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Colombia

Continent: South America

Ideal Duration: 10 - 14 days

Best Time: December - March Read More

Currency: Colombian Peso (COP)

Budget: Cheap

"The Land Of Many Lives"

Colombia Tourism

Known as the Gateway to South America, Colombia is one of the most culturally and geographically diverse countries in the world. Blessed with rich cultural heritage and a variegated mixture of flora and fauna, Colombia caters to all kinds of visitors. Relax on the turquoise water beaches of Carribean and Pacific or experience the colonial charm of Cartagena. Visit the historical Bogota or treat yourself to the eternal spring of Medellin, immerse yourself in the exuberance of Cali or simply head for a trek in the Andes and the Amazon.

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Best time to visit Colombia

December - March is the best time to visit Colombia

Colombia is a wonderful country present near the Equator. This position provides it with two main seasons of dry and rainy. However, due to topological differences, the climate variation is characterised more by regions than by seasons. December to March is the dry season with sunny days and warm weather which is the best time to visit Colombia for exploring the cities and beaches. Another small dry season lasts in Colombia from July to September and it can be a good time to visit Colombia as well. Humpback whale watching in the Colombian Pacific during the months of June and October is a spectacular sight. The rainy months are when the tourist population is the thinnest in this country and it is the Offseason for Colombia. The offseason is the cheapest time to go around in the country and the best time to do indoor activities in Colombia.

Regions in Colombia

Colombia can be divided into five regions based on its varied geography as Pacific Coast, Carribean coast, Andes region, Orinoquiaareasand Amazon region. Visit the coastal regions, inland savannahs and heritage cities of Carribean and Pacific coast in the North-Western region of the country, the beautiful cities with pleasant weather located in the foothills of Andes mountain range, the grassland plains of Orinoquia region or simply go for an adventure in the world's largest rainforest Amazon.

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Holidify's Opinion

What's Great?

Great diversity of landscapes and culture. An ideal destination for Ecotourism. Impressive architecture and heritage. Energetic and fun loving people.

What's Not So Great?

Forged currency bills. High crime rate due to narcotics trafficking and social conflicts in some areas.

For Whom?

Adventure seekers. Heritage and Culture enthusiasts. Nature & Biodiversity lovers. Art and music lovers.

Read More on Colombia

Currency of Colombia

The only currency accepted in Colombia is Colombian Pesos. The bills are available in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000 and 50000 and coins come in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. Major credit and debit cards are accepted at all big shops, shopping centres, hotels and restaurants. Carrying a good amount of cash is a good idea as several small vendors and transportation options accept only cash.

Exchanging Money in Colombia

ATMs are widely available in almost all tourist destinations and major cities operating for 24 hours in English. However, avoid transactions at night. The maximum withdrawal limit is COP 1200000 per day. Currency exchange centres can be found at airports, banks and hotels, it is strongly advised to never exchange currency on streets as counterfeited bills pose a major problem in Colombia.

Nightlife in Colombia

Colombia boasts of a vibrant nightlife and almost all the major cities have a zone with a plethora of bars, discos and clubs available. The nightlife scenes are dormant on the weekdays from Sunday to Wednesday and increase dramatically on weekends with Saturday being the busiest. Most people reach by 11:00 PM and the bars are generally open up to 2:00 AM whereas discos are open up till 4:00 AM. Cali is the nightlife capital of the country and is renowned for its Salsa clubs. Other cities promising sprightly nightlife scenes include Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena and Barranquilla.

Shopping in Colombia

With a blooming market scene offering a wide range of options from its world famous handicrafts to fashion outlets, Colombia is no less than a paradise for shopaholics. All the major cities have Mercado Central, where you can get great deals on fresh produce and other local items at insanely cheap prices. Medellin is known for its clothing industry and retail chains whereas Bogota is famous for its artisan markets and traditional items. Visit Cartagena, the world's centre for Emeralds as well as other gemstones or stroll through the euphoric markets of Cali. Tourists are often quoted a higher price, so a little bit of bargaining is a must.

Festivals of Colombia

A country enriched with enormous cultural heritage, there are numerous carnivals, parades, dance and music festivals and local festivities happening throughout the year. Each festival is unique in its way and is associated with a particular city, reflecting its local traditions. These frolic celebrations have fancied tourists all over the world, the most famous of them all is Carnaval de Barranquilla, which is the second largest carnival celebration in the world. Feria de las Flores or the flower festival of Medellin is an enjoyable experience for everyone and lasts for ten days. Another celebration worth attending is Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro of Bogota celebrating performing arts and theaters.

History of Colombia

Initially, the site of present-day Colombia was inhabited by native Indians as early as 10,000 BC. The Spaniards arrived in the first half of 16th century, and Colombia became a Spanish colony with lots of African slaves brought by the colonisers. The colonial charm in the form of architecture and traditions is reflected in the country's top tourist attractions. Colombia gained independence under the iconic leadership of Simon Bolivar and a new nation consisting of present-day Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador and Colombia under the name of the Republic of Colombia was formed. However, the Republic was unstable, and the regional differences led to an outbreak of numerous civil wars resulting in breaking of the Republic. Colombia's past is characterised by turmoil, conflicts, violence and massive bloodshed due to drug cartels operating in the country. However, the situation has improved significantly in the past few years.

Hygiene in Colombia

The people of Colombia are hygiene loving. However, the location of the country makes it prone to numerous tropical diseases due to mosquitoes and bugs. Colombia has been identified as the source of Zika outbreak, and protection against other mosquito-borne diseases is strongly recommended in the form of vaccines, antimalarial meds and sprays. Yellow fever, Typhoid and Hepatitis vaccines are recommended for some travellers. Rabies vaccination is not necessarily needed but is advised for travel to remote areas and other outdoor activities.

Customs of Colombia

Colombians are courteous people; men shake hands whereas women grasp forearms while greeting. Usually, people use Spanish greetings for the time of the day such as "Buenos Dias" for good day or "Buenos Noches" for good evening/night. There are no specific dress codes to be followed as such, dress in comfortable clothing and avoid fancy jewellery. The tipping practice is not as strict as compared to other American countries. People generally tip around 1000 - 2000 pesos in small restaurants, some of the restaurants have tip included as service charge up to 15 percent of the total order value. Most people usually tip for room service.

Tips for visiting Colombia

Drink bottled water outside the main cities. Avoid wearing fancy jewelry or clothing. Never exchange currency on the streets. Try negotiating prices with street vendors and taxi drivers for unmetered rides. Carry cash in small denomination as vendors don't easily change large bills.

Culture of Colombia

Colombian culture is an interesting amalgamation of native Indian, African and European influences. This great ethnic diversity of the country is reflected in its social customs, society, and festivals. The society is stratified into three classes namely Upper, Middle and Lower with most of the whites being associated with upper caste. Colombian society is male dominated, and machismo is strongly inherent. The main religion is Christianity with nearly 95% of the population practicing Catholicism; the church has influenced most of the traditions by eliminating the indigenous customs. Most of the Colombians keep their religion in high regard. The official language of the country is Spanish due to the colonization. English is not widely spoken or understood and is associated with the upper class.

Food of Colombia

Colombian food gets as varied as its geography and is influenced by Indian, European and African cultures. Colombian cuisine is characterised mostly by meat based dishes, usage of rice and maize and also by an incredible variety of tropical fruits. A typical meal will contain soup, a main dish, a drink and a dessert. The Pacific and Carribean regions are famous for its mouth-watering seafood dishes whereas the traditional dishes such as Bandeja Paisa, Ajiaco, and Sanocho de Gallina are best in Bogota, Medellin, and Cali. Arepas or Corn cakes are a typical breakfast option in the country, coffee and fresh fruit juices are the representative beverages of the country.

Stay options in Colombia

There is a wide variety of hotels ranging from small guesthouses to luxury accommodations in all major tourist cities. Tourists are advised to book hotels which are recommended by Colombian Hotel Association (www.cotelco.org) and the ones which are located in safe neighbourhoods. Considering apartments on a rent per day basis is a good idea if you are planning to spend a good amount of time here. Youth hostels are gaining popularity in the central region of the country and provide excellent, affordable services.

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