Central America, Panama, Tips

How was my Panama in 30 days?

15 Apr , 2015  

It has been almost 2 weeks since I finished my travelling around Panama and moved to Costa Rica. I was thinking a lot about my stay over there, especially when people in hostels are asking me what are my feelings. And so I decided to complete this list of things I (don’t) like.

  • There’s a beaten path, also called Gringo Trail which is followed by everyone. Even if you don’t use any guides like Lonely Planet you instinctively visit the same places. This is what I didn’t like.
  • Panama City is just another big city. There’s nothing special about it even though is very beautiful in the night. Touristic parts are over expensive and non-touristic parts are not recommended to visit.
  • Trip to San Blas archipelago was very interesting but I wouldn’t do it again. Seriously, $200 for 3 nights was a lot of money. Yes, I saw how Kuna Indians live but I also saw that this is a pure business for everyone involved.
  • To see Panama Canal was one of my lifetime dreams. And it was worth every second and cent.
  • Visiting Slovak guys in Nuevo Chagres was cool experience. City of Colon seem quite dangerous place to me and spending 15 minutes on bus station was just enough. However hour and half in local chicken bus will bring you to quite unspoiled caribbean beaches and jungles with absolutely no tourists.
  • Playa Venao was my introduction to surfing world. This place is more local, not many tourists or backpackers. It was so cool that I could simply live there. But I am sure it will change in upcoming years. First hotels and resorts are already being built up.
  • Boquete surprised me a lot. I thought it will be full of tourists and american expats. The opposite is true. This small mountain village has great vibes, many cool backpackers, cheap places to sleep and eat and tons of free activities. The best thing was definitely my night hiking tour to volcano Baru.
  • Lost and Found hostel is very exceptional. Hidden in jungle 15-20 minutes of hiking from the main road. Great staff, views, hiking trails, waterfalls and river spots. The only problem is that it has special section in Lonely Planet guide and therefore you will hear more German than English or Spanish. Also, every third night is free which makes this place so popular.
  • I have very mixed feelings about Bocas del Toro archipelago. The main Colon island is full or drunk people who want to party every night. However, 10 minutes away is Bastimentos island where you can experience true local culture, people and lonely beaches. Little bit dangerous, some people were robbed while hiking to the beach but still the atmosphere is special. And hostel for $7.50? Beat that.

To be honest, I am quite satisfied with my experience in Panama. I still have couple of things on my list to explore the next time. If someone asked me how I would describe people in Panama I would tell him exactly what Lea told me in Boquete. She lives in Israel but was born in Panama and told me that people in Panama want to live simple lives. We all should try to make things simpler and happier.

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