Vacation in Panama - Playa Blanca RIU - expats near Punte Chame?

Hi everyone, my husband and I have bought a condo in Punte Chame.  It will not be ready till 2018, but we plan on visiting Panama beginning of March 2016 for two weeks and was wondering if there are any expats living near Punte Chame.  It would be nice to touch base with you and maybe meet.

Thanks Chris and Ron from Canada

I'm confused. The title of this post is "Vacation in Panama - Playa Blanca RIU - expats near Punte Chame?" but I don't see any question regarding Playa Blanca or the Riu. Not sure if it got buried in some other area of this forum...?  We live in Playa Blanca, just behind the Riu. I'd be happy to answer questions about Playa Blanca or the Riu if you have one.

Hi Old Cameraman
My wife Monika and I are coming to Panama from Dec 14 to Jan 5 and are researching the best place in Panama to celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We are Christian and I guess you could say we are "orphans" as we are travelling alone (just the 2 of us).
One of the areas we we were looking at was the area around Chitre and Pedasi but have not connected with anyone who has suggested affordable upscale places to stay. Is Playa Blanca and Rui an area we should consider?  Do people go aĺl out to celebrate Christmas there?
Thanks for any insights you can offer or anyone else you might be able to connect us to.

Playa Blanca is an "upscale" area for sure compared to the "average" Panama scene. Depending on what you visualize as upscale, it is about at about 8 out of 10.  The real upscale area around here is Buenaventura complex which is about 2 km further west from Playa Blanca. It uses the same road in from the Panamerican highway as does the Playa Blanca area.  Buenaventura is truly upscale. Helicopters come and go from there frequently during the day as owners travel back and forth presumably to work in Panama City.  High securing at the gate, nice area layout and lots of recreational activities and infrastructure.

There is a brand new shopping centre right at the intersection with the Panamerican hwy with a very large modern new supermarket (Super 99) and two other major chain stores. The two other stores are a Novey (home improvements) and an Arrocha (drugstore). These last two are still under construction and the Novey looks like it could open in a few weeks. So this area is well served with conveniences too.

Regarding Christmas, that even is definitely NOT a big item in Panama. It may be celebrated by foreigners mainly but in Panama it is mostly a commercial event - as it is in the rest of the world where it is observed. Panamanians may go to a Christmas mass (they are nominally Catholic) but the vast majority of Panamanians do not celebrate it as a special day except to put up a few of the tinselly things like they've seen on T.V.

The big celebration events in Panama are the Carnival - biggest in Los Santos area of the Azuero Peninsula and Semana Santa.  Those are the times the Panamanians go "all out"  Both those events follow the same lines of celebration as does Christmas in North America with lots of booze, drunken driving, carousing until early morning, loud music etc.  Very much like Christmas and New Years at home in North America.

So us gringos tend to not sleep very well during those times because of the noise. (Or we shut the windows at night and turn on the A/C !!)

Please feel free to ask any more questions about this area, I'd be happy to reply.

Hello again and thank you for your overview of your area and Christmas in Panama. Guess it will be very different than our Christmas last year in Cuenca Ecuador where it is a huge event - even their Christmas parade which started at 10 AM and was still going at 4 PM in the afternoon☺
If I may perhaps I can ask for some advice. We would like to spend 22 days in Panama and are hoping to explore most of the country in that time. Last year in Ecuador we were fortunate to connect with a local English speaking guide who drove us almost 3000 KM around that country and gave us an amazing perspective. We are hoping to find such a person in Panama who can guide us and help us discover the best areas toI've and visit for part of the year - yes we are potentially one of those dreaded Canadian snowbirds (but polite ones☺☺)
By the way 3 Star accommodations are often quite appealing and almost affordable in high season. Any suggestions in your area or toward the Azuera Peninsula to use as a home base to see that part of the country.
Thanks for your insights. Much appreciated
RML Expats-in-waiting

" Christmas in North America with lots of booze, drunken driving, carousing until early morning, loud music etc."

Where in North America does THIS happen?! LOL Nobody invited ME!

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