The Panama Canal spans over a distance of 48 miles and there a lot of spots you can use to visit the canal with Miraflores locks visitor center being the most common spot due to its easy accessibility from Panama city.
You can use the metro, buses or get an Uber. Uber charges less than $ 20. The ride takes 30 minutes at most. The metro and buses are generally inconveniencing
I had considered joining a tour for this trip but it was expensive and totally uncalled for. Most tour companies charge between $80-$200 per person with the trip taking less than 6 hours.
You have to get tickets to access this viewing platform. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children. For Panamanians, the fee is slightly lower. You'll purchase the tickets at the gate.
There's also a snack bar and a souvenir shop here.
Here you actually get to see how the ship is elevated towards the sky as the locks get filled with water the 7 feet high gates open.
There's also show informative films and run a museum. The films alternate between English and Spanish. The admission fee caters for the museum entry fee as well as the movie theater charges.
Something else that I liked about Miraflores center is that most staff are bilingual and of great help to tourists who don't know Spanish.
The Miraflores lock visitor center is open all week and even on public holidays from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm.