Tips for a week in Panama City?
July 2, 2012 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Travel MeFi: Wife and I are heading to Panama City, Panama for a week over New Year's Eve. Our top 3 locations for a hotel are inside. Any tips for seasoned travelers are appreciated!

Looking at hotels in Casco Viejo (i.e. Casa del Horno), or more north by Calle Uruguay (i.e. Manrey Hotel), or south at the Westin at Farfan beach. Any guidance?

Also, tips for activities and nightlife are appreciated, for a young couple with some eat/drink/play money saved up. We'll do the Canal, what else you got?

Finally, any water taxi services around Panama City?
posted by zephyrian to Travel & Transportation around Panama, Panama (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just got back from Panama earlier this week -- we travelled with 3 kids aged 6, 3 & 2, so adjust as necessary.

I would highly recommend renting a car -- roads are in excellent shape and most distances are short. Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks) are impressive, but very busy. It's very nice to see the big boats in the locks very close by. The museum at site is nicely done, but quite small especially as some of the exhibits are closed for renovations.

Rental car would allow you to do self-guided tours to Gamboa Soberania National Park. Very easy to do hikes (even with kids) to your liking and see birds, insects and even some monkeys. Boat tour on Lake Gamboa and to Monkey Island are also interesting and can be done from Gamboa Rainforest Resort, which also has ski lift like canopy tour (need to book in advance). Driving to Colon would also zip lining and other such activities.

We stayed few nights at the Westin Playa Bonita -- note that the beach is not very noteworthy, but place is has huge pools, etc. resort amenities. We really liked the hotel as we had lounge access and most everyone was there for a conference without the access so we used it as family breakfast and dining room. Food is nothing special, but again rental car would allow easy access to nearby restaurants for lunch/ dinner or takeout. Very few American visitors, most guests being Panamanians/ Columbians for business or some weekend R&R. Panama City is very short ride away even by cab if you don't want to rent a car.

For something much more different visit the San Blas islands and Kuna indians living there. It's about hour flight from Panama City (no roads) -- we stayed at Yandup Island Lodge near Playon Chico. This place is about as remote as possible and quite different. Few days would be enough to see most everything, but recommend few more days to slow down and really get know the people and enjoy the place.
posted by zeikka at 11:58 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

That Westin is nice and I would not hesitate to recommend it.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:02 PM on July 2, 2012

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