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Panama City Unmasked [PHOTO ESSAY]

Panama City Skyline

Modern Panama City Skyline

Panama City, Panama

Panama City is not like other cities in Central America. A unique mixture of modern skyscrapers and crumbling neighborhoods full of history.

I spent a couple months living in Panama City, giving me plenty of time to explore it’s diverse streets. Central America’s biggest metropolitan area is growing rapidly. It’s often called “The Miami of the South”. But many of the high-rise skyscrapers you see are actually empty or not yet finished.

The city center has moved a few times over the centuries after pirates like Henry Morgan destroyed it. In the past Panama City was also used as a Spanish base for gold exploration and the conquest of many countries, including Peru in South America.

In 1989 the United States invaded Panama, destroying parts of the city with bombing. The invasion’s aim was to get rid of Panama’s dictator General Manuel Noriega, who had worked for the CIA under President Bush for over 20 years as a paid informant (supporting foreign dictators seems to be a common theme for the United States).

In this photo essay I attempt to reveal the many different sides of Panama City. Enjoy! :)

Panama City Home

Beach Front Property

Panama City Casco Viejo

Old Casco Viejo Neighborhood

Panama City Police

Panama City Police Force

Panama City Diablo Rojo Bus

Diablo Rojo Public Bus

Panama City Lottery

Wildly Popular Panama Lottery

Panama Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace

Panama City Fish Market

Panama City Fish Market

Panama City Skyscrapers

New Skyscraper Construction

Cathedral Metropolitana Panama City

Cathedral Metropolitana Panama City

Fishing Boats Panama City

Panama City Fishing Boats

El Chorillo Panama City

War-Torn El Chorillo Neighborhood

Panama City Alley

Squatter Buildings with Character

[su_box title=”Travel Planning Resources for Panama City” style=”noise” box_color=”#333333″ title_color=”#FFFFFF” radius=”3″ class=”resource-box”]

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip. Pick up a travel backpack, camera gear, and other useful travel accessories.

Book Your Flight

Book cheap flights on Skyscanner, my favorite airline search engine to find deals. Also read my tips for how I find the cheapest flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.

Book Accommodation is my favorite hotel search engine. Or rent local apartments on Airbnb ($35 discount!). Read my post for tips on booking cheap hotels.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance.


I hope you enjoyed my photos of Panama City! Hopefully you found the information useful too. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Which of the above shots is your favorite & why? Let me know in the comments!


Sunday 12th of June 2016

Those are some really awesomes pics bro......i'm from india and hey why does everydone think of india as a country of shantyy towns and snake charmers???..think about it everyone....


Tuesday 24th of November 2015

When I look at the amazing skyscrapers I find it hard to believe that they are paid for entirely by american junkies. I also see a very rich Jewish neighbourhood, other super-wealthy middle-easteners and notice that almost all the grocery stores thoughout the country are owned by Chinese and so on. Also, it seems that many of the skyscrapers sit empty. Yes, I'm sure there's money laundering, but I bet it isn't all drugs. Anybody got an inside angle?


Thursday 19th of May 2016

Panama Papers! Lots of fachade companies from other illegal activities (like corruption), or legal ones, but to avoid paying taxes.

Darby of Green Travel Antics

Thursday 30th of July 2015

Panama City is a crazy place! Some parts look kinda like Dubai, others look like a slum in India... Some streets are filled with expensive, refurbished mansions, but you turn a block and you're in the ghetto. The people were some of the friendliest that I met in Panama though... pretty unexpected for a big city!

Pissed Wife

Thursday 2nd of July 2015

Es tan divertido como quieres publicar cosas bonitas pero nunca publicar las cosas verdaderas. Las mujeres en Panamá son putas y dormirán con los hombres estadounidenses de forma gratuita y o por dinero. Sé que es un hecho robaba Carmen Librada Bernal Cortes edad 27 lo hace para mi marido cada vez que vaya por ahí. ¿Por qué no decirle a ambos lados?


Wednesday 26th of March 2014

You failed to show the various neighborhoods where most people live. You chose to only show shanty towns and poor people. By the way, every country has them. You said that you would show the real Panama; however, the photos are a poor representation of panama. Cost of living is high, food is superb, people are warm, beaches are great, and it is HOT. For those of you who plan on visiting Panama, expect the very opposite of these pictures. You will be very surprised.


Thursday 28th of August 2014

mate chill it's not like you can do any better

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