Panama City, Panama is the center of Central America and South America and if you are traveling especially to South America, you may have a layover in Panama. They actually have tours especially for people on long layovers. While the tour options are great, they weren’t what my group and I were looking for. They have a Panama Canal tour. While I appreciate the beauty of the engineering of it, that wasn’t what I was looking for. I wanted good Panamanian food and shopping!
When you get to the airport, you can get a taxi for about $20 per person and they will wait for you. Make sure you negotiate first BEFORE getting into the cab. The guys who get the cabs for you and get you the good rates will expect tip so be aware of that. Negotiate, negotiate!! Also make it very clear about what time your flight leaves and what time you need to head back. We were able to leave our carryons in the taxi and we just took a pic of the license plate and the driver and prayed he wouldn’t take off lol.
Visit Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo is about a 20-25 minute drive from the airport depending on traffic. The drive is really cool and reminds me of Miami or pics I have seen of Dubai. It’s alot of high rises and alot of businesses. You can tell it’s a very modern place. Casco Viejo however its older and you can tell by the cobblestone roads and Spanish style buildings that these aren’t new buildings.
There is a market near the water where you can walk around and buy jewelry in Casco Viejo, Panamanian trinkets, beautiful fabrics, & more. This is a very cute area to take in Panama, eat some good food, cool down and do a little shopping. Again, negotiate. Everyone will start off high. I got a beautiful ring and a wrap.
There were amazing views of the city from there. Looks like Miami right??
Eat at Diablicos
As soon as we asked around, everyone mentioned Diablicos. With a statue of El Diablo (the devil) in front, you know you are at the right spot. When I go out of the country, I always ask what the best seller is. I usually go for that. We had this alcoholic drink that was amazing with sugar cane. I don’t recall the name of it but ask them and they will know what you are talking about. One of those sweet drinks that sneaks up on you. The food was even better. Pechuga de Pollo Diablicos was what I ordered and it was GOOOODDD. Chicken stuffed with plantain & cheese. A couple of the ladies I was with got the Arroz con Pollo which looked amazing and everyone seemed to like it. It also was a huge portion. Definitely check this spot out for good local Panamanian meals. Hmmm, I’m thinking now about how I can recreate this meal at home.
Well, that was it for us! We had a 7 hour layover which gave us a good 4 hours to explore. We had plenty of time to eat, walk around and shop at our leisure before having to had back. I would say if you have at least a 5 hour layover, you can do it!!
Oh, learn some Spanish!! You need to make sure you get back on time so come with some knowledge of spanish. That will help you alot there.