A number of months in the past Rachel and I have been chatting about our summer time plans and once we realized we each had the identical two weeks in August free Rachel was like, let’s go someplace in Central America collectively!
Neither of us had been to Central America earlier than so we have been tremendous excited to get to discover a brand new area, but in addition at a little bit of a loss as to the place we should always truly go. In the long run we opted for Panama, and I’m so glad we did as a result of I can’t think about a greater introduction to Central America.
Principally we needed to go someplace with a lot of lovely nature, enjoyable cities and cities, cute boutique inns, and an excellent number of issues to take action we didn’t get bored over the 2 weeks. And Panama completely delivered.
Right here’s why I liked Panama a lot:
- 1 Go to Panama Metropolis
- 1.1 ★ The Panama Canal
- 1.2 ★ Get misplaced in Casco Viejo
- 1.3 ★ Keep at a very distinctive boutique lodge in Panama Metropolis
- 1.4 ★ Have lunch at El Trapiche
- 1.5 ★ Have lunch at Tremendous Gourmand in Casco Viejo
- 1.6 ★ Pattern the chocolate at Oro Moreno Tropical Chocolate Cafe
- 1.7 ★ Go to the golden altar on the Church of San Jose
- 1.8 ★ Have a drink at a rooftop bar in Casco Viejo
- 1.9 ★ Take a strolling tour of Panama Metropolis
- 1.10 ★ Have a drink on the prime of the W Lodge
- 1.11 ★ Journey the subway
- 1.12 ★ Go to the Santa Ana market
- 1.13 ★ Purchase an actual Panama hat
- 1.14 ★ Get a sim card on Avenida Central
- 1.15 ★ Cease by Cafe Coca Cola
- 1.16 ★ Have lunch at Mahalo
- 1.17 ★ Take an eco journey by way of the Gamboa Rainforest
- 1.18 ★ Go to an Embera Village
- 2 Go to the San Blas Islands
- 3 Speak to locals
- 4 Take taxis with out worrying about getting ripped off
- 5 Take pleasure in being protected
- 6 Loosen up – Panama is very easy
- 7 Discover Panama’s idyllic island escapes
- 8 Look out for sloths!
- 9 Drink all of the espresso
- 10 Cease by Boquete
- 11 Go to Boquete Tree Trek
- 12 Have a meal at Boulder 54 in Boquete
- 13 Journey Panama on any price range
- 14 Eat all of the meals
- 15 Cowl a various vary of landscapes
- 16 Go to each the Caribbean and Pacific
- 17 And undoubtedly take a look at the Gulf of Chiriqui
- 18 See whales on the Gulf of Chiriqui
- 19 Go snorkeling on the Pearl Islands
- 20 Have a grown up vacation on Bocas del Toro
- 21 Or celebration it up on Bocas del Toro
- 22 Discover a working chocolate farm in Bocas del Toro
- 23 Take pleasure in a boutique lodging paradise
- 24 three Issues NOT to do in Panama
Go to Panama Metropolis
I spent 4 days in Panama Metropolis and completely beloved it, so that you undoubtedly shouldn’t skip it! Listed here are some issues to do in Panama Metropolis (and you may merely scroll down previous the celebs for issues to do in Panama outdoors of Panama Metropolis)
★ The Panama Canal
Okay, you guys know I’m not often one for museums and historic websites, however I used to be tremendous excited to get to see the Panama Canal in actual life! And whereas I had a sneaking suspicion the canal can be underwhelming in individual, it truly was actually cool and one of many highlights of my time in Panama Metropolis. Once more, extra to return in a weblog publish about Panama Metropolis.
★ Get misplaced in Casco Viejo
I actually loved Panama Metropolis and will have fortunately spent extra than simply 4 days there, and my favourite space was undoubtedly Casco Viejo.
This space was actually run down, however now Panama Metropolis is investing quite a bit in it and plenty of the previous buildings have been refurbished and reworked into boutique lodges, trendy cafes and eating places, and delightful little outlets.
I requested an area what he considered Casco Viejo’s transformation and he stated that whereas in a method it’s a bit unhappy to see the world change, the revitalization has fortunately had a very constructive influence on locals and it’s nice to have an space that has such vacationer attraction as properly.
Plus Casco Viejo is just one of the best place for a photoshoot!
★ Keep at a very distinctive boutique lodge in Panama Metropolis
I cut up my time between two beautiful motels in Panama Metropolis, and I actually couldn’t say which I loved extra!
First I stayed on the American Commerce Lodge, which was the right luxurious lodge expertise within the coronary heart of Casco Viejo. The rooms have been lovely and the breakfast scrumptious, and I kind of felt like I used to be on a film set. You possibly can learn extra about my keep on the American Commerce lodge right here.
After which for my last two nights in Panama Metropolis I stayed at Las Clementinas, which has lovely flats. It was so enjoyable attending to fake like I used to be an area in Casco Viejo, they usually had so many pretty touches like filling my fridge with breakfast treats. You possibly can learn extra about my keep at Las Celementinas right here.
★ Have lunch at El Trapiche
The most effective meals I had in Panama was at El Trapiche within the metropolis middle. Undoubtedly cease by and check out certainly one of their sandwiches in case you get the prospect!
★ Have lunch at Tremendous Gourmand in Casco Viejo
Tremendous Gourmand is like an American fashion deli with a Panamanian twist. One other place properly value testing for lunch!
★ Pattern the chocolate at Oro Moreno Tropical Chocolate Cafe
That is one other pretty place to go to in Casco Viejo, the place they make their very own chocolate. They use native flavors and I critically might have spent all afternoon sampling their superb goodies. It’s also possible to keep some time and get a espresso or scorching chocolate to drink right here.
★ Go to the golden altar on the Church of San Jose
For those who go to you possibly can learn concerning the altar’s fascinating historical past (which I gained’t spoil right here!), plus it’s proper in Casco Viejo so there’s actually no purpose to not pop in to see it.
★ Have a drink at a rooftop bar in Casco Viejo
There are such a lot of pretty rooftop bars to select from in Casco Viejo, they usually have one of the best views! I went to Barlovento which had a very nice vibrant but laidback vibe.
★ Take a strolling tour of Panama Metropolis
I’m not often one for strolling excursions, however Rachel loves them so she signed us up for the PTY Life Panama Detour. And it completely gained me over!
We spent 5 hours exploring Joey’s favourite areas, stopping at meals vans, utilizing public transport, and having cocktails at a rooftop bar. It was an awesome intro not simply to Panama Metropolis, however to Panama as an entire, and it was actually fascinating to get an American expat’s perspective on the town and nation.
★ Have a drink on the prime of the W Lodge
I do know I stated to have a drink at a rooftop bar in Casco Viejo, however as a part of our strolling tour we additionally stopped on the W Lodge’s rooftop bar, which is within the new a part of the town, and it was actually cool to see the distinction! There’s a pool up there and it’s only a great spot to hang around away from the bustle of the town under.
★ Journey the subway
And that is one other factor we did on the strolling tour. Panama Metropolis’s subway is definitely fairly straightforward to navigate, it’s clear, tickets are like 30 cents and I all the time discover driving public transport is a good way to get a really feel for a brand new metropolis. Simply perhaps attempt to keep away from rush hour, as it may well get fairly crowded.
★ Go to the Santa Ana market
For those who head in the direction of the Avenida Central from Casco Viejo you’ll get to Santa Ana, and proper subsequent to the church you’ll see somewhat coated market. Right here you’ll find native handicrafts at native costs – approach higher than the fancier vacationer boutiques on the town.
★ Purchase an actual Panama hat
You understand the long-lasting Panama hat that President Roosevelt made well-known on the opening of the Panama Canal? Nicely, it’s truly from Ecuador.
If you would like an actual Panama hat you’ll have to go to an area market (just like the Santa Ana market talked about above) and search for a straw hat with black stripes. I feel they’re truly cuter, plus Panamanians will get excited to see you sporting an actual Panama hat, so it’s a good way to make associates!
★ Get a sim card on Avenida Central
I do know lots of people choose to disconnect whereas touring, however should you’re not a type of individuals, it’s tremendous straightforward to purchase a sim card in Panama Metropolis. Although in case you don’t need to convey alongside your passport to register the brand new sim card, simply purchase one from one of many many telephone outlets alongside Avenida Central.
They don’t register them right here, and a Digicel sim card will value you $1. Then I paid $5 for every week I needed service for, which gave me limitless knowledge (!!). So for $11 I obtained a sim card with limitless knowledge that I might use for 2 weeks in Panama. I had fairly good service too – it was solely on San Blas that I misplaced connection.
★ Cease by Cafe Coca Cola
Apparently this diner has been round so lengthy that Coca Cola doesn’t thoughts that it’s borrowed their identify.
★ Have lunch at Mahalo
This Hawaiian themed restaurant in Casco Viejo is tremendous cute, plus the meals was fairly good too! Undoubtedly take a look at Mahalo for those who’re in want of a meal.
★ Take an eco journey by way of the Gamboa Rainforest
Do you know that Panama Metropolis is on the sting of a rainforest? You possibly can take a day tour like this one via the rainforest to see some thrilling wildlife, or this aerial tram tour by way of the rainforest.
★ Go to an Embera Village
I’m not likely one for village excursions, however for those who’re you possibly can take a day journey out to a standard Embera village, together with a canoe journey up a river and a stroll to a jungle waterfall. You’ll be able to e-book a tour right here.
Go to the San Blas Islands
Over my travels by way of some eighty nations around the globe, I haven’t come throughout many locations that look as picture-perfectly like paradise because the San Blas islands. In truth I feel the one place that would perhaps rival it was my boat journey island hopping by way of Indonesia, after which I used to be type of actually fortunate my boat didn’t sink so… for those who’re in search of a safer journey to paradise, San Blas is ideal!
I’ve additionally written an entire weblog submit about my three days crusing in San Blas.
Speak to locals
I used to be a bit nervous about my lack of Spanish expertise (or extra like responsible – what American doesn’t converse any Spanish??), however everybody I met in Panama was so laidback and pleasant that communication was by no means an issue. Most individuals spoke actually good English, and it seems Spanish is type of only a higher enunciated model of French/Latin – who knew? (Everybody knew.)
Take taxis with out worrying about getting ripped off
Talking of pleasant Panamanians, by no means have I ever traveled anyplace with such good taxi drivers! And very long time readers right here will know that I’m not a fan of taxi drivers. However all of our drivers right here have been so pleasant and by no means argued over costs with us.
Fingers crossed I’m not jinxing my taxi experience to the airport later in the present day…
Take pleasure in being protected
I imply, there are protected and unsafe areas in any nation, however as an entire I by no means felt like I wanted to fret whereas touring by means of Panama.
Loosen up – Panama is very easy
In truth if I have been to sum up my sixteen days in Panama in a single phrase it will be “straightforward.” I don’t imply that in a boring method, however I can’t keep in mind the final time I had such an easy journey via a rustic I didn’t reside in – a lot much less the place I didn’t even converse the native language.
Transport was a breeze, they use the US greenback right here so I didn’t have to fret about foreign money conversions, all of our lodging was superb – like, I can’t consider any huge stresses I had on this journey.
Discover Panama’s idyllic island escapes
I already talked about San Blas, however Panama has so many different beautiful island escapes. I additionally spent 4 days on Isla Palenque on the Gulf of Chiriqui and 4 days on Isla Bastimentos in Bocas del Toro, and would have beloved to go to the Pearl Islands and extra islands on the Gulf of Chiriqui.
Look out for sloths!
Rachel and I assumed we wouldn’t see a sloth right here as a result of we had opted towards taking a tour to see them or visiting a sloth refuge, so think about our shock when one morning we handed a gaggle of individuals at our resort in Bocas del Toro and realized they have been all pointing at a sloth who had (very slowly) wandered into their yard.
Drink all of the espresso
To be trustworthy I don’t know a lot about espresso and usually will take pleasure in a cup of immediate espresso simply as a lot as some fancy brew, nevertheless it was nonetheless enjoyable to listen to Panamanians speak about their native espresso beans. We spent two days in Boquete, which apparently will get known as the Napa Valley of espresso.
Cease by Boquete
Talking of Boquete, there’s much more to this highland city than espresso! It feels completely totally different than Panama’s coastal areas, and gives a lot of hikes, ziplining, and even scorching springs. It’s additionally an enormous expat hub, which is nice information for anybody craving an American-style turkey sandwich.
Go to Boquete Tree Trek
Should you’re up for an journey, undoubtedly take a look at Boquete Tree Trek! Right here you possibly can go ziplining and stroll alongside the Cloud Forest’s well-known hanging bridges.
Have a meal at Boulder 54 in Boquete
I speak extra about locations to eat in Boquete in my Boquete journey information right here, however Boulder 54 deserved an additional point out as a result of it was top-of-the-line meals I had in Panama!
Journey Panama on any price range
When you can journey pretty cheaply by means of Panama on the backpacker path, there are additionally numerous mid-range and household choices, in addition to some critically beautiful luxurious lodges. And the identical goes with transport – most locations it appeared like you possibly can take the native bus on a budget, a vacationer shuttle for a bit extra, a personal automotive for extra, Air Panama home flights, and even constitution a personal aircraft to get you the place you need to go.
Or one other widespread choice right here is to lease a automotive for a street journey!
Eat all of the meals
I’m new to Central American meals so I can’t actually say if it’s higher in Panama than in different elements of the area, however critically, a lot yum. My favourite meals was in Panama Metropolis, although I additionally didn’t thoughts eating on freshly caught lobster each night time in San Blas.
Cowl a various vary of landscapes
Once we initially began planning this journey we thought we’d spend a few week in Panama after which head into Costa Rica, till we realized how a lot there truly is to see in Panama. From the abandoned islands of San Blas to the skyscrapers of Panama Metropolis, the highlands of Boquete, and the backpacker social gathering scene on Bocas del Toro, it looks like we visited about 5 totally different nations on this Panama journey.
Go to each the Caribbean and Pacific
Talking of Panama’s numerous choices, it’s also possible to hang around on each the Caribbean and Pacific coasts whereas right here!
And undoubtedly take a look at the Gulf of Chiriqui
You possibly can learn extra about my time on the Gulf of Chiriqui right here, however for now I’ll simply say that in case you’re in search of an idyllic island escape, undoubtedly come right here.
See whales on the Gulf of Chiriqui
When you go to the Gulf of Chiriqui between July and October you’ll have the prospect to identify the humpback whales which have come from each the north and south poles to provide delivery!
so I’m in all probability not going to give up running a blog to grow to be a wildlife photographer
Go snorkeling on the Pearl Islands
I actually want I had squeezed in a visit to the Pearl Islands – particularly contemplating you possibly can even go as a day tour from Panama Metropolis! This tour right here will take you snorkeling on the Pearl Islands, and it actually does seem like such a dreamy escape.
Have a grown up vacation on Bocas del Toro
You guys, Bocas del Toro isn’t just for backpackers! You possibly can examine my enjoyable vacation at Purple Frog Seashore Resort right here.
Or celebration it up on Bocas del Toro
In fact, when you do what to get together with the backpacker crowd, you’ll love Bocas del Toro. Attempt to come on a Friday for his or her well-known island hopping social gathering.
Discover a working chocolate farm in Bocas del Toro
In case you like chocolate, you’ll be able to take a look at the way it’s harvested and made! A couple of individuals I spoke to stated this chocolate farm tour was a spotlight of their time in Panama.
Take pleasure in a boutique lodging paradise
Whereas my hostel days are lengthy gone, I’m not an enormous fan of the large chain luxurious inns that look the identical no matter what nation you’re in, so I used to be so excited to seek out so many lovely boutique lodges in Panama! Every featured such lovely and distinctive designs that I kind of need to say that each lodge I stayed at in Panama was my favourite.
three Issues NOT to do in Panama
However what do you have to skip out on in Panama?
I might extremely advocate NOT visiting the San Blas Islands initially of your Panama journey. You see, I visited them first, they usually type of ruined the remainder of Panama’s islands for me, as a result of nothing else can examine to San Blas. So attempt to save the perfect for final, for those who can.
I might additionally keep away from reserving lodging in Bocas del Toro on Airbnb. I often love Airbnb, however I had a little bit of a nightmare expertise making an attempt to ebook this place, and I heard from different vacationers that that they had comparable issues in Bocas del Toro (the remainder of Panama is completely effective for Airbnb although!).
And eventually, don’t simply go to Panama Metropolis and skip the remainder of the nation! Panama Metropolis is a superb start line, but when I had solely visited the town I actually don’t assume I might have left with an correct impression of Panama. The seashores are actually the place it’s at!
Or in the event you solely have time for Panama Metropolis, promise that you simply’ll come again to discover Panama’s islands at some point. I promise it’s value it!
Need to see extra of my journey photographs? Comply with me on Instagram right here ♥
Need to see extra of my journey movies? Subscribe on YouTube right here ♥
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