Colombia Travel FAQs – Festivals, Transport, Hotel Service and More!


Colombia Travel FAQs - Pig Rides Atop a Bus
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Colombia Travel FAQs – During the Trip

1. How is the public transport system?

2. How do the Taxi´s work in Colombia?

3. How are the hotel standards?

4. Do I need to leave a tip?

5. Where and when are the best festivals?

1. How is the public transport system?

Inside cities – Public buses are everywhere in big cities and as there are few official stops you can hop on and off wherever you want.  The destination signs are typically full and a bit difficult to read for tourists, so it’s a good idea to ask locals for assistance. Some cities in Colombia also have alternative public transport systems, such as the Transmilenio in Bogotá and Mio in Cali. These are easier to take as there are maps and official stations. There are no train systems in Colombian cities.

Overland – The comfort and quality of overland bus travel in Colombia varies greatly from company to company. Some companies offer deluxe air-conditioned coaches with reclining seats while others have no more than cramped vans with pigs on the roof.  Keep in mind that as Colombia has a lot of mountainous landscape and dense jungles, a bus trip that looks short on a map can take a lot longer than expected. Here are the bus trip durations for some common routes:


Bogota →Medellin ≈ 10 hours

Bogota → Cartagena ≈ 18 hours

Bogota → Armenia (Coffee Zone) ≈ 7 hours

Bogota → Cali ≈ 10 hours


For short stays in Colombia domestic flights are recommended. Flying generally costs 2 to 3 times more than travelling by bus.


2. How do the Taxi´s work in Colombia?

In Bogotá and Medellin taxis have electronic meters that calculate the fare. In some taxi´s this appears in Colombian pesos and in others it appears as a number which you must reference using the yellow chart hanging from the back of the driver’s seat.

On the coast of Colombia and in many other regions the fare is agreed upon before boarding the cab. Especially on the coast where it´s touristic, taxi drivers almost always try to overcharge tourists so it´s a good idea to ask locals or hotel staff for the price beforehand.

Note that it is customary to phone ahead for taxis and not tip the drivers.


3. How are the hotel standards?Colombia Travel FAQs - Hotels

Generally speaking the hotel standards in Colombia are lower than in the U.S and Europe, so a 5 star hotel in Bogotá cannot be compared with a 5 star hotel in New York.

Colombia doesn´t have an entity that puts the star ranking on the hotels, so the hotel management do it themselves and usually ranks it around 1 star higher than it perhaps should be.

Hotels in Colombia normally have breakfast included – in good hotels you can choose between a Colombian, American or Continental breakfast.

Most hotels have free WIFI, safety boxes and cable TV.


4Do I need to leave a tip?

Nobody expects a tip from you in Colombia, but it is appreciated. In many restaurants service is included (typically a 10% ´propina´).  It´s up to you whether you choose to pay this tip. .


5. Where and when are the best festivals?

Colombia Travel FAQs - FestivalsFestivals celebrating life and culture are very important to the Colombian people and they provide a great opportunity for foreigners to get under the skin of the country and have a truly unique experience. As tourism is still young in Colombia, all of the festivals remain authentic and noncommercial. Foreigners are taken under the wings of locals and often treated like celebrities. If you’re a planning a trip to Colombia, check out these nationwide festival dates to see if you can fit one into your itinerary.





-          The Black and White Festival in Pasto

-          Manizales Fair


-          Barranquilla Carnival

-          Cartagena´s International festival of Cinema


-          Iberoamerican Theater Festival Bogotá


-          Valledupar Festival of Vallento


-          Folkloric Festival of Ibagué


-          Medellin Fashion Festival


-          The International Book Fair Bogotá

-          The Medellin Flower Fair

-          Festival of the Wind and Kites Villa de Leyva


-          Jazz in the Park Festival Bogotá


-          Independence of Cartagena and National Beauty Pageant


-          The Cali Fair

-          Villa de Leyva Festival of Lights