History! Culture! Affordability and Engulfing Tropical Warmth! Time to Visit Panama!

Panama is one of those hidden gems. Many people vacation in Panama because it is home to The Panama Canal, the most significant water way in the world. Panama also offers greatly inexpensive local transportation, tropical weather, views of new and the old Panama. The people, the culture, the beaches, tropical rain forests and more, await your discovery.

Stand on the isthmus -- this narrow stretch of land exists between two continents (North and South America) and visitors can easily travel between the Northern Atlantic Ocean (via the Caribbean Sea) and the North Pacific Ocean. Visit and understand the deep and detailed history of Panama. This small but epically important Country connects more than just land mass. Whether you are touring or navigating your own itinerary it is time to visit Panama!

When to Visit

The coldest winter months in the northern hemisphere (January and February) are the best months to visit Panama.

What to Wear

Light clothing that flows well. Also hats, sunglasses, sandals for touring or lightweight shoes for touring the city are recommended. An easily toted umbrella or light, collapsible rain gear is necessary for occasional rain showers.


Temperature in Panama is fairly constant -- ranging from a humid 75 degrees to 85 degrees F (26 degrees to 28 degrees C). Rainfall, however, is what to watch for as Panama hosts a tropical rainforest environment.

Historically, rainfall totals rise beginning in March from 2.2 inches (5.59 cm) scaling up to December's whopping 11.59 inches (29.44 cm). In January and February enjoy a declining and relatively nominal 1.5 to 3 inches monthly average (3.81 cm to 7.62 cm). Perfect for enjoying the many water tours Panama has to offer.


Prices in the capital of Panama, Panama City, are commensurate with typical prices in the U.S. unless you are buying the same items you might buy in the States. A friendly reminder that state-side items must be imported to this Central America vacation spot. You can avoid the extra fee by purchasing local brands. This said, the shopping mecca in Panama City is the Multi Plaza Pacific Mall.

A massive shopping experience, the Plaza is considered to be the experience of luxury shopping with names like Gucci, Armani, Versace, and Tiffany; however there is something for everyone with Central America and U.S. and European chains included.

Rated number 11 of the 126 best things to do in Panama City by Trip Advisor ™, this mall was created to entice travelers from all over Latin America and offers everything from banking, pharmacies, an entire level devoted to restaurants, to food shopping at its massive supermarket, and of course clothing and accessories. Over 500 stores are on hand.

Local Transport

Private transfers are offered from many of the hotels. Local shuttles, rental cars, ferries, and public buses, are also available. In Panama City, the public Metro Bus can get you most anywhere for as little at $0.35 - $1.25 (USD). If you have traveled light you can travel from Tocumen International Airport to downtown! $1.25.

Where to Go

The Panama Canal and Museum

Tours of the Canal are offered locally and can also be included with in an all-in origin to destination Tour Company. The history of the Panama Canal is an important lesson for many reasons; however present day Panama City, the largest city in Panama and home to the canal is considered the financial hub as well as the administrative center of the country.

There is a wonderful museum at Miraflores which overlooks the canal where visitors can learn, in detail, the history of this wondrous engineering feat.

A brief history of the canal includes that the construction of the Canal began in the late 19th century by France. The goal was to expand on the usefulness of the Suez Canal and easily transverse between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Significant human loss occurred throughout construction due to bacteria causing diseases the Europeans had no immunity for along with rugged terrain current day engineering was not yet sufficient to easily conquer, the project was abandoned.

The United States of America took it on, suffering only slightly less with the health and environmental challenges they changed the original free flowing waterway project to a lock system. In a lock system a number of vessels are "parked" inside an open top enclosure. The existing water level when entered is pumped in or out, as needed, to meet the water level on the exit side. Vessels are then herded into the lock structure from the exiting side where the opposite takes place. Imagine an 87 foot (26.5 meter) water displacement where massive vessels are raised from the Caribbean Sea to meet the canal.

Construction ended in 1914. In 1977 the canal was transferred to Panamanian ownership.

The ruins of Panama Viejo (Old Panama)

A world heritage site since 1997, Panama Viejo, is the former capital of the country. Founded by Spain where it was the base for transporting gold and silver back home.

The city was beleaguered with traumatic and devastating occurrences over the one and one half centuries from its beginning in 1519. It suffered fires, physical attacks by pirates and other attempting conquerors, and earthquakes. Still, almost 500 years later, the ruins exist in an approximate two block area. Visitors can well imagine the time past and the trial and tribulations of the old city by viewing the still standing cathedral bell tower and the ruins of neighboring stone buildings and their walls.

Tribes of Panama

For the sake of brevity we will look at two welcoming tribes of Panama. A tourist attraction for some, for many others a privileged view into people that have held segregate laws and traditions for centuries. To have the privilege of meeting and speaking with these cultures is an amazing experience and education into the people that have resisted modernity in order to remain in the lifestyles they personally value.

Kuna Tribal Market Place
Approximately 35,000 people, mainly living on Islands of San Blas, keep their own laws and politics. A community of Kuna Indians stays in Panama City where they offer tourists and residents alike the ability to speak with them of their heritage and history and to purchase handmade clothing, jewelry and other art-like items. Most well-known is the Mola (women's blouse) which is a colorful and intricately stitched garment. The detailed and colorful clothing is the perfect purchase for continuing your tour.

Embera Tribe
Taking advantage of the many tours departing from Panama City includes traveling along the Chagres River and into the rainforests of Panama. One such tour will bring you to one of the Embera villages.

For their own use for portage, and for purchase they make tightly woven palm fiber baskets, and their art work includes intricate carvings from the cocobolo tree and tagua nuts. Carvings also include utensils and other living necessities.

The Embera's environment in the rainforest includes indigenous birds and colorful butterflies. The rainforest environment is also home to rare orchids, such as the Lophiaris silverarum.

How to Go

Book your own itinerary and choose from the plethora of tours available throughout Panama City or travel with a trusted tour company. The time to plan is now
Jon Kelly is an aspiring writer who probably holds the record for "most unique websites visited by a single human being" due to his enthusiasm for browsing the Web. When he is not wearing down keyboards or peddling his web development skills, he likes to think he can write articles worthy of your time. Photos:

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February 14, 2019

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