The old town part is not typically used to shop for the cruise ship patrons. It can be "seedy" and make some squirmish to venture with locals. There are a string of shops set up just for tourists coming from the water right near the ship docks. They have all the souvenirs and trinkets you need. Then clothing, jewelery and food items are the main picks. A real quincidence-the escalator takes you right by these shops on the way back to the ships, and no way around it.
Albrook Mall is one of the the biggest shopping malls in Central America. I think it would take a couple of days to see all of the shops there. There are lots of boutiques and fashionable clothes are relatively cheap. There is also a massive food court in the centre of the mall.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 11am-8pm; Holidays 11am-7pm
Panama hats are made of “paha toquilla”, which is the toquilla straw plant growing in the north coast of Ecuador. So their origin is Ecuadorian but they took the name because they were first shipped in Panama, before being sold to the markets of Asia, and Europe.
The peak trade of this popular hat is traced back in 1850 when the material of the toquilla plant was used to weave a handsome, breathable, light hat very elegant and suitable for the tropicals. Since then millions of people have made one of them an everyday accessory. The quality depends on the density of the weaves and of course the way it is woven. The plant is hand-split into fibers thin as thread and woven very finely. It has to be smooth, soft, with no visible fibers coming out, and not lose its shape when you fold it and you roll it into its box. A really fine hat appears to be made of linen.
Prices differ greatly and you can spend even hundreds of dollars on a really authentic one. But you can usually get a decent one for as little as 20$US.
They are sold everywhere in Panama. Shopkeepers will show you the authentic ones and will ask you for more money. These are very soft and nicely woven but I found their shape uglier as they are too tall and big and look a little disproportionate. The best prices you will find in Panama City in Mercado de Artesanias of 5 de Mayo! I bought very good quality there for less than 20$ each!!!
theres lost of places where u can shop that are not expensive
selecta and more
if u need more help contact me i live in panama.
Jose Cruz Gonzales is the artist at this small studio. He is very friendly and will be happy to show you around.
What to buy: He will show you an album with his nicest pieces that you can order. He also has do engraving on wood while you wait.
We bought a very nice welcome sign that he engraved with a hummingbird and hibiscus flowers.
The Malecon is the walkway along the ocean. Local artist sell their wares. Beautiful works lined the ground. We had to wake these Kuna Indians to ask about some of their works.
What to buy: Look for the molas that are their own designs. Avoid the 'tourist 'designs such as animals that do not exist in Panama. Make sure the work was hand sewn not machined.
What to pay: A good piece of work about $20 US. I got lucky and found mine my last day in PC. 2 young Kuna women helped me go through a pile of molas until they found an original design by their tribe. SOLD for $8 US
Shopping is a delight in Panama. You will find the latest in electronics, fashion and jewelry alongside beautiful arts and crafts, and the best brand names. Since the US$ is legal currency in Panama, there are no hassles with exchange rates.
Panama City is a shoppers paradise!
What to buy: Clothes, Electronics and Duty Free Shopping
Clothes and household bargains,
Electronics, appliances and computers
What to pay: very cheap prices even if you compare with the original at the factory.
The Kuna Indians of Panama make beautiful designs in fabric by layering and cutting away the cloth to reveal the colors underneath. These fabric designs, called "molas," were traditionally sewn into blouses, but have now gained worldwide recognition as a unique art form.
There are other nations like Costa Rica that recrently began selling Molas as their own. it damaged the economy of the kuna indiams which depens on it and of trading coconuts stuff.
What to buy: Because of the canal, Panama offers duty-free shopping for goods from around the world. Swiss watches, liquors from everywhere, Japanese cameras and other electronics, French perfumes, and Italian silks are among the bargains available in Panama City.
This is a new mall full of restaurants, clothing stores, bookstores, special items and a casino! I was very impressed. A beautiful building. There is a lot of new construction around this mall. Panama obviously has big plans for this area.
Avenida Central (Central Avenue) is situated between Panama's colonial section known as Casco Viejo, the Canal Zone and Panama's business and banking district. Avenida Central is like an open air mall where a deal can be found on every corner from local artisans to major brands of merchandise. Several very good typical Panamanian restaurants can be found on or near Avenida Central. Panama's mayor closed the shopping street to vehicular traffic making it one of Panama's most picturesque shopping areas.
The old YMCA Building is located in Balboa in the old Canal Zone area. Now it is a locaton for local artisans to sell their goods. Just about anything can be found here from the molas made by the Cuna Indians to the wood carvings and baskets of the Emberá and crafts from other indigenous people of Panama including, leather goods and T-shirts. The original Panama hat can also be purchased here and range in price from $10 to about $60.
The Artisan Market in Panama City is a warren of wonderful little stalls and stores where it is possible to find , under one roof, all of the local arts and crafts. The mola is an intricately stitched and overlaid piece of fabric that can be used for many purposes. I made several into throw pillows but be you can be creative! The tagua nut is a collectible item that is delicately carved and painted to resemble many of the local wildlife of Panama. The quality varies and so do the prices so shop around! Beadwork and baskets abound!
What to buy: Molas
What to pay: Prices vary but on the whole the value is good. It is customary to bargain.
For bargin hunters, the shops in Ave Central offers all sort of bargin. You can find a pair of cotton shorts for US$1.50!!! Bed sheets for US$5 or Towels for US$ 3
For Cigar lovers, Panama makes cigar too, there is a factory in Penenome. They sell quality low cost cigars at factory price or visit: http://www.panoramicpanama.com/Tour_cigar.htm to get them mail order if you do not have time to go there.
What to buy: There are a couple of Art and craft markets behind the YMCA building in Balboa or there is a big market behind the Anthropology museum Reina Torres del Arauz.
Mi Pueblito has a few artesania stores as well.
Molas are good and so are Taguas (vegetable ivory) craving.
Good road maps are hard to find in Panama. If you are looking for detail maps, for Marine navigation maps, try Isla Morada in Balboa.
For typo maps, try Tommy Guadia opposite the Panama University. There is a new road map out sponsored by a few businesses and you can find the map in Arrocha famarcy or some book shops.
Many people want to buy a Panama Hat in Panama. The real Panama Hat does not come from Panama, it comes from Ecudor. If you are looking for a real Panama Hat, you can get one in Gran Morrison which is a departmental store or try the El Panama Hotel where they have stores selling them.
What to pay: Molas can be as little as $3 to $5 for a small piece or $20 to $30 depending on the complexity and the quality of the stitching.
Tagua carving can start from around $15 to $50
Maps are from around $5 to $7.
What to buy: Panama hats don't come from Panama. They originally came from Ecuador, which has been making them for nearly 400 years. They got their name of 'Panama' hats because Ecuadorian merchants began selling the hats in Panama, which meant that buyers began associating them with that country. Panama hats were popular with Winston Churchill and President Truman. If you want the real thing, go to Ecuador!
All in all, we enjoyed our experience at the hotel. It is well located, hence you are close to...more
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