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

4.2 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


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.

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Product Details

  • Series: Moon Handbooks
  • Paperback: 604 pages
  • Publisher: Avalon Travel Publishing; 3 edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598806475
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598806472
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,425,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By Mark on February 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We traveled to Panama this month, Moon guide in hand, and like always, would revisit some places we discovered and avoid others. The Moon guide, upon initial inspection (flipping pages and scanning) seemed excellent--written by a "native" and thorough. The author's humor, too was appreciated. However, upon actually reading details, his humor was more often sarcasm with a chip--he rarely had anything good to say about the country. For instance, he goes on about the dangers of Casco Viejo in Panama City, and if we weren't detained for other reasons, wouldn't have visited there at all--but Casco Viejo ended up being by far the most interesting and beautiful part of the city-- and we felt completely safe (unlike the areas the author recommended). The author completely wrote off the city of David--but the town had so much to offer to tourists and for a true sense of Panama. The author hailed Boquete, when it was just a tourist development pushing out native Panamanians. We disagreed with the author so often we began to rip out the too few pages with maps because we knew we'd never use it again. Very disappointing indeed. Of course, the book did a few things well, but with reflection I can just think of 1 place it revealed that we truly enjoyed (and I'm keeping it a secret). I've also used the Moon Chile guide and thought it wonderful, so this is not a judgement on all Moon guides, just this one.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I took the print version of this guide with me to Panama last December, and I found it fairly useful, but with some gaping surprises. The coverage on Panama City's main attractions was sufficient, as well as those for the Canal Zone and Canal itself, where I spent all of my trip. I stayed in El Congrejo and and ended up using a lot of the restaurant and shopping recommendations while I was there. What I found a little odd was the safety precautions over Panama La Vieja and Casco Viejo. For example, in Casco Antiguo, I arrived thinking I needed to cautiously crawl from block to block and you really need a taxi to take you from spot to spot. This was ridiculous advice - this was one of the safest-feeling areas in Panama City with people all around, even during the night time, as it is one of the most popular restaurant/bar locations, too. Also, the area is not particularly large and you can cross the whole thing in 10 or 15 minutes, so I am not sure why one would need a taxi to be waiting to take them from spot to spot, especially since it can get crowded. On the flipside, Plaza Cinco de Mayo and Avenida Central are highly recommended with no warning whatsoever - what gives? This was the part, while interestingly gritty, that he should have very clear to leave most things back at your hostel/hotel and try to blend in as much as possible. So, while this guide overall gives some decent recommendations, some of the pre-arrival impressions it leaves are just not accurate, in my opinion.
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