Here are some common questions about traveling to Colombia.

Visas
Vaccinations
Safety
Climate
Tipping
Currency

Do I need a visa to enter Colombia?

Visitors from most countries are welcome to stay in Colombia as tourists for up to 90-days upon production of a valid passport that is valid for six months beyond the date of entry. In principal you also need an onward ticket or return ticket as well, although this is rarely asked for. Visas are not usually required; however you are advised to check entry requirements in your home country at the time of making travel arrangements. Your passport must be carried at all times, but it is safest to carry photocopies of your passport photo ID page rather than the original.

 

What are the Vaccination requirements for Colombia?

At present there are no compulsory vaccination requirements entering Colombia, though you are advised to check with your local medical practitioner a few weeks before you travel to find out which inoculations are recommended for your journey. In any case, vaccinations against Hepatitis A are always a good idea. Similarly, if you plan to visit certain regions, a Yellow Fever inoculation is advised for the following destinations:

•The departments of Amazonas: Caqueta, Casanare, Cesar, Guainia, Guaviare, Guajira, Meta, Putumayo, Vaupés and Vichada, where more than 80% of municipalities are classified as high risk.

• The Department of Magdalena: The district of Santa Marta and the municipalities of Ciénaga and Aracataca.

• The department of Norte de Santander, Catatumbo area: El Carmen, El Tarra, Teorama, Sardinata, Tibu, El Zulia, Hacarí and San Calixto.

• The department of Chocó: Rio Sucio, Carmen del Darién, Juradó, Nuquí and Unguía.

• The department of Antioquia: Dabeiba, Mutatá, Turbo and Yondó. If you want to do a Yellow Fever inoculation:

Visit a yellow fever vaccination (travel) clinic and ask for a yellow fever vaccine.

o You should receive this vaccine at least 10 days before your trip.

o After receiving the vaccine, you will receive a signed and stamped International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP, sometimes called the “yellow card”), which you must bring with you on your trip.

o The vaccine lasts for 10 years. It is important to be aware of potential risks when travelling. The most common illnesses in Colombia are acute altitude sickness, stomach problems, and in jungle areas malaria and yellow fever.

 

How is the climate in Colombia and when is the best time to go?

Due to its geographic location right on the equator, the country and its habitants enjoy a rather constant tropical climate all year long. There are, however, various climate zones that mainly result from differences in altitude.

Touring Colombia, you’ll experience a hot, tropical climate characterized by the areas of the Amazon, the Eastern Plains (Llanos Orientales), the Pacific and Caribbean lowlands as well as the Magdalena and Cauca Valley.

In the parts of the Andean region a quite pleasant spring-like climate prevails. The best example is Medellín,The City of Eternal Spring. Other areas of the Andes, the highlands for instance, present pretty harsh and cold weather conditions. It is supposed that there is a wet and a dry season in Colombia. Ask some locals when the season starts and ends, and you’ll quickly realize that there is more dissent than consensus about these dates. That’s the reason why the information provided in most travel guides is to be seen as a ballpark estimate.

Most of them state that the dry season lasts from the middle of December to the middle of March and from the middle of June to the middle of September. The rainy season is said to start in the middle of March and to last until May and from September to the middle of December. A longer wet season is to be expected in northern lowlands (from May to October). But, as said before, these are only vague estimations, since the weather tends to change in unpredictable ways.

Is Colombia Safe ?

“Is Colombia safe?” is a very frequent question when talking about this country. This might be due to its fairly bad reputation and people associating Colombia with violence, drug trafficking and the guerilla. While it is true that safety in Colombia was quite unstable in the 80s, things have changed over time.

Although violence is still an issue, it only affects some remote rural areas or humble districts of some cities. In most parts of the country, you won’t notice any of it. Compared to other Latin American and Asian countries, Colombia has modest violence and crime rates.

The best advice for travelers is to use COMMON SENSE to ensure their safety. Robberies and pickpocketing pose the greatest threat to tourists in Colombia.

As in many other countries, if you keep in mind the typical measures of security, there won’t be any problems at all. Here is a short list you should spare a thought for while traveling in Colombia:

– Certain neighborhoods in the big cities should be avoided.

– Do not leave personal belongings of value unattended.

– Take a cab at night and check its license plate or call a cab from a trusted company to pick you up.

– Do not leave your drinks unattended and don’t accept any beverages from strangers.

– Withdraw money only in busy and safe areas.

– Leave most of your money, credit cards and passports in your hotel safe. Only bring along a copy of your passport including a copy of the stamp of your entry to Colombia.

So, getting back to the question “Is Colombia safe?”, we can assure you: “Yes, it is!” If you take some precautions and use your common sense, risks in Colombia are minor and easily avoidable. If you have any other questions, we are more than happy to answer them.

How do I pay in Colombia?

The currency in Colombia is the peso. There are $ 1,000, $ 2,000, $ 5,000, $ 10,000, $ 20,000 and $50.00 bills and $50 $ 100, $ 200, $ 500 and $ 1,000 coins.

At the moment 1 Euro equates to 3,300 COP and 1 US Dollar is about 2,950 COP. In all bigger cities you can draw out money in the local currency in cash machines.

Sometimes you are not allowed to draw out more than 200 USD or EUR180 at once. But you can draw out money several times. We also recommend to take a certain amount of Euros or US Dollars with you when travelling to Colombia, which you can exchange in banks and exchange offices (casas de cambio) in the country..

Capital cities have ATMs on major roads and shopping centres which mostly operate 24 hours in English. Do not give your card or reveal your password to strangers.

Most hotels, restaurants and commercial establishments accept credit cards like Visa and Master Card. Some places accept American Express and Diners Club.

How does tipping work in Colombia ?

Tipping should be treated as a personal matter, and a gratuity should only be given if you feel the service warrants it.

Tips vary from trip to trip depending on group size, accommodations and the destination.

Usually tips are not included in advance unless otherwise noted on the detailed itinerary or requested by the traveler (if so, they will be customized for each trip and will be included in the final price).

Taxi drivers are usually not tipped, but you can leave them the small change from a metered ride.

Most restaurants bills already include a 10% extra cost for tips. If you go on a guided tour, a tip is expected. If you are in a group, tip a top-notch guide about 15,000 pesos per person per day. Tip the driver about half that. If you hire a private guide, you can tip from 30,000 pesos per day.

Which number should I call in case of Emergency?

Anyone can call emergency numbers for free from landlines and cell phones. Dial the number 123 for any emergency (Police, Fire Brigade, Emergency and Civil Defense).

What are measures units ?

In Colombia the International Unit System  (IUS) is used. Measurements for distances are derived from the meter (centimetres -cm- , metres -m- kilometres – km-) and for mass from the kilogramme (gram -g- kilogram -kg- , tonne-t). The unit of measurement for speed is the kilometre per hour (km / h); the temperature is Celsius or Centigrade (° C) and the volume level is the litre (l).. Inches, feet, yards, pounds, ounces, miles, and degrees Fahrenheit are rare, but are used in some imported appliances.

What is the voltage in Colombia?
Domestic power is 110 volts AC at 60 Hz (110V AC, 60Hz). For industrial facilities it is 220 volts AC at 60 Hz (220V AC, 60Hz). Electrical connectors or plugs are used with two flat input pins or with a third round pin and it easy to buy adapters and voltage regulators. It is advisable to check the technical specifications of the devices that will be used in Colombia.
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For any other questions, please write us at contacto@palenquetourscolombia.com or call us on: +57 (4) 312 89 65