Have you ever been to Northern South America? Alright, we just asked that to pair the two opposing words with each other (wink)! Jokes aside, Colombia is one of the more well-known countries from Latin America due to the fact that they are brilliant musicians. Boasting with stars like Juanes or Shakira, they are most indubitably on the world map in terms of culture. But does tourism catch up to such fame? We can honestly say that it does and if you want to go there, be sure to keep these top six things in mind!
Since we are living in the 21st century, it has become considerably more effortless to check the weather ahead when you travel somewhere. Weather apps and internet coverage have taken over people’s lives in terms of “climate safety”. However, all this is rendered near-obsolete by the fact that Colombia’s cities all have different climates. The differing altitude levels greatly add to this phenomenon and scounting ahead can become a bit more meticulous. It is advised for you to always pack ponchos and/or umbrellas due to the high probability of getting caught in a thunderstorm.
Alright, we have to admit that Colombia has come a long way since the 90s when it was considered one of the most dangerous places to travel to. Murder rates have capsized but they have not disappeared by any means. In spite of the fact that the country has worked ceaselessly to reduce violent offenses, it has not managed to halt the notorious drug cartels from pillaging and plundering in the rural areas. Yes, things are much safer now for tourists but keep in mind, for example, that Bogotá (the capital city) has experienced 1,401 murders – this would be the equivalent of 19 per 100,000 inhabitants. Of course, that is nowhere near the deadliness of Caracas (Venezuela) or San Pedro Sula (Honduras), but you should still not tempt your luck. Dress modestly, don’t flash your newest smartphones and, most importantly, avoid the slums.
Did you know that tipping in Colombia isn’t practiced? In fact, even if you see someone leaving some extra, it will not exceed 1-2 USD. While you should keep an eye on the more touristy areas like Bogotá or the centre of Calí, the other locations are completely tip-free. However, extras will be accepted warm-heartedly, if you are feeling generous!
Yup, Colombia really is one of the cheapest places to travel to in the world. Heard stories about Eastern Europe? Of course you have, but no matter how cheap they say it is, Colombia will outrun it by the miles. Coffee can be found as cheap as 15 cents whilst a complete lunch will rarely be above 3 bucks. Housing and public transportation there are some of the most affordable in the world and you should never worry about expensive rip-offs. However, we do recommend that you keep an eye out for pirate cabs as they do come across tourists every once in a while.
5. Language barriers:
So, without further dithering about, know that the official language in Colombia is Spanish. What this directly translates into is the following recommendation: get down the basics of Spanish to appear friendly. However, some of the more “night-lifey” zones of the more touristy areas boast with a lot of English speakers. Additionally, if you plan on visiting the San Andres archipelago of the Caribbean, know that they are excellent English speakers and their proficiency is bound to surprise you. Oh, and if you happen to know a language that pertains to the Chibchan, Tucanoan, Bora–Witoto, Guajiboan, Arawakan, Cariban, Barbacoan, or the Saliban language families, they might help you out a bit as Colombia has quite a large number of “foreign tongues” spoken within its bounds.
6. The best guides:
You know what? Get yourself a Colombian friend! If you are travelling alone, the best possible way to get to know the place is to ask a local to guide you. The people there are more than friendly and they deserve both your time and attention. Who knows, you might find yours truly there! Just don’t be surprised if you two are sitting on a terrace and someone yells at you “BESOS”. That’s just a lovely encouragement to kiss your companion (wink)!
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Colombia and what do you have to share with the world? Be sure to leave nothing out when you hit the comment section below! Safe travels and don’t forget the BESOS (triple wink)!