Travelling through Colombia is awesome. Yes, we say that for more countries, but Colombia is certainly in our top 5 of favourite travel destinations. In Colombia people used to only think of cocaine, cartels and civil war, but nowadays you hear completely different stories. Stories about vast beaches, hip cities full of creativity and the friendly locals who would love to show you what was hidden in their country for so long. Colombia is therefore well on its way to becoming the most popular destination in South America. The country has never been so safe to travel to and that is why it is now the perfect time to go. So don’t wait too long because this secret will spread quickly! There are of course a few things you need to know before you board the plane. Below we have listed the most important tips for you.
1. Domestic flights are super cheap
Colombia is very large and we had already prepared ourselves to spend many hours on the bus. This was not that bad because domestic flights in Colombia are extremely cheap. With Viva Air you can fly to the other side of Colombia for a few tenners and save a lot of hours on the bus. Ideal!
2. Colombia is a very diverse country
Colombia has a lot to offer. From cute coloured villages to large cities full of history and from the highest palm trees in the world to wonderful beaches. Oh and then we haven’t even talked about the rugged jungle or snowy mountain tops. The culture is a blend of Europe, Africa and of course the original inhabitants; the Indians. This diversity makes Colombia a very cool and interesting travel destination.
3. Colombians think it’s great that you visit their country
We felt so very welcome in Colombia. The people were sincere and always had a smile on their faces, even in the big cities. The lovely people made our trip through Colombia even better. After a long period of crime and insecurity, they are very happy that their country is now doing so well. You can feel that vibe of positivity everywhere. Finally they can share the hidden treasures of Colombia with the rest of the world and they are happy to do so.
4. Tourists do not have to pay VAT
A good thing to know is that you don’t have to pay VAT as a tourist in Colombia. An exception to this is the VAT on food and drinks. But if, for example, you want to book a hotel, it is always stated that there is still 19% VAT to be paid at the hotel. However, this only applies to locals so you can ignore this. In the hotel they will almost never charge for this. If they do, you can point them out that it is not necessary. Even when you buy things like clothing, jewellery or electronics, the vouchers can declare the IVA (VAT) at the airport. It is a bit of a hassle of course, but if you are planning to buy a lot of expensive things this can save you a lot of money.
5. The classic route is very easy to travel
Although tourism is a relatively new thing for Colombia, travelling within the traditional route is a breeze. The connections between all destinations are very good and the buses for long distances are always equipped with air conditioning and sometimes Wi-Fi. Travelling through Colombia is therefore ideal for the independent traveller! Curious about a nice travel route?
6. Traveling in Colombia is safe
Colombia still has the stamp of being unsafe, while there is nothing wrong in a very large part of the country. During our trip through Colombia we never felt unsafe for a single moment. Some areas are still unsafe, but those are not the destinations where you come as a traveller. The destinations of our travel route are safe anyway. That does not mean that nothing can happen to you, because let’s be honest, something can also happen in Paris or Amsterdam.
7. You need a world plug everywhere in Colombia
Do not forget to take a few world plugs with you because otherwise you will not be able to use your phone, camera or iPad in Colombia.
8. You will hear music everywhere
One thing is certain, Colombians love music. You can really hear music on every corner of the street. From the 10-year-old telephone from the cleaning lady when she is cleaning the rooms to the mega music from a house where someone is just watching TV. You will also find a lot of live music on the street where people dance, sing and especially laugh while enjoying a beer. This ensures that Colombia feels very authentic and immediately upon arrival you realize that you are in a different continent.
9. Avoid mid-December to mid-January
In this period it is vacation time for Colombians and they visit all the beautiful places in their own country. This makes it a lot busier everywhere and therefore the prices of hotels rise. If you have the option then it is better to choose a different period.
10. You don’t necessarily have to speak Spanish
It is a fact that very few Colombians speak English and it is of course unfortunate when an adorable taxi driver wants to chat with you enthusiastically and you do not understand anything. Travelling through Colombia will certainly become easier and more fun if you speak Spanish but it is not necessary. We barely speak Spanish and have always been able to easily manage. Just download an offline translation app for when you really can’t figure it out or when you can’t read something on a menu.