What is the Panama Stopover Program?

Copa Airlines’ New Panama Stopover Program expects to attract over 125 thousand tourists per year to Panama which will contribute an estimated $100 million to Panama’s annual economy

What is the Panama Stopover Program?

The program seeks to encourage the more than six million passengers that travel through Panama each year to schedule time for an extended stop in the Panama up to seven days at the time of ticket purchase, without additional cost in air fare. In doing so, tourists can enjoy two destinations for the price of one.

This plan takes advantage of Panama’s central location that often makes it a layover spot between North and South America or South America and Europe or Asia.

Three entities have come together to create a marketing campaign for the Panama Stopover program. The Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), Panama’s Tourism Promotion Fund (PROMTUR), and Copa Airlines are collaborating on this campaign.

The campaign, under the concept “Two Destinations, One Fare,” will be launched in the U.S. and will promote Panama, giving passengers the possibility to visit two destinations for the same airfare.

In order to ensure this option appeals to travelers, the campaign focuses on many of Panama’s desirable offerings. Costa Rica, Peru, and Colombia still outpace Panama when it comes to international tourism. Nonetheless, Panama offers many similar attractions to these more popular destinations.

The Panama Stopover program campaign highlights Panama’s fantastic natural landscapes, cultural experiences, and culinary delights. When travelers can add Panama to their travel itinerary at no extra cost, they’ll see what this marvelous country has to offer.

Benefits for Panama

The Panama Stopover program provides a cost-effective way for jet setters to enjoy an additional destination. Additionally, it could also lead to substantial boosts in Panama’s tourism industry. Each year, about 6 million travelers have a layover in Panama. Most of these tourists, however, never leave the airport. If the Panama Stopover Program convinces even a modest percentage of these tourists to spend a few days to a week in Panama, this could mean a serious increase in revenue.

Taking Advantage of the Panama Stopover Program

While the campaign for the Panama Stopover program is already being rolled out, the offer itself will begin in the early months of 2020. Initially, the program will be limited to flights booked with Copa Airlines. Copa offers itineraries between Panama and 80 destinations in 33 countries.

In the future, the plan is to expand the program to include KLM, Air Europa and Air China.

The Panama Stopover can be included in itineraries to or from any of the 80 destinations in 33 countries Copa Airlines serves. Travelers can purchase their Panama Stopover ticket by contacting Copa Airlines Reservation Centers and ConnectMiles Service Centers. Copa has more than 60 sales offices in the continent, travles agencies and wholesale agencies in North, Central, South America and the Caribbean and sales representatives in 24 countries in Europe, Asia and Oceania.

Panama City Tocumen Airport Terminal 2 Nears Completion

The current terminal at Tocumen International Airport is at bursting point, but good news is at hand as, eventually, the new terminal is set to open.

Over recent months, designed by architect firm Foster and Partners, terminal 2 has being using a small number of gates but all the check in, immigration and security has still been taking place in Terminal 1.

On February 29, Tocumen Terminal 2 will begin a verification period of all systems, finishes and other operational areas of the new terminal prior fully opening.

Once Terminal 2 finally opens, up to 40% of passengers are expected to move over from Terminal 1.

Tocumen Airport Terminal 2

The modern four-level building was built with a cost of US$918 million and includes duty-free commercial areas, restaurants, VIP lounges, Customs/Immigration offices, among other airport facilities, 

This will strength Panama as a platform for connections for the Americas and gateway to Central America.

There airport will have about 1,700 parking lots and, furthermore, it has been foreseen that with the implementation of the new suitcase system that will work in a synchronized manner between terminals T1 and T2, about 7,200 baggage per hour can be moved, verified, organized and delivered.

 With the new airport facilities, the Tocumen International Airport will increase its capacity from 34 to 54 passenger boarding and disembarking gates, to which eight remote stations are added.

 With the start of operations of the new T2, Tocumen International Airport will extend the surface of taxiways and aircraft platforms, raing from 970,000 m2 to 1 million 351 thousand square meters, allowing to reduce waiting times for passengers, as well as speeding up the arrival and departure of planes.

 Currently the airport receives 15 million passengers and with the new terminal it expands this capacity to receive 25 million per year.

Duty Free Space

Motta Internacional and Duty Free Americas (DFA) have been awarded the duty free concessions at Tocumen International Airport Terminal 2.

The concession covers of traditional duty free space covering a mix of categories including fragrances and cosmetics, liquor and tobacco and sunglasses.

Is Panama part of Central America?

Firstly, we will look at the difference in the Independence Days:

  • Independence Day in Panama is on November 3, in Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica) is on September 15th.

Geographically, Panama is a part of isthmus, but historically Panama is quite different from the rest of of Central America.

Every September 15 the Central American nations of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica celebrate their independence from Spain while Panama does not.

Panama celebrates it’s Independence from Colombia, on November 3rd, as from 1821 until 1903, Panama was part of Gran Colombia (a republic that also included modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador).
However, Panama wanted independence from Gran Colombia.

Panama is not part of the original Central American Federation, and if you ask anyone in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica to name the constituent countries of Central America then Panama is unlikely to be amongst the answers. Also, you will see “Centroamerica” on license plates in all five countries, which you won’t see in Panama.

Spanish Rule

During Spanish rule, Panama was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, governed from Lima, and after the Spanish divided up the vast Viceroyalty of Peru, Panama was a part of Colombia in is different forms.

In the meantime, the rest of Central America was part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, administered from Mexico.

The Captaincy General of Guatemala, an administrative division of New Spain, comprised five of the modern Central American countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica).

History of Panama Independence

In 1819, New Granada finally achieved freedom from Spain and Panama and the other regions of former New Granada were technically free.

Panama considered a union with south America or with Central America, but Venezuela’s Simon Bolivar persuaded Panama to join the south, and In 1821, Panama declared independence and joined the southern federation.

Panama was part of the Republic of Colombia. In September 1831 forming a territory slightly larger that present Panama and Colombia combined, adopting the name Republic of New Granada. The alliance lasted 70 years.

In 1903, when, with the support of the U.S. government, Panama issues a declaration of independence from Colombia which was engineered by a Panamanian faction backed by the Panama Canal Company, a French-U.S. corporation that hoped to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans with a waterway across the Isthmus of Panama.

On November 6, 1903, the U.S. recognized the Republic of Panama, and on November 18 the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed with Panama, granting the United States exclusive and permanent possession of the Panama Canal Zone.

In Summary

Centroamerica is a political concept, a political union, while America Central is geographic.

Contact us for further information about Panama part of Central America.

How to get married in Panama?

Requirements to get married in Panama

For a the wedding ceremony to be legal then you must reside in Panama for 20 days before your wedding takes place. The fee for a legal ceremony is $400 USD.

The application must be completed before the competent court for the jurisdiction where at least one of the individuals lives.

  • Health Certificate for both parties, which includes
    • General Medical Exam
    • lab tests: VDRL (Venereal Disease Research Laboratory), Biometría hemática (Complete Blood Count), Electroforesis de hemoglobin (Hemoglobin Electrophoresis), Urinalysis, HIV/AIDS test
    • The health certificate must be issued within the 15 days prior to the ceremony by a registered physician. The fee is $200 USD.
  • Birth Certificate, issued in your country of origin.
  • Birth Certificates of existing children of either party.
  • Divorce certificate or death certificate, if either party is divorced or widowed
  • Passport with corresponding visa
  • Divorce certicates
  • Statement that you are single signed by two unrelated witnesses
  • Signed declaration by both parties (on a form provided by the court) expressing their intention to marry and with the following information:
    • Full name
    • Age
    • Marital Status
    • Nationality
    • Profession
    • Domecile or residence of future spouses
    • Domecile or residence of their parents

Destination wedding in Panama

Panama is the ideal place for a destination wedding with

  • Fantastic range of hotels with indoor and outdoor spaces
  • Many things to visit including the amazing Panama Canal
  • Easy to fly to with many direct flights from Europe, north and south America
  • Churches with spectacular architecture
  • Cheaper options to reduce your budget

Hire a wedding planner

This will help with the coordination not only of the wedding ceremony but of all other activities for your guests such as transportation, bookings, rehearsal dinner, tours, etc

If you are planner a Catholic wedding, it is also really important to book the venue and the church in advance.

Like any wedding, the costs will depend on how exquisite the tastes and expectations of the couple and also the number of guests.

Good suppliers require at least 50% of the services paid to schedule the event.

Best time of the year to get married in Panama

Although Panama is hot all year round, it rains, like in any tropical region, for 8 months of the year. If you want an outdoor wedding in Panama then it would be best to do it between January and April, which is the dry season with cooling winds blowing from the north.

The rains get progressively worse from May and October and November should not be considered. The other months only have thunderstorms which may cause your wedding to be delayed for an hour while the storms clear up. Note that a one-hour delay in Panama is considered to be very much on-time!

Where to go shopping in Panama City in 2020?

We believe the Panama City offers the best shopping opportunities of any city in Latin America. There are several top-class malls in Panama City that you can find many world-class brands.

Panama even has its own Black Weekend, which is normally scheduled for the middle of September. At this time, people fly in from the whole of Latin America to snap up bargains.

Another good time to get a large discount is the ‘13th month salary payments. In Panama, employees get an extra-months’ pay which is split between the months of April, August and December. Many of the stores offer large sales at this time to entice their customers who have hundreds of dollars more to spend.

What are the best malls in Panama City?

Multiplaza Mall

Multiplaza is based in the San Franscisco district and is an upscale shopping mall of more than 150 stores, 50 name-brand shops, 30 restaurants and a cinema complex.

Multiplaza is only two miles away from the centre if Panama City, but can take a long time to reach in evening rush hour, so be careful you choose a good time to visit.

Albrook Mall

Allbrook Mall is the largest and most popular shopping mall in Panama City. It is located in Albrook and is connected to the Albrook Bus Terminal which servers the whole of Panama, as well as Panama City.

You will not find the designer shops here but you will see how the masses shop for their everyday needs

As well as hundreds of shops there is a popular bowling alley and a large cinema. Albrook Mall is a $5 taxi or uber ride which will take about 10 minutes to reach in non-rush hour traffic.

MultiCentro Mall – Megápolis Outlets Panamá

MultiCentro is located in the heart of the city in Punta Paitilla very close to Avenida Balboa. It also has a footbridge connection to the Hard Rock Hotel.

MultiCentro mall has just recently undergone a renovation and now provides for more top shopping opportunities.

As well as the shops and restaurants, MultiCentro also is home to cinemas and a casino.

Soho Mall

Soho Mall is a deluxe shopping mall, strategically located in Calle 50 – the financial hub of Panama City. It Opened in 2016, with over 120 stores on four different levels, with internationally famous brands, a fitness centre, many restaurants and a luxury cinema.

Unfortunately, Soho Mall got caught up in the Waked money laundering scandal and many stores had to close. It has now been taken over by new owners and the stores are beginning to reopen.

There are several other top quality shopping malls in Panama City such as AltaPlaza, Atrio Mall, Town Center and Ocean Mall but these are situated a little bit further away from the centre of the city.

Contact us for more information about shopping in Panama City.

 

 

Birdwatching in Panama

Geographic birding in Panama can be divided into three major zones, Central Panama, Western Panama and Eastern Panama. Panama is a long narrow country which provides easy access to the mountains and lowlands on both sides from the Inter American Highway.

Panama has nearly 1000 bird species with 107 regional endemics, with over 100 of the species from South American origins or not found in the rest of Central America.

Panama Canal Rainforests

This region is by far the easiest to access and could be described as the most easily accessible high-quality region in the world. In fact, it is possible to reach these areas in one hour from your hotel in Panama City.

Several national parks were created when the Panama Canal was constructed. This land comprises about 5 % of Panama, and 650 bird species can be found here

The area covers a variety of habitats like moist tropical forests, Pacific lowland forests, Caribbean lowland wet forests, Pre-mountain forest (foothills) and wetland areas.

Western Panama & Chiriqui Highlands

This area of Panama has some of the most amazing birds found in Central America including, he Resplendent Quetzal, Bare-necked-Umbrellabird and Three-wattle Bellbird.

Travelling up the highway to the Western Panama & Chiriqui Highlands is easy on the Inter American Highway, although a 4×4 vehicle is required to reach some national parks a 4×4. 

There are three endemic bird areas in western Panama: Pacific lowlands, Caribbean lowlands and The Western highlands with the highest concentration of endemics.

Eastern Panama & Darien

Although in this area you can find unique avian species not found in the rest of Central America, such as the Harpy Eagles, the Golden-headed Quetzals and four species of Macaws, travel by road to this area by road is almost impossible.

So, travel must be made to Darien by air. This area includes Cerro Azul, Tocumen Marsh, San Blas and the Darien province.

Comparison of Bird Watching in Costa Rica and Panama

Although birdwatching in Costa Rica is far more developed than bird watching in Panama, there is not much difference in the quality of the bird watching.

But when it comes to the accessibility to bird watching and what Panama has to offer – there is only one winner.

While in Panama, you can visit:

  • Both Atlantic and Pacific coast in day
  • The amazing Panama Canal
  • Colonial ruins
  • The renovated UNESCO old town of Panama City – called Casco Viejo

And there is absolutely no comparison at all between the capital cities of Panama City and San Jose

Panama City has fantastic flight connections from North and South America, 6 airlines fly from Europe and even Air China has two weekly flights!

Stay at Hotel Casa Antigua during your birdwatching in Panama, book your room.

Where To Play Golf in Panama?

We are now into the dry season (summer) in Panama where there is a low likelihood of rain, combined with cooling winds from the north.

This is the ideal time for a round of golf in Panama and there are nine golf courses in Panama in total:

  • 4 in and around Panama City.
  • 4 on the Pacifica coast around 90 minutes away from the capital.
  • 1 near Boquete in the highlands near Costa Rica.

Where To Play Golf in Panama City

Tucán Country Club & Resort

Located 15 minutes from Panama City just across the famous Bridge of the Americas, Tucán Country Club golf course is surrounded by hundreds of villas and apartments – many of them occupied by expats.

Nine holes offer panoramic views of the canal and the city while the others border the Panama Forest Reserve. 

The course is relatively flat and the biggest challenges are the extraordinarily large, undulating greens

Green fees range from US$37 to $70 per round including a cart equipped with GPS.

Santa Maria Golf & Country Club

Santa Maria is surrounded by a new 700-acre upscale residential complex, and is located between Panama City and Tocumen International Airport.

The course has wide pristine fairways and greens, with plenty of water hazards and large bunkers to keep you wary. 

The course is very similar to what you will find in Florida, and is only open property owners, members and their guests.

Summit Golf Club

The Summit Golf Club is situated within the Radisson Summit Hotel complex about 20 minutes outside of Panama City.  The location is incredible and is only a 5-minute drive to the Panama Canal Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks.

The course was built in the 1930’s, but recently renovated, and has a much more diverse layout than Tucan or Santa Maria. The course sits on top of rolling hills overlooking the famous Gaillard Cut of the Panama Canal and borders on the Camino de Cruces National Park rainforest. 

Club de Golf de Panama

Club de Golf de Panama has hosted The Web.com Tour’s Panama Claro Championship during the last week of January for many years.

The course has towering trees that line the Bermuda grass fairways, with dramatic elevation changes and water hazards on 12 holes

Though this is a private course, guests of members can play here for a $125 green fee.

Golf Courses Outside of Panama City 

There are 4 courses a drivable distance from Panama City, but we would recommend staying at the J.W.Marriott Buenaventura Golf Club if you wish to play these courses  

  • Mantarraya Golf Club at Royal Decameron
  • J.W.Marriott Buenaventura Golf Club
  • Vista Mar Golf & Beach Resort
  • BlueBay Coronado Golf and Beach Resort

When To Play Golf in Panama City

We would recommend staying in Casco Viejo, the old town in Panama City and:

  • Pay golf in the mornings
  • Sightsee in the afternoons
  • Dine and party in Casco Viejo in the evenings

Sports activities to participant in Panama

Fishing

Panama has become one of the world’s very top destinations for saltwater fishermen. These are the reasons (mostly applicable to the Pacific Ocean but good fishing is available in the Caribbean as well).

  • Great Variety of Game Fish
  • It is possible to catch a Trophy Fish
  • Productive Coastal Waters, Islands and Seamounts
  • Calm Waters
  • Ease of Entry and Access
  • Profusion of Coastal Fishing Resorts

Surfing

Panama’s most accessible surfing spots are along the Pacific coast and in Bocas del Toro (on the Caribbean side).  The surf spots range from beginner expert level waves.

  • Santa Catalina is suitable for beginners and experts with all round surfing
  • Playa Venao is becoming one of Panama’s most notable surf spots and is busy at the weekends.
  • Playa Paunch is one of the best-known surf spots in the Bocas del Toro archipelago
  • Playa Bluff is on a long beach at the end of Colón Island in Bocas del Toro
  • Silverbacks is set off Bastimentos Island, is is one of Bocas’ most famous surf breaks

Golfing

Panama has several top golf cources. It is advised to start your round as early as possible to avoid the heat and thunderstorms that typically occur in the afternoons. Note that during the dry season (summer), which lasts from January  to April, there is little chance of rain and cool winds from the north.

  • The Club de Golf de Panama, which has hosted PGA Tour Events is located in Cerro Viento, Panama.
  • Buenaventura Golf Club is located as part of the JW Marriott Resort is known for its water features and flat terrain
  • Vista Mar Golf & Beach Resort has spectacular views of the mountains and the sea, is located just over an hour away from Panama City near San Carlos
  • Tucan Country Club & Resort is located just over the Bridge of Americas, just 15 minutes outside of Panama City.
  • Summit Golf Club is near the Panama Canal and borders the Camino de Cruces National Park rainforest
  • BlueBay Coronado Golf and Beach Resort is a difficult course located in Coronado, an hour away from Panama City
  • Santa María Golf & Country Club is the newest course in Panama, and  is located halfway between the heart of Panama and Tocumen Airport

Birdwatching

Panama has one of the largest varieties of birdwatching in the world. Panama has just over 1,000 species recorded, 11 of them are National endemics, and around 107 species are Regional endemics.

The best areas are within one hour of Panama City, including the Discovery Center’s Canopy Observation Tower, Pipeline Road, Plantation Road, Summit Ponds, Old Gamboa Road, Semaphore Hill, Ammo Dump, Achiote Road, and Metropolitan Park.

If you are interested in more you can read more in this article about others to sports in Panama practice or contact us for more information. Book now!

Sports Activities To Watch in Panama

There are a wide range of sports activities in Panama to play or watch.

We have a two-part guide to find out there to go for the best opportunity to enjoy your favourite sport.

Baseball in Panama

Baseball is Panama’s official national sport. There are twelve teams in the national league, and the season runs from January to April. Panama City’s stadium, located just past Metro Mall – is named after Major League Baseball Hall-of-Fame player and Panamanian native Rod Carew. It is easy to get to and is never full, other than during the play-offs, tickets are well price at around US$5.

Football (Soccer) in Panama

Although Baseball is the official sport, these days Football is by far the most popular sport in Panama. There is a national league with 4 divisions and the games are played in mainly run-down stadiums around the country – apart from the Maracana, which is newly built at the end Cinta Costera 3 and the Estadio Rommel Fernandez, which is also home to the Panama national team.

Panama reached the World Cup finals in 2018 and the national team are revered, but most of the leading Panamanian players play outside the country where the standard of play and money is better.

Horse Racing in Panama

The main race track is named the Hipodromo Presidente Remon, and is located in Juan Diaz very near the Estadio Rommel Fernandez football stadium. The facilities are pretty good and there are several large, air-conditioned lounges where you can avoid the heat.

The track is open every day with races starting at 5:30 pm on weekdays and 2:00 pm on weekends. The standard of racing is pretty high with many of the Panamanian racing fraternity having good links to racing in the USA.

The Hipodromo Presidente Remon is also home to the famous British Chamber of Commerce ‘Day at the Races’, modelled on Royal Ascot with similar attire required to attend. This event is held in March and February. See britcham.com.pa for more details.

There are plenty sports Activities in Panama to enjoy while visiting Panama. Book now or contact us.

Best Restaurants in Casco Viejo in 2020

Bao Dai

Bao Dai is an Asia fusion restaurant concept with a private VIP room and a beautiful rooftop terrace where you can enjoy drinks with a view of the city. The restaurant is located close to the entrance to the Old Town.

The restaurant covers four floors (including the rooftop) and servers a variety of Asian food, although we prefer the Chinese.

The place is tastefully decorated and the service courteous.

On the well appointed rooftop,there is a good selection of cocktails and nice relaxing music.

Tomillo

Tomillo is built among the ruins of an old building in the Old Town and has a unique style. The restaurant comprises four floors, including a rooftop bar, a hollowed-out courtyard at the back of the building.

The food offers amongst the best gastronomic experience of the city. The Panamanian Chef Felipe Milanés, Tomillo Panama has a kitchen inspired by purely national products.

The main concept is to share food tapas style, but not only Spanish food but from classical dishes around the world with a modern twist to them.

Ocho y Medio

Ocho y Medio is a stunning restaurant with a wide range of options on the menu that even the the pickiest of eaters can find something to enjoy.

While the dining room at Ocho y Medio is comfortable and stylish, the courtyard in back is the hidden gem. With strings of outdoor lights and lush landscaping.

The restaurant offers a unique international culinary experience with fusion food using local ingredients.

Caliope

Chef Martino Pace, drawing on his experience cooking in Italy, and Executive Chef of the Tantalo Group, Pierre de Janon, have united their creativity to provide a unique gastronomic adventure. Caliope also offers New York City style artisanal cocktails and an eclectic wine list. 

Caliope is not easy to find as it is located at the top of the Teatro Amador nightclub where there are often large lines of people waiting to get in. The entrance door is in the left hand side of the building.

It is best to make a reservation at Caliope as it has a strict booking policy and has a limited number of tables for walk-in customers, keep this in mind if you want to dine on Caliope while staying in Casco Viejo Panama in 2020.

Lessep’s

Lessep’s is a traditional French bistro, celebrating Joie de Vivre in the heart of Casco Viejo.

Lessep´s opened in the summer of 2017. The bustling, romantic bistro serves timeless classical Parisian fares, generous, the bistro cuisine’s soul hasn´t changed, since grand mother´s time.

​Beautifully remodeled, in the style of the classic French bistros, 

The menu has the all time favorites like the eggs benedictine and the croquet monsieur, but you also have great options a wonderful lunch or dinner.

Casa Antigua Hotel is conveniently located at the entrance of Old Town Panama. If you are planning to visit Casco Viejo Panama in 2020, book now!