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-   -   First time to Panama - tours or DIY? (https://www.fodors.com/community/mexico-and-central-america/first-time-to-panama-tours-or-diy-792924/)

kybourbon Jun 29th, 2009 07:45 PM

First time to Panama - tours or DIY?
 
My sister and I are thinking of going to Panama to see if we might be interested in renting a place for the winter. She would be going back on her own and would want somewhere with easy access to nice restaurants and shopping. She will not be interested in nature treks although she would like to be on a beach. Neither of us has been and the more I read, the more most places seem to be secluded or nature treks. Any suggestions other than Panama City?

qwovadis Jun 30th, 2009 04:00 AM

www.isla-contadora.com

great beach usually self guide

have fun,

kybourbon Jul 2nd, 2009 07:48 PM

Thanks. Can you suggest any real estate companies in case she decides to condo shop?

JWG Jul 14th, 2009 02:46 PM

Hi, I bought a condo in Panama about 4 years ago and can highly recommend Stuart Jackson at GSL Worldwide. Here is his contact info:
[email protected]
http://www.gslrealestatepanama.com

Tel. (507).263.2243
Cel. (507).6674.6492

GSL Real Estate
Local #3 Times Square
Via Espana/Eusebio Morales
Panama
Republic of Panama

hamlet Jul 20th, 2009 11:23 AM

I'm still working on an overdue Panama trip report, but might be able to suggest some alternatives. However, I'm not sure what kind of shopping you mean - basic grocery shopping or something more like the American shopping mall.

About an hour+ outside of Panama City is a town in the mountains (or in the valley) called El Valle del Anton. For a day and night we visited that this town that is home to many US expats, the country home to wealthy Panamanians and popular with daytrippers. It's a beautiful small town, not far from the bustle of Panama City and also about 30 minutes down the hill to beaches. There is a mix of restaurants in town too.

Further away from Panama City we drove through the Azuero Peninsula and stayed in the small town of Pedasi. We stayed in a lovely small hotel, Casita Margarita, which was recently opened by Americans who are relocating to Panama. It is a tiny town with your basic main street a few blocks long but there appears to be lots of development in this area. While you are not very close to PC (about 5 hours drive) you are near other cities such as Las Tablas and Chitre, which aren't generally touristy, except very popular for Carnival.

kybourbon Jul 20th, 2009 07:12 PM

Thanks. I'll watch for the trip report.

JWG - In what area did you buy?

AndrewSSH Jul 24th, 2009 01:37 PM

There are no beaches within the city - nearest are about 1 to 1-1/2 hours away running from Punta Chame up to Farallon (where the All-Inclusive resort are).

Once you leave the city you also leave behind a lot of the amenities - shopping choice, restaurant choice, movies, etc

The areas to look at in the city are (in no particular order):
Bella Vista, Marbella, San Francisco, El Carmen, El Cangrejo, Punta Paitilla, Punta Pacifica (more $$$), Obarrio, La Cresta, Bethania, La Alameda, El Dorado

The last 3 are a bit further from the center of town but usually less expensive - still easy access to shopping etc.

Hope this helps,
Andrew

kybourbon Jul 25th, 2009 02:05 PM

Is crime a big problem? I've been looking at rentals on the internet and many seem to mention security.

Travelworker Aug 4th, 2009 12:08 PM

all of these suggestions sound great. if you do rent a place this winter, you really need to get to the Boquette and the Gulf of Chiriqui. There are so many cool things to do in Boquette(shopping, restaurants, etc.) and the Gulf of Chiriqui is the next place to be in Panama.

jiki Aug 8th, 2009 10:51 AM

I agree with Travelworker. Many visitors go to Panama but never leave the city; they are missing out on so much adventure. Gulfo de Chiriqui has some great private island eco resorts. Many of the guides and tour companies in Boquete also offer day trips for boating and snorkeling to some of the islands. http://www.boquetemountainsafaritour...dventures.html You can also do white water rafting; and coffee tours (like Napa Valley wine tours) with some of the best coffee in the world.

kybourbon Aug 8th, 2009 11:45 AM

We don't want adventure or eco tours although a coffee tour might be ok as a one time thing. We are looking somewhere that has nice condos to rent for the winter(not secluded) with nice restaurants for dinner every night.


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