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Thursday, June 20 2019 @ 11:18 AM UTC

Panama #1 Destination - NYT 45 Best Places To Go in 2012

Travel & TourismThe 45 Places to Go in 2012 - by Justin Mott for The New York Times - 1. Panama: Go for the canal. Stay for everything else. It’s been 12 years since Panama regained control of its canal, and the country’s economy is booming. Cranes stalk the skyline of the capital, Panama City, where high-rises sprout one after the next and immigrants arrive daily from around the world. Among those who have landed en masse in recent years are American expatriates and investors, who have banked on Panamanian real estate by building hotels and buying retirement homes. The passage of the United States-Panama free trade agreement in October is expected to accelerate this international exchange of people and dollars (the countries use the same currency).

Among the notable development projects is the Panama Canal itself, which is in the early stages of a multibillion-dollar expansion. The project will widen and deepen the existing canal and add two locks, doubling the canal’s cargo capacity. For those who want to see the waterway as it was originally designed, now is the time. The expansion is expected to be completed by 2014, the canal’s 100-year anniversary.

Other high-profile projects include the construction of three firsts: The Panamera, the first Waldorf Astoria hotel in Latin America (set to open in June 2012); the Trump Ocean Club, the region’s tallest building, which opened last summer; and Frank Gehry’s first Latin American design, the BioMuseo, a natural history museum scheduled to open in early 2013. Even Panama City’s famously dilapidated historic quarter, Casco Viejo, has been transformed. The neighborhood, a tangle of narrow streets, centuries-old houses and neo-colonial government buildings, was designated a Unesco World Heritage site in 1997 and is now a trendy arts district with galleries, coffeehouses, street musicians and some of the city’s most stylish restaurants and boutique hotels.

Across the isthmus, on Panama’s Caribbean coast, the Bocas del Toro archipelago has become a popular stop on the backpacker circuit, with snorkeling and zip lining by day and raucous night life after dark. FREDA MOON.

Editor's Comment: To see the full article as it appeared in the New York Times and the other 44 destinations that are not as cool as Panama, click this link. Panama has been getting more and more attention as a tourist destination in the mainstream media in the United States this year. Panama saw more than 2 million tourists in 2011 - the first time the "2 million" barrier was broken. Tourism is very important for the local economy, with tourists leaving behind billions of dollars of spending on hotel rooms, rental cars, restaurants and eating out, tourism services, and trips such as fishing, scuba diving, boats, or zip lines through the jungle canopy. Panama seems to be growing up as fast as it can, but there are still fundamental problems to be addressed (see the earlier article about a woman who fell through a manhole cover after eating dinner at a restaurant.) Anyway, I hope all of those people who will be coming to Panama as tourists find this website as part of their explorations and preparations to visit. Come on down, the water's fine...

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