How to get started
The guide is divided into sections, so that you can choose what to read and prepare you first destination. You can read the free travel guide to Colombia here.
Once you've had a look, booked your tickets, you are now ready to discover Colombia. Buy your own guide in Colombia for only 5.000 cop (3rd edition), integrate notes, make it personal and take Colombia Fácil home as a souvenir of your trip!
The prices in the guide are always in Colombian pesos & in thousand pesos! (cop). Prices in $ = U.S. Dollars!
* = breakfast is included
pp = price per person
pn = price per night
pr = price room
pp/n = price per person per night
pr/n = price room per night
pc/n = price per cabaña per night
p/tr = price per transport
pt/n = price per tour per night
pp/t = price per person per tour
pp/3d = price per person per 3 days, 2 nights
pp/4d = price per person 4 days, 3 nights
L = left
R = right
Hr = hour
Min = minutes
Pers = persons
N = night
D = day
CF = Colombia Fácil
PNN = National Natural Park
Cop = Colombian Pesos
dorm = A shared room (most of the time bunk beds) and shared bathroom.
twin = double room, 2 seperate beds
doble = double room, 1 bed (couple)
triple = rooms, 3 beds
quad = room, 4 beds
MotoT = mototaxi (= motorcycle)
B = bus
T = taxi
- MORE TIPS HERE: pack-your-bag-for-colombia.
- When you arrive at the international airport you need to fill in your address of residence.
- Usually when you arrive at the airport you need to go to the toilet. Besides shorter doors you should also pay attention to the fact that the toilet paper doesn’t belong in the toilet basin but in the trashcan. Otherwise the toilet can occasionally become blocked & overflow ... Shit happens!
(In the busterminals they often charge you 1.000 cop to use the toilet. Toiletpaper sometimes costs an extra: 200 à 500 cop.)
- 'Av. Simón Bolívar, cra 98 # 18 - 49' means carrera 98 with calle 18, number 49. The number 49 always belongs to the first part. But when some ask you 'Whats the number?' you have to say '18 - 49'.
- Shoes for men from the size 44 and 41 for woman do not exist in Colombia. Be prepared.
- Do you feel like drinking a real good Colombian coffee? Visit coffee shops ’Juan Valvez’, ’Oma’ or travel to the coffee region (coffee-tour). When you order a coffee at a local place it is good to know that a ’café con leche’ means with a LOT of milk.
- When paying by credit card at the supermarket sometimes they ask in how many instalments you want to pay. Then you just answer with one because you want to pay immediately all at once, right!? You also need to show the ’recibo’ (receipt) when you go out of the supermarket, so don’t throw it away.
- In Colombia it is a normal habbit that you eat the most at lunchtime (almuerzo) so that is why almuerzo is normally more expensive then the dinner (cena). The lunch offers a soup, main dish, dessert and a fresh juice. Lunch is between 8.000-15.000 cop per person a la carte or try a ’corrientazo’, which is an inexpensive lunch between 5.000 and 6.000 cop per person. Read more about here: food-in-colombia.
- In the jungle, the tropical rainforest you should put your camera and other electronic equipment in a sealed plastic bag with anti-moisture sachets. The humidity can be very high.
- ’Nopikex’ is a bar of soap/spray that you rub on your body with water in order to avoid mosquito bites. Found at a drogeria or supermarket (between 3.000-5.000 cop). Good to know: Colombia Fácil survived the 6-day hike to ’Ciudad Perdida’ (The Lost City) with this product. Read more here: mosquitoes-in-colombia.
- Sand-flies-Attack = Between 5pm and 7pm every day at the beach. Be prepared!
- Colombia has a different voltage than in other countries (Voltage: 110 V, Frequency: 60 Hz). It is possible that your razor therefore is not working but hell yeah it’s a holiday after all and that unshaven look can be sexy. Bring your universal plug or buy an adapter for very little money (± 5.000 cop/adapter) in a tienda (small local shop). The plug in Colombia is flat. An adaptor = Un adaptador :).
- It is clear that Colombians adore sweet stuff ... Every coffee you buy on the street (500 cop) is sweetened. Nice and easy, you can drink the coffee immediately. You will find ’Postobon’, a sugary soft drink in all colors, all-over Colombia.
- Salt is also popular (not only in the food but on fruits too). In the more touristy places on the street you will find lots of fresh fruits served in small pieces (1.000 cop per portion). Note: Keep in mind if you do not like salt on your fresh mango you need to tell them in advance. Many times you can get a bag of ketchup with your chips.
- In the northern part of Colombia you will not find hot showers very often which is not important because of the phenomenonal ’Endless summer’, so a cold shower can be very welcoming and besides it’s great if your suffer from celulitus.
- On the Caribbean Coast locals talk VERY fast; the Spanish very quickly begins to sound like Chinese. Use the phrase: ‘Por favor, es possible hablar más despacio?’ (Can you please talk a little slower?).
- Because average height of the Colombian people is around 1m60 (5ft,3in) it can sometimes be that you need to bend down a few more times and that your feet hang over the end of the bed.
- There is a clear and practised courtesy in Colombia. In public transport for example men always give, without hestitation, their seats immediately to women. When a Colombian guy invites a woman out, he will always pay for her food & drinks. There is a saying: To have a Colombian girlfriend is expensive. Woman‘s day is always at the 8th of April.
- Women are gorgeous in Colombia. Reason enough to be motivated to learn the Spanish language. When you’ve mastered a ’piropo’ (flattering remark/chat up line) or two, you’ll be mistaken for a local! Only very little English is spoken. Read more here: language-in-colombia.
- It is always good to carry billets of 1.000, 2.000 and 5.000 cop in your pocket. It is possible that otherwise no change is available and you’ll need to wait a long time. Imagine you just ordered a Coco-Loco (= fresh coconut filled with alcohol) on the beach and you are so thirsty.
- Reservations or feedback available through the internet in smaller cities are not really applicable. Use the phone or do spontaneous traveling.
- In general, the Colombians are no long sleepers. From about 5:30am, there is life in the brewery. If it had ever stopped (especially on the weekends they can play loud music all night long).
- Beause of the daily outdoor flip-flop life your hands and feet need a little an extra care. Manicures cost (from) 9.000 and pedicures (from) 11.000 cop. Boys can go too and don’t need to be ashamed because in Colombia it is a normal thing. They make lovely paintings on your polished nails with flowers and so on.
- Avoid drinking water from the tap or check in advance at your hostel to know whether or not the water is drinkable!
- There are no bigger party animals than the Colombian people ... Parties all over the place!
- Family and kids are very important for Colombian people. They show lots of respect which makes traveling with kids therefore very pleasant. Read more here: travel-with-children-in-colombia.
- Colombian hand signals: Don’t ask for the bill by showing your fingers in the air using the gesture that signifies ’how much do I owe’ because it will be considered insulting, instead act out that you are writing the bill on your hand. Funny note: You want to order an Aguila beer? Just spread your arms & fly like a bird. Aguila’s logo is an eagle that’s why. Give it a shot ... what is the worst that could happen to you? ... perhaps they might call the men in white coats? ... life is an adventure ... live it to the full! Learn here more about Colombian signals. Video & tips by Mantaraya Travel!
- In Bogotá Avianca airlines has got a different terminal.
- When you are traveling by bus, take always an extra sweater with you in the bus. Because of the airconditioning it can be very cold! The funny dubbed movies they show in the bus will cheer you up and you can practise your Spanish (sometimes with subtitles though). Some buses will have tv-screens (you can get ear phones) for every seat & you can use free WIFI! Check out Getting Around.
- When you take the bus in Bogotá to La Candelaria: Ask better two times to be sure because you have two different La Candelaria-areas in Bogotá. Ask for ’Centro Histórico La Candelaria’.
- Be careful: Never accept any drinks/food from strangers. Burundanga is a drug that makes it easy for criminals to steal and take advantage of you. Once the victim has absorbed the drug he or she loses all their free will and the criminals can do with the person what they want. Read more about here: safety-in-colombia.
- When the police does a road side stop and search: Soldiers with rubber/gum boots are from the guerrillas, soldiers with soldiers leather boots are from the Colombian army. The guerilla also has woman who are part of the ranks; in the case of the Colombian Army this is far less common.
- When you are flying in and out of Colombia, always travel with your ’Yellow Feaver’ certification with you. Just in case (the authorities ask for it)!
- In Colombia, everything can be ordered with ’domicilio’ (= delivery service to your home) for an additional 3.000 cop. You will find in every tienda a business card with a phone number which you can take with you. On the coast there are even some locals who seldom leave their houses and order their food every day through ’domicilio’.
- Foreign students from public academic institutions, under 26 years of age should carry their student identification card as they have the same benefits or discounts as the domestic students. In the case of PNN Tayrona the rate is 8.000 pesos. Read more about it here: national-parks-in-colombia.
- Colombia has a high season when prices in terms of tourism are a little more expensive: 5.12-31.01 / 15.06-31.07 / Semana Santa 19-27.03.2016/ public holidays (+ 2 day before + 1 day after) & 1 week off for students in October.
- To enjoy the full Tayrona adventure: Go into the park through the main entrance at El Zaíno (= 1 hour from Santa Marta); sleep in different spots in the park like at Cañaveral, Arrecifes or Cabo de San Juan. Visit the El Pueblito. Hike from Cabo de San Juan to Playa Brava Teyumakke and at the end of your trip arrive at the road in Calabazo where you can take the bus on the highway (45 minutes to Santa Marta). In this way you only pay one time the entrance to the park. Other beautiful beaches like Playa Cristal, Chengue, Playa Blanca, ... you can reach by boat from Taganga or you go in at the entrance New Mexico (= 15 minutes from Santa Marta). Bahia Concha is accessible via road from Santa Marta. Read more here: tayrona.
- Unusual for a desert but it is NOT cold at night in the Tatacoa Desert. Read more here Tatacoa Desert.
Why visiting Cano Cristales only between June and beginning of December?
Caño Cristales, is just a normal river for most of the year but from June to early December, mosses and algae bloom. And because of this beautiful colors occur! It has been called "the river of five colors", "the river that ran away from paradise" and "the most beautiful river in the world." Read more here Villavicencio.
- When you urgently need a haircut (5.000 cop at a local shop), it might be useful to know that the cut itself only takes 2 minutes, styling only a bit longer (30 minutes). You will be ready to rumble in next to no time!
- And don't forget: COLLECT MOMENTS NOT THINGS!