casco Viejo, Luna´s Castle Hostel attracts those who seek the ideal Panama City backpacking experience. Amenities include a modern communal kitchen, free breakfast, free coffee, the legendary movie theatre, a spacious outdoor courtyard, free internet, and sweeping views of the Bay of Panama and the modern city skyline and a great social atmosphere. Information is also available for sailing boat departures between Panamá and Cartagena in Colombia. Keep in mind, these rooms above the bar are LOUD! They don't take reservations for privates and it's a popular place, so be prepared to find an alternative. Dorm bed: $13.
  • [dead link]Voyager Hostel. The air conditioning doesn't work well because of missing window panes. The employees hog the TV and watch Mexican soap operas during the day and soccer games at night. Dorm : $9.90.
  • [dead link]Hospedaje Casco Viejo, 8a con Avenida A. Casa 8-31, San Felipe, +507 211-2027. This hostel is in the heart of the old quarter in a beautifully restored historic building. Most of the rooms have their own bathroom and balcony and very comfortable beds. Friendly and knowledgable staff, kitchen, free wifi and coffee! Definitely the best deal in Panama. They also take reservations online. $10/18/single/double.
  • La Casa de Carmen, Calle 1a de Carmen 32. This hostel is in a cute house located on a busy street. Try to get a room further in the back to get away from the traffic noise. Breakfast is included, which involves toast, cereal, coffee and orange juice. Two computers with internet access are also free for guests. Accommodations are clean and spacious. $30-45/double.
  • [dead link]Hostal Miami, Avenida Central 18-18. New hostel opened in 2010. Some floors are still under refurbishment. Shared kitchen, internet and wi-fi. Friendly employees. Dorm: US$13, private rooms: US$30-$50.
  • Zuly's Backpackers. Now operating under new management as "Casa Rica"; They do not honor anything on the Zuly's website, which appears to be obsolete.

Mid-range[edit]

  • [dead link]Las Vegas Hotel. Suites are clean, safe, centrally located and relatively affordable. There's also a nice little Italian restaurant and a wine bar attached to the hotel.
  • Casa Las Americas. There are six rooms in this very nice Bed & Breakfast in Betania. You cannot beat the location for peace and quiet in a lush setting. There is a large pool and lovely terrace with a city view. Centrally located and easy access by inexpensive taxi to shopping, restaurants, and proximity to the sights of the city. Also a big plus -- the pool is large and lovely, very quiet and private and surrounded by lush greenery. $60-$105.
  • Magnolia Inn - Casco Viejo, 818 Calle Boquete (Calle Boquete and Calle 8va in Casco Viejo, behind Plaza Catedral), +507 202-0872. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. Magnolia Inn offers comfortable and spacious deluxe private rooms as well as luxury hostel rooms. The restored French colonial mansion is full of historic character, as well as modern conveniences such as A/C, orthopedic beds, free Wi-Fi Internet and safe deposit boxes. The Inn has a stylish social areas to relax and meet fellow guests. A fully equipped kitchen and sunbathed dinning room is available for guest use. $80-$135.
  • Tribe Panama. Located in historic Casco Antiquo(Viejo) on Plaza Simon Bolivar; there are 4 suites with each having two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, and wonderful views of the sea and Plaza Simon Bolivar. There are over 20 restaurants and Bars within walking distance. Free internet and satellite TV. The building sits across the street from the Presidential Palace grounds which provides for the best security and neighbor that Panama has to offer. $120-$160.

Splurge[edit]

  • The Bristol Hotel, +507 264-0000. Luxurious modern hotel in the heart of Panama City. Outstanding bar and restaurant on site. First-class service. $200/double.
  • 1 The Canal House, Calle 5 and Avenida A in Casco Viejo, +507 228 1907. An intimate hotel located in a Colonial mansion in the heart of Panama City's historic district. The Canal House was selected by the New York Times as its Editor's Pick for Panama City hotels and is the country's first Green Globe Certified Hotel. The Canal House has three rooms and a staff of six, including two English speaking managers. It is located just to the side of the Canal Museum, walking distance from some of the city's best bars, restaurants and cafes. From $180.
  • Las Clementinas Chambers, Café & Bar, Calle 11 and Avenida B in Casco Viejo, +507 228-7613 (Panama), toll-free: +1-888-593-5023 (US and Canada). A small boutique hotel located in Panama's exciting historic district, Casco Viejo. Las Clementinas has just six rooms, each of which is a full apartment with kitchen, 12-foot ceilings and wrap around balconies, some with plaza views, some with ocean views. Above the rooms is a rooftop terrace with stunning views of Panama City, the Pacific Ocean, the entrance to the Canal and the rooftops of the historic district. Below the rooms is the Cafe & Bar. Las Clementinas is managed by The Canal House and leisure and business travelers can expect the same excellent and personalized service that defines The Canal House.
  • InterContinental Miramar, +507-206-8888. Av. Balboa. Luxury high-rise hotel overlooking Panama Bay. Facilities include upscale dining, large swimming pool, tennis courts, full-service marina, helicopter landing pad.
  • Panama Marriott Hotel, Calle 52 y Ricardo Arias, Area Bancaria Panama City, Panama, +507 2 109100, fax: +507 2 109110. As cosmopolitan as the city surrounding it, the Marriott Panama City Hotel offers the elegance, outstanding service and amenities that you'd expect from a luxury Panama City hotel. Soaring 20 stories above the financial district, and considered among the best Panama City hotels, it offers an ideal location for business or leisure travelers near shopping, entertainment and vibrant night life.
  • [dead link]Courtyard by Marriott Panama Real Hotel, Vía Israel, Punta Pacífica Mall, +507 301 0101, fax: +507 301 0102. The Courtyard by Marriott Panama Real Hotel offers guests 120 rooms with high speed internet, restaurant, bar, gym, pool, four banquet halls and a meeting room, as well as laundry service, laundry and shop. Prices range between $ 100 - $ 250.

Connect[edit]

You can buy SIM cards for Panama's 4 carriers at the Terminal (Albrook) and probably many other places.

Stay safe[edit]

Areas[edit]

Be careful in both Casco Viejo and the Panama la Vieja ruins area. There are tourist police aplenty in both neighborhoods but do not wander too far in these areas alone (even in the day) and certainly not in the evening (as of 2010 these areas are very safe, lots of activity and tourist traffic)

Stay out of El Chorrillo, Santa Ana, Curundu and San Miguel. It is very dangerous right now due to infighting between drug gangs. Tourists have been kidnapped right off the street. El Chorrillo borders San Felipe so it is very easy to accidentally walk into it. When driving, car doors should be locked.

The central neighborhoods of Marbella, El Cangrejo, Obarrio, San Francisco, and the Banking Area are generally the most safe. In any case, be careful of your belongings, even if sitting in a restaurant, as people have had things snatched without noticing it, especially when enjoying a glass too many of Panama's great wine selection. It is never a good idea to drink heavily and walk back to your hotel.

Taxis[edit]

It's always a good idea (in any country really) to spend a few minutes to find out exact taxi fares before taking a taxi and always have exact change for the correct fare. This avoids over-charging and problems with some drivers. Having to ask a taxi driver how much the fare is the equivalent to wearing a "kick-me" sticker on your shorts, as you're telling him you don't know. Some have paid $20.00 to get from El Dorado to Via Argentina, but the real fare for one person is $1.75.

Outside of Multiplaza, Albrook and Multicentro are some very good looking Taxis. The drivers wear nice shirts and the Taxis have proper signs on the roof. The drivers will most likely ask you if you are interested. NEVER take these taxis. All they do is wait for foreigners and then charge 4x the price.

Some taxis at the main bus station prey on visitors. Never put your belongings in the trunk. Sit in the back seat along with your belongings and have your luggage firmly grasped while entering and exiting the vehicle; otherwise, they can drive away with your things while you are still trying to get in. Lock the doors once inside. Avoid and ignore anyone who approaches you to "get a taxi for you"; go to the curb to get one yourself. At best they will want money for this "service" amounting to half the taxi fare; at worst, they are setting you up to be robbed with certain drivers with whom they work. Lastly, the cabs are marked on the door with a unique registration number -- memorize it or write it down and secretly tuck it safely away on your person before entering any cab.

Never lose your temper with taxi drivers or police (or anyone else really) no matter how bad you may find a situation or service in some places. Exert your rights politely but firmly.

Other[edit]

Look both ways before crossing the street! Panamanian drivers are notoriously aggressive when the traffic allows and will not slow down for you even if you're lucky enough to find a crosswalk. There's only one way to cross the road here. Wait for a break in the traffic and walk. Once you start, keep going. Drivers will stop(99% of the time......). Otherwise you'll be stuck for hours waiting.

A dumb tourist mistake is bragging aloud about how cheap things are when local wages are also much lower compared to Europe and North America.

Cope[edit]

Embassies[edit]

Embassy of France, in the middle of the old city

Go next[edit]

  • Isla Taboga - Take a boat trip out to the islands off the coast of Panama City.
  • Gamboa - Check out the birds and Chagres River.
  • San Blas Islands - Take a tour of the islands
  • Portobelo - Visit the forts, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue onwards to Isla Grande for some nice R&R - buses goes from the main street in Portobelo to La Guira and from there it is a 5 minutes boatride ($2)
  • Bocas del Toro - fly Panama air to beaches and nature. 4 flights every day
This city travel guide to Panama City is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.