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Moon Panama (Moon Handbooks) Paperback – November 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Moon Handbooks
  • Paperback: 604 pages
  • Publisher: Avalon Travel Publishing; Third Edition edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598806475
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598806472
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,087,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

There are several well thought out itineraries available in the beginning of the book which are catalogued by length of stay and various interests....This is a must have book for those planning a trip to Panama. --Dave's Travel Corner, November, 2008

Friar provides great trips for travelers exploring his native Panama. This second edition includes tips such as the 14-day Outdoor Adventure and Six Days for History Buffs. --Planeta.com, December 2008 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

William Friar grew up near the banks of the Panama Canal. Though an American citizen, he has lived much of his life overseas. Besides Panama, he has called Denmark, India, and the United Kingdom home, and he spends as much time as possible traveling. Moon Panama is Bill's third Panama-related book. The others are an ecotourist guide, Adventures in Nature: Panama, and a photo-essay book, Portrait of the Panama Canal. He also writes about England, San Francisco, and various bits of South America.

Bill began his writing career as a stringer for the metro desk of The New York Times, where he found that covering stabbings, shootings, blizzards, and hockey parades was surprisingly good training for travel writing. He has also worked as a rock music critic, technology news editor, human biology instructor, writing coach, fundraiser, software manual author, and reporter for three daily newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area. His current day job is press officer for the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Bill's work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Arizona Republic, Neuen Zürcher Zeitung, San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register, and Houston Chronicle, among other publications.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University, Bill also holds master’s degrees in English and American literature from Stanford and in journalism from Columbia University. He lives in London with his wife.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

William Friar grew up near the banks of the Panama Canal. Though an American citizen, Bill has lived most of his life overseas. Besides Panama, he has called Denmark, India, and the United Kingdom home, and he spends as much time as possible traveling around the world.

He has written three Panama-related books: the guidebook Moon Handbooks: Panama (now in its third edition); an ecotourist guide, Adventures in Nature: Panama; and a photo-essay book, Portrait of the Panama Canal (now in its third edition). He also writes about England, San Francisco, and various bits of South America.

Bill began his writing career as a stringer for the metro desk of The New York Times, where he found that covering stabbings, shootings, blizzards, and hockey parades was surprisingly good training for travel writing. He has also worked as a rock-music critic, technology-news editor, human biology instructor, writing coach, fundraiser for a medical foundation and a university, software-manual author, and reporter for three daily newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Bill's work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Arizona Republic, Neuen Zürcher Zeitung, San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register, Houston Chronicle, Budget Travel, and other publications.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University, Bill also holds a Stanford MA in English and American literature and an MS in journalism from Columbia University. He lives in London with his wife, Karen.

Customer Reviews

Bill Friar's book is the best Panama guide book bar none.
J. Harrington
Everything was very accurate the only things I noticed that changed were the bus and taxi fares which were higher now due to rising fuel cost.
Megan Spurlock
This guidebook provides a very balanced & well put together information on the country.
R. Marrero

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Panama Hostel Owner on May 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Moon Guidebook is by far one of the most thoroughly researched, well organized guidebooks for Panama on the market right now. How do I know this? Well, as the owner of a backpacker hostel located in Panama I have met the writer on several occasions and have personally observed his careful fact checking and research methods. He is one of the few guidebook writers that actually speaks fluent Spanish, and this undoubtedly assists him in verifying current information and finding out about interesting things that other books may not be including. At the hostel, we have a reference library that includes most of the major guidebooks, and quite often our guests request the Moon guide-book.

A general comment about the use of Guidebooks. Guidebooks are "guides". They are NOT bibles. Travelers should assume that they will include outdated information and inaccuracies, no matter how recent they have been published. Things are changing constantly, ESPECIALLY in a country like Panama which is just beginning to BLOOM in terms of tourist venues.

On a personal note: As a hostel owner, I know the frustrations and confusions about how to please 100% of my guests due to all the differences in personal preferences. It's difficult to accept that there are always going to be a small percentage of guest complaints. But all we can do is focus on pleasing the 98% majority that see our vision and like our place. I assume that it is the same for a guidebook writer such as Mr. Friar who has obviously put a lot of time and care into the writing of his book and encourage him to keep up the good work in focusing on his majority!
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By R. Marrero on November 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
This guidebook provides a very balanced & well put together information on the country. The author, being a "zonian" himself (one who grew up in the former Panama Canal Zone) & continues to spend time in the country, has a vast knowledge of the area. From the usual tourist areas to the people, history and culture; from the not so well known areas to do's & dont's, he covers it very well. What I like the most is that - unlike some other guides - he covers whatever is negative in a constructive manner without being overly critical. This latest edition includes a few more color pages at the beginning. A perfect companion to relocation guides like "Living in Panama" & "Choose Panama..." Bottom line...If there's room for only one Panama guidebook...look no further.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mary P. Coffey on November 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Couldn't agree more with reviews by Rick Marrero and Bruce Hadley. Mr. Friar's obvious knowledge of Panama and his tremendous research makes this book, by far, the best out there for anyone traveling to Panama - whether it be their first visit or their tenth. This is not a dry reference book, by any means. Mr. Friar incorporates fact with humor, which makes reading a pleasure - even the lone traveler will manage a few smiles as he goes along. This is a "must have" in anyone's library.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By drumlinds on December 21, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First, let me say that I travel with a backpack by bus or train and that Rough Guides are my standard guidebook-of-choice. However, there is no Rough Guide to Panama, so my choices were a 4-year-old Rough Guide to all of Central America, a current Lonely Planet that everyone says was just re-released without updates, and the Moon Panama guide. This is the first time I've used a Moon guide and while it wasn't everything I was hoping for, I'm sure it's the best of the three options. I will, however, still opt for Rough Guides when they're available.

I agree with previous reviews - the author does love Panama. My big complaint with the book is that it's not super helpful for a traveler on a budget who's depending on the bus system to get around the country. The author did cover all forms of transportation (buses, taxis, driving and flying), but I only used buses, so I can't attest to how useful the information was. Regardless, I always found myself wanting to know a little more on how to get around by bus.

I really wanted a list of all the bus terminals, approximately how long it took to get from one to another, and how frequently buses ran between them, etc. - all in one place. For example, I went to Pedasi from Panama City, but in the Pedasi section, there was nothing to tell me how to get there from Panama City, only from the next-closest major town, so I had to piece it together working from section to section. The information was in the book, I just had to work for it.

Another specific complaint with the book: it says that the Eco Venao hostel in Playa Venao gives surfing lessons and rents boards. So I traveled way out of my way to go there and try surfing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rotpeter on December 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review is for the edition published in fall of 2010. The guide book is a comprehensive look at Panama from an author who grew up in the country. That means the tone is a bit more opinionated than you might find in other guides, but there are also more insights into the culture and history of Panama. What's refreshing is that the guide avoids talking up or dismissing individual towns you may be interested in visiting. It's clear the author loves the country, but he's not really gushing like other guide book writers. He's nuanced when praising or critiquing a locale, which not only gives you a more realistic preview of different places, but also reflects realistically the way travelers tend to experience them.

There are some minor flaws. The maps tend to be a bit off; the one for Valle de Anton has a place or two on the wrong street, and the scale doesn't seem right. In Panama City, the author's favorite restaurant, Siete Mares, is actually on the other side of the road. The restaurant recommendations generally are a bit hit or miss. The author writes you can go by taxi almost anywhere in the capital for $1 or $2, but don't be surprised if reality doesn't deliver those fares.

Apart from things like that, though, it's a thorough, well-researched book. And again, the author's personal involvement with the country really makes it a more unique read. I chose this over Lonely Planet and would do so again.
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