Finding the Best Hotel in Panama: Part 1

Last Updated on February 8, 2023 by Left Lane

Matching couples Tee Shirts. Where’s Waldo, and Carmen Sandiego
Proper Attire For Any Gypsy 😂


It was a busy time at work for both of us. Which has come to be expected. Neither of our jobs really believe in off days. Working us year round, 6 to 7 days a week. With 12 hour shifts being the norm. After a continuous, never ending cycle of alarm clock, rush, work, shower, sleep (briefly), & repeat. We needed a getaway!

Anytime I had a moments pause, I found myself daydreaming of being strapped into my seat. Experiencing that familiar giddy moment when the Pilot gives the bird some drank. That feeling when those jet turbines propel a bulking, winged metal bird to a 135 knots (155 mph) down the runway.

That exhilarating moment when those dotted lines on the ground outside of your window, start disappearing as the nose of the bird edges ever upward towards the heavens. The exact moment the vibrations of wheels whirring upon the asphalt cease, & give way. To a calm, & smoothness that can only be provided, by the experience of riding on air.

My favorite moment of every flight


Having booked our departure from Orlando Florida (MCO) to save money (yes even with the gas needed to drive there). We had a 10 hour drive to catch our flight (as a Gypsy, I do love a good excuse for a road trip 🤣). I left at 9p.m. the night before. I drove all through the night, because we had an early morning flight at 10a.m. We flew American Airlines, with a quick layover in Miami Florida (MIA). After boarding the plane, we were at last on our way to Panama City, Panama 🇵🇦!

Flying over the Gulf of Mexico
When dreams, become reality! Flying over the Gulf of Mexico

Aboard our flight to Panama, my partner & I relaxed, watched movies, & enjoyed the complimentary in air services. The window seat over the Gulf of Mexico offered us some breath taking, & picturesque views over the water.

Inflight concessions
Nothing says Getaway, like Biscoff cookies on a flight!


Once we landed in Panama (PTY) & made it through Customs & Border Protection, & baggage claim. We were off to the rental car desk to get our ride for Panama. Of course I rented the fastest, loudest, & flashiest car they had on the lot (…on a budget 🙂

Kia Picanto
My 1.0 Liter 3 Cylinder, Kia Picanto

Driving on the record setting Pan-American Highway (Guinness World Record holder for the longest stretch of drivable road, at 19,000 miles long) to head to our Destination in Rio Hato, Panama. It’s definitely an enjoyable scenic route, tracing the coastline of Panama.

As you enter the heart of the city of Panama driving in between the skyscrapers, the road opens up into a multi-lane highway. I was driving slow… (only because I was scared of all that power my 1.0 Liter Kia was packing)… so I could admire the scenery, & see the landscape. As an act of courtesy, I thought I’d stay in the right lane, as I was in no particular rush (& it would give the locals time to admire this beast of a car I was driving).

Panama City, Panama skyline
Driving on the Pan-American Highway into Panama City, Panama


I was soon to find out the error of my ways, for driving in the right lane. Suddenly the dotted lines on the highway turned into cement curb bars, running closely together. They were to tall, & to close for my car to drive over, or through to rejoin the highway. It was enticingly teasing me, from just beyond the lane barriers.

With it being a divided one direction highway, there was no place to turn around. I was stuck driving alongside the cement dividers. Glancing over at the highway I so wished to be on. Unfortunately for me, the dividers wouldn’t end until they veered to the right, & eventually exited me from the highway. Taking me right into a residential neighborhood in Panama City.

According to my Calculations. We are clearly Lost

After looking around for a place to turn around, & head back to the highway. I couldn’t find a single place to do so. Forcing me to drive another half mile before being able to find a turn around spot.

After getting pointed back in the right direction. I headed off to get back on the highway. Once I returned to the intersection I was just at. There was traffic, so I waited, & every so often the traffic would advance a car length, or two, but not much more. As we eased closer I could see a Panamanian Police Officer, doing what I thought was directing traffic.

Excuse Me Officer

It turns out I had gotten myself into a Panamanian Road Block. Once it was finally my turn to pull up & talk with the officer, Neither of us could understand the other. I handed him my passport driver’s license & rental car papers. He looked at them, & handed them back.

He asked me again the same question I couldn’t understand the first time. I then started to play Charades with the officer, as we tried to communicate with each other. Nothing was working, so I stopped & thought what would a officer back home ask, where I was coming from, or where I was going?

I led with the Tocumen international airport (from), but that wasn’t what he wanted. Next I told him Rio Hato, Royal Decameron (going). I knew at once this was the correct answer, his eyes lit up. He smiled & repeated my destination, nodded & gave me the okay to proceed.

I get myself lost one time, & next thing I know, I’m playing Charades at a Road Block in Panama… (gotta work on my Español skills)… After getting back on the highway, I was greeted with beautiful scenery. The road ran along the coastline & offered a panoramic view of Panama City as it fell away into the distance.

Panama City 🇵🇦
The View Leaving Panama City, Panama.


We were officially back on our way to our destination in Rio Hato, Panama. Driving North on the highway, we encountered many commuters as they hustled & bustled about their day. Riding to there destination in the the eccentric & interesting Panama Buses, or Diablos Rojos, meaning Red Devils in English (mainly transporting Tourists).

A Diablos Rojos Bus from the front & back

They are covered inside & out, with murals & decorative graffiti. The majority of them have exhaust stacks running up the back of the bus, something you would expect to see on a Peterbilt, or Kenworth instead of a bus.

They are known to have modified engines, capable of propelling the long wheeled vehicles to over 120 + mph. They are also known to Street Race each other on a regular basis. With their beefed up motors, & their chaotic paint schemes, many of them look like something worthy of a Mad Max movie.


As we continued West out of the city of Panama. We crossed over one of the largest engineering projects ever undertaken. One that would change the entire shipping & trade world, the Panama Canal.

It’s a stretch of waterway, with a series of locking lanes connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea leading into the Atlantic. Dramatically shortening the amount of time required for ships heading East, or West by allowing them to avoid the notoriously treacherous stretch of water going around Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America.

Crossing the Panama Canal
Driving over the Panama Canal by day

The Panama Canal stretches on for about 50 miles across the narrowest point of Panama, just West of Panama City.

Panama Canal at night
Crossing the Panama Canal by night


After getting across the Panama Canal, we were finally free of the rush of Panama City. We were on the way to our beach destination. The Royal Decameron of Rio Hato, Panama. Without getting lost again, or any other trouble. We finally made it to our destination. It was time for the fun & relaxation to begin. The resort we chose was packed with 8 À la Carte restaurants, 11 bars, & 9 pools!

Royal Decameron at night
The view from our Room on our first night in Rio Hato, Panama

Arriving after sunset, & having to wait our turn for check in, it was after dark once we reached our room. Which they drive you to with a complimentary shuttle….

Want to hear more about this trip, & see all the great amenities, & activities the resort has to offer? I’ll tell you more in Finding the best hotel in Panama: Part 2


The Roving Gypsy®

Thanks for reading my Blog, I hope you enjoyed our adventure as much as we did. Like what you read, & want more content, or have suggestions? Like, Follow, Share, Comment, & let me know.