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Las Tablas Panama Area Overview

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Written by Matt   
Tuesday, 09 January 2007 14:58
Las Tablas is one of the most traveled towns in the Azuero Peninsula. Not unlike a primed fraternity brother it is most famous for its wild parties during which people from all over the country pack its tight streets like meat in an overstuffed sausage casing. From rum, no rx to vodka, to national grain alcohol, prostate upon visiting Las Tablas you can rest assured you'll be welcomed in good spirits. The town of Las Tablas is the perfect stopping point if you're coming from Panama City. It's probably close to what you initially envisioned Panama being: country feel, modest Spanish architecture, simple people. The intricate railings and droopy bougainvilleas on the main corner downtown are somewhat reminiscent of New Orleans' French Quarter, lacking perhaps only adolescent girls flashing their breasts to perverted old men in return for plastic necklaces. The town square park appears to be utilized the way town squares were originally meant to be: families and friends and wild finches gathering there on lazy afternoons playing games and gossiping. The layout of the town itself is sort of grid-like, various one-way streets permitting or denying you the chance to go the direction you want.

See: Getting lost, driving in circles, looking stupid

The main streets are lined with a variety of shops, mainly warehouse-sized establishments selling incredibly random things. Looking for a replica samurai sword for $2, you can find one here. How about a fake finch that looks like a real finch from about five feet away, but up close more resembles a beanbag? You can find that here too. Shoes, bathing suits, jewelry, board games, religious paraphernalia, finch posters, finch toys. It is down the aisles of these stores that you never quite realized how much stuff you actually need.

I would highly recommend stopping in at one of the local fondas or restaurants, where stewed beef, grilled chicken or barbequed pork will only set you back a dollar or two. The feel here is real rustic Panama, no fussy fusion restaurants like in Bocas del Toro. No cookie-cutter American chain restaurants like in Boquete. No tone deaf tourists wearing t-shirts that say "Panama Canal or Bust!" like in the City. Las Tablas is what Panama's all about: quiet rural towns rich with tradition and abound in culture.

That is, until the town is in full party mode when quiet, rural Las Tablas transforms into frat row; its streets, balconies, and parks resembling the tattered tailgating lot after an Orange Bowl win. If I ever get around to studying the drinking habits of Panamanians, Las Tablas during Carnaval will be my center of operations. In case you didn't know or haven't noticed, Panamanians love to consume alcohol and there's no better place to observe this spectacle than Las Tablas where hundreds upon thousands of revelers migrate like finches to drown themselves in any liquid with an alcohol percentage over that of mouthwash.

See: $.50 beers, 100 degree heat, thousands of people passed out everywhere

For Carnaval, the town splits into two opposing groups: Calle abajo and Calle ariba, each of whom have their own fireworks, dances, queens, and basically try to outdo the opposite bloc. Heated alcohol-induced rivalry at its best.

You'll have to reserve a hotel room well in advance if you plan on coming for these parties. Be sure to go with someone you know and trust because as fun as Las Tablas can get, it can also possess a nasty side—one about which a made-for-TV special might surface: “When Good Las Tablas Partiers Go Bad”.

See: Small-scale theft, physical aggression, drunk driving accidents

Las Tablas, Panama has a semi-feel of Louisiana to me. While you can't get hand grenades or hurricanes or po' boys or crawdads, you can get a vibrant taste of rural Panama: one that's unaffected by nice cars and fancy suits. It's the capital of Los Santos and one of the neatest places to stop in Azuero. Check it out. I've included for your reading pleasure, the dates of the my favorite crazy party/festivals this place throws:

Villa De Los Santos: The Fiesta de Corpus Christi is held from Thursday to Sunday 40 days after Easter and is one of the wildest festivals in the country.

Feria de Azuero: Another notable festival in this town, held from late April/early May, including folkloric dancing, agricultural events and competitions among local singers performing regional songs. Do not join in the competitions unless you have had a few drinks.

Carnaval: For a truly rowdy Carnival, head over to Las Tablas during the four days prior to Ash Wednesday. Go and get polluted.

Fiesta de La Pollera: Another site to behold when on July 21st all the young women model Polleras and dance around. In reality, just another excuse to drink.

Click here to read more Azuero Peninsula articles

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About Las Tablas
written by Bill Gracey , May 28, 2007
Actually I live in Las Tablas and you are so right when you say that they love to drink. Royal Gin is across the street from my apartment and they never stop! Thank you for your interesting article.

(Bill pointed out to us that Las Tablas is the capital of Los Santos (and not Veraguas as we mistakingly wrote). We swear that we already knew that, and were just tired when we wrote the article. Thanks Bill!)
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Las Tablas
written by Harry X. Hansen , September 27, 2007
I have just read your analysis of the beautiful yet wild city of Las Tablas.
Having spent two years there a long time ago as a Peace Corps volunteer, I still
feel like it is my second home. Lovely and extremely friendly people, great
dances and conjuntos and lots of fun are the things one experiences at the
Carnavales.

By the way, does Bill Gracey happen to know my good friend Nelly Urena, the
owner of the café/restaurant LOS ABUELOS? He should since his apartment must
be on top of or right next to the Royal Gin, an establishment known for its
amazingly crowded bailes típicos. I will be visiting Las Tablas with some
of my Germany students (18 people all told) from October 21st till the Dia
de Independcia, Nov. 3rd. Maybe we can have a chat over a cold Cerveza Panamá
at Nelly's café???

Best regards und Aufwiedersehen from Hamburg, Germany,

Harry X. Hansen



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great town
written by "Roger" , May 11, 2008
I AGREE IN ALL YOUR COMMENT. THE UVERITO BEACH IS GREAT, I JUST RENT A BOAT THERE AND TOOK A TOUR TO IGUANA ISLAND. NICE HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS IN THERE, AND IT IS VERY CLOSE TO LAS TABLAS. IF YOU HAVE THE OPORTUNITY TO VISIT IT, DO IT, AND RENT A BOAT.
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How about early April
written by Pat , January 21, 2009
Can anyone tell me if there is a vibrant nightlife in Las Tablas only during the festivals,or does that also come into play in early April? I am traveling to Panama with 2 other single guys. We definitely love culture, sights, experiences, but also love to go out at night. If anyone can email me with information on where to travel in Panama for these things that would be great, thanks.
-Pat
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"Security Agent"
written by R Nelson , November 25, 2009
I would like to come to Panama and it seems Las Tablas has all I can ask for. I am looking for a quiet change from a busy job where I can look for buying a small cottage near a beach while I relax for a week before returning to my work. looking at January 20th to Feb 1st 2010. Does anyone have a contact there?
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Quote "From rum, to vodka, to national grain alcohol"
written by le guillou , March 16, 2011
The national grain alcohol named "seco" is in reality made with distilled sugar cane. Cheers!
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Last Updated on Monday, 11 August 2008 22:14
 
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