by – D.J. Wilson
Panama City, Panama has it all; sophistication, beauty and history. A sweeping city skyline welcomes visitors to this pacific coastal metropolis. The city is comprised of high-rise buildings set amidst stretches of tropical rainforest. With the closest beaches just 15 minutes outside of the city, vacationers can experience an exciting cosmopolitan vibe or sneak away to a private beach to let the warm waters of Panama’s Pacific serve as playground paradise.
The landscape is surrounded in tropical splendor and features a lush rainforest with sweeping rivers carved into valleys, deltas and running through rugged terrain. The setting is rich in birds and features an abundance of native animals and reptiles. The Panama Canal, connecting the Atlantic Ocean via the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, relies on the bountiful waters of the rainforest. It’s sea to tropical forest location draws research scientists and scholars to her shores. Panama is home to a Marine Exhibition Center, an important facility focused on tropical marine life and ecology run by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Panama City is situated at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, and is the capital and largest city in the Republic of Panama. Founded in 1519 by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias Dávila, the city served as an important trade route stop and as a base for early expeditions. A dramatic fire, set in 1671, by the notorious pirate Henry Morgan destroyed the original city. Today, the ruins, also known as Panama Viejo, are a popular tourist destination. A newer city was constructed and settled to include the historic district of Panama City, known as Casco Viejo, Casco Antiguo or San Felipe. The old quarter represents a variety of interesting architectural styles and multi-cultural influences. Visitors enjoy exploring monuments, cathedrals, plazas and buildings. One such favorite is the site of the historical Salón Bolivar, where in 1826 the Pan-American Congress convened to discuss unification of the hemisphere. Another beloved building is the Panama’s national theatre, Teatro Nacional de Panamá, built in 1908 and reflecting Italian operetta theatre style.
Get your passport ready for adventure to this democratic and sovereign country; one of the top destinations for tourists, beach lovers, families, historians, scientists and adventure seekers. You’ll have no worries exchanging money, as the U.S. dollar is the country’s official currency.
The historical significance of Panama, in addition to a pleasant year-round temperature of 81° F, creates the perfect climate to explore the city and to vacation in luxury hotels. In the spirit of fun, adventure and insight, Hometown Travel offers 8 days/7nights travel escapade, where guests will stay at three of the finest hotels in and around Panama City and see important sites. The hotels are carefully chosen for their nuances and to introduce the spirit of the city, the tranquility of the rainforest and the vibe of the pacific coast.
Intercontinental Miramar Hotel – is a luxury Panama City hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Panama Bay and the financial district, and features spacious ocean view suites. Stroll the scenic walkway leading to the marina, watch vessels entering the Canal, or relax poolside. Enjoy drinks and appetizers at the Las Olas Pool bar and the new Lobby Bar. Hotel amenities include tennis, luxury spa, gym, sauna, Jacuzzi and more. The hotel features the Bay-View Restaurant, offering impeccable service in a welcoming atmosphere and featuring regional specialties such as Panamanian Stew or fresh seafood. Nearby, enjoy designer shops, restaurants and local markets in close proximity to Casco Viejo.
Gamboa Rainforest Resort – is a premiere hotel in the heart of the Panamanian jungle, at the site where the historic Chagres River meets the Panama Canal. The pristine environment transports visitors away from the city vibe and into the tranquil setting of the Soberania National Forest. Enjoy the splendor of jungle flora and unwind at the sparkling two-level pool or head to the gym for a work out. Visit the Sensory Spa by Clarins, offering a quiet and serene ambiance to get a massage, or to relax in a steam bath or sauna. Retreat to a large hotel room featuring elegant tropical furnishings. Recline in a balcony hammock and take in the exotic views of the gardens. Later, dine at your choice of the hotel’s three exceptional restaurants, featuring a range of ambiances from casual to elegant. For additional fun, visit the hotel’s two lively lounges.
Intercontinental Playa Bonita Panama – is a beachfront paradise just 20 minutes from Panama City and featuring golden sands, jungle walkways and infinity pools. Delight in tropical resort seclusion, just minutes from Panama City and the Panama Canal. Watch the ocean waves from a spacious balcony suite or relax in the room’s rich and tranquil interior décor inspired by the spirit of the Panama. Visit the health and fitness center or partake in watersports or poolside relaxation. Relish a trip to the Bonita del mar Spa, offering private cabins, Turkish baths, meditation rooms, saunas, outdoor seaside massages and more. Enjoy a refreshing cocktail at your choice of three bars and enjoy live piano music at the Lobby Bar beneath an impressive lighted dome. Wind down at your choice of three incredible dining venues, including the well-appointed Lighthouse Restaurant, or choose in-room dining on a private balcony overlooking the water.
Worry-free touring options with Hometown Travel include round-trip airport to hotel and transfers with assistance, hotel accommodations for eight days and seven nights including hotel taxes and service charges, motor coach transportation to itinerary destinations, English speaking guides and assistants, daily breakfasts, well-planned lunches, and safe access to must-see destinations. Here’s what you’ll do:
Take a fascinating tour Miraflores Locks, one of three locks forming the Panama Canal. Learn the history and workings of the locks at the Visitors Center. Enjoy unobstructed views of vessels being lifted (or lowered) in two stages to transit to or from the Pacific Ocean port of Balboa in Panama City. The Miraflores Locks provide an intriguing look at its remarkable construction and captures the essence and spirit of Panama City. It is often referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.
Explore Casco Viejo, the old Quarter built following the major destruction of old Panama City. Visit the historic district of this densely populated neighborhood. While some buildings stand in disrepair, others have been lovingly restored and turned into upscale residences, quaint shops, restaurants and museums. Stroll the streets of this World Heritage Site and observe homes, cathedrals, churches, government buildings, many of which are centuries old. Enjoy lunch in this memorable cultural gem.
Visit the Amador Causeway, built in 1913 and connecting the mainland of Panama City with four islands in the Pacific Ocean that form a small archipelago. The site was originally part of Fort Amador, a U.S. military complex established to protect the entrance of the canal. The causeway was constructed of rocks excavated from Snake Cut during the building of the Panama Canal. Nowadays, the Causeway is a thriving tourist attraction and features a cruise port, marina, hotels, a conference center, restaurants, museums and duty-free shopping.
Take the Aerial Tram Tour at Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Sit back in comfort and take a smooth glide through the treetops on this Swiss-engineered aerial tram system. See lush tropical rainforest, exotic birds, monkeys and other natural fauna and flora. Experience the tranquility of the forest as you’re transported high atop a hill. Visit the Observation Tower and observe breathtaking views of the Panama Canal, Chagres River, Gamboa and more.
Explore natural wonders of the land. Discover magnificent orchids and the ecological exhibits of Orquidearium. See the Butterfly House, and experience the beauty of living colorful butterflies. Visit the Fresh Water Fishing Aquarium and the Snake House.
Take in the beauty of the landscape on your boat tour through the Panama Canal to discover secluded waterways and hidden islands. Be sure to bring your camera to catch photos of monkeys hanging and swinging in the treetops.
Experience the Botanical Garden El Nispero with an abundance of flowers and birds, with shaded areas for relaxation. Visit El Macho Waterfall, an enchanting location featuring a dramatic 35-meter waterfall and a delightful natural lagoon, and El Valle Panama Hot Springs for a refreshing soak in the warm waters of the spring. To round out your visit, wander through an authentic Panamanian market to discover local products and handmade crafts to remind you of your remarkable visit.