We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

December Trip

Norwalk, Connecticut
Level Contributor
4 posts
4 reviews
Save Topic
December Trip

First off, thanks to all who have written before me. I have never used tripadvisor before and all of the feedback is great. I am heading out to Panama with my girlfriend in December and would like some advice. I have traveled Costa Rica and Mexico and love Latin American culture. We are staying at the Intercontinental Playa Bonita during part of the stay but are flexible for other ideas.

1. Can anyone comment on customs coming into Panama City at night? We arrive at 9 pm or so and would like some idea of how difficult finding our way to Panama City via a rental car?

2. Can anyone comment on a reasonable location on the pacific coast located within 30 miles drive or so from the Intercontinental Play Bonita? Naturally, we'd like the perfect combination of quiet resort, fairly inexpensive, drivable and near some other options for restaurants/bar.

Thanks so much for all the help in advance!

CDY
Medellin, Colombia
Destination Expert
for Panama City
Level Contributor
3,878 posts
99 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: December Trip

Driving into PC is very easy from the airport it is about 15km on a toll road, two toll boths.

The problem is once you get into PC, depending on where you are staying it can somewhat easy or a bit difficult.

Let us know where you are going, and we can help you with how to get there.

Don't skip staying in PC, not sure how old you are from your post but there is a lot of nightlife(and dining). Running off to some isolated resort on the beach won't give a good feel for the country or the people.

You get out to these resorts and your dining and nightlife options are pretty much limited to what is at the resort. Also you want to avoid driving outside of PC at night, lots of people walk along the side of the road, not all of them sober.

Also take the full insurance on the rental, something I would never recommend in the States, your US carrier won't cover you in Panama and your credit card coverage may not either.

LN
Panama City, Panama
Level Contributor
5,784 posts
75 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: December Trip

If you have the extra coverage with your Amex card, you will be covered for the car insurance. Check first............ I am covered this way, but still had to pay the extra $180., but disputed it with Amex when we returned

to the U.S. and rec'd it back.

Read my reviews (by clicking on my profile name "LN" and then reviews)for places to stay. I would suggest LaEstancia for your first night in PC. Why not have them pick you up at the airport (you will be tired, etc.) and then take a taxi the next day to get a rental car. It is a lovely place to stay, lots of nature.

Also, check out my review regarding Las Sirenas in the Santa Clara area. Beautiful, clean cabanas, private, drivable and walkable to restaurants, etc. Not alot of tourists as it is a private place not a ding ding affair all inclusive resort. You have to do a little more planning when you want to go alacarte, but is worth it. It is the only way we travel. We want to mix with the people, the culture of a country we visit not just a bunch of Americans or Canadians. If we wanted that, we would travel and visit more of the good ole USA.

Austin
Level Contributor
50 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: December Trip

Hi! I think you'll have an easy time at the airport and with customs. However, I would not drive for the first time at night in the city. Depending on the traffic, it can be really jammed and harried. I suggest you take a taxi (or hotel arranged shuttle), and save your driving for later, outside of the city.

North of Playa Bontia there is a small hotel, Las Sirenas. The beach is the best I think on the Pacific coast: Santa Clara. The cabins are equipped with a kitchen and outdoor grill. A walk down the beach is another hotel with a beach front restaurant. That's where you'd go out to eat and get drinks. This may not be what you're looking for - it's very different from Playa Bonita.

You may decide to do something other than the beach, like go inland to El Valle (many small hotels) or Cerro la Vieja. Both a few hours drive from Panama City.

Have fun!

Barbara

Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
2,731 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: December Trip

Amex card coverage covers Collision Damage Waiver, but DOES NOT cover liability. I strongly suggest that you purchase liability coverage from the rental car company.

Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
173 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: December Trip

About insurance in Panama, I came back a week ago. Great city, great country and people.

I p/u my car from Thrifty at Panama Airport, I bought my car insurance with American Express before leaving ths States but I was charged additional $8.00 /day by the Thrifty in Panama Airport. Even thus I explained and showed the American express full cover auto Ins. to the clerk I had to buy additional insurance in Panama...

LN
Panama City, Panama
Level Contributor
5,784 posts
75 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: December Trip

Miamigeo, Florida is the only state that the additional AMEX insurance coverage doesn't apply in Panama. This was told to me by AMEX when we returned from our trip to Panama in Oct. They couldn't say why, but that is the policy for FL residents, sorry to say. Try disputing it anyway who knows, they may not answer to the dispute and you will get your $$ back automatically if they don't. . AMEX is disputing for me.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Level Contributor
623 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: December Trip

Customs should not be a problem. Cavity search only for people flying in on Delta... just kidding.

Driving to Playa Bonita from the airport you have to go through Panama city. You don't know the city and this can be tricky. And you'll be doing it at night. Consider alternate transportation and then arrange to pick up your rental in the cityt the next day. If you DO decide to drive, take corredor SUR (toll road) as soon as leaving airport (It'll be an exit on your right hand side). Corredor Sur will end at Avenida Balboa, the ocean front boulevard. Stay on Av. Balboa until almost the end, turn right on Av. 3 de Noviembre (there's an overpass and a gas station), stay on Av 3 de noviembre and then take the ramp to Av. de los Martires towards Bridge of the Americas. After the bridge of the Americas take the first exit to your right (after the observation deck), it will be a small road than goes under the bridge and then down to sea level. Follow the road, I think maybe 2-3 miles to Playa Bonita resort on your left.

The Pacific coast is convenient to Panama city, but not the best beaches. Las Sirenas is more of a cabin rental. No pool or room service or restaurant there, and its about 70 miles at least. I would recommend you consider flying from Panama city to the Pearl islands or even Bocas del Toro. Consider also Isla Grande on the Atlantic side. If you are willing to drive the 70-80 miles, maybe Playa Blanca resort close to Decameron is a good option, slower paced than Decameron.

8. Re: December Trip

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 22 September 2009, 02:17