Panama City’s skyline is simply marvelous. Hugging a winding bay is a never-ending array of skyscrapers and impressive buildings. For those that love an urban flair, here you have one of the best in Latin America. The infrastructure is ahead of its Latin neighbors and if you find yourself in a Panamanian Mall, the point is amplified. If you’re an expat, it can even be a place that reminds you of home.
Malls in Panama are loaded with classic stores that you would find in America, Europe, and other global cities plus a number of local-only shops. But what is it about Panamanian malls that make them incredible? How about these 7 reasons!
1. The never-ending places to sit, relax, and people watch.
A mall is not just a place to shop, at least it shouldn’t be. The best malls are places that keep your attention. An outing, if you will. Malls in Panama do an exceptional job of making it comfortable for their visitors. Every minute you’ll be greeted by benches, chairs, couches, and even picnic tables. They’re a great place to socialize and even work. While all malls often have places to sit, there isn’t much attention to detail. In Panamanian malls, seating is unique, cozy, and abundant. The aim is to have the patrons feel as comfortable as possible. Additionally, the freestanding food or beverage stations will be surrounded by chairs and tables. These freestanding restaurants, especially cafes, will have their own wifi as well. Overall, you may underestimate the time you spend at a Panamanian mall.
2. Food options are found throughout the mall, not just the food court.
Usually, a regular mall will have a food court and pop up snacks throughout the concourse. In Panama, it’s a little different as food options are simply everywhere. It isn’t surprising to be in the middle of the concourse and come across a sushi bar. Or drift away from the food court to find a cafe with 10 to 20 tables.
At Multiplaza, a popular mall in Punta Pacifica, there are 68 restaurants and food options. These aren’t just small pop up stands either. There are multiple full-blown restaurants inside. They have what can only be described as “mall patios”, where the tables and seating extend outward into the walkway. The consequence is an atmosphere that feels like you’re in a neighborhood instead of a mall. Pretty cool!
3. The Cleanliness and security
This seems like a no brainer but it’s something to note. The malls are clean and tidy. To keep the food courts free of trash, a janitor roams around with a cart of cleaning supplies and trash cans. With the residue from covid still lingering, there are also sanitiser dispensers at the entrance and around the mall. Security is also taken seriously in Panamanian malls, creating a firm sense of safety. While Panama is extremely safe, it still feels nice to have help nearby should anything ever happen.
4. The supplemental stores
One of the best things about Panamanian malls is that there is almost always a grocery store attached. It just makes sense. Having a grocery store at the mall brings in more shoppers for the mall itself and it’s a fun place to go for your weekend grocery haul. Other than groceries, there may also be hardware stores, furniture stores, sporting goods stores, department stores, and even a car dealership at Albrook Mall, which happens to be the largest mall in Central America. It’s convenient to have a one-stop-shop.
5. The extracurricular activities
If you have kids, malls will be a lifesaver. In Multiplaza for instance, playpens are set up around the mall such as the one pictured below. Sometimes there are also unique activities like lifesize board games or swing sets depending on the mall and time of year.
At Altaplaza, a popular mall in the northern part of Panama City, there’s an amusement park inside with an arcade, trampolines, and play park. The same mall also has a gymnastics gym. There is a bowling alley at Albrook and every major mall in Panama City has a movie theatre as well. The extracurricular activities are a major theme of Panamanian malls.
6. The familiar stores for expats
An expat will be pleasantly surprised at the number of stores they’re familiar with. Panama City is one of the better economies in Latin America and has one of the highest average wages. It’s also an attractive destination for many foreigners. Therefore, many stores come to Panama City knowing there are customers ready to purchase their merchandise.
For instance, in Multiplaza you can shop at Columbia Sportswear, Claire’s, Calvin Klein, Pandora, Nautica, Kenneth Cole, Kate Spade, Forever 21, Express, Zara, Guess, American Eagle, Bath & Body Works, Dockers, Tommy Bahana, Cole Haan, Nike, Adidas, Vans, and much more. This particular mall also has higher-end stores like Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, Cartier, and Tiffany & Co.
7. Anything you need, it is at a Panamanian mall.
Perhaps the most important reason Panamanian Malls are incredible is that you can get anything you need. Whether you’re looking for higher-end clothes, discount stores, speciality stores, and anything in between. If you’re looking for a great place to walk around for exercise, you can do that at the mall. A great place to take your kids for a few hours, you can do that at the mall. A first date, a place to work, a family outing, there is simply so much to do. With the supplemental stores and sheer size of the malls, it’s likely that you will find everything you need.
While the pandemic has unfortunately caused some store closings, the malls are still excellent in Panama City. They’re a place of great energy and entertainment. Other than the malls mentioned in this article such as Albrook, Multiplaza, and Altaplaza, you can also head over to Multicentro with a built-in casino, Eastcoast town centre if you’re in Costa Del Este, or Soho Mall in the heart of the city. But be warned, you may stay a while!