major international banks are represented here and have all the western mod-cons. But they’re not cheap!
"Why travel to Panama?
• Panama City is a surprisingly developed metropolis with modern, sophisticated skyscrapers and a Latin feel.
• Here you can find one of the world’s largest engineering works, the Panama Canal, the recent expansion of which is finishing in 2015.
• Public safety is good, excellent in the countryside, while Panama City is no worse than any big city.
• The currency is the dollar, which makes shopping easier and relieves you of conversion problems.
• Tap water is drinkable – a unique advantage in Latin America.
• Panama has wonderful rainforests, with plenty of animals to see at every step. These are mainly smaller animals, such as monkeys, sloths, guinea pigs, toucans, hummingbirds, and smaller crocodiles. Walking in the rainforest is not dangerous – you’re always accompanied.
• There are many Native American tribes that are very interesting to us. Most of them live in an autonomous area and are not above employing certain 21st-century technologies (e.g. solar panels), but they mostly live in traditional clothing, in a traditional way. It is extremely interesting to get a glimpse into their lives.
• The shores of Panama are washed by two oceans. To the north is the Atlantic Ocean, or more specifically the Caribbean Sea, with its azure waters and white sandy beaches, while to the south is the Pacific Ocean, which shows a completely different picture. Firstly, because it really is much quieter than the other coastline, and also because its shores show a more volcanic origin, which makes the sand extremely interesting and varied, from snow white to black. The water temperature on both shores is around 28-30 degrees.
• The weather is reliably warm all year round, always around 30 degrees.
• Prices are similar to those in Central Europe, and everything is available, which is a stimulus to the eye and the mouth. The largest brands are present in almost every mall. There are huge shopping malls: Panama is a real shopping mecca for Latin Americans.
• Nature is untouched in many places, so the network of tourist centers and hotels is not as developed as in neighboring Costa Rica. Nevertheless, all price categories are catered for here. Tourism is still in its infancy here, and it pays to look at things twice. That’s why it’s good to go there with a travel agency that speaks your language.
• There are plenty of incredibly juicy fruits, very good quality and widespread beef, and lots of delicious fish and shellfish. The seasoning follows Spanish cuisine.
• Panamanians are kind and hospitable, are used to the presence of foreigners, and most of them speak English.
• There is double-digit economic growth, with huge infrastructure investment, and in April 2014 the subway was launched, which is also unique in Central America.
• Health care is excellent, and hospital care is of a very high standard. A huge investment has been launched to build a hospital sector that will put the country at the forefront of health services in the world.
• Beggars, scroungers, and homeless people are generally not a visible presence
(H. J., 2015)
"I will miss the rice with chicken, the yellow taxis, the buses, the crazy drivers, the unbearably bad roads, the canal, the friendly people, the Caribbean, the trash on the streets, the cables hanging off of the electricity poles, the school uniforms, teachers, classmates, cold water (actually, that one not so much :) ), the unique flowers, the palm trees, the jungle, the hummingbirds, the skyscrapers, the scorching heat, hammocks, talking parrots, tropical fruits and I could go on and on.
"Panamanian hostels are not exactly famous for cleanliness. Nor are their paying guests. Thousands and thousands of people are staying in places like this, as we are in the capital of Panama, in the middle of the city, and everyone from Colombian drug couriers to American backpackers is here. The idea of security start’s to feel like a distant dream. We are touring Panama, to see what the country is like. We also spend a week in Bocas del Toro. This small island is about 600 kilometers from Panama City. It’s around midnight when we rattle down in the middle of the jungle to a port, where a not-exactly-new boat that takes us to the island, with all the suitcases on board, which at the time is all of our possessions. At first glance, Bocas del Toro is not exactly a place for Europeans. That’s not to say that it isn’t beautiful: The sea, the fauna, and the flora are truly dazzling, but unfortunately, it’s also covered in trash. The people of Panama don’t care about their environment, don’t appreciate it, and have no idea how lucky they are.”