Panama City, Panama - Stein Travel

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Welcome to Panama City

One of the most cosmopolitan cities in Central America, Panama's chic capital is a mosaic of colour and culture with a thriving commercial and financial sector. Long dismissed as a centre of drug trade, Panama City has slowly rebuilt its reputation as a fantastic holiday destination with a style drawn from five centuries of history.

The city's modern skyline is constantly expanding, adding new skyscrapers to tower over the centuries-old Baroque and Spanish Colonial buildings that populate its older quarter, known as Casco Viejo. The district was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, and its mix of architectural styles make a great introduction to the diverse cultural influences of Panama City.

There are many beautiful buildings in Panama City, including the cathedral on Plaza de la Catedral, the presidential palace (called Palacio de las Garzasin honour of the herons that nest there), and the Church of San Jose. Interesting museums like the Interoceanic Canal Museum, the Mi Pueblitoscultural museum, and the Museum of Religious Colonial Art, give visitors insight into the city's fascinating history, while scenic parks are great for enjoying the beautiful weather in Panama.

Panama City has a diverse population with a number of American and Asian expat residents, which contributes to a lively nightlife, especially around Calle Uruguay. There are also plenty of good restaurants in Panama City, ranging from Spanish tapas and Italian pastas to local specialties like ceviche(fresh fish marinated in lemon or lime juice) and sancocho(vegetable stew). There are a number of cafes along Via Argentina, and the fish market near the Casco Viejo is the best place to try fresh seafood.

The official language is Spanish. However, many Panamanians speak both Spanish and English.

The official currency is the Panamanian Balboa (PAB), equal to 100 centesimos, but the US Dollar is accepted everywhere at a rate of B1 = US$1. Balboa are available only in coin denominations. The only paper currency used is US dollars. It is easy to exchange currency and travellers cheques in Panama at banks, exchange shops, hotels and the airport. Avoid the black market. The best rates are offered at the larger banks. Old, creased and dirty foreign notes may be refused for exchange. Most major credit cards, American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Diners club, are widely accepted. There are about 300 ATMs in Panama City. Banks are usually open from 8am to 1.30pm on weekdays.

Local time is GMT -5.

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