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My advise/info on Panama

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My advise/info on Panama

Louis Seldon

Cell # 954-610-5121

Email: llseldon@verizon.net


I was born and lived in Panama until I was 15 years old and visit Panama regularly. I am constantly receiving current news on Panama from the internet and friends living in Panama.


The Isthmus of Panama forms a bridge between South and Central America, and borders Costa Rica to the west and Colombia to the east. Panama City has flights to and from all Central American countries and both North and South America. Major US airlines such as American, Continental and Delta fly to Tocumen Airport in Panama City on a daily basis; COPA Airlines is the national airline.

Panama uses the US dollar as its currency. Don’t be confused by its official name, the Balboa—bills are exactly the same. Panamanian coins are of the same value and size as US coins, which are also accepted.

The climate in Panama varies very little throughout the year. There are only two seasons: the dry season, from January to mid-April, and the rainy season, from mid-April to December. Temperatures usually range between 70°F and 90°F, but it can get a little cooler in the highlands, especially in the province of Chiriqui.

Spanish is the official language, but many people speak English as a second language. The country’s population of almost 3 million reflects a history of mixed ethnicities, due largely to the significant influx of immigrants that arrived during the construction of the Panama Canal. In terms of religion, the Isthmus is predominantly Roman Catholic, but there are some small groups of Muslims, Protestants, Hindus and Jews.

The capital of Panama is a modern, thriving metropolis, with plenty of restaurants, shops and entertainment. Among its main attractions are the Casco Antiguo (or Old District), Panama Viejo (or Old Panama, dating back to the 16 th Century), the Calzada de Amador and, of course, the Panama Canal. For shopping, head to Via España or to one of the new shopping malls, if you want to avoid the heat.

Panama 's economy is based on the service sector, which accounts for three-fourths of the country’s GDP. Besides the Canal, Panama City boasts an important international banking center, while Colon City, on the Caribbean coast, is home to the one of the largest free zones in the world.

The Panama Canal:

The canal was built by the United States beginning in 1904 and was opened in 1914. It consists of three sets of double locks that are 1000 feet long and 110 feet wide. Today a new set of locks are under construction that consist of three lock chambers that will be 1400 ft. long, 180 ft. wide and 60 ft. deep, with each lock complex measuring more than a mile and a half in length on each side of the canal.

For more information on the Panama Canal see: breezes.com/world-history-the-panama-canal.p… Thanks to a Delaware student Natalie for find this website, very good information on Panama.

Panama, Where the world meets (Panama canal)


Panama, Where the world meets (Adventure)


Panama, Where the world meets (traditions)


Panama, Where the world meets (history)


Some Panama organizations:

U.S. Navy League: PTY Navy League: http://navyleaguepanama.org/

American Society of Panama: http://www.amsoc.org/

ExPats in Panama: http://www.expatsocials.com/

Panama Historical Society (No website)

Canadian ExPats in Panama: internations.org/expats/…canadians

Panamá Hotels & B&Bs

Inn on the Canal B&B, La Boca/Balboa, franzWald@cwp.net.pa 314-0112


Esplenador Hotel, Banking District, esplendorpanama.com/site/home/en/the_hotel

Av. Samuel Lewis y Calle Gerardo Ortega ( NULL)

RESERVATION +507 209-9696

Front Desk 507 209-9600 reservas@esplendorpanama.com

### La Estencia B&B: Ancon Hill-Quarry Heights (old Southern Command HQ)/Balboa enquiry@panoramicpanama.com

Office: 314-1417&1604



***Hotel Las Vegas hotel@lasvegaspanama.com 507-300-2020


***Hotel Marbella, El Cangrejo, see http://www.hmarbella.com/welcome.php 263-2220

***Hotel Milan, El Cangrejo, see frommers.com/destinations/…H56896.html hotelmilan@cwpanama.net 263-6130 Fax 263-7723

***Torres de Alba Apartment Hotel, El Cangrejo see: http://www.torresdealba.com.pa/english.htm email: alba@sinfo.net

***My favorites in Panama City, El Cangrego area, convenient to good shopping, casino, restaurants/cafes, supermarket, drug stores, etc.

###My favorite Bed & Breakfast in the old Canal Area located on the old U.S. military Southern Command Headquarters area on Ancon Hill. Owned by a great Asian couple in an old U.S Mil NCO quarters building converted to the best B&B in the area. Great animal watching at breakfast from their balcony.


Breezes Resort, Playa Blanca: vacationscostarica.com/panama/…breezes.htm

Casita Margarita, Pedasí: www.pedasihotel.com email peashooter@gmail.com phone 995-2898

Coronado Bay Hotel/Condos: http://solaniumpanama.com

Liz Larroquette-General Manager

Tel. 345-3900

Cel. 6981-1717

Email: lizl@empresasbern.com

DeCameron Resort, Playa Blanca-Farallón tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g298431-d301154…

Gaviota, Coronado www.hotelgaviotapanama.com/index-1.html

Royalton Hotel, Playa Blanca, latinexplore.com/services/s2962_royalton-hot… More info, see: thepanamanews.com/pn/…economy_13.html

Playa Venao-El Sitio Resort & Surf Club Azuero Peninsular 6.5 hour drive west of Panama City, site of annual surf competition Email elsitiopv@gmail.com Phone (597)-832-1010 Web info: leisureresortliving.com/category/197/Resort-…

Rio Mar Surf & Skate Camp, Owned by canal tug captain Alan Barnes, Email: riomarsurf@hotmail.com Web info: www.rionarsurf.com Phones: 240-9128 or 6675-2526


Hotel Ladera http://www.hotel-ladera.com/

Oasis B&B http://oasisboquete.com/


Washington Hotel, Colon, …trvlclick.com/cuidad-de-colon-hotel-pa-0301… Email nwh@sinfo.net Phone: 441-7133


Gamboa Rain Forrest Resort http://www.gamboaresort.com/

Balboa Inn B&B thorwald@thebalboainn.com 314-1520


Taboga Island:

B&B Hotel Cerrito Tropical, Isla Taboga,

Owner/operator: Cynthia Cudmore Mulder

Email: info@cerritotropicalpanama.com

Webpage: www.cerritotropicalpanama.com

Web: http://www.tabogaislandhotel.com

Taboga Blog: http://www.cerritotropicalpanama.com/blog/


Hotel Don Tavo www.volcanbaru.com/hoteldontavo/index.html

Cielito Sur B&B : located between the towns of Cerro Punta and Volcan in the Province of Chiriqui.http://www.cielitosur.com/


My favorite places to eat in Panama City:

Balboa Yacht Club, Amador beside Country Inn & Suites & FGI Fridays on the Panama Canal (typical Panama food +), great for sunset drink, week end live live music with local groups.

Costa Azul Restaurante (typical Panama food +), on side street from Via España between the Continental Hotel & the Marriott Hotel, Banking District

Jimmy’s Parrilla Restaurant (typical Panama food +), , two locations Banking District & San Francisco, see: http://www.parrilladajimmy.com/

Lung Fung (Chinese) Restaurant, Betania area, Vía Simón Bolívar (Transístmica) and Calle 62 C. Oeste Take a taxi, parking is tight under the building, but there is a parking lot up the street. Taxi drivers know the name.

Manolo’s Cafes (buffet-cafeteria style), several in the city, Via Veneto, Via Argentina, etc.

Martin Fierro (Argentine cruise), El Cangrejo, Calle Eusebio Morales, down the street from the Las Vegas Hotel

see: …mydestinationinfo.com/en/parrillada-martin-…

Mi Ranchito (typical Panama food +), on the first island on the Amador Causeway, see: www.restaurantemiranchito.com/en/home.html

Napoli Italian Restaurant, original off Avenida de Martes near the old Canal Zone & the new one south of Via España on a side street in Obarrio

Niko’s Cafes (buffet-cafeteria style), all over Panama City & Balboa, see: http://www.nikoscafe.com/

Pomodoro Restaurant Italian cuisine in a bohemian cafe atmosphere, located on the left side of the entrance to the Las Vegas Hotel on Via Veneto see: http://lasvegaspanama.com/en/restaurant

Pangea Restaurant & Club (International cuisine, El Cangrejo, www.pangeapanama.com

Rincon Aleman, Germany Restaurant, one block off Frederico Boyd & one block north of Calle 50 beside Tinajas Restaurant, see: www.1985.com/restaurant_rincon_aleman.html

Rincon Suizo, Swiss Restaurant, El Cangrejo, Calle Eusebio Morales, down the street from the Las Vegas Hotel, see: www.1985.com/restaurant_rincon_suizo.html

Rino’s Italian & International cuisine, Banking District, Ave Federico Boyd & Calle 49.

Tinajas Restaurant, (typical Panama food with typical Panama dance shows most nights), one block off Frederico Boyd & one block north of Calle 50 beside Rincon Aleman Restaurant, see: http://www.tinajaspanama.com/en/about-us

Wine Bar, on the right side of the entrance to Las Vegas Hotel offers cheese varieties, pizza's and other gourmet choices mixed with live music of local groups. See bottom: http://lasvegaspanama.com/en/restaurant

U.S. Chain restaurant:

TGI Fridays, Bennigan’s, Hooters + many U.S. chain fast foods: KFC, McDonalds, Subway, etc.

Outside of Panama City:

Los Camisones, PanAmerican highway (typical Panama food +), 1.5 hour drive west of Panama City or about 15 kilometers past the entrance to El Valle, KM 104, north side of the Pan Am Hwy, look for a small sign, it’s easy to miss. The restaurant is on s short one lane road up a hill. http://loscamisones.com/

Las Ruinas Restaurant (typical Panama food +, American chief & owner), Boquete, Chiriquí province, see: www.boqueteguide.com/?tag=las-ruinas-panama

Calle Uruguay has many good restaurants, clubs and bars, it is like the “South Beach“ of the city. Located one block east of Frederico Boyd & south of Calle 50.

Vegetarian Restaurants in Panama City.

Me gusta Comida Vegetariana is off via España on the side street between the Continental Hotel & Marriott Hotel (across the street from Restaurant Costa Azul on the “rounded“ corner).

There are other vegan restaurant in the city, but not being one I do not have names or locations.


Coronado Golf & Beach Resort, 1.5 drive west of Panama City, see: http://www.coronadoresort.com/

DeCameron Golf Course, located at the DeCameron Resort, Farallón Beach, 2 hour drive west of Panama City.

Panama City Golf Course: Panama City, San Miguelito area, see: http://clubdegolfdepanama.com/

Santa Maria Golf & Country County (Future/Planned), Costa del Sol, between Tocumen International Airport & Panama City, see: www.santamariapanama.com/eng/location.html

Summit Golf Course, located about 35-40 minute drive north of Panama City on the road to Gamboa & by-past to the transmission highway, see: www.larsenoutdoors.com/html/golf_panama.html

Tucín Country Club & Resort, west bank of the canal, see: http://www.tucancountryclub.com/

Vista Mar Golf Club, 1.7 hour drive west of Panama City, see: www.vistamarresort.com/Default.aspx?tabid=55


Internet cafes all over the area for 50c-$20/hour & international telephone service, calls to the U.S. between 10-20c/minute. Phone calls are charged by the minute, cell phone call are more expensive. Cell phone numbers have 6 digits, others have 5 digit numbers. Best way to use phone to make local calls is to use a Cable & wireless plastic credit card looking item that fits in a slot on the front of pay telephone. These cards can be bought from vending machines in $5, 10 & 20 denominations.

Night Life/Clubs:

Many casinos in the city at all major hotels, clubs/restaurants on Via Veneto & the near the Marriott Hotel, Via Uruguay, Via Argentina, Balboa (Amador) Yacht Club & on the islands at the end of Amador Causeway (Panama’s South Beach). Pangea’s off Via Argentina, see www.pangeapanama.com , Casco Viejo (Antiguo)

Tour guide & van service:

Jesus Deleon Cell # 6754-3378, Jesus has a van/taxi/tour service, I met him when he was a security guard (suit) at the Marriott Hotel. He had player minor league base ball in the U.S. and his English is good. He charges $15 per hour for his service which includes taking you to tourist areas & $30 or 40 to & from the airport.

Things to see & do:

Panama City area:

Old Panama (Panamá Viejo) destroyed by the Pirate Capt Morgan.

New old town: Casco Viejo: city build after the destruction of Panamá Viejo by Capt Morgan. This is the combined “barrios” of San Felipe, Santa Ana & El Chorrillo. Central Avenue is the a close street-“walking mall” for shopping, Ave B is the Asian shopping street with bargain shops. “Sale se Puedes” is a side street close by vendor with shops in the middle of the street, warning “Sale se Puedes” translates to “get out if you can”, good bargains and I’ve never personally known of anyone not to get out, but “¿quien sabes?”

Amador Causeway: including Mi Ranchito Restaurant first island on the right, best view, prices & view. Balboa (Amador) Yacht Club before the causeway by the TGI Friday/Town & Country Inn.

Shopping at the Artisan Center back side of the YMCA building in the old gym for gifts & souvenirs.

Miraflores Locks tourist center: museum, viewing area of the locks operation & restaurant

Summit Gardens Zoo & Gardens just past the “Y” to Gamboa on Gamboa Road.

Canopy Tower Bird Watching Sanctuary: Gamboa Road, between Summit Gardens & one-way bridge to Gamboa: http://www.canopytower.com/error.lasso

El Valle: Volcanic area 1½ hour drive west of Panama City, week end flee markets, mud bathes, Zoo & a number of excellent B&Bs. Also a number of great B&Bs (see my website: http://panamalou.com/ )

Beaches-west of Panama City 1-2 hour drive, beaches include Chame, Gorgona, Coronado, San Carlos, Rio Mar, Santa Clara & Farallon. The PanAm highway “dips” down along the coast in this area & the beaches in this area stretch for about 40-50 kilometers. Hotel Coronado: Gaviota Hotel, Coronado www.hotelgaviotapanama.com/index-1.html Coronado phone 240-4526, Panama phone 224-9056 Also the DeCameron & Breezes all-inclusive resorts are located on these beaches.

Azuero Peninsula:

including Las Tablas, Pedasi & the beaches in this area. This area is a 5-6 hour drive west of Panama City. Best B&B Casita Margarita email peashooter@gmail.com website www.pedasihotel.com

David, Boquette, El Volcan & Chiriqui Province:

Very popular for the higher elevation & cooler temperatures to the north of David. My favorite hotel in Boquete: Hotel Ladera email info@hotel-ladera.com website www.hotel-laera.com This area is a 6-61/2 hour drive west of Panama City.

Eco Sites:

Barro Colorado Island: Gatun Lake, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, see: …si.edu/english/…index.php

Canopy Tower Bird watching: near Gamboa, see: http://www.canopytower.com/error.lasso

Eco Tours: http://panamatraveltours.com/about_us.html

Embera Village, see: http://www.emberavillagetours.com

Gamboa Rain Forrest Resort: see: http://www.gamboaresort.com/

Panama Railroad, Though not eco itself, you will see a lot by riding the train. see: http://www.panarail.com/home.html

Playa Venao: Azuero Peninsular, El Sitio beach & surf resort, see: http://elsitiopv.com/

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Ancon, see: http://www.stri.si.edu/


Taboga Island: see: http://www.tabogaislandpanama.com/

Torti, Panama: about 2 hour drive east of Panama City toward the Darien includes the Hotel Avicar and Restaurant Avicar. The hotel, is a 10 room hotel with swimming pool. Prices ranges depending on the occupancy (beds) from 35.00 to 50.00 US Dollars. The food at the restaurant is a la carte and it ranges from 3.00 to 5.00 US Dollars (steak with rice and salad). Bird watching & jungle tours, for more information contact Luis Gonzalez Nelson at luis_gnelson@hotmail.com or see: www.hotelavicar.com

Tranquilo Bay Eco Lodge: Bocas del Toro, see: http://www.tranquilobay.com/home.htm

Whale Watching: www.WhaleWatchingPanama.com

Information websites:



Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: My advise/info on Panama

outstanding collection of information. Thank you so much!

Medellin, Colombia
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2. Re: My advise/info on Panama

Very good overview with lots of information - a few comments - Balboa Yacht Club Restaurant is about the worst in the city - the views are nice of the canal - but the service is terrible ( even by Panama standards) and the food is at best mediocre. TGI Fridays - again good views - same crappy food as you get in the US.

Also never been to a manolos with a buffet - they are sit and order from a menu type deal- a little like a diner in the US - food is OK.

Also many of the clubs have moved out to Zona Viva on the Causeway - Calle Uruguay clubs are still there - but less of them - they are being pushed out by developers building large towers - several very good restaurants still there - the Market excellent for the best burger in town.

Just my 2 cents.

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3. Re: My advise/info on Panama

De nada amigo, let me know if I can help you plan an outstanding visit to Mi Panamá *Ü*

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4. Re: My advise/info on Panama

BYC is great for sunset tragos, corvina fingers & light fare (TGI Fridays-don't eat at U.S. chains in Panama but I have been into them), Nikos has the buffet line type facility, if I said Menolo's I must correct that***, two locations I like for Menolo's is Via Veneto & Argentina, don't know if there are more, Nikos are all over town, favorite might be at Balboa location of the old bowling alley, but that maybe 'cause I've an ole Zonie?

*** FYI, I did correct that, "(buffet-cafeteria style), " Thanks for pointing out my error. Same comment I had for Niko's, some how I put it under both??

Where do you live? my email llseldon@verizon.net FYI.

Medellin, Colombia
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5. Re: My advise/info on Panama

If you like ceveiche and are on the Causeway - go to the end - behind the Benigans - there is an outdoor restaurant that serves great ceveiche - can't remember its name but the tables are all outside with views of the marina.

Iseldon - I lived off and on in Panama City for 2.5 years. Spent a lot of time in David also. Enjoyed Panama but now live in Medellin, still travel to Panama City for work. While i think Panama offers a little more in the way of tourism vs Colombia as a place to live Medellin is much nicer. I do miss the seafood and being close to the ocean - don't miss the heat, the trash and the taxis trying to rip everyone off.

I always recommend to people if they like Panama give Colombia a try - lots of history and natural beauty.

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6. Re: My advise/info on Panama

Colombia is good, know a man from Oregon married a Colombana in Panama, they last 2 months, moved to Santa Marta. Are you from the U.S. where? Keep in touch, my "direct line" is llseldon@verizon.net Always interested on "networking" on Panama.~~Lou

P.S. I NEVER eat in American establishments in Panama.

Edited: 06 July 2011, 19:18
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7. Re: My advise/info on Panama

Correction, if you are talking about the little open air restaurant behind Benigans on the pier, I'll give it ****.

Medellin, Colombia
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8. Re: My advise/info on Panama

Yes that is the one I am talking about - gets very crowded at night on the weekends - but good food, cold Panama's and decent prices.

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9. Re: My advise/info on Panama

Better to go to the Balboa (Amador) Yacht Club for sunset & Fri & Sat nights.

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10. Re: My advise/info on Panama


Thank you so much for your wonderful advice. We are planning a Carvan tour for a week in Feb or March, 2012. Look for best options for the 2nd week. Do you think going to Isla Contadora or Torgola are good options? Any other suggestions? We are an active couple in our late 50's. Thank you again for your generous advice.