Tour Day Suggestions

Please Note Our New Policy

We (the host organization in Panama) will no longer be responsible for providing sightseeing tours or transportation per se to our teams.

IF there is a bus & driver available and no incoming or outgoing teams scheduled, we may be able to do so.

However, teams should consider making their own arrangements (our missionaries may help with these arrangements if they can) for travel sightseeing tours.

Because of driver and van shortage and team volume, we place transporting our teams to their worksite as a priority.

For information on transportation availability for tour days, contact Rhett Thompson.

Sightseeing: Learning about the Panamanian culture is an important part of the VIM program. Therefore, at least one day of sightseeing should be included as an integral part of the experience. In order to take advantage of this, we suggest that on the “front-end” or the “back-end” you consider this. Our recommendation is that the day of travel either to or from Panama to worksite you do this. It is best to have a full day available to see Panama City. Any or all of the following may be included in the itinerary:

  • The ruins of Old Panama ($6 adults, $5 senior citizens, $2 students)

  • Colonial Panama, includes the Church of the Golden Altar ($1) and the Presidential Palace

  • The Panama Canal ($15.00) For students, a discount may be obtained with student ID.

  • Handicraft Center, includes items from all the major Indian groups as well as other crafts.

  • Las Tinajas Restaurant, includes a typical Panamanian dinner ($25) and a floor show of folkloric dancers ($5)

  • Summit Botanical Park ($2), in the heart of a tropical jungle, includes a small zoo of tropical birds, reptiles and mammals

The per person admission price is indicated in parenthesis. Prices may vary very slightly. The church bus and driver will be available for use during the tour under the same terms as mentioned above.
For teams with a little more time, there are other possible side trips within a couple hours of Panama City, such as El Valle de Anton, in the mountains. Taboga Island, which can be reached by ferry, and several beautiful beaches along both the Pacific Coast and the Atlantic (Caribbean) Coast.
For teams that will be working in the Province of Chiriqui, time should be reserved for a tour of mountain communities of Boquette, Volcan and Cerro Punta. Often that can be done after attending Sunday worship.

Suggested Panama City Tour Day Itinerary and Order

Panama Canal 

Miraflores Visitors Center
[+011 507] 276-8617 (Telephone to check ship schedule) [+011 507] 276-8325 Website
Posted Hours
(Subject to Change): Monday-Sunday 9am to 5 pm
From about 11 am to 2 pm the ships change directions thus no ships in locks
Recommended to call for ship schedule and arrive 9 am sharp to increase chance of seeing ships per Visitor Center employee
New Ticket prices $15 for all adults, $10 for students with student IDs
They also have a CanalPanama App for Iphone/Ipad that has a webcam that lets you see locks realtime
Please do not miss the museum. It is excellent exhibits. The movie is also very helpful. Not just history but interpretation of how locks work etc. 

Casco Viejo/Caso Antiguo/San Felipe
 (Same Place just known by three names)
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Panama City's Old Quarter. 
Full of historical architecture, boutique shops, and boutique restaurants
Requires a significant amount walking outside down narrow streets on fairly level terrain
Streets are too narrow for bus traffic. Bus will drop you off and you will need to set a rally point to where bus can return prior to dropping off. Can call bus with team phone.
A map of historical sites/attractions
Official Government Site:
Frommers Walking Tour

Niko's Cafe
(Good Choice if not eating in Casco Viejo or if in a time crunch) In close proximity to sights/attractions
Niko's Café Balboa
Antigua bolera, Ancón

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Restaurant Chain (Multiple Locations throughout country/Solid choice for dining)
Cafeteria Style food location with ample space for bus parking.
Food Choices: Sandwhiches Made to Order/Pasta/Meat Entrees
Good food at reasonable prices/Quick Turn around
Open Late
No Free Refills on Sodas

Centro Artesanal Amador in Amador Section of Panama City (Causeway)

Artisan Indoor Flea Market Mall full of about 40 Souvenir vendors with a large selection of items 
Telephone numbers:  [+011 507] 6605-7428/[+011 507] 6674-3074/ (011-507-6736-4782)
Posted Hours (Subject to Change): Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm/ Sunday 10 am-5pm

Tinajas Folklorico/Dinner Pasted Graphic 6
Phone:+011 507 263.7890 - +011 507 269.3840
Please be aware the Folklorico show does not let out typically until 10 pm. Most groups recommended to be there around 7 pm. 
$5.00 Show Fee/ $12 Food/Drink Order Minimum. Please account that they have a dessert menu with excellent desserts.

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Options for: On the way to or from Panama City
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Santa Clara

Beach view of Pacific Ocean/Beach Access with Restaurant. Bathroom for patrons of Restaurant/Soda purchases. 1 or 2 miles from main highway.

El Valle Mountain Village

Located approx. 30 minutes off of the PanAmerican Hwy. between Santiago and Panama City There are options for all interests. see below.

Artisan & Vegetable Market
Here you can buy fruits, ornamental plants, flowers and orchids and local art and handicrafts. Including: ceramics, bateas (wooden trays), woven baskets, hats, carved and painted totumas (cups made from squash) and trinkets made from acorn. Also, some Kuna Indians offer their handicraft like colorful molas and jewelry th

Bird Watching:
El Valle is one of the best places in Panama for watching tropical birds. You will find them in the valley and in the cloud forest of the Gaital Monument. Through August 2010, 339 species of birds had been registered in El Valle and the surrounding area by El Valle resident biologist Mario L. Urriola Hernandez.

Butterfly Haven (El Mariposario):
Experience the wonder and tranquility of being immersed in hundreds of living, jewel colored butterflies in a tropical rain forest setting. Hours: Everyday from 9 am to 4 pm, closed on Tuesdays Closed October and November Cost: $2.50 Panamanians and Retirees, $1.00 Children, $4.00 Non-Residents Contact: Cel. 6062-3131

Snake House (Serpentario): Open Monday -Thursday until 5:00PM. 1001 El Valle de Antón Tel: +507-983-6680

Canopy Tour:
The Canopy Tour and the “Chorro El Macho” waterfall share the same entrance. Here, from platforms 100 feet in the air, you are given a spectacular insight and view of the cloud forrest´s fauna and flora. On this tour you soar above the waterfall twice. The tour lasts approx. one and a half hours and costs around $65 per person.

Chorro El Macho Waterfall: This waterfall is the largest in the region with a drop of 70m. It is just a 30 minutes walk from the town center in the direction of La Mesa. Open every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Entrance fee: $3.50


Chorro Las Mosas Waterfalls: Located along Rio Anton. To reach these rapids it is a 1/2 hour walk. From here follow the right side of the river for 30 minutes to reach a natural swimming pool. Only for those in good health and physically fit.

Golden Frogs:
These orange-golden frogs are unique and can only be found in this area. Unfortunately they been almost wiped out by a fungus. A team of American and Panamanian biologists are trying to save them. A few frogs can be seen in the Zoo Nispero and at the Hotel Campestre.

Hiking, Horse Back Riding

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A path behind the Hotel Campestre will lead you to the Cloud Forest Reserve of the Cerro Gaital Natural Monument. Here the cloud forrest offers its unique flora and fauna. Serious walkers and birdwatchers will be pleased. To scale the peak of Cerro Gaital there is another entrance after the village of La Mesa (which is also a great place for bird watching). The village can be reached by car or local buses. There are two tours from La Mesa: For the large one to the top you should ask the locals for advice, start early in the morning and bring some climbing experience with you. Up and down it will take about 5-6 hours. The best is to go with one of the local tour guides. You will find them at the IPAT booth at the market. The Sleeping Indian or La India Dormida is a hill chain with the silhouette of a sleeping Indian woman in the west of El Valle. The name has it´s origin in a local legend. You can walk by yourself and in about 1 1/2 hours you have reached the top and can enjoy a great view over the valley. Another interesting tour is to Rio Indio, one hour away from El Valle (by car) in the cloud forrest. You can reach the place with the public pickups that leave in the center of the town a few times a day.

The valley offers excellent roads with great scenic views and little traffic. Bikes can be rented in many hotels.

Horse Back Riding:
Another way to discover the valley is by horse. The spot were you can rent them is near the Hotel Campestre. The fee is $5.00 per hour. A guide can be request on site.

Museum El Valle:
Located next to the Catholic Church.Here you find a well sorted collection of Pre-Columbian Art / Religious Art / Etnografics of the XIX. and XX. century / Craft works / Paintings and geological informations. For a visit phone David. David speaks english and spanish. You can reach him at 6425 9239.

Orchids Center:
Open every day from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Tel. 983-6472. Entrance fees up to 4 persons: Adults $ 2,00, students $1.00, minors up to 15 $0,75. Entrance fees 5 persons and more: Adults $1,50, students $ 0.75, minors up to 15 $ 0,50.

Petroglyphs: La Piedra Pintada:
This pre-Columbian pertroglyph (more a rock face) Has not been decoded yet. Some locals say it has been a map for traders, other say it is a map of caves connecting the mountain range. Entry: $1.50

Hot Springs (Pozos termales):
There are two cement pools under the jungle canopy. They are filled with hot mineral water (38 degree Centigrade), coming directly out of the volcanic ground from a depth of 1200 m. Another attraction here is the mineral clay you can use for a face mask or a full body cover. There is also a pick nick area and a playground. Open every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Entrance Fees: Adults $3,00, children 6 to 12 years $1,00 Cel. 6621 3846

Zoo El Nispero:
Frommer's Review writes about the zoo: "The Nispero Zoo never planned to be a zoo, it just happened. The owner, an agronomist who runs a small for-profit nursery here, had a large collection of animals and birds, and over time so many people donated abandoned or sick animals that it just made sense to open a zoo. The 2.8-hectare (7-acre) El Nispero sits at the foot of Cerro Gaital National Monument. There are 55 species of birds, both exotic imports from Asia and Africa such as golden pheasants and white peacocks, as well as a few tropical species not seen in any zoo outside Panama. A good representation of endemic animals includes a white-faced capuchin and spider monkey, an ocelot and a couple of tapirs rescued from Manuel Noriega's home after the invasion. El Nispero's property has shade trees and a botanical garden that offer quiet spots for reading a book or just reflecting on nature.
El Nispero is also home to the Centro de Conservación de Anfibios de El Valle (EVACC), an amphibian study center sponsored by the Houston, San Antonio, and San Diego zoos. The center will study the bacteria that is wiping out the golden frog, among other amphibians, and work to ensure the amphibians' survival. The center has aquariums, exhibits, and a video and reading center in English and Spanish."
Open every day from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm
Entrance fees: Foreigners: adults $3,00, children $2,00 Locals: adults $2,00, children $1,00
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