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Panama offers visitors an amazing combination of natural beauty, fascinating history, enriching culture and all-inclusive luxury resorts.

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Dive Into Panama

The museums and other cultural offerings in Panama City make it an intriguing city to visit—and very family-friendly too. Among the city’s best attractions is the world-famous Panama Canal. Away from the city lights, adventure prevails in this part of town. You can explore the jungle, tour coffee estates, raft on white water rapids, zip line and much more! If you want even more water sports, the hundreds of islands off both of Panama’s coasts offer lovely beaches, clear water and gorgeous underwater marine life. This little country holds so many amazing experiences that you’ll want to keep on coming back.

Panama Overview

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    Mapping Out Panama

    The thriving metropolis of Panama City offers an array of activities and attractions. From parties and festivals to a jaunt down the Amador Causeway to a wide selection of varying degrees of night life, Panama City warrants a trip all on its own. In western Panama, both the Caribbean and the Pacific coasts offer some good surfing, and the rainforest in between teems with life. Wrapped around the Gulf of Panama, the east end of this horizontal country is known for its vibrant scenery and wildlife. Most resorts are on the mainland, around two coasts and Panama City, though there are a few on the Panamanian islands. Wherever you stay, explore your options in this beautiful country.

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    Panamania!

    Get ready. Carnival is the epic annual revelry, held four days before Ash Wednesday. Parades of floats, manned by marching bands, queens, dancers and more, roll through the streets in huge parades. The costumes are rococo, and the party is equally extravagant. Trucks drive by and spray hot revelers with water. Panama City pulses with carnival festivities, and the clubs are packed with partiers. On Sunday, the pollera parade is the chance for the women and girls to show off their extravagant costumes. And on Tuesday, a blow-out parade takes over the city, as giant, glittering floats, marching bands and tons of revelers wind their way through the streets. In a more bizarre tradition, sardines are placed in tiny coffins and buried on the last day amid dancing and drinking. It may seem wild, but the festive spirit keeps people smiling and dancing and partying and burying tiny fish. Why not? After all, it’s carnival!

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    Find Your Beach

    It can take some searching to find the really beautiful beaches in Panama, but fear not! We’ll show you the way. First, head west from Panama City to Santa Clara Beach or the nearby Farallon Beach for whiter sand and bluer water. For more beautiful beaches, keep going west to the Azuero Peninsula. There, you’ll find Playa Venado, an attractive strip of white sand that is protected by a cove, so the water is calmer and more swimmable than many of the other beaches that have strong riptides. We’ve given you some direction, so go find your beach!

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    Panama's Unsung Islands

    If you’re really dedicated to finding the prettiest beach, listen up. Hands down, the best beaches in Panama are found along the Caribbean Sea in the Comarca Kuna Yala region. The sand is soft and pearly and the water is clear and turquoise. Just off Panama's northern shore, there is actually a series of 350 islands that are overseen by the indigenous Kuna population. Because the Kuna are partly independent, they get to make some different rules for their beautiful home. But not to fear. These rules are easy enough to navigate and a small price to pay for these gorgeous beaches. To get to Comarca Kuna Yala, you’ll need to arrange with a tour company that has permission to travel on the territory, and scuba diving is prohibited here. But the effort is completely worthwhile. You will not find more beautiful beaches in Panama.

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    Global Pulse Point: Panama's Canal

    You’ve heard about it, now go see it. Put your finger on the pulse of international commerce as you watch ships from all over the world pass through this marvel of engineering that connects the Pacific and Atlantic. Once you’re in, you’ll watch a video about the canal and its history. From there, you’ll tour a museum that tells different sides of this remarkable story. Learn what motivated this massive project. See tools used during construction. View personal affects and first hand accounts from the people who built the canal. Hear this dramatic story of determination, danger, sacrifice and triumph. Then you’re out to see the boats slowly move by you. From cargo vessels to cruise liners, ships of all sizes inch by from one ocean to another. With your newfound knowledge of how the canal works, you'll appreciate the mechanical magic taking place. You also have the option of riding a boat down the canal. Whatever you choose, you’ll be glad you saw this modern wonder of the world.

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    Ecotours

    Eco-tourists have plenty of outdoor activities to do here. Starting with the abundant rain forest that’s right outside Panama City’s city limits, you’ll find something appropriate for every level of involvement. If you prefer to have comfortable resort amenities as your base camp when you interact with nature, Gamboa Rainforest Resort is the way to go. Just 30 minutes outside of Panama City and right next to the canal, Gamboa offers tons of ways to discover the natural beauty of Panama, including nature tours, bird watching and more. To spend time with the fish, head to the Pacific Ocean from July-October, when humpback whales are breeding. Sea turtles are also numerous on Panama’s shores, and the Azuero Peninsula is a nesting ground for the creatures. Zip line through the rainforest, or climb the beautiful Baru Volcano for gorgeous scenery.

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    Panama Quick Facts

    Language:

    Spanish

     

    Currency:

    Balboa (PAB) and US Dollar (USD)

     

    Electricity:

    110 V like in US

     

    Passport/Immigration:

    All U.S. citizens must have a valid passport when traveling to and from Panama.

     

    Drinking Water:

    Water in Panama City is mostly safe, but bottled water is recommended.

     

    Time Zone:

    Central Standard Time (UTC/GMT -5 hours)

     

    Peak Season:

    Mid-December – mid-April

Things to Do in Panama

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    Full Day City Tour & Canal

    The Full Day City and Canal Tour will give a detailed focus on the most relevant sites of Panama City and the Panama Canal area. Participants will have the opportunity to do a walking tour at the Casco Viejo section, walking past monuments such as the Plaza Bolivar, the San Francisco de Asis Church, Bolivar Palace and the National Theater; Las Bovedas Promenade, with one of the most spectacular views of Panama City.

     

    Included:

    • Transportation
    • Tour guide
    • Entrance fee to Miraflores Locks
    • Lunch & bottle of water

     

    Not Included:

    • Tips

     

    Don't Forget to Bring:

    • Comfortable clothes
    • Shoes
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Camera

     

    Hours:

    Daily, 8am. If your resort is in Playa Blanca area, you will depart at 7am. Not available on Mondays.

     

    Where to Go:

    You'll be picked up at your resort by a representative wearing a red polo shirt and beige trousers with the Panamazing logo on the shirt.

     

    Age Restrictions:

    No age restrictions apply.

     

    Additional Information:

    Office Hours (8:00 am- 5:00pm M-F and 8:00am -12:00pm S)

    Office: (507) 340-9875

    Res-Department: (507)340-9853

    Operations Department: (507)340-9876

    After office hours: MOD (Manager on Duty) (507) 6981-4549

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    Gatun Expedition Boat Tour

    Take a boat tour through the Panama Canal into secret waterways to find hidden islands that are the favorites of monkeys. Cappuccino monkeys and howler monkeys can be seen leaping in the trees above. Occasionally, they become curious of visitors and venture down to take a closer look. This tour provides a unique opportunity for viewing wild monkeys in their natural habitat, as closely as you would view it in the zoo. Other animals you can spot in this tour include lazy sloth's sleeping in trees, stoic alligators and turtles that are native to the lake.The boat ride to and from the island passes through the Panama Canal. This gives you the chance to spot huge container ships, during their passage across the world. Our trained naturalist guides will ensure that you have an outstanding nature experience by tracing the wildlife as well as educating you about it and its habitat throughout this exceptional jungle and canal adventure.

     

    Included:

    • Transportation
    • Tour guide
    • Boat ride around the Gatun Lake

     

    Not Included:

    • Tips

     

    Don't Forget to Bring:

    • Comfortable clothes & shoes
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Camera

     

    Hours:

    Daily, 7:15am, 8:45am, 10:15am, 11:45am, 1:15pm, 3:15pm. The tour lasts approx 3-4 hours.

     

    Where to Go:

    You'll be picked up at your resort by a representative wearing a red polo shirt and beige trousers with the Panamazing logo on the shirt.

     

    Age Restrictions:

    No age restrictions apply.

     

    Additional Information:

    Office Hours (8:00 am- 5:00pm M-F and 8:00am -12:00pm S)

    Office: (507) 340-9875

    Res-Department: (507)340-9853

    Operations Department: (507)340-9876

    After office hours: MOD (Manager on Duty) (507) 6981-4549

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    Miraflores Locks Tour

    The Panama Canal is known as the 8th Wonder of the World. It is approximately 80 kilometers long between the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. During your visit to this engineering marvel, you will get the chance to see the Canal gates of Miraflores Locks. The locks function as water lifts: they raise ships from sea level (the Pacific or the Atlantic) to the level of Gatun Lake (26 meters above sea level); ships then sail the channel through the Continental Divide. Miraflores Visitors Center (MVC) as their new expression of the permanent commitment of the Panama Canal Authority to strengthen the public's knowledge of the Canal. The exhibitions include historical objects of Canal operations, interactive modules, video presentations, and models of the Panama Canal.

     

    Included:

    • Transportation
    • Tour guide
    • Entrance fee

     

    Not Included:

    • Tips

     

    Don't Forget to Bring:

    • Comfortable clothes & shoes
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Camera

     

    Hours:

    Daily, 8am. Tour is approximately 3 hours.

     

    Where to Go:

    You'll be picked up at your resort by a representative wearing a red polo shirt and beige trousers with the Panamazing logo on the shirt.

     

    Age Restrictions:

    No age restrictions apply.

     

    Additional Information:

    Office Hours (8:00 am- 5:00pm M-F and 8:00am -12:00pm S)

    Office: (507) 340-9875

    Res-Department: (507)340-9853

    Operations Department: (507)340-9876

    After office hours: MOD (Manager on Duty) (507) 6981-4549

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    Old City District & Panama City Tour

    Panama City is a vibrant, cosmopolitan and beautiful city, it is the capital of the Republic of Panama, and is located at the Pacific side of the American continent. Built in 1519 by Pedro Arias Davila, a Spanish Governor, it has been considered as on of the most important cities of the Americas. During this tour, participants will have the opportunity to visit the most interesting places of the old city.

     

    Included:

    • Transportation
    • Driver
    • Guide
    • Bottle of water

     

    Not Included:

    • Tips

     

    Don't Forget to Bring:

    • Comfortable clothes & shoes
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Camera

     

    Hours:

    Daily, 8am. Tour is approximately 3 hours.

     

    Where to Go:

    You'll be picked up at your resort by a representative wearing a red polo shirt and beige trousers with the Panamazing logo on the shirt.

     

    Age Restrictions:

    No age restrictions apply.

     

    Additional Information:

    Office Hours (8:00 am- 5:00pm M-F and 8:00am -12:00pm S)

    Office: (507) 340-9875

    Res-Department: (507)340-9853

    Operations Department: (507)340-9876

    After office hours: MOD (Manager on Duty) (507) 6981-4549

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    Shopping Transfer To Albrook Mall or Multiplaza

    Panama City has always been a shopping paradise where you can find the best products at the best possible prices. From luxury items to electronic equipment, all can be found here. Over the last few years, Panama City has become a lively shopping area where tourists can buy a wide variety of items from electronic and audiovisual equipment to couture, jewelry and oriental articles to mention a few. Panama is always up to date with the latest fashion trends and recognized brands of clothing, footwear, cosmetics and perfumes, and handbags in city's shopping centers.

     

    Included:

    • Transportation

     

    Not Included:

    • Tips

     

    Don't Forget to Bring:

    • Comfortable clothes & shoes
    • Money

     

    Hours:

    Approx time 10am.

     

    Where to Go:

    You'll be picked up at your resort by a representative wearing a red polo shirt and beige trousers with the Panamazing logo on the shirt.

     

    Age Restrictions:

    No age restrictions apply.

     

    Additional Information:

    Office Hours (8:00 am- 5:00pm M-F and 8:00am -12:00pm S)

    Office: (507) 340-9875

    Res-Department: (507)340-9853

    Operations Department: (507)340-9876

    After office hours: MOD (Manager on Duty) (507) 6981-4549

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    The Hidden Treasure of the Panamanian Pacific (2 or more passengers)

    Embark on The Hidden Treasure of the Panamanian Pacific Tour and visit the monumental remains of the First Panama City, Panama Viejo in 1519 -1671. The first city founded in the Pacific, Panama Viejo represented a constant traffic of merchandise, which made it very attractive for pirates, including Henry Morgan, who attacked it in 1671. Panama Viejo, has been considered a World Heritage Site since 2003. Next, visit Casco Antiguo, the place where Panama City was moved and founded again in 1673. Here, the tour will see the Altar de Oro, the most valuable object of the time, which was bathed in lime by a friar, deceiving the buccaneers. Since 1997, Casco Antiguo has been considered a World Heritage Site, as well. Be sure to bring comfortable clothing and shoes, a camera and cash. Tour includes lunch.

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    The Route of Pirates in the Panamanian Caribbean (2 or more passengers)

    Join in along the route of pirates in the Panamanian Caribbean by crossing the province of Panama by train to the Province of Colon. The first visit will be Fort San Lorenzo, considered a World Heritage Site in 1980, due to its strategic importance for the defense of Spanish attacks. It is located at the entrance of the Chagres River, which was later used to cross by water and land, and reach the Panama "La Vieja" to loot it. After Fort San Lorenzo, the tour will continue to Portobello, which was chronologically the second city attacked by pirates, the most known attack was carried out by Henry Morgan in 1668 for 14 days, preceded by an attack by Francis Drake, then by Edward Vernon, the latter exposing the vulnerability of this fort. Portobello, known for its fairs where they exchanged gold, precious metals and merchandise, had 4 fortifications (Santiago de la Gloria, San Jeronimo, San Fernando and San Fernandito) which protected the town, as they were very attractive for the pirates in their boom years. After the tour is complete, the group will visit the museum known as La Real Aduana de Portobello.

     

    Included:

    • Tour guide
    • Lunch

     

    Don't forget to bring:

    • Comfortable shoes & clothing
    • Camera
    • Cash

Tips & Transportation

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    The Best Coastal Island: Las Perlas Archipelago

    In the Pacific Ocean, off Panama's southern coast, this string of islands overflows with beach beauty and activities. Though the tourism is growing here, the islands are far enough away that they are still pristine. Take one of the many flights from Panama City, and spend a day or two on these gorgeous beaches. We've already talked about Comarca Kuna Yala, and those islands do have incredible beaches and water. The Kuna people work to preserve this natural beauty, and it is to all our benefits. However, if you want a more amenity-filled experience on an awesome coastal island, you're going the other way entirely - south to Las Perlas.

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    Best Coffee Pilgrimage in Panama: Boquete Coffee Tour at Finca Dos Jefes

    Tour a beautiful coffee farm owned by Americans Richard and Dee Lipner in Boquete, a region called the Napa Valley of coffee. From cherry to cup, the guides share their knowledge and create a fun, interactive tour. The coffee is harvested and prepared by hand on this refurbished farm. Just like coffee farmers of the past, the harvesting process at Finca Dos Jefes is tied closely with the lunar cycles. Sit at the coffee house, and enjoy the beautiful scenery with a cup of world-renowned java. You don't often get to sip your coffee while looking out over the beautiful landscape where it was grown.

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    Best Scene for Trendsetters: Relic Bar

    In the Old City of Panama City, this bar is situated underground, beneath the popular Luna Castle Hostel. A haven for the hip and trendy, Relic is located near a number of restaurants and bars, which is convenient if you want to get your night started early since Relic doesn't open until 8:30pm. Relic features a large patio as well as a comfortable indoor area. One of the walls near the entrance is part of the Panama City's original wall. The location, subterranean environment and reminders of the surrounding history combine with the vivacious crowd to make a great environment.

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    Best Nature Hike in the City: Ancon Hill

    Ancon Hill promises the best view of Panama City and the ocean from a natural vantage. The hill is covered in beautiful trees and inhabited by many types of birds. It’s also smack in the middle of Panama City, and it is a visible landmark from all over the city. You can hike or drive to the top. The drive can be harrowing, as the road is narrow and steep. A guide or taxi driver may be a worthwhile investment for a more comfortable ride. If you're the active type, the hike is roughly 20-30 minutes one way, so be prepared with water and comfortable shoes. But on a weekday morning when the temperature is moderate and the hill is relatively uncrowded, the hike can be pleasant. At the top, you’ll enjoy a 360 degree panoramic view of Panama City that’s well worth the trip!

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    The Best Botanical Experience: Aprovaca

    The Aprovaca Orchid Nursery and Conservation Center is home to over 100 plants, some of which are endangered. If you go between July and September, you'll see the orchids in full bloom, including the Panamanian national flower, the ghost orchid. The nursery teems with life, as birds can be seen fluttering about the flowers. For $2 USD, you can choose between a guided tour in Spanish or a self-guided tour with an English booklet to explore the gorgeous flowers, and you'll see exotic flowers and plants you might not otherwise get to experience. There is a café with Wi-Fi, coffee, juice and snacks, so when you've finished your exploration of Panamanian flora, you can relax and prepare for your next adventure.

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    Airport

    Tocumen International Airport (PTY) receives flights directly from the US, and it is about 15 miles outside of Panama City. PTY is the busiest airport in Central America, and after the completion of a renovation in 2006, the terminal is well-equipped.

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    Immigration & Customs

    Follow the signs to the immigration check point. You need a passport or travel document valid for at least 6 months from the date of obtaining the visa or card. In some cases, the Immigration Inspector may request payment of hotel voucher where you will stay. Fill out a Traveler’s Affidavit (one per family). There should be minimum five hundred dollars ($ 500.00) or equivalent credit card, bank reference, letter of employment or travelers checks, and according to nationality which requires another amount.

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    Getting to Your Hotel

    Travelers often have concerns about vacationing in Panama. For the past several years, Cheapcaribbean.com has partnered with Gamboa Tours as our premier transportation company to provide safe, comfortable and professional transportation for our clients from and back to the airport. Gamboa Tours also provides transportation to any excursions booked through our site that you’d like to take while you’re in your destination. It’s easy to find your Gamboa Tours team when you arrive at the airport. They wear khaki pants and a yellow shirt. All drivers are fluent in English, friendly and knowledgeable about the culture, history and things to do while you’re there. By the end of your ride, you’ll have made a new friend. Vehicles are all clean, modern and reliable. Gamboa Tours is also the official transportation rep for CheapCaribbean.com excursions when you book vacations to Panama on our site. We suggest that our guests do not rent cars while in the Caribbean, Mexico or Central America as traffic laws and road quality and street signs are not the same as they are in the US.

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    Getting Around Panama City

    To get around and possibly out of Panama City, you have a few choices. You can rent a car from the airport for maximum flexibility. Panama City also features a strong bus system that offers routes to every major destination in the city and is inexpensive. There are many cabs in Panama City. Make sure you set a price before getting in the car. Ensure the destination and is clearly understood. Try writing it down if there’s a verbal language barrier. One of the more interesting options is the Panama Canal Railway which connects Panama City on the Pacific coast to Colon on the Caribbean coast. Monday through Friday, the train leaves Panama City at 7:15am for Colon at 7:15am and returns to Panama City at 5:15pm. The ride takes about an hour.