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“Nice train ride” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Panama Canal Railway

Panama Canal Railway
Panama City, Panama
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Ranked #22 of 131 things to do in Panama City
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Activities: Group tours/train
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: This tour on the newly restored Panama Canal Railway, the western hemisphere's first transcontinental railroad, follows the east bank of the canal that offers excellent views of the waterway and rainforests along its shoreline.
St. Albert, Canada
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
“Nice train ride”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 8, 2013

Well it's a train ride. Nice scenery whizzes by. Attendants talked to each other - very loud and in Spanish. We got a good seat, not everyone did. Dirty windows prevent any really good photos. Train rides are always fun. Take a car for the return trip, hopefully you get a driver that isn't in a hurry like Antonio, our driver, was. Never got to see Colon, Antonio said there was too much traffic! Our day was over by 3 pm.

Visited March 2013
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London, UK
Senior Contributor
44 reviews 44 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Very good but what do you do for hours until the return journey?”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 6, 2013

The low-down: early start (7.15am), expensive ($50 return), takes an hour to get up to Colon but offers fabulous views of the canal and surrounding rainforrest on both sides from within the (ice-cold airconditioned) carriages or better still from the out-in-the-air viewing platforms/carriages.

It would have got another star but for one thing: the return journey is not until 5.15pm.

The problem is that the city you arrive in at 8.15am is the hole/dive that is known as Colon which has very few redeeming features and having arrived i was told twice by locals in a matter of minutes to hold on to my camera tight. Reassuring!

So how did my girlfriend and i fill in the time? We got a local bus (an experience in itself - $1 each from the nearby bus station) which took an hour to depart. It doesn't leave until it is full. So that killed an hour. We were heading to the Gatun Locks - the biggest of the three sets of locks on the Panama canal and worth a visit. They are massive.

The Lonely Planet suggested getting a cab or walking 30 minutes to the Gatun dam. We chose to walk to kill another hour. The dam was not worth visiting, however.

Having arrived back at the locks it was now early afternoon and we were more than ready to head home but still had several more hours to kill. We then decided to jump in a cab to Shelter Bay which was signposted and said there was a restaurant there. It was a marina catering largely to Americans on yachting holidays. We chilled out there for a couple of hours with some lunch and a couple of drinks before getting a cab back to Colon for the return train ride.

Once you add the taxi fares to the price of the rail fare it is quite expensive. Between the two of us, it cost $142.

We noticed on both rail journeys that local businessmen used it, not just tourists. This explains the times that it runs. That might be great for the businessmen but as a tourist, i was ready to head back to Panama City at lunchtime.

Take this into account when deciding whether to do it. It was a mixed bag experience for us - we were pleased we did it but could easily have done without the very long wait for the return.

Visited February 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“The observation car was so frigid my camera lens fogged when I got off the train”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2013

The windows on the canal side were so fogged over -for most of the trip. The regular windows in the other cars likely were fine. WAY TOO COLD in the observation car. Bring warm fleece!

Visited February 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Railway ride”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2013

We were in a "viewing car" which is elevated and with big windows on both sides. Unfortunately, it leaves quite early that the windows remain foggy for a while before you can see anything. Further,you better carry a jacket or sweater because it is very cold with the air conditioner. I know that being in Panama, a warm outfit is the least you will think of wearing (except on this ride).

Visited February 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Nothing Much To See From This Train”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2013

The train passes thru the jungle of Panama and its lake, very little to see with regards to the canal. It's an hour ride and it is very expensive at $25 one way. And once you get to Colon you have to wait until 5pm to get back to Panama city if you intend to ride back the train. There is nothing to see in Colon. Here's what you can do to make your trip to Colon a better day: when the train arrived you will be greeted by some taxi or tour guide who will negotiate to tour you to Gatun lock & the surrounding area for $40, you can then negotiate for the tour to the Free Zone area and Colon and perhaps to PortoBelo (historic town & beach) w/c is an hour ride from Colon. A party of 6 can come up $180 w/c include the above tour plus a ride back to your hotel in Panama city passing thru rain forest and ask to stop by & see Pedro Miguel locks along the way so you will be seeing 2 locks on that day. If your in party of 2 the above price can still be negotiated depending on how you bargain. Put it this way with the above price you have him for the whole day at your service (I end up my tour back to my hotel at 7:30pm). My tour guide is Javier Miller cell (507) 6760 3540, (507) 6632 8712 he is very good & can speak english very well, give him a call & try to negotiate the day before. All the taxi & tour guide prices from the train station in Colon are pretty much the same not much of a big difference. Ask this guy to drive you around the city of Colon & the historic hotel in the area & see the good & bad of Colon firsthand at the comfort of his van.

Visited January 2013
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