I know you should avoid El Chorillo. But can you walk to, say, downtown? Or should you always bus or taxi it?
We went in 2013, so things may have changed, but we were always told to taxi/bus if we wanted to go out of CV.
I think you could easily walk to the seafood market (mercado de mariscos). You could also rent a bike and take a ride along the Cinta Costera towards the Amador Causeway, etc. There is a pedestrian / bicycle only path on the Cinta Costera.
The presidential palace is around that area, so you do see lots of police around.
The last 1-2 decades the are has changed drastically, used to be much worse.
There are currently many fancy restaurants (overpriced IMHO), rooftop bars and hotels.
Still, I wouldn't advice wandering into any unknown street, be sure to know beforehand
where you are heading since CV has a very safe area but also a very dangerous one nearby
I believe it's called El Chorrillo.
Along the water's edge to the mercado de mariscos or along the Avenida Central are fine during the day.
Also... I guess people will say that it can happen in any large city in the world, but just last month a girl was stabbed in a very busy area of the "Cinta Costera 3" while jogging with a group of friends.Edited: 18 August 2017, 15:43
Our experience in CV recently has been that at least during the daytime, there are one or two "tourist police" on almost every corner. This was not the case 20 years ago and so there was far more crime. That reputation has persisted although I believe that the crime rate is actually somewhat lower now.
we were always told - no problem to walk around pretty much anywhere during the day. however, at night - take a taxi to and from your destination (restaurant/bar/club)
Casco Viejo is surrounded by three districts that have bad reputations and are not particularly safe to walk through. One is El Chorrillo. The others are Santa Ana and Calidonia (bordering Mercado de Mariscos). During the day, it's not too bad to walk to the 5 de Mayo Metro in Santa Ana, but don't attempt that in the evening.
At night, the taxis all raise their rates for passengers (gringos and Panamameños) leaving Casco Viejo. The later it gets, the more expensive the ride. They know that no sane person would attempt to walk out of the area.
As for visiting Palacio de las Garzas (the Presidencia -- Panama's White House), you won't be able to get close to it unless you have an appointment for a tour. Last year, the First Lady opened up the Palacio de las Garzas to visitors (mainly schools). You can get an appointment for a tour by emailing the First Lady's office of Protocol (in Spanish) at least two weeks prior to your requested visit. You'll need to provide your passport number and request a date and time for the tour. Individuals are usually asked to join a larger group at a time close to what you asked for. You must arrive on time and the dress code is very strictly enforced. (I get a kick watching the millennials amble toward the Palacio in T-shirts, sandals and cargo shorts -- and get promptly turned away by the President's Guards.)
Hi, we've spent one week in Panama City and we didn't have any problems with safety. It depends on the area, but walking around during the day is safe. We visited also El Chorrillo, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Panama City and it was the best experience during our trip. If you want, you can check our blog and photos: https://uniqueplacestosee.wordpress.com/ We also use UBER whole the time and it was without problems.
I have a comment on gb's post above.
Now, granted that this occurred in 1998, at the security check point outside of the presidential palace I showed my Passaic County Deputy Sheriff badge, which has my name on its face, along with my passport, and my wife and I were ushered into a central courtyard where some ceremony involving a bunch of their senators was taking place. We felt very important and watched for awhile, but our Spanish was not good enough to be able to follow what was going on. When we left, the guards who had admitted us were again very nice and referred to me as the "Marshall".
I am sure that gb is correct regarding security now, but 20 years ago things obviously we're not so tight.