Welcome to Panama City
One of the most cosmopolitan cities in Central America, Panama's
chic capital is a mosaic of colour and culture with a thriving
commercial and financial sector. Long dismissed as a centre of drug
trade, Panama City has slowly rebuilt its reputation as a fantastic
holiday destination with a style drawn from five centuries of
The city's modern skyline is constantly expanding, adding new
skyscrapers to tower over the centuries-old Baroque and Spanish
Colonial buildings that populate its older quarter, known as
Casco Viejo. The district was designated a UNESCO World
Heritage Site in 2003, and its mix of architectural styles make a
great introduction to the diverse cultural influences of Panama
There are many beautiful buildings in Panama City, including the
Plaza de la Catedral, the presidential palace (called
Palacio de las Garzasin honour of the herons that nest
there), and the Church of San Jose. Interesting museums like the
Interoceanic Canal Museum, the
Mi Pueblitoscultural museum, and the Museum of Religious
Colonial Art, give visitors insight into the city's fascinating
history, while scenic parks are great for enjoying the beautiful
weather in Panama.
Panama City has a diverse population with a number of American
and Asian expat residents, which contributes to a lively nightlife,
especially around Calle Uruguay. There are also plenty of good
restaurants in Panama City, ranging from Spanish tapas and Italian
pastas to local specialties like
ceviche(fresh fish marinated in lemon or lime juice) and
sancocho(vegetable stew). There are a number of cafes
along Via Argentina, and the fish market near the Casco Viejo is
the best place to try fresh seafood.
Information & Facts
The official language is Spanish. However, many
Panamanians speak both Spanish and English.
The official currency is the Panamanian Balboa (PAB), equal to
100 centesimos, but the US Dollar is accepted everywhere at a rate
of B1 = US$1. Balboa are available only in coin denominations. The
only paper currency used is US dollars. It is easy to exchange
currency and travellers cheques in Panama at banks, exchange shops,
hotels and the airport. Avoid the black market. The best rates are
offered at the larger banks. Old, creased and dirty foreign notes
may be refused for exchange. Most major credit cards, American
Express, Visa, MasterCard and Diners club, are widely accepted.
There are about 300 ATMs in Panama City. Banks are usually open
from 8am to 1.30pm on weekdays.
Local time is GMT -5.