What You Need To Know Before Visiting Colombia

*This post originally appeared on www.ryanhemphill.net.

As a result of the popularity of the Netflix show Narcos, more Americans are thinking about Colombia. Yet the country has a lot more to offer than a dark past haunted by Pablo Escobar. If you are planning on visiting Colombia, below are some things you should keep in mind.

It’s Safe To Visit

While Pablo Escobar remains a popular media subject, Colombia’s days of drug violence have mostly vanished. Colombia’s capital city Bogotá feels just like any other major city. In fact, the capital, in addition to being home to numerous museums and galleries, is known as the Athens of South America due to the number of its educational institutions.

The Colombian Peso

The Colombian Peso is in denominations of mil (Spanish for one thousand). Don’t be surprised if you see a cappuccino that costs 5 mil. You can use notes of 1000, 2000, and even 50,0000 pesos.

You Probably Don’t Need A Visa

US citizens who travel to Colombia as tourists don’t need a tourist visa. If you travel to the country for business, though, the visa requirements might be different so make sure you do additional research before booking your trip.

Check The Weather

The weather you’ll experience on your trip depends on which city you visit. For example, the average monthly temperature in Bogota is 58 °F. On the other hand, the coastal city of Cartagena has a tropical climate where temperatures usually average in the 80s. If you plan to travel to multiple Colombian cities, then make sure you bring appropriate clothes for different climates.

Don’t Be Afraid To Haggle

It’s common practice to haggle with street vendors in big cities like Bogotá and Medellín. When a street vendor quotes you a price on something, you don’t have to accept it. Negotiation is an accepted practice, and it’s the best way to get a cheap deal. The first price that street vendors quote is usually incredibly higher than what they are willing to sell for.

Coffee

Colombia has some of the highest coffee production in the world. The country loves coffee so much that there’s even a theme park that’s dedicated to coffee production. It’s called the National Coffee Park. When you visit make sure you get a cup of café tinto (black coffee).

Salsa

If you’re a fan of salsa dancing, then you’ll love Colombia. And if you’ve always wanted to learn the dance, there’s no better place than Santiago de Cali. Cali is often called the “Capital de la Salsa.” To learn more about salsa in Colombia, read this article.

Aguardiente

Aguardiente means fiery water. The spirit usually has between 25%-30% alcohol content and is drank neat. In the Andean regions of the country, aguardiente has been the most popular alcoholic drink since Spanish rule. A celebration in Colombia wouldn’t be complete without it.

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