Welcome to Colombia
With both feet firmly planted in the future, Colombia has shed its unsteady past to emerge as a forward-thinking, culturally rich South American destination.
Visitors find a peaceful, naturally beautiful country, where you can explore ancient archaeological ruins, tour the coffee plantations of the countryside and traipse through the old city of Cartagena or the hallways of the Gold Museum in Bogota. Visit off-the-radar villages like Barichara and Mompos.
Push your way through Amazon jungle and reach the peaks of the Andes in Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy. Scuba dive along Providencia’s famous reef system and watch for humpback whales off the Pacific coast. Venture into the past at San Agustin, with its 5,000-year-old sculptures or the underground tombs of Tierradentro.
World-class dining, sophisticated shopping, culture, nature, art, science and history – reflect on the allure of this diverse country as you watch the sunset from the Cartagena ramparts.
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Need To Know
- Nature lovers, take note: Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world. It’s one of just 17 megadiverse countries. There are more bird species here than in all of Europe and North America combined.
- There is a rainbow river in Colombia: the Cano Cristales. Also known as the “River of Five Colors” and the “Liquid Rainbow,” the riverbed, in Meta’s Serrania de la Macarena province, changes color between the end of July and November. Look for yellow, green, blue, black and red, depending on when you visit.
- Chocolate and cheese go hand in hand in Colombia. Hot chocolate with savory cheese melted into it is a popular breakfast beverage. Try chocolate con queso for yourself! (Another breakfast delicacy: milk soup – it’s a mixture of milk, undercooked egg and chopped potato.)
- Colombia is the only country in South American that can boast coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean – there are more than 300 beaches to explore.
- If the public television station or radio is playing at 6 AM or 6 PM, expect to hear the national anthem. It’s actually the law that it be played over these mediums twice a day at these times. Short on time, but want to listen? The radio stations use the shorter version of the anthem.
Colombia’s official language is Spanish.
When To Go
More than the season you travel, it’s the elevation that determines the weather and the best time to go to Colombia. If you’re in the higher altitudes, expect chilly temperatures. The lowlands stay tropical year-round. Expect drier weather and more sun from mid-December to March.
El Dorado International Airport, Bogota
Passport must be valid at time of entry.
Visa Required By US Citizen?
None for stays of 90 days or less
The CDC recommends the following vaccines for most travelers when visiting Colombia: Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Depending on where you are traveling, you may also need Hepatitis B, Malaria, Rabies and Yellow Fever vaccines.
Power plugs and sockets: types A and B. Standard voltage: 1100V. Frequency: 60Hz.
Official local currency: Colombian Peso
If you are self driving in Colombia, be aware that traffic laws are often ignored and rarely enforced. Driving can be dangerous, especially at night. The roads are poorly maintained and prone to mudslides. Highways are often unmarked and unlit.
Consider hiring a driver to go from town to town.
Intercity buses range from safe and comfortable to risky at best. Purchase the highest grade of service available.
Public transportation in Bogota is considered unsafe. Do not hail a taxi on the street.
Valid US driver’s license is required.
US Embassy Info
U.S. Embassy Bogota
Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50
Bogotá, D.C. Colombia
Mailing address: Carrera 45 No. 24B-27 Bogotá, D.C. 110111 Colombia
Telephone: +(57) (1) 275-2000
Emergency after-hours telephone: +(57) (1) 275-4021
Local Visitor Info
Tourist Information Center
Cra. 8 ##9-83, Bogotá
Plaza de la Aduana
Local Emergency Phone Numbers
General Emergency: 123
Safety and Security
The crime rate is high against tourists in urban areas. Muggings and robberies can quickly turn violent.
Be cautious using an ATM after dark. Carry a quickly accessible, rolled bundle of small notes in case you are robbed. Do not accept drinks or cigarettes from strangers. Beware of criminals masked as plainclothes police officers.
Avoid the border towns of Cucuta and Maicao.
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