RESOURCES WE LIKE
As with any travel, the time you spend before you arrive will maximize the time you enjoy once you’re here, and there’s no shortage of good, basic information on Panama.
There’s also no shortage of sites that sell tours, hotel rooms, airfare and the rest. The information available on TravelPanamaNews can help you figure out those basics—when you’re going, how you’re going to get here, where you want to stay—and then deliver the hard-to-find daily fresh content that will actually help you love your trip.
You might not expect a Spanish school to be one of your secret weapons to enjoying your trip to Panama (especially if you’re not traveling to learn Spanish), but the Habla Ya (Talk Now!) website is by the far the single most useful resource for traveling to Boquete and the Chiriquí highlands and to the Caribbean province of Bocas del Toro.
It contains the most comprehensive and objective listing of hotels at all price ranges, restaurants, and activities that we’ve seen. The tours and activities are open to non-students as well and there is a constant mix of all ages, nationalities and cultures.
And if you are interested in learning Spanish, even just a little bit of travel Spanish, there’s no better place in the country. I’ve been studying Spanish myself with Habla Ya since last summer via private lessons over Google video, and the results have been nothing short of remarkable.
If you only go to one website for information on cool things to do in Boquete/Chiriquí and Bocas, this is the one.
Each of the major guidebooks has something valuable to contribute, and you’ll get a different take from each one. Compared to the overall cost of a trip, buying the four major ones is a sound investment and we highly recommend getting them all.
Moon Guide to Panama—hands down, the best all around. William Friar is a Zonian, born and raised in the Panama Canal Zone, and each edition keeps getting better and better in terms of detail, content, and online resources. I haven’t met him but we both love the same pizza place in Panama City (Napoli) that we went to as students at Balboa High School.
The Rough Guide is a British-based series of travel publications—think of it as the PBS of Panama travel. It’s lighter on nightclubs and meatier on culture, history, folklore, and that odd tidbit of information here and there that can make all the difference between an ordinary afternoon and something you’ll remember.
Lonely Planet—a good resource also. They’re still trying to expand beyond backpacking—if that’s your thing, then it’s great, and it’s still useful as an all-around travel resource.
Fodor’s is like the National Geographic of the travel world—good pictures, basic content, with more focus on the higher end than the budget side. Still, it has excellent content and is worth the buy.
Don Winner’s English language website is one of the best single places to get news about Panamanian politics and current events. He combines selected translations of stories from Panamanian media with occasional original stories and an ever-entertaining running editorial commentary. To his credit, though, he does a very good job of separating the news from his own opinions. If you only have time to go to one place for current events, this is it.
A good place to check out specific locations, hotels, restaurants and more. The Panama-specific page is at http://www.tripadvisor.com/AllReviews-g294479-Panama.html.
Ex pat-run online news in English and Spanish about Bocas del Toro province.
Expat-run online news in English about the Boquete area.
Great source of daily news—but be sure to look for the Google translate button.
OTHER ONLINE SOURCES
(Spanish language, largest circulation in Panama)
(Spanish, general circulation news)
(English, Canadian bent)
(English, Pacific beach updates)
(tabloid advertiser, some news)
(or why you should never leave home!