Viva Colombia! Your flights to Colombia are booked and your trip is getting closer. This means it is time to start thinking about the more practical things.
Many people are convinced it is still a dangerous country and are not sure how to prepare for it and how to act once they are here. But nothing to worry about!
We made a little Colombia tourism guide to help you think of the most important things before and while travelling in this magical country.
First of all, we don´t want you to worry about access to good medical care. As long as you stay on the tourist trail you will always be close to professional doctors and hospitals.
Colombia has a huge amount of trained doctors and is actually known in the neighboring countries for its high-quality medical care.
You might need the following vaccinations for your trip in Colombia: Yellow fever, Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, and Diphtheria. You should bring a Yellow Fever Certificate if you are traveling to the Amazon Jungle, Cerros de Mavecure, Caño Cristales, or Bahia Solano.
Malaria pills aren´t necessary for any destination within Colombia.
Not surprisingly, the most common inconvenience travelers have to deal with is probably travelers’ diarrhea. We recommend to eat bananas and dry crackers, and to drink lots of water in this case.
If you feel tired and slightly nauseous, while your muscles hurt then you might be suffering from Dengue.
You definitely have to take a good mosquito repellent with you in order to prevent the mosquitos from going too crazy. The repellent can be used everywhere to make sure to reduce this risk to a minimum.
We can state without a doubt that Colombia is way safer than it used to be several years ago. The country has been working on ways to improve the safety of its inhabitants and visitors.
The signing of the peace agreement in 2016 played a big role in this. This resulted in a tremendous improvement of Colombia´s security situation and Colombia tourism.
However, keep in mind that it is important to use your common sense and to avoid doing things that you would not do in other countries while traveling.
We suggest to not show off your belongings like a camera and IPhone, and to take taxis once it is dark.
It probably also is a good idea to keep a copy of your passport with you.
In the extreme case that somebody tries to rob you, don´t resist and hand over what they are asking for. Believe us, you don´t want everybody’s holiday to be ruined over a cellphone.
Getting an insurance and using a money belt and old cellphone, are also tips that can always come in handy.
Colombia has such an incredible variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
It really is pleasure to discover all the different flavors and typical dishes of each region in the country. Trying out Colombian cuisine is part of Colombia tourism.
Despite the country boasting such a great variety in fruits and vegetables, not many people are vegetarian or vegan. Finding vegetarian or vegan options might not be too much of a challenge in the big cities like Bogota, Medellin, or Cartagena.
However, it is a different story once you are outside these cities. Prepare yourself for eating lots of avocado, rice, and plantain.
Colombians tend to eat only three types of meat: pork, chicken, and beef. They also do eat a lot of fish. This would be trout in the inland and all kind of fish close to the coast.
You can drink water from the tap in big cities like Bogota, Medellin, Santa Marta and Cartagena. In other places it is advised not to drink water from the tap.
Street food is generally fine and safe to eat. Try to eat from the stands where Colombians themselves are also ordering.
If you have a food allergy, we recommend to look up the Spanish translation of the allergy and take a note with you to whatever restaurant you go to.
Colombians are known for being really friendly and helpful so they will likely try their utter best to make sure your food is safe for you to eat.
Colombia uses the Colombian Peso (COP) as its currency. At the moment, one United States Dollar equals 3273 COP, and one Euro equals 3706 COP.
This is the official currency rate and you won´t get this rate at the exchange offices.
The coins go from 50 Colombian Pesos to 500 COP. The bills range from 1000 COP to 100.000 COP.
This can be very confusing, especially in the beginning. Make sure to pay extra attention to the amount of zeros on the bill so people won´t scam you.
To make it more confusing, Colombia has introduced new bills and coins over the last years. This means that there are different types of bills and coins in use. One tip: stay cautious and attentive.
The big cities have ATM´s everywhere and they come in Spanish and English. They do charge a little surcharge per transaction and the maximum you can take out will probably be around 600.000 COP (approx. 161 EUR or 183 USD).
Make sure to tell your bank you will be using your debit card in Colombia. Generally, using ATM´s is a better option than changing your money. However, do keep some cash in case of emergencies.
Tipping is a concept that makes many travelers nervous. It is never the same in other countries and each place has its own rules.
For Colombia tourism it is definitely not uncommon to tip. But, it is not necessary everywhere and all the time. However, in most cases a tip is hugely appreciated.
You do not have to tip for taxis. They use a taximeter and you should only pay what you officially have to pay.
Bear in mind that the amount on the taximeter is not exactly what you have to pay. There might be additional charges (airport, night tariff, weekend tariff, …).
You will notice that in most restaurants in the big cities they will ask you if they can include ´el servicio´. This is a 10% voluntary tip. You are not obliged to pay this tip, but basically everyone does.
If you think that the service was exceptional, you could leave an extra tip in cash. In smaller places you can choose how much to tip but we recommend to tip around 10%.
In hotels you can keep the following recommendations in mind. Hotel Bellman: COP 5.000 (around USD 1.6). A tip for hotel maids is not really necessary. They are not used to receive tips and won’t be expecting one.
However if you like their service and would like to tip them, we would advise to give them something around COP 5.000 (around USD 1.6)
The tour guides are not really expecting a tip in Colombia (except in Cartagena). However, if you like the guide he/she will be very happy with a total tip of around COP 40.000 (around USD 12.8) for a full-day tour.
These amounts are not “per person”, but for the entire group.
If you are using drivers for airport transfers and other transfers: same as with the guides, most drivers are not really used to get tips so they won’t be expecting one.
If you like their services, you could give them a tip of COP 20.000 (around USD 6.4). These amounts are not “per person”, but for the entire group.
Money, safety, and health, are basically the most important practical things you have to think about before and while traveling.
We hope that this Colombia tourism guide helped you a bit in feeling more prepared for your trip.
Keep in mind that Colombia is generally safe when it comes to medical care and violence.
Furthermore, everything that is related to money is not that difficult to deal with as long as you are careful and know what is going on.
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