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Need Advice from the Experts

Boston...
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46 posts
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Need Advice from the Experts

Hello to the Panama Experts and experienced Panama travelers,

My husband and I are planning our first trip to Panama for two weeks, mid-March. We are staying at the timeshare at Playa Coronado for one week with a couple days before and after our stay there to explore some more. I need some information and advice:

First, when we arrive in Panama City, we need a place to stay. We have often stayed in private hostel rooms, but I am not sure which Panama City neighborhoods are safe and convenient to sights or restaurants etc. I am open to hotels and b&bs under $70usd as well as hostels in those neighborhoods.

It is suggested in the forum that we rent a car in the city not at the airport. Where are the car rentals located in Panama City?

Is it possible to visit Panama Canal and environs as a day trip from Playa Coronado or should we do that while we are in Panama City? We have about a 1 1/2 days before we go to the timeshare.

What day trips are possible while at Playa Coronado? In a previous post, Andrew had mentioned going to the Embera village, and others have talked about El Valle. Are there tour companies in Playa Coronado area that are recommended?

After our timeshare stay, we have about 3 days. Is it feasible to drive from Playa Coronado to Boquete? How long would it take? Should we make reservations for lodging as this would be during a weekend? I would appreciate recommendations for inexpensive (under $70usd) lodging and any advice for enjoying that region.

Also, do we need a tourist card to enter Panama, and does American Airlines usually provide these to passengers? Do we have to pay an exit fee at the airport or is it included in our ticket price? What should we expect regarding security procedures at the airport?

I like the restaurant suggestions provided by LN in the post about Playa Coronado.and I thank everyone in advance for their willingness to share their expertise.

Panama City, Panama
Destination Expert
for Panama
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1,959 posts
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1. Re: Need Advice from the Experts

Hi,

For Panama City - look at La Casa de Carmen (www.lacasadecarmen.net - the site is down for over bandwidth right now)

or Le Chateaux de Xelo (www.lechateaudexello.com) both are in safe residential neighborhoods with decent prices.

Otherwise there is La Estancia and Balboa Inn - these are nice but a bit removed from town - taxi is needed to go back and forth.

You really don't need a car in the city - lots of taxis and they are cheap. Thrifty and Budget are almost opposite each other on Via Espana just past the big white church, National is on Calle 50 nearish to Multiplaza, Avis has moved so not sure where they are... Most of them will pick you up if you order a car.

Panama Canal is easier done from the city - it would take over an hour to get there from Coronado... easily done by taxi - go early-ish in the morning or a bit later in the afternoon - usually between 11am and 3pm (approx) there is a lull in ships passing through the locks.

You could do an Embera village from Coronado - just remember it will add 2 hours to the day getting to Coronado and back. El Valle is close by and an easy drive, Penonome is a small town about 40 minutes away some nice hills in behind there.

My Friend Mario is probably the closest tour op to Coronado, as they are located in between the city and there. Decent prices and will adjust to your needs.

Coronado to Boquete is about 5 to 6 hours so it is feasible for 3 days - giving you 2 half days and a full day if you time it right.

March 11 to 21 is the David International Fair so even Boquete gets quite busy with people going to the fair, especially weekends so you should book if it's between those dates - otherwise it shouldn't be a problem.

US citizens will need a tourist card - usually provided by the airlines but if they don't have them you will buy them at the airport in Panama before going through Immigration. All airport fees are included - just went up to $40 for departure tax to cover costs of renovating and expanding the airport.

Security here is no worse (usually better) than an airport in the US.

Cheers,

Andrew

Boston...
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46 posts
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2. Re: Need Advice from the Experts

Thanks, Andrew. I will check your suggested accomodations.

How much should I expect to pay for a taxi in Panama City to the Canal - Miraflores Locks? Is it worthwhile to go on a tour or hire a driver/guide? What do you think about the railway as an option?

Can you provide the contact info for Mario?

I appreciate all suggestions and advice for our trip -including alternate destinations.

3. Re: Need Advice from the Experts

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