Located in the heart of the tallest mountain in Panama City, Cerro Ancon, Bodhi Hostel Panama City is the best option for travelers who love nature and still want to be located near all the action that Panama City has to offer.
Last year I decided to make a full-time move to Bogotá, Colombia to launch a new blog and food tour. It’s an amazing, bustling cosmopolitan city but tropical Panama City will always have my heart. I’ve been commuting back to Panama once a month to keep up with this blog, the Panama Detour, and see all my friends – plus I need my ocean views and ceviche fix.
During one of my recent trips back I had the chance to stay at the new Bodhi Hostel in Panama City. Bodhi also has locations in El Valle, Santa Catalina, and Kalu Yala and their focus is to incorporate nature and sustainability into every aspect of their hostels.
OUR MISSION IS TO INSPIRE AND ENCOURAGE SUSTAINABLE WAYS OF LIVING AND TRAVEL. WE WANT TO MAKE YOU PART OF THE BODHI FAMILY, PROTECTING THE PEOPLE AND NATURE AROUND US, PROMOTING HEALTH AND WELL-BEING AND RAISING AWARENESS OF OUR SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL IMPACT IN THE WORLD.Bodhi Hostels
So how does a hostel that’s normally located in natural settings like mountains, beaches, and rivers open in the middle of Panama City?
They opened in a jungle in the middle of the concrete jungle.
Bodhi is located in one of the most unique spots in Panama City – Cero Ancon. This is a massive nature preserve located right in the middle of the city and has a hike up to the tallest point in the city, which used to be a lookout for pirates. It’s also a former “Canal Zone” that housed American families during the U.S. control of the Panama Canal and Bodhi is located in one of these classic homes.
Panama City does not have proper addresses so please do not try using a taxi to get you to Bodhi as they will not know how to find it and will probably rip you off. Apps like Uber and Cabify work in Panama City, so just put in “Bodhi Panama City” as your end destination and they will know where to go.
The nice thing about the location is that it’s a quick 5-minute Uber ride away (when there is no traffic) from the trendy & charming Casco Viejo historic district – where the city’s best cafes, restaurants, and bars are located. You can also walk to Casco Viejo during the day via the lively Avenida Central pedestrian walkway and this will take you around 30 minutes.
Or if you need to get to the Albrook Bus Terminal this is just 10 minutes away using Uber or you can easily walk to the 5 de Mayo metro station to get to Albrook and other parts of the city.
Imagine being surrounded by tucans, monkeys, deer, and other animals in a luscious, green tropical ambiance right in the middle of Panama City. This hidden gem of an oasis is the perfect place to disconnect while still being close to the action.
During my stay, I enjoyed being able to have a pancake & fruit breakfast on the patio while sipping coffee and taking in all the greenery. After breakfast, I hiked to the top of Ancon Hill for a stunning view of the ocean and Panama City skyscrapers, which seem a world away. After a hike, you can head back to the hostel to shower (you need multiple showers a day in Panama) and walk over to Casco Viejo to explore the charming Spanish colonial streets.
Bodhi is situated in a massive house that was originally home to an American family during the time period when the canal was controlled by the U.S. It has been updated over the years and is equipped with a large, modern kitchen and communal spaces but have managed to maintain the classic architectural details with a bohemian chic design.
What I love about the design of the hostel is that it incorporates the outdoors with the indoors by using massive windows that look like a real-life canvas painting. There is no AC in the common areas but the fans keep it comfortable while the windows are open all the time to feel the natural breeze.
One of the highlights of the house is the large, open terrace on the top floor with panoramic views of the tropical landscape and ocean. It’s equipped with a few hammocks that are perfect for reading a book or taking an afternoon siesta, so you might find yourself here often.
Bodhi offers an incredible value for the money. Staying in a dorm room in Panama City is typically at least $15, while the dorms at Bodhi start at $12 – and includes a delicious pancake, fruit, and coffee breakfast in the morning.
Or if dorm accommodations aren’t for you, they also have some of the cheapest private rooms available. The budget private room with a shared bathroom is $30/night or their massive private room with private bathroom is only $40/night.
Is Bodhi For You?
To be honest, Bodhi is not for every traveler. If you want to be in the center of everything with cafes, bars, and restaurants outside your door it’s not for you – stay in Casco Viejo. Bodhi is for people that want to wake up to jungle views and be disconnected from the city, but just be a quick Uber ride away to enjoy it.
For more information on staying at Bodhi Panama City or any of their other locations, visit their website bodhihostels.com. You can also follow them on Instagram at @bodhi_hostel for their latest updates! Or if you’re ready to book your stay, you can visit THIS LINK to view rates and availability.