Layover in Panama City
On our way to Colombia, we had a 13 hour layover in Panama City. Prior to the trip I searched up layover guides and fell upon Randy Lewis’s review about a Driver/ Tour Guide. His guide led me to many more about the same driver and the excellent service he provided. I decided to email him and he immediate replied we spoke about what we wanted to do, agreed on a price and said he would pick us up from the airport.
I usually research a place like crazy and come up with an itinerary but being that we were arriving right before rush hour on a Friday I wasn’t sure what we were going to have time to do so I left it in Camilo’s hands.
Things to do:
Panama Canal - The best experience ever! Initially I wasn’t very excited for this because I was told it’s boring. Camilo quickly told us it’s only boring if you don’t catch the ships coming through. Thankfully we caught 2 ships passing by and I got the whole experience on video, check out my Instagram @_velezgray to see it. I just believe you can’t go to Panama and not see the infamous Panama Canal. They also have a museum that tells it’s history.
Casco Viejo - The Old Town of Panama City. This is also on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites among many more in Panama.
Amador Causeway- You can find the famous Panama sign here
Seafood market - We were going to go here too but we had just eaten the biggest meal at El Trapiche and couldn’t eat anymore.
El Trapiche - Try the starter with a mixed plate of all the street food for $5 (great if you hadn’t done a tour and didn’t get a chance to try much local food). We also had a traditional drink called “Nance” which is made out of a fruit that looks like yellow cherries. Be mindful, this drink is usually made with non-bottled water so if you’re not used to the water in other countries I would skip out on this.
Since we arrived around 3 PM, we weren’t able to do a lot in the day time, and there was a lot of traffic, but we made the most of our time.
There is so much more to do:
See the local wildlife at Punta Culebra - This outdoor visiting center is operated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and is small enough to see the entire thing in about 2 hours.
Visit the indigenous Embera Indians- The Embera Indians live in the rainforest in some areas of Panama. You can go on tours to see their village in the Gamboa rainforest – but be careful sometimes village tours are very fake and set up for tourists.
Hike Baru Volcano in Boquete - do this in a group or with a guide, scary things can happen in Boquete if you're a alone. You can do a tour that allows you to camp out half way through or take a 4 x 4 to the summit and hike from there. (If you’re on a layover you might want to take 4 x 4 option.
Take a rum and food tour and learn all about Captain Morgan- Captain Morgan’s real name is Henry the Terrible and he raided and attacked Panama City in 1670. He made a small fortune from it and hid out the rest of his life in Jamaica, or so they say.
There are a lot of day trips you can take for super long layovers:
Take a tour to Zapatillas island or San Blas.
Take a day trip to see the jungle and Embera at El Valle de Anton as well as hot springs.
Things to keep in mind:
Panama City is the jazz capital of Central America, and among the best things to do in Panama is attending the Panama Jazz Festival which usually takes place each year in January.
If you come to Panama in the “off-season” around August, you will be there at the right time to see the whales migrate in the Gulf of Chiriqui. Now, most people don’t travel to Panama at this time.
The only international airport in Panama is that of Panama City. Visitors are usually issued a 90 days visa but they will be required to show proof of departure from the country in the form of a plane ticket back to their home country.
If your layover is the next day you can't check in until after 12AM
If you would like to use Camilio as you travel guide here is his contact info:
Phone number : +507 6901-0678.
Thanks for reading my blog hope it helps you make the most of beautiful Panama during your layover. Have a safe flight!