I am planning a visit to Panama Canal, (8 hr layover PTY). I looked around and could not find a definitive answer if the canal is visible without tickets.

Based on Kuba's answer, I wanted to plan a quick visit, but nervous to step out unless its doable with 8 hrs, & we get something to view/see.

Is the canal and the locks operating visible from outside ?, i.e. if I do not buy tickets/tours? Are we allowed to walk around/near the port/canal?

Edit 1: For others out there, found a nice link

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    Is your 8-hour layover at the PTY airport, or somewhere else? – Nate Eldredge Mar 18 '17 at 19:14
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    @NateEldredge Its PYT confirmed – transformer Mar 18 '17 at 20:02

Not really, you have to buy the ticket and enter Visitors Center, pass through it and you'll see the locks and ships themselves. Official website enumerates what's included in the ticket - exhibition, terraces and observation decks, gift shop etc. The price is 15 USD.

Without entering you can only see the some buildings, parking etc. There's a lot of construction going on too, nothing pretty to see. There's a lot of people operating the canal, you're not allowed to wander off by yourself, except for the tourist part.

This Google Street View shows more or less how close you can get without the ticket, on the top of the stairs visible there's the ticket office and Visitors Center.

PS This answer is about Miraflores locks, the ones closest to Panama City. Pedro Miguel Locks are apparently not set up for visitors and Gatun lies by Pacific Ocean side.

  • 15 is fair. trip adviser site shows 120/person or per kid and that's only a partial tour. Found this blog, he recommends stepping out for a Taxi/Cab.. is that advisable – transformer Mar 18 '17 at 20:44
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    I think there's also an option of visiting all the buildings and guided tour, but I'm not sure. 15 USD covers entrance, so in your case it'll be enough :) It'll be probably written as 15 Balboa, but Balboa is just Panamanian name for USD. – Kuba Mar 18 '17 at 21:15
  • Yeah, I took the taxi, it'll be the best option. Just ask for the price before entering. – Kuba Mar 18 '17 at 21:15
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    @Kuba to be a little pedantic, the Balboa is the official Panamanian currency, not another name for USD. However, the Balboa is tied to the USD 1:1, so 15 Balboa is 15 USD so yeah it's the same. – BruceWayne Mar 19 '17 at 1:16
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    Yeah but if I recall correctly they don't emit their notes or coins (only 1 balboa) and straight up use USD. But it's all details – Kuba Mar 19 '17 at 1:43

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