Landing at Panama City airport (Tocumen International) let you immediately get into the panamanian mood where the contradictions are more than a way of living.
Outside the airport you can find taxis who will get you into the city in about 20 minutes or more than 2 hours! The journey time in Panama City is totally erratic because of the traffic. Sure enough it’s the busiest city I’ve ever visited.
As I’ve been there for a significant period I can venture the following guessworks:
- There are more cars than people
- People doesn’t know exactly how to conduct a car
- They are not aware about the basic rules of the road
- Police is not really interested in traffic issues
I’m quite sure it can be a mix of all of them. We collected some accidents (with taxi) during the days. So it’s quite dangerous to drive over there if you’re not a local or didn’t receive the right instructions.
Anyway one of the amazing things you can find in Panama City is shown even before to arrive there: along the Corredor Sur at some point you find yourself in one of the causeways over the sea (they’re two + 1 under construction). The city on your right and the ocean on the other side, it was pretty spectacular for me (and for my vertigo too, a bit):
(the new causeway on the background)
Our destination was a building in Avenida Balboa, where I started to take pics from the balcony from my first step into the flat till the day I left. Was I wrong?
This great view is usually annoyed by the traffic over the street below, from 5am to 2am. It’s quite 24/7 of noises, horns, sirens and car crashes, and not even the double windows sometimes are able to help! Anyway it seems you can get used about the noise after a while. But a month wasn’t enough for me. So don’t forget your earplugs, if you need to sleep now and then.
So for me Panama City, or at least its side over the sea, it’s like I figure Miami in my mind thanks to Horatio Caine. But there’s so much to see also on the back of the skyscrapers
Panama is not a dangerous city, at all. There are some area to avoid (as everywhere) if you’re not very confident with odd districts, like el Chorrillo and San Miguelito. Also the back of the Casco Viejo is not well recommended for tourists. The rest of the city is open to visit with the usual prudence and respect of any trip. Just avoid to be too flashy or with luxury and valuable items, expecially in the night and everything will be alright.