Arrival in Panama City – First Time In Central America

It’s just not possible even on long term travel trips to squeeze all the places in you want. I didn’t manage to make it to Central America properly, though did fly in and out of Panama City – got to see the Old Town, the amazing Canal and relax by the Pacific Ocean. Arrival into the pure heat and humidity of Panama City was by plane from Quito, Ecuador.

Arrival in Panama. The airport was bizarrely quiet and a very fast customs and passport check and I had made it to Central America. I never know whether to class it as a continent in its own right and often use football as my judge in these matters, therefore it’s actually part of North America,given that the football team play their World Cup qualifiers in the CONCACAF group. Mind you, so do Suriname, and it’s definitely in South America.

I left the airport alone and was seeking a cheap bus into the city centre. The plan was to see the awesome Canal de Panama, the Casco Antiguo and relax in the tropical heat.

Just before getting a bus, I started talking to a guy at the bus stop. A big coincidence this, he was Eduardo from Brazil and was also travelling alone. He wanted a travel mate for the day like myself! So we became a team for the day to explore Panama. it was great. We spoke mostly in English, as his English was great, but also tried to speak some Spanish as obviously the locals all speak Spanish. We got on the bus and it was dingy, lively and just had an amazing vibe. It really felt tropical. It felt different to South America already – more of a Caribbean vibe to be honest and we both managed to get a seat at the back of the bus. The bus was heading for the city centre and we each had a map of Panama City so we could suss where to get out and what to do first.

We got out half way between the Old City and the New City. We were in between the districts of Calidonia and La Exposicion. 

Enjoying the pure view of Panama City CBD in behind.

One with Eduardo, my travel buddy for the day!

The statue of Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the first European to glimpse the Pacific Ocean and he did so at the spot where Eduardo and I chilled for a while. Now we were in Panama City, we could do the sightseeing. All covered separately in three individual parts:

1. PANAMA CITY – THE NEW CITY – backpacking new city Panama

2. PANAMA CITY – THE OLD CITY/CASCO ANTIGUA: Backpacking old city Panama

3. PANAMA CANAL/CANAL DE PANAMA: Backpacking to Panama Canal – Miraflores Locks

From – Aeropuerto Mariscal Sucre, Quito, Ecuador

To – Tocumen International Airport, Panama City, Panama

Flight Time – 2 hours

Transport Used – Quito Taxi, Aeroplane, Panama City Bus

Nationalities Met – Panamaniacs, Brazilian, United States, Ecuadorian

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2 thoughts on “Arrival in Panama City – First Time In Central America

  • Interesting how you described Panama as having a “Caribbean vibe.” I would have thought it wouldn’t be similar since the majority of the Caribbean islands are probably closer to the Central American countries further North, like Honduras, Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala.

    Hope you get a proper chance to visit the rest of the country in the future! It has been getting a lot of buzz in recent years as a must see “off the beaten” path destination now that Costa Rica is not nearly as cheap as it used to be for backpackers.

  • Hi Ray – I was in the Old Town (Casco Viejo) and in the bars and streets it seemed to mix South America with the Caribbean. The bars had Bob Marley etc. pumping out and serving typical rum cocktails etc. However I take your point as I haven’t been to any of those other Central AMerican countries, so when I get to them I’ll have a better idea of things. I’m pretty excited to see some of them to be honest. Writing from Mexico City today! Safe travels. Jonny

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