What You Need To Be Aware Of As A Tourist Visiting Colombia

Colombia is a kaleidoscope land of colors, culture, flavors, and history that is sure to satisfy even the most zealous traveler's wanderlust. You will love the verdant green mountainsides that grow the world-famous Arabica bean and the rainbow-colored colonial villages. Let's not forget the chaotic but breathtaking cities and the animated and friendly people — truly, you can find everything your heart desires in Colombia.

However, as with any place in the world, there are some safety concerns you need to be aware of and some cultural sensitivities you should be mindful of. But what would life be if everything were sweet without a bit of bitterness? Pretty boring, probably.

In this article, we will share health and safety tips for traveling to Colombia so you can enjoy all the wonderful things the country offers without any surprises. We'll also shine some light on the best parts of Colombia, like the fabulous rhythms of Cumbia or tasty traditional Colombian dishes like Bandeja Paisa. We'll fill you in on it all — the good and the not-so-good, too.

What to expect as a tourist

In the last decade, there has been an explosion of tourism thanks to the many tourists and digital nomads that have flocked to the country to take advantage of its robust Digital Nomad visa program, which allows people meeting certain requirements to stay in Colombia for up to two years. As such, you'll likely find tons of English-speaking expats who have made their homes in the cities of Colombia.

Thanks to this boom in foreign tourism and the general disposition of Colombians, locals are quite welcoming and friendly to these expats and tourists. They are also optimistic about the country's future. However, this doesn't mean you should completely let your guard down.

A travel advisory has been issued by U.S. authorities warning travelers to keep an eye on their belongings and their drinks when out and about. This news comes after several recent drugging incidences involving foreigners (of all genders) who engaged with unscrupulous locals on dating apps and in bars and clubs.

Colombians have a great saying for these situations: "No dar papaya." This essentially means don't make yourself an easy target. Stay safe by watching your drinks, remain aware of who is around you, and, while it may not be easy, try not to stand out as a tourist. Dress plainly, and don't wear expensive jewelry and designer bags. If you get lost, duck into a shop to look for directions instead of standing on the street with your phone out.

Rich history meets colorful culture

With the popularity of TV shows like Narcos and the news cycle, the perception of Colombia can be clouded by its infamous past and the recent spate of unsavory crimes. However, as travelers often find, what Colombia is like is far from what you see on TV and in the news. As mentioned, Colombia is full of flavor, and we're not just talking about the food. The music, beautiful landscapes, and colorful villages are also meant to be consumed by the eyes and ears.

Then there are the people. They are just as warm and welcoming as you might expect in a place as beautiful as Colombia. When you arrive, you can expect to be greeted with open arms, asked where you're from, and maybe even what soccer team you support. So, don't be afraid to interact with the locals; you'll get what you give. If you're open and friendly, they will be, too. And you should feel free to give back what you receive also. If you're intimidated by their openness, try not to hold back. Participate in the local customs and try the food and drink you're offered.

However, we do have one (playful) final warning. Watch out for the aguardiente; you might get more thank you bargained for with this clear distilled spirit.