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Saigon Bay-Help!

Fort Worth, Texas
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42 posts
86 reviews
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Saigon Bay-Help!

Hi,

I am looking at renting a vacation home for a week in Bocas. I found a great house in the Saigon Bay area. Can someone give me some info on that area? What we might be expecting. I really have no clue, so any info would b appreciative. We are wanting something close to town, but far enough away to be quite at night. We are also wanting a clean and nice area, that we can jump into the water if we want to. Someone please help!

Thanks!!

Bocas del Toro
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1. Re: Saigon Bay-Help!

Saigon is an interesting area. It used to be the poorest area of Bocas but has come up a bit in the recent years. It has very nice homes and businesses, owned by foreigners, and then it has some of the worst element of Bocas living there as well. The nicer places face the water, in fact are on the water, and the other element lives on the other side of the sidewalk. Houses on the bay have absolutely gorgeous views of the mainland, mountains and sunset. That view would be the only reason to stay there. There is very few places in Bocas that can beat it. On the down side, It is far away from town to be a bit more quiet, but know that if you are coming during one of the festival of the sea, carnival, etc etc events that take place at the closest beach from Saigon, you will get residual noise - it is not an ultra quiet place, but quieter than many in town. As far as bathing, your options are the actual bay. Although it looks clear and inviting on most days, the toilets of 90% of the homes there go directly into the water. The government ran a new sewer line along the sidewalk, but the homes are not connected to it yet. As far as clean, the area or the water edge is often littered with trash. mind you this is not the fault of the residents. This comes from the facing town of Almirante, where many people still throw their trash in the sea, and the current brings it the bay of Saigon. Within walking distance is the playa del Ismito or Las Cabanas. It is fringed by discotecas or local nightclubs, playing incessant and very loud music on the week ends, and none of these facilities have actual bathrooms - you draw your conclusions. In addition, that beach is often no more than a few feet deep, and often covered in algae because of the nutrients in the area.

Although it entails being away from town, you have much cleaner options, beach wise in other areas such as Carenero, Bastimentos (ocean side), Bocas del Drago and Bluff. Bastimentos and Bluff, depending on the time of year are no swimmable. Another option for you might the area between town and Bluff, such as Big Creek and Paunch. There are a few rentals there. It is quiet and the beaches are clean.

Fort Worth, Texas
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42 posts
86 reviews
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2. Re: Saigon Bay-Help!

Thank you so much! That information is very helpful.

I did find a vacation house on Carenero. It is a very nice home and affordable for our group. Do you know how difficult it would be to get over to Bocas town during the day and early evening? I'm concerned about being stuck on the island without being able to get to Bocas town. We really want to get out during the day and see and do things.

We are wanting to go to bars, restaurants, and shopping easily, but would like to rent a house that we can cook in as well. We want something easily accessible to town, but far enough away to not be right in the mix.

Fort Worth, Texas
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42 posts
86 reviews
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3. Re: Saigon Bay-Help!

I was also thinking that if we stayed on Bastemintos, there would be easy access to water taxis, and that there are enough restaurants and bars to give us a little veriety. Plus there are such nice beaches there.

Is this correct.

Bocas del Toro
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4. Re: Saigon Bay-Help!

water taxis charge $1/person from the town of Bocas to Carenero. Choose something far from the little center of Carenero, where Aqua Lounge is located. They have very loud parties on wednesdays and Saturdays. So if you were in Bocas, looking towards Carenero, you want to go to the right in the direction Bastimento, as far away as you can. There are a couple of nice restaurants on Carenero and certainly the most happening night club for the wednesdays and saturdays special events/dances! From Town to Bastimentos it is $3/person, but the town there can be pretty loud at times, and it is not overly clean. There is a bus to Drago, that cost something like $3 round trip also if you are interested in that end. I am not sure if the little bus to Bluff has resumed, but right now the taxis charge a minimum of $10, so it is the most expensive, as far as getting back and forth. Taxis to Paunch or Big Creek should be about $6. Water taxis and buses charge per person. Taxi charge per trip.

Bocas del Toro
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5. Re: Saigon Bay-Help!

Bastimento: the nicest beaches are on the ocean side. The town is on the Laguna side. If you stay on the ocean side you are pretty isolated from everywhere - which is not bad in itself. Maybe you can stay in town the first day and the last day and then rent something more remote but nicer in terms of beach etc I would probably stay in Carenero or in a remote place on Isla Colon rather then the actual town of Bastimentos. If I were to stay on Bastimentos I would stay somewhere on the ocean side, or any of the more remote place. If you want easy access to town but not be right there then you really are looking at Carenero, Big Creek/Paunch. Although I painted a stark picture of Saigon, it can be nice if you know what you are getting into. Bahia del Sol for example is very nice, and they have managed, design wise, to create some privacy between their lodge and the other side of the sidewalk.

Fort Worth, Texas
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42 posts
86 reviews
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6. Re: Saigon Bay-Help!

I really apprecdiate all of your information! It is so helpful.

We are leaning toward Carenero. My one concern is that I have read online that you cannot get into the water for swimming because there is no sewer system on the island. I have also read that it is safe to swim in some areas. We are going to do trips to other islands and beaches, so it isn't a huge deal. I am just wondering.

Bocas del Toro
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7. Re: Saigon Bay-Help!

The situation in Carenero is a bit different than the Bay of Saigon. The side I think is best as far as renting has large homes on large lots with septic tanks. In Saigon, the water are on the water, with no land and no septic system. At some point, everyone will be made to hook up to the central sewer system, but is not done yet. In Carenero, People will always be on septic tanks. There nay be a few houses, on the other side of the Island, facing Bocas town and The beach of Las Cabanas, that has a few houses on the water and are not hooked up to anything. But it would by no means affect you on the other side. The issues on Carenero are: the sandflies - the worst of anywhere in Bocas; and the waves could be a tad rough depending on the time of year when you come. That end of the island does cater to surfers, and these places converges where the surf is high. But it does have lovely and clean beaches. I think you can have a good time if you come prepared and know what to expect. Sometimes I read descriptions of places and although they tell half the story, it is not all the story. You must appreciate nature, have tolerance for the rustic, and at the end of the day we do have some amazingly beautiful beaches, great restaurants, and a happening party scenes. You can be in the middle of the action, or you can go remote - or both! Travel light and if you are not coming during the busy season, when everything is booked, you have the flexibility to move around if what you have chosen is not quite you bargained for. But give it a chance, stay open minded, and bring a large dose of tolerance - we are in the tropics in what is, still, a third world country and what it entails - and for being in a third world country this place is pretty good!

Fort Worth, Texas
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42 posts
86 reviews
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8. Re: Saigon Bay-Help!

Thank you for all of your information. It has been very helpful and you have answered a lot of questions that I was concerned about. I am looking forward to visiting and we have decided to stay at Carenero. I found a lovely house there that the rest of my group will love. I think it will be a wonderful time! We are coming in the low season in May. It is more affordable and we will be there for 6 nights in Bocas and 2 nights in Panama City. I can't wait!

Thanks for all of the helpful information! You have saved me a lot of stress!

Bocas del Toro
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9. Re: Saigon Bay-Help!

Bring lots of OFF! (mosquito repellent) if you bring stuff from the US remember that they will not let you bring aerosol spray on the plane - checked or carry on. Only pump sray type. You can get aerosol OFF here in Bocas.

10. Re: Saigon Bay-Help!

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