Official name: Republic of Panama
Location: Between Central and South America, on the Isthmus of the same name (width between 80km and 192km).
Capital: Panama City
Population: 3.5 millions
Area: 78.200 km2
Weather: Average 27C. Tropical, uniform throughout the year. Humidity is always high.
Seasons: Only two seasons: “dry” or “verano” (summer) from December to April and the “not so dry” “rainy” or “invierno” (winter) from May to November.
Time Zone: GMT -5 (all year).
Currency: US Dollar (Panamanians call it Balboa).
Electricity: 110 volts; 60 cycles.
Drivers’ license: Drivers can drive up to 90 days with a foreign driving license.
Take it Easy.
Some facts that are going to make your stay easy and simple:
You DO NOT expect:
too much service.
too much driving decency.
extraordinary food or fruit.
to swim at the sea everyday (there are no beaches close to Panama City).
You DO expect:
a lot of roadwork (metro under construction).
to see animals (birds, monkeys, ñeques).
to eat a lot of sweet pineapple.
rain and or thunderstorms every day (if you come between May and November)
to see a lot of containers.
We live in the “Area Revertida”, that means the former American base area. We are not close to what they call “Downtown”, which refers to the area where the big buildings are (Punta Pacífica, Paitilla, etc.). With no traffic or “tranque” as Panamanians say, it will take you 10 minutes to get there, but with traffic you never know… it can be more than 30 minutes.
One option to have an overview of the city is the touristic bus: www.citysightseeingpty.com.
Near us, you can hop on it at Albrook Mall or Miraflores Locks.
Things to see close to our place
CANAL DE PANAMA – ESCLUSAS DE MIRAFLORES – Miraflores Locks
The Pacific side of the Canal de Panamá (the Atlantic side is at the City of Colón, 2 hours’ drive). You can see the boats crossing the canal, there is a nice museum and restaurant.
Panama Canal crossing tour (by boat): www.canalandbaytours.com
Panama Railroad (Corozal station): www.panarail.com
A viewpoint from the top of a hill, overlooks the city.
HIKING: Parque Soberanía, Parque Metropolitano or Cerro Ancón.
CITY OF KNOWLEDGE (Ciudad del Saber)
Former American base, today it is the neighbourhood of the UN, NGOs and other international organizations. There is a nice park to have a walk and a new mall.
A scenic reconstitution of traditional Panamanian homes.
The biggest mall of Central America. If you want to shop this is the place to go.
Other places to see in Panama City
PANAMA LA VIEJA
Ruins of the first settlement in Panama.
A new coastal park between the bay and the skyscrapers.
A park in the centre of town.
CAUSEWAY AMADOR and BIOMUSEO (designed by Frank Gehry, planned to open late 2013)
The Causeway is a strip of land connecting three islands to the mainland, used as a nice
area for walks, with many restaurants with a view of the bay and the city.
The old colonial town, with nice renovated buildings, bars and restaurants.
You can visit the Museo del Canal de Panamá.
Do not forget to get an ice cream at Le Grandclement
Offers activities at Lago Gatún, including a treetop aerial tram.
GAMBOA RAINFOREST RESORT
Includes a nice restaurant on the lake.
The lake in between the two canal locks, where all boats transit through. Tours offer the opportunity to see the wildlife and travel by boat.
Birdwatching in Gamboa. Needs reservation. Not kids allowed.
Town and beach right after Puente de las Américas, with some local restaurants.
Luxury mall with nice stores.
Places outside Panama City
OLD CANAL TRAIN TRIP TO COLÓN (1 day): Visit to Esclusas de Gatún (locks in the Caribbean coast) and Fuerte de San Lorenzo. www.panarail.com Mon – Fri 7.15am and 5.15pm 44US
VISIT TO AN EMBERA COMMUNITY (1 day): indigenous village
Pacific Beaches: Santa Clara, San Carlos, El Palmar (1 day): Closest nices beaches (115km)
VALLE DE ANTÓN (1 or 2 days): nice quiet village in the hills (125km)
ISLA CONTADORA / ISLA TABOGA (1 or 2 days): islands and beaches
Nice hotel in Contadora:
Casa del Sol www.panama-isla-contadora.com
Villa Romantica http://www.villa-romantica.com
DOLPHINS/WHALES WATCH IN LAS PERLAS (1 day):
PORTOBELO ( : 1 or 2 days): old colonial fortress and ocean town with beaches nearby.
BOQUETE (3 days): Town at the foot of a volcano, 1-hour flight away from Panama.
BOCAS DEL TORO (3 days, by plane): The most touristic place in Panama. Nice beaches.
SAN BLAS (KUNA YALA) (2 or more days): Idyllic Caribbean archipelago of over 300 virgin islands with a few indigenous groups.
ISLA GRANDE: Further than Portobelo.
PLAYA BONITA: Closest beach of Panama City. Not so bonita… but close. Resorts: Westin, Intercontinental.
Jungle Tours http://www.junglelandpanama.com/. You can stay at the boat hotel for the night.
Our favourite places to eat
- PETIT PARIS (in town): French bakery, nice breakfast.
- PAN Y CANELA (Ciudad del Saber): Bakery.
- COUNTRY Store and Café (Cerro Ancón): you can get organic coffee and maybe see monkeys.
- EL TRAPICHE (Vía Argentina and Albrook Mall): typical Panamanian dishes.
- LEÑOS Y CARBÓN (Causeway Amador): typical Panamanian dishes, nice meats and fish.
- MI RANCHITO (Causeway Amador): seafood and fish.
- OISHI SUSHIS (Albrook): sushis.
- MERCADO DE MARISCOS (Between Cinta Costera and Casco Antiguo): Fish market, there is a restaurant on the 1st floor. Nice ceviche, fresh fish and seafood.
- BEIRUT (Causeway): Libanese food, nice terrace.
- PENCAS (Causeway): Seafood, fish and more.
- LA PLAZA (Ciudad del Saber): Different fast food options (pizza, sea food, sushis, burgers).
- ROSA MEXICANO (in town): Mexican.
- RESTAURANT MIRAFLORES: nice view of the boats entering the canal.
- MANOLO CARACOL (Casco Antiguo): Expensive (50$ p/p ) but considered the best of Panama by many.
- MARCELO’S (Causeway): Pizzas, nice skyline view.
- CASABLANCA (Casco Antiguo)
- ROOF LOUNGE TÁNTALO (Casco Antiguo): nice view of the city by night.
- RANA DORADA (Casco Antiguo): Local beer, pizzas, burgers.
- PADDYS IRISH PUB (Ciudad del Saber): Nice fish and chips and beer. Close to home.
- BALBOA YATCH CLUB (Causeway Amador): You can see the boats crossing the Canal.
- LUM’S (El Diablo): Closest bar from home.
- CAUSEWAY AMADOR
Places for Kids
SMITHSONIAN AQUARIUM (Punta Culebra)
Don’t expect too much.
You can see a Jaguar and monkeys.
PLAYGROUND at the BOWLING (Albrook Mall)
The Bowling Alley has a set of indoor games for small kids (7$ per 30 min).
More indoor games for small kids, in the town center (5$ for entry).
Traditional park in the center of Panama.
One is located in Los Ríos (behind the house) or Clayton (5 minute drive).
EXPLORA Centro de Ciencias y Arte
PLAYGROUND IN CLAYTON