Best Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Panama City

THE 10 BEST Cheap Things to Do in Panama City

Best Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Panama City

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What travelers are saying

  • Crystal T
    5 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing architectural wonder!
    The background story and perseverance make you truly appreciate all that was sacrificed to complete the costruction and expansion! Our visit became extra special when we realized we visited on the 8 year anniversary of the expansion having been completed/opened!
    Written July 14, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • raclaw
    Toronto, Canada38 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Alex was great. He was flexible and responsive to my interests. He showed many parts of the Old City that I never knew existed despite having my hotel there. I am glad I did this tour
    Written July 5, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • John S
    Durham, NC542 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    There are several tour companies that offer tours that include the Miraflores Locks as well as other parts of the city. My wife and I wanted to see the locks, but squeezed as much as possible into a three-day visit to Panama. Because we did not have time for a half-day tour, we decided to do the locks on our own. We were working with a two-hour window before our cooking class booked through Panama Day Trips.

    We ordered an Uber from our hotel around 9:15am, giving us thirty minutes before the first IMAX movie at the Miraflores Visitor Center. Our Uber arrived a few minutes later, delivering us to Miraflores with a few minutes to spare. We entered the ticket office and spent (about) 17 dollars per person for the visit, which includes the IMAX movie due to start imminently.

    We showed our tickets at the base of the escalator into the visitor center, ascending two sets of escalators to the IMAX theater. We were actually surprised arriving at the IMAX, which was a full theater operating within the visitor center. This includes a full concession stand with popcorn and more. We passed the concession stand and retrieved our 3D glasses. It was very dark inside, as we arrived immediately before the film began. However, we had no issue finding open seats.

    The film, narrated by Morgan Freeman, lasts about forty-five minutes. It provides a great narrative on the history of the canal as well as some cultural insights into the local culture. After the movie finished, they filtered us through doors at the bottom of the theater that empty into the gift shop. We browsed briefly before heading up to the viewing platforms.

    We arrived at a time when no ships were scheduled to pass through the locks. We checked the schedule before arriving, but didn't have much choice on our timing based on other tours we scheduled. With that in mind, my wife and I have both passed through locks before, so the actual operation of the locks weren't fully novel. Nonetheless, they were impressive.

    We were able to get a great vantage point of the locks, even in the light rain that was steadily falling. The platforms are covered, allowing visitors to remain dry even in the rain. Had the wind been blowing, that might have been another issue. After snapping some photos and checking the view from both platforms, we headed out to our next adventure. Geisha Coffee at Sisu followed by a Panamanian cooking class.

    We spent about twenty dollars on Uber and 35 dollars on two tickets to the visitor center. So, in terms of total per person cost, this excursion came in around 27 dollars per person, significantly lower than many of the formal tours. We picked up what we would have missed on a formal tour on our own or in combination with our other itinerary items. We also were in control of our schedule, allowing us a bit of flexibility to do everything we wanted to do during our visit. In short, this is a visit you can do on your own without missing out on anything.

    Conclusion? 17 dollars seems a bit pricey to see locks. Half that price is for the IMAX 3D movie, which seems reasonable. But the rest of the attraction is basically just a couple of viewing platforms. We went on a day that was not busy, so we had great views. I would imagine there are times when there are crowds that make it difficult to see and/or capture good photos. With all that said, the price isn't outrageous. You just don't get a lot of bang for that buck. I would still recommend this as a not-to-be-missed experience merely because this is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World (the list a misnomer that actually contains twenty entries).
    Written July 9, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Jules C
    Bridgetown, Barbados1,008 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Visiting this area was nice, it is clean and well preserved around the bay area...with lovely walking and bicycle trails, beautifully lined palm trees, on a clear day you'd probably see the ships heading towards the bridge...a beautiful spot for some nice photos along with the Panama sign.
    Written June 30, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Manaaaahhh
    Trinidad and Tobago11 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    A big mall with a lot of stores, the majority of which are repeated throughout the mall but they often carry different merchandise. There are 3 food courts in this mall that offers a decent amount of food options. Very limited seating options outside of the food court. Be prepared to pay for certain bathrooms: upstairs Magic Zone food court, and Giraffe Food court.
    Written June 27, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • John S
    Durham, NC542 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    During our trip to Panama City, my wife and I decided to walk back to our hotel from Casco Viejo. It was evening time, just before sunset. I figured if things started looking sketchy, we could order an Uber. However, my concerns were unjustified.

    As we passed the Mercado Publico del Marisco (Fish Market), we entered the park. The park runs as a thin strip of land between a blue seawall facing the Bay of Panama and the Pan-American Highway. Our hotel was less than a ten minute walk from the eastern end of the park, providing a leisurely hour-long walk from Casco Viejo to our hotel.

    Although it was sunset, the park was crowded with people. The park has both walking paths as well as a designated lane for bicycles. Fitness was a major theme throughout the park as runners and cyclists sped past or enjoyed fitness equipment maintained by the park authority. Even with the sun hanging heavy over the Pacific, the park felt safe.

    Vendors lined the walkways offering a variety of street foods, gifts or local crafts. The vendors were starting to pack up as evening approached, but there were still plenty of stalls open as we traversed the park.

    We stopped along the seawall to take photographs both directions, capturing the Casco Viejo neighborhood as well as downtown Panama City. Locals were feeding cats and raccoons that appear to live within the concrete erosion jacks that lined the beach beyond the seawall.

    My first impression was that I have never seen a cat eat a cheese puff before. But I also wondered how healthy it was to feed junk food to cats and raccoons. I did not see any signs not to feed the animals, but I think junk food is not a good idea. I was able to snap a few photos of the animals, but was also cautious as I know raccoons are prone to carry diseases. They looked healthy, but no need to tempt fate.

    We finished our stroll through the park as darkness settled across the city. A pedestrian walkway just beyond the park allowed us to cross safely over to our hotel across the Pan-American Highway.

    The park is free. It also appeared to be safe, and popular. I would definitely recommend a visit. You can also take your photo at the iconic Panama sign located within the park!
    Written July 9, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • jill v
    Louisville, KY8 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Very organized trip. Enrique was quite knowledgeable and made our trip memorable. We were picked up in a van and taken to the lake. We got on a boat and were taken to several islands to visit the monkeys which we fed. They jumped on the boat, ran across us, and ate out of our hands. (It wasn’t scary, but if it doesn’t appeal to you, sit near the inside and don’t have food for them). Enrique emphasized not to touch them and the naturalization of them. We were on the boat with huge container ships which were entering the canal. Very cool. Then we went to the forest and saw two sloths and different monkeys. It ended with a fresh pineapple treat. Very worth it.
    Written June 11, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Resh
    Oakland, CA28 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    The staff were friendly. It was easy to catch an uber there and back. We got here early and glad we did. We got there at 8:00am/8:30am. I would recommend getting there at 7am or 7:30am right when it opens. It was very hot in the late afternoon. We spotted a sloth, agoutis, and a coati. It's a very kid-friendly hike and not too hard. Not stroller friendly, so best to use a backpack/hiking baby carrier for the little one. Bring water, bug spray, hat/shade. We had a wonderful time and the view of the city was beautiful. Make sure you climb the stairs at the viewpoint to get an even better view of the city.
    Written June 4, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • todd l
    3 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    This was the first activity our family did in Panama City. Wonderful in every way. Interesting for children and adults. Beautiful building. Great way to understand the natural and human history of Panama.
    Written April 29, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Geo89_12
    Romeoville, IL509 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    We took an evening stroll along the waterfront every evening, great place to take in the beauty of Panama. They also have dedicated bike paths for those who ride bikes.
    Written March 13, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • lucycan
    San Diego, CA3,511 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    This is a must see if you have the time. Board a boat and cruise around the lake / jungle where you will see ships, crocs, birds, monkeys and so much more.
    Written February 4, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Lorraine R
    18 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    My colleagues and I went on a mid-morning hike. The weather was good, and the scenery was beautiful. I like to exercise and doing this hike was good for me.
    Written July 3, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Paulista668
    São Paulo316 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    It may sound odd to say iot but my visit to this museum was actually better than the real thing. My trip to the Visitor Center was a letdown as it consisted of a film and a viewing platform at the Miraflores lock where I saw no ships. This museum is packed with information about all kinds of aspects of the canal with photographs, documents, maps, films, taped recollections. Definitely worth a visit.
    Written July 17, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • marcy w
    charlestown rhode island119 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Just spent a week in Gamboa where we hiked and nature watched in this park. I highly recommend it and Gamboa for a beautiful and relaxing get- a -way. We relied on Augustin for rides to and from Gamboa/Tocumen Airport. He said he would do tours too. Save his number if you are planning to go to Gamboa. There are no Ubers in Gamboa once you get there so you need to make arrangements to get back to the city. Augustin's telephone number is 507 6376 8266. His car is clean and well maintained, and he is a good driver. The car fits 4 people.
    Written June 18, 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Atravelfan
    Atlanta251 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Love visiting ruins and this did not disappoint. The grounds are well maintained and lovely. The museum really well documents Panama's history and learned a lot.
    It is $10 pp for foreign visitors and that includes the tram to drive you from the entrance to the main building with museum and cathedral ruins.
    Written July 18, 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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