Lonely Planet review
The Canal is both an engineering marvel and one of the most significant waterways on the planet. Seeing a huge ship nudge its way through the narrow canal with vast tracts of virgin jungle on both sides is truly an unforgettable sight. As impressive as it is now, an ambitious expansion plan is set to completely transform the the canal.
Stretching 80km (49mi) from Panama City on the Pacific coast to Colón on the Atlantic coast, the Canal provides passage for nearly 14,000 ocean-going vessels per year. The easiest and best way to visit the canal is to go to the Miraflores Locks, on the northeastern fringe of Panama City, where a platform offers visitors a good view of the locks in operation. Although it's difficult to thumb a ride on an ocean-going vessel, there is no shortage of pricey tours and cruises that allow you to transit the canal - the entire journey takes an average of nine hours.