When it comes to prices, Panama is much cheaper than Costa Rica. Within the city there are many places to shop, so when we went to Panama, one of the goals was to buy everything we need.
For example, we had been looking for a new camera for awhile and after doing lots of research, we decided on a compact Canon camera. Not terribly expensive, light, not DSLR but still good quality.
The only problem was that the price here was almost double the price as it was online. Anybody living in Costa Rica knows that electronics and cars here are ridiculously expensive, most of the time twice as much.
Canon Powershot SX 50HS
Costa Rica: $750
Everywhere else in the normal world: $380-$420
Yeaahh… definitely buying the camera in Panama.
One good thing about being a foreigner in Panama is that store employees are willing to bargain with you. They don’t do this with locals too much so when we found our camera at $420, Yeison worked his bargaining skils.
After checking out a few more stores, we managed to buy the camera, an 8g Sd card, a tripod, and a case all for a little over $400.
Shopping in Panama City, Panama
The first mall we hit was Albrook mall. This mall is actually pretty important because it is connected to the main bus terminal, where you can buy bus tickets to go anywhere in Panama and to other countries.
If you take the bus from Costa Rica, your bus will drop you off at the mall. So as soon as we gleefully jumped off the bus to officially end our 16 hour bus ride, we collected our things and started to do some shopping.
Albrook mall is enormous. Anything you need or want, you can find it here. It’s so big that you’ll see one store three times and yet they are still expanding it.
We spent one full day exploring this place and my feet were tired as if I had just hiked up a mountain. There is a bowling alley, movie theater, even a 5d (does that really exist?) mini roller coaster ride. Each exit is marked with a statue of an animal so you can sort of find your way around.
Albrook mall is ridiculously easy to get to from Panama City. Almost every bus that operates within the city will stop at Albrook and nearly every bus stop has a bus that passes through there.
Remember that whole shoe debacle Yeison and I had back in La Fortuna? Well, we had a similar experience again in Panama City. He was dead set on buying KEEN sandals and at every Outdoor sports store, every Columbia store, nobody had a size 11 (surprise). So onto the next mall.
Multi Paza is another mall on the way to Panama Viejo and it is not as big, but in my opinion has fancier stores. You can get here by taking the bus to Panama Viejo and it will drop you off right in front.
After another hour of looking, no shoes. But they have an outlet outdoor store that had clothes, accessories and shoes for 50% off and I was lucky enough to find my own KEENs for half off 😀
Multi Centro is a plaza that is also on the way to Panama Viejo, very close to Multi Plaza. It’s a bit older and not as frequented by locals but they are touching it up.
We only went to the Columbia store where once again, no sizes for Yeison. But the manager was very kind and called another store in Metro Mall to check for us. Hooray! They had size 11 but Metro mall is about 25 kms away from the city and a taxi would charge us a ton. So once again we asked around and hopped on a bus.
Take Corredor Sur San Pedro and the bus will stop you on the main road which you have to walk about 10 minutes to get to Metro Mall. But after 4 malls, 7 buses and 8 hours later, Yeison got his shoes. We seem to have a tradition of having trouble finding shoes for him, poor guy.
Although it took us all day, neither of us were stressed out because it was also an adventure at the same time: exploring the city, getting to know the bus system and talking to locals.
For the rest of the time we were in Panama City, we had explored the mall so much that we knew exactly where all the stores were and the employees recognized us – but they gave us discounts for coming back. So it was all worth it in the end!
Remember, you can always bargain or ask for discounts in Central America, even at the mall. Sometimes it’s only 10% or $10 dollars but it never hurts to ask!