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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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