Things to know before visiting Bogota

I did not know much about Bogota, Colombia before I decided to visit.

I did  some research and I noticed a lot of articles talked about things to do in Bogota as opposed to what to expect in the city. I took mental notes of things that I thought every traveler should be aware of since they all stood out in their own way. From my experience, here is a list of things to know before visiting Bogota:

Transport System

TransMilenio’s network

Bogota’s transportation system is a little different. They only have buses which serve the whole city. The bus rapid transit (BRT) system, TransMilenio, is known to be the largest BRT in the world due to its vast network. I opted for Uber when I visited because the bus system was not easy to navigate in my opinion. Uber was very cheap at an average of $4 per trip. It was much more convenient also because it took me from point A to B with ease.

Language

If you read my last post about Bogota, this will not be news to you. Majority of locals do not speak English. I remember my first night there, I was taking a taxi to go pick up my friend from the airport. The taxi driver took me to this different location which had a large number of armed soldiers. I was so scared. After informing the driver that I was at the wrong destination (thanks google translate), he called his friend who was a receptionist in a hotel to act as a translator. Whew!

Proposed solution: It is best to learn some phrases before traveling to a foreign country.

Price for foreigners

Colorful Avocados

I think every traveler knows this but I think I should still bring it up. When foreigners travel abroad, the locals tend to mark up the prices of goods in order to make maximum profit. I was a victim of this in Colombia. In an attempt to purchase Avocados from a street vendor, I was told the price for 3 avocados was 20,000 COP. I converted it to USD, and it was approximately $6.80. That did not sound right for avocados, especially in Colombia, where everything is cheap. In order to avoid being cheated, foreigners should to blend in as much as possible. Money, cameras and other belongings should be hidden at all times. Also, be ready to haggle.

Toilet Paper

I noticed that Bogota public toilets do not have toilet paper. After my first day, I purchased tissue and took it everywhere with me. Public toilets at popular tourist attractions have vending machines outside the toilets which dispense toilet paper for a small fee. I realized it was cheaper to carry my toilet paper around so I started doing that.

Toilet Flushing

The sewage system is Bogota is not the best. The pipes are quite narrow so they cannot handle toilet paper. As a result of this, flushing toilet paper down the toilet is not allowed. It is expected to throw toilet paper inside the waste paper basket next to the toilet as opposed to flushing.

Taxis

Drivers on a narrow street in Bogota

Tourists have to be careful with taxi fares. Taxi drivers watch out for foreigners. They tend to mark up prices and often don’t follow the meter. Riders should pay attention to the meter, and pay only what the meter says. In order to offset dishonest taxi drivers, Uber is a solution. Uber in Bogota is cheap, and dishonesty is curbed because Uber fares are standardized.

Altitude

One of the several mountains that surround the city

Bogota is over 8,000ft above sea level. As a result of this high altitude, I would get tired really quickly while walking around the city. Some people experience headaches on their first day as a result of the altitude, but it usually goes away towards the end of the day.

Overall, be friendly, be careful and enjoy Bogota. Be open to meeting people too because I met a lot of people on my trip, and surprisingly, none of them were American.

   3 continents are represented in this picture. 4 including the photographer 🙂

I hope this post helps you plan your trip to Colombia better because it is a must visit for every traveler.

Like my post? Please comment and share

30 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Known strangerreply
February 17, 2017 at 6:02 pm

Now I know what to look out for when I visit in November

Carrie Ford-Coatesreply
February 17, 2017 at 7:28 pm

Great picture. Knowing conversational language of the country you are visiting is always a bonus. I think I would pass on the public toilets! LOL

Bethreply
February 17, 2017 at 9:21 pm

Great photos! I never knew the altitude of Bogota so that was quite interesting! And so was all the other facts that you listed. Interesting place!

Beth || http://www.TheStyleBouquet.com

Lanae Bondreply
February 17, 2017 at 9:29 pm

Sounds like you learned a lot! I have heard that tourist are often charged too much!

ShopGirl Anonymousreply
February 17, 2017 at 10:05 pm

Oh I bet traveling with individuals form such drastic different cultures made this trip even more educational and fascinating! What a great idea!

Ana Ojhareply
February 17, 2017 at 10:44 pm

I find it weird that they charge toilet papers at the public toilets. Wondering that every country has its own peculiar culture! Glad that you enjoyed in Columbia!

Deimarysreply
February 17, 2017 at 11:24 pm

Those avocados look so mouthwatering! I am glad you enjoyed your trip. The toilet paper experience though!!!

Chanelle Lynnreply
February 18, 2017 at 1:38 am

$6.80 for 3 avocados!?!?! That’s crazy girl! I would never pay that much for avocados even here in the US! Lol.

Patricia @ Grab a Platereply
February 18, 2017 at 4:49 am

These are great trips, many that you can apply to anywhere you travel! LOVE your photo of those gorgeous avocados!

Nathan Aguilerareply
February 18, 2017 at 6:53 am

I’ve been considering a visit to Columbia this year. I really hope to make it. It seems like such an interesting and beautiful country.

Kimberly C.reply
February 18, 2017 at 6:57 am

I love learning about other cultures and places. I must say, not flushing toilet paper amazes me and sounds challenging. I would also carry around toilet paper with me.

Jodiereply
February 18, 2017 at 8:36 am

Love the practical tips in this post thanks for sharing!

Arianereply
February 18, 2017 at 9:47 am

Hi there,
Great tips about Bogota… and so true. I didn’t like Bogogoa. I thought it was a gray and distant city, although we had a lot of friends living there. I prefered Medellin which is a bit sunnier, people are friendly and the whole atmosphere is way more positive.

Olareply
February 18, 2017 at 10:33 am

Boy what a scary taxi ride! Glad you made it safely to your hotel, and that you had a great time. I also like that you included the transit map. SO important when traveling to a foreign country.

Julie Caoreply
February 18, 2017 at 4:06 pm

I have booked my one-way ticket to Bogota this July and it is great to come across this post before my trip. I could not believe that not so many people there speaking English and I will remember to haggling the price. Thanks for sharing your experience and insights of Bogota!

Elliereply
February 19, 2017 at 6:01 am

Great tips! The language one is such an important one. I think it’s a little arrogant of us travellers to expect that everywhere we travel to, the locals will speak English. it’s courteous and safer to try to learn some key phrases that you know will be helpful. Awesome post!

Ellie
http://Www.scotchandstilettos.com

Akashdeep Singhreply
February 19, 2017 at 6:51 am

Lol. The toilet paper thing is funny. But thanks for the tip, whenever i plan for this place would keep this thing in mind. Thanks for this amazing post 🙂

Bhushavalireply
February 19, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Great tips. Esp those points about taking your own toilet paper and not flushing it are so necessary tips for outsiders! Thank you! 🙂

Sam Sparrowreply
February 19, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Super interesting to share some of the common tourists traps here – the toilet paper issue was the same in Cuba! Thanks for your insight.

Victoriareply
February 19, 2017 at 2:10 pm
– In reply to: Sam Sparrow

It is? Wow I am glad you told me because I’m traveling to Cuba in July! I’ll be sure to have my toilet paper!!

Flavio @ Adventurous Travelsreply
February 19, 2017 at 5:39 pm

Great post! I also went to high elevation places like Cuzco which is 4000 meters above the sea level, but had no problems and felt no difference 😉 The thing with the locals trying to trick tourists is normal in some countries but anyway, it’s quite annoying. I noticed it – especially in SE Asia and Morocco. And what’s strange, in the Balkans, in very poor regions of Macedonia and Albania we were never tricked or cheated…

Meghanreply
February 19, 2017 at 6:09 pm

What a helpful post. I had no idea about the altitude in Bogota. I get altitude sickness pretty easily, definitely need to know before visiting!

Ami Bhatreply
February 20, 2017 at 6:43 am

Simple but practical tips. These will definitely make life easier for anyone visiting Bogota for the first time. The stuff about Toilet paper is something no one tells you. Glad you shared it.

Agness of eTrampingreply
May 18, 2017 at 11:50 am

These tips are simply excellent. As Bogota is on my bucket list, these tips come in handy!

Kiareply
October 13, 2017 at 10:46 am

Hi! Great post thank you!!
I will have an 8 hr layover in Bogota in a few weeks, I will be there alone. As a young petite female I’m a little weary of exploring on my own but don’t want to sit in the airport the whole time. Any tips/ideas of how to spend a few hours safely?

Victoriareply
October 13, 2017 at 3:51 pm
– In reply to: Kia

Hi yes. go to La Candelaria. It is a historic neighborhood and walk around. From there you can go to Plaza de Boliva which is the big square to feed the pigeons. That is a great way to spend 8 hours in Bogota. You can skip La Candelaria and go to plaza de boliva, then walk to Monserrate to take the cable car up the mountain for beautiful views of the city.

Carolinareply
May 5, 2018 at 4:42 am

Excellent post. I am from Bogotá – and every thing you said is accurate.

F. Williamsreply
October 17, 2018 at 12:56 am

I was familiar with most of your advice except the toilet and tissue notice. I have yet to see anyone else mention this. Good timing because I’ll be in Bogoto next week. Thx

Victoriareply
October 17, 2018 at 12:58 am
– In reply to: F. Williams

Yes!! You will enjoy it

David from Travelscams.orgreply
November 3, 2018 at 11:18 am

This is an article anyone visiting Colombia should read, thanks for the tips! Indeed, Colombia is one of the most enjoyable countries to visit in South America, with colorful street culture, gorgeous enclaves, Inca architecture, gleaming cities and the largest rainforest on earth to offer.

However, there are tourist-targeting scammers and petty crime to be wary of. https://travelscams.org/south-america/common-tourist-scams-colombia/

Do be wary of fraudulent hiking tours, drink or food spiking, overcharging restaurants, overcharging taxi drivers, overnight cross border bus thefts, long taxi routes, shoe shine scam, fake police and many more!

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