ablo Escobar’s notoriety aside, Colombia is an amazingly beautiful country. Gorgeous beaches, delicious food, rich history, vibrant people, and an insanely fun nightlife are just a few of the practical reasons you need to visit. Add to that sultry women as hot as the country’s soaring temps, and you’ve got yourself a winning getaway.
THE CHEAT SHEET
1 Where to Fly
It may take a few hours and at least one layover, but Colombia is serviced by several major airlines from the U.S. Most deals on The Flight Deal and Secret Flying tend to land at Cartagena’s Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG), but emerging hotspots Medellín (MDE) and Cali (CLO) are fairly accessible as well.
2 Weather Report
In general, the best time to visit Colombia is somewhere between December and April, depending on the region. However, “best” also means you’ll be spending top dollar, as everything is in high demand. Shoulder seasons in July and August will give you the best bang for your buck.
3 Passports and Paperwork
Grab your passport, but U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a tourist or business stay of 90 days or less.
The local currency is the Colombian peso (COP), and while credit cards are accepted in many shops, having a few local dollars on hand never hurts. The current exchange rate on XE.com has 1 dollar equaling 2,939.70 pesos.
5 Talk That Talk
The national language of Colombia is Spanish. Though your trip will be more enjoyable if you can speak at least some broken Spanglish, here are three helpful phrases you should memorize: “¿Cuánto cuesta?” (“How much?”), “Encienda el taxímetro.” (“Turn on the meter.”), and “¿Dónde está el baño?” (“Where is the bathroom?”).
This northern coast city gets so much shine that many think it’s the capital of Colombia, but it’s not (that’s Bogotá). From colorful architecture and mouth-watering dining to popping clubs and beaches, Cartagena has definitely earned its spot as the place to be.
If you’re looking for a more authentic, less touristy experience, then head to this city. You’ll get the best of both worlds: a lively party scene and a nature lover’s dream with gorgeous landscapes and hiking trails.
If you love to dance, or at least watch sexy women dance, then Cali is where you need to be. The near year-round warm weather and diverse population also make this city a big draw for visitors.
Uber will be your best friend in Colombia. Cabs are metered in Medellín and Cali, but in Cartagena…yeah, just be on your game so you don’t get got.
WHERE TO STAY
Staying in the Centro Historico area is best for Airbnb and boutique hotels like Casa San Agustin, but there are a lot of new hotels popping up along the beach. It all depends on if you want to be in walking distance to all the clubs and great dining or if you want to be closer to the beach.
The places to stay in the city are The Charlee Hotel and the Dann Carlton. If you’re going to book an Airbnb, make you sure cop a spot in a more well-established neighborhood, like El Poblado, Laureles, or Las Palmas.
Since Cali is known for its nightlife, staying centrally located is key. The NOW Hotel is in the heart of the action.
GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS
It also helps to know some Spanish beyond basic phrases when it comes to bagging local ladies. Cultural norms rule: Don’t be cheap when it comes to paying for her cab rides when you ask her out.
Like many other countries, Colombia has its share of “ladies of the night.” But don’t be fooled into thinking they will look like the women you’ve seen on HBO’s Hookers at the Point. These women blend in well and don’t necessarily hang on corners. For many, this is just a way to make some extra money outside of their regular nine to fives, or until they finish school, so respect for the hustle is still due. A simple “¿Cuánto cuesta?” will get you everything you need and more. Pros pro tip? Strip clubs are basically brothels. Sure there’s dancing and drinks, but that’s really just a warm up for the real action that’s available.
Danielle Pointdujour does is big all over the world. Check out her travels at HotelWhisperer.com.