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Home 101 Exciting Things to do in Panama!

101 Exciting Things to do in Panama! - 1-32: Panama City

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Article Index
101 Exciting Things to do in Panama!
Index by Topic
1-32: Panama City
33-44: Casco Viejo
45-53: Near Panama City
54-56: Kuna Yala Comarca
57-58: Province of Darien
59-65: Province of Colon
66-70: Province of Cocle
71-74: El Valle de Anton
75-80: Province of Veraguas
81: Province of Herrera
82-84: Province of Los Santos
85: Ngobe Bugle Comarca
86-92: Province of Chiriqui
93-94: Province of Bocas del Toro
95-98: The Perl Islands
99-101: Anywhere & Everywhere
All Pages

 

1-32: Panama City

1) Visit the the oldest city in The Americas. Panama Viejo - 'The Old City' of Panama. Founded in 1519. While Grenada, Nicaragua tries to lay claim to being the oldest city (Grenada was  founded in 1524) and Ponce de  Leon may have visited Saint Augustine, Florida in 1513, this US city was not founded until 1565. Christopher Columbus himself visited Panama on his fourth voyage in 1502, and tried to start a colony called Santa Maria de Belen on the Caribbean coast, but it failed. Mexico City was an Aztec center, but Panama City is the oldest continuously occupied city in all of The Americas.

 

33-panama-casco-viejo-02

Casco Viejo. Photo courtesy phototakeout.com

Rumors persist that Panama City was sacked and burned by pirate Henry Morgan in January 1671. The truth is that when Morgan attacked, the Governor of Panama ordered all of the gun-powder magazines  burned.  The subsequent explosion set the entire city on fire! Morgan ransacked and looted the old city for twenty eight days, capturing over six hundred prisoners. The most important remaining structures are  the partially restored 40 meter bell tower, the cathedral (built between 1619 and 1626) and the Bishops House. There is an artisans market and a small restaurant at the entrance. The Spanish used Panama as their base to wipe out the Caribe, Inca and Aztec Indians. How is it they were never able to wipe out the hostile Indian tribes of Panama?

 

On Via Cincuentenario (an extension of Av Balboa/Via Israel). Visitors Center open Tues. - Sun. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Closed Mondays. Adults $3.00 Retirees $2.00 Children/Students $0.50 cents. Tel: 226- 1757

 

2) Shop 'till you drop: Start at one of the city's major shopping malls:

  • Multicentro Mall on Avenida Balboa in the Patilla district, a European style mall with free concerts and outdoor dining. 
    • Tel: 208- 2500
  • Albrook Mall next to the Gran Terminal bus station, it is a tourist attraction in its own right. Hundreds of stores, two food courts, cinemas, even a live theater. 
    • Tel: 303- 6255
  • Multiplaza Pacific Mall in Punta Pacifica district. Two hundred and fifty stores including Reba Smith's - the expat's favorite grocer that will import whatever you want or can't find anywhere else - for a price. 
    • Tel:  302- 5380/302- 5381
  • Flamenco Plaza on the Amador causeway 
    • Tel: 314- 0908

 

Panama also has two famous street shopping districts - Via Espana for elegance/designer goods and Avenida Central for bargains with over 20 blocks of non-stop shopping.

 

3) Sip a glass of fine wine and sample hors d'oevres at Ma Maison Wine Bar, Calle 49 off Calle Uruguay. E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

  • Tel: 264-4608

 

Corks - Photo courtesy of Phototakeout.com

Wine cork photo courtesy phototakeout.com

 

4) Visit the only tropical forest located within a capital city - the 265 hectare Metropolitan National Park has over 45 species of mammals, 36 species of reptiles, 14 species of amphibians and over 227 species of exotic  birds just a short fifteen minute taxi drive away  from your hotel. Find one of the over 1,500 different kinds of orchids grown in Panama. The entrance is on Avenida Juan Pablo 11. 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. every day. No entry,  however donations are appreciated. Visitors center is open 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Guided tours in English and Spanish $6. For safety it is best not to walk in the park by yourselves. Call in advance to book a guide/tour.

  • Tel:  232- 5552/ 232- 5516
Photograph courtesy of phototakeout.com
Harpy Eagle photo courtesy phototakeout.com

Tapir - Photo courtesty of Phototakeout.com

Tapir photo courtesy phototakeout.com

 

5) Tour Mi Pueblito: (my tiny village) replicas of a Panamanian interior town, a 1950's Afro-Antilles town and a Kuna Indian and a Choco Indian village. The large compound has a barber shop, church, mayor's office,  school, telegraph office, central square, gardens, fountains, street lamps, and typical adobe houses with roofs of creole tile. There is a pollera museum, a grocery shop and a gift shop where you can buy handicrafts.  Handicrafts include the amazing ivory-like carved tagua nut by the Wounaan Indian tribe from Darien Province.  $2 entry fee for all three villages. Open 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Tues. - Sat.

Photograph courtesy of phototakeout.com

Antillian Village at Mi Publito photo courtesy phototakeout.com

Photograph courtesy of phototakeout.come

Kuna Yala hut at Mi Pueblito courtesy phototakeout.com

 

6) Watch how replicas of pre-Columbian gold jewelry are made using the lost wax process at Reprosa Jewelers on Avenida Samuel Lewis and Calle 54.

  • Tel: 228- 4913/for tours call 271- 0033

 

 

7) Try 'el raspao' - a traditional Panamanian treat - an unusual sweet cream/syrup poured over shaved ice. Pick any vendor on the street with a cart. Stroll the Avenue Balboa, named after the Spanish explorer that  discovered 'The South Sea' (the Pacific Ocean!) See the construction of the new boulevard/park/walking path being built on landfill in the harbor. Remember, Ave Balboa changes it's name a few times throughout  the city - it is Ave Balboa along the water, then it becomes Via Israel in Paitilla, and finally Via Cencuentenario in the San Francisco district when it reduces down to two lanes)

el_raspao

Photo by Roberto Chocolate

 

8) Make a withdrawal (win) at a casino!

 

  • Majestic Casino at Multicentro Mall Avenida Balboa near Punta Patilla- international shows such as bolero dancers from Cuba, comedy shows from Mexico, 'vallentos' dancers from Colombia. OR
  • Veneto Hotel and Casino, one block from Via Espana, 512 slot machines, 42 gaming tables, large poker room, a Baccarat salon, virtual machines, and betting shop.

 

 

9) Dance the night away! Learn how to salsa on Wednesday's, tango on Thursday nights and on Friday night, watch colourful Argentine folkloric dance shows at Pizza Piola on Calle 51 Bella Vista.

 

  • Tel:263-4668

 

Or dance the salsa and the meringue with Salsa Panama on El Cangrejo near Gaxexa Art University. www.salsapanama.com Eric del Valley Street.  Join them when they go out and dance the night away at Belambolero on Calle Uruguay with DJ Ramiro.

 

  • Tel: 264- 2742/Cell: 6657- 5319

 

 

10) Take her to a gentleman's club (strip-tease show):

 

11) Enjoy savory Lebanese foods at Beirut Restaurant, Calle 52 at Ricardo Arias across from the Marriott Hotel - great food, good service at the right prices - try the Hummus and sweet mint tea. 5 star rating from The Panama Restaurant Review (www.panamarestaurantreview.com)

 

  • Tel: 214-3815

 

 

12) Take a Spanish lesson - go to a movie (all movies are in English with Spanish sub titles - a great way to learn Spanish!) Cost $4.00.  Or Spanish by the Sea / Spanish by the River. Outdoor tropical garden classrooms, all levels, group or private lessons, volunteering opportunities in school/hospitals/orphanages. Cooking and dance classes, river rafting adventures.

 

  • $80 per week Group lessons - 10 hours a week (2 hours/day) and $150 per week for private lessons - 10 hours per week (2 hours/day).
  • Accommodations available: Private room $15/night.
  • Website: www.spanishbythesea.com
  • E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: Bouquete: 720- 3456
  • Bocas del Toro: 757-9518
 
  • OR Spanish Panama School (in Panama City).
  • # 1 rated Spanish Program in The Americas (Frommers, Lonely Planet, Rough Guides)
  • One week crash course: $160, with accommodations: $320 includes course materials, breakfast, Latin dance lessons and tour of the City.
  • Canadian run, certified professors, relaxed atmosphere
  • Website: www.SpanishPanama.com
  • E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: 213- 3121, Cell: 6590- 2007, or 6624- 3302
  • In El Cangrejo next to the main business district Ave 3a Norte off Via Argentina
  • Student Residence Option, Anita's Inn; http://www.hostelspanama.com
    Location- Via Argentina, down the side road behind Trapiche Restaurant & Manolos, beside Floresteria Cupido, above the Greenhouse Restaurant on Via Argentina which is across the street from the Subway Sandwich Shop near Einstein's Head. (this is an actual address in Panama - this is how it's done)

 

13) Shoot a game of pool at The Rockin' Gorilla on Via Argentina (look for the six foot Gorilla playing a guitar on the thatched roof). Pool tables are $2.50/hr.  Win a free bottle on Karaoke Friday nights.  Open 24/7, lots of  expats. Tel: 399-6500

 

 

14) SMILE! Get new veneers on your teeth. Panama is a medical tourism destination with state of  the art facilities, US trained English speaking doctors and dentists and according to them - all at at a fraction of USA prices.

 

  • Ford Clinic Dental Spa. Royal Center Tower A, 10th Fl. - Dr. Ford has 18 years of experience in periodonticts/implant dentistry. US Trained, English/Spanish.
  • www.smilepanama.com
  • Tel: 223- 4742

 

Or

 

  • Y.B. General Dentistry - Dr's Octavio and Anna M. De Ycaza
  • Via Israel and Calle 66, Panama City
  • Tel: 322-2580

 

We went to the dentist - see our report on the website: got to "Destinations" section, select "Panama"

 

15) Sittin' On The Dock of The Bay. Watch the boats go by at Bennigan's “La Marina”, a gringo pub on the Amador causeway, great for wings and beer and watching the tide roll away or cheer for US and international  sports on the big screen TV's. Soccer is HUGE in Panama!!! When Spain is playing in the World Cup, don't expect prompt service anywhere - everyone is watching the game!

 

16) See the sun rise on Pacific and set in the Caribbean in the same day OR Scuba dive two oceans in a single day ($150/per person, 2 person min. 5:30 am departure, lunch included.

 

  • Tourista International S.A. Run by the founder/owner since 1971.
  • IATA and WATA (World Association of Travel Agencies) certified. Av 12 de Octubre and Via Espana L - 4, Panama City
  • Website: www.turitaintl.com
  • Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: 224 - 903/6611-0081
  • Cell:  6613-4694

 

 

17) Indulge in decadent chocolates and baked goods on the deck of Petit Paris (chocolates are .80 cents each) A little bit of Paris in the tropics. Costa del Este and Marbella. Two shops, one in the City one on the causeway.

 

  • Tel: 391-8778

 

 

OR Try Riba Smith's new in-store deli/gourmet products - the chef prepares chocolates in their own kitchen (.30 - .40 cents a piece). Above the Do It Center in Multiplaza Pacific Mall. Tel: 229-3999

 

 

18) Get killed off on a murder mystery dinner cruise with the Expat Explorer Group. Monthly socials/multiple events and activities.

 

  • E-Mail: expatsinpanama.com

 

OR

 

  • Go see a play in English at Theatre Guild of Ancon PO Box 0843-03018 Panama. To volunteer or get tickets: Tel: 210 - 0060

 

OR

 

  • Live Theatre in Spanish: Has presented A Chorus Line, Bent, Cinderella, Come Blow Your Horn
  • www.teatrodepanama.com

 

 

19) Pick out your fish while it is still flopping at The Mercado de Mariscos (The Seafood Market). Take it upstairs and they will cook it for you! The restaurant is above the fish market. It is not  a fancy restaurant, but it has  the best, freshest, cheapest fish in all of Panama. Savor grilled garlic scallops, ceviche (raw shrimp marinated in lemon juice) grilled octopus or my favorite - corvina (whole grilled sea bass). Near the west end of  Avenida Balboa just before you enter Casco Viejo, on the water. 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Seven days a week. No phone. No reservations  needed. Free parking.

 

20) Go bar hopping on Calle Uruguay. Check The Visitor, Panama's twice-monthly English tourist newspaper for all of the hottest clubs and latest events.

 

 

 

21) Sip some fine Ron Abuelo 7 year-old Panamanian rum at the elegant Bristol Hotel lounge, one of the Leading Small Hotels of the World. Cigars, elegant restaurant. Bella Vista in the Bancaria area.

 

 

 

22) Jog on the special causeway jogging paths to the Punta Culebra Marine Exhibition Center. A small marine museum run by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute it has six aquariums of tropical fish including  one of giant lobsters. A children's 'touching pool”  encourages kids to touch sea cucumbers, starfish, and sea urchins. Both Caribbean and Pacific coral and marine life exhibits and a telescope to watch ships offshore  waiting to enter the canal. A chart helps identify the different types of ships. Isla Naos on the Amador causeway, next to Mi Ranchito restaurant. $2 adults, 0.50 cents for kids under 12, $1 seniors. Open afternoons  Tues. - Friday. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sat/Sun. www.stri.com Tel: 212- 8793

 

23) Play darts at The Londoner Pub on Calle Uruguay, just one block from Avenida Balboa. 5 P.M. onwards. Tel: 214-4883

 

24) Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cerro Ancon. Tel: 262- 8012. To really discover contemporary Panamanian artists, visit the Imagen Gallery Tel: 226- 2670, the Habitante Gallery Tel: 264- 6470 and the  Arteconsult Galeria Tel: 269- 1523 as well.

 

25) Wrestle a crocodile purse from the only legal, C.I.T.E.S - approved crocodile farming boutique in Panama - the Galaria Drilo on the Amador Causeway. Jewelry, leather goods. Flamenco Island, Amador, site 12, rear of  the terminal. E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Tel: 314- 0961

 

26) Have a date in your hotel room. Order a bottle of wine, pick out a great movie on TV and order Domino's Pizza! Just like at home. If you are near Calle 50 call Domino's: 263-7377, Bella Vista district: 225- 0000, or in  Dorado: 236- 0777.

 

27) Take a Ride on The Wild Side - jump on a “Diablo Rojo” the 'Red Devil' - former US school buses with flashing lights, disco mirror balls, blaring music, colourful air-brushed paintings all over the exterior and a driver  that seems more disc-jockey than driver. It does not matter where you go - it's how long can you stay on that counts. Just put out your arm to flag one  down - don't be surprised if they do a full “u - turn” to pick you  up, cutting off all other traffic  and nearly causing a dozen accidents. Why do you think they are called “Red Devils”?

A three-hour tour is available for $20 from La Chiva Parrandera featuring an open bar, music, lights, and a city tour.

 

  • E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: 269- 8500

 

 

28) Try your luck - buy a lottery ticket from one of the 10,000 lottery ticket vendors. Started in 1882 (the current version began in 1919) draws are held every Sunday and Wednesday at 1 p.m., and broadcast live on TV and  radio (ever wonder why you cant' find a waiter around 1 o'clock?) Anyone can stop by and watch the drawings live which are held on a stage at the back of a shed on Ave. Peru and Ave. Cuba. between Calle 31 and  Calle 32. The ritual is as solemn as a church service with the balls rocked back and forth in a steel cage. Thousands gather to watch in silence as twelve balls are drawn. All this for a grand prize of $2,000!

 

29) Rent a bicycle built for two and ride the entire length of the Amador Causeway. Have lunch at one of the great waterfront restaurants on the Causeway (For a taste of home try Bennigan's) and shop at the large Duty  Free Store at the very end. Bicicietas Moses Amador Causeway  Tel: 211- 2579

 

30) Play tennis - The Adan Gordon swimming pool in front of the Lottery Building on Avenida  Cuba in Panama City has courts available for public use. Tel: 500-5320

 

31) Watch a folkloric dance show over dinner: Restaurante Bar Tinajas, Shows on Tues., Thurs. Fri.  and Saturdays 9 P.M. $5 cover charge. Calle 51, just off Ave. Frederico Boyd in the Bella Vista district. Fantastic food - try  the “ plato tipico” specials ($12).

 

 

 

32) Take an air conditioned bus from La Gran Terminal to El Valley. Adults $3.50 one way/$7.00 return, 2.5 hours. Every  30 minutes 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Ask for center of the bus seats (for safety, not near the front, or too  near the rear washrooms - busy) Spend the day at the Sunday market, eat at Pinnochio's and have a cappachino at Gourmet Coffee. Bus:

 

 

 

Tell them Roberto Chocolate sent you!

 



Last Updated on Monday, 06 April 2015 17:28  

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