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“Enjoyable and Educational Train Ride”

Panama Canal Railway
Book In Advance
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$390.00*
and up
Private Tour: Panama City in 1 day
Ranked #4 of 25 things to do in Colon
Certificate of Excellence
Type: Other
Attraction details
Reviewed March 1, 2012

While touring in Panama, we enjoyed the ride on the Panama Canal Railway, which links Colon with Panama City – the Caribbean to the Pacific. We elected to take this train ride as part of a small organized tour as we didn’t want to organize how to get back to our rental car if we took the train in only one direction as planned. We boarded the train in Colon and were able to be seated in the Dome car. The train and the station are newly refurbished and very pleasant and comfortable. Drink and snack service is available on the train. The ride in one direction takes approximately one hour and the cost is $22.00 for adults. The ride itself is not narrated. It would be a great plus if it was. Maybe this is something the rail operators would like to consider in the future.

The rails border the canal stretch at all times, but the canal is not always in sight. There are glimpses of the expansion project. Often, there is lush rainforest greenery surrounding the train, as in the area of Gamboa. One can view the immense expanse of man- made Gatun Lake which provides the water needed each time a ship passes through the canal, losing over 53,000,000 gallons of water to the sea each time a ship transits the canal. On occasion one is surrounded by water while riding the train. The locks of Pedro Miguel and Miraflores come into view, along with the Centennial Bridge. By the time the train reaches the station in Panama City, a clearer understanding is apparent of the land formations surrounding the Panama Canal.

29  Thank School's Out 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"dome car"
in 16 reviews
"panama canal"
in 42 reviews
"nice ride"
in 6 reviews
"open air"
in 5 reviews
"snacks and drinks"
in 3 reviews
"great journey"
in 3 reviews
"passenger cars"
in 3 reviews
"beautiful trip"
in 3 reviews
"step outside"
in 2 reviews
"catch the train"
in 2 reviews
"bus station"
in 2 reviews
"journey takes"
in 2 reviews
"vintage train"
in 2 reviews
"smooth ride"
in 2 reviews
"complimentary coffee"
in 2 reviews
"before departure"
in 2 reviews
"cross section"
in 2 reviews
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118 - 122 of 194 reviews

Reviewed February 24, 2012

Don't bother taking the 0700 train from Panama to Colon - otherwise you'll have to fill in the day in a not overpleasant city waiting for the 1715 return. Just be adventurous, go to Albrook Bus Terminal, and take one of the regular buses to Colon. Takes about 1hr 30mins, and get off just as you see the train station on the left (just a tin roof).

The train ride is great: go to the carriages at the front of the train which the few commuters use (the ones for the tourist groups are towards the rear), and stand at the open platforms at the end of the carriage as the train trundles along - absolutely superb.

The train goes both slowly, and surprisingly fast on some sections, passing freights in the passing loops waiting to go the other way. There are great views of the canal and of the jungle, and it's altogether a very pleasant ride. Each carriage has a refreshment point, so you can get a drink. The price is $22 one way - not cheap, pay on the train (make sure you get a receipt, we didn't!).
The train only runs once a day, Mon-Fri,

Stay at the Toscana Hotel in Panama City - see separate review.

24  Thank davidfisher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 22, 2012

I really enjoyed the ride. It was a very pleasant and relatively empty train when I took it. I have been told that when the cruise ships are in port the train can be rather full. My trip was perhaps 15 people on board in the tourist car. Other cars had locals using it as their daily transport to colon.
I found that it gave me a neat perspective on how the canal was actually built and what it was built thru. The construction of the railway itself must have been impressive. The train rambles along side the canal and over parts of it from time to time. It will give you some wide open views across Gutan Lake and other more jungle views.
In my opinion it is best to arrange for a taxi in Panama city have them drop you at the train station and then meet you at Colon station where you can spend the rest of your day going to Portobello and on to some of the very nice beaches that are in that area. With a trusted taxi you are able to leave your belongings or obviously with a taxi you can stop and go on your own schedule. Perhaps, have or pack a cooler for the days events.
No matter how you do it it’s a very nice 45 to 60 minute ride and a great way to start your day.

10  Thank Kurt2121
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 13, 2012

It is the best way to travel across the Panama Canal, in this panoramic travel, we had the opportunity to see the Pedro Miguel look and the Gatun Lake. Recommendation: It only works from Monday to Friday departing from Panama at 6Am and returning from Colon 5PM

11  Thank LILMOTTA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 8, 2011

Although most people probably book through a tour operator, you can also buy tickets directly at the train station in Panama City ($22 each, one way). Tours are expensive (typically $120+ each), but offer convenience & avoid the following pitfalls:
- Getting to train station, not centrally located, need taxi
- Colon terminus is just a covered platform & parking lot. No tourist amenities, though there will always be a few cab drivers waiting at the train (though don't know how reasonable their prices are...).
- Colon isn't that attractive a city with limited transportation options. It's unlikely that you will want to spend the whole day in Colon waiting for the return train 8 hours later.
- You will need a car/taxi to get around Colon

We got around these issues by hiring a taxi in Panama City that dropped us off at the train station, then drove to Colon while we were on the train, then picked us up at the Colon train station & spent the rest of the day sightseeing (forts, Duty-Free zone, Gatun locks) & then drove us home. The cost was still less than a package tour for 2 people, plus everything was personalized for our needs. Although we didn't have a formal guide, we didn't feel that it was necessary or that we had missed out on much.

The train itself is fine. There is one observation-style car just for the tourists paying the higher fare. It has an elevated section, nicely upholstered booths & big windows (plus a free cup of coffee!). Sitting on the left side gives a nice view of the canal. The trip gives a decent sense of the terrain & a nice view of of the canal & Lake Gatun, but not so sure that it's so very different from what you see from a car or that it gives a ton of insight.

21  Thank nyctravelr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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