I’m looking for a fine-dining experience, but don’t want Italian or French while I’m here. Is there such a thing as Panamanian cuisine?
Answer: Most definitely. While you’re in Panama City, dine at the Barandas Restaurant, a gourmet restaurant within the Bristol Hotel near the Business District of Panama City. Barandas is by far the city’s best dining experience in terms of elegance and ambiance. Barandas uses all native ingredients to create an exquisite, authentic Panamanian dining experience. While you’re waiting for your table, get a drink at the Bristol’s bar—it’s a nice full-service bar with great music. Barandas’ award-winning menu includes innovative dishes like green plantain wantons in sweet mango sauce, corbina (seabass) drizzled in a mouth-watering tamarind sauce, and more novelty dishes like crocodile chicharrones (breaded, fried, and traditionally made with pork). The restaurant is open daily for from 6:30am to 11pm. For reservations call 507.264.0000
I’ve heard some people tell me to get vaccinated for malaria before going to Panama. Should I?
Like other countries in Central and South America, Panama has some incidences of yellow fever, dengue and malaria. But these diseases are found in very rural, particularly undeveloped areas, usually in small pockets. And, Panama’s government on the whole is more adept at keeping these diseases under control. It’s always good to consult your family doctor before a trip (the United States’ CDC recommends seeing a health-care provider at least a month before your trip). It’s good to know too, that if you’re coming from a country with yellow fever, Panama health authorities require up-to-date proof of a yellow fever vaccination (you have to get this vaccination 10 days before going to Panama). The CDC also recommends rabies vaccination for people working with or researching wildlife.
If I have a US driver’s license, is it possible to get a driver’s license in Panama? How complicated is it?
First of all, you can only obtain a Panama driver’s license if you are a resident of Panama. If you have temporary residency, then your license will be issued for the duration of your residency only. Tourists cannot get a driver’s license, but a foreign driver’s license is valid for 90 days (same as the tourist visa). There are 4 main steps: getting your US driver’s license authenticated at the US embassy, $30; having it then authenticated by the Panama Ministry of Foreign Relations $4 (including stamps from the nearby Banco Nacional); getting your blood typed at a laboratory; and bringing all the documentation, including your passport and proof of residency, to the SERTRACEN office (contracted by the Transit Authority), where you will have a hearing and vision test $40, and they will issue your Panama Driver’s license. The whole process usually takes about 2 days.