Both times I’ve been here, I mainly just got hammered.
Backpacking Panama city? Here’s why I hated and loved it. Panama City was like Marmite for me. It’s huge expanse of business and crowds I hated, it’s old historic area with winding streets, atmospheric bars and a gym! A bloody gym! Loved.
After checking into Lunas Castle, great place with a popular backyard bar. I wandered round the old town grabbing a few (many) cheeky beers on roof tops and in hipster style bars. In old town I felt pretty safe staying and letting loose. There’s police and travellers everywhere. I was here for three days prior to catching the boat to the Colombia via the San Blas islands. Wrote a post here about this wicked journey and why you should do it.
This was spectacular
The famous canal was quite spectacular and worth chilling to watch it in action as boats came through.
I wandered out to the local meat market, course I did. On the first day about a 30 min stroll away from the old town and picked up some amazing chicken thighs and seafood for a cheap as chips. Made myself a lovely stew that lasted for a couple of days, which kept me happy on the hangovers.
- Stay in the old town at Lunas castle, it’s comfy, great for socialising (with its own backyard bar) and situated in the best location
- Visit the canal, there’s an all you can eat for rather cheap with a splendid view
- Explore areas to far outside the old town and canal area unless you’ve something specific to see
- Stay more than a couple of days
I’m not much a city go’er, I can’t say I found Panama epic. It was decent, great for partying, meeting people and stocking up on supplies. Like boxers. But, If I was pushed for time travelling, I’d skip this place and head straight for Panamas Bocas Islands.
Tips for healthy eats
- There’s local mini marts around the old town but I’d recommend heading out a little to the street markets found on the out-skirts for fruit and veg purchased from the locals. Cheaper and fresher.
- You’ll find a lot of fancy restaurants in the old town and a not so many cheap healthy eats, so I chose to cook in Lunas Castle kitchen for the most part.
How to get meat for that protein hit
- The local down town market isn’t too far away from the old town area. Heading there early morning during the day means it’s safe and you’ll get the best cuts.
- Little supermarket shops in the old town sell basic fruit and veg.
Where to exercise
There’s a few gym options, the best being Planet Gym. It’s about $10 for a session so stay for a few hours and make the most of it. I was going to be at sea for 5 days after Panama so I went hell for leather.
Failing that, running along the water front of the Old Town and finding yourself your own exercise area will do the trick.