General travel information
Key contact information
Colombia is based on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), with a difference of 5 hours depending on the season. In the summer, when it is 12PM in Colombia, it is 12PM in New York, 10AM in Los Angeles, 5PM in London, and 6PM in Madrid. In winter, the difference decreases one hour because there is no daylight savings time in Colombia.
Currency & money exchange
The official currency of Colombia is the Colombian peso, written as $ or COP. The exchange is about 1 USD ≈ 2,800 COP.
Upon your arrival in Colombia, we can arrange for the exchange of foreign currency at one of the local banks or hotels. However, we recommend our guests withdraw Colombian pesos at a local secured ATM using their debit cards since ATMs provide favorable interbank exchange rates. Make sure to check the withdrawal fee that your home bank charges for withdrawals in foreign countries/currencies, and inform the bank about your travel plans so they don’t block your card(s). Please note that the most ATMs dispense a maximum of $600.000 COP ($200 USD) at a time and up to three times per day.
Colombia is equipped with an extensive network of ATMs, which are usually strategically located at a safe location. The majority of ATMs are in service 24 hours a day and provide a display option for the English language. We recommend exercising caution when withdrawing and handling cash, as you would in your home country. Go to an ATM in an enclosed and well-lit area, accompanied by your host or by other people.
The majority of hotels, restaurants, stores, and supermarkets accept debit and credit cards. The most accepted credit cards are Visa and MasterCard, and few places accept American Express, Diners Club, or Discover.
Passport & visas
A passport valid for the duration of your trip is required to travel to Colombia. A tourist visa is not required if you are a citizen from the European Union, the United States of America, Canada, and other countries. For a complete and up-to-date list of countries that require a visa to enter Colombia, please visit the Colombia Government Travel Guide.
The illnesses travelers most frequently suffer from are altitude sickness and upset stomach. Although major cities have excellent running water systems with perfectly drinkable tap water, we advise that our guests drink bottled water. No specific vaccine is required unless traveling to jungle areas such as the Amazon, in which case yellow fever and tetanus vaccines are required. If your journey includes destinations such as Bogotá or other high-altitude Andean destinations in Colombia, you may experience altitude sickness. The most effective remedy is to take it easy on your first day and drink plenty of electrolytes.
With international travel, there are certain risks one should be prepared for. We strongly advise that our guests purchase travel insurance for preventative measures when booking a vacation. The three most important components of travel insurance are emergency evacuation insurance, medical insurance, and trip cancellation/curtailment insurance.
Cellphone & internet coverage
Cellular networks are largely available throughout the country with GSM, 3G, or 4G data services. Outside of major cities and towns, it is sometimes difficult to get good reception. We can provide a SIM card loaded with calling minutes, text, and data upon request, just get in touch with us anytime! Your hotels provide Internet service during your stay. Should you need an Internet connection on-the-go, let us know and we will provide you with a mobile data connection.
If you’re visiting from North America, there is no need to take adapters since Colombia uses the same outlets. From Europe however, you will need an adaptor for 110V 60Hz (two flat blades, or two flat blades and one round for grounding).
Electricity & WiFi
Although there is generally good WiFi throughout Colombia, particularly in hotels, it is important to bear in mind that it can occasionally be temperamental. Cities and remote locations alike can also experience power cuts from time to time – but it’s all part of the experience!
Since tourism is still quite new in Colombia, there isn’t really a set norm for tipping yet. We suggest following these guidelines:
- Guides: $5-10 USD per person ≈ 15,000 – 30,000 COP per person
- Hosts: $25-30 USD per day ≈ 75,000 – 90,000 COP per day
- Chauffeurs: $10-15 USD per day ≈ 30,000 – 45,000 COP per day
- Hotel or airport porters: $2 USD ≈ 6,000 COP
- Restaurants: 10% of the bill, unless already included. (If you receive outstanding service tip at your own discretion)
- Taxis: No tip
Useful Spanish phrases
Good morning – Buenos días
Good afternoon – Buenas tarde
Good evening – Buenas noches
Hello! – Hola! / Buenas!
How are you? – ¿Como estás?
I am well, thank you – Estoy bien, gracias
Nice to meet you – Mucho gusto
My name is… – Mi nombre es…
I am from (the USA, England…) – Yo soy de (los Estados Unidos, Inglaterra…)
Money & shopping
How much does it cost? – ¿Cuanto cuesta?
No thank you* – No gracias
Do you have a smaller / bigger size? – ¿Tiene una talla menor / mayor?
Can I pay with credit card? – ¿Puedo pagar con tarjeta de crédito?
Money – Dinero
Cash – Efectivo
*Note: This is particularly handy for when people are selling things in the street!
Food & drink
I would like… (water, beer, red wine, white wine) – Me gustaría… (un agua, una cerveza, un vino tinto, un vino blanco)
Does this dish contain (gluten / dairy / nuts)? – ¿Este plato contiene (gluten / lácteos / nueces)?
I am allergic to (…) – Tengo una alergia a (…)
I am vegetarian / vegan – Soy vegetariano(a) / vegano(a)
I am wheat / dairy intolerant – Tengo una intolerancia al trigo / a lácteos
Do you speak English?* – ¿Hablas inglés?
Where is…? – ¿Dónde está…?
Where is the bathroom? – ¿Dónde está el baño?
I’m looking for the (Casa San Agustin) hotel – Estoy buscando el hotel (Casa San Agustín)
I don’t understand – No entiendo
Excuse me / Sorry! (if you bump into someone for example) – Disculpa!
*Note: You should never assume someone speaks English, so it’s highly appreciated if you kindly ask in Spanish!