12 Step Planet: Panama
The crossroads of the Americas, there’s more to Panama than the canal! A fantastic party atmosphere, paradise islands and stunning scenery for a start...
Eamonn Seoige, 02 Nov 2012
What’s the food like?
Panamanian food is a heady mix of influences, melding Spanish and Afro-Caribbean traditions with indigenous cuisine. Whether it’s a seaside food stand or a downtown restaurant, eating in Panama is laidback and enjoyable. They certainly don’t believe in getting too excited about a meal! The staple foods are coconut rice, beans and fried meats and breads. Chicken stew is a popular dish and there’s plenty of delicious seafood, which makes sense, seeing as Panama translates as ‘wealth of fish’ in Spanish. Fresh fruit is plentiful, very cheap and a healthy alternative to the widely served, cholesterol rich fried pork and corn bread breakfast.
What’s the nightlife like?
Panama City is a great place to party. The clubs never close because Panamanians love to dance all night! The locals aren’t afraid to let their hair down and there are endless bars, clubs and live venues to tickle your fancy. All the action happens in three main areas, the ‘Casco Viejo’ old colonial district, the business quarter and the spectacular Causeway Islands. The locals, men and women alike, dress to impress ensuring the city’s clubs are a match in the glamour stakes for anywhere in the world! Panama’s capital has enjoyed a huge economic boost in recent years thanks to the inward migration of Americans and well-to-do business people from neighbouring Colombia and Venezuela. High-rollers can lighten their wallets at one of the city’s major casinos and drown their sorrows in the many late-night wine bars. If you fancy a break from the super-charged club atmosphere, head to the Casco Viejo and check-out a low-key jazz club. Nowhere else in this country can match the city’s nightlife. Few places in the world for
Why should I go?
There’s much more to Panama than the world famous canal. Whilst the capital city is a capitalist’s dream of skyscrapers and big business, much of the remaining countryside couldn’t be more different. In fact, this is Central America’s best-kept secret, bypassed by the hordes of backpackers on the beaten path heading north or south. The rural landscape of this wonderful country is unspoilt by ugly development and its small regional towns retain a welcoming, old-world charm. It’s a nature lover’s paradise, a tropical wilderness of forested highlands, rivers, wildlife and perfect blue ocean waters. It’s affordable, friendly and awe-inspiring.
What are the touristy things to do?
A trip to the paradise islands of Archipiélago de las Perlas is a must! If lazy beach life is to your liking you’ve certainly come to the right place. The ‘crossroads of the Americas’ has some of the most spectacular mountain scenery and rainforests populated by indigenous peoples. Coiba National Marine Park is simply teeming with sea life and regarded as one of the world’s best locations for snorkelling or diving. The mountainous region of Boquete is the place to go for some hot-spring therapy or an adrenaline filled white-water rafting trip! Check out the spectacular views from atop Panama’s highest point, the dormant Volcán Barú. Afterwards, you can rest your weary bones in a volcanic thermal spa. Of course, few travel to Panama without paying a visit to one of the world’s greatest feats of engineering. The Panama Canal is over 50 miles long, connects the world’s two largest oceans and, when opened in 1914, revolutionised global trade. There are numerous operators offering full and partial tours of this epic construction marvel.