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“Great stay in Bocas Town” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Panama's Paradise Saigoncito

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Panama's Paradise Saigoncito
Area Saigon, Bocas Town, Isla Colon 507, Panama   |  
Hotel amenities
Panama City, Panama
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Great stay in Bocas Town”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 5, 2012

We stayed for 7 nights (stay 6, get one for free). There are free bikes for your stay! Saigoncito is a bit away from the towncenter, which is okay, as you have the bikes to take you there in 5 minutes - walking is approx. 20 min. When you arrive in Bocas Town by boat take a taxi for $1 per person, unless you don't have a heavy luggage and prefer walking.
The hostel is run by Jenny, who moved to Panama from the Netherlands. She was very helpful and nice all the time. We have been staying in a room with fully equipped kitchen (Saigoncito No. 5), the rooms are all different, none has AC, but there a fans guaranteeing cool nights, while it can get pretty hot during the day. In our room unfortunately the basin was leaking a bit, causing the carpet being wet and smelly all the time. The deck outside the rooms are the perfect place to chill out (as long as mosquitos don't fly by) - there are some couches and hammocks for relaxing. There are hummingbirds flying by all the time. You get new towels and soap everyday, if you like.
If you look for a place outside of the party-town of Bocas, this is your place to stay!
A small supermareket is in 3 min. walking distance. Laundry is 4$ for washing and drying.

Room Tip: Saigoncito #6, a triple-room looked really nice!!
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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245 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (23)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Sao Paulo, SP
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2012

Loved it! My cabana was surrounded by nature, with hummingbirds visiting every minute while i was on the hammock sipping a cold beer. They provide clean towels everyday, and clean the room on the 3rd night, I think. There's a safe and even hot showers, but trust me, you'll only use the cold water. When getting your free bike, make sure you choose a good one, since there're some pretty old and rusty ones. There's supermarkets pretty nearby and getting a taxi was not really a problem (only on the Feria del Mar days, but the whole city was chaotic). The only problem I found was the mosquitoes. Maybe closing the cracks between the walls and floor would fix the problem. The beds do come with mosquito nets though, and bear in mind I'm a mosquito magnet. The rooms have ceiling fans and extra fans, but no AC. That was not really a problem for me, but I know some people find it important.There was some rubbish outside (bottles, baby dippers, soda cans), but i think it comes with the high tides. Not sure if it was the hostel's fault really. Otherwise, an excellent place to stay.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Arlington Heights, Illinois
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
92 helpful votes 92 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 15, 2012

This review is WAY over due.

We stayed here for 5 days in January, 2012. We booked the room on Hostelworld.com which gives good discounts. I personally have never stayed in a hostel or a budget place before and it was an adventure to me. Until now I’ve only traveled to All–Inclusive, full amenities type of places. I knew that Paradise will not have the “amenities” that I’m used to so I kept my mind open to whatever may come.

LOCATION:
The Paradise is located literally within 2 mile walk of the airport. We were backpacking on our trip to Panama so we had just that with us and we did not want to spend any extra money on any extra “frivolities” such cabs when we could walk. The place is not hard to find. Also it is in the same 2 mile walking distance to the Bocas Town and all of its glory. A huge bonus is the free bike rentals that Paradise offers to its patrons. We took a FULL and complete advantage of it.

HOST:
Jenny greeted us at the main gate; she knew our names and was expecting us. That was kinda cool (what hotel staff knows who you are before they even see you?). She took us into her house (yes she lives there) to register and give us the keys. She even upgraded our room to have our own kitchen. Some rooms have a shared kitchen and some have their own. She was very pleasant, very accommodating and gave us all info we needed to make our stay pleasant. Jenny actually went on a vacation right after that but her back-up Suzanna was just a great! She was very nice and just as accommodating. The rooms were put together and cleaned every day. I have to mention that it’s not a place where the staff waits on you foot and hand, they pretty much leave you be and just show up to do the bare minimum – so you feel “like home” minus doing the chores.

ROOMS:
The buildings are all surrounded by a jungle, the plants, flowers, geckos, hummingbirds are all around you! The truth is…if you stay here you pretty much are looking for a laid back experience and it is truly AWESOME if that’s what you want. If you are looking for a full amenity place – go somewhere else! Yes there are holes and bugs. I might have even seen a roach, so what? You have to remember you are in the JUNGLE on an ISLAND bugs live there and I bet you they live in the “nicer” places on the same island as well. The room we had (#6), some people call it the Hummingbird Room, was GREAT! It had a kitchen, a bath, a bedroom and another bed that could be used as a living area, and a balcony. It is located in one of the buildings (2 more rooms on the floor) with a HUGE covered deck which everyone uses as a hang-out room. They had hammocks, books to read, coffee tables, couches, tables for breakfast etc. The hummingbirds were everywhere! Very cool and very tranquillo!
The beds are equipped with the mosquito nets and are made-up every day. The bedding is changed upon request. The kitchen is equipped with the stuff you might need – a fridge, a stove, a sink, pots & pans, and even dishes! (there is “Tony’s Market”, a convenience store, within 5 minute walk and we took a FULL advantage of that). The bathroom is basically what one would expect from a bathroom – a toilet, a shower and a sink. There are rules though – the water is scarce so you have to conserve, even if you are a guest. Since this is an island, Panamanian government fills water tanks 2 times a day – morning & evening. Just keep in mind when you turn on the sink or flush the toilet and the water does not come out you have to wait till the tanks are filled again. They do ask to be mindful and not to waste water. Of course you can go to a place that probably has their own wells or has extra tanks that they fill just in case with rain/pumped ocean water then filter it...but it won’t be Paradise. Also don’t freak out at the shower head itself…. It might be a shock (almost literally) to some people but if you follow the rules that are written down for all guests in the guest book you will be fine. It works and people around the world use the same “technology”.

PERKS:
Free bike rentals – this is a great perk since it cuts down travel time to almost anywhere on this island. And all bikes have baskets – so if you are going to the beach or going shoping for food to stock your fridge it’s easy! I must say that the arrangement Jenny has with the rental place is great! And the owner is also very nice! We had some minor issues with one of our bikes and she was very helpful and accommodating – even after hours! You have to leave a deposit but you get it back when you return your bikes and locks. Also at Paradise they have a shed so you can put away your bikes and not worry about them at night.

Across the street there is a pier that takes people to a fancy hotel on one of the islands, but you can go there and enjoy a sunset over the water.

Also I have to write about Juan. Juan lives in a house next to Paradise. He must be over 70 years old but he LOVES (and I mean LOVES!!!!) Elvis, Paul Anka and Tom Jones. You will probably hear it – he plays his favorite music all the time. And it may seem annoying but really it’s kind of cool. So please, be kind to Juan! He also loves that people come to see his country and if you speak Spanish you will not have a problem talking with him but if you happen to be an American and speak only English he just might demand your company. He loves practicing his English! He’s very kind and very generous so be kind to him! He was truly one of the highlights of our trip.

OTHER STUFF:
Take your bikes all the way to the Play Bluff. It may be a little hard at times to pedal since a lot of the way you have to go on a beach in the sand but it’s worth it. There is a Play Bluff Café (owned by a Belgian couple)and they serve MONKEY BALLS –try it, see what you think.

Take one of the buses from the Bocas Town to Bocas Del Drago it’s about 2 bucks for 2 people, you will drive to the jungle and will see how locals live, then you can walk all the way up the beach along the shore to Starfish beach. Bring a picnic and a towel! It’s a popular beach among the tourists and locals. Very beautiful!

Take a boat from Bocas Town to Cayo Caremero, have a drink at Aqua Lounge or walk along the shore. You just might see sloths sleeping in the trees along the beaches, and catch live music at the Cosmic Crab Cafe.

Also via a boat ride go to Isla Bastimentos – here they have a forest/jungle preserve with a famous Red Frog Beach. Unfortunately we did not see the frogs …but we were approached by a local child who offered to show the frog to us for a dollar! We went to the Turtle Beach and it was so private that there was no one else but the two of us.

IN BOCAS TOWN:
Eat chicken/beef skewers from the street cart vendors – the best meat on a stick for less than 2 bucks!

Indian food at OM Cafe is great! The owner is very warm and welcoming.

The BEST fish & chips I’ve ever had is at the Starfish Coffee on the main street in town.

A true taste of local food we found at Beso del Drago – family owned and locals eat there, the owner is super nice and the food is very good! It’s literally down the street from Paradise on a way to Playa Bluff.

Gringo’s is a cool spot if you want Mexican food – an American expat owner is a cool dude!

Overall Panama’s Paradise Saigonsito is AWESOME! Jenny is a great host and Suzanna is a wonderful back up. The place is very low key and super tranquillo. A truly great local experience. And for those who think that this place is a sub-par to the local living conditions – stay somewhere else. It’s not hard to believe that people actually live this way – Jenny lives on premises and so does Suzanna (across the street on the water), and if you venture into the parts of town away from the tourist hustle and bustle you will see very similar living conditions. It’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s just the way it is. And be nice if Juan invites you to his home (which he just might) for a conversation over a cup of wine with Tom Jones singing in the background. We loved Paradise so much that we deemed it probably the best vacation we’ve had so far and we cannot stop talking about it!

Room Tip: we had room #6 and we loved it. they also have cabanas that have 2 rooms and some rooms like the one...
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2012

I'm a seasoned traveler and I've stayed in innumerable budget accommodations around the world. In my opinion, the other reviews of Panama's Paradise Saigoncito are grossly exaggerated.

It's great that the bike rental was included because it's fun to bike to the town centre and around the island. Bring your bug repellant, though - the bugs crawl/fly through the floorboards (cracks between the boards are open to the outside underneath the cabins, and the hotel grounds are like a moist mosquito breeding ground). You get bitten like there's no tomorrow. Doesn't make it very comfortable when relaxing in your room.

The pictures make this place look a lot better than it is. But, it does the trick if you want a cheap place to stay.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2 reviews
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2012

I stayed in Panama's Paradise together with my friend last week. We wanted to get out of town a bit, so the advertisement sounded quite good. We stayed in house #6 which was pretty awesome. Me and my girlfriend were backpacking so the budget was small. Because we decided to be a little bit more 'luxurious' in Bocas, we booked with Panama's Paradise. The e-mail replies of Jenny, the owner, were quick, which is nice.

The room was cozy. Quite carribean, we had a kitchenette with oven, fridge and cutlery. Unfortunately there were some cockroaches in the room, but hey, it's the carribean so that can happen. Make sure if you spot one you get in contact with Jenny, she'll give you repellent so you can die them. There is no aircon but there are fans. Fans are pretty okay as they just keep you cool in the night. Besides that, it are cabanas which means it are wooden houses. So yes, there are holes between the wood and there might be missing something. But it's not THAT expensive and the experience is amazing.

Besides that, by now she'll have a little pool to cool off in. The veranda with hammocks an tables and chairs was cosy. We shared our veranda with two other rooms, where 1 room was occupied, the one next to us. We didn't heard anything of them and the sharing was no problem. There are enough hammocks and places to hang out.

Jenny can help you with some awesome trips but keep in mind that she's not the one arranging in! She can get you in contact with the owners of the tours. Anyway, she has a big folder with as well as bocas, as panama city and panama tips. Pretty awesome! The free bikes were really nice as the Island is perfect for biking.

You're in a urban area between other people who live there. It can be noisy but it's not annoying. I liked the noises and cozyness of the little neighbourhood! The beds were pretty good too!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2012

By coincidence we ended up at this very nice place.
After we were dropped of by the boat at the main harbor we took a taxi to Panama's Paradise. Passing by all the hotels on the strip we were so happy we had decided to go for a more secluded place.
This cabana lies in the middle of a small community, the place is very well done, we felt right at home.
We spent many more days here then we had initially planned on and it all had to do with the great atmosphere of Panama's Paradise Saigoncito. We loved it and hope to come back some day.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Bondi, Australia
Top Contributor
121 reviews 121 reviews
65 hotel reviews
Reviews in 56 cities Reviews in 56 cities
75 helpful votes 75 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2012

We stayed at Panama's paradise for 4 nights and we would have definitely stayed longer if we hadn't pre-planned our trip.

Each self-contained cabana has a full kitchen complete with quality crockery, pans and even a blender. After travelling for several months this kitchen was such a treat!

The cabana's are beautiful... lovely decks with hammocks, big windows opening out to a lush garden full of hummingbirds, super comfortable beds, hot water shower and the free bikes are a real bonus... we cycled around the island each day and felt like school kids!

This was one place that was so romantic that we didn't venture far, we probably should have seen more beaches etc but we were so relaxed we didn't leave much!

The accommodation here is really a home away from home, it is lovely, warm and unique and you really feel that you are off the beaten track.

If you live a really sterile life you may not appreciate the cute gecko's on the walls and playful hummingbirds on the porch but it is all part of the charm of the place and we thought it was divine. Thanks Jenny!

Room Tip: I think we stayed in number 6, which had a queen bed as well as a daybed that could have been anothe...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Panama's Paradise Saigoncito

Address: Area Saigon, Bocas Town, Isla Colon 507, Panama
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Colon > Bocas Town
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 30 Specialty Lodging in Bocas Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Panama's Paradise Caribbean Cabanas "Saigoncito" are located just a five minutes bike-ride away from Bocas Town and around the corner from the beach. This is your home away from home and the perfect place to find out what life is like in Panama's Paradise. The authentic Cabanas are built in the Caribbean style and are surrounded by local daily activities. Inside you find all the luxury that you're familiar with at home. Experience the Caribbean and enjoy your stay! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Panama`s Paradise Saigoncito Hotel Bocas Town
Panama's Paradise Saigoncito Bocas Del Toro - Bocas Town

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