So you’re in Panama … and you want to get drunk …

no suprises, of course! There are three main touristy areas in Panama City that you could do, but only two places that will be absolutely thumping!


  1. Calle Uruguay is a neighborhood filled with bars and discos for wealthy Panamanians and foreigners. We went along the street twice in our three days and I would liken the scene to a “West Mall” thing in Trinidad or “Yorkville” in Toronto.
  2. Zona Viva (pronounced “Zohnahabeeba” .. all one word). This is an enclosed party district, guarded by the tourist police – you will need to show ID or your passport. I didn’t have my passport with me when I went and I almost didn’t get in … but trust your English speaking ability plus making a scene and holding up the line to get you in … but that is my trick – so take some picture ID with you.
  3. Casco Viejo – this is the old city. It is gradually being gentrified, and the buildings that have already been restored give a sense of how magnificent the area must have looked in past years. However, part of the allure of strolling along Casco Viejo’s cobbled streets is the dilapidated charm of the crumbling buildings, abandoned houses and boarded-up ruins. As for bars and restaurants, there are some nice places to go, but no where will compete for the thumping beats or energy of Zona Viva or Calle Uruguay.

The reason I mention the three areas and not any others,  is because Panama City is a bit dangerous, if you don’t know what you’re doing or where you’re head. This is definitely not the city to be wandering outside the “known” areas. 

Be careful in both Casco Viejo and the Panama la Vieja ruins area. There are a lot of tourist police in both neighborhoods but you have to have your wits about you and definitely if you’re a single female, do not wander too far in these areas alone (even in the day) and certainly not in the evening. Stay out of El Chorillo, Santa Ana, and San Miguel. Typical, drug gang infighting and there are reports of tourists have been kidnapped right off the street.

When partying, definitely be careful when crossing the street! As I mentioned before,Panamanian drivers are notoriously aggressive when the traffic allows and will not slow down for you even if you’re lucky enough to find a crosswalk. There’s only one way to cross the road here. Wait for a break in the traffic and walk. Once you start, keep going. Drivers will stop(99% of the time……)

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at

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