We planned a one-month trip to Colombia but ended up staying much longer due to the country’s incredible variety. Every year, more people are interested in visiting Colombia, therefore we want to share with you 21 important things you need to know before making travel plans and going there. Although Colombia was our first stop in South America, we have to confess that it won our hearts. The fact that many tourists experience something extremely similar is most likely no coincidence.
As a result, Colombia swiftly established a reputation as one of the best tourist destinations on the continent. Many foreign vacationers are now interested in traveling to Colombia. We believe that you should learn more before your journey. Most of them wonder Is Colombia in South America? Yes, Colombia is one of the most prominent countries that you can find in South America. Nevertheless, the nation is distinct, you can anticipate coping with various particular scenarios, and in short, it is always preferable to be well-prepared.
White sand beaches and mountain peaks that rise more than 5000 meters high are just a few of Colombia’s many attractions. However, it is also wise to be aware that traditions, safety, and general culture may change significantly from what you are used to back home before packing your bags and leaving. For this reason, we’ve compiled this list of information you should have before visiting Colombia. It contains a few haphazard pointers we’ve gathered while traveling.
Actually, there were few things you should be aware of before visiting Colombia, but because we wrote this essay while traveling and added a few more items when we edited it later at home, the arithmetic does not add up.
1. Always be careful with what you do
Walking on streets has never caused us to trip up as often as it did in Colombia. Watch your steps, particularly in larger cities where certain pavement sections are sometimes missing and all of a sudden there is only a pit.
Even more crucially, use extreme caution after dark since some less traveled areas still have very dimly lighted streets where it is quite simple to trip and fall. Broken pavement may seem like something you can get accustomed to with time, but it is really rather difficult.
Although this issue is more prevalent in larger cities like Bogota or Popayán than in more rural, historic communities, we nonetheless advise you to always be aware of your surroundings. Cities are neither wheelchair nor stroller friendly since you often have to climb a significant step to go from the road to the pavement. This does not imply that families can’t go to Colombia. However, you’ll probably discover that using a baby carrier rather than a stroller is far more pleasant for you. Additionally, don’t assume that cars will stop for pedestrians at crosswalks; keep an eye out for traffic since it might be wild. Colombia’s sidewalks are not extremely user-friendly for pedestrians.
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2. Be mindful about safety
When it comes to safety, Colombia undoubtedly does not have the finest reputation. Not only Colombia, but other nations on this continent as well, are affected. Traveling in South America safely is crucial because of this. On the other side, things have been swiftly getting better, and we are now sure that as long as you abide by all the fundamental safety precautions, you should be alright.
Accidents can occur, of course, but they do so elsewhere in the globe, not only in Colombia. Regarding safety, you should make arrangements for travel insurance before leaving. The connection between drug cartels and violence gradually fades. Naturally, we were a little worried before our trip to Colombia even though we had heard that safety there is much better than it formerly was. We were visiting a South American nation for the first time, and some of the web stories we read made us feel concerned. Thankfully, our anxieties were unfounded. It is helpful to be aware of which locations in a city or a nation should be avoided in every country in the globe.
However, if you exercise common sense, go with a companion, largely stick to the backpacker’s track, avoid flashy jewelry, and avoid walking in the dark while you’re dizzy, you should be alright. Always keep an eye on your possessions, particularly in busy areas and on public transportation (once in Bogota, I left my phone under a jacket I was wearing around my waist and was instantly the victim of a cunning heist). In the event of a heist, keep your bag close by, don’t keep all of your belongings in one location, and surrender everything without protest. Consider getting a money belt or anti-theft daypack to protect your belongings. We take a ton of images when traveling, thus it is hard to always have the camera in the bag. Whenever we go outside of the city, we often use the bigger mirrorless camera instead of the smaller one.
3. Get a travel insurance
We never go without travel insurance, which is intended to assist in covering your costs in the event that anything goes wrong. The necessities of your journey are covered by World Nomads Travel Insurance, which was created by travelers for travelers.
4. Take a break from your diet
The cuisine in Colombia is full and hearty. Putting it mildly in short, we felt a little desperate, particularly at the start of our vacation, and it was difficult to adjust to this shift since this cuisine was so different from what we were used to eating.
Every food we came across was fried, not fresh, lacking in herbs, or too sugary, not at all like what we often eat. Additionally, finding a restaurant can be time-consuming, so we often had meals that we weren’t quite happy with when we traveled. After some time, things became better.
When dining out, we always sought for the menu del día, which includes soup, the entrée with meat, salad, and juice (for approximately 10,000 COP), and for supper, we always made something from scratch. We even picked up a few Spanish terms.
After traveling farther south of Medellin, we eventually come across several pretty great restaurants, and generally speaking, things got better, and we looked forward to dining once again. When taking a day-long bus trip, we often purchased empanadas (fried pastries with meat and potato filling) and arepas (dough made of maize), both of which we thought were especially unsightly. We certainly don’t want to turn you away.
Although it is merely our unique perspective, it is only nice to know that Colombia is not a gastronomic destination (when traveling on a budget), like the whole of Southeast Asia.
5. Don’t forget to enjoy fruits in here
Although we didn’t really like the meals in Colombia, we must admit that the fruit is very excellent. We were dependent on papaya and pineapple, which we consumed on a daily basis, but we also experimented with other natural fruits, such guanabana, guava, lulo, tomato del arbol, and many more. Local markets are the greatest location to get fresh fruit. Fortunately, every town and city has at least one market selling fresh produce.
We discussed the importance of maintaining a daily routine in our essay on long-term travel, and we highlighted how purchasing excellent fruit was something we always looked forward to doing. We don’t hesitate to admit that it helped us stay on the road for so long.
6. Learn some Spanish
In Colombia, English is not a common language. The fact that virtually no one speaks English, often not even those employed in the tourist sector, caught us off guard, to be honest. After the first few days, when we struggled to buy food at a restaurant or calculate the price of a bus ticket, we came to the unavoidable conclusion that learning some basic Spanish is essential.
You should have at least a translation available on your phone; else, you won’t be able to contact anybody for assistance. Take a Spanish language course or acquire a Spanish textbook if you have more time to prepare for your trip. Your journey will undoubtedly be more enjoyable after you master a few fundamentals. During the year we spent traveling in South America, we lost numerous chances to interact more casually with people since we didn’t speak the language well.
7. People in Colombia are quite friendly and helpful
Colombians are really kind and nice. This is something that any visitor to Colombia will attest to, and in our opinion, it is among the most crucial information to be aware of. Locals will strive to assist you as soon as you ask them for any information or recommendations. And if they are stumped, they will almost certainly locate a nearby acquaintance who does know the solution.
We also had a circumstance when a bus driver summoned the whole personnel from a bus station just because he did not have the knowledge to respond to our query. Colombians will do their utmost to assist you if you need assistance or if you don’t know where you are.
The country of Colombia is not inexpensive. When it comes to travel, Colombia is not exactly inexpensive. Expect no pricing that are comparable to those in Southeast Asia. Although meals and lodging in Colombia are marginally less costly than in Europe due to reduced bus fares, our travel expenses in Colombia exceeded our expectations. Although it depends largely on the person, we may think of more financially friendly destinations for tourists on a tight budget. Adventure activities in San Gil are not inexpensive, and neither are admission fees to the San Agustin Archaeological Park. Unfortunately, although being comparable to other nations, the quality of services often does not match the cost. Some services are outstanding, while others are appalling.
Colombia is not the least costly nation we have ever visited, but it is by no means the most expensive, and the trip was well worthwhile. Simply stated, Colombia is not Chilean Patagonia or Brazil, but it is still a pretty reasonable location, perhaps not as cheap as one would imagine.
8. Public transport is sluggish
You’ll probably need public transportation to go about Colombia. Bus transportation is an option for practically all places, but be prepared for long trips, twisting roads, and a lot of sitting. Be aware that the pace of the bus ride will be more than sluggish. We moved at less than 40 km/h on average. You have a limited amount of time each day, so be sure to organize your schedule properly.
We traveled to Medellin on a 15-hour bus after spending 4 days in Cartagena. We soon learned that airplane tickets were just little more costly and would have spared us a turbulent ride after a long and exhausting trek.
9. Weekends and holidays get busy
Colombians like traveling, particularly when doing it in big numbers. They like celebrating as well. We got the impression that locals make the decision to go on vacation with their whole family and friends every weekend. Although it is a fantastic habit, certain sites were overcrowded as a result, and lodging in the most sought-after locations was sold out.
Avoid long weekends as much as possible and make reservations if you must travel on a Friday or Saturday. Check for national holidays when you plan your schedule and be sure to arrange accommodations or excursions just in case. However, busy weekends do offer one significant benefit. Certain locales and locations are safer. For instance, despite the paths being crowded, we went to Cerro de Monserrate in Bogota or visited Arvi Park in Medellin during the weekend.
10. Everything has sugar
One of the first Spanish terms we learned was “sin azucar,” which translates to “without sugar.” To be honest, we thought Colombia was all too sweet. You must anticipate that sugar is a component that is present in everything, from traditional bread to white yogurt. Furthermore, it contains more sugar than you are likely used to.
Even if you like sweets, you could find the sugar content to be too high. But maybe not. Please feel free to share your opinions with us in the comment area. We spent a considerable amount of time searching for exceptions while shopping and exerting effort.
We never anticipated how much we would love exploring Colombia. The nation is highly diversified and provides accommodations for all kinds of travelers. The Caribbean Sea, Pacific Ocean, lovely sandy beaches, attractive fauna, varied vegetation, mountain ranges, 5000-meter-high volcanoes, deserts, historic buildings, wax palms, indigenous tribes, and much more can all be found in Colombia.
In general, Colombia is a place that anybody can visit, but planning the ideal schedule is quite difficult since it is impossible to see everything in a short amount of time. One thing may be inferred from nature and the fact that Colombia is rich in both architectural and archaeological sites. Every year, the nation gains more and more popularity.