The Essential Guide to Traveling to Colombia, South America

Medellin, Colombia + Guatape, Colombia

How much money should I bring on my trip to Colombia, South America?

I know many people have been interested in traveling places, but is also afraid of not being able to afford it. Traveling is honestly an investment, and its not cheap to do. So before you invest in purchasing a $500 handbag or a pair of $800 shoes, make sure you have enough money to purchase a plane ticket to somewhere of your dreams. Can traveling be expensive? Yes! However, are there things that you can do to cut costs? Yes. So, hopefully this posts helps.

If you are reading this, you are either interested in learning about my experience or interested on planning a trip to Colombia on your own (or maybe this could help you for your next trip elsewhere overseas). I hope I cover everything in this post so that you can have a better understanding. In this post, it is very important to me that I capture every detail so that you are able to understand better. This blog post will cover the complete basics; currency, housing, essentials and ‘things they do not tell you’. Because I learned so much during this trip, it is nearly impossible for me to include every detail into one post, which is why I will be writing another blog post on this subject. Remember, this was a 10 day vacation/trip, so it is so much to cover.

When it comes to traveling, whether it is inside or outside the country, housing is very important to me. You want to make sure you are staying in an area that is great for transportation or that is located around necessities (bar, grocery store, restaurants, gym, or whatever interest you). A lot of research is definitely required. However, if you are planning a trip to Colombia, I can definitely help you with that.

So, lets begin, shall we.

*Pause*

First, lets talk currency! During my first few days, I honestly felt like I was giving away money. I had absolutely no idea at understanding their currency, even after watching YouTube videos and reading bloggers post on Colombian Pesos. For the U.S. readers, an easier way to understand is to simply divide by “3” (for a realistic estimate). If you wanted to purchase shirt that was $90,000mil pesos, you would simply divide 3 (divide by 3 for everything just to get an estimate) by $90,000 = $30,000. Another thing to recognize is that “mil” means “thousand” and their currency is counted by thousands (coins are counted by hundreds). Therefore, this shirt would cost around $30.00 (change the comma (,) to a period (.).

*Play*

 

Medellin, Colombia

Medellin (pronounced med-e-jean) is the second most largest city in Colombia.

When we landed in Medellin, we stayed in an Airbnb for our first night and enjoyed our stay at a hotel for the remaining of our trip . While planning the trip, I’ve created a list of amazing spaces to stay. Check them out. If you are into hostels, check them out (here).

  1. Luminous ZEN “Treehouse” Best Street in Town – Airbnb ($30/night)
  2. Luxury Apartment – Airbnb ($82/night)
  3. Luxury Penthouse – Airbnb ($361/night) — great for groups
  4. BLUX 1302 – Airbnb ($62/night)
  5. LaQuinta Hotel – ($67/night) — current sale for $59/night (loved my stay. free complimentary breakfast/wonderful pool view)

*when looking for places to stay in Medellin, make sure the place has A/C. Because Medellin does not ever encounter hot weather, a lot of homes do not include A/C*

If you are inquiring about things-to-do, click (here) or look below.

  1. Visit Laguna de Guatape — wonderful scenery below

 

2. Walk up the “La Piedra” or The Rock. Tickets: $30.000peso (located in Guatape. click (here) for more info)

3. Zipling in Guatape – $15.000 pesos ($5USD)

(while being pushed to the other side of the river, I was attached to 2 other people. When coming back to the other side, I was able to zipline solo.)

4. Metro-cable in Medellin — (click here) — This is cheaper if you take the train to the metro-cable.

 

Things You Should Know Before Visiting Colombia

  1. When it comes to the food in Colombia, I was able to afford full course meals multiple times a day. The average for a meal was about $27,000mil, (divide by 3), which is around $9. This is the average and won’t find many choices above this price.  Use this information to determine how much money you will need to budget. Also, try to stay in areas that would accommodate with meals. $7 for a full meal may sound cheap, but the longer you stay, the more your money adds up (budget responsibly for this so that you can enjoy). Lucky for us, the hotel that we stayed at (LaQuinta Hotel) includes a complimentary buffet breakfast. Yes, buffet breakfast!
  2. When it comes to transportation, have an idea of the things that you want to do before you get here. It also helps to do some research to have an estimate of how far places are. Our travel from our hotel to the closest mall was about $5,000mil (divide by 3, which is around $1.67USD each way), which was about 2 miles away. However, even if you are traveling a longer distance, it will still be affordable. When traveling with people, it helps to split costs.
  3. Now, a lot of people wonder if you should convert your cash before you get to Colombia or after you arrive? Everyday, currency changes, but make sure you download the “Currency Converter” app (here — for iphone users; here — for Android users), so you are making sure you aren’t getting cheated. Since I bank with Chase, during the end of my trip, I noticed that I saved more money by using an ATM. You will come by a good number of places where you can go to convert cash, but use the currency converter app so that you will not lose out on money. Check with your bank also to see what they offer. A lot of restaurants accepts card but you always want to carry cash.
  4. Make sure you research on any laws before you visit a country. Remember, you are in “a(whole)nother” territory. Luckily for us, Colombia was very chill for the main part. Something interesting i’ve noticed was that their military works in public, walking around with big guns (especially at the tolls).
  5. DO NOT, and I mean, DO NOT ride a motorcycle. I don’t care if someone is offering you a free ride. I witnessed a motorcycle and car accident while walking back from grabbing food. Let’s just say, screams and blood was the majority of it all. Apparently, a lot of accidents with motorcycles occurs in Colombia. Be safe!
  6. After reading on a story about a guy that was arrested while visiting Egypt for bringing pain pills (they arrested him for smothering) on his flight, I was happy for making it through with my pain pills. Bringing medication shouldn’t be an issue, however, different countries have different regulations. Make sure you research depending on each country.
  7. For those that are apart of the LGBT community and wonder if they have any strict rules against the community, you should have nothing to worry about. This country is definitely LGBT friendly and you will even see a lot of PDA (think of this as the same as the United States).
  8. Lets talk drinks! The average price for drinks is around $14.000mil (divide by 3), which is about $4.67. Its even better when you make it for happy hour!

During the middle of our trip, we had a morning flight to Cartagena. I definitely recommend traveling to different cities if visiting Colombia. My next blog post will cover my personal experience in Cartagena, how to travel to different cities for a great price and things to avoid while being a tourist in Cartagena. I will also share a blank personalized itinerary which you should use for your next trip!

 

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

Stay tuned for the next post.

-SJ

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