Wondering what to do in Panama City? For the best night out in the dazzling metropolis of Panama City, all you need is three words: Panama Bar Crawl, Trip Advisor’s #1 nightlife activity in Panama City. Step one: head over to www.panamabarcrawl.com and choose the evening you’d like to make extraordinary. Book tickets for you and your friends, or even feel free to come on your own. Fear not: you absolutely will be meeting other people there.
Panama Bar Crawl is the most fabulous way to discover Panama City’s party epicentre, Casco Viejo. All but some of the city’s nightlife has moved to the old town, so you’re particularly spoilt for choice. The scope of bars and clubs means that if you aren’t content where you are, you can essentially peer over your shoulder and peek at how things are going at the other nearby spots, which you can either see directly or hear the music playing from. Panama Bar Crawl does the hard work for you by selecting the best of the best, taking you there and infusing the evening with ultra-fun elements to make your night out one for the books.
Step two: show up at the first meeting spot, Taberna de Morgan, where pirates run the show. There are ten flavours of frozen cocktails available to quench your thirst (non-alcoholic too). Step three: be open and prepared for anything to transpire.
The team that runs Panama Bar Crawl have literally thought of everything and anything that might be needed to break the ice when meeting new people and even incorporate games to get to know one another, with funky props and themes coming along for the ride. The crawl runs every Friday and Saturday night with alternating stops at Compadre, Selina, Chupitos, ‘t Bier Klooster and the most famous rooftop bar and club in Casco Viejo, Tantalo. There’s even VIP queue-free entrance entry into either La Tana or the two-room nightclub, Casa Jaguar. At $25 with a drink at each location, this bar crawl more than pays for itself. Private bar crawls are also possible on Thursdays (as well as weekends).
Panama Bar Crawl is an excellent way to meet local people and other travellers from all around the world. Upon arriving in Panama City on my own a few months ago, I decided to go on the crawl with just myself for company, and a little apprehensive about the prospect. I needn’t have worried at all, as the hosts took care of me from the start, immediately keeping the group entertained with their “two lies, one truth” game (the games are always changing).
This fantastic event is run by Belgian entrepreneurs Julie Renson and Sandrine Champagne (and the award for best name ever goes to…) who themselves know a thing or two about uprooting your world and moving it elsewhere. The ladies came to Panama City in early 2017 and have rapidly set up strong relationships with Casco Viejo’s hottest nightlife establishments. The name of their company is BEYOA, an acronym for “Be Your Own Adventure”. They kind of also secretly love that it begins with ‘BE’, a nod to their Belgian heritage. The company, however, is fully Panamanian and each tour is bilingual in both English and Spanish.
I initially attended the bar crawl as a ruse to make friends, and make friends I did. I am fortunate enough to now have pretty much built my circle around the lovely individuals I met there over there over the years. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve attended the bar crawl and each visit is wholly different from the last. I’m also undecided about which facet of the evening has been my favourite so far: salsa dancing with the wind in our hair at Tantalo, line dancing to MC Kevinho’s “Olha a explosao” at Chupitos as a forfeit for losing out at the “similarities” game, OR the nightly confetti explosion, which sweetly garnishes our interactions. Panama Bar Crawl is perfect for expats and locals alike, tourists, backpackers, fun lovers and anyone looking to kickstart their Panamanian social life in style. If you’re looking for what to do in Panama City, crawl this way.
PS: If you’ve already attended the crawl, head over to @PanamaBarCrawl on Instagram to see if your antics got snapped.
Places to stay in Panama
Budget: Luna’s Castle Hostel, Selina’s, Magnolia Inn Hotel & Hostel, Casa Areka, Sophias Hostel PTY, Los Mostros Hostel, Zebulo Hostel, Bodhi Panama City, Hostel Mamallena, El Machico Hostel, Panama House Bed & Breakfast and Panama Hat Hostel.
Mid-range: Ramada by Wyndham Panama Centro Via Argentina, Tryp by Wyndham Panama Centro, Hotel Sercotel Panama Princess, Riande Granada Urban Hotel, Hyatt Place Panama City Downtown, Novotel Panama City, DoubleTree by Hilton Panama City, Holiday Inn Panama Canal and Best Western Plus Panama Zen Hotel.
Boutique: American Trade Hotel, Villa Palma Boutique Hotel, Central Hotel Panama, La Concordia Boutique Hotel, AC Hotel by Marriott Panama City, Casa Sucre Boutique Hotel, Las Clementinas, Tantalo Hotel and DeVille Hotel.
Five Star: W Panama, The Bristol Hotel, JW Marriott Panama, Hotel Riu Plaza Panamá, Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis, Hilton Panama, Waldorf Astoria, Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino, Hotel Las Americas Golden Tower, Intercontinental Miramar, Le Meridien Panama, Radisson Decapolis Hotel Panama City, Sheraton Grand Panama, The Westin Panama (Costa del Este) and Global Hotel Panama.
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Rosie Bell is an international travel writer, author of the book “Escape To Self”, and content editor for Club Elsewhere. Follow her on Instagram @TheBeachBell.