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Things to know for Colombia

It is always good to do some research when traveling to a new destination, so here are the main things to know for a trip to Colombia.
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You might think you know all there is to know for your upcoming trip, but sometimes there are small details that we overlook, which can prove to be a hassle when the time comes. However, a few main things to know about Colombia will help tackle this and ensure your trip to this beautiful South American country is the adventure of your dreams. 

So let us give you an overview of things to be aware of and plan for.

Costs

Things to know for Colombia
Photo by Saul Mercado on Unsplash

Although Colombia is not as cheap as it used to be, it is still a place where you can get a lot of bang for your buck. Colombia has many options for accommodation from budget to luxury resorts and transport from local buses to guided tours, so no matter what budget you have, you can tailor it to suit you in this country.

Suppose you were to compare the costs to some other South American countries. In that case, you might say that Colombia is mid-range, with it being cheaper than Argentina or Chile but more expensive than Peru or Bolivia, for instance. To give you an idea of the costs you might experience when traveling to Colombia, here are a few examples, but bear in mind that these costs can vary from time to time. 

The currency in Columbia is the Colombian Peso COP$, and as of March 2022, $1 equaled $COP 3,826.

  • Bottle of store-bought water: $1,500
  • Coffee from a tourist café: $4,000
  • Local beer from a local bar (330ml): $2,000-4,000
  • 3* Hotel: 120,000 – 260,000 per night

When it comes to tipping, you can expect to tip around 10% of your total bill and between 15-20% if you are pleased with the service. When you finish up in a restaurant, the server may ask you if you would like service included, to which you should always say yes. If not, no tip will be included. If you notice that there is no tip included on the bill, follow the 10% rule and always carry some cash for tipping taxi drivers if you wish and tour guides or bell boys. 

Safety

Things to know for Colombia
Photo by Charl Folscher on Unsplash

It is no secret that Colombia has had a reputation for being an unsafe country, and in the past, that was true, especially for the city of Medellin, but in recent years, Colombia has become safer and more attractive to tourists, even solo travelers. If you plan to travel to this country, there is no need to have your guard up, as you might have assumed. Still, it is necessary to be vigilant and avoid certain areas at night, which your ‘Destination Expert’ can advise you on depending on each region. 

Colombia is a booming eco-tourism country and is no longer the country you should be afraid to visit. More and more solo travelers choose this country every year due to its diversity. As you can imagine, petty theft is still a thing, especially in tourist areas and cities, so be cautious by not carrying your valuables with you and taking the necessary precautions as you would anywhere else. The number one rule when traveling is always to listen to your gut feeling, and if something does not feel right, it probably isn’t, and if possible, stay in groups or travel as a part of a tour for peace of mind.

Getting Around

Things to know for Colombia

Buses and flights are the best ways to get around this large country, and as you might have guessed, flights will ensure you safe time and are not much more expensive than a bus, so it may be worth it to consider this option if you are short on time. The intercity buses are frequent, cheap, and generally reliable, and of course, if you plan to visit the islands off of Cartagena, you will easily find boats to take you there.

Due to the country’s mountains landscape, it is always worth taking a flight between regions, rather than a long bus journey, so always check your route.

Another great way of getting around Colombia is by group tour, which ensures safety in numbers and a local perspective, and it is a great way to see and do a lot quickly. If this is something you would consider for your trip to Colombia, check out this variety of tours, which incorporate all the corners of this diverse country. 

Language

Things to know for Colombia

Colombia has the second-largest Spanish-speaking population globally, and if you are traveling around South America, knowing some phrases in Spanish will go a long way. Colombia is still an up-and-coming destination, but you can expect to find people with some English language in and around the main tourist hubs, but don’t expect this if you venture to the rural lands, mountain regions, etc., far away islands. 

It is always handy to carry a translation pocket guide or download an app, but considering you might have some time to kill while on buses or flights, there will be opportunities to do a short language course. If you have time to kill during your extended trip, you can opt to take an in-person language course in one of the cities that you like most, which is a great way to integrate with the locals and practice your Spanish.

Culture & Diversity

Things to know for Colombia
Photo by Zan on Unsplash

Colombia’s are a very welcoming nation, always with a happy-go-lucky attitude and a smile on their face, in true Latino fashion. They will generally not like to say no to you, so be patient and always ask a few people for clarity, especially if it is directions or a specific bus you are looking for. Bargaining is a part of life, especially at markets, which are still as traditional as they used to be, and you will generally find that each seller is selling the same thing for a different price. 

Colombians are very proud of their heritage and all that comes with it, especially their language, so they will appreciate it when you try to speak Spanish. One of the best ways to integrate with the locals is to do what the locals do, and you will see many of them enjoying life, sipping a coffee in a city plaza, taking a siesta at lunchtime, or dancing until all hours at a street party – and boy are they, good dancers.

Columbia is very diverse, especially in terms of landscape and regions, so if you thought you knew what to expect from Colombia, the chances are that you might be pleasantly surprised by the ever-changing surroundings. Colombia is home to beaches along two coasts, The Amazon Rainforest, The Andes Mountains, The Coffee Region, and so much more that you will be inundated with things to do, which is always a good thing. 

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