a VirtualTourist member
I am spending a week in Montezuma Costa Rica and have a little bit of time left after that to just explore the country and surrounding areas. I am wondering if it is worth it to go to Panama and fly home from Panama city or just explore Costa Rica and fly home from San Jose. Is the Canal and the city really worth paying all that extra money to go see and with so little time, is it worth it or do you think it would be better to explore Costa Rica a little more?
Have you considered going to the San Andres Islands, Colombia, you can fly there from San Jose and i think you would have a much better time there than Panama. Read the VT tips regarding the beautiful islands. Not sure about flight costs these days!
sorry, wrong link in previous posting
The canal isn't terribly exciting. There are some boats, and what looks like a river. It's more of a "been there, done that" kind of thing.
Panama City is the "best" capital in Central America. The Old City has some cool colonial architecture which is lacking in Costa Rica.
The San Blas islands are amazing, but you won't have time to get up there.
In short, while the Old City in Panama City is cool, i'm not sure it's worth the hassle and effort. Just spend the time in Costa Rica.
With such little time, I personally would continue exploring Costa Rica.
We were recently there and our top favorite, and one often overlooked by tourists is Tortuguero National Park.
The resorts are all inclusive and there are many.
We spent 3 days in Tortuga Lodge and LOVED it! It was the highlight of our trip for ambiance and wildlife.
You are driven to Limon area by van which picks you up at your hotel and then taken by boat down a canal system into Park.
Once there, because of the remoteness of the lodges, it is all inclusive including tours into the park system via boat, 3 meals a day (gourmet style and organic), snacks throughout the day and a cocktail hour including hors d'oeuvres and snacks - drinks on your own.
Your room has a balcony overlooking the beautifully landscaped grounds and the rain forest with howler monkeys, toucans and incredible wildlife - even sloths - practically right outside your window.
There are also numerous hiking trails throughout the property.
Finally, you are flown back to San Jose in a small engined plane.
I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
This is the one we used: http://www.tortugalodge.com/
There are many others though.
Allow yourself at least 2 full days for Panama City otherwise it might be worth just spending your extra time in Costa Rica.
Panama is very different from Costa Rica, it is where Central America becomes South America and you will find Panama more similar to Colombia than to any of the other Central American countries. Panama City is worth a stop for the old colonial neighbors (Casco Viejo - an UNESCO World Heritage Site), the locks on the Canal (the locks only - the canal itself takes longer to visit) and the hectic, modern city. It is an intriguing destination but again, allow at least a couple of days or it would be hard to enjoy.
Enjoy your trip!
You would probably have to spend a lil more time if you have wanted to go to Panama because it really is uniquely different since Panama feels more like a South American country combined with Caribbean .. beautiful people, culture, much better music as far as folklore seems like Colombian Cumbia and great beaches on the Caribbean and Pacific Islands like Pearl Islands.
Disregard DAVIDJO's comment on going to San Andres , it's pricey it's very far off closer to Nicaragua actually and not much to see.. yes the beaches there beautiful but nothing like the charm, exotic beauty of nature and white sand like the Bocas del Toros Islands of Panama.
Wouldn't be wise to go to San Andres for that short amount of time at all..
Wouldn't go period with Costa Rica having beautiful beaches and if u want more whitish sand go to San Blas Islands in Panama ... no tourist crowd it's so beautiful pristine.