Cuenca Panama hats are souvenirs that are worth keeping an eye out for if you’re the kind of traveler who likes to support local artisans while shopping. These hand-woven hats first gained their reputation when the Panama Canal was being built, and they were the hat of choice for local workers to protect their faces from the sun. While it is commonly thought that these hats originate from Panama, travelers to Cuenca will discover that this isn’t true.
Panama hats in Ecuador are the real thing, woven by hand by local craftsmen who learned skills that have been passed down for generations. The traditional white, wide-brimmed hat with a black band has been popping up by stylish jetsetters in recent years, so not only will you be supporting local artisans but you will purchase a hat that is functional and stylish too.
However, not all Cuenca Panama hats are of the same quality. Travelers who first browse through a Panama hat shop in Cuenca might be surprised at the range of prices for hats that from a distance appear similar. What causes the dramatic price difference is the time spent making the hat, and the weaving pattern used. Some of the more affordable hats, priced around $20, take approximately a day or two to weave. At the upper end of the spectrum, Panama hats in Ecuador can cost around $400. These hats have a more intricate weave and can take up to three or four months to make.
A fun option for travelers is to have a customized hat made on the spot. This allows you to become a part of the process and will result in a one of a kind hat. Your tour guide or hotel staff should be able to point you in the direction of this type of shop if you desire a customized hat. If you forget a hat at home, these stylish hats will be the perfect way to block out the sun.