South America’s Colombia has somewhat of a dodgy reputation for travellers. Intriguing, and often said to be very beautiful and hospitable for people who have journeyed across this country, here are some useful dos and don’ts to keep in mind for if you decide to visit Colombia:
Dos in Columbia
Make friends! Colombian people are naturally really friendly and welcoming and can really help you getting to know new cities, as well as any top spots to visit, eat, drink, etc.
Be polite. Columbians are known for having very good manners and being very polite. Generally, they value decency and pleasant behavior. If you act leery, show your anger in public, or make improper jokes, this really won’t go down well at all.
Try and speak at least a little bit of Spanish. Speaking the local lingo, even if it’s just a few words, will make people open up to you a lot more. It will look like you are making an effort to fit in, and people genuinely appreciate that.
Check about safety before venturing off the tried and trodden path. Although many countryside areas within the country are perfectly safe, as well as being very lovely, there are some places that are best avoided. It is wise to check beforehand to avoid putting yourselves in any unwanted and risky situations.
Carry small change. Many smaller vendors and public transportation options will be unable to change notes. Plan ahead and make sure you have a decent stash of coins. This also prevents you from having to flash the cash too much in public, which is never a good idea in most new places as a visitor.
Check your money. Staying on the theme of money, counterfeit notes can be something of a problem in Colombia. Familiarise yourself with the currency and check that all notes are genuine before accepting them.
Don’ts in Colombia
Yawn in public. Yawning is seen as a sign of tiredness, boredom, or hunger, and is considered really quite rude in Colombian society. If you do catch yourself about to yawn, at least cover your mouth whilst doing it. Nobody needs to see your tonsils in the process!
Call people using your index finger. Bending your finger towards someone as a sign for them to come to you is really impolite and may cause unintended offence. It is better to use your whole hand, with the palm facing down, to motion to a person to come to you.
Talk politics. This is a taboo subject in Colombia and one that is best left well alone. Additionally, Colombians generally don’t take too kindly to outside criticisms of their country, so it is best to keep your opinions to yourself unless you are specifically pushed to give an answer on a certain point. Talking about religion is another no no.
Stress about time in social situations. It is pretty common for social functions to start 30 minutes to an hour after the stated start time.
Think everywhere is dangerous! Of course, like most countries, there are dangers. But common sense and being well- informed about the current situation is better than ruining your trip because you are worried about all the terrible things that may be lurking round every corner! That said, it is better to avoid walking on your own, or even in twos, at night, and you should be wary about getting drunk in a group of people that you don’t really know.