Travelling in Colombia on a budget

Diverse land and friendly people, Colombia has a LOT to offer Unfortunately,-lots of people still associate the country with guerilla and cocaine! Go there by yourself and realize that the country has left this behind and welcomes you to discover its wonders. Ice on the cake: it won´t cost you too much.



Is it expensive to travel in Colombia?

Everyone has different perception of what “expensive” is, so let´s talk numbers! For reference, at the time I am writing these lines, 1USD=1,850COP and 1EUR=2500COP.

We travelled for 4 weeks in Colombia and ended up spending total of 6,233,800COP for 2 people, or 1,654USD per person. This is a daily budget of around 62USD per person, which may sound a lot for what I qualified of a “budget” destination. Keep in mind this amount includes all expenses in Colombis, only our international flight to get there is not.

Share of spendings
  • 40% of our budget went to activities (PADI open water certificate, 4 days trek to Ciudad Perdida, entrance fees to National Parks etc…)
  • 21% on food
  • 17% on accomodation
  • 18% on transportation (buses, taxis)
Good and bad surprises
  • Transportation was not as cheap as expected.
  • My mistake: I didn´t include the extra cost of the trek to Ciudad Perdida in our budget (600,000COP per person) which affected our daily spendings quite a lot.
  • Fortunately, taking our diving certificate was even cheaper than expected (580,000COP per person) which helped us to keep the budget. Taganga is supposed to be among the cheapest places in the world to take your Open Water Diving certificate.
  • Leaving the country by plane, you will have to pay a 13,000COP international tax.
Tips for the budget traveller in Colombia
  • The menu del dia is budget traveller´s best friend. It consists of a set menu with the soup of the day, drink of the day (juice or lemonade) and a plate of meat/fish/chicken with rice and sometimes a small salad. You will probably get tired of it after 2 weeks, but it´s the best value for money option (6,000-8,000COP).
  • Use collectivos instead of taxis. These mini buses leave only when full, they are the cheapest option if you are not in rush -most of the time also cheaper than regional buses with a set schedule.
  • Drink local beer. In some bars of restaurants, you will be served an expensive imported beer if you just order “una cerveza, por favor“. Check their choice of beer Aguilla, Club Colombia or Poker are your friends.
  • Save the planet, and your budget: buy water in bags!

    Save the planet, and your budget: buy water in bags!

    Buy water in bag. A great invention. Why wasting so much plastic in bottles of 1.5L? In Colombia, you will find water bags of 5 or 6L. Sure, it can be a bit tricky to seal it to keep it when you have not consumed everything but you are not travelling without duct tape right?

  • Don´t assume the service is not included. It depends. Check the receipt, and tip only if the service was decent (ok now you know it´s a french person talking…).
Examples of prices
  • double room in a hostel 50,000COP
  • menu del dia 6,000-8,000COP
  • beer in a restaurant 3,000COP
  • 2h bus ride 20,000COP
  • 5L water in a bag 2,000COP
  • 5 kg laundry 12,000COP

If you are a budget traveller in Colombia, forecast a daily spent of 42-45USD (80,000-90,000COP) plus the cost of expensive activities, if you are planning some.

Any question about these tips or numbers? Use the comment form below.

Budget and prices based on a 4 weeks travel, in July 2014, base 2 people

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