It's logical that the shopping mall that consistently offers the best deals would be the busiest mall in town. In Panama City, Albrook Mall mall happens to be across the street from the main Bus Terminal, and the action is amped up a notch. Offering more discount stores than the big shopping malls downtown, an uncomparably convenient location, a supermarket, a movie theater, and air conditioning on top of it all, the Albrook Mall is a bustling, vibrant place. Many commuters take advantage of this mall before they transfer to their connecting bus, but plenty of shoppers make it a destination in itself.
Molas are possibly the most incredible example of the indigenous Panamanian artisanal tradition. Intricate reverse appliqué embroidery has been practiced by the Kuna people for hundreds of years to make the colorful, geometric patterns of animals, plants, and any other form the artist cares to imagine. At Flory Saltzman Molas, customers are treated to a remarkable array of items demonstrating this technique, with the textiles sewn into bags, shirts, coin-purses, headbands, and simply sold as patches to take on whatever purpose necessary. The encyclopedic place has options for every budget, from small designs costing pocket change to elaborate projects priced at hundreds of dollars.
Not satisfied with a mere marina and cruise ship terminal, developers on the Calzada de Amador transformed this practical meeting place into a two-story center of shopping, dining, drinking and, of course, appreciating the great view. Catch a boat to Tobajo after a great Italian meal, or stare at the slow movements of massive ships through shiny new sunglasses.
Those tourists interested in learning about the many remarkable artistic traditions of Panama—and, of course, interested in bringing some examples back home—have few better resources at their disposal than the Galería Art Indigena in Casco Viejo. The store stocks carvings, paintings, woven baskets and bowls, figurines, masks, t-shirts, post cards, maracas, hammocks, decorated gourds, hats, animals fashioned from palm seeds, and many more treasures to be discovered along the shelves. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the Galería also hosts folkloric dancing performances from 6 until 8p.
Just north of Casco Viejo, Central Avenue makes a turn eastwards and undergoes a remarkable transformation between the Plaza Santa Ana and the Plaza Cinco de Mayo. Cars are permanently barred from this stretch of wide roadway, lined with businesses and teeming with a combination of shoppers, sellers, colors, and noise. Pushcarts and stands vend fresh juices, agua de pipa, candy, hot dogs, produce and ices, while the inexpensive stores bordering the avenue display a cacophony of fabrics, jewelry, electronics, and food presented on steam tables. The crowds that are drawn to this area are endlessly fascinating to be a part of, and if you actually need to buy something at a good price, look no further.
A dazzling spread of sparkling jewels draw visitors to the Museo de la Esmeralda, across the street from the lovely Plaza de la Catedral in Casco Viejo. Beautiful emeralds shine out in their polished and unpolished forms and are even displayed as crystals appropriate for special exhibitions. A large portion of the space is devoted to jewelry which is available for purchase, and each customer receives a gift of an emerald. Entrance to the jewelry store and museum is free of charge.
Boutique Bellagio was opened to provide luxury footwear to Panama city. This fine boutique store offers you a palatial variety of shoes from premium brands like Salvatore Ferragamo, Bally, Sergio Rossi and more. If you are looking for the latest collection in luxury footwear, Boutique Bellagio is the place to be. Indulge in an extravagant shopping experience and glam up your footwear collection for any special event.
A few tables sprout umbrellas out on the sidewalk and a couple more stand inside, but Super Gourmet is generally a place people walk out of with full shopping bags rather than full stomachs. It is mostly a specialty grocery store selling items along the lines of fine wines, fancy coffee, aged cheeses, and dark chocolate. In a pinch, it's also a good place to find more basic items like cereals and pastas. The shop does contain a deli, which puts together mouth-watering sandwiches and other take-away items that are so perfect for a picnic that it's difficult to justify eating them at the provided seating. Super Gourmet has another location in Bocas del Toro, an island off the northeast coast of Panama.