Panama City (Spend 24-32 hours here, I did 38)
Panama City, the capital of Panama, and home to the Panama Canal (they really just took a name they liked and stuck with it didn’t they), was a fine country where I felt save and welcomed. A good friend lived there for a time, told me of a nice hostel in a good part of town (a block or two from the Presidential Palace). Now, I may not appreciate safety and familiarity as much as some people, but I felt that there are plenty of safe places to go to that are a lot more exciting. I’ve heard this place referred to as the Dubai of the Americas, but I just don’t see it. It is a huge city with a lot of nice buildings, but none of them seemed particularly awe-inspiring, and there was a deep sense of culture. I will be the first to admit that the Panama Canal is incredible, and I am so glad I got to see it and see it raise these massive ships with ease and incredibly efficiency. Again though, this may be done in a day, and there is not too much to do outside of that in the city.
Also, similar to Chile, it was a bit more expensive because of how developed it is. So, bear that in mind.
Selfie with the city.
It looks way better than it really was. Plantains here are also not as good as they are in Africa. Here they’re way crunchier.
Two liter bag of wine, I didn’t get it but I bet it tastes phenomenal.
For all my House of Cards friends out there. This is an Underwood typewriter on display in one of their 10,000 museums dedicated to the Canal. For some reason they were really intense about not taking a photo of it, but it was too cool to not capture and so I almost got kicked out. Whoops.
The Canal (Make sure you see the boat come in to the lock. It’s worth it)
My friends Toni and Anna. They were great, and we really had fun time waiting for the next boat to come in and from dodging hundreds of little kids who thought I was Dirk Nowitzki.
Accon Hill (Spend 45 minutes here, we did 2 hours)
This hill offers a great view of the city in pretty much every direction. Make sure you walk around the hill to see all of these vantage points. Also, make sure your taxi takes you to the proper entrance. I met this great guy from LA who is backpacking South America, and we got dropped off in the wrong area and it looked like the set of Jurassic Park. Which, was actually kind of fun and neat to see the animals, but it took us a lot longer to get to the top, and we got stuck in the rain as seen below.
Other Parts of Panama –
Since I did not leave Panama city this may be a bit unfair for me to talk about, but just in case I’ve upset anyone who loved Panama, and/or you’re thinking of going, there is more to see and do than just the capital city. However, from talks with others, the forest is not much different from other Latin American countries, and the best thing to do in the country is actually the San Blas islands. Which, is a hit and miss experience that is a 5 day excursion to Colombia. I’ve heard it is incredible scuba-diving/snorkeling, but that it can be a bit rough on people prone to sea-sickness (a big reason I didn’t do it), and with it being 5 days, is a big commitment. If you want beautiful rain forest and safety, I would stick with neighboring Costa Rica, and if you want island hopping, I’ve heard the Virgin Islands are good.
Business Opportunities –
Since I wasn’t here for long, I don’t really have a good idea like I should. Like other Latin American countries the street food could be better, and it would be nice to have proper pubs, and not just “discotecas.” One possibility, though illegal, was we heard that all of those buildings you see are not all lived in. Supposedly cartels use them for money laundering and so quite a few of them are actually empty…
Overall, the people of Panama were nice, the canal is amazing, but I would just look forward to any potential long layover here, and avoid planning a whole trip here exclusively. People only get so many vacation days, and we must use them wisely.
Country level of difficulty – 4/10