Week in Panama - Itinerary questions


Feb 22nd, 2011, 04:10 AM
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Week in Panama - Itinerary questions

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!
linesout is offline  
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Feb 22nd, 2011, 04:51 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
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good local site best hostel nd info.

Stuart there is a great guy can give you good info.

Go in winter for less rain.

Kuna Yala is my fav closer to PC

Las Sirenas Santa Clara for beach/surf

Coiba for diving Boquete from there nice nice town dodgy farther away

snorkel dive not as good...might skip and do the others

Happy Hunting,
qwovadis is offline  
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Feb 22nd, 2011, 11:17 AM
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A way to incorporate both Boquete and Bocas into the same itinerary would be to fly to Boquete, take the bus from Chiriqui to Almirante and a boat taxi to Bocas, and then fly back to Panama City from Bocas. Or you can do this in the reverse. The cost of the airfare (approx $220) will be the same as if you only went to Bocas. The bus ride from Chiriqui to Almirante (4 hours over the continental divide) is inexpensive and the boat taxi to Bocas from the mainland is $5. You can also take an overnight express bus from Panama to Chiriqui which is certainly less expensive than the flight.
MicaelaG is offline  
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Feb 22nd, 2011, 11:30 AM
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I'm in Bocas now and just went to Boquete last week. Here's the what I'd do. First off the air line no longer goes to Boquete. If you start in Bocas there is a water taxi to Almirante and a charter passenger van to Boquete. Full trip 4 hours. It departs Bocas at 11am and departs Boquete 8am each day. It's $40.00 each way per person. Here's info and contact number. does the shuttle and Zip line. Monica runs office 720-1635. Our fantastic van driver, Gerardo at 6676-4777. They will set the entire thing up for you. Boquete is beautiful. We saw double rainbows daily. Locals said they had seen rainbows stacked up to five at a time.WOW Last tip, Boquete stay near town square because not many taxis. We say a few hostels. If you can afford $70 per night Garden Inn is very friendly. Good Luck.
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Feb 23rd, 2011, 08:35 AM
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Damn, that sounds perfect! Buuuuut I have a feeling the friend will shoot it down because she gets boat sick.

Oh well. Guess I'll start researching day trips out of Panama City! Maybe El Valle will be a good option for a day or two?
linesout is offline  
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Mar 3rd, 2011, 07:31 AM
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Alright, we have firmed up our itinerary to include Panama City, El Valle and Bocas del Toro!

Right now I'm looking into lodging and was wondering what Panama veterans can recommend in terms of good value! We'd like to keep it cheap but I am fully prepared to pay for air conditioning in Bocas and hot showers basically everywhere.

Any suggestions are appreciated! Thanks so much.
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Mar 5th, 2011, 05:29 PM
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We stayed at Cocomo by the Sea in Bocas. It's a very small place. We really enjoyed staying there. The man who runs it is very helpful. Within 15 minutes he had a boat lined up for us so we could go to lunch at a place on the water. The breakfast was great. It is not expensive and I remember them having hot water. Not sure about the air..
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Mar 6th, 2011, 09:56 PM
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For PC I highly recommend La Estancia. It's a great value in a great location. You're minutes away by taxi (cheap) from Albrook Airport, Amador Causeway, and downtown; plus you have nature right out the window. There are monkeys and sloths and birds right outside your window/balcony. It was by no means fancy, but I found it comfortable and would stay there again. The hosts are great too.

In El Valle we stayed at Golden Frog. It was very nice but we also paid for a type of place we didn't really need for a short stay.
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Mar 7th, 2011, 11:56 PM
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Hi there,
I was just curious where you ended up going. I'm also in my mid twenties, very active and adventurous and wasn't sure how to incorporate Boquete into my itinerary because I do want to include jungle, mountainous trekking into my vacation trip. Did you end up going? How did you plan out transportation?

We will be going for 9 days. 2 days in Panama City (enough time?), 2 days in San Blas, 4 days in Bocas, but was thinking of staying in Bocas for 3 days and 2 days in Boquete.

Would be great to hear how your coordinated your trip. I'm sure you had a fabulous time regardless. Thanks in advance!

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Hayana_Kwon is offline  
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Mar 9th, 2011, 08:18 AM
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This message is to "linesout". I would be so appreciative of a copy of your itinerary....sounds exactly what I'd like to do (going in 2 weeks). I'm particularly curious of how you will be getting from Panama City to El Valle and Bocas del Toro (how long at each place) and who is arranging any of your activities and where you are very much appreciate your help.
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Mar 10th, 2011, 07:46 AM
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Hi, We're leaving on Monday for two weeks and have all our lodging except for the first two nights We're planning on driving from Tocumen airport to around Coronado. Any suggestions?
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Mar 22nd, 2011, 11:19 AM
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I would say that the more time you can spend in Bocas Del Toro, the better. However, if you do not love the water and water sports, you might not want to be there as long.

If you do some searches, I have some prior posts about hiring a boat captain directly rather than going through one of the "tours." It's less than half the price. I think we paid around $60 for the day, departing at around 10:00am and returning at 4:00 or 5:00. They can take you to Bird Island, Dolphin Bay, Starfish Beach (wear water shoes) Red Frog Beach and the "best" snorkel spots without going out to Hospital Point if the surf is rough.

There are many small B&Bs in Bocas who would love to have your business. If you need a local contact (he's a property manager there and knows everyone) let me know and I'll get you in touch with him.

We skipped Boquete this time. Perhaps we'll go next year, but don't regret spending a longer time in Bocas in exchange for the time we lost in Boquete!
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Apr 1st, 2011, 01:33 PM
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I am a senior and will be traveling with my sister to Panama. I want to do a similar trip as some of the travelers on this post. We will be flying into Panama and would like to do a few days in Panama, a few in Bocas del Toro and a few in the Boquette/David area. We'd like to know the best way to get around to these places as we understand driving can be dangerous. Also would like recommendations on where to stay in each location and restaurants. We will plan to spend 10 days in Panama. Reviews are mixed on travel. Some say safe and others corrupt and dangerous. I'd like some input.
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