coming in from costa rica i arrived in the morning in the beautiful bocas del toro in the north east of the country. (see photo above) the immigration process is strange but not to difficult but please note that for panama you need an outbound flight or boat ticket to be admitted to the country. without this you won't get in. a tip is to use the copa airlines website and choose a flight and when you get the the payment screen choose pay later its free and they send you a an email confirmation thats looks the same as a fully confirmed flight and the border patrol cannot tell the difference.
now on to bocas main town. its a very caribbean vibe here and heavily over populated with no beaches in sights its a drinking town. i took the boats every morning to the paradise islands and yes they are truly paradise especially zapotilla island. its a national park with no infrastructure that sets the seen for the islands that you have seen in the movies. bocas town does have some cool bars and cafes but your here for the islands so go and explore.
I took the night bus to panama city its very safe and costs around $30 leaving at 7pm and arriving around 4am in the city
i have wanted visit panama city for such a long time and after arriving on the bus at 4am from bocas del toro i can say that i was super tired and excited to be in this city. i took an uber (best and cheapest way to get around) to the hotel. the magnolia inn in the old town cask viejo. the hotel its self was beautiful renovated in a colonial style and in a great location.
casco viejo is the most beautiful place to stay in panama city and it is extremely safe for foreigners it the place that you have seen in the photos when you google panama city.
after the morning wandering around the area i organised a coffee cupping (tasting) with a coffee shop (bajareque) and grower of one of the most expensive coffee beans in the world geisha. i met the the owner wilford a guy that has an amazing passion for coffee and for panama it was such a great experience to start to truly understand coffee as its so complex in its nature but he explained everything to me in an easy to understand way i would defiantly book the tasting with him if you want an authentic experience in panama city. in the afternoon i took a walk to the fish market where you will find the best ceviche in panama.
ohh.. and of course the panama canal. you can take the local bus from the mall no need to take a tour once there its $15 to get into the museum make sure to get there between 9am-11am as thats when the boats go through if you go later you won't see anything. tip. to visit for free just go to the ticket office after 11am and ask for the restaurant they give you a free ticket to get upstairs so you will miss the museum but thats nothing special so when you arrive at the top you will see the main attraction, the viewing platform. you have paid noting for it :)
my recommended places to visit
- 66th floor bar in the casino in the new town. amazing views
- panama canal (take the local bus from the mall)
- sotis hotel swimming pool (just act like your staying there and you get in for free)
- casco viejo (old town)
Places to eat
- the fish market
- la rana dorada (brewery) (50% off between 12-6)
- american trade hotel
how to get around
- metro (only 35c anywhere on the line)
where i stayed
-selina hostel (bocas del toro)
-the magnolia inn
length of stay
- 4 days bocas del toro
- 7 days panama city