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Week in Panama - Itinerary questions

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Hi there, and thanks in advance for forthcoming replies!

I have been looking forward to a trip to Panama for quite some time now, and am lucky to have at least one friend (the other in the works) coming with me. Last year I went to Costa Rica and felt the trip was so perfect that I really wanted to try elsewhere in Central America for the fantastic value. In CR we did Monteverde/Santa Elena, Arenal, a whitewater rafting trip and then Puerto Viejo. I felt it was still pretty low-maintenance and easy to do, but I suppose 4+ hour bus rides are no traveler's friend.

For Panama I imagined a similar type of setup in terms of diverse experiences: Panama City, Boquete and Bocas del Toro. I'd really love to go rafting again, and possibly ziplining, one of the reasons for trying to get up to Boquete. But it is too long a bus ride from Panama City (7-8 hours), and using planes to get around seems easy but might deter the friend if they're expensive. My friend has also expressed a preference for just doing Panama City and Bocas, to minimize hassle. I'm wondering if there's a relatively painless way to incorporate Boquete into the trip. If not, I'd be interested in other options that are different from the fare at PC and Bocas and are easy to add to the itinerary.

Aside from any of those suggestions, I'm also interested to hear your thoughts on how long a stay is optimal for all these places. How many days for Panama City, how many days for Bocas? We'll probably end up there for 8 days or so total, so if there's a sense that these locations will lose their appeal after a few days maybe it'll be easier to convince my friend to seek out something else!

For reference: we're in our early/mid 20s, will likely be staying in hostels/budget hotels. We like history, culture, nightlife, relaxation, beach, adventure stuff, etc. So basically anything Panama can throw at us!

Any thoughts are appreciated. Happy and safe travels!

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