5 Things to Know Traveling in Colombia

I spent 2 months in Colombia a place that one could spend years!  Colombians are arguably the nicest people in South America.   They are polite, helpful and friendly.  Polite is hard baked into all of South American culture and here that becomes evident.  Each region has its own local cuisine, natural beauty and culture to explore.

5 Things to Know:

  1.  Currency – the Colombian peso.  1000 is used like we would use 1.  So if something is 3 mil pesos (mil is thousand in Spanish) that is like 3 which roughly converts to $1 us.  This strong exchange rate makes Colombia a very affordable destination for American and European tourists.
  2. Menu Del Dia – at every little local lunch place they have a menu of the day.  It usually includes a soup, main plate and fresh juice.  This is the best way to try local food at local prices. Be ready to be adventurous and try local flavors there are usually 2 or 3 options for the main plate.  The cost is usually between 10 – 15 mil  which is $3-5 USD
  3. Hostels – the hostel culture is strong in Colombia and fun!  There are lots of options from raging party hostels
    to quite laid back spots.  They exist in all major cities.  Bunks can range from $8-15 USD per night.  Private rooms are around $30 – $50 per night.
  4. Street vendors – if someone offers you something on the street don’t ignore them!  It is perceived as you being rude to them and gives them license to be rude to you by becoming pushy.  Say thank you but no thank you and most will let you be.
  5. Uber – does work but is not fully legal in Colombia so you may have a driver insist that you sit up front “alante” to make it look like an actual friend is giving you a ride.  This is especially true to and from the airport.

 

Major Cities:
Bogota – the Capital with the Candelaria historic district, active night life and easy shopping
Medellin – the expat/digital nomad haven, the District 13 graffiti tour is amazing, spring weather year round
Cartagena – Caribbean meets Spanish colonial for a beachy tourist hot spot.

Items of interest:
Coffee! Go see the coffee region where coffee is grown and processed, or just enjoy an excellent cup in any coffee shop in town.  Beautiful beaches in the north along the Caribbean Coast.  Guatape with it’s giant rock with a 750 step climb to the top, Colombia’s version of the Eiffel.
Arepas are the local icon of Colombian cuisine a bread item cooked on a griddle, a grill or deep fried depending on the region always tasty and a must try street food experience!

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