Panamá is a Latin American country connecting Central America to South America with Costa Rica to the west and Colombia to the east. Panamá is globally known for its canal which connects the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. This canal has positively impacted Panama’s economy as well as some of the world’s main trade routes. 

The direct translation of Panamá is abundance of fish. If you are a seafood lover, Panamá is the place for you! As a pescatarian, I enjoyed every seafood meal I had the chance to indulge in (make sure to read the restaurants section for some recommendations). ​​

Transportation is extremely cheap! I used Uber and each ride was no more than $3 USD.

In terms of currency, there is no need to exchange. $1 USD is equivalent to 1 Panamanian Balboa.

Definitely use US currency for easier transactions. This is as a result of Panamá being the first Latin American country to adopt the U.S. currency as their own. However, if there is any change less than $1, expect Panamanian cents in return.

Best time to visit Panamá is during their dry summer season which is mid-December to mid-April. I went in September where I did experience some rain, but not a lot. The sun definitely came out to play, especially during the day trip to San Blas!

Fun Fact: Panama is the only country in the world where you can see the sun rise on the Pacific and the sun set on the Atlantic.

Where to Stay

Hotel San Remo – My travel buddy and I stayed in Hotel San Remo located in Panamá City, about a 15 minute drive from the airport. I had a love-hate relationship with this hotel because the first day we got there it took us about 2 hours to get us checked in to our room. I definitely started to get hangry while waiting for our room to be ready. The communication was not that great, but honestly it was located pretty close to some tourist attractions. Hotel San Remo also has its own restaurant which is open to all their hotel guests, and the public. Only downfall about the restaurant is that when we went to breakfast they would often run out of ingredients so having a legit breakfast was difficult at times. Breakfast was included in the nightly rate – for a total of 4 nights we paid $133. Price wasn’t bad at all taking into account the rooms were small, bathroom was small, WiFi was free, and omg there was no hot water! Every day was a struggle taking a shower. I love me some hot water or at least lukewarm.

Other places you can stay:

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Panamá City – 4 star hotel located in the downtown area of Panamá City. The hotel has a rooftop terrace, restaurant, bar/lounge, and outdoor pool. Also with a 24-hour fitness center, free WiFi and parking. This hotel is $54 a night and I would highly recommend it for families. All booking options within this hotel includes a free stay for one child, as well as the option of getting breakfast on the property. Also a great option for solo travelers, couples, and groups of no more than 4 travelers.

Hyatt Place Panama City/Downtown – 3.5 star hotel located in the downtown area of Panamá City. This hotel has a restaurant, bar and outdoor pool with a 24-hour fitness center, free WiFi, and free parking. Not bad at all for $63 a night. I would recommend it for solo travelers, couples, and groups of no more than 4 travelers. 

I would recommend staying anywhere in Casco Viejo. There are a number of hotels and airbnb options all within a good/inexpensive price range if you book in advance and off peak season. Overall, stay in Panamá is extremely inexpensive, especially if you are working within a specific budget.


Restaurante El Caribe – located in a multicultural neighborhood El Cangrejo (directly translates to crab), this restaurant was opened by a Panamanian with Jamaican heritage. I absolutely loved this restaurant. The food was delicious, and so was the vibe. I ordered garlic sautéed shrimp with coconut rice and beans, sweet plantains and salad on the side. Highly highly recommend it. You will not regret it. For more information, and to see their menu please visit here.

Orale Tacos y Tequilas – Mexican food in Panamá? yup you got that right! Ate here after a long day exploring a couple islands in San Blas. This definitely tasted like authentic Mexican food. I ordered a shrimp alambre, which is grilled shrimp on soft flour or corn tortillas, with cheese and vegetables. I ordered a side of guacamole because I love dipping my shrimp flour alambre in guacamole to give it its finishing touch. The menu options aren’t expensive and they cater to most dietary restrictions. For more information and to see their menu please visit here.

Coliseum Roma – located in Casco Viejo, this restaurant has Italian cruise. I love the ambiance in the space, with music playing in the background and good service. Here I was in the mood for some fried fish, and that is exactly what I ordered with a side of fried plantains (patacones). If you are in the mood for some drinks with an amazing view of Old Panamá, make your way upstairs to Gatto Blanco, a rooftop bar. Unfortunately, I was not able to find the menu online. However, they do have a Facebook page. Check it out!

​Ay Mi Negra – you scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream! If you are an ice cream fan like I am, I would definitely recommend checking this place out. Ay Mi Negra is an exotic dessert bar with crepes, ice rolls, waffle pops and more! I ordered a fruity pebbles ice roll and it was absolutely delicious. This was my second time ever having an ice roll, and I truly enjoyed it. My tummy was happy for sure! For more information and to see their exotic dessert bar menu please visit here. Feel free to check out their ig as well – the photos are pretty cute!

Boba Town – located in Casco Viejo, if you enjoy bubble tea, check this place out! I kid you not, I probably stayed here for an hour and a half, charging my phone and enjoying some bubble tea waiting for the rain to stop. I ordered Honey Jasmine with boba, which consisted of Jasmine tea, honey and boba. It wasn’t the best bubble tea I had, but it was decent. If you are in the mood for food as well, they also serve that here. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the menu online. However they do have a Facebook page. Check it out!

Mahalo – ​has the most vegan and vegetarian friendly menu I have seen during this entire tip! Also located in Casco Viejo, Mahalo has a variety of options for meals and fresh juices with a tiki bar, and a bunch of board games. I absolutely loved the vibe here. It was so chill. It is safe to say I had breakfast for dinner. I ordered the lox from the Snack Shack menu. The lox consisted of an avocado toast with dill cream cheese, smoked salmon, fried egg, and arugula. It was the best avocado toast I have ever had the pleasure of consuming! I would eat here again in a heartbeat.

If you make your way to Casco Viejo, please please please make your way to Mahalo. For more information and to see their menu please visit here.

Things to Do

Day trip to San Blas – book a day trip to San Blas you will not regret it. We booked our excursion through Visit San Blas Panamá. The excursion included roundtrip transportation from our hotel to Puerto Dibin (the boat port), which was a two hour drive from Panamá City, lunch including a drink, and transportation to two different islands owned by Guna Yala: Isla Barco Hundido and Wailidub, and a natural pool with starfishes.

For lunch, I had fried octopus with fried plantains and a salad! It was delicious – I kid you not!

​Guna Yala consists of 365 mini islands, all owned by the indigenous Guna people. I would highly recommend taking this day trip! It is super relaxing. I absolutely loved the natural pool with the starfish. However, my favorite part was talking to our tour guide and learning about the history behind the Guna people fighting for all 365 islands not that long ago in history.

Bocas Del Toro – is a province in Panamá located on the west side of the country, not that far from Costa Rica. It is famous for its beaches, dining, nightlife, and shops. Can you travel from Panamá City to Bocas del Toro, however, it will take you about 10-11 hours. You are better off catching a one hour flight from the city into Bocas del Toro if you are willing to pay around $200. Transportation by land would cost you roughly the same thing. 

Panamá Canal – ​​take a tour of the Panamá Canal. This is an artificial 50 mi canal connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. Learn about how it was created and its positive impact to the trade market. For more information please visit here

Museo de Afroantillano – The Afro-Antillean Museum. This museum focuses on West Indian Panamanians and their contribution to the creation of the Panamá Canal and its railroad system. Entrance to this museum is only 1 Panamanian Balboa. The museum is a little hot inside, and small – they do have a couple fans on. I promise you it is worth it. For more information please visit here.

Roam the streets of Casco Viejo – also known as San Felipe, Casco Viejo is Panamá’s old city. It is filled with many restaurants, rooftop bars, cocktail lounges, local shops with many traditional handicrafts, and more! I spent the rest of an evening just exploring Casco Viejo, ate at two different restaurants, grabbed bubble tea and enjoyed some ice cream. I was also able to see the Panamanian skyline from this area, which was absolutely beautiful!

Museo de Arte Contemporaneo – this museum showcases artwork from Panamanian and Latin American artists. Museum is open everyday with the exception of Mondays. Make sure to take that into consideration when you are planning your visit. The museum is free. Unfortunately, I was not able to see it because it was under construction while I was there. For more information please visit here

Please note that I did not capture everything that you can do in Panama. These are only some of many options. The list goes on. 


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