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Panama City: Tips & Info

Panama City: Tips & Info - Tattered Passports
Panama City: Tips & Info

I’m going to share with you a brief jumble of experiences, notes, and moments extracted from our recent trip to Panama City; our continued expatriation and first encounter with Central America.

We embarked from Cartagena, Colombia upon an Air Panama flight fleeing the mid 90 degree F (30-34 deg C) and finding respite in the more moderate Panamanian climate. We were met with the fastest growing and, arguably, the most modern metropolitan city in Central America. International banking and commerce have rapidly expanded Panama City over the past 40 years. The relative safety of the city and gentle weather are an added perk as well. I would compare it to Toronto in the Summertime.

 

 

The city has a rich history dating back to 1519. It became a launching point for the exploration and conquest of Peru, and also a transit point for gold and silver returning to Spain. Sadly, the city was looted and subsequently destroyed in 1671. All but a few remnants of the Panama Viejo (the old city) still remain, but they are worth visiting, if you have an interest in history, and will cost you about $10 USD (they accept USD in Panama City so worry not about cash exchange if you do not have Panamanian Balboa).

 

 

The city was rebuilt 8 km away from the original and much of the the 17th and 18th century architecture still stands. Some buildings are empty shells, while others are beautifully preserved and are home to wealthy Panamanians and expats, as well as local hospitality and dining businesses.

 

Transportation

  • *Uber is always the way to go in sizable cities, Panama City is no exception.
  • *Taxi’s are plentiful so if you are in a hurry, hail one and get on your way.
  • *Buses are the cheapest option of getting around, and will cost you 25-50 cents. Be mindful of which bus you board. Some only allow you on with a bus card. So either invest in one at a bus station or nicely as a local to swipe you on in exchange for cash. Most people will have no problem doing this.

 

Housing

  • *Hostels are your cheapest option when it comes to housing. Dorms will run you from $9 to $15 and $25-$35 for privates. We stayed Hostal Casa Areka which was $30 per night for a private. It included a pool, pancake breakfast, and a chill atmosphere. A mediocre hostel, but the value was okay.
  • *Hotels are plentiful, but Panama City is not cheap, and this is a budget-friendly travel blog, so ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • *Airbnb is available here tambien so seek a fair deal near city center; negotiate for a better deal if need be.

 

Food

So, as many of you already know, I travel for food. There are a plethora of mid to fine dining restaurants in the city, all of which will hurt your pocket. Seafood is the way to go here. It’s the only way to go, in my opinion. The best place to go is Mercado de Pescado (The Fish Market). Not to be mistaken with the nearby Fish Market Restaurant, which is delicious in its own right, but a bit overpriced. The Fish Market is in the bay and is intimately connected with the fishing boat docks. Fishermen bring fish from the boat directly to the half a dozen or so conjoined restaurants. You can’t go wrong with any of the aforementioned restaurants, but we sincerely enjoyed our lunch from the first one in line (on the far left) as suggested by our Uber driver.

 

Dos & Don’ts

  • *Do prepare to spend a fair amount of money. Prices, in general, are less than those of N. America, but they are certainly not discounted.
  • *Do network while in PC. There are many interesting and/or enterprising people who you may run into, so be friendly and make some acquaintances.
  • *Don’t be a fool–as always. Although it is safer than most (if not all) N. American cities, still be mindful of your surroundings and be smart.
  • *Do go see the Panama Canal. We all heard about the Panama Canal in grade school. I can attest to you that it does exist. So go see an active piece of history.
  • *Do stroll around Casco Viejo. You will be transported and encounter the most picturesque part of the city.
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Kon & Chelsie

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