Weekend Escape to Panama 3 day Stop Over

Picture @Fernando Alda

Panama City is the perfect Getaway for a short stopover and a weekend Escape. Pack light and escape to a 3-day Stop Over in Panama full of activities. Within 30 minutes from the international airport, you could be relaxing in a boutique hotel in the center of the colonial Casco Antiguo or a top-notch luxurious hotel in the Banking District, close to internationally known restaurants and Jazz Bars. Visit museums, parks, and historical areas all within the Panama City limits, and just slightly beyond these limits, adventure options are endless. Access national parks are known for hiking, birding, biking, kayaking, and cultural encounters or have a day relaxing on the Pacific Coastline or a surfing adventure. Take a train to an area once owned by pirates or transit the engineering masterpiece, the Panama Canal!

Pacific or Atlantic or maybe both?

There are different options if you love the ocean and water sports. You can go surfing in a close beach at the Pacific such as El Palmar and Rio Mar, learn Kite Surfing or go snorkeling in the Atlantic side close to Portobello. Another option is escaping to one of the beautiful islands on the Pearl Archipelago. If on season, the best spots for whale watching.

Panamanian Gastronomy

Panama’s local cuisine infused with fresh local produce, seafood, and other unique ingredients are competing against other great well known culinary destinations in Latin America.  Panama offers a wide choice of restaurants to suit everyone’s taste and budget. From great cuisine and international chefs to real Panamanian food experience.  You need to come and explore the flavors of this unique Central America destination.

International Film Festival (March 26 – April 11, 2020)

If you love cinema and Latin America this is the event for you. Come and experience the International Film Festival of Panama next year.   IFF Panama’s industry program links the experiences of members of the local film industry and that of representatives of the international industry who come to the event, in spaces that feed new possibilities for film production, marketing and distribution. IFF Panama provides tools to strengthen a sector of recognized impact.    Take advantage of the COPA Stopover and discover Panama and amazing Latin American films during the 9th International Film Festival of Panama.

Close National Park and unique biodiversity

Explore a tropical forest in the heart of Panama City on a tour through the Parque Natural Metropolitano and Ancon Hill. Watch for sloths, birds, monkeys, insects and tree frogs as you hike through the tropical rainforest, and learn the names for Panama’s native plants and animals. Take in sweeping views of the City from the lookout mirador, see flocks of birds erupt from the foliage and experience the tranquility of Panama City’s only wildlife refuge. You can join one of our rainforest adventures and discover why Panama is the Isthmus that changed the world.

Go as a local in Panama

If you want to experience the way of the locals, head to El Mercado del Marisco or stroll in Casco Viejo old colonial town where you will find beautiful shops, , and good restaurants. Our cuisine has received international recognition due to the new generation of young chefs that have raised the quality of our gastronomy by mixing hundreds of years of diversity. Book our gastronomy tour as we are the first tour operator offering this unique experience.

Isla Palenque Island Resort

Located in the Gulf of Chiriquí, Panama, Isla Palenque Island Resort is an undiscovered private island sanctuary. The island’s 160 hectares of lush jungle, framed by 7 untouched beaches, house a number of wilderness trails and hidden spaces to be explored by guests of the barefoot-luxury Beach Suites (mid-2018) and Villa Estate.

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Who should visit Isla Palenque Island Resort?

Wildlife and nature lovers, guests looking for an active beach vacation, soft adventure, relaxation and a unique rainforest and private island experience.

Unique hotel features

A private island where luxury and sustainability intertwine, 8 Beach Suites (mid-2018), 6-room Villa Estate vacation rental house, on-site tours, an abundance of wildlife including monkeys and anteaters, locally-sourced food.

The Experience

As guests check in to Isla Palenque, they open a door to a world of new experiences and undisturbed nature, enhanced by architecture and interior design that effortlessly blend into the tropical surroundings. The atmosphere of the hotel is a balance of sophisticated and private comfort, combined with peacefulness, relaxation, and playfulness. The service provided by the staff is so personalized, professional and detail-oriented that the Resort feels exclusive and at the same time familiar; guests feel free to explore and at the same time feel taken care of. With a whole pristine island to discover through a number of included on-site tours, curious guests truly live an authentic, meaningful experience that goes far beyond a typical beach vacation.

Island Amenities

 Hiking trails and on-site tours

 Complimentary Wi-Fi

 7 private beaches with direct access

 Kayas & paddleboards

 Off-property tours including snorkeling and fishing

Rooms: Villa Estate vacation rental house: 6 rooms total – Garden, Jungle and Ocean Suites.

On-site activities

Secrets of the Island Hike, Hike to Punta Ballena, Kayak Tours, Tree Climbing Canopy Tour, Island Treks, Coastal Rock Hike, Stand-Up Paddleboarding, Rock Fishing, Birdwatching and more. *Ocean-based activities are tide-dependent.

For more information, reservations and rates please contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com


EcoCircuitos Pride Tours

By:  Carina Forster – Intern from Austria

Over the years Panama has become a multi-cultural place, influenced by a variety of different world-powers. Today it is considered one of the most open-minded countries for gay people in Central America. Even though Panama is a religious catholic country and gay marriage is still not legal, people are generally accepting on a personal level. The constantly growing Gay Community in Panama is very welcoming and accessible. Since 2005, a Gay Pride Parade is held every year and the famous annual carnival on the Peninsula Azuero has become an adopted holiday for Panama’s gay population.

Nightlife is extensive in Panama City; there are several Gourmet Restaurants, Clubs and Bars where you can party until dawn. During the day time you can find a variety of beaches, forests, and historical sites along with many other interesting things to see. Panama offers a wide variety of gay friendly hotels at amazing destinations. Weather you seek for party, luxury, adventure, family trips or a romantic time with your partner, Panama is the place for you to go.

EcoCircuitos offers various LGBT tours and vacation options throughout Panama:

  • Adventure Tours
  • Honeymoon
  • Beach Retreats
  • Romantic Tours
  • Family Tours
  • Educational Tours

Join our tours!  and work with the family!

New Coffee Farm: Finca Ceriana

Strategically located between the highlands and lowlands of Chiriquí, Finca Ceriana forms part of a privately protected area for the conservation of flora and fauna in the region.

One of Finca Ceriana’s unique characteristics is the number of bird species and other animals from the upper and lower mountain areas. The property is part of the biological corridor that hosts the famous volcano lagoons and a large variety of animal and plant species. Apart from being an important migration zone for birds, the biological corridor of the lagoons and Finca Ceriana is vital for the wellbeing of the protected areas of La Amistad International Park and Baru Volcano National Park. 

The farm offers its visitors easy nature trails for outdoor activities and particularly bird watching, a unique canopy tower, gourmet picnic, sugar cane mill and much more. The total area counts 10 hectares of protected land and nearly 3 kilometers of nature trails, in addition to one of the most beautiful views to Costa Rica’s Golfo Dulce and Osa peninsula as well as to Punta Burica in Panama.


ExpoTurismo Panama 2014


The Panama Chamber of Commerce, Industries, and Agriculture (CCIAP) and the Panama Chamber of Tourism (CAMTUR), with the support of the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) are organizing the fifth (V) edition of the International Tourism Expo, to be held on September 26 and 27, 2014 in the ATLAPA Convention Center in Panama City.

The International Tourism Expo has become the annual meeting place for tourist service providers and wholesalers from more than 20 countries who attend this event seeking new destinations, suppliers, and a variety of products and services to offer.

We invite you to be a part of this very important project that benefits all companies in the tourist industry, since the fair serves as a business replication tool through the high-quality attendees it attracts. By pulling together such a range of different tourism service providers in the fair, we have consolidated numerous benefits that will attract over 130 big-name wholesale companies from abroad who come in search of new products and services from the participating exhibitors at the International Tourism Expo.

Our goal this year is to have the largest number of exhibiting countries so as to offer a wider variety to the wholesale buyers attending the event. The idea is to create a networking dynamic that will benefit as many countries as possible. Since these wholesalers are coming from more than 20 countries in Europe, North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America, companies such as airlines, tourism ministries, hotels and other lodging establishments would find it beneficial to participate and make contacts with all these people from different source markets gathered in one place whom are potential consumers of the products and services on exhibit.

One of the main benefits of this fair is that we have made a website ​​available to all participants for them to view the profiles of registered purchasers. An application will also allow them to request appointments in advance with those they are interested in meeting during the expo, thus compiling a virtual business agenda. In this way we can ensure that all exhibitors will have guaranteed business meetings. The event will be closed to general public on the first day and open exclusively for wholesalers and exhibitors, in order for them to conduct the scheduled meetings without any interruptions or distractions.

American Trade Hotel and Hall open in Casco Viejo

American Trade Hotel and Hall just open in Panama City, occupying a lovingly restored landmark building in Casco Viejo. The property stands at the ecological and cultural crossroads of  the Americas, deeply connected to both the historic Old Quarter and the nascent new Panama City – a meeting place for  influencers, creatives and cultures from around the world. The property and surrounding area are steeped in local heritage and culture, while the hotel has been thoroughly outfitted with the contemporary conveniences and modern luxuries today’s traveler requires.    The property is the result of a joint undertaking between Atelier Ace, Panama City-based Conservatorio, and Commune Design. American Trade Hotel is the first independent addition to Atelier Ace’s portfolio, which also includes the distinctive Ace Hotels.

The American Trade Hotel and Hall is a historical luxury property located in Casco Viejo – the old quarter of Panama City – a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, founded in 1673. The building was built in 1917 as a department store and bank with apartments on the upper floors, the American Trade building was designed by Leonardo Villanueva Meyer, the most prominent twentieth century architect in Panama City. Within walking distance of many historic buildings, fine restaurants, galleries, museums and concert venues, American Trade Hotel is a 50-room exclusive hotel.  (Room rates range from $189 to $609 per night.) Inside the hotel will be a jazz bar, a farm-to-table restaurant and a rooftop pool. Single-source Panamanian coffee will be roasted on-site and served in the lobby cafe. The hotel’s ballroom is housed in a neighboring Art Deco building that was once the Panamanian headquarters of First National City Bank of New York (later Citibank) – which was instrumental in financing the Panama Canal.  We are delighted to announce that EcoCircuitos Panama will have a tour desk at the American Trade hotel from January 2014.   For more information and rates contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com

Panama General Information when travel with EcoCircuitos

Dear Traveler:

On behalf of all us at EcoCircuitos Panama, we wish you a most pleasant experience in Panama. Our goal is to have you enjoy an unforgettable experience in this beautiful and unexplored tropical destination. Here is some important information regarding your forthcoming adventure. Please take a few moments to become familiar with this material.


Please review them for accuracy and call us if you have any questions.  Hand the vouchers to the hotels and guides each day of services.

What to do after deplaning

Upon arrival at the International Airport, you will need to clear immigration. Remember to have your passport in hand and ready for inspection.  Then, proceed to the luggage claim area, retrieve your bags, and follow the customs officer’s instructions. Upon clearing customs you will exit the restricted area (our greeters and transportation personnel are not allowed inside this area),  you will pass your all your luggage through an x-ray machine.  Then you will proceed to exit the area, once you pass through the exit door you can go either to the right or the left. EcoCircuitos Panama recommends that you go to the right to better locate our staff who will be receiving you with a sign bearing your name with the company’s logo. 

In case you do not locate our staff please approach the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) tourist information stand, our staff will be close to this area.

You will find a large number of Panamanian families greeting arriving friends and relatives, so please make sure you are on the lookout for your official greeter who will have a sign with your name printed on it and a T-Shirt with our EcoCircuitos logo.  The airport of Panama is an international hub so could be very busy.  Please be patient and if you don´t see our staff, call our emergency number at +507 645-01093 or our office in Panama City:  +507 3151488

 Clothing & Packing

City attire: Even though Panama is generally an informal city, we recommend that men wear pants (jeans or cotton pants are OK), and women skirts, pants or Bermuda-length shorts. For the evening meal, men should wear nice slacks and a cotton shirt (sports jacket is optional).  Women will feel comfortable in a nice, casual evening outfit.  Formal attire is used mainly when conducting business. The highland areas can be cold, and a sweater is recommended.  For the lowland jungle areas light, loose-fitting shirts and long pants are essential.  If you plan to hike in the national parks make sure you bring two pairs of boots or hiking shoes, since one pair can be worn while the other dries from the previous day’s use.  Sunglasses and a hat or cap are essential.  If you are planning to go river rafting, make sure you bring rafting sandals or tennis shoes. If your travel plans call for a visit to one of our all-inclusive beach resorts, resort wear is best; casual is the rule. Don’t forget to bring camera batteries and sun block.

If your travel plans call for a short visit to the national parks and/or island retreats, it is highly recommended that you leave your bulky suitcases at your city hotel and carry an overnight case for these excursions. Flying within Panama has a luggage weight limit of 25 pounds (lbs) per person. If you are taking medication always carry it with you rather than putting it in your suitcase.

About Panama

Panama emerged from the oceans 3 million years ago. The significance of linking the landmasses of the two Americas in biological terms explains the incredible bio-diversity.


Panama is located between Central and South America.  It covers 75,517 square km (29,208 square miles).  Panama is between 50 and 120 miles wide (89km and 192 km) and is bordered by 1,287.7 km (805 miles) of Caribbean coastline and 1,700.6 km (1,062.8 miles) of Pacific coastline.


Panama has a humid, tropical climate. Temperatures are around 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 25-30 degrees Celsius). Nights are always cooler. The average annual rainfall is 1,500 mm along the pacific coast and 2,500 mm on the Caribbean side. The highlands enjoy spring-like climate with cool nights.


In this country of lush rainforests, there are only two seasons: Summer (from December to April), when rain is less frequent, and Winter (from May to  November), when showers are common in the evening with occasional mid-day cloud bursts.  Sunny days are the norm.

Time zone

Panama is on Eastern Standard Time (EST), five hours behind GMT.

Panama Time = GMT-5


The Panamanian currency is the US dollar. US coins are used alongside Panamanian coins, which look exactly like American coins except for the imprint.  In Panama all major credit cards are accepted.  In the interior areas of the country, such as San Blas and Bocas del Toro, most transactions are in cash.  ATM machines are available in all cities.


120 volt, 60 cycles in all parts of the republic. US electrical items can be used without adapters.

 Water Quality

Water from the tap is safe to drink in all city hotels.  However, bottled water is recommended for travelers.


10% of the total amount of your meal is appropriate.  It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers; however, bellhops are usually tipped $3.00 per person, tour guides $10 – $25 per person per day, and tour van/bus drivers $5 to $10 per person per day.

Tipping your guide in Panama

EcoCircuitos recommends the following guidelines for tipping our guides, drivers and staff in Panama:

  • Naturalist guide:  US$15.00 – US$20.00 per person per / day
  • Day tour guide:  US$10.00 per person per day
  • Transfer driver:  US$2.00 per person
  • Tour driver:  US$5.00 per person per day
  • Tour boat driver:  US$5.00 per person per day
  • Hotel bellman:  US$1.00 per person per piece of luggage

International airport bellmen:  US$1.00 per piece of luggage


Panama is a constitutional democracy.  A president, elected by popular vote for a five-year term leads the executive branch.  He/she is assisted by two elected vice presidents and an appointed cabinet. Current President, Juan Carlos Varela, elected on 2014.

 Safety tips

Panama has no armed forces.  A national police force, including special tourism police personnel, imposes the law.  For your safety and convenience, we recommend that you exercise caution by avoiding carrying large amounts of cash (ATMs are found throughout the country) or wearing expensive jewelry.  Panama is truly a safe country and violent crime rates are low, however, be careful with pick pockets in the downtown areas of Panama City.

Health Tips and Medical Services & Treatment

Panama City has excellent medical facilities, the larger towns have regional hospitals, and rural areas have clinics. Take a look of your immunization records before you go.   No shots are required, we suggest contacting your physician about your specific health needs.   The government of Panama does not require any vaccinations in order to enter the country. Most medicines are widely available in Panama City and at a similar rate to that in most western countries. Most medicines are sold by the same trademark names used in the U.S.  For emergencies, there are many good private clinics and hospitals throughout the country, but the biggest and best equipped are located in Panama City.  We suggest you to carry an international insurance, not provided by EcoCircuitos, S.A.


Panama has some of the cleanest drinking water in Latin America (if not in the world). Water is safe to drink from the faucet but also purified bottled water is sold in most hotels and supermarkets.  We suggest you to carry your bottle and refill it at the hotels.


Telephone: Calling cards are required to make international calls from the Schoolhouse. You can buy them at any local store of pharmacy. They usually cost several “units” per minute of talking. If it says 100 minutes, it’s probably good for about 15 minutes of international talk time.

At each site, there will be phones nearby. But in some places, the phones are not immediately accessible, so you may only be able to call home every other day at most.

 Postal Service

An airmail letter from Panama to USA weighing 20g or less requires $0.35 postage (25 cents for a postcard) and takes five to 10 days to arrive.  Most post offices in Panama are open from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM weekdays and from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturdays.

 National Holidays

Mourning Day/January 9. Mardi Gras (Carnavales) is celebrated in February. Good Friday and Easter Sunday (varies).  Labor Day/May 1. Father’s Day/June 16. Founding of Panama City/August 15. Independence Day from Colombia/November 3.  Flag Day/November 4. The Uprising of Los Santos/November 10. Independence Day from Spain/November 28. Mother’s Day/December 8. Christmas/December 25. New Years Day/Jan 1.

  Legal Services

In Panama you are presumed guilty until proven innocent.  If you are accused of a serious crime, you will be taken to jail.  If you are jailed, your Embassy may be able to offer assistance.   While in Panama you are subject to Panamanian laws, not the laws of your home country.  Remember that you are legally required to carry ID at all times, we suggest you carry a photocopy of your passport (leave the original in a safe at your hotel).

 Insects and Insect Repellent

Don’t let the thought of bugs get you down. The right kind of protection and common sense can make your trip worry-free.  When entering the jungle or forests, wear lightweight cotton, long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Cover all exposed skin surfaces with insect repellent.

 Exit requirements, Airport Tax and Duty-Free Shopping

There is a $40.00 departure tax (it may increase to $60.00 in 2016) on all passengers of international flights leaving Panama City. This tax is payable at the airline counter or included in the ticket.  An immigration form must be filled out and returned to the immigration officials prior to boarding.  The International Airport in Panama City has excellent duty free shops.

 What to Bring:

  • Two of the most important things to bring to Panama are a pair of BINOCULARS and a guidebook (Birds of Panama or Mammals of the Rainforest).  They are a must for getting a closer look at wildlife and are not available for rent in Panama.  We sell these plates on the Panama Office and if you want can be added to your package cost and included in your welcome kit.  $10.00 each
  • Two liters of water per person.  You will receive a bottle to refill during the day rather than buying multiple plastic water bottles.
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Casual clothing for city traveling
  • Shirts should be made of cotton or light synthetic materials; long- and short-sleeved
  • Cotton trousers preferable. Light synthetic materials are slower to dry.
  • Hiking shorts
  • Footwear:  Waterproof lightweight hiking boots, river sandals (e.g., Teva-type sandals), tennis shoes/running shoes.  If you do not bring hiking boots, please make sure you bring TWO pairs of tennis shoes.
  • Socks – bring extra pairs in case feet get wet
  • Rain gear – poncho, raincoat
  • Hat with visor for rain and sun protection
  • Plastic water bottle – especially for hikes
  • Flashlight with spare batteries and bulb
  • Camera and film
  • Ziplock plastic bags for spill able toiletries
  • Extra prescription glasses and medications
  • Small day pack or fanny pack for hikes
  • Sweater or jacket (a must for the highlands)
  • Swimwear
  • Collapsible luggage to store extra items left in Panama

A visit to Isla Palenque

By Karla Yau

This weekend, I have had the chance to participate in a wonderful visit to Isla Palenque at Chiriqui Gulf.

The entire island itself is amazing and I already miss this paradise. This place is a balanced combination of forest and beach. Also I have to mention the staff, they are a group of young and full of strength persons willing to help and coordinate all, even the small things.

This paradise is located approximately at one hour of boat transfer from Pedregal, David. We pass through different mangles to reach the wild Ocean and arrive at our destination, Isla Palenque Resort.

As we were approaching to the island, we were warmly welcomed by the staff with a refreshing towel.

After regained strength with a exquisite lunch by a Panamanian chef, we had the sunset tour.

It was getting dark while we were hiking and the group was wondering because thought that would have to head back. When Rodolfo heard us, he just smile and told us not to wonder that everything is set.

Arriving the beach, the guide climbed up the palms to get some “pipas” (Coconuts) for us. Very refreshing! Continuing with our tour, we had a very nice spot below a shade of a big tree with food on the table and some drinks. All this waiting for us accompanied with a big smile of the staff.

And just relaxing and enjoying the beach, we saw the beautiful sunset.

The day didn’t end here. At night the restaurant had a very romantic view. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there in a date. But still enjoyed the dinner with a cocktail and the companionship of my boss.

The next morning, we were awoken by the howls of the monkeys. A very nice and different way to get up and start a new day.

I’ll be glad to continue writing my experience but instead why don’t you visit it and tell me your version of this history.

To see a video of this visit, click here


Karla is in charge of reservations at EcoCircuitos and is constantly on the lookout for great new hotels in Panama.

If you are interested in visiting Isla Palenque yourself, please contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com