The Panama Canal is an engineering triumph. Even if you don’t hold a PHD in engineering, the history of the Panama Canal will intrigue you.
Dropping by the Panama Canal is best done in the early morning when more ships pass and waiting times between boats are dramatically reduced. Entry to the canal and museum (US$10, students or US$15 adults) includes admission to the well setup museum and insightful information which accommodates for both Spanish and English speakers. Learn about the French attempt, the US takeover, the French Indie labourers, living conditions, disease devastation, impacts on nature, engineering feats and the final handover of the Panama Canal. There is a good mixture of in depth, hands on and visual exhibitions.
Now and the near future will be an even more interesting time to visit the Panama Canal as Nicaragua nears its own canal construction. For mostly ecological reasons, resistance against the dredging of Lake Nicaragua is strong. Regardless, the Panama Canal has interesting days ahead if the Chinese financial backer successfully perseus the Nicaragua Canal.
• From downtown Panama City (Campo Alegre district) a taxi ride took 26 minutes and cost $7.
• Taxis back from the docks cost more. They know you have no other option. We took a taxi to Parque Natural Metropolitano for $5. After visiting the park a taxi back downtown cost $5-6.
• We were advised to go to the canal as close to opening as possible. Other backpackers waited hours to see a boat pass late in the day. We saw 3 boats pass early in the morning.
•Bring lunch if you intend to be out here for the whole day. There is a small, expensive cafe but not a lot else.
•When returning to the city, wait for someone to be dropped off in a more run down taxi and quickly flag this taxi instead of getting the other waiting cabs. These guys are going back to the city regardless and are more likely to bargain.