New website - www.boquetetravelguide.com  Information about traveling to Boquete, Panama.  Go!
 
 
Tipping
This is definitely something everyone should know before you arrive in Panama.  Some people expect tipping to the be same as it is at home.  It's not.

It is usual and customary to tip 10 percent in restaurants.  Before you do, check your bill first to make sure the "propina" has not already been added to your check.  Taxi drivers do not expect a tip.  Special services such as porters at the airport expect a dollar a bag, as well as bellhops at hotels.

Others who perform services should be tipped at your discretion.  Anywhere from 25 cents to a dollar will do, for something small.
 
Taxes

Panama's sales tax is called ITBMS (Impuesto a las Transferencias de Bienes Corporales Muebles y la Prestacion de Servicios) and is 7%.  This tax applies to all goods and services except food, health services and medicine.

10% tax rate applies to hotel or other hospitality services and alcohol.

15% tax rate applies for tobacco products. 




 
 
Let's run down the list on why staying with us would be a better fit than staying at a hotel.

1. It's less expensive.  You are still offered the services and facilities you need for a comfortable and relaxing stay.  Breakfast is also included in your daily rate.

2. Personalized service with individual attention.  We care about your stay with us as we want repeat customers and word of mouth is the best review.  

3. Staying with us gives you an opportunity to live like a local.  We can assist you with recommendations on restaurants, tours, directions, etc.  Who better to give advice and information about the area's attractions than one of its residents?

4. When you stay with us, you are a guest in a more personal atmosphere.  We are more than a service, we're your hosts/friends and are here to share your memories.

5. Having just a small number of guests to look after, we are much more aware of what's going on on our property. This means that B&Bs enjoy a higher level of security, with issues such as theft, a problem for hotels, are almost non-existent.

We started out hosting couch surfers as we enjoyed having guests and helping out someone looking for a place to stay.  Now we would really like to turn our attention to people who enjoy the B&B 'home away from home feel' and for those considering moving to Panama and they in turn can see how we live and be able to talk to us about what could be a huge culture shock.  

On behalf of Don, Andrea, Joan and Ben - We're looking forward to your stay.

 
 
Boquete is known for it's coffee worldwide.  It's hard to find a bad cup of joe here. 

I had no idea what was involved in making coffee before and now honestly it's hard to believe we can purchase it at the price that we do knowing what goes into it.  If you're visiting and want a true tour - which involves going down to the coffee fields, seeing how it's grown (and how each bean/cherry is hand picked!) - off to tour their processing plant and then tasting the different beans...I would recommend Cafe Ruiz tour  http://www.caferuiz-boquete.com/.  There are many other coffee tours to choose from but Cafe Ruiz is my only experience which was very good!  

Another great website is www.boquetecoffee.com  You'll never look at another cup of Folgers the same way again.
 
 
Probably one of the must sees in Panama is Macho de Monte.  It is located about 12 kilometers south of Volcán at the tiny community of Cuesta del Piedra. Go downhill, the turn is unmarked and will be on the left. The road to Macho de Monte is in between Restaurante El Porvenir and Mini Super Meinor.

Less than 3 kilometers, past the guardhouse for the hydroelectric plant and cross two bridges.  Park your vehicle by the ranch on the right.
 
There is a path near the guardhouse that leads down to the river. Ask the guard to point it out.

Here's an exceptional video with spectacular footage. 
 
 
Picture
Ready to soak your bones?  Take a drive to Caldera (about a 25 minute drive from Boquete) and relax.  The hot springs in Caldera is very rustic.  Once you arrive by car it is a quick 15 minute walk.

If you get too hot, which you will, walk down to the Rio Chiriqui for a nice refreshing dip.
Rinse/Repeat.  New occupant at the springs - "Cheetah" a spider monkey.  Be watchful of your belongings as he will try and take your clothes the moment  you turn your back.  Please don't feed him.  He will get close but don't be  scared, he's actually pretty friendly.  You will have a ton of photo ops which is always great.  :)

There are about 4 different springs that you can rest into.  The fee to enter the springs is 2.00 per person.  You will be asked if you would like the "family special" spring in which case the fee is 5.00 a person.  Don't do it.  It is closest to the river, but the water isn't as hot and it is "plumbed" with PVC pipes which doesn't give me the warm and fuzzies.  Stick to the other ones.  Also, because it is so hot, bring water (or beer!) but please don't leave any trash behind.

 
 
or the "River Canyon".  It's located in Gualaca, Panama which is about a 40 to 45 minute drive from Boquete.  You'll be ready to cool off (it's much warmer there) when you arrive.  It's a great way to spend a 1/2 day or the entire day.  Take a picnic and relax.  There is no fee to play and you do not have to hike to get to it, park and swim!
(click on pictures below to view)
 
 
The International Boquete Flower and Coffee Fair
Boquete, Chiriqui Province: January 12-22nd

World-Class Jazz & Blues on the slopes of Volcan Baru
Boquete, Chiriqui, February 28 - March 3, 2013

San Jose International Fair - like a big county fair, with livestock, local color. Count on being hot.
David, Chiriqui: March 15-25nd.

Orchid Fair
Boquete, Chiriqui: March 31st-April 3rd.





 
 
How is it to cope with local bureaucracy as a foreigner?  You first and foremost need a good sense of humor.  Watch this very well done (and funny!) video.
 
 
How do I get to Boquete?
 
I know some people take cheaper flights into San Jose, Costa Rica (airport code - SJC) and it is an interesting adventure.  However, if this is your first time travelling here, I wouldn't recommend it.  Why?  Because for the most part you would have to stay in Costa Rica for the night and then flight out the next day.  Also, you would have to go through customs twice.  Once in Costa Rica and then again upon your arrival to Panama.

I would recommend that you fly into Panama City (airport code - PTY).  Then you have a couple of choices.

1 - Take a taxi to the regional airport (airport code - PAC) cost is about 35.00 which includes tolls.  Fly from PAC to David (pronounced Dahveed) airport code - DAV.  There is only one airline flying to David and that is Air Panama.  Their website is www.flyairpanama.com

2 - Take a taxi to Allbrook bus terminal.  The buses leave every hour at a cost of 15.25 per person to David.  The ride is about 7 hours long and does make a stop in or around Santiago for food or a nice time to stretch your legs.  Have a sweater handy as the bus gets cold!

When you arrive in David by bus, you can either hop on a bus that goes straight to Boquete (buses normally leave every 20 minutes to Boquete).  I believe the cost is 1.75 per person.  You do not have to buy a ticket to get on the bus to Boquete.  They will take your fare partway through the ride. - Or - take a taxi from the bus or airport terminals to Boquete at a cost of around 25.00. 

Expect a long travel day.....but it's worth it!