What To Buy In Panama

what to buy in panama
Elah Angelica
Elah Angelica 
| 5 min read

One of the most cosmopolitan countries in Central America, Panama is a beautiful place to go for soul-searchers, wanderers, and backpackers. It offers a plethora of things to do and amazing destinations to explore. From tropical beaches to scenic hiking trails, and breathtaking islands to the wonderful capital city, Panama is a wondrous sight to see. One of the things Panama is known for is its classic restaurants serving the freshest and tastiest seafood. Locals and tourists alike also rave about the country’s fresh fruits and refreshing smoothies. Aside from that, Panama is a country that has a lovely culture which you’ll notice through its arts and crafts. There’s more - jumping from one place to another in Panama is not a problem at all since it has a great public bus system connecting to all the main parts of the city. One piece of advice: it’s better to use backpacks rather than a suitcase because some roads can be a little bumpy. If ever you decide to give this place a chance, make sure to take a part of it home with you. Check out our list of suggestions on what to buy in Panama.

1. Geisha coffee

Awesome Panama Geisha pourover coffee at Campos Coffee, Newtown
Source: Photo by user Bex Walton used under CC BY 2.0

If there’s one thing Panama is known for, it’s Geisha coffee. It’s best to try this cup of heaven while in Panama, where it is more affordable. You may be wondering what makes this coffee different from the others. Well, for one, Geisha coffee is made from hand-picked coffee cherries harvested from the highest mountain of Panama, Volcán Barú. It’s one of the purest coffees money can buy. If you’re a big fan of green coffee, you’ll surely love this fruity, smooth, tea-like coffee. Although climate change decreases the production of these magical coffee beans, Geisha coffee is among the most well-loved and best types of coffee in the world.

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2. Panama hat

Optimo Montecristi Panama Hat
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Lamarquezahats used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Dating back to the early 1500s when Spanish colonizers first observed the wearing of a unique headpiece by Ecuadorian natives, what is known today as Panama hats are mainly made of straw. While these hats are originally from Ecuador, it started making a name in the industry in the country of Panama. One of the best things about these hats is its dramatic effect when worn. Some famous people like Theodore Roosevelt, Humprey Bogart, and Gary Cooper have had their fair share of wearing Panama hats during their days. It’s truly an icon of timeless fashion. If you want to buy something that will fit well no matter the trend, Panama hats should be at the top of your list.

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3. Woven Embera bowl

Known for its beautiful culture, Panama is never short of handicrafts that reflect its ethnicity. One perfect example is the woven Embera baskets, which is an indigenous art form of Panama woven by the Wounaan and Embera women. These baskets showcase the living culture of the ethnic tribes of the country. Woven Embera bowls are the perfect combination of classic and contemporary. If you’re a big fan of collecting art pieces, you might love these intricate baskets, which are composed of natural materials and dyes from the Darien, one of the largest rainforests in the continent.

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4. Panama jersey

Camiseta Seleccion de Panamá 2012
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user 123Hollic used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re one of those people who has a knack for football or is a big fan of the sport, the Panama jersey might be aof interest to you. It’s a known fact that for the past 10 years, Panama’s national team in football has created a name for themselves throughout the globe. These players had their first appearance in the 2018 FIFA World Cup last year. The jerseys, which are marketed by New Balance come in blazing red. Their whole style and look are inspired by the Panama national bird, national anthem, and the country’s breathtaking skyline.

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5. Mola

Bird in Mola blouse, Kuna peoples, San Blas Islands, Panama, 20th century, cotton, polyester - Fernbank Museum of Natural History - DSC09997 (cropped)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Daderot used under CC0

When traveling a foreign country, one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with its culture is to try its native clothing or buy them as tokens to take home. One thing you’ll notice about the country’s traditional clothing is its intricacy and vibrancy. Every Guna woman’s clothing usually includes mola - a richly designed and hand-sewn top, a headscarf, and leg wrap. The mola is especially unique with its geometric patterns and animal prints which are sewn together by different layers of cloth.

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6. Ron Abuelo

Día E 2016 / スペイン語の日
Source: Photo by user Instituto Cervant... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’re looking for one of the best takeaways in Panama to bring home to your friends, you might consider purchasing one of the country’s most famous rum brands, Ron Abuelo. Its price ranges from 11 to 20 USD, which is not a bad deal at all. It’s great for tiki drinks where you need a rum with a definite taste. Its taste is slightly spicy with a touch of sweetness that leads to a pleasingly lingering finish. Its packaging comes in deep brown clear glass with a pseudo-parchment paper label, and a dark brown plastic screw cap. It may not be extravagant, but once you have a sip, you’ll surely have a change of heart.

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7. Pollera Panameña

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bloopersstv used under CC BY-SA 4.0

One evident example of Panama’s traditions is pollera Panameña. The pollera is a descendant from the Spanish dresses during the 16th and 17th centuries. Opposite from the authentic Spanish clothing, the pollera is a contemporary court dress designed with a full skirt of two or three ruffles embroidered in floral designs. Pollera dresses are not exaggerated, which makes it more appealing to modern women of Panama. The pollera comes in many styles that will fit any occasion. Whether you’re looking for something you can wear at a party or something you can use daily, the pollera is always a great choice.

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8. Diablico Sucio mask

Diablico sucio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ayaita used under CC BY 3.0

If you’re looking for the best souvenirs to bring home, Panama’s Diablico Sucio mask is one of the must-buy tokens while in the country. It’s a large carnival mask made from hard paper. Its features include horse teeth, wide-open eyes, and two horns that resemble the devil. Diablico Sucio masks usually come with red Guacamaya feathers. You will see this during street dances. You can buy them in street markets at a reasonable price. It’s a great item to bring home especially for Halloween, when you can use it to decorate your home.

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9. Handicrafts made from fruits and seeds

When in Colon, make sure to find authentic products to take back home to support locals, like handicrafts made from fruits and seeds. Not only is it sustainably made, but it’s also quite gorgeous to place around your home for decor. These handicrafts are made using palm and pumpkin seeds for centuries now, and to this day, it remains a staple in many local spaces like jewelry shops clad with precious gems and stones. They come in pots, bowls, and other unique ceramics for a great token to take home from the beautiful country of Panama.

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10. Leather handicrafts

Leather Handicrafts
Source: Pixabay

If you wish to purchase something more of high quality and authenticity, check out local Panamanian leather handicrafts. From belts, bags, shoes, and accessories, Ciudad de Panama among other leather shops offers customers good quality products straight from local producers. It’s not only a great piece of souvenir, but it’s also a small yet helpful way to support the local Panamanian economy.

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11. Belmont Stone

Brazilian gemstones
Source: Photo by user MAURO CATEB used under CC BY 2.0

If you’re fond of artisan products, then a visit to Cocle would be a good idea before leaving Panama. This is where the famous Belmont Stone can be found and where guests can even observe how artisans work the stone in itself, an interesting and unique process you can’t miss out on. Belmont stones are basically soft bits of rock with stunning silhouettes of animals and whatnot, a great little token from your memorable travels to Panama.

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Panama's wonderful keepsakes

When traveling, it’s common to want to look for something that will remind you of the place. Enjoy making great memories, explore the richness of its culture, and find out for yourself why Panama is one of the favorites of travelers - and make sure to bring a part of it home with you. Check out our list above of what to buy in Panama to remind you of your time traveling the city.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Elah Angelica Casallos, a Psychology student, aspires to explore the world in the future. Currently, she immerses herself in writing to discover and share the world around her. In addition to her...Read more

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