When you holiday in Panama, be prepared to be greeted with luscious wild-life friendly rainforests, indigenous communities, sprawling promenades, gorgeous beaches and so forth. This transcontinental country housed between North and South America, is fringed by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. It is not for any reason nicknamed as the 'Crossroads of the Americas' for it is not only the spot where North America meets South America but is also where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans merge in the nation's renowned Panama Canal.
Kick-start the trip by heading out to the famous Panama Canal. It is revered for being one of the globe's greatest feats of engineering. Visitors can either opt for a partial or complete crossing of the canal. Around four to eight hours are required for the crossing. Folks can head over to the Miraflores Locks Museum to learn a little bit more about canal history. Do head over to the restaurant housed at the top floor of the museum to view the transiting vessels in the canal below.
Divers can head over to the Bocos del Toro, a classic favorite for scuba divers. As the dives are shallow, it is well-suited for beginners. An extensive coral reef is home to an array of colorful varieties of tropical fish. Hikers can hike through the luscious rainforests to relish vast stretches of a rugged shoreline. Do spend some time at the Coiba National Marine Park. One will find over 800 species of aquatic life in the biggest island in the park as well as the largest island in all of Central America. The park is renowned to be one of the perfect destinations to relish snorkeling and scuba diving on the Pacific Coast.
A trip to Panama is not complete without exploring its dynamic capital - Panama City. Sprawled out along a wide bay, it is an impressive mesh of colonial Spain and urban modernity. Wander around the narrow cobblestone streets and marvel at the classy colonial buildings as you cover the historic old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But at the same time, the city is brimming with cosmopolitan goodness with shimmering skyscrapers encompassing multi-national corporations.
Nature lovers would love to experience the wilderness of the Darien National Park. Though considered to be one of Central America's most inaccessible areas, one can wander about the beaches, rocky coasts, mangroves, swamps and tropical rainforest. It houses two Choco Indian tribes as well as one of the globe's biggest concentration of bird species. Another luscious rainforest to visit is the Gamboa Tropical Rainforest Reserve. It is home to an abundant amount of tropical wild-life but also encompasses a five-star resort and tree-top eco-lodge.
Panama is duty-free so shop-a-holics will have a gala time purchasing luxury items at a saving of at least one-third. There are several sprawling megamalls in Panama, brimming with branded goods. If you're on the look-out for souvenirs, merchandise included are leatherware, beaded necklaces made by Guaymi Indians, native costumes, jewels and precious stones, straw products, electrical equipment, handicrafts of carved wood, ceramics, papier mache artefacts, macrame and mahogany bowls.
As for cuisine, do sample local delicacies such as Ceviche (Raw fish or seafood marinated in lime juice, onions and peppers), Sancocho (Panamanian chicken stew with vegetables and coriander-like herbs) and Tamales (Sweet or savoury maize dough, steamed and wrapped in banana leaves). The stay options in Panama are abundant with the best luxury hotels, rental apartments and cheap accommodations available for the tourists to decide which kind to opt for depending on their budget and taste.
Panama experiences tropical climate. The best time to visit would be during the summer dry season from mid-December to mid-April.