Traveling tips for Colombia – what you should know before a trip to Colombia

Planning a trip to Colombia can be both exciting and a bit daunting, especially if it’s your first time visiting this vibrant South American country. This article provides essential travel tips to help you prepare for a smooth and enjoyable journey to Colombia.

Before embarking on your journey, it’s crucial to be aware of several key aspects that will enhance your travel experience in Colombia. From understanding local customs and preparing for unpredictable weather to knowing the best ways to get around, this article covers everything you need to know. We’ll also share practical advice on accommodation options, dining, and staying safe while traveling, ensuring that you are well-prepared for any situation that may arise.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with all the information needed to travel confidently and respectfully, allowing you to fully enjoy the magic that Colombia has to offer

What do I need to do before traveling to Colombia?

Before traveling to Colombia, there are several important requirements you should be aware of:

1. Passport Validity:

Ensure that your passport is valid on the date of entry. While there is no strict requirement for a specific validity period, Colombian immigration authorities recommend that your passport has an “expiry date” of at least 6 months after your planned departure date.

2. COVID-19 Rules:

As of now, there are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travelers entering Colombia. However, it’s always a good idea to stay informed about any updates or changes in regulations.

3. Visa Requirements:

  • If you’re a British citizen, you can visit Colombia for up to 90 days without a visa for business or tourism. This is at the discretion of the Colombian immigration officer upon arrival.
  • You must be able to show an onward or return ticket valid within the 90-day period.
  • If you have a Colombian visa with more than 90 days of validity, you must register the visa at a Migración Colombia office (in Spanish) or online within 15 days of arrival.
  • As a visitor, you cannot remain in Colombia for more than 180 days in any 12-month period. Overstaying your visa could result in fines or deportation at your own cost.

4. Dual Nationals: If you’re a British-Colombian dual national, you must enter and leave Colombia using your Colombian passport and Colombian identification card (Cedula).

5. Border Control and Check-Mig Form:

  • Make sure your passport is stamped when you enter Colombia by land, sea, or river. If it’s not stamped, you could face fines upon departure.
  • Fill out the Check-Mig form between 72 hours and one hour before your travel to Colombia. You’ll receive a confirmation email that you’ll need to show to immigration officials upon arrival

How much money do you need to bring to Colombia?

The amount of money you need to bring to Colombia depends on your travel style, preferences, and planned activities. However, here are some practical tips to help you budget for your trip:

1. Accommodation:

  • Accommodation costs can vary significantly. If you’re staying in budget hostels or guesthouses, you might spend around $20 to $40 per night. Mid-range hotels or boutique accommodations may cost between $60 to $100 per night. Luxury hotels can be more expensive.

2. Food and Dining:

  • Street food and local eateries are affordable. You can enjoy a meal for as little as $5 to $10.
  • Mid-range restaurants typically charge around $15 to $30 per person for a meal.
  • Fine dining establishments can be more expensive, with prices ranging from $50 to $100+ per person.

3. Transportation:

  • Public transportation (buses, metro, etc.) is reasonably priced. A single bus ride within a city might cost around $0.50 to $1.
  • Domestic flights between cities can vary, but expect to pay around $50 to $150 one way.
  • Taxis are also affordable, with short rides costing a few dollars.

4. Activities and Sightseeing:

  • Entrance fees to museums, historical sites, and attractions are generally affordable, ranging from $2 to $10.
  • Adventure activities (hiking, zip-lining, etc.) may cost more, depending on the location.

5. Miscellaneous Expenses:

  • Budget for incidentals like water, snacks, and souvenirs. An additional $10 to $20 per day should cover these expenses.

6. Safety Precautions:

  • Keep your money safe by using a money belt or hidden pouch.
  • Avoid displaying large amounts of cash in public.
  • Use ATMs to withdraw local currency (Colombian Pesos) as needed.

Are Colombians friendly to foreigners?

Colombians are generally warm, friendly, and welcoming to foreigners. Here are some observations based on cultural norms and interactions:

  1. Hospitality: Colombians often go out of their way to make visitors feel at home. You’ll likely experience genuine friendliness and curiosity about your background.
  2. Conversation: Colombians enjoy striking up conversations with strangers. Don’t be surprised if someone starts chatting with you while waiting in line or sitting at a café.
  3. Smiles and Greetings: Expect smiles and friendly greetings, especially in smaller towns and rural areas. Saying “¡Hola!” (hello) or “Buenos días” (good morning) is common.
  4. Invitations: If you’re invited to someone’s home, consider it an honor. Colombians take pride in sharing their culture, food, and traditions with guests.
  5. Dancing and Music: Colombians love music and dancing. If you join in, you’ll likely be welcomed with open arms. Salsa, cumbia, and vallenato are popular genres.
  6. Respect for Elders: Show respect to older individuals. Address them as “señor” (Mr.) or “señora” (Mrs.) and use formal language.
  7. Personal Space: Colombians are affectionate and may stand closer than you’re used to. It’s a sign of friendliness, not invasion of personal space.
  8. Safety Precautions: While most Colombians are friendly, exercise caution in crowded areas and follow safety guidelines. Petty theft can occur, especially in touristy spots.

Dos and Don’ts in Colombia

Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when traveling to Colombia:

  1. Know the Local Cultural Etiquette: Understanding local customs and norms is essential. Be respectful and open-minded, and learn a few basic phrases in Spanish to connect with locals.
  2. Pack Smartly and Travel Light: Colombia offers diverse climates, so pack accordingly. Remember that Bogotá can get chilly, especially at night. Layer your clothing for comfort.
  3. Carry Adequate Cash: While credit cards are widely accepted, having some cash on hand is useful. Ensure that your bills are new, uncrumpled, and damage-free, as shopkeepers may refuse damaged currency.
  4. Explore Locally Made Items: Look out for Colombia’s unique products, such as coffee, handicrafts, and traditional clothing. Supporting local artisans contributes to the community and allows you to take home authentic souvenirs.

What should you be careful of in Colombia?

When traveling to Colombia, it’s essential to be aware of safety precautions to ensure a pleasant and secure experience. Here are some dos and don’ts:

1. Keep a Low Profile:

  • Avoid drawing unnecessary attention to yourself. Dress modestly and avoid displaying expensive jewelry or gadgets, especially at night.

2. Pay Attention to Your Belongings:

  • Keep your valuables close and secure. Use a money belt or hidden pouch to carry important items.
  • Be cautious in crowded areas, as pickpocketing can occur.

3. Avoid Withdrawing Money at Night or Alone:

  • Use ATMs during daylight hours and in safe locations. If possible, withdraw money inside a bank or a well-lit area.

4. Ask Your Hotel About Safe Walking Routes:

  • Seek advice from your hotel staff regarding safe areas for walking. They can recommend routes and warn you about any potential risks.

5. Don’t Resist:

  • In case of theft or robbery, prioritize your safety. Hand over your belongings without resistance to avoid escalating the situation.

6. Carry Photocopies of Your Passport:

  • Keep photocopies of your passport, visa, and other important documents separate from the originals. This will be helpful in case of loss or theft


Is Colombia cheap to visit?

Colombia is indeed an affordable destination for travelers!  The cost of visiting Colombia can vary based on your travel style, preferences, and the places you visit. Here are some insights to help you plan your budget:

1. Daily Budget for Independent Travelers:

  • Small Budget (Mochileros/Backpackers): Around €20 per day per person for accommodation, food, and local transportation.
  • Average Budget: Approximately €50 per day per person, allowing for basic comfort, dining at restaurants, and going on excursions.
  • Big Budget: Over €100 per day per person for a more luxurious experience.

2. Average Costs:

  • Accommodation: Budget-friendly accommodations can be as low as $20 per night, while more luxurious options may cost up to $40 per night.
  • Food: Meals are affordable, and you can enjoy local cuisine without breaking the bank.
  • Activities: Excursions and sightseeing are reasonably priced.

3. Comparison with Neighboring Countries:

Colombia is more affordable than many other South American countries. For instance:

  • Colombia: Approximately 95,000 COP or $28 USD per day.
  • Panama: About 65 PAB or $65 USD per day.
  • Costa Rica: Around 40,000 CRC or $70 USD per day.
  • Peru: Approximately 150 PEN or $45 USD per day.

4. Longer Trips:

  • If you’re planning a longer trip (e.g., one month), the daily price may increase due to transportation costs as you explore more places.
  • Organized tours in Colombia typically cost around $285 per day, but independent travel offers more flexibility and affordability.

Thank you for reading! Save this page to get tips and insights on travel in the future. Kindly leave a comment below if you have any questions or if you need any assistance.

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