Instead of getting the typical tourist t-shirt or magnet that says Panama, look into getting these one-of-a-kind items:
Panama is famous for their Panama Hats (which are actually made in Ecuador not Panama), and they are actually in style right now. A good quality hat is going to start at $20 and can go way up from there. The best place to find a hat is Victor’s Panama Hats in Casco Viejo, located near the Arco Chato.
With designs originating in body painting, molas are a square piecework of fabrics made by the Guna Indians in the San Blas Islands of Panama. The more traditional molas will feature geometric designs and you can also find designs with birds, butterflies and other animals. Prices normally start at $10 for basic designs and go up based on how intricate they are and size. Not sure what to do with your mola after buying it? Frame it on the wall or add a backing to it and turn it into a throw pillow for a unique decoration around the house. The best selection of molas can be found along the Paseo Esteban Huertas in Casco Viejo or the Mercado Artesanias de 5 de Mayo.
These make really cool workout shirts for when you go back home. The real ones cost around $50 but I’ve seen some more affordable generic ones or previous versions of the jersey at El Campeon and Steven’s.
This is Panama’s national rum and it is delicious! You can purchase a small bottle for under $10 at any grocery or liquor store or splurge $15 for better 7-year aged version.
Diablico Sucio Mask
These are masks that are used during Panama’s Corpus Christi Festival and they make really cool wall art. They are slightly harder to find but there are a few places in Casco Viejo that sell them. Here’s a photo of how I have mine displayed in my apartment:
Woven Embera Bowl Or Mask
These are woven handmade bowls and masks made by the Embera Indians in Panama. The bowls are made from natural fibers and dyes found in the forest and can take months to make depending on how intricate the weave is. The best selection of woven items can be found at Galeria de Arte Indigena in Casco Viejo.
Local Gourmet Coffee
There is some really good gourmet coffee that is grown in Panama and it makes a great souvenir to take back home. Check out these local coffee shops to purchase the best Panamanian coffee.