P is for Panama: What to do in Panama
We’ll be going out of order today! I have a friend who is looking into going to Panama so I’ve taken it upon myself to research for her. I had always heard of Costa Rica as a great place to travel to in Central America but I hadn’t heard much about Panama. Sadly, US news always portrays Central America as some kind of drug funnel, so I assumed Panama would not be that safe of a country. The Tumbleweeds are going to explore what to do in Panama!
It appears to be just as safe as about any country, and at least on par with Costa Rica. Not only that, but Panama has a ton to offer not only it’s citizens (with crazy discounts on literally everything after the age of 55 for it’s citizens) but also it’s tourists. It is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world (in 2018 it was ranked 6th!).
Spanish (but Panamanian Spanish, so check for any noted differences before you go if you already speak Spanish!)
The Panamanian Balboa, which is currently exactly equivalent to a US Dollar, however the currency does experience sudden dips and surges, but the difference is normally in pennies.
Panama City itself has the El Metro and a Metrobus system which use the same swipe pass. There are many cheap buses between cities along with inner-country flights which are also very inexpensive.
Taxis are supposedly very cheap so you can also feel free to utilize those!
Where to Go
As the largest city and capital of Panama, of course I recommend a visit. Of course there are common top highlights that are surely worth a gander: Panama Canal, some nice ruins at Panama Viejo (the first location of Panama City), and the beautiful Casco Viejo neighborhood.
But there are also many small cities surrounding Panama City that I would like to visit.
Taking a historic train to Colón seems well worth the time to see some Canal locks and the Colon Fort. This city has had some hard times and it’s considered as prosperous, but I still think it’s worth taking a look.
Costa Del Este is mainly known as a neighborhood on the edge of Panama City. However, it’s a neighborhood with a lot of malls and shops. I’d like to see what these planned cities that Panama is building have to offer.
Coronado is one of the beach cities near Panama City and is very close to some of the most well known and nicest beaches.
This is also a well-known city, but is located in the stunning mountains. Theres canopy tours and locally grown coffee – and hot springs. We all know how I feel about hot springs, so Caldera Hot Springs is right up my alley. What’s not to love? If you like hiking, there’s a lot of options from Volcán Barú, Lost Waterfalls, and many options for nature hikes in the mountains. It’s most known as an expat retirement area but I’d like to see if it satisfies as a tourist destination also.
Chitré is known for its hot springs, history, and Carnival celebrations. For such a small town (the actual city only has about 10,000 residents although the surrounding metropolitan areas are much more populated) there’s a shocking amount to do. It’s also very convenient, with well-developed public transport. It’s Carnival festivals are famous in Panama and even abroad. There are museums (Museo de Herrera Fabio Rodriquez) which have pottery that’s over 7000 years old, delicious food variety, and several other festivals like the Fiesta de la Fundación de Chitré and the Fiesta de San Juan Bautista (a patron saint festival). It all sounds lively but with relaxing options on the side!
I hope this has given some of you an insight into Panama! I’m hoping to start expanding this series to include more information 🙂