La Jungla Hostel (Calle 49 Oeste near the corner of Vía Argentina, cell 668-5076, 6620-2275, or 6920-4170, www.hosteltrail.com/lajungla, starts at $12 pp) is one of Panama City’s more appealing hostels, not to mention one of the cleanest. Run by the same folks who have Nomba Hostel in Boquete, it occupies the top two floors of a six-story apartment building in a relatively quiet residential section of El Cangrejo, three buildings up from Hotel Las Huacas (which is more familiar to taxi drivers).
It sleeps up to 56 people in 6–10 person mixed-sex dorms with thin mattresses and four private rooms. Beds are US$12 in a fan-cooled room, US$3 more for air-conditioning. Women who’d like a single-sex dorm pay US$13. Private rooms start at US$30 s and US$39 d for a decent bedroom with shared bath; they cost a bit more with air-conditioning. Room #10, a curved room with lots of windows, is particularly popular. The nicest dorms and private rooms are downstairs, in the more chic part of the hostel.
Baggage storage and towel rental are available for a buck a day. Internet computers are US$1 per hour (though Wi-Fi access is free). The hostel also has snorkel equipment to rent and an in-house washer/drier. Students with international ID get a 10 percent discount, as do those who do local volunteer work (which the hostel can arrange).
This is a laidback, friendly place. There’s a security gate, closed-circuit video cameras, 24-hour staffing, a shared kitchen, and a large terrace to hang out on. Lavandería Fan Clean (tel. 399-2108, 7 a.m.–8:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 7:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun.) is about a block away. Vía Argentina has lots of inexpensive cafés as well as Internet places, pharmacies, the Argosy bookstore, and other things of interest to travelers.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition