We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Emily, a member of the Solo Travel Society. Emily is from the United States, and submitted the following report about Panama City. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Spanish, English
Reasons to go: The Canal is not to be missed….a complete marvel of an engineering job over 100 years ago. I didn't do this but I heard that the $100 boat ride THROUGH the Canal is one of the coolest things to do!
At the Miraflores Locks, try to go around 10am or 2pm so that you will see the ships coming in. Make reservations to eat lunch on the terrace around 2pm. It fills up fast, so be sure to call ahead.
The city's skyline looks like Miami's these days with all the progress being made there. In Feb 2012, they got a doubledecker Hop On / Off bus and I found it to be perfect to get around and see the major sights. The $29 will save you in cab rides.
Be sure to see the older part of the city, Casca Viejo. Frommer's has a good walking tour you can print out. Las Tinajas is a good place to eat if you want to see traditional Panamanian folklore dress and dancing.The show is at 9pm.
I also visited the Bocas del Torro archipelago, which is like a mini-Caribbean off the coast of Panama. The islands are fabulous! To get there it's a 45 minute flight, approximately $210…or there is an overnight bus for $20 that leaves around 8pm. It has a real Caribbean vibe. People are laid back. To island hop, take $1-5 water taxis.
Make sure to visit Starfish Beach, Zapatillas Cay, and Red Frog Beach. Wizard Beach and Careneros Beaches are wonderful, too, but I was told not to go to them if solo traveling due to theft of personal items almost immediately if left alone. I stayed at Hotel Palma Royale, which is directly across from the water taxi access. Great hotel and about $85/night for a junior suite. The staff are extremely helpful! Bocas Town is very safe to walk around in, even at night. I never felt threatened the entire time in Panama.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 2 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 2 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult)