Hi all. I am going to Panama at the end of next week. I will be in Panama City first. What's the best way to see the canal? Any good restaurants? Activities? Recs for hotels? And what day trips could I take? Or side trips to get out of Panama City? And should I rent a car if I want to take a day trip or are the buses pretty good? Any advice is appreciated!
Best way to see the canal is to grab a taxi and go there. Seriously. They have a several story high museum to wander through on your way to the observation deck. Ships do not go through at regularly scheduled times so that's a hit-miss thing. But, regardless, it is impressive. They also announce when a ship is ready to make passage so people can rush up to the deck and watch the process.
As for the rest of your questions, they will be hard for anyone to answer. You have not given enough information - most importantly, the length of time you will be in country. Also, what type of budget do you have to work with, are you looking for budget accommodations or mid-class, etc. Once people have that, they can then make useful recommendations.
I will be there for three or four days. I don't have a tight budget, meaning I don't have to stay at a hostel, but I also can't afford the Ritz Carlton. Something along the lines of a Marriott but I hope there is something more quaint than that. I am looking to stay in Panama City for a day or two and then do one or two day trips depending on how long I am staying. My length of stay depends partly on how much there is to do there. I am particularly interested in finding out just how long I should stay in Panama City. Is there enough for even two days there?