Colombia is not the the most expensive country in the world. If you were to ask me “Is Colombia Expensive for Tourists”, my answer would be… It depends. ? What sort of tourist are you? ?
However there is something in Colombia for every budget.
I spend a lot of time around the Caribbean, and generally I find I live quite well with out being extravagant.
If you spend a lot of time around the big cities, then you will probably find it is not much different to where you came from. Accommodation will be your biggest costs.
The difference in Colombia is the food. You have lots of options from cheap and plentiful street food, to upmarket restaurants and everything in between.
To do the Maccas food index: A big Mac will cost about $3.80US in Colombia. (2021).
Lets look at some popular questions related to, Is Colombia expensive for tourists.
How Much do I Need, to Comfortably Spend 10 nights in Colombia?
I like some comfort and change in my pocket, so I would go with $75 a day, on top of accommodation.
It depends on what you buy, I like artisan stuff, It is not hard to find high-quality artisanal crafts for $15 or less.
Add in taxis from A-B, plus some street food, I think it is better to have some over at the end of the day.
You just never know if your going to stumble upon that must have unusual item, that costs a bit more than you anticipate.
To stretch your money, do a tour. Book it, and pay before you arrive.
For hotels. Generally they will take a deposit and you pay the rest when you arrive and check in.
Credit or Debit cards are accepted at most hotels. Although not necessarily at Hostels.
If you do a 4 or 5 day tour in Colombia, there are not a lot of out of pocket expenses. Usually they are of a personal nature. Souvenirs etc.
If you are an experienced backpacker you would know how this works.
Assuming you arrived with a $1000, you would likely still have $800? still in your pocket to see out the other week or so left of your time.
Enough to book a flight to another town, find reasonably priced accommodation, do another tour, or just kick back for a few days.
The place for that is usually Cartagena. It seems that no matter where people go in Colombia, Cartagena is on the must visit list.
Still there is a lot to do in Cartagena. A walking tour is a good option to while away a few hours, on one of your day’s there.
That is how I would finance a trip to Colombia. Probably when I return home, I should have enough for a taxi from the airport.
Some more information…
How much is a $US Dollar Worth in Colombia.
Colombian Currency and Exchange Rates.
Colombia’s official currency is the peso, which is abbreviated as COP.
Prices in Colombia are marked with a dollar sign, but remember you’re seeing the price in Colombian pesos. COP$1,000,000 isn’t enough to buy a house in Colombia, but it will usually cover a couple of nights in an upmarket hotel!
Lets take a look at exchange rates. Today (23-09-21), on the on currency exchange, $1 USD is = to 3827.19 COP ( Colombian pesos)
That does not mean you will get $3827.19 COP. After exchange fees, ATM fees etc. the net amount will be closer to $3000.00 COP.
This is the amount you get to put in your wallet.
Taking into account daily fluctuations, the 3 :1 ratio is quite reliable.
Another way, is to halve the amount of COP and move the decimal point 3 places to the left.
So COP$50000 will be US$25. COP$20000 will be US$10, etc.
I am Australian. To convert COP$50Mil, I divide by 2.5. So COP$50 mil is $20au. That works for me… generally. These are only to give a ball park guide.
If your from Europe, Canada, Great Britain, or any country actually. Here is an easy method below, to keep track of exchange rates.
All you need do is to set up Google Currency in Excel. The video below shows how it works.
Travelers checks are not worth the hassle of carrying around anymore, as they are hard to cash. Dollars are rarely accepted, save for high-end hotels or in San Andrés. To have cash wired to you from abroad, look for a Western Union office. Western Union offices can be found in any major city, usually in a shopping center.
Credit Cards and Debit Cards in Colombia.
ATM’s are now quite common in the larger towns and cities in Colombia. If you can see an Olympica supermarket, there will likely be an ATM in there, or nearby.
You are able to transact in either English or Spanish at many ATM’s throughout Colombia.
Both Credit and Debit cards are widely accepted, but cash is still king in Colombia. If you are backpacking, many of the hostels don’t accept cards, so having some cash available makes good sense.
You will not be lining up at an ATM looking like a tourist and a possible target. And that is anywhere, not just Colombia.
When you use your plastic, you will be asked if it’s credito (credit) or debito (debit). If using a tarjeta de credito (credit card) you will be asked something like, “¿Cuantas cuotas?” or “¿Numero de cuotas?” (“How many installments?”). Most visitors prefer one cuota (“Una, por favor”). But you can have even your dinner bill paid in up to 24 installments! If using a tarjeta de debito, you’ll be asked if it is a corriente (checking) or ahorros (savings) account.
Tipping in Colombia
Generally it is not expected. Taxi drivers will probably add a little extra when they quote you a price. So you could say the tip is built in.
One thing about taxi’s here. Ask the price before you get in. Do as the Colombians do.
For hotels and restaurants there is no requirement for tipping, restaurants will most likely have a 10% service charge included in the bill.
For hotel porters a COP$5000 tip is always welcomed, if he helps with the luggage to your room.
If your American they can play on this a bit, but really it is not mandatory.