Are you going to visit Bogota? No doubt, Bogota is one of the most enticing cities I have explored on my South America voyage. Often touted as the beating heart of Colombia, Bogota has everything to lure tourists. From Colombian coffee, pristine nature, vibrant culture, and yes the delicious cuisine. For a fact, the city bewitching city of Bogota is often overlooked, unlike Medellin. There are many things to do in Bogota, Colombia. And like any other popular tourist destination, Bogota offers its tourists a taste of everything. From towering skyscrapers to colonial buildings, it has everything! But, what’s the highlight of this place is the incredible culture riches that are in the abundance here in Bogota, ranging from shopping areas, theatres, sports venues, restaurants, all beautifully reflecting the cosmopolitan nature of this enticing city.
But as they say, nothing is perfect. There are several things when you visit Bogota that, being a traveler, you should look to stay away from. Hence, I have created this post to impart you with what not to do on your time in Bogota. So, here we go!
Table of Contents
Never Buy and Take Drugs
Let me put this straight! Do not indulge in any sort of illegal activities including buying and taking cocaine. This advice is not just for your Bogota travel tour, but anywhere in the world. Cocaine in Colombia is subjected to a taboo. It has only caused people to suffer. Do not even dare to ask locals about this stuff if you don’t want to indulge in any sort of trouble. Also, the topic of cocaine is more likely to offend the people of Colombia.
Do Not Give Papaya
Well, it doesn’t mean what you are thinking. There is a common term in Colombian language, ‘dar papaya’. It means ‘give an opportunity’. It basically means you should not give any opportunity to take advantage of you to anyone. And ‘Give Papaya’ refers to giving an opportunity to someone to take advantage of you, especially in crowded areas. In order to ensure that, make sure to keep a few things into mind:
Do not flash your cash.
Do not use your expensive phone openly.
Be observant of what’s happening around you.
Always Ensure Not to Be a Victim of Street Crime
A major thing to make sure while on your Colombia travel tour is that you have to stay away from any crimes, especially the ones that happen on the streets when you visit Bogota. For a fact, street crime in Bogota is one of the major concerns. Pickpocketing is very common in the city. Hence, be aware and keep care of your belongings all the time, especially while traveling on public transport. In addition, after dark, muggings and armed robbery become a common crime in the city of Bogota. In general, I would suggest you stay aware all the time while traveling in the city.
Never Refuse Aguardiente
For a fact, Aguardiente is a local alcoholic beverage in Colombia. And when locals offer you to take a shot of this alcoholic drink, do not say a no. This thing is not really considered a drinking thing in the country. In Colombia, offering a shot of this drink is often considered as an offer of friendship. However, if you are a recovering alcoholic, then you should straightaway tell your reason to say a no.
Do Not Be a Part of Pablo Escobar Talks or The Drug Trade
I assume there is no one who doesn’t know about Pablo Escobar. For a fact, the people of Colombia do not appreciate the stigma that was created during the drug days of Pablo Escobar. Not just this, people are often ashamed of the reputation created on the people of Colombia because of his wrongdoing. Thus, they won’t like any sort of joke that could create a negative effect on them. So, it is better to be in manners and try not to offend any locals. The real image of Pablo Escobar is altogether from what it has shown in movies. Hence, be on the safe and secure side on this topic. From nature to culture to markets, there are many things to talk about in Colombia so why create a disturbance when you can be safe.
Always Carry Some Cash
If you are considering not carrying money in order to stay away from any sort of robbery in Bogota, well, trust me that would be a bad call. Yes, you should stay away from being the victim of any type of crime in Bogota, but not carrying cash, that would just backfire you. The economy of Colombia is very much cash-oriented. Most of the vendors and shops do not accept digital payment, especially in the towns and villages. So, it is a good practice to have enough money while on your Bogota day trips to lesser-known places.
Bogota Day trips
Avoid Taking Taxi at Night when you visit Bogota
Taking a taxi during the day time is completely safe in Colombia. But when it comes to doing the same thing at night, it’s harder to say it is safe. Hence, it is important to make sure while visiting Bogota, Colombia, to avoid taking roadside taxis during the night. However, if you really want to go somewhere (bar, hotel or restaurant), then consider booking a taxi from a taxi app. In that case, you will have at least someone to raise a complaint to if you end-up in any sort of taxi trouble.
Do Not Consider Uber For Your Taxi Bookings
Another not-to-do thing in Bogota related to taxis is that they never rely on Uber. You must be wondering why not to use Uber in Bogota despite the fact that it is one of the world’s most popular taxi companies, right? Well, it is because Uber is not a registered taxi service in Colombia. But, people still use it. Well, you can also use it, but I would recommend you not to completely rely on it. And if you do not want to use it, ask the hotel staff to assist you.
Don’t Have This Misconceptions That Every Coffee In Bogota Tastes Great
Indeed, the country of Colombia is known for some of the finest coffee in the world. Colombian coffee is also exported in most parts of the world. But, that doesn’t mean you will get the best coffee everywhere in Colombia. In big cities like Bogota, you will find many cafes serving delicious taste in their range of coffee. But if you step out of the big cities, you will get disappointed by not finding the exact same taste. That’s indeed a shocking truth, but all true!
Never Say No To Dance
Colombia is a culturally-rich country and people here love to dance. Although not all Colombians can dance, a majority can. When a local comes to you and asks politely to dance, do not refuse the offer. Even if you feel embarrassed or don’t know how to dance when you visit Bogota you must still shake a leg. After all, who’s watching you?
Do Not Underestimate the Weather
The weather in Colombia remains hot and humid. But, that doesn’t mean it remains the same in Bogota as well. Since Bogota is perched on the top of a plateau in the mountain area, the weather here is sometimes unpredictable. You can expect to experience hot and humid weather, but as the sun falls asleep, the temperature starts to drip down making the weather cold at night. Thus, it is advisable to carry some warm clothes for nights. If you have any nightlife plan on your Bogota itinerary, then it becomes a must to pack some warm clothes to be prepared for chilly weather. Otherwise, you will just waste your vacation time staying indoor on most of the nights. I would personally recommend you to check the weather forecast for the time of your visit to Bogota.
Do Not Wear Inappropriate For a Nice Place/Occasion
Here, by inappropriate means the wrong choice of dress. For example, if you are visiting a club or restaurant, it is better not to wear a sloppy dress like shorts and flip flops. Although it doesn’t offend anyone, a sloppy dressing sense is not the right thing to do in Bogota. When it comes to dressing, people of Colombia prefer to go formal. However, you don’t need to go formal at places like fine-dining restaurants, but a presentable look would be perfect for the place.
Do Not Expect Punctuality when you visit Bogota
Well, there is an important thing to know about the people of Colombia – they are the least punctual. Since they have a laid-back culture, people in Colombia have an easy attitude when it comes to punctuality. If someone has given you a particular time for something, then expect him to reach half an hour late. Hence, it is advisable to make adjustments in your schedule when you visit Bogota. This is not just about the people, but various services also get delayed from their allotted or expected time.
Do Not Spell the Country As ‘Columbia’
One of the basic things that you should not do on your visit to this beautiful country is – spell the name of this nature incorrectly. In most of the articles, blogs, or guides, you will see Colombia written as ‘Columbia’. In reality, the spelling of Colombia is ‘Colombia’. And being a traveler, I am sure you don’t want to make this mistake, right? According to locals, only ignorant and arrogant people make the mistake of misspelling their country’s name. So, it is important to make sure you spell it correctly with two ‘O’ while referring to the country on messages or on your blogs or articles, or even Instagram posts.
Never Get Offended If You Are Referred to as ‘Gringo’
Before anything, it is important to understand that ‘Gringo’ is a term which locals in Colombia use for white foreigners particularly blonde and with blue eyes. For them, the term is not just restricted to Americans. Unless and until they know your name or are familiar with you, you can expect them to call you with this name. But, you have to understand, they don’t say it out of disrespect. But yes, if someone is calling you by this name and that too in an aggressive tone, then it is disrespectful. It is totally up to you, how you take it; Whether you want to ignore it or address it with all politeness, it’s all up to you.
Never Compare Colombia With Other Countries
One thing that Colombian people hate the most is the comparison of their country with any other country. Even if the transportation department of your country is far better than that of Colombia, do not ever say it in front of any Colombian. The same goes for any other service. What I personally believe is some things should always be kept as a secret. And being a traveler, it is your responsibility to respect each and every aspect of that particular nation. Since you are a visitor, it’s you who should compromise and be acceptable towards everything. This is how it should go for every nation you travel to.
What To Expect In Bogota
Do Not Buy Any Stuff With No Price Tag On It
I am sure you know the shopping scene for tourists in any foreign country. When it comes to where to go in Bogota, the street markets are always considered as the best attractions in the city. But an important thing to know about these markets is that the vendors more often charge heavy prices for a single thing knowing that you are a tourist and just here to visit Bogota. They are pretty smart as they sell the stuff with no price tags. Hence, it is best if you bring a local with you while going on a shopping tour in Bogota as they will not scam their own people. It’s nothing personal, they just see it as a source of earning some extra money from tourists.
Being a tourist, you will be asked to keep most of these things into mind for almost every country. But, that’s what travelers have to make sure – never disrespect a country which treats you with great hospitality, amazing adventures, and indelible experiences, isn’t it?