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dscherck replied to the thread My recent trip to Panama conclusion on the Panama forum on October 24, 2014:
davisodb initially posted:
The rest of the journey was a slog. A planned two nights in Coronado Beach turned into one as I was so pissed off that I couldn’t get into the private beach but had to taxi the long way around. Once at the beach, I was afraid a taxi might not come by and it was way too far to walk so we just took the same taxi back. We went back to PC and changed our flight plans flying out on Friday instead of the following Tuesday. American Airlines raped us on this change. Before I forget, American dollars are not only accepted everywhere, they are the only currency--Panama has no local currency apart from coins that are synonymous with our dollar, quarter, dime, nickel, and penny coins. My Conclusions, and I stress mine alone for it is obvious there will be those who disagree and they are not wrong for doing so: Panama is not for me and my wife though it certainly may be for others thinking of retirement there (I assume those who have retired there are mostly pleased with their choice); I make no judgements here, it is simply a matter of preference. The language barrier is too great for my wife, English is her second language, she is reluctant to learn a third. A second reason is very intangible and perhaps only a matter of perception. It just feels boring in Panama yet I must confess, what do I do in America that can’t be done in Panama other than visit current friends? Expats are best answering this as they are living through it. I noticed that expats, other than those living in Boquete where many expats live, seem starved for conversation with fellow Americans or Canadians. I understand this feeling as it is what I experienced when I lived in the Philippines. The slow pace in Panama is maddening because I am always in a hurry. Service is slow in restaurants and they make too many mistakes with your order, even if you point to the picture on the menu (when ready to leave, ask for the bill or you’ll be there forever). I am not trying to duplicate in Panama what I have available in America, only attempting to decide if the lifestyle changes are something I am willing to accept. Because it has been mentioned in other posts, I’ll just say that I did find the litter problem huge, but not as bad as I was anticipating (I’ve been to other third world nations). In PC, the side walks ARE very broken up, uneven, or there are other obstacles in the way, at least in the down town busy section where I stayed. Finally, Panama IS a third world nation and one needs to get used to the occasional whiff of raw sewage (less so in Boquete) and just a general atmosphere of minor uncleanliness. The country does feel safe though around the Casco Viejo it seemed real edgy, bordering on Brazilian Favela type atmosphere. I’m sure I’ll think of more but I hope this helps those thinking of either vacationing or retiring in Panama. I would add that I believe the standard of living will only improve there, driving up prices, but making it much nicer to live and visit.
dscherck replied on October 24, 2014 with:
Thank you for the information. My wife and I are heading down there next week for a look see. I found your information very helpful. Would love to hear more of your insight if you get the time.
jerryleeweaver replied on October 24, 2014 with:
Thanks again...I both liked and appreciated your write-up. Very honest, informative and helpful.
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Oldcameraman replied to the thread small, affordable Beach town on the Panama forum:
aerinb initially posted:
Hello my husband and I with our 3 kids as well as my sister and her daughter are planning to move to either Panama or Costa Rica by the end of December. We had been looking at Costa Rica mire but it seems to be too touristy and expensive. We are looking to live somewhere very quiet, cheap, near the ocean, close to a hospital (I may be pregnant), internet access, safe, and walking distance to basic necessities (groceries, clinics,etc.). We are looking to live on about $1,900 a month. Any suggestions? Thanks so much in advance
Oldcameraman replied on October 24, 2014 with:
Yes, it was special. Sort of a house sitting special so it does not reflect normal rental rates which are normally considerably higher than that during high season. We have seen Panamanian homes in the area though for similar rates. Not this close to the beach or necessarily in Coronado.
amacias replied on October 24, 2014 with:
Hi Odcameraman, That is one of the best deals i have heard of for Coronado. Would you mind sharing the name of the complex you are renting in.
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kimbattlincoln replied to the thread vaccination cost on the Panama forum on October 24, 2014:
kimbattlincoln initially posted:
My doctor told me to get a shingles vaccination. It costs $300 in the States and is not covered by insurance. I'm coming to Panama this winter and wondered if this vaccination is offered there and at what cost? Thanks, Kim
kimbattlincoln replied on October 24, 2014 with:
Thank you MaryAnn and BQ Girl!
MaryAnnR replied on October 23, 2014 with:
Also, They offer the Shingles vaccination. Use their contact at the site to get a price quote.
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jungleexpert replied to the thread Border Hop Information for Perpetual Tourists on the Panama forum:
panamajames initially posted:
People ask me all the time, tell me about stamping in and stamping out in Costa Rica. Three crossing stations serve to accommodate Panama-Costa Rica travelers: Paso Canoas on the Pacific side.................... One of the busiest border crossings in Central America, and potentially the most confusing – you can easily drive over the border without realizing it. On the Costa Rica side, you’ll find a bustling town full of shops and restaurants, whereas the Panama side is little more than a few border crossing with offices that look much the same as the other buildings nearby. Non-Spanish speaking travelers crossing at Paso Canoas might benefit from the aid of a translator. With proper preparations, the entire process should only take about 45 minutes. I have seen people there for hours on end............ Rio Sereno on the Pacific side................................................................. In contrast to Paso Canoas, this border crossing station is low on traffic and high on diligence. Some people describe Rio Sereno as “the best, cleanest, and friendliest crossing of the three.” Limited supply of computer equipment there, if you are feeling a little dodgy about life and times, that day. If your gadgets are low on juice, rest a moment in the gazebo in Rio Sereno’s central park, where you’ll find free wi-fi and electrical outlets, although you may have to compete with schoolchildren for a chance to plug in................................. When crossing at Rio Sereno, you will need to provide a copy of your passport’s face page – not a law, but you won’t get very far by refusing to comply. Officials with little better to do than conduct thorough vehicle and baggage inspections may come off as overzealous; failure to present proof of insurance on a privately-owned vehicle could result in an unplanned trip to Paso Canoas. There are tow trucks galore in Paso Canoas with a seedy group of teethless drivers, just waiting to haul away your vehicle if you don't have the proper papers. And you better get it out of the compound quickly as it is a great daily expense to have your vehicle, stay over in their luxurious compounds. Don't leave anything in the vehicle that you would like to see again. I had friends who left their Tab and iPhone and laptop in their car as they felt it wouldn't take too long to straighten this mess up, and of course, these items were never seen again. However, if your documents are in order, you should enjoy a swift 30-minute crossing at Rio Sereno. My recommendations are never to take a Panama car, over to Costa Rica. You really have to know your stuff.......... Sixaola/Guabito on the Atlantic (Caribbean) side............................................................... You’ll find this off-the-beaten-path option to be fairly relaxed and straightforward. At Sixaola/Guabito, adventure travelers get the added bonus of walking over wooden planks of the former railroad bridge that takes you between Panama and Costa Rica. When to Go.................................................... Paso Canoas is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Costa Rica side) or 11 p.m. (Panama side) every day. For a busy border crossing station like this one, it is recommended you time your arrival for noon or later – early morning border crossings take longer due to commercial truck traffic. Rio Sereno and Sixaola/Guabito border crossing stations are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunchtime closings at Rio Sereno (noon to 1 p.m. Panama time) give you an opportunity to pick up a few necessary items, do some shopping, or grab a bite yourself at an open-air restaurant on the Panama side of this border crossing station.
jungleexpert replied on October 24, 2014 with:
James, This is opinion and not very good information on what it takes to cross a border and return. Such as, documents, time out of country, taxes,reentry issues. Cheers, Hil Jenkins
LeftClique replied on October 22, 2014 with:
PSF: "You didn't misunderstand" I suspected it was more involved than it seemed. We'll take another look at Nicaragua. Thank you very much for your input and good luck
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tbh replied to the thread My recent trip to Panama continued on the Panama forum on October 23, 2014:
davisodb initially posted:
I do not recall a single tour where they took a credit card though I was able to charge my big hotel in PC with a couple of tours as they were arranged through the hotel. The museum at the Mira Flora Locks cost $15 for non Panamanians. We flew to Bocas del Torro and spent 3 nights there. I had to pay $3 per person at the airport, a fee charged to help clean up the litter in town. An expat there told me the litter situation had already improved considerably. I was expecting non-stop rock n roll but it was the same mariachi/salsa/reggae music everywhere though the Bocas Bamboo restaurant/bar played some excellent rock music from, I think, Argentina. Yes, I went to the Iguana Club which seemed to have some reputation as a wild place (there was always 3 or 4 police officers there at the club) but it was more salsa/reggae music and little going on. The ocean water in Bocas was very clean and clear and full of sea life. Saw a dolphin, no big deal for me but it may thrill others. I thought Red Frog Beach was excellent, the highlight of my visit to Bocas. It was beautiful hiking through the jungle onto the beach and seeing a muddy pond full of caimans (close relative of the alligator). It cost $3 a head to visit the beach (apart from boat fare). We took a mini-bus from Bocas (after the boat ride to shore) to Boquete and that was a gorgeous ride through the mountains and jungle. Hats off and thanks to PanamaJames for picking us up, finding us lodging, and taking us shopping. We were most pleased with the lodging and again, James, we truly appreciate your help in this regard. We stayed in a casita owned by a friend of James, a very interesting individual named Roger whose little write-up on Panama I took the liberty to borrow from since it agreed with my own observations. The expat community in Boquete appeared to be well organized, three planned hikes a week, a kind of swap-meet like meeting once a week (I was told hundreds attend it) and there certainly was more folks who spoke English here. Lots of restaurants as well and a 10 minute taxi ride from Alto Boquete was only 60 cents. Listened to an excellent rock band at Mike’s Grill one night and the same band the next night at the Baru? Rented a car for a day at $48/day and drove to Volcan and Cerro Punta. Pretty drive, especially on the way to Cerro Punta which I would recommend if in Volcan anyway. A little disappointed I couldn't hike to the volcano as it is quite the challenge, but I would have loved to view both oceans from the same vantage point. Roger gave us the grand tour (3 hours) of Bouquet for which we were very grateful as it was spectacular. More later. Forgive me for the length.
tbh replied on October 23, 2014 with:
Great informative messages. And don't apologize for the length, the more information the better. Thanks!
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Panama2017 replied to the thread Credit Card Fraud on the Panama forum on October 23, 2014:
SovereignLady initially posted:
In September two coupld from my went to Machu Picchu restaurant in Panama City. They both were surprised when they got home to find fradulent charges on their credit card. One was 2 charges totaling $800 to a company in columbia. The other had 1 charge for $700. They are hoping that their credit card company will reverse the charge. I've been going to Machu Picchu restaurant for 5 years and never had this problem. It must be a new employee. Just wanted to warn you to be careful. Either use cash or go where your credit card goes. If the waiter wants to take your card someplace else for processing, go with your card to keep an eye on things.
Panama2017 replied on October 23, 2014 with:
Yes. That is why most restaurants bring a handheld machine to the table to process the credit card. We were out to dinner with Panamanians who insisted on this practice.
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MaryAnnR replied to the thread My recent trip to Panama on the Panama forum on October 23, 2014:
davisodb initially posted:
My wife and I just returned from 15 days in Panama. The following is our trip experience. Let me first preface our experience by stating the obvious, ours is not the standard, or the final say so on Panamanian travel, it is only what WE observed in our short stay. As the trip originated with the idea of retirement and as others may be contemplating the same, I would say that I cannot imagine living in Panama and not being at least functional in Spanish. We found precious few people who spoke even a smattering of English so the Spanish I knew, though far from functional, was a life saver. There seem to be schools teaching Spanish to expats everywhere. I found the Panamanians friendly, often greeting us with a “Buenas” and the children seemed well behaved. Only once did an individual demand a tip and that was the airport taxi/mini bus baggage loader. It is my understanding that standard tipping is 10% (restaurants) and one should round up. I only tipped a taxi driver on a couple of occasions and none ever asked for one. I found the country very beautiful, lots of jungle, many rivers and many waterfalls, mountains, and obviously beaches, the latter being mostly deserted. The big Albrook Mall in Panama City (PC) is a modern facility the inside of which is indistinguishable from an American mall. Taxis are fairly cheap though none of them seem to use meters--price is negotiated AHEAD of time. The drivers, by and large, appear to be honest and can be helpful if you speak enough Spanish. Yellow taxis are cheaper than the white taxis but one white taxi driver claimed the white taxis are safer (from crime); best to get an expat response on this one. My ride from the airport (Tocuman) to PC was $30. They initially asked for $35, I said $25 and then was told $30 was the standard. I asked at the information desk (they spoke little English) and they said $30 was standard. My ride back to the airport using the Hotel shuttle was $13 per person. I found that most places only accepted cash, even at many of the hotels we stayed in. Restaurants were the most consistent in accepting credit cards even at a few of the local diners (called fondas), but still, some did not. However, banks are everywhere, at least in any town, so it is easy to simply withdraw cash from the ATM. For a 15 day trip, I took $600 in cash and had to make two $500 cash withdrawals while in Panama. The majority of this cash (at least the big expenditures) was spent on hotels and tours. As this is long, I'll add to it in future posts. I hope this helps future visitors.
MaryAnnR replied on October 23, 2014 with:
Excellent observations! Keep posting, please!
jerryleeweaver replied on October 23, 2014 with:
Thank you...Muchas gracias. This is a great write up that I have been looking for for a very long time. The info here is so very helpful. Nice to see that your experiences were not geared towards rentals, tours, etc. which (please don't take this the wrong way) is not the info I'm searching for at this time. A very large part of my interest in visiting Panama (for the first time) and experiencing the culture is really believing that Panama is for me (and of course the wife). What we may due in the future in Panama either becoming frequent visitors, snowbirds or even expats will be what we personally experience when we see for ourselves. I hope additional contributors start writing similar experiences (positive and negative) to help others.
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MaryAnnR posted Halloween for Kids at Multiplaza Mall on the Panama forum on October 23, 2014:
Multiplaza Mall in Panama City will have a Halloween costume contest for kids ages 0-12, on Sunday 26 October from 2-4pm. There will be trick or treating for the kids. The mall has several Halloween displays and Riba Smith has a large pumpkin display.
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Sbotula posted Babysitter in PC on the Panama forum on October 22, 2014:
Hello, I am locating to PC because my fiancé will be working for the Panama Canal Authority. If there is anyone in PC that is in need of childcare, please let me know. I have years of experience and I will have a lot of time on my hands to fill. Thank you!
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Chloesumner replied to the thread Looking for short term rental on the Panama forum:
GlamBabe initially posted:
Hi Everyone, We are, looking for a short term (30-45 days) preferably at the Trump Ocean Club, The Hard Rock, or The Waldorf, if anyone has a place available for rent starting October 1st (or slightly later, we can always initially stay at a hotel the first few days) please let me know. We will also be travelling to Coronado during that first month and would love recommendations regarding where to stay. Not just this trip, but subsequent weekends if we decide to stay in the city. I want to make sure we have a beach escape as well. We are considering Coronado as a place to live so if anyone has rentals there please let me know, we'd love to make arrangements to see them. We will be arriving in Panama on October 1st and are incredibly excited!
Chloesumner replied on October 22, 2014 with:
we are renting a room, our apartment building is next door to the hilton hotel and it has an ocean view if you would like more information contact me on
llactivities replied on September 17, 2014 with:
Go to and see these 2 sites to see pictures and information. The Coronado Beach House, Panama Panama - Playa Coronado Vacation Rentals Contact them directly via a Facebook message
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