(Note: This post was originally written in February 2012 on my personal website)
I had heard a lot of good about Panama and I knew I’d eventually make it down there, but I hadn’t planned on doing it so soon! Last month, I was itching for a new travel adventure for February and I just couldn’t place my fingers on where to go. I wanted somewhere I could get to quickly (as I was only going to spend 3 days and wanted to minimize travel time), somewhere ‘different’, has a lot of culture, and won’t set me back a ton of $$.
And then all of a sudden, like a lightening bolt, it hit me! Why not Panama City?! It met all my criteria: relatively easy to get to (Continental Airlines/COPA runs frequent flights to Tocumen PTY through Houston IAH), a rather straight-forward flight (except for the short connection through Houston), and it was going to be affordable! The selling point for me was the affordability. As it was a last minute trip, I didn’t want to have to shell out an awful lot, especially having planned several other trips through the year that has definitely been a pocket drain so far (but soooo worth it! :). Miles rarely ever work out for me for International flight purposes, but this time, it did! I spend my miles pretty quickly (on domestic travel), so my mileage balance across all my airlines is almost always empty, but this time, I had re-accumulated enough miles in my Continental bank to get a free one way ticket to Panama and enough in my American Airlines bank to get a free one way ticket back (well, save for $60 in taxes and fees)! Sweeeeeeet!! All I had to do was pay for accommodations, and thankfully, my favorite hotel brand – Starwood, has a pretty convenient hotel (Sheraton Panama Hotel & Convention Center) that I was able to book at a relatively good rate (approx. $150/night after taxes). All that was left to do was to book a tour so I could truly get to see Panama, and I opted for a private full day tour with stops including of course, an educational time at the Panama Canaland all its glory and history, the Casco Viejo district, Las Bovedas and other wonderful attractions. It was a private tour, so it was just me and guide so he was able to show me all the coolest places around town that I wanted to see, without having to keep to a specific schedule or timeline. The best way to see Panama City!! I truly enjoyed discovering Panama City and I am so glad I decided to take the trip! The people were so friendly and welcoming and I also had a great time bargaining with street vendors (it’s a sport) for Panama hats in every variety and other wonderful souvenirs.
Thanks so much for the hospitality Panama City, and I can’t forget to mention, I think my suite upgrade at the Sheraton Panama was one of the largest suites I have stayed in so far… they really took care of me : ).
Have you been to Panama City? How’d you like it?
If you haven’t, please share in my experience with some pictures below! Thanks for reading