As part of a bigger trip that included, Bocas Del Toro, Panama and Boquete, Panama, (More to come on both of those) it only felt right to spend a little bit of time in Panama City to close out an amazing trip. 24 Hours isn’t much time, but we were able to get a nice dose of this eclectic city. The Panama City Airport is a bit of a gateway between the U.S. and destinations in South America. I would love to go again, and would definitely opt for a Panama City stop over on the way to another South American locale.
The Panama Canal:
Anyone over the age of 50 who I spoke to about going to Panama, asked excitedly if we were going to see the Panama Canal. While it wasn’t a focal point of the trip, it felt necessary to check out the modern feat of engineering.
We made somewhat of a game time decision to see the canal after we landed in Panama City on the way to the hotel at Miraflores Locks. It was probably 20-30 minutes out of the way. We took a cab from the aiport directly there. I can’t remember why we did this, other than to not schlepp our bags but the cab driver agreed to wait there and hold our bags and to come back in 20 minutes or so. Seemed a little risky, but all of us opted to leave our bags in the cabs except for Meg who carried her whole bag into the place for fear of getting the stuff stolen. Spoiler Alert – We got back to the cabs after, and all of it was in tact.
Hot Tip: There is basically a large museum that stands between you and seeing the “locks”, for which there is an entry fee to get into. Someone tipped us off to the fact, that there was a restaurant/bar in the building, and that you could go there and have a drink and not have to pay the entry fee. So, we acted like true millennials and breezed in, got a drink, and breezed out.
Hot Tip #2: If you want to actually see a boat go through the locks, you will need to check the boat schedule or luck out on timing. They aren’t steadily passing through, although there are a number of boats you can see in the distance.
When I eventually get back to Panama City I would love to spend more time there and actually go to the museum, as it was packed with info, movies and more.
This was the major tourist area. We had dinner and went to a couple of bars. It was a pretty small area, but there is plenty to do within it. Highlights for me were:
Dinner and a Squad Pic overlooking the city
A delightful espresso martini that had an orange zest where there was a live saxophonist
Pedro Mandingo Rum Bar
Roof Deck Bar
We stayed at a Waldorf Astoria. It was v. nice! It didn’t feel like we were outside of America. It had a nice roof deck pool which is where we spent the afternoon. It was much hotter, high 80’s, then it had been in the mountains of Boquete where we had come from.
Things to Know:
- Safety – The populated tourist areas were fine and we didn’t have any trouble. There were areas that we drove through I definitely wouldn’t have rolled through walking. More than other cities I’ve been to, there are very specified areas that people tell you are safe for tourists and areas around them that ARE NOT. Like anywhere else its important to be alert and to keep your belongings close by.
- Driving Through Panama City to and from the airport, you see two different cities.
There is the Miami Beach looking part of the city:
Then there are parts where there are tenements on tenements that look like they are about to fall down at any second.
Would I return to Panama City? Yes definitely. As mentioned the location makes it a prime stop over location on the way to Central/South America, and I would love to see more of the city! More details to come on the other legs of the trip soon.