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DansDeals Forum => Destination Guides And Trip Planning => Topic started by: Smirk on March 15, 2010, 11:21:37 PM

Title: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Smirk on March 15, 2010, 11:21:37 PM
I'm planning a trip to Panama, most probably Bocas del Toro. As far as I can tell there's no Jews in that area. I would fly into Panama City and would like to figure something out with food for the Bocas and maybe staying there for shabbos.
Has anyone been there? any advice?
Title: upcoming trip EWR-MEX-PTY-GUA-SJO-EWR
Post by: E on May 11, 2011, 11:26:51 PM
going over shavous will be spending yuntiff in Panama, any hotel recomendations near shul/jewish area.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E on September 22, 2011, 05:08:13 PM
Quick trip report:
went to Panama this past shavout stayed at the intercontinental which is relatively close to the jewish community of Punta Paitilla, whether there was supper hot and muggy.  There are now two massive kosher supermarkets fully stocked (comparable to New york) there are also many good restaurants in the paitilla area. I had one day of touring went to the Canal, Amador Causeway, and old city took a cab initially to the canal and was so cheap and gave us a good price so he took us around everywhere for around $30 for the whole day..
Title: Panama
Post by: sdh on March 31, 2012, 09:22:19 PM
We are considering going to Panama in August, does anyone have any tips/ recommendations, etc.? Has anyone stayed in the Starwoods hotels there? Are they close to any shuls for Shabbat?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E on April 01, 2012, 07:03:30 PM
the le meridian ( i think) is directly across from the Intercontinental and a 10-15 minute walk to shul..
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: sdh on April 01, 2012, 07:44:16 PM
Is the le meridien nice? I know the westin is in playa Bonita, should be a 25 minute drive from shuls and kosher restaurants. Do you recommend any restaurants? Do you recommend Panama as a vacation destination in August?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 30, 2012, 12:20:42 AM
I know this is tight and perhaps rushed but wondering if this is doable. I land at PTY at 6:32 am and depart at noon. Wish to see the canal of course and do not mind paying a cab etc to drive and wait for us. I can have my bags checked straight from Brazil to Trinidad I am sure and if will help can upgrade to biz. Is this crazy or I should be fine?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: bruceba on May 30, 2012, 01:55:58 PM
It is very tight.  The drive may take 45 minutes or more each direction(without frequent traffic jams) and you have to check-in again which may take an hour or so plus exit immigration. I would not chance it myself.  The airport is nice.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on May 30, 2012, 02:17:05 PM
It is very tight.  The drive may take 45 minutes or more each direction(without frequent traffic jams) and you have to check-in again which may take an hour or so plus exit immigration. I would not chance it myself.  The airport is nice.
I found this drive on FT named John who said that he could pick me up at 7 am get me over to the canal by 8 spend till 930 am there and be back for the flight. This way I have one guy waiting for me etc who is a tour guide and he would also bring me back. I would have already been checked in as it is a connecting flight and likewise would not have any luggage. Any better?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: bruceba on May 30, 2012, 06:58:34 PM
I hope it works for you. :)  I am OCD so usually very cautious. Is your trip on a weekend.(less traffic)?
Let us know how it goes.  I have heard good things about Panama John on FT.  Panama is great especially outside of PC.
Bruce
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: docbjg on August 16, 2012, 11:53:37 PM
Does anyone know if the above-mentioned hotels (Intercontinental, Le Meridien) are in the eruv? If not, are there any?

Thanks.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on August 21, 2012, 12:39:59 AM
I hope it works for you. :)  I am OCD so usually very cautious. Is your trip on a weekend.(less traffic)?
Let us know how it goes.  I have heard good things about Panama John on FT.  Panama is great especially outside of PC.
Bruce
In the end it worked out very well. We landed at 630 am and it took us 2 hours to get to the canal due to morning rush hour. We spent about an hour at the canal watching a few boats go through and it took just a half hour to get back to the airport. We made our flight with some time to spare in the Copa lounge. Not bad for a 5 and a half hour layover.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: wierdal832 on October 09, 2013, 07:58:35 PM
anyone know abt the  hechshers there?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ORD747 on December 29, 2013, 10:38:56 PM
Went to panama last summer. Stayed at the Westin Playa Bonita during the week and the Four Points Sheraton for Shabbat. Westin was nice and about a 25 minute drive from the city. Four Points was a little tired but about a 25 minute walk from a shul claiming to be Ashkenazi that was actually Chabad. About 10 kosher restaurants and 2 supermarkets. The food is phenomenal. At playa Bonita we mostly used food brought from home and got cereal, milk, fruit and juice locally and are out at night. The Four Points breakfast was free (not sure if it was included in room or because of status). In terms of kosher food, there was coffee, fruit, yogurt and fruit juice.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: cherylnlajolla on January 26, 2014, 02:23:50 PM
Does anyone have contact information for a driver/tour guide they recommend for Panama layover?

Thanks
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Frostboot on January 28, 2014, 12:49:22 AM
Went to panama last summer. Stayed at the Westin Playa Bonita during the week and the Four Points Sheraton for Shabbat. Westin was nice and about a 25 minute drive from the city. Four Points was a little tired but about a 25 minute walk from a shul claiming to be Ashkenazi that was actually Chabad. About 10 kosher restaurants and 2 supermarkets. The food is phenomenal. At playa Bonita we mostly used food brought from home and got cereal, milk, fruit and juice locally and are out at night. The Four Points breakfast was free (not sure if it was included in room or because of status). In terms of kosher food, there was coffee, fruit, yogurt and fruit juice.

How was the Westin? How far is the Westin from Kosher food?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: bluiemonster1 on January 29, 2014, 12:17:17 AM
Ihave this conception that the culture in panama is much louder and more effervescent than in America. Am i correct? :-\
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Fan of Dan on January 29, 2014, 02:57:06 AM
Does anyone have contact information for a driver/tour guide they recommend for Panama layover?

Thanks
Still  need info on a driver? I you want I can try to find the contact info of the guy I used.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Jlgldbrgr on January 29, 2014, 09:24:02 PM
I would also appreciate if anyone has a write-up on panama
Vacation looking to spend a few days there.

Also what's the deal with kosher food there???
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on January 31, 2014, 01:22:21 PM
tons of food there. We spent a week there. There are 2 huge supermarkets and loads of restaurants. If you go to shul make sure to show your passport or have someone from the community vouch for you.
There is tons of stuff to do there and its a beautiful country.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: wierdal832 on February 05, 2014, 08:46:18 AM
anyone have an address for the shul?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Bosco on February 11, 2014, 11:46:14 AM
For those planning on a trip to panama and looking for a good place to eat, try lulas by darna. Although it's expensive (upscale manhattan restaurant pricing) the food is great.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: sky121 on August 10, 2014, 11:25:09 AM
I'm thinking of going to Panama in November. Top suggestions for cities to visit?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on August 10, 2014, 11:28:06 AM
Panama City, try to arrange a trip to the san blas islands, the market in el valle
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Martyb on December 05, 2014, 10:30:49 AM
I have a 12 hour stopover in Panama. It should leave me with 8.5 - 9 hours of sightseeing.
anyone have a list of the must -sees that i can fit into 9 hours. I'd also like to stop somewhere for a quick lunch.

Thanks
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on December 05, 2014, 10:38:32 AM
I have a 12 hour stopover in Panama. It should leave me with 8.5 - 9 hours of sightseeing.
anyone have a list of the must -sees that i can fit into 9 hours. I'd also like to stop somewhere for a quick lunch.

Thanks
Definitely the Panama Canal. It is an amazing sight. A new Frank- Gehry designed museum just opened. Explore Casco Viejo.
For food- Peta Pan was great. cheap and delicious. If you want more upscale Darna is amazing.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: damaxer91 on January 29, 2015, 10:04:24 PM
Any food recommendations in Panama City?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: arig on February 01, 2015, 10:55:13 PM
Was there last week- if your're looking for dairy, Sabra across from Bal Harbor Mall was excellent- try the fried fish wrap! if you want meat, Prime Grill was very reasonable, and their food was good, steaks are about Manhattan prices but very generous portions and very soft flavorful meat. Lula's was pretty upscale and definitely pricier. there are a bunch of other options besides those...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: moishatdansdeals on March 26, 2015, 05:05:37 PM
What is the most efficient way (miles/points) to get from NYC-Panama City one way going April 2nd?

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E on March 26, 2015, 05:49:49 PM
What is the most efficient way (miles/points) to get from NYC-Panama City one way going April 2nd?



I dont think this is the best place to ask, Just make sure you have a return or continuing ticket or they wont let you board.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Myccrabbi on March 26, 2015, 06:10:57 PM
I dont think this is the best place to ask, Just make sure you have a return or continuing ticket or they wont let you board.
Some might give you problems even if you have return but it's 2 separate tickets.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: moishatdansdeals on March 26, 2015, 06:12:14 PM
I dont think this is the best place to ask, Just make sure you have a return or continuing ticket or they wont let you board.

Where would be the best place to post?

Thank you.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: moishatdansdeals on March 26, 2015, 06:14:19 PM
Some might give you problems even if you have return but it's 2 separate tickets.

Are you saying its better to book a fight with a return together, or two separate itineraries there and back?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Myccrabbi on March 26, 2015, 06:16:49 PM
Are you saying its better to book a fight with a return together, or two separate itineraries there and back?
that
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: moishatdansdeals on March 26, 2015, 06:35:15 PM
that

At this point I have a flight booked from Miami to Panama City. Are you saying that I will run into issues trying to board if I have a separate flight to return?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Myccrabbi on March 26, 2015, 06:36:32 PM
At this point I have a flight booked from Miami to Panama City. Are you saying that I will run into issues trying to board if I have a separate flight to return?
Not necessarily as long as you Have a return you should be fine, but don't take my word for it.
Ask a TA.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: moishatdansdeals on March 26, 2015, 06:47:47 PM
Not necessarily as long as you Have a return you should be fine, but don't take my word for it.
Ask a TA.

Sababa, Thank you.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E on March 27, 2015, 12:15:11 PM
Not necessarily as long as you Have a return you should be fine, but don't take my word for it.
Ask a TA.
you will fine if you have a return doesnt matter that its separate. just keep handy if they ask.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Srsy on April 14, 2015, 11:24:02 PM
How's the weather in July and August in Panama?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: sammyjoe on April 15, 2015, 11:52:22 PM
Hi i'm going to panama next week, and looking for some reccomondations on places to eat, and where to daven.  I'm staying in paitilla in panama city.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Luvtotravel on April 15, 2015, 11:56:49 PM
Panama supposedly has the highest concentration of kosher eateries per capita so I'm sure you won't go hungry.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on April 16, 2015, 12:05:12 AM
Definitely go to darna and lula. If you can get into the private club there are two great restaurants. One dairy and one meat.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: whYME on August 10, 2015, 12:51:11 PM
Any recommendations for a hotel near the airport? I have a 7:40 am flight and want something convenient.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: whYME on August 13, 2015, 05:07:12 PM
Any recommendations for a hotel near the airport? I have a 7:40 am flight and want something convenient.
Bump
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: NatiG on October 11, 2015, 02:58:34 PM
My wife and I will be in Panama City from Wed 12/23 to shabbos 12/26.

Our flight back to the USA leaves PTY on Thursday 12/31, so we have Sunday to Wednesday to explore beyond Panama City.

We'd like to do:
- a rainforest zip line
- secluded beach (privacy is important)
- hikes with beautiful views
- maybe white water rafting

I am struggling to get enough information to put a plan together.

I'd be so grateful if some experienced Panama travelers could weigh in on:
1) Where do you think we should go?
2) Where do you recommend we stay?
3) How should we get around?
4) What will we need guides/operators for, and where do we find them? How far in advance should we book?
5) Will the fact that it's the week between xmas and New Years make things more complicated?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on October 11, 2015, 03:24:22 PM
We went ziplining in el Valle. Around 2 hrs from pty  we also got a basically private island in San blas. We hired a guide for the day to take us to one of the islands. There were around 5 other ppl. So we just chose an area with no other ppl.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on October 15, 2015, 11:54:25 PM
We went ziplining in el Valle. Around 2 hrs from pty  we also got a basically private island in San blas. We hired a guide for the day to take us to one of the islands. There were around 5 other ppl. So we just chose an area with no other ppl.

We're planning to go next mid-winter break and I'd love to do the ziplining and island tour.  Did you just get your tour and guide referrals through your hotel?  If not, how did you find them?  I have Diamond status and since it is a brand new hotel that has suites with kitchens and looks to be right near all the Jewish stuff, we have reservations at the Hilton.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yakrot on October 16, 2015, 12:05:39 AM
My wife and I will be in Panama City from Wed 12/23 to shabbos 12/26.

Our flight back to the USA leaves PTY on Thursday 12/31, so we have Sunday to Wednesday to explore beyond Panama City.

We'd like to do:
- a rainforest zip line
- secluded beach (privacy is important)
- hikes with beautiful views
- maybe white water rafting

I am struggling to get enough information to put a plan together.

I'd be so grateful if some experienced Panama travelers could weigh in on:
1) Where do you think we should go?
2) Where do you recommend we stay?
3) How should we get around?
4) What will we need guides/operators for, and where do we find them? How far in advance should we book?
5) Will the fact that it's the week between xmas and New Years make things more complicated?
I stayed in a Radisson that was about a five minute walk from the maon shul and right across the street from the big grocery store.

When I was there we took taxis everywhere they where relatively cheap. (i may still have the number of a taxi driver from there, speaks English and doubles as a bodyguard, carrys a gun upon request, I don't think he is the cheapest around though)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on October 16, 2015, 04:45:58 PM
We took a tour with a company called Barefoot Panama who told us about El Valle. We rented a car and went on our own. The island was set up by someone we knew in the Jewish community. To go through the hotel would probably be pricey.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on October 16, 2015, 07:16:32 PM
We took a tour with a company called Barefoot Panama who told us about El Valle. We rented a car and went on our own. The island was set up by someone we knew in the Jewish community. To go through the hotel would probably be pricey.

Thanks for that company name.  Just went to their website and they have lots of cool different tours.  NatiG, they actually offer all the different stuff you were looking to do when you go in Dec. although the tours are definitely not cheap.  For me personally I'd rather pay to go on a guided tour and if I got my hotel and flight free I'm ok to pay for the tours. ;)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: NatiG on October 20, 2015, 08:53:21 AM
I only have budget for splurging on maybe one organized tour.

I'd prefer to figure out how to do things independently.

Can you send info on the guide of the day-trip to San Blas?

I'd love to do a day trip to San Blas on Sunday, then Monday-Wednesday in Boquete, and then back to Panama City Wednesday night.

Is San Blas private enough to swim and expect no one will be able to see?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: incendia on December 17, 2015, 12:14:49 PM
Im going to be in Panama City for a week in mid-Jan anyone have suggestions on what I should,shouldn't do.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on December 17, 2015, 12:29:55 PM
definitely do the canal.
barefoot panama tours
el valle ziplining
san blas islands
there's a new biosphere that opened
great kosher restaurants
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on December 17, 2015, 09:27:54 PM
definitely do the canal.
barefoot panama tours
el valle ziplining
san blas islands
there's a new biosphere that opened
great kosher restaurants

Thanks for the comprehensive list!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: incendia on December 18, 2015, 12:13:38 PM
definitely do the canal.
barefoot panama tours
el valle ziplining
san blas islands
there's a new biosphere that opened
great kosher restaurants

Im looking for in Panama city specifically, or day trps from Panama city
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on December 18, 2015, 12:19:07 PM
Aside from San blas. Those are all day trips.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on December 18, 2015, 12:28:59 PM
Miraflores Locks
Ancon Hill
Panama Viejo
MultiPlaza (high-end mall)
Parque Natural Metropolitano

You could also do a partial canal transit.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mgarfin on January 03, 2016, 01:54:56 PM
I have an option for a 12 hour stop (day time) on the way to Brazil, is it worth the hassle and if yes what should I look at?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: oiseli48 on January 03, 2016, 03:27:21 PM

I have an option for a 12 hour stop (day time) on the way to Brazil, is it worth the hassle and if yes what should I look at?

If you're by yourself, sure it's worth it. Go see the Panama Canal, and there are a few restaurants to eat at.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on January 03, 2016, 03:43:06 PM
If you're by yourself, sure it's worth it. Go see the Panama Canal, and there are a few restaurants to eat at.

That's what we did. Miraflores Locks and an great restaurant (can't remember the name - maybe whYME could chime in).

We also went to Ancon Hill, which was a bust due to weather but a good place to go otherwise.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on January 03, 2016, 03:47:43 PM
Lula or darna are delicious.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: incendia on January 03, 2016, 08:35:36 PM
can you drink the milk in panama without a hechsher

ie is there cholav stam
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: whYME on January 04, 2016, 12:55:31 AM
That's what we did. Miraflores Locks and an great restaurant (can't remember the name - maybe whYME could chime in).

We also went to Ancon Hill, which was a bust due to weather but a good place to go otherwise.
The restaurant we went to was Pita Plus.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on January 04, 2016, 01:08:35 AM
Im going to be in Panama City for a week in mid-Jan anyone have suggestions on what I should,shouldn't do.

http://www.gamboaresort.com/default-en.html
This is a resort in Gamboa that also runs a bunch of fun tours
Monkey Island boat tour
Rainforest Gondola tour and more

-I managed to make an amazing day trip out of Contadora (Pearl Islands).
If I had a chance to redo it I would probably stay overnight.
-Rainbow bass fishing looks fun but I didn't do it.

-I didn't really tour cosco viejo but I drove through slowly and it wasn't interesting to me.

I'm gonna agree with Miraflores Locks and Multiplaza
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: jmk62110 on January 04, 2016, 10:01:19 AM
I went to Panama last week and I have some helpful information for anyone that needs for the upcoming January Break

Random Facts
----------------
- Currency is US Dollars and Balboas. (They are equal exchange so no need to change any money)
- Primary language is Spanish and a little tough at restaurants to get someone who understand broken English. All hotel personnel speak english.
- Renting a car they rent you a Wifi hotspot so you can use Waze while driving.
- Tough to drive around the city as there are no street sign so need to have someone navigate with you. A lot of roundabouts.
- Most place are extremely reasonably priced.

Hotel
-----------------
We stayed at 2 different hotels throughout our stay.

Trump in Panama City (2 nights) (Punta Pacifica)
-------------------------
Walkable to a bunch of restaurants. supermarket and a shul.

Westin Playa Bonita ( 2 nights)
-----------------------
20 minute drive outside the city.

Gorgeous resort with a bunch of pools and on the beach. Most people who go stay there the whole time because its an all-inclusive resort type place.

We bought food from the supermarket with us to the resort for breakfast and lunch and then drove into the city at night to go to mincha-maariv and to go out to eat.


Restaurant
---------------------
Kosher Dairy
1. Pita Pan (Pizza and Pasta) -Paitilla, Bal Harbour Mall, tel: 264-2786.- Pizza, dairy dishes, sushi and they have a bakery inside.
2. Metsuyan (Sushi and chinese) Paitilla, Bal Harbour Mall tel: 213-1314.
3. Darna Restaurant - Avenida Balboa, tel: 302-2989.-Right around the corner from trump (A good breakfast place as well)
4. Sabra - Paitilla, in front of Ball Harbour mall. Tel: 2030433- more upscale sit down dairy restaurant.
5. La Spezia (pizza), Obarrio Tel: 3969816- Didn't get to go there but heard they have great brick oven pizza
6. Jeffreys - Paitilla: 235-4591- We went there for breakfast. Very solid menu and all full blown dairy menu. Has a bakery and delicious pastries as well.
7. Coffe bean- Right next to Darna and right around the corner from trump. Usual coffee bean and under the LA Vaad.

Meat Restaurants
1. Prime Grill- Paitilla Bal Harbour Mall, tel: 263-2805- A Hapina/Grill Point type place.
2. Sababa (sandwiches)- Calle 47 bella vista entrando por Banesco local 3. Tel: 203-1081. Shawarma, burgers and other sandwiches.
3. Lula Restaurant - Obarrio, Calle Samuel Lewis, tel: 209-4820- Upscale meat restaurant. Fantastic food. Great appetizers, burgers and I had a fantastci steak as well. Like a nice NYC restaurant.
4. Pita plus - Paitilla Bal Harbour Mall, tel: 209-2048-Shawarma, burgers and other sandwiches.
5. Dr. Sandwich: Paitilla:203-4410

Super Markets-  Both carry any kosher product you would want and both have restaurants in them.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Deli K- Avenida Balboa, inside Multicentro Mall. Tel: 208-2818
2. Super Kosher- Paitilla, Calle Ramon Jurado tel: 263-5253.

Shuls
----------
Extremely strict security. Must bring passports.
Panama is extremely wealthy and there is very high security around the Jews and must be prepared to be asked a lot of questions before you are allowed in the shul

1. The "Shevet Ahim synagogue" located in the 44th street, Bella Vista.
2. We have another sepharadic synagogue called "Ahavat Sion" located in Paitilla.
3. We have another located in Punta Pacifica.

Things to do
------------------
Barefoot Panama has a ton of Tours to do and they pick you up at your hotel if you are in Panama City. (http://www.barefootpanama.com/) It does get pricey but its a good service.

We did Ziplining which was fantastic and gorgeous views. ($100/person)

Old City in Panama is a must

Coastal views- Can rent bikes or walk up and down along the water. Stunning views and also a must.

Panama Canal- We drove to the Miraflores locks of the canal and watched the educational video about it. They have a four story exhibit as well as observation decks where you can see the ships going through the canal and how the locks work. (i recommend it but do not do a boat tour, the regular visit is jsut fine).

A great trip without worrying about bringing a kosher piece of food with you.

Let me know if anyone has question.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on January 04, 2016, 10:06:15 AM
I would add if you can get into the club hebreo there are some excellent kosher restaurants in there also
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yakrot on January 04, 2016, 10:10:10 AM
Deli k is a lot bigger that super kosher and closer to the shuls. When I was there we did not realize that until our last night ( got thrown off by the name)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: incendia on January 04, 2016, 10:12:36 AM
can you drink the milk in panama without a hechsher

ie is there cholav stam

Bump

what were the locals drinking?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 04, 2016, 07:13:12 PM
I went to Panama last week and I have some helpful information for anyone that needs for the upcoming January Break

Random Facts
----------------
- Currency is US Dollars and Balboas. (They are equal exchange so no need to change any money)
- Primary language is Spanish and a little tough at restaurants to get someone who understand broken English. All hotel personnel speak english.
- Renting a car they rent you a Wifi hotspot so you can use Waze while driving.
- Tough to drive around the city as there are no street sign so need to have someone navigate with you. A lot of roundabouts.
- Most place are extremely reasonably priced.

Hotel
-----------------
We stayed at 2 different hotels throughout our stay.

Trump in Panama City (2 nights) (Punta Pacifica)
-------------------------
Walkable to a bunch of restaurants. supermarket and a shul.

Westin Playa Bonita ( 2 nights)
-----------------------
20 minute drive outside the city.

Gorgeous resort with a bunch of pools and on the beach. Most people who go stay there the whole time because its an all-inclusive resort type place.

We bought food from the supermarket with us to the resort for breakfast and lunch and then drove into the city at night to go to mincha-maariv and to go out to eat.


Restaurant
---------------------
Kosher Dairy
1. Pita Pan (Pizza and Pasta) -Paitilla, Bal Harbour Mall, tel: 264-2786.- Pizza, dairy dishes, sushi and they have a bakery inside.
2. Metsuyan (Sushi and chinese) Paitilla, Bal Harbour Mall tel: 213-1314.
3. Darna Restaurant - Avenida Balboa, tel: 302-2989.-Right around the corner from trump (A good breakfast place as well)
4. Sabra - Paitilla, in front of Ball Harbour mall. Tel: 2030433- more upscale sit down dairy restaurant.
5. La Spezia (pizza), Obarrio Tel: 3969816- Didn't get to go there but heard they have great brick oven pizza
6. Jeffreys - Paitilla: 235-4591- We went there for breakfast. Very solid menu and all full blown dairy menu. Has a bakery and delicious pastries as well.
7. Coffe bean- Right next to Darna and right around the corner from trump. Usual coffee bean and under the LA Vaad.

Meat Restaurants
1. Prime Grill- Paitilla Bal Harbour Mall, tel: 263-2805- A Hapina/Grill Point type place.
2. Sababa (sandwiches)- Calle 47 bella vista entrando por Banesco local 3. Tel: 203-1081. Shawarma, burgers and other sandwiches.
3. Lula Restaurant - Obarrio, Calle Samuel Lewis, tel: 209-4820- Upscale meat restaurant. Fantastic food. Great appetizers, burgers and I had a fantastci steak as well. Like a nice NYC restaurant.
4. Pita plus - Paitilla Bal Harbour Mall, tel: 209-2048-Shawarma, burgers and other sandwiches.
5. Dr. Sandwich: Paitilla:203-4410

Super Markets-  Both carry any kosher product you would want and both have restaurants in them.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Deli K- Avenida Balboa, inside Multicentro Mall. Tel: 208-2818
2. Super Kosher- Paitilla, Calle Ramon Jurado tel: 263-5253.

Shuls
----------
Extremely strict security. Must bring passports.
Panama is extremely wealthy and there is very high security around the Jews and must be prepared to be asked a lot of questions before you are allowed in the shul

1. The "Shevet Ahim synagogue" located in the 44th street, Bella Vista.
2. We have another sepharadic synagogue called "Ahavat Sion" located in Paitilla.
3. We have another located in Punta Pacifica.

Things to do
------------------
Barefoot Panama has a ton of Tours to do and they pick you up at your hotel if you are in Panama City. (http://www.barefootpanama.com/) It does get pricey but its a good service.

We did Ziplining which was fantastic and gorgeous views. ($100/person)

Old City in Panama is a must

Coastal views- Can rent bikes or walk up and down along the water. Stunning views and also a must.

Panama Canal- We drove to the Miraflores locks of the canal and watched the educational video about it. They have a four story exhibit as well as observation decks where you can see the ships going through the canal and how the locks work. (i recommend it but do not do a boat tour, the regular visit is jsut fine).

A great trip without worrying about bringing a kosher piece of food with you.

Let me know if anyone has question.

Thanks for the mini-trip report, had a trip planned for mid-winter but had to cancel but it's at the top of my list for next year!  Also, I knew about a lot of the restaurants but had no idea about a kosher Coffee Bean so thanks for that info too.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Srsy on January 07, 2016, 08:01:15 AM
What is the closest hotel walking distance to a shul?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: jmk62110 on January 07, 2016, 10:25:45 AM
If you stay at Trump its walking distance to Punta Pacifica Shul and can do meals at Chabd which is also walking distance.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Srsy on January 07, 2016, 11:37:54 AM
Any SPG hotels within waking distance to the shul?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mgarfin on January 07, 2016, 11:56:31 AM
I would add if you can get into the club hebreo there are some excellent kosher restaurants in there also

What is  club hebreo?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on January 07, 2016, 02:16:05 PM
Any SPG hotels within waking distance to the shul?

Yeh the Le Meridien
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: rileywiles23 on January 07, 2016, 04:44:39 PM
What activities can I do with a 10 month old ?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 07, 2016, 11:25:57 PM
What is  club hebreo?

It's their equivalent of a JCC and I think it has a meat and a dairy restaurant but from what I understand you either have to have someone vouch for you, have an Israeli passport or a stamp from Israel in your passport to get past the tight security.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 07, 2016, 11:26:36 PM
Bump

what were the locals drinking?

Bump again, I also want to know about chalav stam there...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Srsy on February 03, 2016, 10:48:58 PM
Any restaurants open on Chol Hamoed Pesach?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on February 03, 2016, 11:11:42 PM
I had absolutely no idea there was any kind of Jewish Community in Panama, let alone a good number of kosher eating options (considerably more than Boston, though I recognize it's not saying much). Really glad I happened on this thread. Seeing the Panama canal has been on my bucket list, but now it's way up there. Thanks to  jmk62110 and others who contributed here.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: gsquared on February 04, 2016, 12:14:26 PM
We went to Club Hebreo and ate at the dairy restaurant. It was really very well done. Excellent food, service and prices. We did have to show passports(US) and it took about 10 minutes for them to check us out  etc.   
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yakrot on February 04, 2016, 01:15:06 PM

I had absolutely no idea there was any kind of Jewish Community in Panama, let alone a good number of kosher eating options (considerably more than Boston, though I recognize it's not saying much). Really glad I happened on this thread. Seeing the Panama canal has been on my bucket list, but now it's way up there. Thanks to  jmk62110 and others who contributed here.
way more restaurants
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on February 04, 2016, 10:41:26 PM
way more restaurants
again, that's not saying much!  :'(
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: dvol on May 12, 2016, 12:18:38 PM
Looking for some info on Santa Clara, thinking of staying at the all-inclusive Sheraton for a weekend in June.

Any kosher food in the area? Anything to do around there?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Aaaron on May 26, 2016, 10:35:11 AM
How much time would be recommended for Panama to see/experience the basic?  I've done ziplining in Costa Rica and Puerto Rico so it's not high on the list.  Planning a Sunday-Thursday trip and debating between Panama for the whole thing or Panama/Nicaragua. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yitzyul on June 16, 2016, 11:25:23 AM
I had absolutely no idea there was any kind of Jewish Community in Panama, let alone a good number of kosher eating options (considerably more than Boston, though I recognize it's not saying much). Really glad I happened on this thread. Seeing the Panama canal has been on my bucket list, but now it's way up there. Thanks to  jmk62110 and others who contributed here.
They have a beautiful community there, with gorgeous shuls. Make sure you call the restaurants before you go as they are not always opened. Darna didn't open until 9:30 and we tried to go at 9:00, and couldn't wait. Lula was closed that night so we struck out twice:)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yakrot on June 16, 2016, 02:08:13 PM
How much time would be recommended for Panama to see/experience the basic?  I've done ziplining in Costa Rica and Puerto Rico so it's not high on the list.  Planning a Sunday-Thursday trip and debating between Panama for the whole thing or Panama/Nicaragua.
What are you looking to accomplish in Panama? There's great Jewish infrastructure there but besides for that I don't know how much there is to actually do
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on June 16, 2016, 04:55:32 PM
What are you looking to accomplish in Panama? There's great Jewish infrastructure there but besides for that I don't know how much there is to actually do

It seems like there is tons to do!  I have family that lived there and we are planning to go in the winter and want to see the canals, the rainforest (tons of different nature stuff and outdoor activities), may spend some time at the beach, go see how the native indigenous tribes live, go up in the mountains to the coffee plantations.  There seem to be lots of historical stuff and museums also.  We are planning Monday-Sunday and actually had planned to leave Friday for Cancun since we could get a free stopover but decided to just spend Shabbat there as well since the community sounds so nice and we wanted to make sure we had enough time.

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on June 16, 2016, 05:00:51 PM
+1
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Srsy on June 16, 2016, 11:28:24 PM
Is it worth it to go to Panama in July?  How bad is the rain?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on June 17, 2016, 02:42:28 AM
Is it worth it to go to Panama in July?  How bad is the rain?

July is good because that's when whalewatching season starts.
Had lots of fun getting sprayed by humpbacks while sitting in a tiny motor boat.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on June 17, 2016, 03:19:51 AM
-I managed to make an amazing day trip out of Contadora (Pearl Islands).
If I had a chance to redo it I would probably stay overnight.

I never expounded on this-
For my last day, we decided to visit a nearby island, Contadora, it looked like it would be really nice place to visit.

So in the morning we took a 20 minute flight in a 12 seat hunk of junk from Albrook International Airport (PAC) for $50/OW.
We had an unexpected stopover in San Jose which was nice. The flight had beautiful views the entire way.

We land in Contadora without any real plans. And apparently there's no easy to find bathrooms due to lack of water on the island. Anyways there's these black guys that hang out on the beach with motorboats to rent.
For $35/hour the motor boat also came with the entertaining guide (who didn't speak much English).

He took us to around whale watching for about an hour which was spectacular.
Getting real up-close views of a few humpback whales while in a tiny boat was exhilarating.

Afterwards we went to the beautiful deserted island of Chipera where we went snorkeling. You can also rent scuba equipment on Contadora. There's not much reef where I was but there were some beautiful tropical fish hanging out. Later, we hung out on the pristine beaches and crystal clear water, while the guide served us freshly picked coconuts.

Then, we headed out to Mogu Mogu where Season 7 of Survivor was shot. Mogu Mogu was also quite unique, more crystal clear water and beautiful shells and rocks that were worth taking home.

We then boated around some more taking in the scenic views of the various islands from the boat, while also passing some famous houses like the Shah of Iran and Christian Dior (IINM).

We headed back to the island and took the late afternoon ferry back to the mainland.
The ferry costs $45/OW, and takes around 2 hours, but is the only night option for returning.
The ferry ride is comfortable and relaxing, and you get to see more whales and some dolphins on the way.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on June 17, 2016, 12:30:38 PM
I never expounded on this-
For my last day, we decided to visit a nearby island, Contadora, it looked like it would be really nice place to visit.

So in the morning we took a 20 minute flight in a 12 seat hunk of junk from Albrook International Airport (PAC) for $50/OW.
We had an unexpected stopover in San Jose which was nice. The flight had beautiful views the entire way.

We land in Contadora without any real plans. And apparently there's no easy to find bathrooms due to lack of water on the island. Anyways there's these black guys that hang out on the beach with motorboats to rent.
For $35/hour the motor boat also came with the entertaining guide (who didn't speak much English).

He took us to around whale watching for about an hour which was spectacular.
Getting real up-close views of a few humpback whales while in a tiny boat was exhilarating.

Afterwards we went to the beautiful deserted island of Chipera where we went snorkeling. You can also rent scuba equipment on Contadora. There's not much reef where I was but there were some beautiful tropical fish hanging out. Later, we hung out on the pristine beaches and crystal clear water, while the guide served us freshly picked coconuts.

Then, we headed out to Mogu Mogu where Season 7 of Survivor was shot. Mogu Mogu was also quite unique, more crystal clear water and beautiful shells and rocks that were worth taking home.

We then boated around some more taking in the scenic views of the various islands from the boat, while also passing some famous houses like the Shah of Iran and Christian Dior (IINM).

We headed back to the island and took the late afternoon ferry back to the mainland.
The ferry costs $45/OW, and takes around 2 hours, but is the only night option for returning.
The ferry ride is comfortable and relaxing, and you get to see more whales and some dolphins on the way.

Wow, sounds amazing!  This day sounds like a little too long of day and a little too much adventure for me with all my kids but do you have a recommendation of the best/easiest to get to beach or boat trip with snorkeling for a family? My kids are pre-school to middle school age.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ponash123 on June 22, 2016, 04:44:21 PM
Anyone know of a villa or small rental that will have a private pool?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: 3yummyboys on June 22, 2016, 07:51:11 PM
Anyone know of a villa or small rental that will have a private pool?

Try homeaway.com
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: bb_sam on June 29, 2016, 06:58:14 AM
I have a trip to Panama planned for late August.  In looking at hotels that are within walking distance to the shul (shevet ahim), I came across a really good deal on a hotel called the Occidental.  It looks to be about a 15-20 min walk to the shul and a few blocks away from Lula Restaurant. 

Has anyone stayed at this hotel?  Is it close enough to the shul to walk on shabbos?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on June 29, 2016, 07:27:35 AM
I have a trip to Panama planned for late August.  In looking at hotels that are within walking distance to the shul (shevet ahim), I came across a really good deal on a hotel called the Occidental.  It looks to be about a 15-20 min walk to the shul and a few blocks away from Lula Restaurant. 

Has anyone stayed at this hotel?  Is it close enough to the shul to walk on shabbos?

No reason not to stay at highly rated hotels in Panama.
The high end hotels are less than $200 a night.
May as well go for the best like the Hilton.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: bb_sam on June 29, 2016, 08:36:33 AM
No reason not to stay at highly rated hotels in Panama.
The high end hotels are less than $200 a night.
May as well go for the best like the Hilton.

Appreciate the response but I can actually rent two rooms at the Occidental for less than it would cost to stay at the Le Meriden, Hilton, or Trump.  The Occidental is also highly rate on Tripadvisor.  So, back to my original question, anyone ever stayed here and is it close enough to a shul?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on June 29, 2016, 11:15:39 PM
Appreciate the response but I can actually rent two rooms at the Occidental for less than it would cost to stay at the Le Meriden, Hilton, or Trump.  The Occidental is also highly rate on Tripadvisor.  So, back to my original question, anyone ever stayed here and is it close enough to a shul?

Haven't heard anyone reference it.  Not sure what your rate was but there were rooms at number of Hilton branded hotels (Doubletree, HGI and a Hampton Inn) for like $80 a night some were only 5,000 HHonors points.  No idea their locations to Shuls.  We're staying at the Hilton, which looks to be an easy walk.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on October 26, 2016, 08:59:41 AM
Has anyone been to Panama in May? I would like to go in May 2017, got a great rate at a hotel and found really cheap (points) flights. I know it's rainy season, but I see conflicting comments online about just small amounts of rain some afternoons to torrential downpours!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on November 29, 2016, 05:24:14 PM
Has anyone been to Panama in May? I would like to go in May 2017, got a great rate at a hotel and found really cheap (points) flights. I know it's rainy season, but I see conflicting comments online about just small amounts of rain some afternoons to torrential downpours!

I haven't been there in May but I have lived all over the tropics and in Monsoon season it is still unpredictable.  It can have torrential, crazy rain, every single day but often those downpours are fast and then go away.  It's not usually days of non-stop rain.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on November 29, 2016, 06:16:45 PM
Has anyone been to Panama in May? I would like to go in May 2017, got a great rate at a hotel and found really cheap (points) flights. I know it's rainy season, but I see conflicting comments online about just small amounts of rain some afternoons to torrential downpours!

I went during rainy season. It wasn't a big deal.
Usually it rains for like an hour during the afternoon and that's it. It feels like it rains on a schedule.
Also it's humid but I'm not sure how that compares to the dry season.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on December 25, 2016, 01:24:03 AM
My friend is in Panama right now and I'm planning in earnest for my trip in a few weeks and came  across some cool info. Download the KosherPTY app and you can access like 15 kosher restaurants plus bakeries and supermarkets, many of which have order & delivery direct from the app.

Also one of the restaurants that looks amazing, called Kava, appears to be inside the Sortis hotel, now part of the Marriott Autograph collection! It's only Tier 5 so a great use of a week cert if you've got one to burn with a Flight+Hotel deal or its reasonable amount of SPG points too.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Luvtotravel on December 25, 2016, 11:23:30 AM
My friend is in Panama right now and I'm planning in earnest for my trip in a few weeks and came  across some cool info. Download the KosherPTY app and you can access like 15 kosher restaurants plus bakeries and supermarkets, many of which have order & delivery direct from the app.

Also one of the restaurants that looks amazing, called Kava, appears to be inside the Sortis hotel, now part of the Marriott Autograph collection! It's only Tier 5 so a great use of a week cert if you've got one to burn with a Flight+Hotel deal or its reasonable amount of SPG points too.
tx for the info and post what itin you come up with since planning trip too.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Cw3323 on January 06, 2017, 01:41:45 AM
Is there zika in the city area?
Is 4 full days enough to cover the basics?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 06, 2017, 02:02:59 AM
Is there zika in the city area?
Is 4 full days enough to cover the basics?

I looked on the CDC (or maybe WHO) maps and it looked to only be in a certain area away from the city where the native tribes live.  My friends were just there for 10 days and we are going at the end of this month for a week but without Shabbos and if you really knew what you wanted to see (and didn't "waste" days going to private beaches/islands) you could probably see all the big stuff (canal, city, rainforest/animals) in four days.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 06, 2017, 02:12:28 AM
tx for the info and post what itin you come up with since planning trip too.

We're actually going to use a guide/tour company for three days which will include a half day city tour, which includes an interactive site to see and touch local animals.  A half day tour of the canal and monkey island and a 3/4 day tour which includes a boat ride up the Chargres river, hike to a warterful and a visit to a Embrera Indian Village.  I have three kids so we have planned everything with them in mind.  If you want more "active" stuff or places that include longer drives and boat ride there are tons of other things. The guide said we could easily add in on our own, hiking Portabello road (supposed to be able to see amazing rainforest birds and some animals) and the Natural Metropolitan Park that is right in the city and also supposed to be great.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: DG613 on February 10, 2017, 11:37:20 AM
We're actually going to use a guide/tour company for three days which will include a half day city tour, which includes an interactive site to see and touch local animals.  A half day tour of the canal and monkey island and a 3/4 day tour which includes a boat ride up the Chargres river, hike to a warterful and a visit to a Embrera Indian Village.  I have three kids so we have planned everything with them in mind.  If you want more "active" stuff or places that include longer drives and boat ride there are tons of other things. The guide said we could easily add in on our own, hiking Portabello road (supposed to be able to see amazing rainforest birds and some animals) and the Natural Metropolitan Park that is right in the city and also supposed to be great.

Hi Denverite, are you going to write up a TR? I would really look forward to it especially since you are traveling with your kids. We are thinking about bringing the family (4 kids ages will be 10, 7, 5, 2.5) for winter 2018 because of all the reasons you mentioned previously. We did Maui this year and loved the green tropics, mountains, and beaches. Panama (or possibly elsewhere in Costa Rica) seems like it would be a good fit for us as well.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on February 10, 2017, 05:45:49 PM
Hi Denverite, are you going to write up a TR? I would really look forward to it especially since you are traveling with your kids. We are thinking about bringing the family (4 kids ages will be 10, 7, 5, 2.5) for winter 2018 because of all the reasons you mentioned previously. We did Maui this year and loved the green tropics, mountains, and beaches. Panama (or possibly elsewhere in Costa Rica) seems like it would be a good fit for us as well.

I just got back this week and it was so amazing I literally want to move there! ;) We all agreed we want to go back since we purposely took the week easy but then didn't do everything we wanted to and need to return! All my kids had a blast, there are over 20 EXCELLENT kosher restaurants (that cost less than the US) and since Panama is so physically small we were able to have breakfast in the kosher Coffee Bean next to our hotel (there were also a number of bakeries and cafes close by) and later come home from our tour or excursion and have the driver just drop us at a new kosher restaurant to try.  It is the full package of the convenience of vacationing in Miami but can do a lot of of the cool stuff that you'd want to do in Costa Rica, the Carribean or even the rainforest in Brazil.  I don't want to promise but hopefully I'll start to write it up on Sunday.  Also, if you have any specific questions just let me know and I'll try to answer.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: sky121 on February 11, 2017, 03:20:32 PM
I just got back this week and it was so amazing I literally want to move there! ;) We all agreed we want to go back since we purposely took the week easy but then didn't do everything we wanted to and need to return! All my kids had a blast, there are over 20 EXCELLENT kosher restaurants (that cost less than the US) and since Panama is so physically small we were able to have breakfast in the kosher Coffee Bean next to our hotel (there were also a number of bakeries and cafes close by) and later come home from our tour or excursion and have the driver just drop us at a new kosher restaurant to try.  It is the full package of the convenience of vacationing in Miami but can do a lot of of the cool stuff that you'd want to do in Costa Rica, the Carribean or even the rainforest in Brazil.  I don't want to promise but hopefully I'll start to write it up on Sunday.  Also, if you have any specific questions just let me know and I'll try to answer.
Nice! Looking forward to the TR.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: harrym on February 14, 2017, 03:43:14 AM
Is it suggested to rent a car in Panama?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on February 23, 2017, 02:05:58 PM
Is it suggested to rent a car in Panama?

I've been off for a while and know I am probably too late in answering to help you but we were there 8 days without a car (granted did take some tours/excursions that provided transportation) but the traffic and drivers are crazy (comparable to Israel...lol) and we didn't want to bother.  From all the major hotels in Panama city to kosher restaurants you shouldn't have an Uber more than $3!  They also have Uber English, which charges a little more, if you want a guaranteed English Speak driver.  Maybe if you are staying at the Westin out of the city or want to drive to excursions on your own, it might be worth it but taking Uber and a few cabs worked great for us!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: BrooklynCPA on February 23, 2017, 02:34:36 PM
I just got back this week and it was so amazing I literally want to move there! ;) We all agreed we want to go back since we purposely took the week easy but then didn't do everything we wanted to and need to return! All my kids had a blast, there are over 20 EXCELLENT kosher restaurants (that cost less than the US) and since Panama is so physically small we were able to have breakfast in the kosher Coffee Bean next to our hotel (there were also a number of bakeries and cafes close by) and later come home from our tour or excursion and have the driver just drop us at a new kosher restaurant to try.  It is the full package of the convenience of vacationing in Miami but can do a lot of of the cool stuff that you'd want to do in Costa Rica, the Carribean or even the rainforest in Brazil.  I don't want to promise but hopefully I'll start to write it up on Sunday.  Also, if you have any specific questions just let me know and I'll try to answer.

Looking forward to the trip report. Thinking of taking a family trip to Panama.

Which hotel did you stay at?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on February 23, 2017, 02:43:05 PM
Looking forward to the trip report. Thinking of taking a family trip to Panama.

Which hotel did you stay at?

It's a great destination for families and by far my easiest vacation with my kids.  We stayed at the Hilton and got like an 1100sqft 1BR suite w/full kitchen and two bathrooms, that easily slept all five of us.  The Waldorf Astoria is a block over too.  If you have SPG, the LeMeridian was also just one block over.  These are all close to Shevet Ahim shul.  The Sortis hotel is a little NE of where we were but has a beautiful dairy restaurant INSIDE, is walking distance to a couple other kosher restaurants and an ashkenazi shul and is only a Marriott Cat 4 so a great use of a free week cert.  I just started working on pics to upload today so hopefully I can get started soon with the report!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: BrooklynCPA on February 23, 2017, 03:08:41 PM
It's a great destination for families and by far my easiest vacation with my kids.  We stayed at the Hilton and got like an 1100sqft 1BR suite w/full kitchen and two bathrooms, that easily slept all five of us.  The Waldorf Astoria is a block over too.  If you have SPG, the LeMeridian was also just one block over.  These are all close to Shevet Ahim shul.  The Sortis hotel is a little NE of where we were but has a beautiful dairy restaurant INSIDE, is walking distance to a couple other kosher restaurants and an ashkenazi shul and is only a Marriott Cat 4 so a great use of a free week cert.  I just started working on pics to upload today so hopefully I can get started soon with the report!

Looking Forward!!!

Seems like once of the best uses for the Marriott Certs especially with Kosher restaurant in the Hotel!!! How far is the Shul if we stayed over shabbos? Also, do you know if there are any restaurants open for shabbos meals?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on February 24, 2017, 04:19:54 PM
Looking Forward!!!

Seems like once of the best uses for the Marriott Certs especially with Kosher restaurant in the Hotel!!! How far is the Shul if we stayed over shabbos? Also, do you know if there are any restaurants open for shabbos meals?

It DOES seems like an awesome cert use!  I need a 1 or 2brm so I'm gonna try to call and ask them what they would charge to upgrade.  I can't remember the shul  name offhand but I'll try to look it up. I don't know if they are open for Shabbos meals but you can definitely get Shabbos takeout on Friday from a ton of places.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on March 14, 2017, 10:05:25 PM
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/424/32919957422_1060ecbd02_z.jpg)

This pic is just me testing out that I can actually load my pictures correctly...lol...hopefully my TR will be forthcoming ASAP and BTW this is one of the Costco sized Kosher markets in Panama City!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: sky121 on March 14, 2017, 10:21:16 PM
It's a great destination for families and by far my easiest vacation with my kids.  We stayed at the Hilton and got like an 1100sqft 1BR suite w/full kitchen and two bathrooms, that easily slept all five of us.  The Waldorf Astoria is a block over too.  If you have SPG, the LeMeridian was also just one block over.  These are all close to Shevet Ahim shul.  The Sortis hotel is a little NE of where we were but has a beautiful dairy restaurant INSIDE, is walking distance to a couple other kosher restaurants and an ashkenazi shul and is only a Marriott Cat 4 so a great use of a free week cert.  I just started working on pics to upload today so hopefully I can get started soon with the report!

Would you recommend staying in the area you stayed in?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on March 14, 2017, 10:22:01 PM
This pic is just me testing out that I can actually load my pictures correctly...lol...hopefully my TR will be forthcoming ASAP and BTW this is one of the Costco sized Kosher markets in Panama City!

Not that I mind this post, but a better way to test something is to send yourself a PM.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on March 14, 2017, 10:48:05 PM
Would you recommend staying in the area you stayed in?

I would totally recommend it.  I thought we were in an absolutely ideal location.

Not that I mind this post, but a better way to test something is to send yourself a PM.

I could actually see it when I hit preview but I knew if actually posted it then I'd have incentive to start writing my TR  :P
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on March 15, 2017, 12:19:09 PM
It DOES seems like an awesome cert use!  I need a 1 or 2brm so I'm gonna try to call and ask them what they would charge to upgrade.  I can't remember the shul  name offhand but I'll try to look it up. I don't know if they are open for Shabbos meals but you can definitely get Shabbos takeout on Friday from a ton of places.

We booked the Panama Marriott on pointsavers for 5 days for a total of 40,000 points, but now I'm wondering if would be better to spend a few more points and end up in the eruv. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on March 15, 2017, 12:24:08 PM
We booked the Panama Marriott on pointsavers for 5 days for a total of 40,000 points, but now I'm wondering if would be better to spend a few more points and end up in the eruv.

Did you check out the Sortis hotel?  It is brand new and only a Tier 4.  You'll have to check but I'd think it's in the eruv.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on March 15, 2017, 12:28:48 PM
This is the Kava restaurant inside the Sortis and literally a block from other great restaurants and an ashkenaz shul.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2376/32919956572_1dcafbbd48_z.jpg)


They have high end dairy and sushi (but still the cost of a normal US restaurant)...we had some of the best crepes I've ever had.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/564/32949112361_da002392bb_z.jpg)

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2533/32949112261_5294ef148c_z.jpg)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on March 15, 2017, 01:34:59 PM
Did you check out the Sortis hotel?  It is brand new and only a Tier 4.  You'll have to check but I'd think it's in the eruv.

It's 15,000 points more for our stay. I need to decide if it's worth that. The Marriott is super cheap.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on March 15, 2017, 01:57:15 PM
It's 15,000 points more for our stay. I need to decide if it's worth that. The Marriott is super cheap.

How many points is the Marriott? 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on March 15, 2017, 01:59:33 PM
And I finally started my TR  :P

http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=75186.0 (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=75186.0)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on March 15, 2017, 02:31:32 PM
How many points is the Marriott?

It was super saver when I booked it - 5 nights for 40,000 points total.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on March 15, 2017, 02:33:29 PM
It was super saver when I booked it - 5 nights for 40,000 points total.

Panama city is very compact...all your ubers should be $2-3 so really it's just a question of whether 15k Marriott points are worth your hassle on Shabbos?  Does that help you decide?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on March 16, 2017, 07:22:55 AM
Panama city is very compact...all your ubers should be $2-3 so really it's just a question of whether 15k Marriott points are worth your hassle on Shabbos?  Does that help you decide?

Yes, I'll stick with what we have. We are two adults (traveling without our kids) so I can deal with the hassle.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Cw3323 on April 28, 2017, 01:07:31 AM
How is the weather in may ?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on April 28, 2017, 09:54:04 AM
How is the weather in may ?

I think it is just beginning rainy season...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on May 30, 2017, 12:03:58 PM
How is the weather in may ?

I just came back from Panama. It's the beginning of rainy season which means it rains a little bit every day. Most days that meant 3-4 am. Even when it did rain, it was just for a few minutes (on the Panama City side). The general rule of thumb per Panamanians is that whatever the rain is on the Pacific side, it is twice on the Caribbean side.

It was a great time to visit because it's not busy or crowded and you can get good deals on flights and hotels since it is lower season. Apparently October/November time is really rainy and floods.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 06, 2017, 11:21:58 AM
What's the best way of getting from the airport to Pita Plus and back? Taxi? Uber?

Layover is 3:42.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on June 06, 2017, 12:49:47 PM
What's the best way of getting from the airport to Pita Plus and back? Taxi? Uber?

Layover is 3:42.

I'd personally cab it from the airport as you can hop in with zero wait and then Uber back.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 06, 2017, 12:50:37 PM
I'd personally cab it from the airport as you can hop in with zero wait and then Uber back.

Sounds like a plan. Do you know how much I can expect to pay for these?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on June 06, 2017, 12:52:29 PM
Sounds like a plan. Do you know how much I can expect to pay for these?

Since I'm in a good mood I checked on Uber and it's $25  :P
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 06, 2017, 12:53:00 PM
Since I'm in a good mood I checked on Uber and it's $25  :P

ALOL, thanks.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on June 06, 2017, 02:24:22 PM
You are going to go from the airport just for Pita Plus?? Their food is good but its standard Israeli food. Why not pick something a little more exotic?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 06, 2017, 02:49:34 PM
You are going to go from the airport just for Pita Plus?? Their food is good but its standard Israeli food. Why not pick something a little more exotic?

Their food is some of the best I have ever tasted. I'm interested in good, simple food, not exotic.

Their burger is the best I've ever had.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: whYME on June 06, 2017, 02:53:18 PM
Their burger is the best I've ever had.
Keep in mind that your opinion of the burger may have been skewed slightly by a week of eating PB wraps :)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 06, 2017, 03:12:10 PM
Keep in mind that your opinion of the burger may have been skewed slightly by a week of eating PB wraps :)

That's likely to happen this time too :-X. There's a significant possibility that all our food will be taken away when we get to Honduras.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on June 06, 2017, 03:32:29 PM
Their food is some of the best I have ever tasted. I'm interested in good, simple food, not exotic.

Their burger is the best I've ever had.

Have you been to Amsterdam Burger Co in NYC?

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on June 06, 2017, 04:00:46 PM
Have you been to Amsterdam Burger Co in NYC?

I have. I'd rate their breakfast burger as my second best.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on June 06, 2017, 06:47:49 PM
I hope you get to keep your food. Enjoy the burger. We loved the schwarma there and the yucca fries were definitely fun.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on June 08, 2017, 11:31:53 PM
Does anyone have contact information for a driver/tour guide they recommend for Panama layover?

Thanks

www.therealpanamatours.com (http://www.therealpanamatours.com)

She has a specific link for people on layovers of 4-6 hours and I can't recommend her enough.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on June 08, 2017, 11:32:55 PM
Has anyone been there over sukkot and know if a lot of the restaurants have sukkahs open?  Does the Chabad have an open sukkah for people to use on Chag?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Srsy on June 09, 2017, 12:24:54 AM
Which SPG hotel is closest to the shul?  How bad is the rain in the beginning of July?
Do you recommend renting a car or hiring a driver?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on June 09, 2017, 12:44:53 AM
Which SPG hotel is closest to the shul?  How bad is the rain in the beginning of July?
Do you recommend renting a car or hiring a driver?

Le Meridian is very close to Shevet Achim shul and only 7k a night.  Totally recommend getting a driver.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on June 09, 2017, 08:50:59 AM
Which SPG hotel is closest to the shul?  How bad is the rain in the beginning of July?
Do you recommend renting a car or hiring a driver?

I don't recommend driving in Panama City it all. Drivers are crazy. Stop signs are (literally) suggestions. Pedestrians just walk off the streets wherever they want. There is no place to park.

If you want to drive to El Valle, the drive isn't bad (we hired a driver). 

We use Almiza Tours/ My friend mario http://www.bscpma.com/mfm/aboutus.htm and they were great. We negotiated for round trip transportation to/from the airport since we took multiple tours with them.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on June 09, 2017, 10:10:19 AM
we actually loved driving in panama city. the drivers ARE crazy but a certain point we just said if you cant beam em join em, and joined the fun.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Srsy on June 09, 2017, 12:20:39 PM
I don't recommend driving in Panama City it all. Drivers are crazy. Stop signs are (literally) suggestions. Pedestrians just walk off the streets wherever they want. There is no place to park.

If you want to drive to El Valle, the drive isn't bad (we hired a driver). 

We use Almiza Tours/ My friend mario http://www.bscpma.com/mfm/aboutus.htm and they were great. We negotiated for round trip transportation to/from the airport since we took multiple tours with them.
How expensive are drivers?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on June 09, 2017, 12:35:51 PM
How expensive are drivers?

We did day trips over a specific driver, so I can't really give you a quote for that. But our tour to El Valle was $80/pp, to Colon area was $70/pp to give you an idea. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Dan on June 17, 2017, 10:47:57 PM
Anyone want to adopt this wiki?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on June 17, 2017, 11:03:46 PM
Anyone want to adopt this wiki?

What does that mean?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Yordai Dooma on July 06, 2017, 12:45:59 PM
What does that mean?
it means to complete it with the local info that can help others.

I just got back this week and it was so amazing I literally want to move there! ;) We all agreed we want to go back since we purposely took the week easy but then didn't do everything we wanted to and need to return! All my kids had a blast, there are over 20 EXCELLENT kosher restaurants (that cost less than the US) and since Panama is so physically small we were able to have breakfast in the kosher Coffee Bean next to our hotel (there were also a number of bakeries and cafes close by) and later come home from our tour or excursion and have the driver just drop us at a new kosher restaurant to try.  It is the full package of the convenience of vacationing in Miami but can do a lot of of the cool stuff that you'd want to do in Costa Rica, the Carribean or even the rainforest in Brazil.  I don't want to promise but hopefully I'll start to write it up on Sunday.  Also, if you have any specific questions just let me know and I'll try to answer.
Did you end up posting a TR anywhere? would love to see it.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 06, 2017, 08:48:29 PM
I can't figure out how to post a hyperlink with a name. Can anyone point me to some directions? I can link to Denverite's TR then. Once I write mine, I'll add that too.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on July 06, 2017, 09:09:25 PM
I can't figure out how to post a hyperlink with a name. Can anyone point me to some directions? I can link to Denverite's TR then. Once I write mine, I'll add that too.

Code: [Select]
[url=www.google.com]Google[/url]
Makes this:

Google (http://www.google.com)

Modify as needed.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 06, 2017, 09:12:35 PM
Code: [Select]
[url=www.google.com]Google[/url]
Makes this:

Google (http://www.google.com)

Modify as needed.


Thank you.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 14, 2017, 12:20:06 PM
I can't figure out how to post a hyperlink with a name. Can anyone point me to some directions? I can link to Denverite's TR then. Once I write mine, I'll add that too.

Here is my TR:
http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=75186.0 (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=75186.0)

And I'd love to see yours too as I'm planning to go back and I know there was tons we didn't do!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 17, 2017, 07:37:45 AM
Here is my TR:
http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=75186.0 (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=75186.0)

And I'd love to see yours too as I'm planning to go back and I know there was tons we didn't do!

Now that I know someone actually wants to read it, I'll get moving. I finally sorted my pictures and ordered a photobook, so it shouldn't be too bad!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 17, 2017, 09:55:11 PM
Now that I know someone actually wants to read it, I'll get moving. I finally sorted my pictures and ordered a photobook, so it shouldn't be too bad!

People for sure want to read your Trip Report!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 18, 2017, 10:10:03 PM
People for sure want to read your Trip Report!

Yes but that's people in general. Knowing there is an actual person makes it a lot more likely to get it done :-)

I started mine here: http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=81828.msg1774056#msg1774056
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on July 18, 2017, 10:46:14 PM
Yes but that's people in general. Knowing there is an actual person makes it a lot more likely to get it done :-)

I started mine here: http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=81828.msg1774056#msg1774056


Nice, thanks. Will go check it out now.

Looks like it's open season for Panama TRs, I also started mine earlier today ;D
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: JudahMcB on July 21, 2017, 09:47:04 AM
Any recommendations for cell phone/SIM card providers while in Panama? Obviously don't want to get anything in the airport because it's probably 3-4x what it would cost in the city. Any providers that will ship SIM cards to the US?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 21, 2017, 11:19:26 AM
Any recommendations for cell phone/SIM card providers while in Panama? Obviously don't want to get anything in the airport because it's probably 3-4x what it would cost in the city. Any providers that will ship SIM cards to the US?

We added Panama to our phone plan and went with the $10/day charge from verizon. Sorry I can't be more helpful.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 21, 2017, 01:15:11 PM
We added Panama to our phone plan and went with the $10/day charge from verizon. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

It was actually free to add it to our sprint plan but without high speed data, which worked fine.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: sky121 on July 21, 2017, 02:07:18 PM
Any recommendations for cell phone/SIM card providers while in Panama? Obviously don't want to get anything in the airport because it's probably 3-4x what it would cost in the city. Any providers that will ship SIM cards to the US?
Which carrier are you with now?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: JudahMcB on July 21, 2017, 02:10:53 PM
Which carrier are you with now?

I have 4 lines with Verizon :-(. $10/day for each line for Verizon TravelPass is a lot and I don't want my wife and kids to be without service in a foreign country.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 21, 2017, 02:11:48 PM
I have 4 lines with Verizon :-(. $10/day for each line is a lot and I don't want my wife and kids to be without service in a foreign country.
Do you need each line? Why not have them share 1?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: JudahMcB on July 21, 2017, 02:37:40 PM
Do you need each line? Why not have them share 1?

I worry that my 13 year old will get separated from the rest of the family. Having a phone that can be used in an emergency puts everyone at ease. Maybe I'm just being paranoid?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: sky121 on July 21, 2017, 02:38:53 PM
I worry that my 13 year old will get separated from the rest of the family. Having a phone that can be used in an emergency puts everyone at ease. Maybe I'm just being paranoid?
It will work without the add on, no? For emergencies they can use them anyways then.
Title: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 21, 2017, 02:50:04 PM
I worry that my 13 year old will get separated from the rest of the family. Having a phone that can be used in an emergency puts everyone at ease. Maybe I'm just being paranoid?
You can add everyone to your plan. You only get charged if you use it. Leave it on airplane mode unless they get separated

Also, they have a plan that's not a daily unlimited plan. I forgot the details though. Call Verizon.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 24, 2017, 01:47:26 AM
I worry that my 13 year old will get separated from the rest of the family. Having a phone that can be used in an emergency puts everyone at ease. Maybe I'm just being paranoid?

Yes, you're being paranoid  :P
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Yordai Dooma on July 25, 2017, 01:30:29 AM
too many cheap hotels to choose from.
Kinda want the Westin Playa Bonita because its on the beach, but its also kinda far from all the restaurants.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Torkay on July 25, 2017, 02:40:52 AM
too many cheap hotels to choose from.
Kinda want the Westin Playa Bonita because its on the beach, but its also kinda far from all the restaurants.
There's a nice raddison right next to all the shuls and Jewish community
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 25, 2017, 04:46:45 AM
too many cheap hotels to choose from.
Kinda want the Westin Playa Bonita because its on the beach, but its also kinda far from all the restaurants.

The people I met who stayed there said the beach isn't great
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Yordai Dooma on July 25, 2017, 10:09:52 AM
The people I met who stayed there said the beach isn't great
thanks. I don't feel so bad then. So which would be the nicest hotel with nice pools
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 25, 2017, 12:45:58 PM
thanks. I don't feel so bad then. So which would be the nicest hotel with nice pools

I stayed at the Marriott but I wouldn't recommend it. My friends loved the Hard Rock. Denverite really liked the Hilton. There is a Le Meridien right near the kosher restaurants too, but I didn't go inside.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 25, 2017, 07:38:37 PM
too many cheap hotels to choose from.
Kinda want the Westin Playa Bonita because its on the beach, but its also kinda far from all the restaurants.


I stayed at the Marriott but I wouldn't recommend it. My friends loved the Hard Rock. Denverite really liked the Hilton. There is a Le Meridien right near the kosher restaurants too, but I didn't go inside.

The Hilton pool is awesome (although the water was cold), oceanfront on Avenida Balboa on like the 15th floor.  The pool was the biggest reason I booked here (full lounge access was next for all the drinks that we then took to the pool...lol).  I also think the location is just perfect, right next to the kosher Coffee Bean for breakfast, walk-able to restaurants and the huge supermarket.

When I go back though, I'm planning to stay at the Sortis at least part of the time.  When you can buy a week cert at $275 and stay at a super cool, brand new hotel with a spa and a kosher restaurant inside (and a couple others around the block), I can't really beat that.  Their pool looks actually bigger and nicer than the Hilton, just obviously not right on the water.

I think you are right that there are just too many dirt cheap hotels to choose from and honestly I don't think any of them are good redemption because they are so cheap (for that reason I just paid at the Hilton).  If you just want to spend zero dollars then yeah pick one on points or like I said for less than $300 buy a cert for a whole week at Sortis, save your points for an aspirational redemption elsewhere and then spend a little money to go on an excursion to San Blas to get a private island with a really awesome beach!

Check out the new videos they just loaded on the Sortis website:
http://www.sortishotel.com/eng/ (http://www.sortishotel.com/eng/)



Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: chuchem on July 26, 2017, 09:43:38 AM
will be there in feb with my kids for 10 days and booked the sortis. They have a sale for a 1 bedroom suite 220 dollars a night incl 60 dollar daily credit. Think thats a great rate, i booked 2 of these rooms, that will give the 8 of us enough space
I am still considering if i should stay 10 days in the sortis or only sun-sun and then go to a beach resort somewere for 3 days....
would even consider a 1 night san blas catamaran cruise, but not sure how doable this is with 6 little kids. didnt spend time yet on checking all out, but thanks for thr tr  that really helps
What places are close to the sortis, were i can eat and daven shabbes?


Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 26, 2017, 12:30:12 PM
will be there in feb with my kids for 10 days and booked the sortis. They have a sale for a 1 bedroom suite 220 dollars a night incl 60 dollar daily credit. Think thats a great rate, i booked 2 of these rooms, that will give the 8 of us enough space
I am still considering if i should stay 10 days in the sortis or only sun-sun and then go to a beach resort somewere for 3 days....
would even consider a 1 night san blas catamaran cruise, but not sure how doable this is with 6 little kids. didnt spend time yet on checking all out, but thanks for thr tr  that really helps
What places are close to the sortis, were i can eat and daven shabbes?

That is a great deal...I paid that at the Hilton for a 1brm but without the daily $60 credit.  I also prefer a suite with a kitchenette and extra space.  Did you call to see how much they would charge to upgrade a week cert to stay in a 1 or 2brm suite?  You wouldn't earn points but it could possibly be a ridiculous deal.  If you have the koach to call and find out, I'd love to know how much that would be.   For restaurants, Kava is inside Sortis, La Spezia is literally around the corner and I think Lula Darna is very close also.  I can't remember the name but the old ashkenazi shul is close by.  They are all in the Obarrio district. I think Chabad run all the Ashkenazi shuls now so maybe just e-mail them.

What's app or email Sorhay at http://www.therealpanamatours.com/ (http://www.therealpanamatours.com/) and she is amazing and will let you know exactly what is doable with the ages of your kids.  Since you are so many, I'd also just ask her for a daily rate for the van instead of pp although she did give a significant discount for the kids.  She helped us and also my friend that came before us that has 5 kids.  Those friends booked excursions with her for like 7 of their 10 days there, one of which was to San Blas and I know another DDFer just got back from a San Blas trip with her.  She is not only a superb tour guide but really excellent with children and my and my friend's kids all loved her.  I'd love to hear what you end up doing!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: SRM on July 26, 2017, 03:02:17 PM
Is there a nice hotel that is also very close to the Shuls. Most of the hotels listed are about a 25 minute walk.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 26, 2017, 03:27:51 PM
The Hilton, Le Meridian and Waldorf Astoria are all just a couple blocks from the Shevet Achim shul.  If you want to go to shul in Paitilla, that is a different story...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: chuchem on July 26, 2017, 04:30:18 PM
just checked on google map. seems both shuls are about a 25 min walk from the sortis... doable, but not close
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 26, 2017, 07:32:54 PM
just checked on google map. seems both shuls are about a 25 min walk from the sortis... doable, but not close

Were those in Paitilla?  The community originally started in the Obarrio disctrict but maybe they've all kind of moved (like how there isn't a big community now in the Lower East Side).  Even the huge Shevet Ahim shul we went to was like less than a quarter full and they have opened offshoot locations in Paitilla and Punta Pacifica where everyone is moving.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: chuchem on July 27, 2017, 07:29:02 AM
Were those in Paitilla?  The community originally started in the Obarrio disctrict but maybe they've all kind of moved (like how there isn't a big community now in the Lower East Side).  Even the huge Shevet Ahim shul we went to was like less than a quarter full and they have opened offshoot locations in Paitilla and Punta Pacifica where everyone is moving.

For someone that has never been there you are using some fancy expressions
I have no idea. I just google maped chabad and shevet achim. both about 25-30 min walk
Not so much fun in the heat. Always a option to eat shabbes lunch at hotel and friday night its only a oneway walk and not as hot
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 27, 2017, 07:39:18 AM
For someone that has never been there you are using some fancy expressions
I have no idea. I just google maped chabad and shevet achim. both about 25-30 min walk
Not so much fun in the heat. Always a option to eat shabbes lunch at hotel and friday night its only a oneway walk and not as hot

Shevet Achim has a really nice sit down kiddush lunch. We walked it from the Marriott and it wasn't so bad.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: SRM on July 27, 2017, 08:37:30 AM
Is the milk in Panama considered kosher. Outside of kosher restaurants, such as coffee shops. Obviously it's not cholov yisroel but is it kosher to drink (like in America vs. Italy where it's not)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Yordai Dooma on July 27, 2017, 08:59:21 AM
will be there in feb with my kids for 10 days and booked the sortis. They have a sale for a 1 bedroom suite 220 dollars a night incl 60 dollar daily credit. Think thats a great rate, i booked 2 of these rooms, that will give the 8 of us enough space
I am still considering if i should stay 10 days in the sortis or only sun-sun and then go to a beach resort somewere for 3 days....
would even consider a 1 night san blas catamaran cruise, but not sure how doable this is with 6 little kids. didnt spend time yet on checking all out, but thanks for thr tr  that really helps
What places are close to the sortis, were i can eat and daven shabbes?
what can the daily credit be used for?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: chuchem on July 27, 2017, 09:02:15 AM
Shevet Achim has a really nice sit down kiddush lunch. We walked it from the Marriott and it wasn't so bad.

The sortis is almost double... Dont know if its worth it with 1 hour walking...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: chuchem on July 27, 2017, 09:04:11 AM
what can the daily credit be used for?
Spa or Restaurants... Unfortunatly not Kava... not sure about minibar...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Yordai Dooma on July 27, 2017, 11:55:59 AM
Spa or Restaurants... Unfortunatly not Kava... not sure about minibar...
Did you book it already?
Did they charge it the card now or when you check in/out?
wondering in terms of booking it with the Barclays Arrival and then applying the points. I would need to spend a bit on the card to earn enough points to cover it.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 27, 2017, 12:29:26 PM
The sortis is almost double... Dont know if its worth it with 1 hour walking...

The sortis is 10 minutes from the Marriott. At least, 2 adults walking.

As to whether or not it's worth it, that's a personal choice. I really enjoyed the experience.

I know a few people who stayed in the Trump Towers, which is very close to the shul.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 27, 2017, 05:30:23 PM
For someone that has never been there you are using some fancy expressions
I have no idea. I just google maped chabad and shevet achim. both about 25-30 min walk
Not so much fun in the heat. Always a option to eat shabbes lunch at hotel and friday night its only a oneway walk and not as hot

If you just zoom out all those neighborhoods show up on google maps.  Shevet Achim and chabad are opposite directions and Sortis is in the middle.

Shevet Achim has a really nice sit down kiddush lunch. We walked it from the Marriott and it wasn't so bad.

Just want to warn people there isn't always kiddush there.  They didn't have when we went or a month earlier when friends were there.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: sky121 on August 27, 2017, 05:59:17 PM
For those that have visited - What are the top two hotels you would recommend? No need to be close to a shul.  Close to kosher food would be helpful.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on August 27, 2017, 10:24:58 PM
For those that have visited - What are the top two hotels you would recommend? No need to be close to a shul.  Close to kosher food would be helpful.

Does it need to be on points?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: sky121 on August 27, 2017, 10:25:35 PM
Does it need to be on points?
Pref. But I'm willing to hear all options.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on August 27, 2017, 10:30:34 PM
I stayed at the Hilton and found the location all around great (you can read my TR for details) and the Le Meridian is right next door.  Next stay still most likely be at the Sortis with Marriott with a restaurants inside and two other ones right around the corner.  If not on points, others have loved Trump Towers, which is also close to all the restaurants in Paitilla.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on October 18, 2017, 03:14:03 PM
There's a short Panama TR posted towards the end of my Honduras TR, if anyone's interested.

http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=81038.msg1817484#msg1817484
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: whYME on October 18, 2017, 03:43:44 PM
That reminds me, I don't think we ever linked my little jaunt into Panama from the Cuba TR here:

http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=65070.msg1592118#msg1592118 (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=65070.msg1592118#msg1592118)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on October 18, 2017, 03:49:14 PM
That reminds me, I don't think we ever linked my little jaunt into Panama from the Cuba TR here:

...and that reminds me: we saw Panama Viejo from the road. I thought of you and laughed.

Sorry ;D.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: whYME on October 18, 2017, 03:51:59 PM
...and that reminds me: we saw Panama Viejo from the road. I thought of you and laughed.

Sorry ;D.
lol
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: chuchem on February 02, 2018, 09:42:02 AM
going on sunday for 10 days. If anyone has some last minute advice feel free :-)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on February 03, 2018, 11:18:06 AM
going on sunday for 10 days. If anyone has some last minute advice feel free :-)

Download the Kosher PTY app...it was very helpful to us and I hope you have a blast with your family!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mmgfarb on February 05, 2018, 05:01:51 PM
This will be so cool if/when it gets approved, only 40k UA in F http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2018/02/05/air-china-houston-panama/
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on February 05, 2018, 09:47:31 PM
This will be so cool if/when it gets approved, only 40k UA in F http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2018/02/05/air-china-houston-panama/

Yes, I was also so excited!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mmgfarb on February 05, 2018, 10:31:17 PM
Yes, I was also so excited!
Yep, I definitely think I'm going to try to take a trip there this year if this goes through.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on February 06, 2018, 07:42:30 AM
going on sunday for 10 days. If anyone has some last minute advice feel free :-)

Enjoy every moment. The country is beautiful. The people are friendly. It's really humid there like you can't believe, so bring water everywhere.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: efflpetzel on February 06, 2018, 07:53:27 PM
Anyone know of any pesach programs in Panama
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on February 07, 2018, 12:53:55 PM
Anyone know of any pesach programs in Panama

Iíve seen at the JW marriott. They may be with Kitniyot though, primarily catering to the local Sephardic Community. Panama is the place to go NOT on Pesach though to enjoy the restaurants!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: efi on February 14, 2018, 01:44:23 PM
I'm planning a trip to Panama, i want to visit Bocas del Toro. what is the easiest way to get there from Panama City? and what about kosher food there? is it a good idea to stay there for shabbos? Has anyone been there? any advice?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: efflpetzel on February 14, 2018, 05:00:29 PM
I'm planning a trip to Panama, i want to visit Bocas del Toro. what is the easiest way to get there from Panama City? and what about kosher food there? is it a good idea to stay there for shabbos? Has anyone been there? any advice?
Direct flight from albrook (PAC) airport with airPanama
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on April 23, 2018, 11:32:21 AM
Doing some advance planning for possible 2019 trip to Panama City.
Would like to use Marriott Cat 1-5 certificate.
Works at the Sortis.  Per Dan's post last week, likely to work at Le Meridien, as well.
Key consideration for us is the pool, as our daughters plan to spend much time there.
Which would you choose?
@Denverite ?
@saw50st8
@chuchem
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on April 23, 2018, 11:34:34 AM
Doing some advance planning for possible 2019 trip to Panama City.
Would like to use Marriott Cat 1-5 certificate.
Works at the Sortis.  Per Dan's post last week, likely to work at Le Meridien, as well.
Key consideration for us is the pool, as our daughters plan to spend much time there.
Which would you choose?
@Denverite ?
@saw50st8
@chuchem


I stayed at the Marriott. The hotel was very nice, nice pool but I personally wouldn't recommend the Hotel (it was a pointsaver hotel when I booked so really few points). It's not really near anything. It worked for us but wasn't amazing in any way.

We passed by Le Meridien and from the outside it was beautiful. We went to the restaurant downstairs at the Sortis and the hotel had a really funky vibe.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on April 23, 2018, 11:37:23 AM
I stayed at the Marriott. The hotel was very nice, nice pool but I personally wouldn't recommend the Hotel (it was a pointsaver hotel when I booked so really few points). It's not really near anything. It worked for us but wasn't amazing in any way.

We passed by Le Meridien and from the outside it was beautiful. We went to the restaurant downstairs at the Sortis and the hotel had a really funky vibe.
Nice, thanks, so Le Meridien and Sortis are both still in the running!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on April 23, 2018, 12:13:50 PM
Nice, thanks, so Le Meridien and Sortis are both still in the running!

If it matters to you, I think Le Meridien has a better view (it's on Balboa Ave) and closer to more restaurants. But there are definitely restaurants near the Sortis too.

I absolutely loved Panama. You'll have a great time. I hope to bring my kids back one day.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on April 23, 2018, 07:33:50 PM
If it matters to you, I think Le Meridien has a better view (it's on Balboa Ave) and closer to more restaurants. But there are definitely restaurants near the Sortis too.

I absolutely loved Panama. You'll have a great time. I hope to bring my kids back one day.
With your TR and the one from @Denverite, we are sold.  Canít wait to go. Thanks.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: chuchem on April 24, 2018, 06:30:48 AM
I didnt finish my tripreport
We loved the sortis and having a kosher sushi pizza restaurant in the lobby is a huge plus
Also aria and kava the 2 best restaurants are 2 min walk
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on April 24, 2018, 07:30:21 PM
I didnt finish my tripreport
We loved the sortis and having a kosher sushi pizza restaurant in the lobby is a huge plus
Also aria and kava the 2 best restaurants are 2 min walk
Compelling. 
So, is Sortis in the Eruv?
Also, what did you think of its pool?
Thanks very much. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Shlomo1986 on April 25, 2018, 11:52:06 AM
How is Panama weather in August? and if I had to choose between Costa Rica and Panama for 4 days from NYC which one would be more recommended.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tzvicoco on April 29, 2018, 09:04:40 PM
Anybody been to Bocas del Toro?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: keemster26 on April 29, 2018, 10:34:55 PM
Is Zika still in Panama?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: efi on April 29, 2018, 11:11:52 PM
Anybody been to Bocas del Toro?
I have been there feel free to pm me if you need more info
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Cw3323 on April 30, 2018, 05:48:52 PM
Is Zika still in Panama?
As per the CDC there is still
https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/world-map-areas-with-zika
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: brodes18 on April 30, 2018, 07:33:17 PM
How is Panama weather in August? and if I had to choose between Costa Rica and Panama for 4 days from NYC which one would be more recommended.

Any thoughts on this? I'm considering the same in July.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tzvicoco on June 26, 2018, 01:10:10 PM
Planning on spending 5 days in PC followed by 4 days in Boquete and 7 days in Costa Rica... do I need to bring food from the US for the Boquete/CR portion of the trip, or will I find everything I could need in PC? Any recs for where to pick up provisions in PC for the rest of the trip?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 03, 2018, 07:29:04 PM
Doing some advance planning for possible 2019 trip to Panama City.
Would like to use Marriott Cat 1-5 certificate.
Works at the Sortis.  Per Dan's post last week, likely to work at Le Meridien, as well.
Key consideration for us is the pool, as our daughters plan to spend much time there.
Which would you choose?
@Denverite ?
@saw50st8
@chuchem

My apologies for not answering, this is my first login since Pesach (don't ask...lol).  I'm actually at the Sortis right now and I'd totally recommend it.  A month ago they moved Kava out of the hotel but it is just two blocks over.  Moma and Lula Darna are both just one block over (and I'm going to try to check out Aria as well).  I'm gonna try to work on continuing my Panama TR but basically your answer depends what is important to you for hotels.  I stayed at the Hilton, right next to Le Meridian last time and I do miss the view but the pool at Sortis is awesome (again, I'll try to upload some pics for you) and having so many restaurants within just a couple blocks is really just so amazing.  The Sortis is NOT in the eruv but since your kids are older it might not be an issue for you.  Feel free to PM and although I didn't stay at the Le Meridian, I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.  It might be a moot point anyway as I don't think its certain that week certs are going to be usable at SPG hotels but even if that isn't the case I honestly can't think of any kind of comparable, amazing use of the basic resort certificate in the US.  It's a stunning high end resort with towel and drink service at the pool, right next to restaurants and you will be very happy if you come here. :)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tzvicoco on July 03, 2018, 10:43:04 PM
My apologies for not answering, this is my first login since Pesach (don't ask...lol).  I'm actually at the Sortis right now and I'd totally recommend it.  A month ago they moved Kava out of the hotel but it is just two blocks over.  Moma and Lula Darna are both just one block over (and I'm going to try to check out Aria as well).  I'm gonna try to work on continuing my Panama TR but basically your answer depends what is important to you for hotels.  I stayed at the Hilton, right next to Le Meridian last time and I do miss the view but the pool at Sortis is awesome (again, I'll try to upload some pics for you) and having so many restaurants within just a couple blocks is really just so amazing.  The Sortis is NOT in the eruv but since your kids are older it might not be an issue for you.  Feel free to PM and although I didn't stay at the Le Meridian, I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.  It might be a moot point anyway as I don't think its certain that week certs are going to be usable at SPG hotels but even if that isn't the case I honestly can't think of any kind of comparable, amazing use of the basic resort certificate in the US.  It's a stunning high end resort with towel and drink service at the pool, right next to restaurants and you will be very happy if you come here. :)

Took your advice from upthread and I'm actually at the Sortis right now, too! (using a 5-night cert) It's a pretty nice so far.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Yaalili on July 03, 2018, 10:44:27 PM
Panama DO at Sortis for you two.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 03, 2018, 10:54:52 PM
Took your advice from upthread and I'm actually at the Sortis right now, too! (using a 5-night cert) It's a pretty nice so far.

Were you the guy with the Kippa I saw on the elevator on Sunday...I was dead tired after a day in San Blas, wearing a tichel and with my daughter? If it wasnít you, there is probably a 3rd DDFer here  ;D ;D

I used to say hi and chat with frum people I saw on vacation and then I realized only Denver people do that (we get excited when we see other frum people...lol) and NYers think Iím psycho so I stopped.  :P
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tzvicoco on July 03, 2018, 11:12:07 PM
Were you the guy with the Kippa I saw on the elevator on Sunday...I was dead tired after a day in San Blas, wearing a tichel and with my daughter? If it wasnít you, there is probably a 3rd DDFer here  ;D ;D

I used to say hi and chat with frum people I saw on vacation and then I realized only Denver people do that (we get excited when we see other frum people...lol) and NYers think Iím psycho so I stopped.  :P

Lol, we just arrived today, so that wasn't me. And 2/3 of us are non-NYers, so we'd definitely be friendly   ;D

I'm gonna PM you; we're on the hunt for a good day trip for Thursday.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 03, 2018, 11:44:29 PM
Lol, we just arrived today, so that wasn't me. And 2/3 of us are non-NYers, so we'd definitely be friendly   ;D

I'm gonna PM you; we're on the hunt for a good day trip for Thursday.

I just responded with some ideas. I thought Iíd also post here about Islas Las Perlas since I donít remember seeing anything about them on DDF. We are planning on taking a ferry to the Pearl Islands (Info about them in the link below) and then from an island there booked a 3 hour whale watching, snorkeling, uninhabited island tour. Iíve never seen whales in the wild so I hope we find some!

https://pearl-islands.com/ (https://pearl-islands.com/)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 07, 2018, 10:02:53 PM
I just found out the Trump Hotel that is right in the Jewish area is becoming a JW Marriott, so hopefully another great points option (guess Iíll have to come back)!  :P
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Menachem613 on July 08, 2018, 01:09:19 PM
In comparing these two travel guides, would anyone recommend one over the other? For example would you choose one for certain trips and the other for other trips?

https://www.therealpanamatours.com/ (https://www.therealpanamatours.com/)

https://www.barefootpanama.com/panama-tours/
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Mordyk on July 08, 2018, 04:28:26 PM
Any recommendations for a nice beach hotel?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 08, 2018, 06:12:24 PM
In comparing these two travel guides, would anyone recommend one over the other? For example would you choose one for certain trips and the other for other trips?

https://www.therealpanamatours.com/ (https://www.therealpanamatours.com/)

https://www.barefootpanama.com/panama-tours/

I think Barefoot is just subcontractoring out (so can offer more) and Real PanamŠ is Sorhay leading the tour herself and generally a private tour, which for my family worked better time wise and ended up cheaper for our group :)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on July 09, 2018, 12:25:48 PM
Hats off to @Denverite for all the helpful information.
We're booked at Sortis for a week in February.
We will reach out to Sorhay for some touring.
Thanks!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ludmila on July 09, 2018, 09:03:03 PM
Hats off to @Denverite for all the helpful information.
We're booked at Sortis for a week in February.
We will reach out to Sorhay for some touring.
Thanks!
+1 I am working on a booking in March .
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 09, 2018, 11:08:14 PM
Hats off to @Denverite for all the helpful information.
We're booked at Sortis for a week in February.
We will reach out to Sorhay for some touring.
Thanks!

You are most welcome! Iím gonna try to work on adding to my TR next week and add details of the four restaurants right around the Sortis for you.

Save a day to go to Islas Las Perlas (an archipelago of about 100 islands only 30 miles from the city).  We enjoyed it way more than San Blas and it cost less.  We took the ferry there and then booked a 3 hr tour from Contadora that took us Whale watching (they found whales super fast and got us really close)! Then she took us to our own stunning private beach where my kids had a blast snorkeling, on an uninhabited island, and then we dropped a line in the water on the way back to the main island and my boys caught a HUGE Mahi-Mahi fish (the boatman had to finally spear it to bring it in the boat)!! We gave it to our guide and they had some great eating while we had a magical day. My kids said they wanted to come back and stay overnight so Iíd love to do that another time.

We used the following tour company and Ilene was really awesome. Her husband Terry also leads tours.  They charge a flat rate for up to 8 people so if you are a bigger group/family it could be an amazing deal. She also got us discounted ferry tickets, which went a good way toward paying for her private tour.
https://pearlislandsdaytours.com/ (https://pearlislandsdaytours.com/)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on July 10, 2018, 02:50:07 PM
You are most welcome! Iím gonna try to work on adding to my TR next week and add details of the four restaurants right around the Sortis for you.

Save a day to go to Islas Las Perlas (an archipelago of about 100 islands only 30 miles from the city).  We enjoyed it way more than San Blas and it cost less.  We took the ferry there and then booked a 3 hr tour from Contadora that took us Whale watching (they found whales super fast and got us really close)! Then she took us to our own stunning private beach where my kids had a blast snorkeling, on an uninhabited island, and then we dropped a line in the water on the way back to the main island and my boys caught a HUGE Mahi-Mahi fish (the boatman had to finally spear it to bring it in the boat)!! We gave it to our guide and they had some great eating while we had a magical day. My kids said they wanted to come back and stay overnight so Iíd love to do that another time.

We used the following tour company and Ilene was really awesome. Her husband Terry also leads tours.  They charge a flat rate for up to 8 people so if you are a bigger group/family it could be an amazing deal. She also got us discounted ferry tickets, which went a good way toward paying for her private tour.
https://pearlislandsdaytours.com/ (https://pearlislandsdaytours.com/)

@Denverite Thank you!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Brian on July 11, 2018, 04:50:12 PM
@Denverite Thank you for all your info. I'm going in 2 weeks with my family with 5 kids ages 1-9. We are also staying at Sortis, I booked 2 regular rooms, I called up to pay for an upgrade to 2 suites, and they told me you don't need to upgrade we will put a note and upgrade you when you come. I called again and got the same response. Did you book a suite, or got upgraded?

We are planing on doing the following:
1) Canal and Monkey Island
2) Embera Village
3) Islas Las Perlas...

Anything else you suggest for a family with young kids?

Thank you again.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 12, 2018, 08:02:26 AM
If your kids like searching for animals, hike up Ancon Hill. It's a steep climb but we saw a ton of wildlife! Toucans, Sloths, poisonous frogs....and there's a great view at the top. You are relatively close to Amador Causeway from there and you can rent bikes. There's also a nice playground at the end (we didn't do those two because we went without kids but noticed them). The Bio Museum is also there, which is fun to look at from the outside but I haven't been inside. .
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yitzyul on July 12, 2018, 09:36:14 AM
If your kids like searching for animals, hike up Ancon Hill. It's a steep climb but we saw a ton of wildlife! Toucans, Sloths, poisonous frogs....and there's a great view at the top. You are relatively close to Amador Causeway from there and you can rent bikes. There's also a nice playground at the end (we didn't do those two because we went without kids but noticed them). The Bio Museum is also there, which is fun to look at from the outside but I haven't been inside. .
Hit or miss. I have been there and spent quite a while there, and didn't even see 1 animal.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 12, 2018, 09:54:48 AM
Hit or miss. I have been there and spent quite a while there, and didn't even see 1 animal.

Interesting! It was teeming with wildlife when we went. It was right after some rain.

I think the view is worthwhile anyway, but little kids may not think so!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on July 12, 2018, 10:20:31 AM
Hit or miss. I have been there and spent quite a while there, and didn't even see 1 animal.

Interesting! It was teeming with wildlife when we went. It was right after some rain.

I think the view is worthwhile anyway, but little kids may not think so!

I was there after a rain as well and I barely saw any wildlife (https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=65070.msg1783905#msg1783905).
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: @Yehuda on July 13, 2018, 01:14:08 PM
Anyone have info on Zika other than what Google has (i.e. no updates really since 2016 and nothing that specifies regions to avoid really, just lumps in the whole country)?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: GAM Z. on July 13, 2018, 01:46:49 PM
Anyone have info on Zika other than what Google has (i.e. no updates really since 2016 and nothing that specifies regions to avoid really, just lumps in the whole country)?
It's still on the CDC's list of countries not to travel to.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: @Yehuda on July 13, 2018, 02:14:12 PM
It's still on the CDC's list of countries not to travel to.
Right, but the CDC red marks the whole country for every country except for USA. Looking for something that breaks Panama down into regions. The only info I got like that so far is from locals on Trip Advisor in 2016.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 15, 2018, 09:11:58 PM
@Denverite Thank you for all your info. I'm going in 2 weeks with my family with 5 kids ages 1-9. We are also staying at Sortis, I booked 2 regular rooms, I called up to pay for an upgrade to 2 suites, and they told me you don't need to upgrade we will put a note and upgrade you when you come. I called again and got the same response. Did you book a suite, or got upgraded?

We are planing on doing the following:
1) Canal and Monkey Island
2) Embera Village
3) Islas Las Perlas...

Anything else you suggest for a family with young kids?

Thank you again.

I used my Marriott Cert and have no status so just asked upon check-in how much it would be to upgrade to a 1brm, 2bath suite (plenty of room for our family of 5 and had room for both the sofa bed and additional roll away). She said $80 a night and I gladly took it. Others have gotten status upgrades for free.  Iím also sure others could negotiate less for the upgrade fee but I didnít have the koach. For a family of 7 you should be fine with upgrading to a one brm plus and additional room with two doubles.
I think those three things you listed for your family is the perfect itinerary for your kids. Hope you have a great time!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Menachem613 on July 16, 2018, 07:00:48 PM
My wife and I will be in Panama City in August and have 3 full days for touring (excluding day of arrival and departure).  I am a considering using The Real Panama Tours for the following three trips:
1) Private boat at the Canal - Monkey Island Tour
2) San Blas Islands
3) Embera Village

Should I be considering something else instead?

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: @Yehuda on July 16, 2018, 10:32:14 PM
Just collected all the activities listed throughout the thread and added them to the wiki.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: GAM Z. on July 16, 2018, 10:35:16 PM
Just collected all the activities listed throughout the thread and added them to the wiki.
Thanks! Huge time saver!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on July 18, 2018, 02:34:19 PM
Planning a trip now to PTY, not sure how long to go for. What's the minimum recommended stay?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: elya on July 18, 2018, 04:27:05 PM
Planning a trip now to PTY, not sure how long to go for. What's the minimum recommended stay?
2 weeks at least.  ;)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on July 18, 2018, 04:29:24 PM
2 weeks at least.  ;)
Can't overlap yours ::)
The question is if a 3 day trip (including travel days) even makes sense.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 19, 2018, 01:09:41 AM
Can't overlap yours ::)
The question is if a 3 day trip (including travel days) even makes sense.

No
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 19, 2018, 01:10:56 AM
My wife and I will be in Panama City in August and have 3 full days for touring (excluding day of arrival and departure).  I am a considering using The Real Panama Tours for the following three trips:
1) Private boat at the Canal - Monkey Island Tour
2) San Blas Islands
3) Embera Village

Should I be considering something else instead?

Iíd go to Islas Las Perlas (take a ferry) instead of San Blas. Or if looking for private beaches do the Portobello islands on a tour.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on July 19, 2018, 01:18:04 AM
No
Too late now :)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Menachem613 on July 19, 2018, 08:42:52 PM
Iíd go to Islas Las Perlas (take a ferry) instead of San Blas. Or if looking for private beaches do the Portobello islands on a tour.
Isn't that a bunch of islands? Anyone in particular?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 19, 2018, 09:44:25 PM
Isn't that a bunch of islands? Anyone in particular?

I went to Contadora
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on July 19, 2018, 09:45:56 PM
Anyone rent a car there? Pros/cons?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Menachem613 on July 22, 2018, 11:40:48 AM
1) Is there any kosher food near the Amador Causeway. Also, any recommended bike rental place.
2) Has anyone used their British Airway points to book activities? I'm thinking of using BA points for some trips and The Real Panama Tours (TRPT) for others. Any particular tour that should be done with TRPT rather than BA points?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: nobiggy on July 22, 2018, 04:27:00 PM
1) Is there any kosher food near the Amador Causeway. Also, any recommended bike rental place.

Sure, all the Kosher restaurants and the Kosher supermarket is a short drive.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Menachem613 on July 22, 2018, 10:07:50 PM
If you had to choose between these two which would you choose? The first includes a city tour but not actual transit through the canal.

https://www.barefootpanama.com/panama-tours/day-tours/panama-city-tour/#book%20tour

https://www.barefootpanama.com/panama-tours/day-tours/panama-canal-tours/

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on July 23, 2018, 06:49:08 AM
If you had to choose between these two which would you choose? The first includes a city tour but not actual transit through the canal.

https://www.barefootpanama.com/panama-tours/day-tours/panama-city-tour/#book%20tour

https://www.barefootpanama.com/panama-tours/day-tours/panama-canal-tours/



Definitely go through the Panama Canal. The transit is really an experience.

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Menachem613 on July 29, 2018, 12:38:53 PM
Any recommended place to pick up food before a long trip? I'm aware of all the restaurants but not sure they are suitable for packing lunches/meals. 

I was considering using the https://www.therealpanamatours.com/special-kosher-tours.html, but she has no kosher tours my week.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 29, 2018, 02:43:57 PM
Any recommended place to pick up food before a long trip? I'm aware of all the restaurants but not sure they are suitable for packing lunches/meals. 

I was considering using the https://www.therealpanamatours.com/special-kosher-tours.html, but she has no kosher tours my week.

The cheapest will be the meat and dairy restaurants in the huge Deli K supermarket...and they have good food.  Similar to most kosher takeout places in the US.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on July 29, 2018, 02:45:36 PM
What's the story with Walmart type/f
grocery stores? Do I need to bring any kosher food? Whether it's drinks, snacks, candy :), or any meals?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Menachem613 on July 29, 2018, 03:47:05 PM
The cheapest will be the meat and dairy restaurants in the huge Deli K supermarket...and they have good food.  Similar to most kosher takeout places in the US.

Thank you.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: elya on July 29, 2018, 11:01:21 PM
So who did I just bump into at the front desk of the Sortis?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on July 29, 2018, 11:02:34 PM
So who did I just bump into at the front desk of the Sortis?
The guy above you is there now and staying there IINM.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Menachem613 on July 30, 2018, 07:29:20 AM
I will be at the Sortis end of August.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: brotha123 on July 30, 2018, 10:24:47 AM
I checked out Friday morning
Amazing spa .. got upgraded to 1 Br suite
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Menachem613 on July 30, 2018, 11:12:14 AM
I checked out Friday morning
Amazing spa .. got upgraded to 1 Br suite

Details on the spa? How did you get the upgrade?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: johnshek on July 30, 2018, 12:36:59 PM
Does anyone have a handle on the best ways to get to pty, points-wise?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: brotha123 on July 30, 2018, 05:29:21 PM
Details on the spa? How did you get the upgrade?
Spa is just really nice ..dry and wet sauna separate for men and women. Has a mini pool with massaging jet lounges...
Booked on someone else's Platinum account for the upgrade
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 30, 2018, 07:37:24 PM
Does anyone have a handle on the best ways to get to pty, points-wise?

United or Singapore, 35k RT.  United has more availability if you have their card.  Singapore has better change/cancellation fees and stopover rules.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: brotha123 on July 30, 2018, 08:28:56 PM
Does anyone have a handle on the best ways to get to pty, points-wise?
American and BA came out to around 25k with $70 in taxes
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: johnshek on July 30, 2018, 09:20:03 PM
American and BA came out to around 25k with $70 in taxes
Thanks.
Last minute im thinking of heading down there for a week or so. Are the trips and tours mostly things that can be booked on short notice or would it be to late for some things. I'm thinking of going next week
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mochjas on July 30, 2018, 10:35:20 PM
Thanks.
Last minute im thinking of heading down there for a week or so. Are the trips and tours mostly things that can be booked on short notice or would it be to late for some things. I'm thinking of going next week
check the weather before you book. It can be really humid now
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on July 30, 2018, 10:36:57 PM
check the weather before you book. It can be really humid now
I'm in for a treat ;)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: brotha123 on July 30, 2018, 11:20:29 PM
I'm in for a treat ;)
The forecast means nothing ....
It rains or drizzles every day but a lot of the time for 5-10 minutes.
It's not LA or Arizona weather but iv been here for 5 days and it's been fine. Verrry humid and Iv forced myself to get used to it... Food here is great, nice people,and transportation is cheap.. it's something different!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ludmila on July 30, 2018, 11:55:26 PM
The forecast means nothing ....
It rains or drizzles every day but a lot of the time for 5-10 minutes.
It's not LA or Arizona weather but iv been here for 5 days and it's been fine. Verrry humid and Iv forced myself to get used to it... Food here is great, nice people,and transportation is cheap.. it's something different!
Is it more humid than Florida?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: brotha123 on July 31, 2018, 12:31:11 AM
Is it more humid than Florida?
Yes..
I was in Florida last week and then came straight here.. definitely more humid in panama..
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: brotha123 on July 31, 2018, 12:31:46 AM
But I hate humidity and I didn't feel like it was unbearable...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ludmila on July 31, 2018, 02:46:38 AM
But I hate humidity and I didn't feel like it was unbearable...
Thanks, me too, that is why I asked.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 31, 2018, 09:42:38 PM
But I hate humidity and I didn't feel like it was unbearable...

Agreed. Was there last month. Florida I think gets hotter, it doesnít really get above 85 there.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: lafindumonde on August 01, 2018, 11:12:37 AM
Where is the best place to buy prepared food for Shabbat?  Grocery store?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on August 01, 2018, 11:22:45 AM
Where is the best place to buy prepared food for Shabbat?  Grocery store?

I'd say from Deli K Supermarket (and they also have a meat restaurant inside that you will see has tons of takeout orders for Friday afternoon)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: lafindumonde on August 01, 2018, 11:29:58 AM
I take it you don't have to order in advance?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Shlomo1986 on August 02, 2018, 03:41:01 PM
Any idea on what type of weather to expect in Panama in late August? Does rain season mean rain all day or just spotty showers?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on August 07, 2018, 02:16:04 PM
Are there any beaches close to Panama City?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on August 10, 2018, 05:45:51 PM
Made some small edits to Wiki.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: GAM Z. on August 12, 2018, 04:43:00 AM
Made some small edits to Wiki.
Thank You!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Menachem613 on August 12, 2018, 08:44:56 AM
Weather forecast calls for thunderstorms - does it mean I should not book San Blas?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on August 12, 2018, 08:49:21 AM
Weather forecast calls for thunderstorms - does it mean I should not book San Blas?
They always call for thunderstorms, it was supposed to rain all 3 days I was there, yet I barely saw any rain.
With that being said I don't know how the rain effects a trip to San Blas (I assume you can't go) but do you lose anything by booking it?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Menachem613 on August 12, 2018, 10:41:57 AM
Any tips for shopping for gifts to bring home? Not interested in malls, more interested in flea market type place.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on August 22, 2018, 02:27:33 PM
Any tips for shopping for gifts to bring home? Not interested in malls, more interested in flea market type place.

There are some places like this with lots of touristy and "indigenous" stuff that you can bargain for in Casco Viejo.  Also a kosher frozen yogurt nearby so can make a little afternoon of it. :)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Yordai Dooma on October 15, 2018, 01:37:40 PM
Spa is just really nice ..dry and wet sauna separate for men and women. Has a mini pool with massaging jet lounges...
Booked on someone else's Platinum account for the upgrade
Did you pay for anything at the spa? Im curious the prices...
Ive stayed at the Sortis before and enjoyed it.

Im debating staying there again (there is still a deal for $220/night for a 1br suite, which comes with a $100 non-cumulative credit per night towards the spa).
My alternatives are the Le Meridian- which doesnt look like it has a nice pool or the Westin Playa Bonita. I have friends who stayed there and loved it.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Sammie on November 22, 2018, 01:18:19 PM
HI,

Thank you all for your input, it is very helpful!

1. Any suggestions on where to stay? We are not going to sit at the beach all day but do want to get some relaxing beach time. Should we stay at the Sortis for 4 nights with day trips to the beach or stay on the beach for 2 of the nights? If going to the beach -  Is the beach at the Westin Playa Bonita nice enough or should we go two hours out to Playa Santa Clara for 2 nights?

2. Are the dairy restaurants Cholov Yisrael? Is there any way to know before going? I did not notice CY listed on the Kosher PTY app.

3. Do we need to make plans before arriving at Contadora Island or can we decide there and join a group tour or rent a private boat?


Thanks for all your help!!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on November 22, 2018, 01:20:01 PM
Panama isn't a beach town
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: danshil36 on November 29, 2018, 12:03:56 AM
What are the best options to arrange Shabbat food?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: hokiegl on December 26, 2018, 05:52:12 PM
Is there a picture of the eruv anywhere?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on January 07, 2019, 09:12:09 PM
@Denverite Thank you for all your info. I'm going in 2 weeks with my family with 5 kids ages 1-9. We are also staying at Sortis, I booked 2 regular rooms, I called up to pay for an upgrade to 2 suites, and they told me you don't need to upgrade we will put a note and upgrade you when you come. I called again and got the same response. Did you book a suite, or got upgraded?

We are planing on doing the following:
1) Canal and Monkey Island
2) Embera Village
3) Islas Las Perlas...

Anything else you suggest for a family with young kids?

Thank you again.
@Brian, what was the outcome of your request for an upgrade?
We are going in a month. We have two award bookings for standard rooms, one with points and one with a Cat1-5 7-night cert.  Ideally,  I would be prefer to upgrade one of the rooms to a 2BR 2BA suite and would pay for the upgrade.  I will call but would appreciate learning your data point.

And maybe others can share their experience? (I know @Denverite paid $80/night to upgrade to 1BR 2BA suite.)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 08, 2019, 07:24:07 PM
@Brian, what was the outcome of your request for an upgrade?
We are going in a month. We have two award bookings for standard rooms, one with points and one with a Cat1-5 7-night cert.  Ideally,  I would be prefer to upgrade one of the rooms to a 2BR 2BA suite and would pay for the upgrade.  I will call but would appreciate learning your data point.

And maybe others can share their experience? (I know @Denverite paid $80/night to upgrade to 1BR 2BA suite.)

I paid $70 a night and friends of mine just got back and we also offered that (and took them up on it).  We both had two rooms booked so didn't try for a 2brm...they appear to have less of those and cost a lot more, I think you've got a much better shot at a 1Brm upgrade...bear in mind, we didn't have SPG status.  Although I was there two weeks and they only charged me the upgrade fee for the first week so I actually only paid $35 a night and was super happy!  :P
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on January 08, 2019, 11:12:00 PM
I paid $70 a night and friends of mine just got back and we also offered that (and took them up on it).  We both had two rooms booked so didn't try for a 2brm...they appear to have less of those and cost a lot more, I think you've got a much better shot at a 1Brm upgrade...bear in mind, we didn't have SPG status.  Although I was there two weeks and they only charged me the upgrade fee for the first week so I actually only paid $35 a night and was super happy!  :P
Thanks.  We have two rooms, which would be fine for us ó just two people per room.  We will just ask nicely for an upgrade at check in.  We are lowly Gold Elite. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: khave2go on January 10, 2019, 04:37:41 PM
Going to Panama for 4.5 days.
What hotel would people suggest using Marriot/Spg points?
Would anyone go to Westin Playa Bonita for 2 nights?

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 10, 2019, 11:15:24 PM
Going to Panama for 4.5 days.
What hotel would people suggest using Marriot/Spg points?
Would anyone go to Westin Playa Bonita for 2 nights?

Sortis...gorgeous and 4 kosher restaurants within two blocks
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ayman on January 11, 2019, 08:16:25 AM
Is zika still a problem in panama city?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Yammer on January 11, 2019, 10:16:43 AM
Is zika still a problem in panama city?
Yes
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 11, 2019, 12:00:09 PM
Is zika still a problem in panama city?

Actually was Zika ever a problem in Panama city?  The maps show it in Darien on the Columbian border in the jungle.  Anyone whose been can tell you there are very few mosquitos in Panama city itself because of the constant breezes off the water (and I assume spraying)...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on January 20, 2019, 11:55:54 PM
Last minute decision to travel to Panama next week. I will be there 5 full days IYĒH.  Traveling without kids. 

I read through all the posts and they are extremely helpful. I have the following questions.  If anyone can answer, would be much appreciated.

From what I understand, most excursions need a tour guide. Will I save $ by renting a car? In other words, can I do any of them on my own if I donít need a driver?

Which dairy restaurants are Cholov Yisroel and which are not?

There are so many kosher Restaurants there. Which ones are lie the top ones not to be missed?

From what I can see 3 tour companies are mentioned, Barefoot, Real Panama and Almiza. Any recommendation of one over the other?

I saw mentioned ďAmador CausewayĒ & ďcoastal views walk or bikeďare these 2 the same thing?

Is it Whale watching season now. If not, would it be worth it to go to Pearl Island regardless?

No point in doing both San Blas and Pearl Islands. Itís just either or. Correct?

I saw mentioned ďDarien ProvenceĒ. Where and what is that?

Monkey Island Boat tour -what other day activity can it be combined with?

Parque Natural Meropolitano Ėwhat activities are located there?

Boquete-is that something that comes into my plans for a 5 day stay or thatís for a whole other trip? 

Bocas Del Toro- is that something that comes into my plans for a 5 day stay or thatís for a whole other trip? 

Panama Viejo, is that the same as Casco Viejo?

Rainforest gondola tour-where is that?

Portobello Road/ Portobello Island-where and what is that?

Thanks for all your help. I am in the intelligence gathering phase now. Once I have that I will decide what to do each individual day and I am sure I will have some more questions.
Thanks again for your help.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 21, 2019, 10:09:25 AM
Iím here now and will attempt to answer some of your questions but Iím still at the beginning so the rest may be answered at the end of the week.

Last minute decision to travel to Panama next week. I will be there 5 full days IYĒH.  Traveling without kids. 

I read through all the posts and they are extremely helpful. I have the following questions.  If anyone can answer, would be much appreciated.

From what I understand, most excursions need a tour guide. Will I save $ by renting a car? In other words, can I do any of them on my own if I donít need a driver?

We are using Sorhay as has been recommended. We met a lot of people using her and other guides and everyone had been happy with who they used. We are doing a group tour through Sorhay for San Blas since the private was very $$$$. They say you canít go yourself as the roads are bumpy and curvy.  Also when you go with a guide they can give you history and point out what youíre seeing. We will also be iso g her for Embrera Village and then Monkey Island, Mirsflores Locks And city tour. The good thing about no car is Uber is very cheap (about $10 from airport) and donít have to deal with parking.

Which dairy restaurants are Cholov Yisroel and which are not?

There are so many kosher Restaurants there. Which ones are lie the top ones not to be missed?
So far we went to Lulaís by Darna (Meat) and it was awesome. Also went to Jeffryís (Dairy) for brunch and Aroma f(dairy) MS. Iíll update as we continue to eat our way through! ;D.

From what I can see 3 tour companies are mentioned, Barefoot, Real Panama and Almiza. Any recommendation of one over the other?
See above- everyone who I spoke with was happy with who they used. There are also some private Jewish guides that the Shuls can recommend to you.

I saw mentioned ďAmador CausewayĒ & ďcoastal views walk or bikeďare these 2 the same thing?
Yes. We went on Friday for a lazy day. It was empty. We rented a side by side tandem bike with an awening attached ($10/hour) The guy gave us a bike lock to drop off the bike by the Biodiversity Museum. It was nice but hot and you donít realize that there are some mild hills. Itís pretty to see but not a must do.
Is it Whale watching season now. If not, would it be worth it to go to Pearl Island regardless?
It is not whale watching season.  However we did go to Pearl Islands yesterday and used Ilene from Pearl iIsland Day Tours as our guide. On the ferry to the islands we did see a fin from a whale and water snort from the blow hole. But donít count on seeing any. We did have an enjoyable time first driving around the island and snorkeling. We are Survivor (TV Show) fans so it was cool seeing stuff that was left there. The beaches are beautiful and the water is nice.

No point in doing both San Blas and Pearl Islands. Itís just either or. Correct?
We are going to San Blas tomorrow so I can answer this later.

I saw mentioned ďDarien ProvenceĒ. Where and what is that?

Monkey Island Boat tour -what other day activity can it be combined with?
We are also doing the Miraflores Locks (just museum) and City tour.

Parque Natural Meropolitano Ėwhat activities are located there?

Boquete-is that something that comes into my plans for a 5 day stay or thatís for a whole other trip? 

Bocas Del Toro- is that something that comes into my plans for a 5 day stay or thatís for a whole other trip? 
I think you have to take a plane there otherwise itís like an 8 hour drive.

Panama Viejo, is that the same as Casco Viejo? Google says itís different.

Rainforest gondola tour-where is that?

Portobello Road/ Portobello Island-where and what is that?

Thanks for all your help. I am in the intelligence gathering phase now. Once I have that I will decide what to do each individual day and I am sure I will have some more questions.
Thanks again for your help.

For Shabbos we stayed at JW Marriot which was extremely Shabbos friendly and close to chabad where we davened and ate Friday night and Bet El for lunch. Reservations for both. We met many wonderful people also staying at Marriot and eating with us. We then moved to The Sortis MS. Both hotels are great in different ways. Marriot had nice infinite pool and Shabbos friendly. Sortis is more hip. Donít like the bathrooms at Marriot- a little too open for me (sliding frosted door) and I think we were upgraded because we had a bathtub (that I found out other rooms did not) that was only enclosed by a curtain. Sortis bathrooms have regular doors. We were upgraded to a corner suite which is a 1 bedroom, 2 bathroom small kitchen and living room area.

We used Kosher GPS app to find all the kosher restaurants around us. Kosher PTY is in Spanish.
Also, Google Translate app was a lifesaver unless you speak Spanish.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on January 21, 2019, 10:26:41 AM


Last minute decision to travel to Panama next week. I will be there 5 full days IYĒH.  Traveling without kids. 

I read through all the posts and they are extremely helpful. I have the following questions.  If anyone can answer, would be much appreciated.

From what I understand, most excursions need a tour guide. Will I save $ by renting a car? In other words, can I do any of them on my own if I donít need a driver?

Which dairy restaurants are Cholov Yisroel and which are not?

There are so many kosher Restaurants there. Which ones are lie the top ones not to be missed?

From what I can see 3 tour companies are mentioned, Barefoot, Real Panama and Almiza. Any recommendation of one over the other?

I saw mentioned ďAmador CausewayĒ & ďcoastal views walk or bikeďare these 2 the same thing?

Is it Whale watching season now. If not, would it be worth it to go to Pearl Island regardless?

No point in doing both San Blas and Pearl Islands. Itís just either or. Correct?

I saw mentioned ďDarien ProvenceĒ. Where and what is that?

Monkey Island Boat tour -what other day activity can it be combined with?

Parque Natural Meropolitano Ėwhat activities are located there?

Boquete-is that something that comes into my plans for a 5 day stay or thatís for a whole other trip? 

Bocas Del Toro- is that something that comes into my plans for a 5 day stay or thatís for a whole other trip? 

Panama Viejo, is that the same as Casco Viejo?

Rainforest gondola tour-where is that?

Portobello Road/ Portobello Island-where and what is that?

Thanks for all your help. I am in the intelligence gathering phase now. Once I have that I will decide what to do each individual day and I am sure I will have some more questions.
Thanks again for your help.
I was very happy with Mario of http://myfriendmario.com (Almiza) as a tour guide.

The Aria Restaurant and Jeffery Bakery both impressed me.

Do the rainforest with the monkey island.

Taxis are very cheap, so for when you're not with a tour guide, it won't cost too much for the taxis.

Casco Viejo is the "old city" so I assume "old Panama" is the same.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: dvol on January 21, 2019, 12:56:02 PM
I've read through this thread as well as the trip reports listed (thanks @Denverite very insightful)  and was hoping for some advice. I'll be flying into PTY in a few weeks from NYC landing early Sunday morning and departing Wednesday morning which gives me 3 days in Panama and will be staying in the W in Panama City.

Besides for the food, what are the must do's that I can cover in those 3 days without 1-being away overnight, 2-getting up at the crack of dawn, 3-Lots of hiking.

From what I've read the following seem to be what I should be covering, but I'm not sure how to spread it out over 3 days or if I'm missing anything:

Casco Viejo
Panama Canal
Jungle Tour
Monkey Island
And if I have an entire day empty then Pearl Islands.

Any recommendations/ideas would be appreciated.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on January 21, 2019, 12:59:04 PM
I've read through this thread as well as the trip reports listed (thanks @Denverite very insightful)  and was hoping for some advice. I'll be flying into PTY in a few weeks from NYC landing early Sunday morning and departing Wednesday morning which gives me 3 days in Panama and will be staying in the W in Panama City.

Besides for the food, what are the must do's that I can cover in those 3 days without 1-being away overnight, 2-getting up at the crack of dawn, 3-Lots of hiking.

From what I've read the following seem to be what I should be covering, but I'm not sure how to spread it out over 3 days or if I'm missing anything:

Casco Viejo
Panama Canal
Jungle Tour
Monkey Island
And if I have an entire day empty then Pearl Islands.

Any recommendations/ideas would be appreciated.
Jungle tour doesn't sound like it won't have too much hiking
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on January 21, 2019, 03:15:42 PM
Iím here now and will attempt to answer some of your questions but Iím still at the beginning so the rest may be answered at the end of the week.

For Shabbos we stayed at JW Marriot which was extremely Shabbos friendly and close to chabad where we davened and ate Friday night and Bet El for lunch. Reservations for both. We met many wonderful people also staying at Marriot and eating with us. We then moved to The Sortis MS. Both hotels are great in different ways. Marriot had nice infinite pool and Shabbos friendly. Sortis is more hip. Donít like the bathrooms at Marriot- a little too open for me (sliding frosted door) and I think we were upgraded because we had a bathtub (that I found out other rooms did not) that was only enclosed by a curtain. Sortis bathrooms have regular doors. We were upgraded to a corner suite which is a 1 bedroom, 2 bathroom small kitchen and living room area.

We used Kosher GPS app to find all the kosher restaurants around us. Kosher PTY is in Spanish.
Also, Google Translate app was a lifesaver unless you speak Spanish.

Are you there next week as well? I am Arriving Sunday morning iyĒh.  Staying at the Sortis as well.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on January 21, 2019, 03:21:33 PM
I was very happy with Mario of http://myfriendmario.com (Almiza) as a tour guide.

The Aria Restaurant and Jeffery Bakery both impressed me.

Do the rainforest with the monkey island.

Taxis are very cheap, so for when you're not with a tour guide, it won't cost too much for the taxis.

Casco Viejo is the "old city" so I assume "old Panama" is the same.
I think there is more than 1 rainforest. What is the name and/ or location of the one you recommend to do with Monkey Island?

My question is if I have my own car, are there tours that I can then do on my own instead of having a tour guide. Iím assuming that for some of the tours a large part of having a tour guide is just to have someone that would drive you. Am I coming across clear with my question?

Thanks about the Cosco Viejo answer.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 21, 2019, 04:11:58 PM
Are you there next week as well? I am Arriving Sunday morning iyĒh.  Staying at the Sortis as well.

Nope. But I have friends coming but staying at a different hotel. If youíre here for Shabbos I suggest a different hotel if you want to be near Jewish area. It was a nice experience. The shul is beautiful.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on January 21, 2019, 04:13:02 PM


The shul is beautiful.
Which one?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on January 21, 2019, 04:28:26 PM
Nope. But I have friends coming but staying at a different hotel. If youíre here for Shabbos I suggest a different hotel if you want to be near Jewish area. It was a nice experience. The shul is beautiful.

I am not there for Shabes. Thanks. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 21, 2019, 04:59:40 PM
Which one?

We went to Bet El. They have a Shabbos luncheon with reservations beforehand.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on January 22, 2019, 12:49:40 AM
I am reposting my questions, but I took off the ones that were answered already. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I will be in Panama for 5 full weekdays IYĒH.  Traveling without kids. 

I read through all the posts and they are extremely helpful. I have the following questions.  If anyone can answer, would be much appreciated.

What activities can be done in Panama without a tour guide?

Was thinking of doing 1 day the local stuff like the canal and Monkey Island. I day San Blas or Pearl Island and 1 day El Valle .  What do you suggest for the other 2 days?


Is it Whale watching season now. If not, would it be worth it to go to Pearl Island regardless?

No point in doing both San Blas and Pearl Islands. Itís just either or. Correct?

I saw mentioned ďDarien ProvenceĒ. Where and what is that?

Monkey Island Boat tour -what other day activity can it be combined with?

Parque Natural Meropolitano Ėwhat activities are located there?

Boquete-is that something that comes into my plans for a 5 day stay or thatís for a whole other trip? 

Bocas Del Toro- is that something that comes into my plans for a 5 day stay or thatís for a whole other trip? 

Rainforest gondola tour-where is that?

Portobello Road/ Portobello Island-where and what is that?

Which dairy restaurants are Cholov Yisroel and which are not?

There are so many kosher Restaurants there. Which ones are lie the top ones not to be missed?

Thanks again for your help.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Suave on January 22, 2019, 12:43:48 PM
I am reposting my questions, but I took off the ones that were answered already. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I will be in Panama for 5 full weekdays IYĒH.  Traveling without kids. 

I read through all the posts and they are extremely helpful. I have the following questions.  If anyone can answer, would be much appreciated.

What activities can be done in Panama without a tour guide?

Was thinking of doing 1 day the local stuff like the canal and Monkey Island. I day San Blas or Pearl Island and 1 day El Valle .  What do you suggest for the other 2 days?


Is it Whale watching season now. If not, would it be worth it to go to Pearl Island regardless?

No point in doing both San Blas and Pearl Islands. Itís just either or. Correct?

I saw mentioned ďDarien ProvenceĒ. Where and what is that?

Monkey Island Boat tour -what other day activity can it be combined with?

Parque Natural Meropolitano Ėwhat activities are located there?

Boquete-is that something that comes into my plans for a 5 day stay or thatís for a whole other trip? 

Bocas Del Toro- is that something that comes into my plans for a 5 day stay or thatís for a whole other trip? 

Rainforest gondola tour-where is that?

Portobello Road/ Portobello Island-where and what is that?

Which dairy restaurants are Cholov Yisroel and which are not?

There are so many kosher Restaurants there. Which ones are lie the top ones not to be missed?

Thanks again for your help.
3 days in Boquete should be enough (visit coffee growers, go rafting, chill in the hotsprings etc)
I would recommend spending more time in Bocas Del Toro - Scuba, ATV tours, Snorkling, Dolphin/whale/stingray/shark watching, Boat tours etc. (there's a chabad there, so Kosher food will be easier)
San Blas deserves more than a day. 2 nights at least, turn off your phone, get a REAL vacation, reconnect with yourself.

EDIT, Just noticed you said 5 weekdays - not weekends. I guess Bocas should be it's own trip then. You can skip Boquete. San Blas will cost you in travel time.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 22, 2019, 05:14:56 PM
I am reposting my questions, but I took off the ones that were answered already. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I will be in Panama for 5 full weekdays IYĒH.  Traveling without kids. 

I read through all the posts and they are extremely helpful. I have the following questions.  If anyone can answer, would be much appreciated.

What activities can be done in Panama without a tour guide?

Was thinking of doing 1 day the local stuff like the canal and Monkey Island. I day San Blas or Pearl Island and 1 day El Valle .  What do you suggest for the other 2 days?


Is it Whale watching season now. If not, would it be worth it to go to Pearl Island regardless?

No point in doing both San Blas and Pearl Islands. Itís just either or. Correct?

I saw mentioned ďDarien ProvenceĒ. Where and what is that?

Monkey Island Boat tour -what other day activity can it be combined with?

Parque Natural Meropolitano Ėwhat activities are located there?

Boquete-is that something that comes into my plans for a 5 day stay or thatís for a whole other trip? 

Bocas Del Toro- is that something that comes into my plans for a 5 day stay or thatís for a whole other trip? 

Rainforest gondola tour-where is that?

Portobello Road/ Portobello Island-where and what is that?

Which dairy restaurants are Cholov Yisroel and which are not?

There are so many kosher Restaurants there. Which ones are lie the top ones not to be missed?

Thanks again for your help.

Can't go through all these but yes, I'd just do Las Perlas or San Blas if you only have 5 days although if you have the money and really love beaches, both would be fun.  I actually just posted some more about our day in Las Perlas in my trip report.  In the Parque Nacional is the national zoo, which is a poor 3rd world zoo but the harpy eagle was super cool.  It's very close to the rainforest tram (that you asked about) in Gamboa.  We took a cab to the zoo and ubered back.  We did the tram and it was ok but if you aren't dragging kids around you could do cooler stuff that isn't as touristy and actually hike in the rainforest.  Hands-down do not miss Aria meat restaraunt.  It's insanely good and literally across the street from the Sortis.  Have a blast there!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on January 22, 2019, 06:27:09 PM
When is the best time of day to see canal traffic?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 22, 2019, 07:04:23 PM
When is the best time of day to see canal traffic?

Itís all day long lined up waiting to go trough.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 22, 2019, 11:06:28 PM
We did Pearl Island on Sunday and San Blas today. Both very different experiences.

Pearl Islands has beautiful fish and good snorkeling but water was colder at first. Itís not whale watching season now. Lots of private beaches if you go with a tour guide- We used Ilene based on @Denveriteís TR. Ilene was very informative and took our cues as to what interests us. Water was beautiful. Cost was $250 for up to 5 people on Ileneís boat (we were only 2) + $78/pp ferry ride reduced from $98/pp because we booked with Ilene.

San Blas has gorgeous water. Water was warmer then Pearl. We did a group tour through Sorhay which was $155/pp and she took care of every detail down to the  $.25 for the bathroom when you first come in. (Other bathrooms are free!) we went as a group to 3 different islands so itís not private. The ride there was very windy and had lots of potholes but the driver had obviously driven these roads before. Since it was a group, Sorhay was not there and no one spoke Emglish except another tourist so she translated.

Personally I canít see doing more than a day trip in either place. I love swimming and snorkeling but I think I would be bored.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on January 23, 2019, 08:48:24 AM
Thanks for the live trip report. If you had to chose 1 over the other, which one would you choose?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on January 23, 2019, 11:57:30 PM
Silly question. Does Panama use same electricity as US or you need an adapter like in Europe? 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 24, 2019, 12:17:12 AM
Silly question. Does Panama use same electricity as US or you need an adapter like in Europe?

Same electricity and currency is American dollars

Thanks for the live trip report. If you had to chose 1 over the other, which one would you choose?

I keep trying to write an answer to your question and I keep going back and forth. Iím not sure what youíre into. If you want beautiful snorkeling then Pearl Islands. But the beaches at San Blas were gorgeous. Both trips are long. If someone gets carsick then the trip to San Blas is not for you. If money is an issue then I would skip both and use Sorhay for Embrera village (which we did today). We did the kosher version and it was spectacular. She is very detailed oriented and takes great care of her clients. And the trip includes a waterfall which Denverite wrote about. It was a spectacular day.





Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 24, 2019, 12:26:03 AM
  Hands-down do not miss Aria meat restaraunt.  It's insanely good and literally across the street from the Sortis.  Have a blast there!

We ate there tonight. While we thought it was good we enjoyed Luna better. Service was very slow. Could be they had an off night because my sister and brother in-law ate there last night and thought it was very good. ( And they also loved Luna.)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on January 24, 2019, 12:41:44 AM

I keep trying to write an answer to your question and I keep going back and forth. Iím not sure what youíre into. If you want beautiful snorkeling then Pearl Islands. But the beaches at San Blas were gorgeous. Both trips are long. If someone gets carsick then the trip to San Blas is not for you. If money is an issue then I would skip both and use Sorhay for Embrera village (which we did today). We did the kosher version and it was spectacular. She is very detailed oriented and takes great care of her clients. And the trip includes a waterfall which Denverite wrote about. It was a spectacular day.

I booked with her Monkey Island for Sunday. Monday she  had no availability. I booked San Blas for Tuesday And Anton Valley for Wednesday. Monday I booked Bayano Cave with My Friend Mario. You are writing that if I want to save money I should do the village. San Blas she quoted me $320 for 2 and the village is $375 I think.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 24, 2019, 12:47:48 AM
San Blas she quoted me $155pp and Embrera $135 pp back in December.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 24, 2019, 12:49:31 AM
Btw you know you have to get picked up st 5:15am for San Blas?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on January 24, 2019, 01:30:11 AM
San Blas she quoted me $155pp and Embrera $135 pp back in December.

Interesting. Dont know. Did you get a quote from her for monkey Island and Anton Valley? 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on January 24, 2019, 01:30:47 AM
Deleted
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on January 24, 2019, 01:36:26 AM
About the 5:15


I do know. Only problem is i didn't tell my wife yet...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on January 24, 2019, 03:37:09 AM


Hands-down do not miss Aria meat restaraunt.  It's insanely good and literally across the street from the Sortis.  Have a blast there!
+10
And cheap too!!


Same electricity and currency is American dollars
Well they kinda have their own currency, but it it fluctuates with the American Dollar, and the Dollar is accepted as well.
We ate there tonight. While we thought it was good we enjoyed Luna better. Service was very slow. Could be they had an off night because my sister and brother in-law ate there last night and thought it was very good. ( And they also loved Luna.)

Are you referring to the Lula by Darna? Or another place called Lula?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 24, 2019, 06:35:47 AM
Are you referring to the Lula by Darna? Or another place called Lula?

Same one. Lula by Darna ( meat) is walkable from Sortis. And thereís the sister   place called Darna behind the JW Marriot. Itís dairy.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 24, 2019, 07:18:25 AM
Also for San Blas, I think besides wanting to get a fresh start in the morning before it might get crowded, the toilets, when you first arrive, are more appealing. Bring toilet paper (or tissues) and wipes. But the last island we visited (Donít remember the name) had TP and water. We even could rinse off in the shower.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on January 24, 2019, 08:51:24 AM
Same one. Lula by Darna ( meat) is walkable from Sortis. And thereís the sister   place called Darna behind the JW Marriot. Itís dairy.
That's what I'm most surprised about, I absolutely despised the side that I got from Lula, and the main didn't come close to Aria.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on January 24, 2019, 11:02:28 AM
Would anyone know which dairy restaurants are Cholov Yisroel and which are not?

Thanks all for your help. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Aron27 on January 24, 2019, 03:51:03 PM
Would anyone know which dairy restaurants are Cholov Yisroel and which are not?
Thanks all for your help.
My experience was that you can get CY in most restaurants on request. Most of the time it was possible except sometimes the creamer for a cream sauce was not available.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 24, 2019, 05:37:07 PM
Interesting. Dont know. Did you get a quote from her for monkey Island and Anton Valley?

I realize that maybe she quoted you higher because you are 2 people. We were 4. Did not do Anton Valley but did Panama Canal, monkey Island, Old city and drove through the Causeay. We were able to do a lot because everyone left town because the Pope is here.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 24, 2019, 10:41:25 PM
I realize that maybe she quoted you higher because you are 2 people. We were 4. Did not do Anton Valley but did Panama Canal, monkey Island, Old city and drove through the Causeay. We were able to do a lot because everyone left town because the Pope is here.

Was it crazy with closed roads and things for the popeís visit?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 24, 2019, 10:45:18 PM
That's what I'm most surprised about, I absolutely despised the side that I got from Lula, and the main didn't come close to Aria.

We went to Lula and we thought it was perfectly fine Israeli style food (but I live in Denver with one meat restaurant)   :P I just loved everything about Aria, from the random and cool cocktails, monogrammed cloth napkins and creative and delicious food.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 25, 2019, 03:36:23 AM
Maybe Lulaís changed menu cuz we got beef empenadas, Rib eye in wine sauce, baby back ribs, beef Wellington,  and banana crumble for dessert.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on January 25, 2019, 05:05:30 AM


I just loved everything about Aria, from the random and cool cocktails, monogrammed cloth napkins and creative and delicious food.
This.

It was the first thing I did when I got to Panama, maybe I set my own bar too high.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 25, 2019, 10:18:24 AM
Maybe Lulaís changed menu cuz we got beef empenadas, Rib eye in wine sauce, baby back ribs, beef Wellington,  and banana crumble for dessert.

You know what, I never thought of that.  We went for lunch and they had a number of limited choices off their "business lunch" menu, which were a great deal but we probably missed out on their better dishes and more creative food, than if we had gone for dinner.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: dvol on January 29, 2019, 01:42:36 PM
When people refer to a tour of the rainforest, do you mean Gamboa? Is it a tour by boat? I'm so confused as I asked Sorhay about a tour of the Gamboa Rainforest and her response was that it was a resort, not a tour.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mliebs1457 on January 29, 2019, 04:24:10 PM
I'm looking at booking a 8.5 hour stop in PTY before continuing to JFK. Is that enough for the basics? What wud that leave me time to do ?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on January 29, 2019, 04:24:57 PM
I'm looking at booking a 8.5 hour stop in PTY before continuing to JFK. Is that enough for the basics? What wud that leave me time to do ?
Not much you can do in 8.5 hours.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mliebs1457 on January 29, 2019, 04:25:41 PM
What can I see in 8.5? What wud u suggest is the minimum ?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mliebs1457 on January 29, 2019, 04:26:25 PM
I'm trying to build in a long connection from HAV to JFK but copa availability even in Y is really wacky
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on January 29, 2019, 04:26:31 PM
What can I see in 8.5? What wud u suggest is the minimum ?
Food ;)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on January 30, 2019, 08:07:24 AM
I'm looking at booking a 8.5 hour stop in PTY before continuing to JFK. Is that enough for the basics? What wud that leave me time to do ?

Very little. You could see the Panama Canal but it's not enough time to actually take a boat ride. I would hire a driver to take you around since they are cheap and you'll see a lot more that way. I used Almiza Tours (my friend mario). They do airport pickup and dropoffs so it would be easy/
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on January 30, 2019, 08:18:18 AM


You could see the Panama Canal but it's not enough time to actually take a boat ride.
I'd rather see a picture of the Eifel Tower than go to see the Panama Canal. There is nothing to see without a tour.

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on January 30, 2019, 08:38:56 AM
I'd rather see a picture of the Eifel Tower than go to see the Panama Canal. There is nothing to see without a tour.



I think seeing boats go through the locks and learning how they work is pretty cool, but I'm an engineer who traveled with an engineer so....
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on January 30, 2019, 12:36:57 PM
I think seeing boats go through the locks and learning how they work is pretty cool, but I'm an engineer who traveled with an engineer so....
You don't learn how they work without a tour, or being an engineer...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 30, 2019, 01:29:02 PM
You don't learn how they work without a tour, or being an engineer...

The museum tells how it works
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on February 06, 2019, 12:11:44 AM
What can I see in 8.5? What wud u suggest is the minimum ?

With 8.5 hrs you could see the Mira Flores Locks like other suggested, do a tour of Monkey Island and get to ride on the canal and should fit it one meal too  :)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mliebs1457 on February 06, 2019, 12:19:04 AM
With 8.5 hrs you could see the Mira Flores Locks like other suggested, do a tour of Monkey Island and get to ride on the canal and should fit it one meal too  :)
Awesome thanx. Shame I cant be there for longer but I'd love to make the most of my stop
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on February 06, 2019, 04:15:06 AM
With 8.5 hrs you could see the Mira Flores Locks like other suggested, do a tour of Monkey Island and get to ride on the canal and should fit it one meal too  :)
Monkey island is a decent drive from from the airport, 1.5-2 hours IINM. That would leave 3-4 hours minimum for driving, and an hour plus for the tour. So that's 4.5 hours if you are risky just for the monkey island.
I assume 8.5 hour is from touchdown to takeoff, which it obviously takes time to get out between bags and customs, and you need to arrive early as well.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on February 07, 2019, 09:33:36 PM
Thanks to everyone for all the help here.

Just wanted to give a quick recap of what I did with some comments

Took Uber from airport and back to airport. Uber in Panama City is super super cheap. No need to rent a car or use anything else. I paid a total of $74.76 for fifteen trips. 

I stayed in Sortis. I made my decision based on the posts here. I didnít have a chance to analyze the map beforehand because I was very short in time. It is a very nice hotel, but I am not sure why this is being promoted instead of the hotels that are by the water. Had I seen the map before I wouldíve chosen one by the water. There are some restaurants close to Sortis but there are also restaurants close the Trump hotel and others. (I wasnít there for shabes. Could be shabes is a deferent story)

Day 1
1st breakfast we ate at Kava. Kava isnít inside Sortis anymore. Itís about 2 blocks away. Food was great.

We did Monkey Island tour with Sorhay. She is not the cheapest, but she is a GREAT guide and we very much enjoyed our time with her.

Dinner was from Pita Plus. We were tired from flight so we ordered in. By the time food came it was cold so I cant really comment on the food.

Day 2
We had scheduled a cave tour with My friend Mario because Sorhay wasnít available. The night before they sent an e-mail saying that it was canceled because they only had us 2 and needed 6. I thought is was a disgrace to let me know the night before and by e-mail. What if I didnít check my e-mail?

We went to pool in the morning. Then to Jefferys for breakfast. Food was great. Then we went to hike Ancon Hill. Didnít see much wildlife. Then we went to the Miraflores locks. Was very interesting. Then we went to the Multiplaza shopping mall. Dinner we ate at Aria. We really liked this place.

Day 3
San Blas Islands we booked through Sorhay. Had an amazing day. Dinner was at Lula. We liked the food, but we liked Aria better.

Day 4
Anton Valley with Sorhay. We went hiking the sleeping indian. Then we did the square Tree trail. We did the hot spring with the mud. We also did horseback riding. We stopped somewhere to see sunset. Dinner we ate at Aroma Cafť. The food was fine.

Day 5
Breakfast by Darna. Food was good. We then walked Cosco Viejo, the Amador Causeway and Cinta Costera. We then made a short stop at Kava, and it was time to go home.

Thanks again for all your help.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ludmila on February 08, 2019, 01:22:51 AM
Thanks to everyone for all the help here.

Just wanted to give a quick recap of what I did with some comments

Took Uber from airport and back to airport. Uber in Panama City is super super cheap. No need to rent a car or use anything else. I paid a total of $74.76 for fifteen trips. 

I stayed in Sortis. I made my decision based on the posts here. I didnít have a chance to analyze the map beforehand because I was very short in time. It is a very nice hotel, but I am not sure why this is being promoted instead of the hotels that are by the water. Had I seen the map before I wouldíve chosen one by the water. There are some restaurants close to Sortis but there are also restaurants close the Trump hotel and others. (I wasnít there for shabes. Could be shabes is a deferent story)

Day 1
1st breakfast we ate at Kava. Kava isnít inside Sortis anymore. Itís about 2 blocks away. Food was great.

We did Monkey Island tour with Sorhay. She is not the cheapest, but she is a GREAT guide and we very much enjoyed our time with her.

Dinner was from Pita Plus. We were tired from flight so we ordered in. By the time food came it was cold so I cant really comment on the food.

Day 2
We had scheduled a cave tour with My friend Mario because Sorhay wasnít available. The night before they sent an e-mail saying that it was canceled because they only had us 2 and needed 6. I thought is was a disgrace to let me know the night before and by e-mail. What if I didnít check my e-mail?

We went to pool in the morning. Then to Jefferys for breakfast. Food was great. Then we went to hike Ancon Hill. Didnít see much wildlife. Then we went to the Miraflores locks. Was very interesting. Then we went to the Multiplaza shopping mall. Dinner we ate at Aria. We really liked this place.

Day 3
San Blas Islands we booked through Sorhay. Had an amazing day. Dinner was at Lula. We liked the food, but we liked Aria better.

Day 4
Anton Valley with Sorhay. We went hiking the sleeping indian. Then we did the square Tree trail. We did the hot spring with the mud. We also did horseback riding. We stopped somewhere to see sunset. Dinner we ate at Aroma Cafť. The food was fine.

Day 5
Breakfast by Darna. Food was good. We then walked Cosco Viejo, the Amador Causeway and Cinta Costera. We then made a short stop at Kava, and it was time to go home.

Thanks again for all your help.
Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on February 08, 2019, 02:30:55 AM


Thanks.
The water isn't that much of an excitement there, and IINM none of the points hotels are on the water
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on February 08, 2019, 07:32:10 AM
Thanks.
The water isn't that much of an excitement there, and IINM none of the points hotels are on the water

JW Marriott (former Trunp) overlooks water but itís not a beach - just scenic.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on February 08, 2019, 09:54:28 AM
Thanks.
The water isn't that much of an excitement there, and IINM none of the points hotels are on the water

But it's still nicer to have a water view than a city view when you open the window curtains in the morning. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on February 08, 2019, 09:55:33 AM
But it's still nicer to have a water view than a city view when you open the window curtains in the morning.
I thought me city view was absolutely amazing. (One room was a lot nice than the other as they were opposite sides.)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: travellove on February 08, 2019, 09:58:13 AM
I thought me city view was absolutely amazing. (One room was a lot nice than the other as they were opposite sides.)

I guess everyone enjoys something else or could be i had a room that didn't have such great city views as some others, but I would still prefer water. Living in NYC I dont get so impressed by tall buildings. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on February 13, 2019, 09:44:11 PM
Reply to yyzzrh -

Your inbox is full so I added the information you requested in the wiki above.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: dvol on February 14, 2019, 01:38:33 PM
I have plenty of pictures and will post if anyone is interested, but I just came back from 3 days in Panama and will post my trip report here:

I had booked a bulk fare with Priceline departing Saturday night on UA and returning Wednesday morning for $489 p/p. When I checked in online Motzei Shabbos I was offered an upgrade to business for $189 per person which I took. At the end of the day it was a complete waste since it was probably the most uncomfortable 5 hours of my life, and I got nothing from the stewardess besides half a glass of water. I had also had the bulkhead seats booked and while I got the same offer for an upgrade on the return I didn't take and had pretty much the exact same experience sitting in the bulkhead seats in coach as I did in business.

While the flight was uncomfortable it was uneventful and we landed in PTY at about 5AM which is just about when the airport opens and all the shops were still closed. We called an Uber from the pickup area which is in the car rental section and the guy standing in front of us got into one of the parked cars there and that was our ride.

You'd have to be crazy to rent a car in Panama, the driving and parking is even worse than Brooklyn and the Uber rates are a joke. I believe the fare from the airport to our hotel was about $7. In general the majority of our Uber rides ranged from $2-$7.

We had a room booked at the W Panama, however it hadn't occurred to me that they would be completely sold out the previous night, so although we had a room booked with a member that has Lifetime Platinum status we were told they have no rooms to give us at the moment (about 5:40AM). We had booked a regular room and had been upgraded to a "fantastic suite" and while we offered to take a regular room and switch later on we were told that not a single room was available. After asking the manager several times I had just about given up and we were going to look at different properties near us to see where we could get a room when I asked if he could check any of the other SPG properties around us if they could give us a room, at least for a few hours and we'd be happy to pay for the night. While he was checking he told me that their first guest had just checked out and if we waited 30 minutes they would clean it for us. While it was a regular room he'd be happy to switch us to the fantastic suite later on in the day and that's what we did. By the time we got to the room was a little after 7AM and we went right to sleep until about 11AM.

A little about the hotel: It's fairly new, under a year old and very modern with the same hip vibe I've experienced in most W hotels I've stayed in. While even the regular room was very spacious and comfortable the only reason I wouldn't stay in this hotel again is because of its location. It's in the financial district and about a 20 minute walk/5 minute car ride to Paitilla which is the Jewish neighborhood where most (if not all) of the kosher restaurants are located. The area was extremely quiet and we barely saw anyone in the hotel, even the pool rarely had more than 1-2 people in it. However, the service was great and we did love the rooms.

When we woke up we got dressed and took a 20 minute walk to Kava to have lunch. Like I said, I have pictures I can post if anyone would like to see but we had some sushi which was very good, their Thai salad was incredible, but the pasta was definitely of the boxed variety and pretty blah.

I had booked the 4 hour Monkey Island tour with My Friend Mario for 2PM ($90 p/p for a private tour - cash only) so after lunch we headed back to our hotel where we had arranged to be picked up. I forgot our guide's name but he was very friendly, talkative and he brought along an "expert on animals" to help guide us on our tour. We had to drive about 45 minutes to the Gamboa marina where we boarded a small boat that drove us on the Chagres River for about a half hour until we reached the Monkey Islands. We thoroughly enjoyed this tour and had a great time having the monkeys come eat straight out of our hands. We didn't get to see any crocs which apparently disappoints most people but was perfectly fine with us.

After the tour we headed back to our hotel and headed to dinner. We ate at Aria and were extremely impressed with the decor, the food, all of it. We didn't get to at the end, but we had planned on going back at least once more - all the more reason to visit again. After dinner we walked to the Sortis which was a block away to check out the casino but we were so tired we left without playing, but the hotel was busier than the W and looked really nice as well, would definitely check it out if I were to go again as the location cannot be beat.

I had booked a tour to the Embera Village with Sorhay from The Real Panama Tours (https://www.therealpanamatours.com/) for the next day with an 8AM pickup. I cannot say enough good things about her, as many people have said here before. She was friendly, accomodating and a great guide. The drive to the rainforest was about an hour and 15 minutes and we were met there by our Embera guide- Saul. We took about a 5 minute boat ride to the village where we were met by some of the tribe. Sorhay seemed to know everyone there, from adult to baby and they all love her. We had about 6-7 kids trailing us at all times and the entire day was fascinating. While they are not as authentic as they once were (when we arrived we saw one of the tribe trying to catch reception on their cell phone) and they speak fluent Spanish and many go to the city to buy supplies, it's still fascinating to see how they live. We walked around the village with Sorhay giving us lots of information and then took a break for lunch - fried tilapia and plantains (we had brought along lunch). We had also brought along tons of fruits that we had stopped to buy on the way up and the tribal kids showed us the best way to eat passionfruit - by dipping pineapple slices into it. After lunch we took the canoe to the waterfall - many of the kids begged to tag along and 5 of them joined us (according to Sorhay its a rare treat for them and their parents took some convincing). Because the water in the river had already started to lower we had to hike about 20 minutes to the waterfall which was a fun challenge. We spent about 30 minutes there in the refreshing water and then headed back.

By the time we got back to the hotel was pretty late and we got changed for dinner and headed out. We went to Lula by Darne and while the place was also very nice and the food was good, it wasn't as impressive as Aria. I'm not sure if it's always like that, but for some reason every place seemed mostly empty and made us wonder how these places stay afloat.

On Tuesday we didn't have much of a plan, so we woke up late and went to get a massage at the Bristol hotel which was right next door to our hotel (W didn't have availability). While the service was very good they had no facilities to speak of. After that we headed to lunch at La Spezia where we had some apps and the pizza. While very tasty it had TOO MUCH cheese - not a sentence I ever thought I would say.

After that we went to the Milaflores Locks of the Panama Canal which we were told to go to either before 9AM or after 2PM. We arrived at about 2:45 and went to see the 40 minutes Imax movie that's narrated by Morgan Freeman and plays every hour on the hour. While interesting it can definitely be missed. After that we bought tickets for the museum, another 20 minute movie shown in there and the Locks to see the boats being lowered in the Canal. Definitely a can't miss and we spent a few hours there, until about 5:30.

After that we took an Uber to the Amador Causeway. However, what should have been a 23 minute ride turned into an hour and 10 minutes because of the ridiculous stand-still traffic we encountered. After all that our Uber bill was only $7 but we felt so bad we left a $5 tip. It was pretty much dark by the time we arrived so we didn't end up renting a bike like we had planned, just walked around for a few minutes.

For our last night's dinner we really wanted to go to Aria again but we noticed another meat place called Moma and decided to give it a try - it's a lounge/restaurant and they had a nice big outdoor seating area with lots of people smoking hookah and a big screen showing the football game. While all the other places had been pretty empty, Moma was full and had a young, hip vibe with one very large family having a birthday party there complete with clown and everything. We ate outdoors and the food was really good, and their drinks were as well, definitely would go back there.

Our flight the next morning was at 9:30Am so we left our hotel at about 7:30 and while traffic in the reverse direction was a complete standstill we made it to the airport in about 20 minutes. We used our Priority Pass to get into the incredibly crowded, very unimpressive lounge by Copa Club and that concluded our trip.

I always intend to write out short succint trip reports but usually end up with long megillahs and this time it seems was no exception :).

Happy to post pictures if anyone would like to see anything.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on February 14, 2019, 01:49:29 PM
Glad you got the Aria>Lula part right ;)
Would love to see some pics!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ludmila on February 14, 2019, 02:04:30 PM
Thanks @dvol , pictures please :)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yyzzrh on February 15, 2019, 09:59:34 AM
Reply to yyzzrh -

Your inbox is full so I added the information you requested in the wiki above.

Thanks. Just noticed
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on February 18, 2019, 02:08:20 PM
IYH full TR to follow, but we are enjoying our day with Ilene.  Sitting in the cafe at Mar&Oro on Contadoro Island, and wanted to share my photo from boat ride with Ilene and boatman Danilo.  Pales in comparison to @denverite, but we are having a great time.
Fyi this is a crocodile needle fish, ‏לא כשר.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: dvol on February 18, 2019, 03:51:48 PM
Some pictures as per request.

The pool at the W, view from our window on the 16th floor:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7888/46374433454_4f80a895b2.jpg)

Video from the Monkey Island tour:

https://vimeo.com/318057166 (https://vimeo.com/318057166)

https://vimeo.com/318057541 (https://vimeo.com/318057541)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7913/40133277043_846d3425e0.jpg)

After Monkey Island we had our guide drop us off at Casco Viejo:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7835/46374434644_ef65cabb42.jpg)

Then dinner at Aria:
Empanadas, cream of tomato soup (HIGHLY recommend), shisito peppers, and then a shredded meat dish on top of yuca - also delicious:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7905/46184391545_20abe7dd71.jpg)

Pretty sure this was called Thai soup:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7883/47045805952_b7b36b339c.jpg)

The BEST version of crispy chicken I have ever tasted:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7908/40133278223_1f6a395757.jpg)

And of course churros for dessert:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7826/46184391255_a7a02cb1da.jpg)

Apple crumble, also delicious:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7849/40133279913_005cc7a8bc.jpg)

The next day, some pictures from our trip to the Embera village. Here is the boat you take to the village:

https://vimeo.com/318057695 (https://vimeo.com/318057695)

Being greeted once we arrived, as you can see the kids love Sorhay

https://vimeo.com/318058200 (https://vimeo.com/318058200)

Our Embera guide told us that the children in the village had just rescued an abandoned monkey that they found near the village. They normally do not keep any pets so this was a major event and all the children were enthralled with it:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7902/47045805642_454beb05a5.jpg)

Visitors are not allowed into the homes of the Embera, but they have one hut where they make food for visitors only so we were allowed to see their "kitchen" there:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7905/40133278333_19473bb63f.jpg)

The view:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7873/32156200797_de3b593eb0.jpg)

The fried tilapia and plantain lunch they gave to all visitors:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7826/40133276453_600b1b2684.jpg)

The fruit we had brought along and they cut up for us, pineapple, watermelon, passionfruit, banana, papaya and some tamarind:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7919/32156199237_995bd2fe9d.jpg)

On our way out we were offered a tribal "tattoo" which is similar to henna and lasts about 7 days:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7843/46374436544_2b921e1fda.jpg)

We then took the boat to the rainforest, and some of the children in the village joined us. Here is Sorhay giving them a lesson of some sort:

https://vimeo.com/318058318 (https://vimeo.com/318058318)

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7867/47045803672_09050bb821.jpg)

The children leading us to the rainforest:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7922/32156200877_f1318c2b5f.jpg)

There was only 1 local family at the rainforest, but luckily it was empty otherwise. We did climb to the top of this waterfall and took a dip in the water above:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7843/40133278603_fd2c19c366.jpg)

Later that night we had dinner at Lula by Darna, I tried to look up the items we ordered but the menu we had is completely different from the one I found online. I'm going to say this was called French Dip rolls, I could be 100% wrong, but it was very tasty.

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7835/33222832818_12d06dd8ba.jpg)

Some kind of ground meat inside yuca - was very good:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7909/47097927111_9149356544.jpg)

Empanadas:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7915/40173560593_78223487a8.jpg)

Mushroom salad:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7810/32196470097_b9980c8fee.jpg)

Burger:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7818/32196470087_a61a0157b8.jpg)

The next day we went to lunch at La Spezia. Here is the cheesiest pizza you ever did see:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7842/40133276793_9fc182e744.jpg)

Eggplant Parmesan:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7869/47045803812_a6b196464e.jpg)

After that we went to the Panama Canal:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7886/47045803422_0fc58e82cb.jpg)

https://vimeo.com/318058510 (https://vimeo.com/318058510)

The Amador Causeway at sunset:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7901/46374433854_3c943a96b1.jpg)

And then dinner at Moma:

Pastrami rolled in something. I want to say yuca again since I think we saw that everywhere, but it was delicious:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7836/40133276603_7bbcb1124a.jpg)

Tuna bites:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7898/33222833548_161836831d.jpg)

Definitely a tie with Aria over the best sesame chicken in the world:

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7903/46184391185_a64f240ed1.jpg)

We skipped dessert, headed back to our hotel and left the next morning. All in all Panama should be a food destination if nothing else.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on February 19, 2019, 06:23:08 AM


Some pictures as per request.
Waste of a trip to the Aria of you didn't get the salmon Tarter ;)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yyzzrh on February 19, 2019, 08:30:26 AM
Hi

I'm sorry if I didn't notice this being discussed before, but maybe someone could help me here.
Any references for a first time scuba diving lesson/experience, and what it should cost?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on February 20, 2019, 05:42:48 PM
Is the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at PTY before or after security?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: dvol on February 20, 2019, 05:47:39 PM
Is the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at PTY before or after security?

After, there was 1 by our gate, 21. However. After buying a coffee we were told we have to go through security again while boarding and have to throw out any liquids. Weíd never ever havd that experience before and I wish someone would have told us right before we bought a large coffee
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on February 20, 2019, 08:33:15 PM
After, there was 1 by our gate, 21. However. After buying a coffee we were told we have to go through security again while boarding and have to throw out any liquids. Weíd never ever havd that experience before and I wish someone would have told us right before we bought a large coffee
Thanks very much. Sorry that happened you, but I appreciate your sharing information.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on February 23, 2019, 08:53:32 PM
FYI, highly recommend reservation at Kava for Motsei Shabbat. We came without reservation right after they opened , and they were able to seat us inside, but not al fresco, which was our preference. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on February 24, 2019, 10:30:28 AM
At the relatively new Lounge in PTY. Follow signs to gates 1-10. Across from Panama Market.
No kosher food (but the CBTL is nearby).
Plenty of places to sit.
Partial views of planes on apron.
Decent espresso machine.
Free access to soft drinks, beer, and seems to be open access to a few bottles of hard stuff too.
 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on February 27, 2019, 05:06:12 PM
IYH full TR to follow, but we are enjoying our day with Ilene.  Sitting in the cafe at Mar&Oro on Contadoro Island, and wanted to share my photo from boat ride with Ilene and boatman Danilo.  Pales in comparison to @Denverite, but we are having a great time.
Fyi this is a crocodile needle fish, ‏לא כשר.

What do you mean "pales in comparison" because that is a super cool looking and huge fish! So glad you decided to go to Las Perlas and looks like you a had a blast!!!  :)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on February 27, 2019, 05:09:39 PM
Thanks, nice pictures and food :)

+1, thanks for sharing...looks like such a special day with the Embrerara and I my mouth is literally watering at your Aria food pics...we ordered most of that stuff...best empenadas I ever had and I went back a few times for that Thai soup!!!  ;D
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Yordai Dooma on February 28, 2019, 06:22:39 PM
At the relatively new Lounge in PTY. Follow signs to gates 1-10. Across from Panama Market.
No kosher food (but the CBTL is nearby).
Plenty of places to sit.
Partial views of planes on apron.
Decent espresso machine.
Free access to soft drinks, beer, and seems to be open access to a few bottles of hard stuff too.
Thanks for posting this. The copa lounge is always so crowded and can be far from some of the copa gates. This came in handy. Was pretty crowded but much closer to our gate.

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Yordai Dooma on March 03, 2019, 04:05:37 PM
Just wanted to chime in on some of our experiences in PTY.

We were very underwhelmed by a day trip to San blas. The travel time is simply not worth it for a day trip IMHO.

There is no denying that the views, the water and the Snorkeling was extremely beautiful. The accommodations on the islands were meh...even for a day trip... Couldn't even buy a diet coke anywhere. All they had was regular coke, water, one kind of beer and some weird non-kosher drinks. Had to get up at 5am, 2.5 hours there and 3 hours back sitting in traffic ...arrived back at the hotel at 730pm.

They recommended we take dramamine because of the windy bumpy curvy roads to get there. We passed 4 vehicles on the way there, stopped on the side of the road with a passenger puking.

If i did it again, I would fly there. Our tour guide told us we couldn't fly there and back the same day. Perhaps the flights were sold out or the flights only go in the morning.

If i want nice snorkeling and a pretty beach, ill go back to BOB or MLE. When i want amazing kosher food options, nice weather, plenty of activities...oh and amazing kosher food... Ill go to PTY.

I'm sure I'm going to get flack for this post and dont plan to come back and debate it. Just wanted to give my opinion on it, in case it helps others.

As everyone knows Aria, Kava, Moma and Lula Darna are phenomenal. No need to write more on that.

I did use a frum tour guide which was not mentioned yet in this thread (to my knowledge). He is a true mentch, was very accommodating, reasonably priced, and was willing to arrange all kinds of things for us (including stopping for food in the morning on the way to places). If anyone wants to contact him, you can contact him on Whatsapp: Arturo +507 6781-5467. He speaks English (not bad but not perfect) and speaks Hebrew.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on March 03, 2019, 08:38:46 PM
Just wanted to chime in on some of our experiences in PTY.

We were very underwhelmed by a day trip to San blas. The travel time is simply not worth it for a day trip IMHO.

There is no denying that the views, the water and the Snorkeling was extremely beautiful. The accommodations on the islands were meh...even for a day trip... Couldn't even buy a diet coke anywhere. All they had was regular coke, water, one kind of beer and some weird non-kosher drinks. Had to get up at 5am, 2.5 hours there and 3 hours back sitting in traffic ...arrived back at the hotel at 730pm.

They recommended we take dramamine because of the windy bumpy curvy roads to get there. We passed 4 vehicles on the way there, stopped on the side of the road with a passenger puking.

If i did it again, I would fly there. Our tour guide told us we couldn't fly there and back the same day. Perhaps the flights were sold out or the flights only go in the morning.

If i want nice snorkeling and a pretty beach, ill go back to BOB or MLE. When i want amazing kosher food options, nice weather, plenty of activities...oh and amazing kosher food... Ill go to PTY.

I'm sure I'm going to get flack for this post and dont plan to come back and debate it. Just wanted to give my opinion on it, in case it helps others.

As everyone knows Aria, Kava, Moma and Lula Darna are phenomenal. No need to write more on that.

I did use a frum tour guide which was not mentioned yet in this thread (to my knowledge). He is a true mentch, was very accommodating, reasonably priced, and was willing to arrange all kinds of things for us (including stopping for food in the morning on the way to places). If anyone wants to contact him, you can contact him on Whatsapp: Arturo +507 6781-5467. He speaks English (not bad but not perfect) and speaks Hebrew.

Thanks for posting the info. I totally agree about San Blas. Like you said it WAS nice, but was just a hard day and also like you said the point of Panama is easy and also it probably does affect your perspective when youíve already been to the Maldives and similar places. Thanks also for posting about the frum tour guide, thatís awesome! He has a van for transportation as well for families and larger groups?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on March 03, 2019, 09:43:54 PM
What do you mean "pales in comparison" because that is a super cool looking and huge fish! So glad you decided to go to Las Perlas and looks like you a had a blast!!!  :)
Just seeing this now... your son(s) caught a much bigger fish, although the teeth on mine were pretty scary.  We had a great day on Las Perlas, but if we had to do it again, we would spend a night or two in the hotel.  Analogous to what @Yordai Dooma said about a day trip to San Blas, it is just too much travel time on the ferry back and forth for a day trip, IMO.  (Hope to post more deets in my TR soon.) 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Yordai Dooma on March 03, 2019, 09:51:36 PM
Thanks for posting the info. I totally agree about San Blas. Like you said it WAS nice, but was just a hard day and also like you said the point of Panama is easy and also it probably does affect your perspective when youíve already been to the Maldives and similar places. Thanks also for posting about the frum tour guide, thatís awesome! He has a van for transportation as well for families and larger groups?
Yes he has a minivan... I think it was a Honda odyssey
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on March 03, 2019, 11:35:21 PM
Just seeing this now... your son(s) caught a much bigger fish, although the teeth on mine were pretty scary.  We had a great day on Las Perlas, but if we had to do it again, we would spend a night or two in the hotel.  Analogous to what @Yordai Dooma said about a day trip to San Blas, it is just too much travel time on the ferry back and forth for a day trip, IMO.  (Hope to post more deets in my TR soon.)

I also want to stay overnight next time in Las Perlas.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ayidlmitafiddl on March 25, 2019, 04:21:18 AM
I'm planning a trip to Panama this week.

Arriving Thursday 8 PM iy"h

Staying by the JW (Make Panama great again! formerly Trump) Marriott
Got an invite for Friday Night meal, Shabbos day meal signed up for "community" meal

Doing Canal Trip (partial canal, but i want to "cross it" not just see it from land) Sunday iy"h (Sorhay does not have a canal tour that day, but I found another supplier. After the trip i will update with supplier name if we are happy with them. It's the same tour as listed on Viator for $250, but direct it was $200... i declined transportation to the ship and they came down to $175 PP.)

Leaving Monday Morning. Flying United Biz.

- Do restaurants need reservations? are they open motze shabbos? [we are chalav yisrael only eaters...]

-By the time we arrive, will everything be closed Thursday evening? where/how can I order food to be at our room when we arrive?

Thank you!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on March 25, 2019, 11:22:03 PM
I'm planning a trip to Panama this week.

Arriving Thursday 8 PM iy"h

Staying by the JW (Make Panama great again! formerly Trump) Marriott
Got an invite for Friday Night meal, Shabbos day meal signed up for "community" meal

Doing Canal Trip (partial canal, but i want to "cross it" not just see it from land) Sunday iy"h (Sorhay does not have a canal tour that day, but I found another supplier. After the trip i will update with supplier name if we are happy with them. It's the same tour as listed on Viator for $250, but direct it was $200... i declined transportation to the ship and they came down to $175 PP.)

Leaving Monday Morning. Flying United Biz.

- Do restaurants need reservations? are they open motze shabbos? [we are chalav yisrael only eaters...]

-By the time we arrive, will everything be closed Thursday evening? where/how can I order food to be at our room when we arrive?

Thank you!

As far as restaurants, they are open much later, to accommodate the Latin culture and will be packed at 10pm on a weeknight and tons of places are open Motzei Shabbat. Hope you have a blast!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: shaulyaakov on March 26, 2019, 11:59:09 AM
Inspired by another topic, thinking about a trip to Panama for the first time (wasn't even on my radar).

Is it worth it to go with a toddler, or is everything worth doing hiking/swimming?

Is it recommended to go specifically in the winter or is August OK?

How many days is advised? Would Sun-Thurs work?

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on March 26, 2019, 06:02:00 PM
Inspired by another topic, thinking about a trip to Panama for the first time (wasn't even on my radar).

Is it worth it to go with a toddler, or is everything worth doing hiking/swimming?

Is it recommended to go specifically in the winter or is August OK?

How many days is advised? Would Sun-Thurs work?

Sun-Thur would be perfect for with a little one. Lots to do with small children (youíre actually making me realize I need to finish my trip report of the ďtouristyĒ stuff we did that are good for small children).  Can take a toddler on the tour of the Canal and Monkey island, to see the Embrera Indians, go to the National Zoo, hike up Ancon Hill in the city with a stroller, go to Smithsonian research center.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on March 31, 2019, 12:16:44 AM
Is there any great benefit to a hotel on the water like the JW Marriott as opposed to the Hilton right across from the ocean?  Do the waterfront hotels have beaches?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on March 31, 2019, 12:48:22 AM
I stayed at JW for Shabbos. There is no beach access however there is an infinity pool that overlooks the ocean. Very Shabbos friendly - meaning hotel staff was very attentive to our needs. They took us up to our room and opened the door for us and asked us what time we wanted to get picked up in the am. Also, walkable to Chabad and Beth El.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on March 31, 2019, 07:44:12 AM
Ok thanks. So, if no beach and not planning to be there Shabbat, it doesn't sound like there's a big benefit to JW over eg  Hilton.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on March 31, 2019, 07:55:32 AM
I just responded with some ideas. I thought Iíd also post here about Islas Las Perlas since I donít remember seeing anything about them on DDF. We are planning on taking a ferry to the Pearl Islands (Info about them in the link below) and then from an island there booked a 3 hour whale watching, snorkeling, uninhabited island tour. Iíve never seen whales in the wild so I hope we find some!

https://pearl-islands.com/ (https://pearl-islands.com/)

@Denverite
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=1884.msg1495077#msg1495077

A little late but just reading now
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on April 01, 2019, 12:32:45 AM
@Denverite
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=1884.msg1495077#msg1495077

A little late but just reading now

Thatís actully hilarious that I not only read your posts but asked you a question and still forgot about it! Both I and @zow have now posted details in our TR about Las Perlas although we both used a tour guide (she was very open though about how much was going to the Boatman because I needed that amount in cash and could PayPal her the rest). Thanks for the reminder and I do think a lot of people might enjoy your style of adventure (and cheaper price) of hiring a boatman on Contadora directly, although for me going with my kids, Iíd really want to English speaking tour guide and to know it was all set ahead of time (but I also book flights for trips a year in advance). 😋
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on April 01, 2019, 09:43:34 AM
Thatís actully hilarious that I not only read your posts but asked you a question and still forgot about it! Both I and @zow have now posted details in our TR about Las Perlas although we both used a tour guide (she was very open though about how much was going to the Boatman because I needed that amount in cash and could PayPal her the rest). Thanks for the reminder and I do think a lot of people might enjoy your style of adventure (and cheaper price) of hiring a boatman on Contadora directly, although for me going with my kids, Iíd really want to English speaking tour guide and to know it was all set ahead of time (but I also book flights for trips a year in advance). 😋

It was spontaneous because I never heard about Las Perlas until the night before I went, I literally had no idea what I would be doing until I got there. I would probably recommend to most people (especially with kids) to get a guide even though itís possible without. Taking the flight there (or back) is a must, itís a really fun and beautiful experience, and itís basically the same price as the ferry.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on April 01, 2019, 12:25:43 PM
It was spontaneous because I never heard about Las Perlas until the night before I went, I literally had no idea what I would be doing until I got there. I would probably recommend to most people (especially with kids) to get a guide even though itís possible without. Taking the flight there (or back) is a must, itís a really fun and beautiful experience, and itís basically the same price as the ferry.

I'd love to try the flight.  The only thing our guide warned about was that the ferry basically always runs no matter the weather, whereas the return flight in the rainy season can get cancelled in a downpour.  We were there in August, so just something to think about in the rainy season.  If we go back in winter, it would be fun to take the flight though.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on April 01, 2019, 12:27:16 PM
For those of you in Israel, my friend just sent me this (I think we are actually going to plan a trip to meet them because of these fares):

Scott's Cheap Flights

A rare sweet deal to Panama City.

One stop en route. These are Iberia basic economy fares, which means seat selection and checked bags aren't included. It costs $$90 total to upgrade to their 'Optimal' fare that includes early seat selection and a checked bag, which is cheaper than just adding a checked bag at $55 each way. FYI if you want to upgrade you need to book these directly through the airline, for a total of $691 return.

Travel tip: Hit up the San Blas Islands (beautiful artwork) or the Bocas del Toro (good party scene) for a couple great side trips from Panama City.
All prices are for roundtrip flights and in USD unless otherwise stated.
TO:
Panama City (PTY)

FROM:
Tel Aviv (TLV) - $564

WHEN: May to June, September to November 2019 and January to February 2020
NORMAL PRICE: $900
AIRLINE(S): Iberia
BUY BY: We think these fares will last 1-2 days
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on April 01, 2019, 12:32:05 PM
I'd love to try the flight.  The only thing our guide warned about was that the ferry basically always runs no matter the weather, whereas the return flight in the rainy season can get cancelled in a downpour.  We were there in August, so just something to think about in the rainy season.  If we go back in winter, it would be fun to take the flight though.

You can book one way in either direction.
I booked my flight to Contadora for $50/pp, and booked the ferry ($45/pp) to return in the afternoon.
Was able to book everything last minute as well with no issues. I like having both experiences, the plane ride, and the ferry with the dolphins/whales. Flying also gives you some extra time to spend on the island if you want to spend just 1 day.

When I was there, the flights flew once a day in the morning (maybe 8:30am?) and the return flight is soon after. Would be best to book the way there.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on April 01, 2019, 12:36:33 PM
You can book one way in either direction.
I booked my flight to Contadora for $50/pp, and booked the ferry ($45/pp) to return in the afternoon.
Was able to book everything last minute as well with no issues. I like having both experiences, the plane ride, and the ferry with the dolphins/whales. Flying also gives you some extra time to spend on the island if you want to spend just 1 day.

When I was there, the flights flew once a day in the morning (maybe 8:30am?) and the return flight is soon after. Would be best to book the way there.

Ah ok perfect, thanks!  Although things have definitely changed since when you went because your rates were so cheap!! :)
Now the ferry is like $75 (and only that one company, with a discount, the one from Trump Hotel, now JW Marriott, was I think $110) and I think the plane was $120, but yeah the prices are still relatively comparable.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on April 01, 2019, 12:43:50 PM
Ah ok perfect, thanks!  Although things have definitely changed since when you went because your rates were so cheap!! :)
Now the ferry is like $75 (and only that one company, with a discount, the one from Trump Hotel, now JW Marriott, was I think $110) and I think the plane was $120, but yeah the prices are still relatively comparable.

I just checked a random date and still see cheaper prices - $49 each way
https://ferrypearlislands.com/en/online-booking/
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on April 01, 2019, 12:54:00 PM
Ah ok perfect, thanks!  Although things have definitely changed since when you went because your rates were so cheap!! :)
Now the ferry is like $75 (and only that one company, with a discount, the one from Trump Hotel, now JW Marriott, was I think $110) and I think the plane was $120, but yeah the prices are still relatively comparable.

Also checked a one way flight for a random date - I found $73.
https://www.airpanama.com/home.php
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on April 01, 2019, 04:07:49 PM
I just checked a random date and still see cheaper prices - $49 each way
https://ferrypearlislands.com/en/online-booking/

Is that to Taboga or another island?  They were cheaper than Contadora.  Anyway, thanks for posting and especially how to book the flights, I think I would definitely do that on the outbound next time!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on April 01, 2019, 04:10:01 PM
Is that to Taboga or another island?  They were cheaper than Contadora.  Anyway, thanks for posting and especially how to book the flights, I think I would definitely do that on the outbound next time!

$49 is to Contadora (again talking only one way).
I had help from Hilton concierge, your concierge should be able to help next time.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on April 01, 2019, 09:37:46 PM
$49 is to Contadora (again talking only one way).
I had help from Hilton concierge, your concierge should be able to help next time.

I just realized I'm an in idiot and the reason mine was "discounted" at $70 was because it was roundtrip, not one way  :P
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on April 01, 2019, 10:03:44 PM
I just realized I'm an in idiot and the reason mine was "discounted" at $70 was because it was roundtrip, not one way  :P

Also because you booked through Ilene, you got a discount IINM.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on May 06, 2019, 07:20:51 PM
Does anyone know if there is a late maariv on weeknights anywhere in Panama?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Minyan on May 14, 2019, 09:35:05 PM
How many days do you need to spend in Panama?  I would be there over a shabbos.  I want to figure how many extra days to book.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on May 15, 2019, 10:54:08 AM
How many days do you need to spend in Panama?  I would be there over a shabbos.  I want to figure how many extra days to book.

We spent 4 days there and felt that was a good amount of time.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Mh1 on May 19, 2019, 10:03:10 PM
has anyone done a proper panama trip with a 7 MO?

including for example pearl island, monkey island

is it feasible? or do i just have to leave it for another time?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on May 19, 2019, 10:53:32 PM
has anyone done a proper panama trip with a 7 MO?

including for example pearl island, monkey island

is it feasible? or do i just have to leave it for another time?

I didnít travel with a 7 mo old but I think Monkey island would be totally doable and Pearl Islands would make me very uncomfortable to bring a small baby since they donít have docks and you have to just get out into the surf and could easily get knocked over with the baby.  Even if you flew there instead of the ferry, you wouldnít be able to do any of the boating activities without this same problem.  Itís doable but I wouldnít want to. You could do Los Protobellos Islands on the Caribbean side maybe instead. I also wouldnít recommend San Blas as it could be hours of dreaming in the car on winding roads.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Mh1 on May 21, 2019, 03:16:37 PM
seems from your TR, that was quite a highlight

i think i`m gonna have to push off this destination for a while:(
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: voby27 on July 01, 2019, 03:17:23 PM
If I have a choice of hotels, which one is best:
Sortis
santa Maria
W panama
JW Marriott

Using a 7 day certificate

Thanks
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: voby27 on July 03, 2019, 10:29:27 AM
If I have a choice of hotels, which one is best:
Sortis
santa Maria
W panama
JW Marriott

Using a 7 day certificate

Thanks
Any advice?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on July 03, 2019, 09:23:59 PM
Any advice?

Sortis!! Right next to 4 kosher restaurants and gorgeous hotel with a cool pool.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on July 04, 2019, 03:56:09 PM
Are there any hotels that are very kid friendly? Like a water park or kids pool with slides?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on July 15, 2019, 01:00:23 PM
Should I use MB points for Sortis Hotel (17,500/night + one free night) or CSR UR points for 7,800/night? It's sounds pretty obvious to me but maybe I am missing something with the MB.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Mendel s on July 28, 2019, 11:49:53 AM
Does panama make sense for a couple with a 4 month old baby? Are there things to do for such?
We arenít extremely adventurous...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: itreu001 on August 05, 2019, 12:35:54 PM
Does anyone have an experience with the excursions provided by Gamboa Rainforest Reserve in Panama? Please let me know. Thank you.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 05, 2019, 06:33:22 PM
Should I use MB points for Sortis Hotel (17,500/night + one free night) or CSR UR points for 7,800/night? It's sounds pretty obvious to me but maybe I am missing something with the MB.
It really depends on the dates but if you book in advance, cash would really be the best option. I for instance am paying $70 dollars per night at the Sortis for my upcoming trip Aug 25-29. I doubt you can get anything better than that... unless you donít value points as cash!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on August 05, 2019, 09:30:51 PM
It really depends on the dates but if you book in advance, cash would really be the best option. I for instance am paying $70 dollars per night at the Sortis for my upcoming trip Aug 25-29. I doubt you can get anything better than that... unless you donít value points as cash!

Wow, thatís crazy! How far in advance did you book it?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 07, 2019, 01:30:12 AM
Wow, thatís crazy! How far in advance did you book it?
To be honest, I booked last week.. I used Marriottís BestRateGuarantee program. They price match your booking and give you an additional %25 off your booking. In my case my original price on the Marriott app was $496 for 4 nights I then Ďfoundí the same booking (same dates same exact rooms) on CancelOn.com via google which totaled to $396 I submitted a BestRateGuarantee form to Marriott and was approved within the 24 hours. I was then refunded the difference and the additional %25, I ended up paying $281 in total for 4 nights.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on August 07, 2019, 10:12:15 AM
To be honest, I booked last week.. I used Marriottís BestRateGuarantee program. They price match your booking and give you an additional %25 off your booking. In my case my original price on the Marriott app was $496 for 4 nights I then Ďfoundí the same booking (same dates same exact rooms) on CancelOn.com via google which totaled to $396 I submitted a BestRateGuarantee form to Marriott and was approved within the 24 hours. I was then refunded the difference and the additional %25, I ended up paying $281 in total for 4 nights.

Cool, do I need a Marriott CC to be part of the BestRateGuarantee program or is it just an app I can get?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 07, 2019, 10:19:58 AM
Cool, do I need a Marriott CC to be part of the BestRateGuarantee program or is it just an app I can get?
Itís a Marriott program no cc needed. Can be through the site as well.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 07, 2019, 10:25:17 AM
Itís a Marriott program no cc needed. Can be through the site as well.
Itís a pity so little people know about this, whoever I talk to. It work with all of Marriott and you could always find something cheaper (even $1) elsewhere and then price match and get the 25% .
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: KSMH on August 07, 2019, 10:26:54 AM
Itís a pity so little people know about this, whoever I talk to. It work with all of Marriott and you could always find something cheaper (even $1) elsewhere and then price match and get the 25% .
Just did fie RC Cancun and got it from 800+ to 500+ !
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on August 07, 2019, 10:33:40 AM
Iíll check it out, thanks for the tip!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tdb on August 07, 2019, 11:23:35 AM
We are going in 2 weeks with our kids staying at JW. Attached is info i received from Bet El for those that are interested.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 07, 2019, 01:43:24 PM
Just did fie RC Cancun and got it from 800+ to 500+ !
Good for you!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 07, 2019, 01:43:48 PM
Iíll check it out, thanks for the tip!
Iíll be happy to help if needed.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 07, 2019, 01:45:16 PM
We are going in 2 weeks with our kids staying at JW. Attached is info i received from Bet El for those that are interested.
How does it work? Do I need to call them in advance? What info do they want?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on August 07, 2019, 02:07:18 PM
I only see reports from the JW Marriott as being Shabbos friendly.  Does anyone have experience with any other hotels over Shabbos?  In particular we are considering the Hilton but would consider any others near shul with suites.
thanks!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tdb on August 07, 2019, 02:08:05 PM
How does it work? Do I need to call them in advance? What info do they want?

look at the attachments
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: LastRowMiddleSeat on August 07, 2019, 02:33:11 PM
would it make sense to go next week? with all the rain in the forecast...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on August 07, 2019, 03:58:07 PM
I only see reports from the JW Marriott as being Shabbos friendly.  Does anyone have experience with any other hotels over Shabbos?  In particular we are considering the Hilton but would consider any others near shul with suites.
thanks!

If you look in my TR, we stayed in the Hilton and it was great for Shabbos but we went to Shevet Achim, which was very close. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on August 07, 2019, 05:09:18 PM
yup, I knew that and forgot - and it somehow did not show up in my search. I did go back and quickly checked the report but I didn't see many details about how Shabbos friendly it was and what issues you encountered, if any.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on August 07, 2019, 08:00:16 PM
would it make sense to go next week? with all the rain in the forecast...

IIRC it rains like every day in the summer but only for like 2 hours max.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on August 07, 2019, 09:58:51 PM
IIRC it rains like every day in the summer but only for like 2 hours max.

+1 was there in rainy season and it was quick downpour daily but I thought it was great because it felt cooler and prefer cloudy skies to the sun beating down on me.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on August 08, 2019, 09:29:51 AM
If you look in my TR, we stayed in the Hilton and it was great for Shabbos but we went to Shevet Achim, which was very close.
So no Shabbos issues?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on August 08, 2019, 10:22:29 AM
Has anyone had experience staying in a Marriott Executive Apartments? I am going with my husband and four kids so I need more space and the Marriott Apartments has the best price for a suite.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on August 08, 2019, 01:28:45 PM
Has anyone had experience staying in a Marriott Executive Apartments? I am going with my husband and four kids so I need more space and the Marriott Apartments has the best price for a suite.

Maybe @saw50st8 ?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on August 08, 2019, 04:59:21 PM
Iíll be happy to help if needed.

If I book a hotel on the Marriott app for $100/night and then find a better rate $90/night within the 24 hours of booking and they match the price and give 25% off, can I cancel the reservation a month or so later if I see an even lower price of $80/night and then rebook with Marriott and get the same matching offer?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 08, 2019, 06:05:00 PM
If I book a hotel on the Marriott app for $100/night and then find a better rate $90/night within the 24 hours of booking and they match the price and give 25% off, can I cancel the reservation a month or so later if I see an even lower price of $80/night and then rebook with Marriott and get the same matching offer?
If itís refundable then you definitely can! And even if it isnít refundable you can call them up and ask to cancel your reservation it usually works..
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 08, 2019, 06:08:23 PM
If itís refundable then you definitely can! And even if it isnít refundable you can call them up and ask to cancel your reservation it usually works..
Actually before you cancel, why donít you try to submit another BestRateGuarantee form that should work as well.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: efflpetzel on August 09, 2019, 10:31:52 AM
Hi, I'm planning a trip to Panama with 3 children ages 3,5, &7.
We were initially planning to go from sun-tues. After reading many trip reports I'm getting the feeling that sun-sun is enough.
wanted to hear others opinion.
so far we've made the following schedule:
sun- travel day
Mon - explore city, pool, cosco viejo
tue - jungle tour - indian village
wed- san perlas island
thur - chill day, mall
fri - canal and monkey island
sun - travel day


if we were to fly out monday instead of sunday due to flight availability what should we do on sunday?
Thanks

Aslo, anyone have info of tours for Las Perlas Islands?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on August 11, 2019, 01:34:39 AM
Hi, I'm planning a trip to Panama with 3 children ages 3,5, &7.
We were initially planning to go from sun-tues. After reading many trip reports I'm getting the feeling that sun-sun is enough.
wanted to hear others opinion.
so far we've made the following schedule:
sun- travel day
Mon - explore city, pool, cosco viejo
tue - jungle tour - indian village
wed- san perlas island
thur - chill day, mall
fri - canal and monkey island
sun - travel day


if we were to fly out monday instead of sunday due to flight availability what should we do on sunday?
Thanks

Aslo, anyone have info of tours for Las Perlas Islands?

You could go to the national zoo and see the Harpy Eagle with your kids on Sunday. We did that as a not want to spend a ton of money, lazy day and the kids liked it (I never finished my TR to add pictures of that part). Canít remember the name of the company but we had Ilene was our tour guide in Las Perlas. My husbandís hadnít arrived in Panama yet and she was a huge help to me as I went alone with my kids to Las Perlas and she even snorkeled with my older ones as I stayed with my little one on the island. Her company name is in my TR.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 11, 2019, 02:18:15 AM
Hi, I'm planning a trip to Panama with 3 children ages 3,5, &7.
We were initially planning to go from sun-tues. After reading many trip reports I'm getting the feeling that sun-sun is enough.
wanted to hear others opinion.
so far we've made the following schedule:
sun- travel day
Mon - explore city, pool, cosco viejo
tue - jungle tour - indian village
wed- san perlas island
thur - chill day, mall
fri - canal and monkey island
sun - travel day


if we were to fly out monday instead of sunday due to flight availability what should we do on sunday?
Thanks

Aslo, anyone have info of tours for Las Perlas Islands?
Are you taking a tour guide for the jungle tour? If so which company?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on August 11, 2019, 02:00:52 PM
Has anyone ever stayed at Hotel Las Americas Golden Tower Panama?
Sounds like Sortis Hotel is not close to any shuls for Shabbos stays?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: LastRowMiddleSeat on August 11, 2019, 04:27:42 PM
Has anyone ever stayed at Hotel Las Americas Golden Tower Panama?
Sounds like Sortis Hotel is not close to any shuls for Shabbos stays?
I had the same issue
I ended up booking Le Meridian which is in the eruv and between the 2 shuls.
Same Cat 3 so was able to use a 7 night cert
Arriving tomorrow.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on August 11, 2019, 05:22:59 PM
Hotel Las Americas Golden Tower Panama Looks really nice but I havenít seen anyone say they stayed there. Always makes me worried. Is Sortis not in the Eruv?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: LastRowMiddleSeat on August 11, 2019, 05:25:11 PM
Hotel Las Americas Golden Tower Panama Looks really nice but I havenít seen anyone say they stayed there. Always makes me worried. Is Sortis not in the Eruv?
nope.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on August 11, 2019, 06:29:04 PM
How can you tell which hotels are within the Eruv?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tdb on August 11, 2019, 06:31:25 PM
https://www.chabadpanama.com/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/3916258/jewish/Hotels.htm
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: LastRowMiddleSeat on August 11, 2019, 06:55:20 PM
Sorheys is fully booked this week.
Are there any other guides that are recommended?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on August 11, 2019, 06:58:11 PM
Sorheys is fully booked this week.
Are there any other guides that are recommended?
My friend mario.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: efflpetzel on August 12, 2019, 11:28:50 AM
Have sorhays prices gone up since last year?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on August 12, 2019, 11:42:29 AM
Have sorhays prices gone up since last year?

what were they last year? she told me for a family of 6 it would be $795 a tour
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: efflpetzel on August 12, 2019, 12:46:31 PM
what were they last year? she told me for a family of 6 it would be $795 a tour
795 for what
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on August 12, 2019, 01:11:56 PM
what were they last year? she told me for a family of 6 it would be $795 a tour

That sounds high, unless it's San Blas, where her prices are fixed with her indigenous partners.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on August 12, 2019, 07:35:48 PM
Sorhays Quoted me for a Family of 6 (youngest 5 not sure if that makes a difference):
Monkey Island is $625
Private San Blas Tour.
Value $1,200
(she doesn't go on this tour)
Private Embera
Total value $695

Thought the 4 hour Monkey Island seemed a bit high since the Ebera tour is like 12 hours and much farther...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on August 12, 2019, 07:40:43 PM
Cool, do I need a Marriott CC to be part of the BestRateGuarantee program or is it just an app I can get?

Is this foolproof? If I find a better price could there be any reason they would not match/25%? 
Their booking is non refundable so want to be sure before I book...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: LastRowMiddleSeat on August 12, 2019, 08:43:16 PM
Does everyone use the $10 a day for phones?
Are there no cheap week/monthly Sims?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on August 13, 2019, 12:30:59 AM
Sorhays Quoted me for a Family of 6 (youngest 5 not sure if that makes a difference):
Monkey Island is $625
Private San Blas Tour.
Value $1,200
(she doesn't go on this tour)
Private Embera
Total value $695

Thought the 4 hour Monkey Island seemed a bit high since the Ebera tour is like 12 hours and much farther...

$795 for 6 people for Anton valley tour (10 hours)
$795 for monkey Island + Embrera village tour (12 hours)

@Denverite is that a lot more then what you paid?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 13, 2019, 12:45:59 AM
Is this foolproof? If I find a better price could there be any reason they would not match/25%? 
Their booking is non refundable so want to be sure before I book...
The room types have to be exactly the same (number of beds, size) and of course same dates.. in other words before you book with Marriott check what rooms and rates the other sites offer, and then book Marriott accordingly..
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on August 13, 2019, 12:57:02 AM
$795 for 6 people for Anton valley tour (10 hours)
$795 for monkey Island + Embrera village tour (12 hours)

@Denverite is that a lot more then what you paid?

I went in January. We were 4 people. Embera was $135 per person. We used her to go to San Blas but it was with a group. Private was way out of our budget. She doesn't go but she has a guy who was very attentive to our needs - for example he set up hammocks for us and brought us fruits. That was $155 per person
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 13, 2019, 01:00:49 AM
$795 for 6 people for Anton valley tour (10 hours)
$795 for monkey Island + Embrera village tour (12 hours)

@Denverite is that a lot more then what you paid?
Did you even consider doing Embrera village/Monkey island on your own or is impossible?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 13, 2019, 01:02:20 AM
I went in January. We were 4 people. Embera was $135 per person. We used her to go to San Blas but it was with a group. Private was way out of our budget. She doesn't go but she has a guy who was very attentive to our needs - for example he set up hammocks for us and brought us fruits. That was $155 per person
Nowadays she doesnít offer non-private tours.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on August 13, 2019, 01:02:40 AM
Does everyone use the $10 a day for phones?
Are there no cheap week/monthly Sims?

I had $10/phone but I really didn't use it as everywhere had free wifi.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on August 13, 2019, 01:07:28 AM
Nowadays she doesnít offer non-private tours.

For San Blas? Her website says otherwise. Go under San Blas and it says Awesome Group Daytour. We did not eat the lunch provided wo we brought our own and ate the fruit.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on August 13, 2019, 08:26:38 AM
Did you even consider doing Embrera village/Monkey island on your own or is impossible?

I canít say if itís impossible or not bc I havenít gone yet but it does seem like u need a few means of transportation to get to the islands which is probably hard to find. When are you going?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on August 13, 2019, 08:44:57 AM
I canít say if itís impossible or not bc I havenít gone yet but it does seem like u need a few means of transportation to get to the islands which is probably hard to find. When are you going?
Aug 25-29
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on August 13, 2019, 12:02:57 PM
Aug 25-29

Nice! Let us know how your trip went!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: LastRowMiddleSeat on August 13, 2019, 01:05:25 PM
Also checked a one way flight for a random date - I found $73.
https://www.airpanama.com/home.php
trying to book a OW flight
What are the airport codes?
I tried putting in PAC-OTD and it says it's not valid
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: grodnoking on August 13, 2019, 01:08:04 PM
trying to book a OW flight
What are the airport codes?
I tried putting in PAC-OTD and it says it's not valid
Try PTY
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: LastRowMiddleSeat on August 13, 2019, 01:12:49 PM
Try PTY
tried didn't work
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on August 13, 2019, 02:18:56 PM
tried didn't work
not sure why you're encountering trouble
https://www.google.com/flights/#flt=BOS.PTY.2019-08-29;c:USD;e:1;s:0;sd:1;t:f;tt:o&spf=1565720225129
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on August 13, 2019, 02:39:30 PM
trying to book a OW flight
What are the airport codes?
I tried putting in PAC-OTD and it says it's not valid

That's the route I flew (though they made an unexpected stopover in SIC).
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on August 13, 2019, 02:42:31 PM
That's the route I flew (though they made an unexpected stopover in SIC).

I flew Air Panama, but this was 2015. The hotel helped me book and it seems to have been booked through Air Panama website.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tdb on August 13, 2019, 02:45:23 PM
does not seem to be working now. I think ferry service was also canceled.  There was a ferry from the pier behind JW Marriott to Pearl Islands.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: LastRowMiddleSeat on August 13, 2019, 03:14:46 PM
not sure why you're encountering trouble
https://www.google.com/flights/#flt=BOS.PTY.2019-08-29;c:USD;e:1;s:0;sd:1;t:f;tt:o&spf=1565720225129
trying to book Panama City to Las perlas
Guess will go by ferry RT
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tdb on August 13, 2019, 03:17:59 PM
which ferry are you taking?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on August 13, 2019, 03:38:22 PM
$795 for 6 people for Anton valley tour (10 hours)
$795 for monkey Island + Embrera village tour (12 hours)

@Denverite is that a lot more then what you paid?

That sounds slightly more.  Not anything to do with her, but in general, after a certain point, I'd just ask for a daily rate, depending on when it is she might say yes, or she might be swamped with business and say no.  If it's soon and she's not gonna fill it, she might give you a discount.  I don't know if she pays the Embrera pp or just for the boat.  Also, $795 is a lot but to get Monkey Island and Embrera in one day is cool, we did them as two separate days and may have paid slightly more total.  I'd maybe just ask if she could give you the 5yr old free and see what she says.  Doesn't hurt to ask...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tdb on August 13, 2019, 04:00:48 PM
This is my invoice from her for 2 adults and 4 kids:

The invoice of $747.50 + 10% = $822.25 taxes has been sent and it will come from Paguelo Facil, panamanian credit card processing company. 

Date requested:

Airport transfer

Airp transfer
copa - JW Marriott
$70 + 10% taxes (fully paid)

Private monkey island and locks
$695 + 10% taxes (50% downpayment)

Private Embera village
$675  + 10% taxes (50% downpayment)

Airport transfer
Airp transfer from Playa Bonita
$70 + 10% taxes (fully paid)

Please check your junk mail if you don't see our invoice in your inbox.

You can complete the payment on their secure plattform.

Once downpayment is received, the itinerary will be sent to you for review, normally within 72 hours or less
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on August 13, 2019, 06:00:28 PM
trying to book Panama City to Las perlas
Guess will go by ferry RT

If you have your hotel booked try asking if the concierge can find and book it for you.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on August 13, 2019, 08:16:09 PM
I went in January. We were 4 people. Embera was $135 per person. We used her to go to San Blas but it was with a group. Private was way out of our budget. She doesn't go but she has a guy who was very attentive to our needs - for example he set up hammocks for us and brought us fruits. That was $155 per person

seems like I was quoted much higher, you think that is because of the season?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on August 14, 2019, 12:53:46 AM
seems like I was quoted much higher, you think that is because of the season?

maybe because we used her for 3 days maybe she gave us a discount
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: LastRowMiddleSeat on August 14, 2019, 05:55:52 PM
Lula or prime grill?

Aria was great.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on August 15, 2019, 06:38:15 PM
Shevet Achim has a really nice sit down kiddush lunch. We walked it from the Marriott and it wasn't so bad.

Do you need to let them know you are coming before shabbos?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: itreu001 on August 20, 2019, 05:36:28 PM
There is no longer a kosher ice cream store in The Old City of Panama. Forget Yogurt has closed.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on August 29, 2019, 08:16:20 PM
Just a quick note. Panama was AMAZING!!! One of my Fav trips ever, and that was with 4 children.  ;)
Cheap beautiful hotel rooms, tons of kosher food and Shuls.
HIGHLY recommend www.therealpanamatours.com. Sorhay takes care of everything including Kosher food. She can take you on the touristy tours or the off the beaten path tours. My kids all loved her.  She definitely made the trip super amazing for the whole family!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on August 29, 2019, 09:24:32 PM
So how about some more details and a Trip Report, after that teaser?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on August 30, 2019, 12:49:37 AM
Hurricane prep, after that Ill write something up  ;D
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: itreu001 on September 02, 2019, 02:21:40 PM
Weíd love to hear how your trip went!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on September 02, 2019, 05:59:33 PM
Weíd love to hear how your trip went!

Ditto! How old are your kids and which tours did you take?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: itreu001 on September 02, 2019, 09:02:45 PM
We hired Sorhay for San Blas. I pieced together monkey island with Gamboa rainforest resort.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on September 02, 2019, 10:43:49 PM
We hired Sorhay for San Blas. I pieced together monkey island with Gamboa rainforest resort.

I think we had shabbos Lunch with you guys;D
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on September 02, 2019, 10:46:40 PM
Ditto! How old are your kids and which tours did you take?

Putting something together   ;D
Kids are 14-5
To be honest any younger and I think it would be hard to do anything too active. Or at least someone would need to stay behind for some parts... at least for what we did. I am sure there are lots of more things to do with little people...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: itreu001 on September 02, 2019, 11:20:32 PM
Yes. I put up a TR.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on September 03, 2019, 11:45:14 AM
Posted a TR, new to this so hope I did it right.

"Our Trip to Panama this summer was one of our BEST!"
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: lunatic on September 03, 2019, 11:47:50 AM
Posted a TR, new to this so hope I did it right.

"Our Trip to Panama this summer was one of our BEST!"

Thanks! Planning a trip now!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on September 03, 2019, 12:29:59 PM
Thanks! Planning a trip now!

Can't say I'm not a bit green. ;) ENJOY!!!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on September 03, 2019, 09:23:44 PM
Putting something together   ;D
Kids are 14-5
To be honest any younger and I think it would be hard to do anything too active. Or at least someone would need to stay behind for some parts... at least for what we did. I am sure there are lots of more things to do with little people...
But if you're courageous enough and don't mind the Indian guide carrying your 10 month old in a baby carrier then the Embera village tour and water falls hike is doable. wink wink @TripsPls   
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on September 03, 2019, 11:26:50 PM
But if you're courageous enough and don't mind the Indian guide carrying your 10 month old in a baby carrier then the Embera village tour and water falls hike is doable. wink wink @TripsPls   

😱😬
Itís Kinda like when in Rome do as the Romans and all my good common sense American safety standards, didnít go quite go out the window but seemed to be on vaca.  Somehow we ended up in the back of trucks, riding without helmets and our booster seat was basically useless.🤦🏼‍♀️
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on September 08, 2019, 07:08:35 PM
Just got back from Panama, was beyond amazing.
I find it funny as we were there same time as some other DDFR's , week of Aug 16th,but didn't meet. TR to come...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: lunatic on September 08, 2019, 10:58:25 PM
Looking at Marriott hotels. I have a couple of free night certs to burn, so thinking about the W. Also, see lots of good things about the Sortis. Anyone stay at the W recently?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Safetynet on September 10, 2019, 11:32:24 AM
Looking at Marriott hotels. I have a couple of free night certs to burn, so thinking about the W. Also, see lots of good things about the Sortis. Anyone stay at the W recently?

A client of mine went there recently and loved it. Didnt ask too many details though
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tdb on September 10, 2019, 11:34:04 AM
Looking at Marriott hotels. I have a couple of free night certs to burn, so thinking about the W. Also, see lots of good things about the Sortis. Anyone stay at the W recently?

check out the JW supposedly the pools are much nicer.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yyzzrh on September 15, 2019, 06:24:56 AM
Looking at Marriott hotels. I have a couple of free night certs to burn, so thinking about the W. Also, see lots of good things about the Sortis. Anyone stay at the W recently?

I stayed at the W in February. The room is unique and large, but I wouldn't go there again. The decor is bold and somewhat cold, the lobby (a few floors up) is dark and uninviting and the pool is small and not very enticing.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Mutty on September 15, 2019, 04:00:04 PM
Was getting all excited about Panama from this blog but checked the airline prices and they're insane (Nov from Sunday to Thursday). Any ideas or I'm out of luck? Also, which airport do you go to? I have Marriot points.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on September 15, 2019, 04:02:04 PM
Was getting all excited about Panama from this blog but checked the airline prices and they're insane (Nov from Sunday to Thursday). Any ideas or I'm out of luck? Also, which airport do you go to? I have Marriot points.

Prices are pretty high thatís why using AA miles or UA miles is your best option. You fly into PTY.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Mutty on September 15, 2019, 04:17:29 PM
I'll check UA miles. I thought the number of miles is based on the ticket price. I'll check. Thanks.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Mutty on September 15, 2019, 04:29:56 PM
31,000 - 40,000 for one way. Forget it. Thanks anyway. Maybe Boca instead.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mmgfarb on September 15, 2019, 04:36:54 PM
31,000 - 40,000 for one way. Forget it. Thanks anyway. Maybe Boca instead.
If you find saver you can book with LM or TK.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Mutty on September 15, 2019, 04:45:47 PM
If I find saver? LM or TK?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: itreu001 on September 15, 2019, 07:09:42 PM
We booked a family of 6 Rt for 240k Amex points. We transferred them to air canada and they charge 40k rt. Nonstop availability was hard to find from nyc (although they had plenty available from bos and IAD. The way back we flew through MSY but we were able to extend our trip and spend a day there.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on September 15, 2019, 08:31:05 PM
31,000 - 40,000 for one way. Forget it. Thanks anyway. Maybe Boca instead.

We booked with UA from ORD to PTY for 17.5k one way nonstop.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on September 15, 2019, 08:32:28 PM
If you find saver you can book with LM or TK.

Whatís LM? I thought Turkish Airlines charges more miles from US to Central America then UA does.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: grodnoking on September 15, 2019, 08:38:35 PM
We booked with UA from ORD to PTY for 17.5k one way nonstop.
UA is changing to dynamic pricing.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on September 15, 2019, 11:23:41 PM
UA is changing to dynamic pricing.

Ok, I just checked dates for January and itís still 17.5k
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on September 15, 2019, 11:47:42 PM
What hotels are the best in Panama City?  As of the moment we have the Sortis booked but im not sure if this is the best choice.

TIA
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on September 16, 2019, 06:28:53 AM
What hotels are the best in Panama City?  As of the moment we have the Sortis booked but im not sure if this is the best choice.

TIA
I was very happy there, if you want to spend a bit more the top hotels there are quite cheap so....
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on September 16, 2019, 08:55:14 AM
I was very happy there, if you want to spend a bit more the top hotels there are quite cheap so....

Thanks.  The Sortis does seem cheap for the amount of Marriott points.  I did the math and better value for me to use points than cash.  The question is whether the Le Meridian (slightly more points) is a nicer/better hotel.  Also, we will be there for Shabbos and that is a consideration as well.

We don't need a beach front hotel as we've been there and done that plenty of times.  Besides, I doubt we will be hanging out at the hotel much anyway.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: davidrotts63 on September 16, 2019, 08:57:09 AM


Thanks.  The Sortis does seem cheap for the amount of Marriott points.  I did the math and better value for me to use points than cash.  The question is whether the Le Meridian (slightly more points) is a nicer/better hotel.  Also, we will be there for Shabbos and that is a consideration as well.

We don't need a beach front hotel as we've been there and done that plenty of times.  Besides, I doubt we will be hanging out at the hotel much anyway.

So Panama isn't exactly a Beachy city, so AFAIK there are no hotels on the beach, some on the bay tho. I wasn't there for shabbos, but from my understanding Sortis isn't recommended for shabbos.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on September 16, 2019, 08:59:52 AM

So Panama isn't exactly a Beachy city, so AFAIK there are no hotels on the beach, some on the bay tho. I wasn't there for shabbos, but from my understanding Sortis isn't recommended for shabbos.

Le Meridian better choice then?  Can anyone else chime in?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: voldemort on September 16, 2019, 09:18:11 AM
Le Meridian better choice then?  Can anyone else chime in?
Le meridian is a much better location for shabbos.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tdb on September 16, 2019, 09:19:47 AM
Le Meridian better choice then?  Can anyone else chime in?

JW is in a nice residential area. 7 minutes form chabad 15 from bet el. Nice pools overlooking the ocean. Walking distance to numerous kosher eateries and shaboos friendly.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on September 16, 2019, 10:53:55 AM
JW is in a nice residential area. 7 minutes form chabad 15 from bet el. Nice pools overlooking the ocean. Walking distance to numerous kosher eateries and shaboos friendly.

I stayed there for Shabbos and they were very helpful regarding Shabbos and close to Shuls. We then moved to the Sortis. It was a completely different vibe. I had a nicer room at the Sortis but I personally liked vibe better at JW.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on September 16, 2019, 10:56:16 AM
I stayed there for Shabbos and they were very helpful regarding Shabbos and close to Shuls. We then moved to the Sortis. It was a completely different vibe. I had a nicer room at the Sortis but I personally liked vibe better at JW.

Didn't someone post that the jw was old and dumpy?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mochjas on September 16, 2019, 11:15:47 AM
I stayed there for Shabbos and they were very helpful regarding Shabbos and close to Shuls. We then moved to the Sortis. It was a completely different vibe. I had a nicer room at the Sortis but I personally liked vibe better at JW.
What were the vibes that each hotel gave off?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on September 16, 2019, 01:57:33 PM
I liked the pool better at JW it was overlooking the bay. I did not think it was old and dumpy. Lobby more elegant. Look at the pics on the webwsite. However, I did not like the bathrooms.
Sortis was very modern but very noisy - like a Vegas hotel. I was upgraded and had a nicer room there.


Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on September 16, 2019, 02:00:58 PM
I liked the pool better at JW it was overlooking the bay. I did not think it was old and dumpy. Lobby more elegant. Look at the pics on the webwsite. However, I did not like the bathrooms.
Sortis was very modern but very noisy - like a Vegas hotel. I was upgraded and had a nicer room there.

Thanks.  I checked and the JW is significantly more MT points than the Sortis or the Le Meridien so JW is out.  Now I have to decide between the Sortis and Le Meridien or something else that is comparable. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on September 16, 2019, 10:41:44 PM
Anyone know how long it takes to walk from the Le Meridian to the shul(s) in that area?  I was advised that the walk from the Sortis to shul is 25-30 minutes.  Wondering if the walk from Le Meridian is shorter.

TIA.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on September 16, 2019, 11:18:58 PM
Yes. Le Meridian is closer walk to Shul. Also can get ocean view from Le Meridian, not from Sortis. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on September 18, 2019, 01:50:22 PM
Yes. Le Meridian is closer walk to Shul. Also can get ocean view from Le Meridian, not from Sortis.

According to google maps, 9-12 minute walk from Le Meridian to Shevet Achim.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: LastRowMiddleSeat on September 18, 2019, 07:22:35 PM
We stayed at the Le Meridian
They were very nice to us on Shabbos walked us up to open the doors without us having to ask
Hotel is clean and spacious nothing fancy
Location is excellent, we walked to shevet achim for all 3 minyanim takes less than 5 min
On Shabbos we walked to Beth El which took 12/15min

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on September 18, 2019, 10:07:11 PM
We stayed at the Le Meridian
They were very nice to us on Shabbos walked us up to open the doors without us having to ask
Hotel is clean and spacious nothing fancy
Location is excellent, we walked to shevet achim for all 3 minyanim takes less than 5 min
On Shabbos we walked to Beth El which took 12/15min

Thanks.  Where did you eat on Shabbos?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on September 18, 2019, 11:22:15 PM
We stayed at the Le Meridian
They were very nice to us on Shabbos walked us up to open the doors without us having to ask
Hotel is clean and spacious nothing fancy
Location is excellent, we walked to shevet achim for all 3 minyanim takes less than 5 min
On Shabbos we walked to Beth El which took 12/15min

Why didnít you go to Shevet  Achim for shabbos as well?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on September 20, 2019, 12:21:48 PM
Beth El is ashkenaz. Others including Shevet Achim are sefardic
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on September 25, 2019, 03:10:46 PM
I liked the pool better at JW it was overlooking the bay. I did not think it was old and dumpy. Lobby more elegant. Look at the pics on the webwsite. However, I did not like the bathrooms.
Sortis was very modern but very noisy - like a Vegas hotel. I was upgraded and had a nicer room there.
stayed at JW (including Shabbos) was an amazing experience (very familiar with Shabbos protocol ) .
im assuming you are referring to bathrooms not being so private.
130k for 5 nights.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on September 25, 2019, 08:11:37 PM
Just got back from Panama, was beyond amazing.
I find it funny as we were there same time as some other DDFR's , week of Aug 16th,but didn't meet. TR to come...

Did you post a TR yet?
Title: Great Trip to Panama - Thanks to our guide Alon
Post by: Rechavia on October 27, 2019, 05:51:59 AM
Hi,
My husband, brother-in-law & sister-in-law traveled for the first time to Panama City, Panama!  We were enchanted by the wonderful Jewish Community, beautiful synagogues and the great choices of kosher eateries.
The key to our enjoyment was the hiring of  Alon Levy:  +507 6683-1663 as our tour guide for three days.  He adjusted the tours that he provides to our interests and special needs.  https://en.panamawithalon.com/
BTW Chabad of Panama recommends his services on their website.
https://www.chabadpanama.com/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/4018942/jewish/Tour-Guides.htm
We enjoyed our stays at the Las Americas Golden Tower Panama Hotel and the Marriott Executive Apartments.  They were quite accommodating and the locations were convenient.  La Spezie Pizzaria was our favorite place to eat though we enjoyed many of the other options.
I hope these comments are helpful to the next traveler!

Title: Re: Great Trip to Panama - Thanks to our guide Alon
Post by: Divora M on October 27, 2019, 08:47:58 PM
Hi,
My husband, brother-in-law & sister-in-law traveled for the first time to Panama City, Panama!  We were enchanted by the wonderful Jewish Community, beautiful synagogues and the great choices of kosher eateries.
The key to our enjoyment was the hiring of  Alon Levy:  +507 6683-1663 as our tour guide for three days.  He adjusted the tours that he provides to our interests and special needs.  https://en.panamawithalon.com/
BTW Chabad of Panama recommends his services on their website.
https://www.chabadpanama.com/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/4018942/jewish/Tour-Guides.htm
We enjoyed our stays at the Las Americas Golden Tower Panama Hotel and the Marriott Executive Apartments.  They were quite accommodating and the locations were convenient.  La Spezie Pizzaria was our favorite place to eat though we enjoyed many of the other options.
I hope these comments are helpful to the next traveler!

Thanks for sharing! We are also booked to stay at the Marriott Executive Apartments, were you there for shabbos?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: cgr on October 28, 2019, 12:30:13 PM
We stayed at the Le Meridian
They were very nice to us on Shabbos walked us up to open the doors without us having to ask
Hotel is clean and spacious nothing fancy
Location is excellent, we walked to shevet achim for all 3 minyanim takes less than 5 min
On Shabbos we walked to Beth El which took 12/15min

We stayed at the Le Meridien as well. Personally I'd recommend staying closer to kosher food. There are other good options close by, so all you gain is Uber rides in traffic by staying at the Le Meridien.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on October 31, 2019, 12:37:35 AM
These choices depend on your priorities. We stayed at the Hilton and very much appreciated the ocean views from the room, rather than the city views that you get the hotels closer to food (except the JW Marriott - whose rooms were much smaller and with an open bathroom concept).  The uber rides to food were $2-3 and in the more than ten times we made those trips we only had to deal with a bit of tough traffic once or twice.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: deals on November 07, 2019, 12:27:15 PM
anyone has any info about babysitting a 10 month old ?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on November 11, 2019, 03:53:28 PM
I just had a horrible experience with Sorhay (the real Panama tour). She quoted me a price for two different tours and then when I was ready to pay she raised the price hundreds of dollars claiming she never gave me that price even though I sent her the messages proving it. She was extremely rude and even when she had to admit she gave me those prices she said it was a mistake and she will not honor it. I am glad I got to see her true colors before going on full day tours with her. She really came off to me as a horrible person.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on November 11, 2019, 04:53:33 PM
I just had a horrible experience with Sorhay (the real Panama tour). She quoted me a price for two different tours and then when I was ready to pay she raised the price hundreds of dollars claiming she never gave me that price even though I sent her the messages proving it. She was extremely rude and even when she had to admit she gave me those prices she said it was a mistake and she will not honor it. I am glad I got to see her true colors before going on full day tours with her. She really came off to me as a horrible person.

Wow - we were going to book her for various tours in January.  Everyone else always spoke well of her.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on November 11, 2019, 05:25:10 PM
Wow - we were going to book her for various tours in January.  Everyone else always spoke well of her.

I know, I was shocked based on all the reviews. Since the first time I reached out to her she had attitude with me.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on November 17, 2019, 09:00:33 PM
I know, I was shocked based on all the reviews. Since the first time I reached out to her she had attitude with me.

Wow thatís crazy, especially that she wouldnít apologize after you showed her own messages!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: chuchem on November 18, 2019, 05:28:19 AM
I just had a horrible experience with Sorhay (the real Panama tour). She quoted me a price for two different tours and then when I was ready to pay she raised the price hundreds of dollars claiming she never gave me that price even though I sent her the messages proving it. She was extremely rude and even when she had to admit she gave me those prices she said it was a mistake and she will not honor it. I am glad I got to see her true colors before going on full day tours with her. She really came off to me as a horrible person.

I had amazing experience.
People have bad days sometimes, she also.
I understand its fustrating, but its not like a amazon price mistake, she is a hard working human and if she made a mistake, then dont expect her to honour it just because she misquoted
Use someone else, but I dont think a one negative from 100 positive should break her reputation
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on November 18, 2019, 11:36:20 AM
I had amazing experience.
People have bad days sometimes, she also.
I understand its fustrating, but its not like a amazon price mistake, she is a hard working human and if she made a mistake, then dont expect her to honour it just because she misquoted
Use someone else, but I dont think a one negative from 100 positive should break her reputation

I have been in contact with her for a few months now. It was not a one time occurrence. Her customer service is horrendous. I think all the business she has gotten is too much for her to handle. I am just letting people in this forum know about my experience and they can decide for themselves. I did get a different tour guide who was extremely accommodating  and charged 1/3 of Sorhay's prices. When I was doing research on our trip to Panama I didn't hear about too many other tour guides so for people that don't want to spend thousands of dollars on tours there are much better options for them.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: efi on November 18, 2019, 12:18:16 PM
I have been in contact with her for a few months now. It was not a one time occurrence. Her customer service is horrendous. I think all the business she has gotten is too much for her to handle. I am just letting people in this forum know about my experience and they can decide for themselves. I did get a different tour guide who was extremely accommodating  and charged 1/3 of Sorhay's prices. When I was doing research on our trip to Panama I didn't hear about too many other tour guides so for people that don't want to spend thousands of dollars on tours there are much better options for them.
I agree that she is very expensive compere to the other tour guides
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on November 18, 2019, 12:38:29 PM
I have been in contact with her for a few months now. It was not a one time occurrence. Her customer service is horrendous. I think all the business she has gotten is too much for her to handle. I am just letting people in this forum know about my experience and they can decide for themselves. I did get a different tour guide who was extremely accommodating  and charged 1/3 of Sorhay's prices. When I was doing research on our trip to Panama I didn't hear about too many other tour guides so for people that don't want to spend thousands of dollars on tours there are much better options for them.

Who did you end up using? We might consider using your guide. Thanks
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tdb on November 18, 2019, 01:46:22 PM
I just had a horrible experience with Sorhay (the real Panama tour). She quoted me a price for two different tours and then when I was ready to pay she raised the price hundreds of dollars claiming she never gave me that price even though I sent her the messages proving it. She was extremely rude and even when she had to admit she gave me those prices she said it was a mistake and she will not honor it. I am glad I got to see her true colors before going on full day tours with her. She really came off to me as a horrible person.

I've had a great experiece with her and would use her again in a heartbeat. She is expensive but well worth the price. Did you speak with her or just text? She can be curt via text message.  I have not heard any negative reviews from anyone that actually hired her.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on November 18, 2019, 11:06:25 PM
I agree she can be a bit short in text, but I was so impressed after being in the car with her for 5 min I was already asking if we could have a second day with her. Even now trying to plan another trip just so we can go on some more of her amazing tours.
She is not cheap, nor does she claim to be, but she gives you what you pay for.

Would hate for people to read one bad review and hurt her business...She was Amazing!!!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on November 18, 2019, 11:08:07 PM
I've had a great experiece with her and would use her again in a heartbeat. She is expensive but well worth the price. Did you speak with her or just text? She can be curt via text message.  I have not heard any negative reviews from anyone that actually hired her.

I reached out to her back in July and She was very curt. I asked if we could speak on the phone since I Had some questions about the tours but she replied ďmy time for you is zero, dearĒ. I had such a bad feeling about it but kept on brushing it off since there was 100+ amazing reviews about her And felt that her tours were a must if going to Panama. after she told me her original prices for the tours I wanted in January  I said I was going to book the tours closer to the departure date since she requires payment that is  50% non refundable. I have been burned by that before so I was holding off. This week when I texted her I was ready and she suddenly raised her prices by $300 per tour I tried telling her that she already gave me the prices in July, she said she will not negotiate with me and I am making this very difficult. I have never been treated by any business like this before and I have also never written a bad review but I feel that it is important for others to know. We are going to Panama in January and I will let you know how it goes with the tour guide I found.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on November 18, 2019, 11:14:41 PM
I agree she can be a bit short in text, but I was so impressed after being in the car with her for 5 min I was already asking if we could have a second day with her. Even now trying to plan another trip just so we can go on some more of her amazing tours.
She is not cheap, nor does she claim to be, but she gives you what you pay for.

Would hate for people to read one bad review and hurt her business...She was Amazing!!!

I am not negating other peopleís positive experiences with her, but my interactions with her were horrible. I am not merely saying she was curt but downright rude and it is not the problem that her prices are higher then everyone elseís but that she goes back on her word and refuses to acknowledge it or even have a conversation about it. She has a monopoly on the DDF and takes advantage.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on November 18, 2019, 11:17:51 PM


Would hate for people to read one bad review and hurt her business...She was Amazing!!!
[/quote]
You donít have to worry about her business, she made it quite clear to me that she doesnít need anybodyís business.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on November 18, 2019, 11:21:03 PM
She is top rated private tours on Trip Advisor as well. She is not only working with DDF. There is a reason she is talked about as much as she is. It seems the back and forth may have gotten out of hand but in person I saw non of this. Again just giving my vote for Sorhay if you can tour with her you are in for a surprise!!!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on November 18, 2019, 11:25:02 PM
She is top rated private tours on Trip Advisor as well. She is not only working with DDF. There is a reason she is talked about as much as she is. It seems the back and forth may have gotten out of hand but in person I saw non of this. Again just giving my vote for Sorhay if you can tour with her you are in for a surprise!!!

Is Sorhay paying you to say this? 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on November 18, 2019, 11:26:59 PM
I just liked her that much, want to make sure one bad review does not tarnish that.
But must say a bit of a strange question...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on November 18, 2019, 11:28:38 PM
I just liked her that much, want to make sure one bad review does not tarnish that.
But must say a bit of a strange question...

Your raving reviews for Sorhay seems a bit strange to me while completely discounting someones experience with her. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TripsPls on November 18, 2019, 11:30:55 PM
I'm reading her messages as well and she doesn't seem calm and collected, so I can understand how things can get out of hand. 
2 sides to a coin...
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on November 19, 2019, 12:16:45 AM
Guys, Iím the one that basically exploded Sorhayís business but I can also see how @Divora M could have had this experience as well if she was in some crazy busy season. I love her but there is plenty of business for everyone and Iím happy that she posted another guide because a.) fundamentally Iím a capitalist and competition is good b.) some people just canít afford Sorhayís tours at all no matter how great she may be and Iím happy to have a reference to a more affordable option c.) with the HUGE Jewish market and many of us traveling at the same times maybe DDF can also build up another Jewish tour guide as well.

Can we have peace now in the Panama Master Thread?   :P
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on November 19, 2019, 12:18:02 AM
I'm reading her messages as well and she doesn't seem calm and collected, so I can understand how things can get out of hand. 
2 sides to a coin...

Can you please point out where I was not calm and collected?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on November 19, 2019, 12:20:05 AM
Can you please point out where I was not calm and collected?

I think @TripsPls was talking about Sorhayís messages not yours and trying to be gracious to you.  :)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on November 19, 2019, 12:29:11 AM
Guys, Iím the one that basically exploded Sorhayís business but I can also see how @Divora M could have had this experience as well if she was in some crazy busy season. I love her but there is plenty of business for everyone and Iím happy that she posted another guide because a.) fundamentally Iím a capitalist and competition is good b.) some people just canít afford Sorhayís tours at all no matter how great she may be and Iím happy to have a reference to a more affordable option c.) with the HUGE Jewish market and many of us traveling at the same times maybe DDF can also build up another Jewish tour guide as well.

Can we have peace now in the Panama Master Thread?   :P

I agree with you 100%
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on November 20, 2019, 03:29:58 PM
i used barefoot panama
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: itreu001 on November 20, 2019, 05:21:06 PM
When we went to Panama in the summer, I contacted Sorhey also, because of DD. I also found her extremely expensive, and was also a little wierded out, that she wouldn't talk on the phone and would only text versus whattsapp. At the end, we used her to go to San Blas, (which she doesn't really do), but only used her, because we knew she was reliable from here, and we wouldn't get marooned on an island. Also San Blas is somewhere you can't really go on your own. But for the other trips, I used our own extensive research, and cut the prices significantly from what she was offering. Look at my TR to see what I am talking about. The other people that we met in shul on shabbos loved her.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: shiframeir on November 21, 2019, 02:47:36 PM
anyone eaten at Oak by Chef Avi Barak?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ab613 on November 26, 2019, 01:53:06 PM
Is it worth going to Panama without taking a tour guide?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on November 27, 2019, 01:07:52 PM
Is it worth going to Panama without taking a tour guide?

There's definitely much to do without a tour guide in Panama City, but traveling out of the city could be complicated on your own but doable. Read the trip reports.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ab613 on November 28, 2019, 09:48:47 AM
There's definitely much to do without a tour guide in Panama City, but traveling out of the city could be complicated on your own but doable. Read the trip reports.
so is it worth the shlep to Panama just to visit the city?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: lfas25 on November 28, 2019, 12:46:46 PM
Has anyone stayed at the Plaza Paitilla over shabbos?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on November 28, 2019, 01:08:27 PM
so is it worth the shlep to Panama just to visit the city?
Depending how long you're thinking of being there, if just for 3/4 days than yes, if for a week than hmm. Check out the Topic Wiki and the TripReviews you'll see for yourself.
Title: Re: Great Trip to Panama - Thanks to our guide Alon
Post by: Kobe Bryant on November 28, 2019, 11:47:50 PM
I used Alon as well , wat an unbelievable guide and so much more reasonably priced . Will post details in TR .
Pm for any questions
Hi,
My husband, brother-in-law & sister-in-law traveled for the first time to Panama City, Panama!  We were enchanted by the wonderful Jewish Community, beautiful synagogues and the great choices of kosher eateries.
The key to our enjoyment was the hiring of  Alon Levy:  +507 6683-1663 as our tour guide for three days.  He adjusted the tours that he provides to our interests and special needs.  https://en.panamawithalon.com/
BTW Chabad of Panama recommends his services on their website.
https://www.chabadpanama.com/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/4018942/jewish/Tour-Guides.htm
We enjoyed our stays at the Las Americas Golden Tower Panama Hotel and the Marriott Executive Apartments.  They were quite accommodating and the locations were convenient.  La Spezie Pizzaria was our favorite place to eat though we enjoyed many of the other options.
I hope these comments are helpful to the next traveler!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on November 28, 2019, 11:49:46 PM
I had pretty bad experience just trying to book her .
Mrs. Karniel of Chabad suggested Alon and we couldn't have been happier.
I just had a horrible experience with Sorhay (the real Panama tour). She quoted me a price for two different tours and then when I was ready to pay she raised the price hundreds of dollars claiming she never gave me that price even though I sent her the messages proving it. She was extremely rude and even when she had to admit she gave me those prices she said it was a mistake and she will not honor it. I am glad I got to see her true colors before going on full day tours with her. She really came off to me as a horrible person.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on November 29, 2019, 01:28:18 AM
I had pretty bad experience just trying to book her .
Mrs. Karniel of Chabad suggested Alon and we couldn't have been happier.

I booked Alon for our upcoming trip in January. We are doing the monkey island + Embrera village tour and Anton valley tour. Which ones did you do with him?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: BrooklynCPA on December 02, 2019, 12:33:26 PM
Will anyone here be in Panama on days from January 29th through February to possibly share a tour .... Please PM.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: itreu001 on December 02, 2019, 12:37:15 PM
The tours all charge per person. I don't think sharing cuts any of the prices.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: BrooklynCPA on December 02, 2019, 01:26:14 PM
You can negotiate a better price with a larger group.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on December 03, 2019, 04:02:03 PM
Has anyone stayed at the Plaza Paitilla over shabbos?

I've stayed their over Shabbos and it was the perfect location.  It's nothing fancy but it did the trick to be in the eruv and a very close walk with my kids.  There were a number of frum people staying when we were there.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on December 04, 2019, 02:28:46 AM
1)We went on a birding tour in  Soberania Np
2) Anton Valley and hiked up the sleeping Indian girl.
3) combo of snorkeling near Portobello reef and ziplining over Gatun lake ( Def the best tour)
I booked Alon for our upcoming trip in January. We are doing the monkey island + Embrera village tour and Anton valley tour. Which ones did you do with him?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mlight on December 08, 2019, 08:43:33 PM
What's the consensus: worth going with a baby (2 months old) for extended weekend?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on December 09, 2019, 09:56:20 AM
Personally, I think much of the attraction is the outdoor activities not really suited for babies. I'd just go to Miami for a long weekend   - unless you absolutely want to avoid the crowds.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on December 09, 2019, 10:07:07 AM
I agree, which is why i suggested LA.
Personally, I think much of the attraction is the outdoor activities not really suited for babies. I'd just go to Miami for a long weekend   - unless you absolutely want to avoid the crowds.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mlight on December 09, 2019, 11:28:21 AM
I agree, which is why i suggested LA.
Thanks. Been to LA too many times. Thinking of repeating San Diego for shabbos and and palm springs for a few days or going back to Scottsdale etc.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on December 09, 2019, 12:47:49 PM
 Wasn't aware.
LA is a second home to me.
Thanks. Been to LA too many times. Thinking of repeating San Diego for shabbos and and palm springs for a few days or going back to Scottsdale etc.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: lfas25 on December 09, 2019, 06:43:38 PM
Do people drink the tap water, or tourist from the US stick to bottled water?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on December 10, 2019, 01:33:46 AM
Do people drink the tap water, or tourist from the US stick to bottled water?
We weíre told not to drink tap water even in the city, definitely not in the villages and up in the mountains.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: SSLPhD on December 12, 2019, 09:16:54 PM
i used barefoot panama
Do you recommend them, @ethana?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ethana on December 12, 2019, 09:31:56 PM
It was a while ago but my experience was very good. He knew his stuff and took us to great places
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: BrooklynCPA on December 13, 2019, 11:52:29 AM
After years of talking about going to Panama we are finally going with our 2 younger children at end of January. After reading through all the posts I have a few questions.

We have  the Sortis Booked. Although we will be there over shabbos it still seems like the best choice for us since we can use a 7 night certificate, enjoy the modern contemporary and more hip style hotels with nice spas and its near the top restaurants. We also do not need an Eruv as my kids are 10 & 12. The only other lower category Marriott where we can use a cert is the Le Meridien But that hotel seems outdated and mediocre.

We plan on doing dinner at Chabbad Friday night and ubering there. How far is the walk back to the Sortis?

Regarding Shabbos morning, It seems both Bet El & Shevas Achim have a large Kiddush/Lunch. Is one recommended over the other? How far is the walk from each one to the Sortis?

I booked the combined Monkey Jungle / Embera Village Tour with Alon Levy.

It seems like my kids will be bored with a full tour of the Canal and and Miraflores Locks. I think it makes sense to do that on our own so we can move on quickly if needed.

After visiting Costa Rica we don't see a need for rain forest & zip lining tours here and would rather have some down time with local attractions at our own pace.

San Blas seems like to difficult a trip for a partially relaxing vacation.

The Pearl Island day tour with Ilene sounds amazing but there are no morning flights so need to take round trip ferry. Even with her ferry discount it seems very pricey for 4 people when you add the cost of the ferry and her tour. Is this really worth it?

Are there any snorkeling trips we can uber and do on our own?

My take on restaurants from all the reviews here is the following in this order: Aria, Kava, Moma, Luna Darna, La Spezia, Pita Plus....

Any advice and suggestions would be appreciated.








Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mz715 on December 14, 2019, 07:51:30 PM
I am also going with my family in a few weeks. In addition to the questions in the post above, does anyone know where I can get a copy of the Eruv Map, or if there is a description of the Eruv boundaries?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on December 14, 2019, 11:26:35 PM
Not sure what you mean by San blass being difficult.
I can tell you that was def a highlight of our trip, it is absolutely stunning and well worth it.
( albeit not so kosher friendly)
In regards to snorkeling i would book with Alon.
(In Portobello reef)
P.s its a 30 min walk from chabad to Sortis GIYF
 
After years of talking about going to Panama we are finally going with our 2 younger children at end of January. After reading through all the posts I have a few questions.

We have  the Sortis Booked. Although we will be there over shabbos it still seems like the best choice for us since we can use a 7 night certificate, enjoy the modern contemporary and more hip style hotels with nice spas and its near the top restaurants. We also do not need an Eruv as my kids are 10 & 12. The only other lower category Marriott where we can use a cert is the Le Meridien But that hotel seems outdated and mediocre.

We plan on doing dinner at Chabbad Friday night and ubering there. How far is the walk back to the Sortis?

Regarding Shabbos morning, It seems both Bet El & Shevas Achim have a large Kiddush/Lunch. Is one recommended over the other? How far is the walk from each one to the Sortis?

I booked the combined Monkey Jungle / Embera Village Tour with Alon Levy.

It seems like my kids will be bored with a full tour of the Canal and and Miraflores Locks. I think it makes sense to do that on our own so we can move on quickly if needed.

After visiting Costa Rica we don't see a need for rain forest & zip lining tours here and would rather have some down time with local attractions at our own pace.

San Blas seems like to difficult a trip for a partially relaxing vacation.

The Pearl Island day tour with Ilene sounds amazing but there are no morning flights so need to take round trip ferry. Even with her ferry discount it seems very pricey for 4 people when you add the cost of the ferry and her tour. Is this really worth it?

Are there any snorkeling trips we can uber and do on our own?

My take on restaurants from all the reviews here is the following in this order: Aria, Kava, Moma, Luna Darna, La Spezia, Pita Plus....

Any advice and suggestions would be appreciated.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PlatinumGuy on December 15, 2019, 06:24:01 AM
After years of talking about going to Panama we are finally going with our 2 younger children at end of January. After reading through all the posts I have a few questions.

We have  the Sortis Booked. Although we will be there over shabbos it still seems like the best choice for us since we can use a 7 night certificate, enjoy the modern contemporary and more hip style hotels with nice spas and its near the top restaurants. We also do not need an Eruv as my kids are 10 & 12. The only other lower category Marriott where we can use a cert is the Le Meridien But that hotel seems outdated and mediocre.

We plan on doing dinner at Chabbad Friday night and ubering there. How far is the walk back to the Sortis?

Regarding Shabbos morning, It seems both Bet El & Shevas Achim have a large Kiddush/Lunch. Is one recommended over the other? How far is the walk from each one to the Sortis?

I booked the combined Monkey Jungle / Embera Village Tour with Alon Levy.

It seems like my kids will be bored with a full tour of the Canal and and Miraflores Locks. I think it makes sense to do that on our own so we can move on quickly if needed.

After visiting Costa Rica we don't see a need for rain forest & zip lining tours here and would rather have some down time with local attractions at our own pace.

San Blas seems like to difficult a trip for a partially relaxing vacation.

The Pearl Island day tour with Ilene sounds amazing but there are no morning flights so need to take round trip ferry. Even with her ferry discount it seems very pricey for 4 people when you add the cost of the ferry and her tour. Is this really worth it?

Are there any snorkeling trips we can uber and do on our own?

My take on restaurants from all the reviews here is the following in this order: Aria, Kava, Moma, Luna Darna, La Spezia, Pita Plus....

Any advice and suggestions would be appreciated.
I found Shevet Ahim to be larger and more welcoming. The Canal tour may be interesting for kids as well. Restaurant rating seems on target. You may find yourself going back to Aria instead of the others.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on December 15, 2019, 09:06:30 AM
Regarding the canal, you can just do museum and watch the boat go in the canal if you time your visit. I wouldnít do the boat ride in the canal. Also, Moma closed.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on December 15, 2019, 12:16:47 PM
After years of talking about going to Panama we are finally going with our 2 younger children at end of January. After reading through all the posts I have a few questions.

We have  the Sortis Booked. Although we will be there over shabbos it still seems like the best choice for us since we can use a 7 night certificate, enjoy the modern contemporary and more hip style hotels with nice spas and its near the top restaurants. We also do not need an Eruv as my kids are 10 & 12. The only other lower category Marriott where we can use a cert is the Le Meridien But that hotel seems outdated and mediocre.

We plan on doing dinner at Chabbad Friday night and ubering there. How far is the walk back to the Sortis?

Regarding Shabbos morning, It seems both Bet El & Shevas Achim have a large Kiddush/Lunch. Is one recommended over the other? How far is the walk from each one to the Sortis?

I booked the combined Monkey Jungle / Embera Village Tour with Alon Levy.

It seems like my kids will be bored with a full tour of the Canal and and Miraflores Locks. I think it makes sense to do that on our own so we can move on quickly if needed.

After visiting Costa Rica we don't see a need for rain forest & zip lining tours here and would rather have some down time with local attractions at our own pace.

San Blas seems like to difficult a trip for a partially relaxing vacation.

The Pearl Island day tour with Ilene sounds amazing but there are no morning flights so need to take round trip ferry. Even with her ferry discount it seems very pricey for 4 people when you add the cost of the ferry and her tour. Is this really worth it?

Are there any snorkeling trips we can uber and do on our own?

My take on restaurants from all the reviews here is the following in this order: Aria, Kava, Moma, Luna Darna, La Spezia, Pita Plus....

Any advice and suggestions would be appreciated.

We are also doing the monkey island + Embrera village tour with Alon. What day are you going? We are going Jan 21st.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on December 15, 2019, 04:50:29 PM
 You practically take a ride on the canal when going on the monkey island tour.
Regarding the canal, you can just do museum and watch the boat go in the canal if you time your visit. I wouldnít do the boat ride in the canal. Also, Moma closed.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on December 15, 2019, 05:13:11 PM
You practically take a ride on the canal when going on the monkey island tour.

Going to monkey island is a boat ride. Going through the locks in the canal  itself takes hours. Cool to watch from above and leave when you want instead of being stuck in a boat.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on December 15, 2019, 05:23:13 PM
I am in agreement with you.
And pointing out that the boat ride is on the canal, and if your lucky might pass some freighter ships like we did...
Going to monkey island is a boat ride. Going through the locks in the canal  itself takes hours. Cool to watch from above and leave when you want instead of being stuck in a boat.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: BrooklynCPA on December 16, 2019, 10:03:19 AM
We are also doing the monkey island + Embrera village tour with Alon. What day are you going? We are going Jan 21st.

January30th
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: BrooklynCPA on December 16, 2019, 10:07:42 AM
Not sure what you mean by San blass being difficult.
I can tell you that was def a highlight of our trip, it is absolutely stunning and well worth it.
( albeit not so kosher friendly)
In regards to snorkeling i would book with Alon.
(In Portobello reef)
P.s its a 30 min walk from chabad to Sortis GIYF
 

I mean its too early of a start and too much driving when taking kids. I'm sure its beautiful nut don't want to need a vacation after our vacation. Pearl Island sounds a little more relaxing and its easier to take a ferry then drive.

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on December 16, 2019, 10:55:01 AM
I found Shevet Ahim to be larger and more welcoming. The Canal tour may be interesting for kids as well. Restaurant rating seems on target. You may find yourself going back to Aria instead of the others.

We are planning on going to Shevet Ahim for davening. When did you show them your passports in order to get in, since there is no eruv?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on December 16, 2019, 10:58:39 AM
I mean its too early of a start and too much driving when taking kids. I'm sure its beautiful nut don't want to need a vacation after our vacation. Pearl Island sounds a little more relaxing and its easier to take a ferry then drive.
Ferry ride was long and choppy. Coming back we were very tired. But Pearl Islands were great. We did have a problem with Ilene though.  Even though we confirmed with her numerous times, We arrived and everyone else had someone there waiting for them and she wasnít there for us .  After numerous phone calls we finally got through to her. It seem like she forgot and she quickly found a boat driver and put everything together for us.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on December 16, 2019, 11:00:35 AM
My DW and i  walked with a local ( whom we met on the street) Shabbos Mincha and had someone come outside to "ask some questions" ( it felt silly and insulting at the same time but understandable) and we were let in.
We are planning on going to Shevet Ahim for davening. When did you show them your passports in order to get in, since there is no eruv?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on December 16, 2019, 11:02:34 AM
My DW and i  walked with a local ( whom we met on the street) Shabbos Mincha and had someone come outside to "ask some questions" ( it felt silly and insulting at the same time but understandable) and we were let in.

That sounds like when we tried going into the shul in Venice and had to answer questions on the Parsha before gaining entry.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on December 16, 2019, 11:03:43 AM
Ferry ride was long and choppy. Coming back we were very tired. But Pearl Islands were great. We did have a problem with Ilene though.  Even though we confirmed with her numerous times, We arrived and everyone else had someone there waiting for them and she wasnít there for us .  After numerous phone calls we finally got through to her. It seem like she forgot and she quickly found a boat driver and put everything together for us.

Thanks for posting that, I will make sure to confirm with her the day before we go.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: cgr on December 16, 2019, 12:28:24 PM
We are planning on going to Shevet Ahim for davening. When did you show them your passports in order to get in, since there is no eruv?
We dropped by before Shabbos. After that one time they recognized our faces and didn't have to look us up.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: BrooklynCPA on December 16, 2019, 12:30:42 PM
Can we take a vote between day trip to San Blas or Pearl Island. Which is nicer, less tiring and all in all more worthwile?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on December 16, 2019, 06:15:38 PM
Can we take a vote between day trip to San Blas or Pearl Island. Which is nicer, less tiring and all in all more worthwile?

Make sure people that are voting have been to both for day trips.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on December 16, 2019, 07:00:18 PM
Had pretty much same experience in VIE as well.
There they actually have an Israeli security guard outside.
 
That sounds like when we tried going into the shul in Venice and had to answer questions on the Parsha before gaining entry.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: mz715 on December 16, 2019, 09:35:21 PM
I have a map of the Eruv (courtesy of Ezra from Shevat Achim). However, it is too large (~500km) to post to this forum when I try to upload the jpg. Moderator - can you help?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Dan on December 16, 2019, 09:36:51 PM
You can email it to me.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on December 17, 2019, 07:17:33 AM
Can we take a vote between day trip to San Blas or Pearl Island. Which is nicer, less tiring and all in all more worthwile?

I have only been to San Blas. It is far and the ride is really bumpy. If anyone in your group has motion sickness, don't do it. It was worth it but that's because we stayed overnight. It was definitely paradise.

Everyone that I know who went to Pearl Island for the day loved it.

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on December 17, 2019, 07:18:48 AM
We are planning on going to Shevet Ahim for davening. When did you show them your passports in order to get in, since there is no eruv?

We stopped by during the week with our passports. They made copies and we were good to go for shabbos.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on December 17, 2019, 09:05:27 AM
I've only been to San Blass. you would have to wake up early (pickup is aprox. 530 AM)  and ride is a bit bumpy (especially last 10 minutes or so)but it was well worth it , it is truly paradise and rivels any island (we went for a day trip, and wouldn't stay overnight).
Make sure people that are voting have been to both for day trips.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on December 17, 2019, 09:42:44 AM
Can we take a vote between day trip to San Blas or Pearl Island. Which is nicer, less tiring and all in all more worthwile?

I personally MUCH preferred the Pearl Islands. Zero driving (although you catch a 7:30am ferry) and if you have a larger group much more cost effective because the ferry cost is reasonable and then the tour guide (or directly booking a boatman if you are really adventurous and speak some Spanish) is just on a per hour basis for like up to 8 people. Also in San Blas it feels a bit like Mexico where it has been commercialized and you have a certain amount of time at each island ďstopĒ on the route. Pearl Islands you totally control everything, which means you can have them drop you at an uninhabited island for TRUE family swimming with no one else on the beach, you can throw a line in the water for the chance for real sports fishing, huge fish, and also in the summer you get the added bonus of whale watching (really close to them in small boats) which was something really unique and fun for my family.   Hands-down Pearl islands.  :)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on December 17, 2019, 10:23:07 AM
I personally MUCH preferred the Pearl Islands. Zero driving (although you catch a 7:30am ferry) and if you have a larger group much more cost effective because the ferry cost is reasonable and then the tour guide (or directly booking a boatman if you are really adventurous and speak some Spanish) is just on a per hour basis for like up to 8 people. Also in San Blas it feels a bit like Mexico where it has been commercialized and you have a certain amount of time at each island ďstopĒ on the route. Pearl Islands you totally control everything, which means you can have them drop you at an uninhabited island for TRUE family swimming with no one else on the beach, you can throw a line in the water for the chance for real sports fishing, huge fish, and also in the summer you get the added bonus of whale watching (really close to them in small boats) which was something really unique and fun for my family.   Hands-down Pearl islands.  :)

How do the beaches compare to each other?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on December 17, 2019, 11:52:02 AM
I personally MUCH preferred the Pearl Islands. Zero driving (although you catch a 7:30am ferry) and if you have a larger group much more cost effective because the ferry cost is reasonable and then the tour guide (or directly booking a boatman if you are really adventurous and speak some Spanish) is just on a per hour basis for like up to 8 people. Also in San Blas it feels a bit like Mexico where it has been commercialized and you have a certain amount of time at each island ďstopĒ on the route. Pearl Islands you totally control everything, which means you can have them drop you at an uninhabited island for TRUE family swimming with no one else on the beach, you can throw a line in the water for the chance for real sports fishing, huge fish, and also in the summer you get the added bonus of whale watching (really close to them in small boats) which was something really unique and fun for my family.   Hands-down Pearl islands.  :)

I don't know where you went in San Blas, but I stayed in "luxury accommodations" that amounted to a light bulb and very basic water pressure.  It was completely non-commercial and we definitely went to deserted islands.  Maybe that's daytrip vs overnight trip.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: cgr on December 17, 2019, 12:40:50 PM
Also in San Blas it feels a bit like Mexico where it has been commercialized and you have a certain amount of time at each island ďstopĒ on the route. Pearl Islands you totally control everything, which means you can have them drop you at an uninhabited island for TRUE family swimming with no one else on the beach, you can throw a line in the water for the chance for real sports fishing, huge fish, and also in the summer you get the added bonus of whale watching (really close to them in small boats) which was something really unique and fun for my family.   Hands-down Pearl islands.  :)

I had a very different experience. Nothing commercial about it. We had our boatman take us to his home village to show us around, then we asked for some private time and he took us to a private island, then we asked to see some turtles so he took us to a spot for that etc. This was a day trip.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on December 17, 2019, 04:23:31 PM
I donít mean commercial like nice accommodations...they were horrible...lol...I meant like if you want a private tour itís prohibitively expensive, there were lots of other boats and people around, it was set up by the indigenous tribes as a money making system (which is great, Yashar Koach to them). Maybe because it was a Sunday but each step was crowded and we had a certain island route and couldnít deviate. Also, I speak Spanish and so we were fine but if people who donít speak it want to go, I think it would be hard to communicate.  Also one of the kids was really sick and we had to stop on the way back because of car sickness from the drive. Again, maybe it was just timing and luck (I also have high standards and have been to the Maldives and many beautiful islands) but even though it was a very nice day, I just didnít feel it was in any way worth the money we spent or lived up to the hype.  Other good friends of mine who have also been to Panama twice, done San Blas, Los Portobello Islands and Las Perlas, also said the Pearl Islands were totally the highlight of both their trips.  Iím not belittling San Blas, I was just answering the question of which I thought was better. @zow did you go to both? Wanna weigh in here? :)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Dan on December 17, 2019, 07:01:32 PM
Panama eruv:
(https://i.dansdeals.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/17190006/eruv.jpg)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: zow on December 17, 2019, 11:09:37 PM
I donít mean commercial like nice accommodations...they were horrible...lol...I meant like if you want a private tour itís prohibitively expensive, there were lots of other boats and people around, it was set up by the indigenous tribes as a money making system (which is great, Yashar Koach to them). Maybe because it was a Sunday but each step was crowded and we had a certain island route and couldnít deviate. Also, I speak Spanish and so we were fine but if people who donít speak it want to go, I think it would be hard to communicate.  Also one of the kids was really sick and we had to stop on the way back because of car sickness from the drive. Again, maybe it was just timing and luck (I also have high standards and have been to the Maldives and many beautiful islands) but even though it was a very nice day, I just didnít feel it was in any way worth the money we spent or lived up to the hype.  Other good friends of mine who have also been to Panama twice, done San Blas, Los Portobello Islands and Las Perlas, also said the Pearl Islands were totally the highlight of both their trips.  Iím not belittling San Blas, I was just answering the question of which I thought was better. @zow did you go to both? Wanna weigh in here? :)

We enjoyed Las Perlas and would do it again. We did not go to San Blas.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on December 18, 2019, 02:13:11 AM
We did Las Perlas (Pearls Islands) with a 10 month old, our tour guide Elene was great! The islands are splendid! Would definitely recommend for a great day trip from Panama city.. DDFíers implied that San Blas is a rough ordeal specifically with Toddlers.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: BrooklynCPA on December 18, 2019, 09:57:02 AM
So it seems the consensus is to go with Pearl Island even now that it not whale season!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on December 18, 2019, 09:23:43 PM
I loved Pearl Islands as a full day trip, I mentioned previously that I flew to Contadora in the morning and took the ferry back in the evening. I think San blas is longer travel time, if so I donít think thereís enough time to make a nice day trip out of it.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on December 18, 2019, 09:50:15 PM
I loved Pearl Islands as a full day trip, I mentioned previously that I flew to Contadora in the morning and took the ferry back in the evening. I think San blas is longer travel time, if so I donít think thereís enough time to make a nice day trip out of it.
We went on a day trip, it was worth every minute of travel.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on December 23, 2019, 11:11:17 AM
Does anyone know which (if any) dairy restaurants are cholov yisrael?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: cgr on December 23, 2019, 12:32:50 PM
Does anyone know which (if any) dairy restaurants are cholov yisrael?

In my experience all dairy restaurants are mostly CY. When I was there I asked if they had any menu items that weren't, and they'd usually point out one or two items. The overall menu in most eateries was CY, as far as I can remember.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on December 23, 2019, 01:54:53 PM
Does anyone know which (if any) dairy restaurants are cholov yisrael?
You can ask for CY in most restaurants , but Kelim wouldn't be CY.
Other then pizza @ Jeffrey's bakery which is 100% CY.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on December 23, 2019, 02:22:57 PM
You can ask for CY in most restaurants , but Kelim wouldn't be CY.
Other then pizza @ Jeffrey's bakery which is 100% CY.

Yes, it would need to CY kelim. Is everything at Jeffreys CY?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on December 23, 2019, 06:17:53 PM
Yes, it would need to CY kelim. Is everything at Jeffreys CY?
from my understanding only the pizza.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on December 23, 2019, 11:37:11 PM
Check with the local Chabad or Rav. I was told that only Jefferies can be considered CY.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Wizmanison on December 24, 2019, 03:46:27 AM
Updated Wiki to include TR's that were not already added. Will update the Wiki as I compile more information not already on there!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on December 24, 2019, 10:28:06 AM
Updated Wiki to include TR's that were not already added. Will update the Wiki as I compile more information not already on there!
Please add these, as I found them to be very helpful.

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: BrooklynCPA on December 24, 2019, 11:22:13 AM
Updated Wiki to include TR's that were not already added. Will update the Wiki as I compile more information not already on there!

Just when I thought I read everything on Panama for our upcoming trip there are 5 new TRs!!!! You guys are amazing! Tnx
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yuneeq on December 24, 2019, 01:00:15 PM
Just when I thought I read everything on Panama for our upcoming trip there are 5 new TRs!!!! You guys are amazing! Tnx

Just added my mini-TR to wiki.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on December 26, 2019, 04:02:09 PM
Anyone stay at the Marriott Residence Inn in Panama City?  Says it was built in 2019.  Wondering how nice it is and if convenient to shuls.


Also looks pretty close to Super Kosher Supermarket.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on January 01, 2020, 12:10:48 AM
Marriott Residence Inn is a 3 minute walk to Chabad.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: cgr on January 06, 2020, 09:05:08 PM
Need some help sorting my pictures :-\

We took a tour of the Jewish community and visited the local shuls. I'd like to figure out which pics are from which shul. Anyone care to help please PM and I'll send you a link. Looks like location wasn't on so pics aren't tagged.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: cgr on January 06, 2020, 09:20:42 PM
Need some help sorting my pictures :-\

We took a tour of the Jewish community and visited the local shuls. I'd like to figure out which pics are from which shul. Anyone care to help please PM and I'll send you a link. Looks like location wasn't on so pics aren't tagged.

Thanks all! Figured it out
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on January 06, 2020, 09:44:59 PM
Thanks all! Figured it out
Are you gonna share em?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: cgr on January 06, 2020, 10:31:44 PM
Are you gonna share em?
Sure! I've been posting all my photos here (https://www.instagram.com/globetrottinggeek/). These will be posted over the next week or two.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: BrooklynCPA on January 08, 2020, 03:47:52 PM
New Restaurant in Casco Viego!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on January 08, 2020, 05:42:18 PM
New Restaurant in Casco Viego!

Awesome! Except it says they are closed on Fridays which is when we are planning on going  >:(
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 09, 2020, 02:07:51 PM
New Restaurant in Casco Viego!

Oh wow, thanks for posting!  Someone told me the Yogurt place there closed down and it's such a cool neighborhood and environment that it's awesome to have a sit-down place there.  It says it's run by Chabad, is there a new shaliach now focusing on tourists, Israelis and others in Casco Viejo?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on January 09, 2020, 03:14:07 PM
Oh wow, thanks for posting!  Someone told me the Yogurt place there closed down and it's such a cool neighborhood and environment that it's awesome to have a sit-down place there.  It says it's run by Chabad, is there a new shaliach now focusing on tourists, Israelis and others in Casco Viejo?

Any place in particular to check out in Casco Viejo?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on January 09, 2020, 03:31:34 PM
Any place in particular to check out in Casco Viejo?
CasaCasco rooftop bar is pretty cool with spectacular views.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: cgr on January 09, 2020, 04:31:42 PM
Any place in particular to check out in Casco Viejo?

There is a coffee shop, Bajareque, that is renowned for their Geisha coffee. I wouldn't drink it on a daily basis if I had the choice, but definitely an interesting experience.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on January 13, 2020, 10:14:59 PM
Is it better to see the IMAX by Miraflores Locks ($10/pp) or the museum ($20 pp) with kids?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on January 13, 2020, 11:42:36 PM
We just did the Imax and thought it was good. Our guide didn't even suggest doing the museum. I think that with kids that certainly is the right plan.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on January 16, 2020, 12:38:08 PM
Is it better to see the IMAX by Miraflores Locks ($10/pp) or the museum ($20 pp) with kids?
Museum is pretty cool and included in entry price.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on January 16, 2020, 02:31:50 PM
Is it better to see the IMAX by Miraflores Locks ($10/pp) or the museum ($20 pp) with kids?

IMAX definitely!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on January 17, 2020, 06:38:09 AM
Are all the Coffee Beans in Panama City kosher?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on January 17, 2020, 09:14:03 AM
Are all the Coffee Beans in Panama City kosher?
I know the one by Jw and by Miraflores locks both had a Hecsher, if it is kosher it will be displayed .
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: E R K on January 17, 2020, 09:40:36 AM
Some are under KOLA. Some are under the local Vaad. Some are under both. Ask your LOR as to which you follow.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Abey on January 20, 2020, 06:04:51 PM
planning a trip to PTY and would like to stay Sunday-Wednesday on island, supposedly Caribbean side is nicer (San blas) but am open to Contadora etc. can anyone share experiences with any decent hotels ?   also Uber vs car rental ($2 per day!) ? travelling on more of a budget so not planning on hiring tour guides unless necessary.... 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on January 21, 2020, 02:01:11 PM
Are all the Coffee Beans in Panama City kosher?
I know the one by Jw and by Miraflores locks both had a Hecsher, if it is kosher it will be displayed .

The Coffee Bean in the MultiPlaza Mall also has a Hechsher certificate, but a local Yid told me that they change often, so just be on the lookout for that Certificate. The certificate also states exactly what products are Kosher.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: bruce on January 26, 2020, 01:41:55 AM
Hi

Going to Panama for Vaca end of this week (thurs-tues)

Anyone have a good tour guide to recommend for a family of  four?

Thx
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on January 26, 2020, 10:01:11 AM
Hi

Going to Panama for Vaca end of this week (thurs-tues)

Anyone have a good tour guide to recommend for a family of  four?

Thx

We had Alon Levy as our tour guide and he is the nicest guy!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TravelPhyl on January 26, 2020, 02:02:35 PM
Hi, I will be staying in the JW Marriot over Shabbos. The hotel told me they have hard keys for the room doors, but they said the rooms start on the 17th floor. I am careful not to use elevators on Shabbos even when activated by a nonjew. Does anyone have experience taking the stairwell? Are any lights or alarms activated when taking the steps?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: bruce on January 26, 2020, 02:50:39 PM
Thanks!

Has anyone stayed at the JW Marriott for Shabbos? Is it Shabbos friendly?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on January 26, 2020, 04:01:28 PM
Many have reported as being great for Shabbos and shabbos friendly. One of my friends recently stayed there and had a great time.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: lfas25 on January 26, 2020, 04:17:29 PM
Thanks!

Has anyone stayed at the JW Marriott for Shabbos? Is it Shabbos friendly?
If you tell the staff that it's "shabbat" they'll push the buttons in the elevator, and pick you up at the time you request.
They do have a set of doors that are not electronic.

The lobby is on the 15th floor, so you'll need to have the valet bring you up to the 15th floor and then have concierge help you with the next set of elevators, as you need to switch on the lobby floor.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TravelPhyl on January 26, 2020, 05:23:27 PM
What other hotels are Shabbat friendly in Panama City?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on January 26, 2020, 07:52:04 PM
What other hotels are Shabbat friendly in Panama City?

Iím not sure what you mean by Shabbat friendly but we stayed at the Marriott Executive Apartments for shabbos and loved it. Itís a 7 min walk within the Eruv to the Shevet Achim shul and thereís a park right nearby as well. We just taped our door so we wouldnít need to deal with the electronic keycard. We stayed on the 7th floor so we used the stairs on shabbos.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on January 27, 2020, 01:28:45 AM
Hi

Going to Panama for Vaca end of this week (thurs-tues)

Anyone have a good tour guide to recommend for a family of  four?

Thx

Check out the following list of tour guides provided by the Jewish community center.. 

JEWISH TOUR GUIDES
 
Saralyn Levy ​      (507) 66125262
Patricia Abadi​      (507) 67479370
Arturo Lerner.    ​  (507) 67815467
Jonathan Zelcer.  ​jonathan@trulypanama.com
Reina Bitton.       ​(507) 66745194
Rafael Cohen.   ​   (507) 66714131
Raquel Bezalel​     (507) 66132788

We also booked Alex through MyFriendMario tour company for the indigenous islands he was great, contact him directly on WhatsApp. ALEX +507 6258-4479
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on January 27, 2020, 09:28:08 AM
Hi

Going to Panama for Vaca end of this week (thurs-tues)

Anyone have a good tour guide to recommend for a family of  four?

Thx
Alon levy +50765530016
Was amazing. Highly recommend
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on January 27, 2020, 09:30:14 AM
If you tell the staff that it's "shabbat" they'll push the buttons in the elevator, and pick you up at the time you request.
They do have a set of doors that are not electronic.

The lobby is on the 15th floor, so you'll need to have the valet bring you up to the 15th floor and then have concierge help you with the next set of elevators, as you need to switch on the lobby floor.
Pretty much sums it up.
10 min walk from Chabad.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: TravelPhyl on January 28, 2020, 12:40:22 AM
Thanks for all your help guys! Two more questions
-Did anyone stay in the Intercontinental for shab? If yes, What was your experience?
-Did anyone do San Blas with guides/drivers other than Sorhayís team?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 28, 2020, 09:06:15 AM
planning a trip to PTY and would like to stay Sunday-Wednesday on island, supposedly Caribbean side is nicer (San blas) but am open to Contadora etc. can anyone share experiences with any decent hotels ?   also Uber vs car rental ($2 per day!) ? travelling on more of a budget so not planning on hiring tour guides unless necessary....

I could be wrong but I think staying on San Blas has to be arranged through a guide as the restaurants and hotels are owned communally through the indigenous tribes. My friend just got back from Panama and I believe overnighted on Contadora so Iíll check where and get back to you. There I know there are numerous options.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: cgr on January 28, 2020, 10:18:36 AM
-Did anyone do San Blas with guides/drivers other than Sorhayís team?
We did, but the hotel arranged it for us, so I don't have any contact info.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Denverite on January 28, 2020, 11:46:53 AM
We did, but the hotel arranged it for us, so I don't have any contact info.
Mia think the hotel concierge is also booking through the same tribes then.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: saw50st8 on January 28, 2020, 11:55:27 AM
Thanks for all your help guys! Two more questions
-Did anyone stay in the Intercontinental for shab? If yes, What was your experience?
-Did anyone do San Blas with guides/drivers other than Sorhayís team?

We did but we opted to stay overnight. The island had their own transportation arrangements for everything.  If you are interested, I'll find the link.  I think it is in my TR.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on January 28, 2020, 08:26:39 PM
Thanks for all your help guys! Two more questions
-Did anyone stay in the Intercontinental for shab? If yes, What was your experience?
-Did anyone do San Blas with guides/drivers other than Sorhayís team?
Going to San Blas essentially can only be done through Tribe approved agents.
So no real difference who you use to book.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yitzyul on January 29, 2020, 09:40:49 PM
Can anyone recommend a tour guide that is good with an 8 month old. Not that I need them to watch the baby but able to help out if needed. Surhay charges approx $450 a day which is kinda steep.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on January 30, 2020, 11:43:56 AM
Can anyone recommend a tour guide that is good with an 8 month old. Not that I need them to watch the baby but able to help out if needed. Surhay charges approx $450 a day which is kinda steep.


Check out the following list of tour guides provided by the Jewish community center.. 

JEWISH TOUR GUIDES
 
Saralyn Levy ​      (507) 66125262
Patricia Abadi​      (507) 67479370
Arturo Lerner.    ​  (507) 67815467
Jonathan Zelcer.  ​jonathan@trulypanama.com
Reina Bitton.       ​(507) 66745194
Rafael Cohen.   ​   (507) 66714131
Raquel Bezalel​     (507) 66132788

We also booked Alex through MyFriendMario tour company for the indigenous islands he was great, contact him directly on WhatsApp. ALEX +507 6258-4479

We were with a ten month old and Alex was very helpful..
For Pearls Islands we had Ilene which was recommended by afew DDF'ers and she was amazing. I don't have her contact info right now but I'm sure you can find it somewhere in this thread
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: chuchem on January 30, 2020, 11:46:54 AM
While Soray was amazing I am happy to see that there is other choices as well
Maybe when she sees jewish guests can also use other people her prices will come down the hill a little
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on January 30, 2020, 04:13:04 PM
While Soray was amazing I am happy to see that there is other choices as well
Maybe when she sees jewish guests can also use other people her prices will come down the hill a little

Yes, we used Alon for Monkey island, Embera village and Anton Valley. He is such a nice guy and will answer all your questions and concerns with tremendous patience. He is also much cheaper then Other tour guides I spoke to. I think you would be in good hands with him with a baby since he is very safety conscious unlike many of the Panamanian your guides I have seen.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Abey on January 30, 2020, 08:04:37 PM
I could be wrong but I think staying on San Blas has to be arranged through a guide as the restaurants and hotels are owned communally through the indigenous tribes. My friend just got back from Panama and I believe overnighted on Contadora so Iíll check where and get back to you. There I know there are numerous options.
thanks for your help ! Actually just got back and hope to post TR including my experience staying at contadora for 3 days
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on January 31, 2020, 02:33:36 AM
While Soray was amazing I am happy to see that there is other choices as well
Maybe when she sees jewish guests can also use other people her prices will come down the hill a little

Yes, we used Alon for Monkey island, Embera village and Anton Valley. He is such a nice guy and will answer all your questions and concerns with tremendous patience. He is also much cheaper then Other tour guides I spoke to. I think you would be in good hands with him with a baby since he is very safety conscious unlike many of the Panamanian your guides I have seen.

..while supporting fellow Yiden.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yitzyul on February 01, 2020, 06:53:32 PM
..while supporting fellow Yiden.

Alon didn't reply to my whatsapp (could be he is away?).
Is it difficult to do trips myself, If I rent a good 4 by 4? Could it be much worse then NYC or Tel Aviv driving?  (as long as Waze works)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on February 01, 2020, 11:57:15 PM
Alon didn't reply to my whatsapp (could be he is away?).
Is it difficult to do trips myself, If I rent a good 4 by 4? Could it be much worse then NYC or Tel Aviv driving?  (as long as Waze works)

Thatís strange that he didnít respond. He usually responds the same day. His number is +507 6683-1663.
What trips were you thinking of doing by yourself?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yitzyul on February 01, 2020, 11:58:51 PM
Thatís strange that he didnít respond. He usually responds the same day. His number is +507 6683-1663.
What trips were you thinking of doing by yourself?
Not sure just started to prepare itinerary.  Interested in some beach and some animals...

San Bias or Pearl Islands with an infant? Can i do any of them with an infant?
Which of (major) popular tours can be done with a 8 month old (besides the canal :D)
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on February 02, 2020, 12:59:43 AM
Keep in mind that the sun is very strong in the islands. Can't speak for pearl but the boat we took to San blas was small and the ride was rough at times.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: cgr on February 02, 2020, 01:27:44 AM
Not sure just started to prepare itinerary.  Interested in some beach and some animals...

San Bias or Pearl Islands with an infant? Can i do any of them with an infant?
Which of (major) popular tours can be done with a 8 month old (besides the canal :D)

Keep in mind San Blas can only be visited with a tribe (approved) guide. It's possible you can get close to their territory with your own 4◊4 vehicle, but not sure.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on February 02, 2020, 08:42:04 AM
Not sure just started to prepare itinerary.  Interested in some beach and some animals...

San Bias or Pearl Islands with an infant? Can i do any of them with an infant?
Which of (major) popular tours can be done with a 8 month old (besides the canal :D)

You can absolutely do pearl islands with a 8 month old. Itís a very nice ferry ride there and back that takes 1 1/2 hours and u can walk around and be outside or inside. You can do monkey island, Embera village, walk around the Old city and eat at all the restaurants.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on February 02, 2020, 05:21:30 PM
You can absolutely do pearl islands with a 8 month old. Itís a very nice ferry ride there and back that takes 1 1/2 hours and u can walk around and be outside or inside. You can do monkey island, Embera village, walk around the Old city and eat at all the restaurants.
Or hike Anton valley with a carrier
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: sunnyplaces on February 03, 2020, 10:50:51 PM
My husband and I are planning a trip in a couple of weeks to Panama. I've been reading and researching a lot the last few days, on this site and on many others and formed a basic itinerary of what we'd want to cover throughout our stay. We want to be in and tour the city  and its surrounding areas for three days and then head to the islands for two days. Now I know that this question has been asked before, but I am so undecided! Do we do San Blas or the pearl Islands for those last two nights? Pearl Islands seems easier and faster to get to, and is beautiful as well.  I know that for a day trip San Blas is exhausting, but if we go for two nights, is the shlep worth it? We really always dreamed of being in one of those overwater bungalows and it seems that there are some options on the San Blas islands, but don't see such accommodations on the pearl islands. Any info/advice would be truly appreciated!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yitzyul on February 04, 2020, 05:04:34 PM
Which Marriott points hotel is recommended (luxury and good location)?  If one is in an easier commute area? (less hassle).

TY
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on February 04, 2020, 05:31:27 PM
Which Marriott points hotel is recommended (luxury and good location)?  If one is in an easier commute area? (less hassle).

TY

We just stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn. Brand New hotel that just opened. Was upgraded to a suite with connecting king bed room. We chose this hotel as it is  3 minute walk to Chabad-keep in mind it's very hot and we didn't want a 15-30 minute walk on shabbos. Also the hotel is a block away from Jeffrey's restaurant and bakery and across the street from a sandwich place.  There is a kosher supermarket 2 blocks away.

This made the most sense for us.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yitzyul on February 04, 2020, 05:39:03 PM
We just stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn. Brand New hotel that just opened. Was upgraded to a suite with connecting king bed room. We chose this hotel as it is  3 minute walk to Chabad-keep in mind it's very hot and we didn't want a 15-30 minute walk on shabbos. Also the hotel is a block away from Jeffrey's restaurant and bakery and across the street from a sandwich place.  There is a kosher supermarket 2 blocks away.

This made the most sense for us.

TY
Shabbos is not an issue
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on February 04, 2020, 05:52:56 PM
TY
Shabbos is not an issue

The Sortis is well regarded. Jw Marriott as well. But don't disregard the residence inn based on it's name.  We really liked the hotel.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on February 04, 2020, 06:56:26 PM
Which Marriott points hotel is recommended (luxury and good location)?  If one is in an easier commute area? (less hassle).

TY
JW was exceptional .
Gorgeous room with a balcony , nice view...
housekeeping and hotel service were superior .
great location, 10 min walk to Chabad.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on February 05, 2020, 10:44:59 AM
TY
Shabbos is not an issue

We stayed at the Sortis, beautiful accommodations, very well priced, just across  the street of Aria, around the corner of Darna, and a block away from Kava.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tdb on February 05, 2020, 11:30:35 AM
hands down JW is the best.  Only downside are the open bathrooms.  Kosher Coffee Bean and Darna is 1 minute walk,
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: tdb on February 05, 2020, 11:32:25 AM
We stayed at the Sortis, beautiful accommodations, very well priced, just across  the street of Aria, around the corner of Darna, and a block away from Kava.

Sortis is close to Lula by DArna which is meat

JW is close to Darna which is Dairy

Same owners
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on February 06, 2020, 07:02:23 PM
hands down JW is the best.  Only downside are the open bathrooms.  Kosher Coffee Bean and Darna is 1 minute walk,
The open bathrooms lol
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Ploni3 on February 07, 2020, 09:44:44 AM
We stayed at the Hilton and checked out the rooms at the Marriott and found them to be materially smaller.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: yitzyul on February 07, 2020, 10:47:43 AM
Is driving really that difficult in Panama? I understand the crazy traffic etc.  But to leave early am and arrive late PM to the JW (not to drive around in the city) is that doable?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: BrooklynCPA on February 07, 2020, 11:46:15 AM
Just got back from Panama. We stayed at the Sortis and loved it!! I used a 7 night cert in an ambassador account and got a beautiful large 2 room suite with 2 full bathrooms. The living room had a king size pullout sofa plus they brought us a folding bed. Very modern contemporary hotel with gorgeous pool, spa and casino. They have the largest sports bar I've ever seen with huge screens that came handy for the super bowl (after watching the 1st half at Aria over an amazing dinner directly across the street from hotel). I believe this is the best possible use in history for a Marriott cert! The only drawback is the walk in the heat to and from the Jewish area on shabbos. I wanted to check into the Brand new Residence Inn or Marriott for shabbos but my family was too comfortable at the Sortis. The Residence Inn, JW Marriott and Hilton are closer to shuls and all good choices too. You really cant go wrong with either one.

Kava was our favorite and we all thought it was the best dairy restaurant we've even been to. We chose to go back there a 2nd time instead of trying something new. We also went to Aria, Pita Plus, Coffee Bean at the Miraflores locks and ordered in from La Spezia. They were all good!

We did a combined tour of Embera Village and Monkey Island with Alon Levy. We loved him and he is reasonably priced. Embera Village tribes charge $45 PP, the boat company to Monkey Island is $30 -$35 PP plus the driver for the day cost so the Tour guides themselves do not make as much as people think.

We went to Pearl Island and spent the afternoon with Ilene from https://pearlislandsdaytours.com/
 who was amazing. We snorkeled at a beautiful reef (near the island where Survivor was filmed).  We also fished but did not have the same luck as some of the others here and did not catch anything :(  We cannot compare it to San Blas as we were not there but it is definitely easier to take a 1.5 hour fast ferry that itself is part of the fun than to take a long winding car ride. From my research I came to the conclusion that as a day trip Pearl Island makes more sense but as an overnight trip San Blas is the better choice.

We did the Miraflores Locks on our own. The 3D Imax explains the complete history and the mechanics better than any tour guide can and I don't think there is a need to spend $ on an official tour.

If there is time to kill or for a relaxing day I recommend spending a few hours at Amador causeway and renting bikes. We also spent some time in the Old city of Casco Viejo. It was typical and not a must do. There is a new Chabad restaurant there called Jerusalem.

On shabbos we were at Chabad friday night and Bethel for lunch. They were both really nice and enjoyable.

Instead of paying $10 a day to Verizon for both of our phones we bought  7 day Sim cards for $5 that worked perfectly. It is $30 at the airport so wait until you get to the city.

Definitely no need to rent a car. Ubers are easy and cheap!

All in all I highly recommend Panama in the winter for the guaranteed weather, incredible food, lots of amazing activities for all ages and a vibrant Jewish community to join on Shabbos!!!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on February 25, 2020, 10:47:59 PM
Here is my TR that I wrote about our trip to Panama this past January. I know it was very helpful for me to read other TRís while planning my trip so I wanted to help out others as well. https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=114442.0
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Cat18 on August 14, 2020, 01:42:45 AM
Can anyone compare Panama vs Costa Rica for a January family trip? Food and jewish community not important.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on August 14, 2020, 02:14:59 AM
We did both in January. Had a great time in each place. Trip reports were posted. 
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Cat18 on August 14, 2020, 02:20:53 AM
We did both in January. Had a great time in each place. Trip reports were posted.

i do not see your panama TR in wiki of this thread or in trip reports forum.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on August 14, 2020, 08:59:24 AM
i do not see your panama TR in wiki of this thread or in trip reports forum.
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=114363.0
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Cat18 on October 13, 2020, 03:29:14 PM
PSA óó

On October 12, the Government of Panama permitted international commercial flights to resume services to and from Panama.

Entry Requirements: The Government of Panama requires a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or Antigen) within 48 hours prio to your arrival in Panama.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: ab613 on January 10, 2021, 08:16:21 PM
Was anyone in Panama recently?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: RebTuvia on January 19, 2021, 11:57:39 AM
Was anyone in Panama recently?
Per my understanding from locals I spoke to, everything is closed literally everything. Malls, attractions, etc. Even things that are open are only open with strict terms. And every day of the week has different rules.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: G11600 on January 20, 2021, 01:57:21 PM
Per my understanding from locals I spoke to, everything is closed literally everything. Malls, attractions, etc. Even things that are open are only open with strict terms. And every day of the week has different rules.
Correct.  See

https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/1938644/if-israelis-are-tired-of-lockdowns-they-should-talk-to-panamanian-jews.html
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: itreu001 on March 07, 2021, 07:28:31 PM
Does anyone know what If anything is open in Panama. It seems that the Kosher PTY app has shut down.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on March 07, 2021, 07:51:25 PM
Does anyone know what If anything is open in Panama. It seems that the Kosher PTY app has shut down.
What specifically?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: itreu001 on March 08, 2021, 12:22:10 AM
Restaurants, attractions, malls, hotels. Etc.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: myb821 on March 08, 2021, 09:49:35 AM
Anyone have any thoughts of Panama in August with little kids (6 and 3)?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: myb821 on March 16, 2021, 09:06:27 AM
Has anyone stayed overnight in San Blas and have any hotel reccomendations.

Additionally can someone add the contact information  for the recommended tour guides to the wiki?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on March 16, 2021, 12:28:08 PM
Has anyone stayed overnight in San Blas and have any hotel reccomendations.

Additionally can someone add the contact information  for the recommended tour guides to the wiki?

We did a day trip to San Blas and had a great time - it's all in our Panama TR.  I am not sure but don't think there are any hotels in San Blas.  You can camp out in a tent and we saw a couple from South America camped out in a tent on one of the islands we visited.  EDIT  - I just looked online and apparently there are some lodging options but I do not think they qualify for what you probably would call a "hotel."  They look like thatched roof bungalows.

Also, I am not sure the status of Panama right now but last I heard San Blas was closed to tourists.  Things may have changed since.

I have Sorhay's phone number and will ask if I am permitted to share it.  Information about Sorhay can be found here:   

https://www.therealpanamatours.com/

Here is the information for Alon Levi:

Alon Levi can be reached on Whatsapp at: +50766831663 and by Email at: oakfrst@gmail.com

Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on March 16, 2021, 12:36:24 PM
Has anyone stayed overnight in San Blas and have any hotel reccomendations.

Additionally can someone add the contact information  for the recommended tour guides to the wiki?

We used Alon for our tours.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: myb821 on March 16, 2021, 03:14:45 PM
We used Alon for our tours.
For both? I thought in your TR there was a second guide listed.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: myb821 on March 16, 2021, 03:15:00 PM
We did a day trip to San Blas and had a great time - it's all in our Panama TR.  I am not sure but don't think there are any hotels in San Blas.  You can camp out in a tent and we saw a couple from South America camped out in a tent on one of the islands we visited.  EDIT  - I just looked online and apparently there are some lodging options but I do not think they qualify for what you probably would call a "hotel."  They look like thatched roof bungalows.

Also, I am not sure the status of Panama right now but last I heard San Blas was closed to tourists.  Things may have changed since.

I have Sorhay's phone number and will ask if I am permitted to share it.  Information about Sorhay can be found here:   

https://www.therealpanamatours.com/

Here is the information for Alon Levi:

Alon Levi can be reached on Whatsapp at: +50766831663 and by Email at: oakfrst@gmail.com
Thank you!
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on March 16, 2021, 10:29:19 PM
Sorhay's Whatsapp contact:

+507 6522-6210

I just messaged her and she said Panama is opening up soon.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on March 17, 2021, 12:04:05 PM
For both? I thought in your TR there was a second guide listed.

We used Alon for Monkey Island, Embera Village and Anton Valley. When we went to Pearl Islands we had Ilene take us around to different islands.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on April 12, 2021, 12:06:13 PM
@Kobe Bryant did you end up writing a TR for Panama?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Jm1248 on April 13, 2021, 10:28:19 PM
I am planning a trip to Panama at the end of July. Thanks to all who contributed to this thread for the very useful information. I messaged Alon and Sorhay and they both told me Panama is mostly open now. San Blas is still closed but the Pearl Islands are open.

I canít seem to find the Kosher PTY app. Does anyone know if that is still in existence?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: PBaruch on April 13, 2021, 10:35:32 PM
I am planning a trip to Panama at the end of July. Thanks to all who contributed to this thread for the very useful information. I messaged Alon and Sorhay and they both told me Panama is mostly open now. San Blas is still closed but the Pearl Islands are open.

I canít seem to find the Kosher PTY app. Does anyone know if that is still in existence?

I heard that the Kosher PTY App closed down.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Jm1248 on April 14, 2021, 07:41:55 AM
I heard that the Kosher PTY App closed down.
Thanks. Does anyone know about good flight options from NY? Seems to be almost no direct flight options on the return, and all the flights are a bit pricey
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Saulius on April 14, 2021, 06:27:00 PM
Thanks. Does anyone know about good flight options from NY? Seems to be almost no direct flight options on the return, and all the flights are a bit pricey

Copa Airlines is direct - if you can do hidden-ticketing and fly without luggage -- you can fly to Panama for $86 one way from JFK - with the ticket booked for Bogota, Columbia. -  Problem are flights from Central America back to the US can be more pricey -  book a cheap flight out of Panama with Wingo - ie to Bogota and fly back to US with award ticket or with money.  - Or find an award ticket out from PTY to MIA with AAdvantage.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on April 20, 2021, 12:10:22 PM
Anyone have a birding guide they'd recommend?
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Kobe Bryant on April 20, 2021, 12:14:19 PM
Anyone have a birding guide they'd recommend?
Alon +507 6553 0016
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on April 20, 2021, 12:21:54 PM
Alon +507 6553 0016

Thanks!

This guy? https://en.panamawithalon.com/

ETA: searched this thread  for "Alon" - man, people really like him here ;D. Sent him a whatsapp, let's see what he says.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Divora M on April 20, 2021, 09:56:28 PM
Thanks!

This guy? https://en.panamawithalon.com/

ETA: searched this thread  for "Alon" - man, people really like him here ;D. Sent him a whatsapp, let's see what he says.

He is just a very honest, friendly, patient, cautious and knowledgeable tour guide if thatís what your looking for.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: Something Fishy on April 20, 2021, 10:16:13 PM
Spoke to him and he sounded amazing, but he's in Israel now... We're working on some other options.
Title: Re: Panama Master Thread
Post by: normathej on April 21, 2021, 01:45:55 PM
AC Hotel, W Panama, Sortis - which is the nicest?