PANAMA CITY, PANAMA
With my passport and a really amazing friend, I was given the opportunity to travel all the way to Central America and visit the amazing city of Panama City, Panama. And oh my gosh it was the most amazing experience of my lifetime and I am so thankful to the friend that brought me with as his plus one. My gratitude goes to you dude.
Upon arriving at the Hardrock Hotel Megatropolis we were handed complimentary welcoming drinks right away when checking in! That was amazing because a drink was long over due from flying for two days straight. We check in, get our room key, and head straight up to our room to change. As we get to our room, we realize that we are on the 48th floor and later, come to find out the higher your room is, the nicer the room. We had a pretty nice room, but then again there were 62 floors. Our room over looked a ton of sky scrapers in the city and honestly even though it was only skyscrapers, it was a really pretty view. Definitely did not mind waking up to an ocean view every morning, whatsoever.
We immediately change into our suits and head straight for the pool for some drinks. We ordered Coronas and they were $11 a piece. The drinks at the hotel were ridiculously overpriced. If you ever stay at the Hardrock, go out of the hotel buy drinks at a local gas station or liquor store and bring them back to the hotel. It less than half of what you’d pay at the hotel.
The hotel has so many places to eat in it, a ton of dance clubs, and bars throughout the entire vicinity. Finding drinks and cool places to relax was not an issue. It was definitely a fun time every night at the clubs and partying on the rooftop.
OHHH! I almost forget. At one of the clubs, girls drink for free all night. I believe the club was called Bling if I remember correctly. That was pretty awesome.
I would love to travel here again some day and do more exotic things. When I go back I want to zip-line through the jungle, take a cruise ship through the entire Panama Canal, and eat at one of the places in Plaza Bolivar because it overlooks the ocean and has an amazing shore front view- especially at night when the entire city is all lit up.
Although I did not get to do everything that I wanted because I did not have enough time to do it all, I did get to visit a few amazing places while I was there.
The smartest decision I made when I was in Panama was purchasing a city tour. For a whole wopping $65 USD I was able to go on an entire city tour of Panama City. This was my money well spent and it even included my entrance ticket to the Panama Canal. If you are not looking to spend a ton of money, this tour would be perfect for you. You could even just bypass the tour altogether and just go to some of the places that I am going to tell you about and save all the money. All the places that we stopped at on the city tour, besides the Panama Canal, were all FREE so that is a plus!
On the tour of the city they took us to the Historic District of Panama. The Historic District included a lot of historical locations that are significant to the modern Panama City that we see now. It included the home of Panama’s President, Plaza Bolivar, Ministry of Foreign Relations, Francia Plaza, Museo De Arte Religioso, and a bunch of other local art markets.
WHAT YOU SHOULD SEE IN THE HISTORIC DISTRICT OF PANAMA
THE PRESIDENT’S HOME/FORETRESS/MANSION/THING.
This place is gigantic! You could not miss if you were trying to. It is guarded by the president’s personal SPI’s which not only guard his beautiful home but also roam all of the Historic District to ensure his safety. All of the original architecture is still intact but it was newly renovated when he moved in. He had the entire block against the shoreline renovated and connected so that he could have one huge house where he could do his entire job from.
In the clip below, the huge white building/mansion that you see along the shoreline is home to the President.
PLAZA DE FRANCIA/DUNGEONS/TUNNELS.
The Plaza de Francia is the original Panama City main square that has been renovated and is now dedicated to the French that contributed in building the original Canal. Below this dedication memorial is the old prison and dungeons that used to hold prisoners. There are actually tunnels underneath all of old city Panama and some lead to these dungeons.
FUN FACT FOR YOU: If you push back the plaque on the main pillar in the French Memorial in Plaze de Francia, it actually is a doorway to one of the tunnels leading to the dungeons underneath the city. It has been sealed off for many years now, so all you will be able to see when you look down into the tunnel is cement. BUT STILL, interesting to know because not a ton of people know that it is even there.
So do not forget to push on this plaque and see where one of the tunnel openings are like my tour guide!
LOCAL ARTISAN MARKET.
Lastly, I want you to visit the market along the shoreline off of Plaza de Francia where the local artists sell their work. All of the local artwork I was able to bring with me back to the states was made right in front of me! I was able to suggest and pick out the designs and colors of the things I purchased from the local artists.
YOU SHOULD SEE THE PANAMA CANAL. PERIOD. NO BUTS.
On my city tour they were only able to take us to one of the locks in the Panama Canal and that was fine because it was the final lock that you enter heading to Panama City. This lock is dual-chambered and lifts/descends a ship 16.5 meters, which is about 54 feet approximately. So like ten of me stacked on top of each other- in case you wanted to know. Did you know that the Panama Canal takes about 10-12 hours to get through it? Yeah me either. So since it takes too long for a ship to go through all of the locks and successfully pass through the Canal I did not get a clip of a ship actually going through the lock I was at, BUT I did get a clip of what the Miraflores lock looks like. Here it is:
The Panama Canal is something you have to see once if you are in Panama. Personally, since I have gone there once I would probably never just go look at it again. I would like to do something more along the lines of actually being on a cruise ship and physically going through it next time. I highly suggest you do that instead!
Last, but certainly not least…
GO TO SAN BLAS ISLANDS.
I do not care what you do in Panama City while you visit, but I do care that you visit the San Blas Islands and this is soulfully for your experience only. I am thinking of you here. I promise you it is worth the money because this was the best day of my trip.
Our San Blas adventure started out about 5:30 am and YES it was a very early morning for us, especially since we decided to stay out all night beforehand and only sleep for two hours. Thinking back, I would never do that again if I visited these islands again because the journey is exhausting but EXHILARATING and you need all the energy you can get.. I did end up sneaking a nap in on the car ride to Isthmus from our hotel. The car ride alone was about two hours.
I’m going to be upfront about this day-trip, when it first started we were so sketched out because we did not know what to expect. We were just trusting in this random guy that picked us up at the Hardrock Hotel as our guide to take us to where we expected and paid to go to. We did make it safely, but it was pretty scary trusting in someone who did not know a lick of English. Despite that minor detail, it wasn’t too bad. I will link the website that we used below for you as well if anyone is interested. It is legitimate I promise.
Click here for San Blas Day Tour
To get to the San Blas islands you had to get to the coast of Isthmus, but to even get to the coast of Isthmus you had to go through Parque Nacional Chagres which is a beautiful jungle in the mountain tops outside Panama City. The drive through the jungle was… WOW. Not gonna lie it was scary because our tour guide was a crazy driver. I will be honest I thought we were going to die at some point in the jungle because of how fast our tour guide was driving through the winding roads.
Going through the jungle/park we had to stop at a military check point to check our luggage, vehicle, and passports. At first it was nerve racking because we did not know what to expect when the military was checking our luggage and passports, but it was fine and we were on our way in no time. I guess the reason for the military patrolling the entrance to the park is to look out for drug trafficking since Columbia is so close. I also assume that is why we had to bring our passports, so DON’T FORGET YOUR PASSPORTS.
Finally out of the jungle, we arrive at the coast of Isthmus, which is where we head out to San Blas islands on a boat. The whole boat ride was sketchy because honestly the entire time we thought that they were just leading us to somewhere and going to sell us for sex trafficking. At this point, we did not know if we were even going to where they said they were taking us. We were very sketched out the entire time and the boat ride alone was miserable. It consisted of getting drenched head to toe and constant salt water in the eyes. My advice: bring goggles and pack everything you’re bringing in a waterproof or sealed off bag because everything gets drenched!
Finally, we make it to the islands and our treacherous journey to the islands simply melts away at the scene of crystal clear beaches and white sand. This was the most breathtaking view by far I have ever experienced. This moment alone was the reason why this day was the best day of our trip.
We spent the entire day out on a few of these islands completely surrounded by the ocean snorkeling, swimming, tanning, and just enjoying the white soft sand on the beach. While snorkeling we actually found a few HUGE conch shells in the bed of the ocean, which was really neat because I have never personally seen a conch shell in the ocean naturally! So we packed those up carefully so they wouldn’t break on our journey back home to the states. We also filled some water bottles with the white sand to bring home too.
My gosh, if you are EVER in Panama City, Panama… please take a day trip out to San Blas islands. It is one of the few places that you can actually get a white sand beach and crystal clear water. It takes about 30-45 minutes to get to the islands, but I PROMISE the second that you get to one of the few hundreds of islands, it will be worth your while.
Here’s some more moments captured from the islands, enjoy!
Alright my little Miscells, I hope you enjoyed hearing and seeing my adventure to Panama City, Panama as much as I did. I hope that this inspires you to travel to these amazing places and starts a love for you like what it has started for me.
Until next time. XOXO,