Happy Tuesday, you guys. Also, hey, you guys! I've been gone for like 4 months. *in my Drake voice* - "I just hope that you missed me a little while I was gone". Today's post is about my recent 10-day Colombia trip, starting with 3 days in Bogotá, Colombia. If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, orrrrr Snapchat (dhruvibaby), you might have seem quite a bit of it. While I was there and since I've been back, I've gotten a lot of questions about my trip. This was a solo trip, which I absolutely loved. The most frequent question I've been asked - "Is it safe?"
So, let's start with that. Throughout my trip in Colombia, I felt completely safe, except my last night in Bogotá, when I was by 1st in La Candelaria. Very briefly, before I left. Of the 3 cities I visited, Bogotá requires the most caution. Being the capital of the country, there is a lot of craziness always happening in Bogotá. So, here are a few precautions to take -
- Do NOT flag a taxi on the street and hop in it. Use Uber or have your hotel/hostel/restaurant/bar/whatever establishment call you a taxi from the taxi company. Make sure you match the tag/license plate before actually getting in the taxi.
- Do NOT have been your phone out while you're waking around or even while you're in a taxi.
- Try not to walk around by yourself, especially in the evening/night. Having your camera/phone out is fine if you're in a group, hence why you're encouraged to take as many photos as you'd like when you do the walking and/or graffiti tour.
- If you're carrying a backpack, try to carry it in the front, vs the back, especially in crowded places.
If you follow these basic rules, and are being responsible and aware of your surroundings, you should be fine.
Other informational tidbits -
- As for currency exchange, I'd recommend exchanging about $100 USD at a currency exchange place, before getting there. Avoid airport currency exchanges, if possible, as their rates are awful. You'll get much better exchange rates in Colombia, so you can exchange more as you go.
- If your cell phone provider is Sprint (in the US), they have something called OpenWorld that gives you unlimited calls/texts, and 1GB of free data, in almost all Central & South American countries. If that's available to you, make sure you sign up for that.
- Domestic flights are fairly cheap in Colombia, so I'd highly recommend flying between cities, in the interest of time. You can fly Avianca or Viva Colombia.
I also want to point out something very important. While I was in Colombia, I came across a lot of people who'd ask/talk about Pablo Escobar, as if he was Colombia's golden child. Don't get me wrong, I've watched Narcos on Netflix, and thought it was very interesting. However, the people of Colombia do not like to talk about him or glorify him. Please be considerate and sensitive, and don't start discussing Pablo with every person you come across.
Ok, moving on to my 3 days in Bogotá ....
Where I stayed: I have a friend who's from Colombia so, I had a great resource and I asked her before booking anything. She recommended that I stay in Zona Rosa/Zona T/Parque de la 93 area. That's the nice part of Bogotá with tons of great shopping, bars, restaurants, etc. Also, I prefer to stay in Airbnbs over hotels, because it feels more like I'm living as a local than just a tourist. Personally, that's how I like to travel - by immersing myself in the culture as much as possible. I found an incredible Airbnb in Zona Rosa, and an awesome price -
As much as I loved Zona Rosa, I think it's better to stay there if you're traveling with other people. I ended up spending most of my time in La Candelaria, which was a 20-minute ride from Zona Rosa. So, if I were to do it differently, I would've probably stayed in La Candelaria.
What I packed: Ok so I was very delusional about the weather in Colombia. I figured it's in South America so it's obviously going to be bright & sunny. All the time. Everywhere. Wrong. Bogotá was mostly rainy and cold when I was there in early November. I'd brought my fair share of fun, colorful dresses. Luckily, I'd thrown in some leggings last-minute. Also, I always get cold on my flight so, I'd carried a light jacket. So, I basically lived in leggings, t-shirts, that one jacket, and these amazing sneakers (they're currently on sale for $55, super versatile, and incredibly comfortable)! I was looking for a good pair of travel sneakers - something I can wear with leggings/jeans/dresses/whatever, and these fit the bill perfectly in every way!
What I did: Personally, I felt like 3 days in Bogotá were more than enough. I arrived super late on a Wednesday night, and got a great night's sleep
Day 1: On my first day, I lucked out and it was very beautiful and sunny. So, I decided to take advantage of that and went up to Monserrate. I took a cable car up there, and the view was incredible.
Rain over Bogotá - the insane view from Monserrate!
While I was at Monserrate, I met some other travelers and after Monserrate, we walked around, got lunch, and went back to their hostel, where I met a ton of other people. From there, I did a walking tour of La Candelaria, which I highly recommend! It starts from right outside the Cranky Croc Hostel (which was also pretty cool, if you're looking to stay at a hostel). It's a free tour, and at the end, you give your tour guide whatever you think they deserve. I loved the walking tour because it has some really cool food-tasting stops, and tons of interesting information. For instance, I learnt that Bogotá used to be called Bacatá, until the Spaniards invaded and changed it.
Coffee stop during walking tour.
Have an urge to read? Bogotá has these small, free libraries where you can pick up a book, sit and read to your heart's content!
Plaza Bolívar, charming even on a super rainy day!
Day 2: On Day 2, I did a day trip to Zipaquirá, to see the beautiful salt cathedral. If you make it out there, I'd recommend doing the miner's tour, which makes it a real experience tour, and not just an informational tour. It was really rainy and cold that day, so I was tired from the day trip and relaxed in my Airbnb, after getting back, before meeting up with some new friends for drinks.
Day 3: I did the walking Graffiti tour on my last day. Bogotá is one of the top 10 cities in the world, for street art. So, the graffiti tour was definitely awesome! The mural of the lady, at the beginning of this post, was my favorite. My other favorite -
If you look closely, you'll see that part of this black cat mural is painted behind a pillar and a stop sign. Can you see it? You can only see the mural complete, like this, from one spot. Cool, init?!
After the graffiti tour, I went to The Gold Museum (El museo del oro), and I would really recommend checking it out, if you have time.
Museo Del Oro
On my last night, I went to check out some bars in Zona Rosa. I called it an early night, but it was fun to walk around and get a glimpse of the night life in Bogotá. If you're really looking to party, you should look into Andrés Carne de Res that's about an hour outside of Bogotá, but there are party buses you can take from some of the hostels, including Cranky Croc.
Eats & Drinks: Being a vegetarian, I don't have too many restaurant recommendations, sadly, but you absolutely must get tacos at Lucha Picante. I also recommend BBC (Bogotá Beer Company) for craft beer and chilling. If you don't have time to make it out to Andrés Carne de Res, you can check out the smaller version of it - Andrés Carne DC in Zona Rosa.
That sums up my 3 days in Bogotá! Up next, 3 days in Medellín, Colombia - stay tuned. Hope this post helps, if you're considering going to Colombia! If you've been already, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Also, if you're planning on going, and have any other questions, please feel free to comment or reach out!
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