We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Holiday before the Christmas Holiday

Which Panama City hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Princeton, New...
posts: 37
reviews: 10
Holiday before the Christmas Holiday

I am planning a trip to leave in a few weeks. We are flying first into Panama City for 6 days. I have done extensive boat trips in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and am not entirely a "one with nature" taveler. I love to see things of beauty and nature in its raw form ..however I prefer to see it from the balcony of a Four Seasons hotel, From the windows of a Range Rover, or from the deck of a catamaran.

Im trying to plan my lodging and so far...I will spend the first 2 nights at the New Westin Playa Bonita followed by 2 nights at The Bristol Buenaventura and then finally The Trump Ocean club. I love beaches and the ocean so this is why 4 of the 6 days will be beachfront. But I do want to see the Panama Canal and the main sights of Panam City.

I always rent my own car when I travel. I dont like to be on schedules if not necessary.

Any other landmarks of interest that should not be missed. That I can do as day trips?? Or special places in the city I should go?

Madrid, Spain
posts: 5,969
reviews: 12
1. Re: Holiday before the Christmas Holiday

The problem with the Trump is that it is on a small peninsula with just one road in and out - that road forks at a junction - and both forks can easily get clogged with traffic. It might not be the best base for seeing the city - though it is fairly close to the ruins of Panama Viejo. But it is a nice hotel, and prices at the moment seem good value.

Edited: 3:47 pm, November 25, 2012
Olympia, Washington
posts: 321
reviews: 117
2. Re: Holiday before the Christmas Holiday

Driving in Panama is not for the faint of heart. You haven't said if you have driven here before or not. Use taxi's if in PC if possible, you will see how horrible the traffic is when you come. We only rent a car when we want to leave PC immediately - to drive out of the city. And even then we have to deal with the local police. Which is a topic all unto itself...

Panama City, Panama
posts: 5,790
reviews: 78
3. Re: Holiday before the Christmas Holiday

I think driving outside the city on the Panamerican Highway is a breeze, but then I learned to drive in N.Y.

Simple, don't speed, and you shouldn't have problems with the police.

While at the Bristol, do a day trip to El Valle, a sleepy little mountain town not far from there.

Don't count on wonderful beach, and definitely I recommend you do noit swim in the water while staying at Playa Bonita. It is next to the route of entrance of the Panama Canal where ships can sit for days waiting to traverse the locks, and for that reason the water is contaminated.

Same for Trump's "beach". Panama City Bay is very polluted, tho they are attempting to "clean it up" from what I hear. AND it definitely is not as bad as it used to be when the tide was out.....Yikes!

Enjoy the views, work on your tans from those two places, and enjoy the pools, but don't swim either place in the "ocean" or "bay".

Princeton, New...
posts: 37
reviews: 10
4. Re: Holiday before the Christmas Holiday

I certainly do thank you for your valuable insight. I have rented cars when i traveled to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico and other latin american countries. I have NOT however driven in Panama. Because I intend to do much travelling mostly outside the city, I am hoping it will be alright. I will go from the airport directly to Playa Bonita, then down to Bristol Buenaventura. As recommended I will certainly check out El Valle...L.N. What exactly is there?? Then back up to Panama City. Once back there, I may decide to just take a taxi around town. I think your right it is easier and less headaches. I cant wait to get away from my normal NY commute. So I dont want to jump out of one traffic jam and into another.

I know the beaches are not the best in the world in Panama, but I was not aware the pollution was that bad.I will definitely take your advice and use the pool. It is very sad though how people can destroy the most beautiful environments. I was in Bali a few months back. Since I was a child I had always wanted to visit. The beaches in Seminyak are polluted very bad. Its tragic. The more tourism increases the worse and worse the beaches and oceans are destroyed. I still loved Bali and the people. But the beaches were not what I expected at all!!

So I will focus on the culture and the Canal and other great things about Panama and enjoy the beaches and crystal blue waters of Aruba and Curacao...where I go to from Panama.

What is the best Restaurant in the city that should NOT be missed?

What about the Embera Village tour? any thoughts?

Princeton, New...
posts: 37
reviews: 10
5. Re: Holiday before the Christmas Holiday

Certainly a valid point. I do not want to spend the few days I have waiting in lines of traffic on a bottlenecked highway...so thanks... The price really is very good though. But I will not be spending a great deal of time at the hotel so I assume I should choose more based on accessability and location.

Would you recommend The Le Meridien?

I also see that Hilton is opening a Waldorf Astoria? Any news on that?

Madrid, Spain
posts: 5,969
reviews: 12
6. Re: Holiday before the Christmas Holiday

I don't know Le Meridien - but it is on the Cinta Costera - less likely to get caught up in traffic, I suspect.

Personally, I don't find driving in the city too bad - but I learned to drive in London.

There's some about El Valle here - tripadvisor.com/…45540167

Madrid, Spain
posts: 5,969
reviews: 12
7. Re: Holiday before the Christmas Holiday

Restaurants - I like the Machu Picchu Peruvian restaurant in El Cangrejo.

Princeton, New...
posts: 37
reviews: 10
8. Re: Holiday before the Christmas Holiday

It does look interesting. The detailed trip in the link is very informative. Thank you.

I will definitely make the trip there.

Princeton, New...
posts: 37
reviews: 10
9. Re: Holiday before the Christmas Holiday

Question....I had wanted originally to get a flight from Panama City to Cartagena. But I could not find anything reasonably priced. Especially for a short trip. So we are flying directly over and passed Colombia to Aruba then onward to Curacao. This flight although twice the distance was 1/4 the price.

Is there an inexpensive way to get to Cartagena from Panama city?

Panama City, Panama
posts: 5,790
reviews: 78
10. Re: Holiday before the Christmas Holiday

The beach and ocean at the Bristol (or anywhere along the Pacific beaches areas, Gorgona, Coronado, San Carlos, El Palmar, Playa Blanca, etc.) are NOT polluted. Although the water is murky because of the many high waves, rough water, you can certainly swim, but beware rip tides and sometimes the

waves are rough. I swim at least three times a week in the ocean at Coronado......sometimes the waves are very very rough. Hope you get smooth ocean at the Bristol. Enjoy !

Yes, I visited Bali like 20 years ago when all was pristine....shame really I visited again and I saw what you are saying. Yes, humankind seems to be attempting to kill the oceans......and other natural resources.

I love Beirut Restaurant

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g294480-d105…

But there is a Beirut too near the Bristol in the Playa Blanca resort - so you could eat there and try another restaurant in PC.

Sorry, I cannot comment on the Embera tours.

Enjoy your trip, and cannot wait to hear back from you after the trip!

Get answers to your questions about Panama City