In Between Colonialism and Commercialism: Panama City


Panama City in its dramatic confusion manages to juggle lots of things at the same time. You could divide the city into 3 main parts for a tourist and you’d get a slight inkling as to what happens here. The three parts, as I seen it are:


    1.       Canal de Panama – The Panama Canal, open for public viewing at Miraflores Locks and a masterpiece of human manufacturing. (My full trip report here:Miraflores Locks – Canal De Panama – Believe Your Eyes )



    2.       Casco Antigua – The Old Town, colonial to the core, raw, un-commercial and Cuban in appeal while maintaining a friendly and welcoming charm (My full trip report here: Casco Antiguo )

    3.       Panama City – the new city! A skyscraping metropolis of high rise buildings, offices, banks and the odd bit of commercialism just to prove the Americans and the Spanish mixed traditions here.


  OK this categorising into 3 parts ignores some random suburbs of course, but it’s the overview I got on my day trip to Panama City! 


As life would have it, neither myself or my Brazilian travel buddy Eduardo made it to the very centre of Panama City, i.e. the CBD. The other two places were higher on our hit list, so we mingled and relaxed at a park on the edge of the new city, about a 20-25 minute walk from the Old City.



The New City and it’s skyscrapers. A tropical appeal, not unlike places such as Coolangatta and Surfer’s Paradise in Queensland, Australia.

Flying the Northern Ireland flag with Panama City in behind.


Rush hour? Not sure but PC traffic anyway.


The buses in Panama City were excellent. Always full so rarely able to get a seat. Hot and stuffy. Pumping Caribbean music. Totally tropical bus experience, not dis-similar to the Jeepsters in The Phillippines.

That’s one of the buses, taken from another bus I was on at the time.


Skyscrapers are not just in the CBD, I took these halfway between the CBD of the New City and the Old City.

Typical residential street – we walked along quite a few of these, in the districts of Calidonia/La Exposicion.

I take random photos like this all the time – just things you can’t get anywhere else – a Panama Car Numberplate.

Again on the bridge with the entire City Centre in behind.

One of Eduardo and I chilling out!

The cool views down on the traffic had a US appeal somehow.

Looking down to the Old Town through this park and what seemed like a willy shaped pattern. We never worked out what it was…

A statue of Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the first European to glimpse the Pacific Ocean and he did so at this very spot – an interesting thing to note. Speaking of which, we glanced over to the Pacific Ocean and sat down to relax. 

It was my first sight of the Pacific Ocean from The Americas since July 2007 (when I was in Los Angeles). 

I touched the water just because I was so hot and wanted to test it’s temperature. It was warm.







A circus on the edge of the city and near the Pacific Ocean in this park.


From the pretty rocks on the edge of the Pacific Ocean we took time to chill out in the heat from the world that works outside. A nice view of Panama City in all it’s glory as it leans into the Pacific.

And looking behind us towards the sky scrapers from the rocks where we rested. 

The tropical seafront at Panama City. Eduardo and I walked down this path to the Casco Antiguo (Old Town). We were after some local food, a local bar, a local beer and old style architecture. We got it all.

We spied the Panama Flag behind the trees. A nice quartered flag a bit different.

The Central Bus Terminal.

Bus back to the airport. For this bus we had to pay in the terminal. Then again after getting on! But it was very cheap. The previous bus we got we got on for free, and had to pay on our way off. Think that is normal procedure in PC.

Looking a bit worse for wear on the bus – probably in the heat and the madness of a day in Panama City. It was a crazy day.

Before I finish this story, I must dedicate it to Frank S. Tood. The first person from Panama I ever met was Frank S. Todd, he was one of the geeky penguin lovers on our Antarctica trip. A decent lad, and though history of him traces to his birth in Panama, he spent most of his life in the USA or indeed travelling. I got a nice photo of Frank and myself (above) at The Polar Bear Bar onboard the MS Expedition during the Antarctica trip. In fact at that stage I hadn’t booked or intended to visit Panama. With the way flight connections etc. went, I couldn’t resist the chance to see the Canal…


I’m not sure whether I will ever go back to Panama, and if I don’t I’m glad to say I enjoyed the Canal and the Old City. Another trip there may even dampen its appeal. I have a high opinion of the city and country from my short visit there and that will probably suffice for me in this lifetime.


Population – 880, 691


Strange Currencies – Panamaniam Balboa, US Dollars (both acceptable)



Check out my other posts on Panama for the Canal and Old City. My random nomadic travels would next take me out of Panama City from Tocumen International Airport and into the hands of Colombia…

Key Songs –


VAN MORRISON – PRECIOUS TIME: (is slipping away…)



and as a hidden track, I’m throwing in PCP (Panama City, Panama) by MANIC STREET PREACHERS (live in Japan on 18.05.2012 – a gig I was at!!):

My Videos –


ARRIVAL AT PANAMA CITY AIRPORT:



TOCUMEN CORREDOR BUS PART 1:



PART 2:



ANOTHER BUS, TO THE AIRPORT:


RELAXING BY THE PACIFIC OCEAN IN PANAMA CITY:
Join 15,017 Monthly Readers! If you enjoyed this article and LOVE travel and SAVING money, get e-mail updates from Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel! (It’s Free) 😉 Jonny

1 thought on “In Between Colonialism and Commercialism: Panama City

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: