How To Get Into UBC

If you want to go to UBC at Vancouver and need help on how to get into ubc. You found the right place. Here we will take you from admission requirements, required courses at high school, campus tours, study abroad programs until you step in the front door of the university. We hope that this site is helpful for your future plans and that this will give you an idea of what it takes to get into UBC.

Get into UBC. We’ve got workshop to show you the steps towards getting into UBC! Getting admitted to any university is difficult, but here’s some tips on what to do to make it a whole lot easier.

The University of British Columbia has an enrollment of over 60,000 students spread across their 16 faculties, and it is one of the best in the world. The last thing you want to do is get denied entry, or not get enough units. Learn how to make your dream school visit a reality with this easy guide.

University of British Columbia Overview

Colombia is South America’s second most populous country after Brazil, and its economy is growing. More than 40 of its universities have featured in Latin America rankings. Its most decorated higher education institution is arguably the University of the Andes in Bogotá, the capital, but the National University of Colombia, the University of Antioquia, based mainly in Medellin, the second largest city, and the Pontifical Xavierian University, which has campuses in Bogotá and Cali, also perform well in international rankings.

One of the very best ways to get into UBC is through the BC Transfer application. UBC does not have a set quota for the number of students it accepts from this application, although it does have a yearly upper limit of 6000 applications. The amount of spaces available on the application depends heavily on demand from specific high schools and expected success among those who have applied in previous years.

This website is designed to communicate the information a UBC student must know in order to get into UBC and offers many useful forms, tips, and advice. Many of the forms can be printed out and submitted directly to the University by hand.

A gateway to both the Andes and the Amazon, Colombia is blessed with beautiful scenery. Proudly multicultural, Bogotá combines European and New World architecture. Even its oldest colonial street, Medellin, has undergone a radical transformation since the drug wars of the 1990s, with significant investment contributing to the development of what is now a far more affluent city.

The country is famously passionate about football, and is also well-known for the cumbia dance. Colombia has long been one of the world’s three largest coffee producers. Famous Colombians include writer Gabriel García Marquéz, singer Shakira and footballer James Rodríguez.

A country known for its vibrant culture, rich history and world-class coffee, Colombia attracts many international students. Universities in Colombia offer world class higher education, as well as being in a diverse and cultural country.

How to get into ubc as an international student

How hard is it to get into UBC for undergrad? Do you need to be a  straight-A student? - Quora

With its bustling cities, lush rainforests and world-class beaches, there will always be reasons to come to Colombia. Students will be able to enjoy and experience nature, nightlife and culture when they take their studies in this vibrant country. Colombia is perfectly located for students to explore the rest of Latin America in their free time.

There are 3 Colombian universities in the 2019 QS World University Rankings top 500. The highest ranked is the Universidad de los Andes, which is placed at 272nd. The next highest ranked is the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, which is placed at 275th. Following these is the Universidad Externado de Colombia, which is placed at 407th.

How To Get Into UBC

HOW TO GET INTO UBC (INDIAN)- 2020 + STATS/ ESSAY TIPS - YouTube

About Colombia

Located in South America, Colombia is home to just under 50 million people. It is considered one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse countries in the world. It shares borders with 5 other countries, and has two coastlines. These coastlines sit on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Colombia’s rich cultural heritage reflects its European, Middle Eastern, African and indigenous influences.

UBC OVERVIEW & FACTS

When curiosity and drive fuel a vision for a better world, the University of British Columbia opens doors to opportunity. A world-leading centre of teaching, learning and research excellence, UBC transforms personal initiative into innovation, and new ideas into impact. UBC supports inspired students, faculty and staff on their journey of discovery, and challenges them to realize their greatest potential.


UBC’s Campuse

UBC’s two main campuses are situated in Vancouver and Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley. Also in Vancouver, UBC Robson Square is a vibrant learning centre in the heart of downtown; the UBC Learning Exchange is a community engagement initiative based in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside; and UBC’s Centre for Digital Media at the Great Northern Way Campus is located in Mount Pleasant. UBC also provides clinical education to Faculty of Medicine students at more than 80 training sites across British Columbia. In addition, UBC’s Asia Pacific Regional Office in Hong Kong and Liaison Office in New Delhi, India, facilitate teaching and research partnerships and support alumni engagement.


UBC at a Glance


  • 54,863 Vancouver students
  • 9,935 Okanagan students
  • 64,798 total students
  • 17,225 international students from 160+ countries
  • 13,778 degrees granted in 2018
  • 214 companies spun off from UBC research

  • $669.1 million in research funding for 9,544 projects
  • 1,391 research projects with industry partners
  • 1,179 research contracts and agreements with government and non-profits
  • $2.8 billion annual consolidated budget

  • 339,000+ alumni in more than 140 countries
  • 16,891 faculty and staff
  • 37th in Times Higher Education World University Rankings, one of three Canadian universities in the top 50
  • Ranked first in the world by Times Higher Education for climate action and sustainable cities and communitie
  • Earned Canada’s first Gold in the STARS sustainability rating system

Students

StudentsVancouverOkanaganTotal
Undergraduate44,8828,99053,872
Graduate9,98194510,926
Total54,8639,93564,798

15,405 students at the Vancouver Campus are international, a 5.0% increase over 2017/18

1,820 students at the Okanagan Campus are international, a 23.6%, increase over 2017/18
Note: Includes undergraduate and graduate students


Faculty and Staff

VancouverOkanaganTotal
Faculty5,5315266,057
Staff10,17466010,834
Total15,7051,18616,891

Teaching and Learning


UBC collaborates with community, industry, government and university partners to provide enriched educational experiences for students

  • UBC is home to 16 faculties, 18 schools and two colleges

Among Current or Former Faculty and Alumni


  • 3 Canadian prime ministers
  • 20 3M National Teaching Fellows
  • 58 Olympic medals won by varsity athletes
  • 71 Rhodes Scholars, three Rhodes Scholars in the last five years
  • 266 Royal Society of Canada fellows

Academic Excellence

We offer our more than 60,000 undergraduate and graduate students an unrivalled choice of degree programs at our two campuses and affiliated teaching hospitals. We provide a wide range of choices for learners at all stages of their careers, and our commitment to student engagement and success has made us a leader in applying learning research to improve teaching practice.

Academic Calendar

The Calendar is a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services, and policies at the University of British Columbia. The Calendar also serves as a record of many University academic policies and procedures. The online Calendar is the official Calendar. Changes are incorporated online at intervals throughout the year.

Faculties & Schools


Flexible Learning

Better learning, better access and a better student experience: there are plenty of benefits to UBC’s increasingly flexible approach to teaching and learning.


Extended Learning

UBC Extended Learning serves the adult education needs of lifelong learners by providing innovative educational programs at UBC’s Vancouver campus, in downtown Vancouver at UBC Robson Square, and through online learning.


Professional Programs

English Language Pathways


Joint Academic Programs

Exchange Programs


Co-operative Education

Innovative Learning Initiatives


Distance Education Programs

Cost of Studying and Living in Colombia

Colombia uses the Colombian Peso (COP) as its currency.

Your tuition fees will depend on where you are from, where you choose to study, and at what level. If you choose to study at a public university, you should expect to pay around $630/€550 per semester. If you choose to study at a private university, you should expect to pay between $630/€550 and $3,450/€3,100 per semester. Some higher education institutions offer scholarships for international students.

Your cost of living will depend on where you choose to live in Colombia. On average, you should budget for around $1,000/€900 per month. This accounts for accommodation, groceries and travel.

Visas

All international students will need to obtain a visa in order to study in Colombia. You will need to apply for a student visa at the Colombian embassy or consulate in your home country. Your visa will be valid for one year, and will need to be renewed if your studies are longer than this. To be granted a visa, you will need to be enrolled in a course that has 10 hours of teaching per week. Your visa documents must be translated into Spanish if they are in any other language.

You should ensure that you have valid health insurance for the duration of your stay in Colombia. It is possible that if you require healthcare, hospitals may ask for cash payment up-front.

Languages

The official language of Colombia is Spanish.

It is more common to find courses offered in Spanish than English in Colombia. If you wish to study in a non-native language, you will need to provide evidence of your language proficiency. If you do not meet the required standards, some universities offer language courses to help you improve.

Even if you are able to study in English, you should make an effort to learn as much Spanish as possible. Communicating with locals and other students is the perfect way to practice. This is a skill that will look great on your CV/resume.

Cities

Bogotá

The capital city of Colombia, Bogotá is home to just over 8 million people. Despite its historically troubled reputation, the city is now well developed. It is the political, economic, cultural and administrative centre of the country. Many inhabitants of the city use the extensive bicycle network and bus facilities to get around.

There are many public and private universities located in the city. Included in these are the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Universidad Externado de Colombia and Universidad de La Sabana, among over 100 others.

Medellín

The second largest city in Colombia, Medellín is home to more than 2.4 million people. Medellín is one of the best cities to live in South America, sharing first place with Santiago de Chile, according to the the Indra Sistemas smart cities survey. The history of the city dates back to 1574, when Medellín was first discovered and development began.

Located in the city there are over 30 higher education institutions. Included in these are the Universidad de Antioquia, Universidad Santo Tomás, and Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia, among others. You will also find several technical institutions in the city, such as Tecnológico de Antioquia. Technical institutions tend to focus on offering technological and professional courses.

Four reasons why foreigners should consider enrolling in a Colombian university to earn a college degree.

AppleMark

Colombia is internationally recognized for its landscapes, fine cuisine, its folklore and colorful culture. However, another of its strengths is the quality of its education, which is reflected in international accolades and accreditations awarded to academic programs at private and public Colombian universities.

The High Academic Level of Its Universities 

The ranking for the top 300 universities in Latin America, released in December 2016 by British organization Quacquarelli Symonds, featured 41 Colombian universities due to the high standards and quality of their education, and also because they offer students an environment conducive to developing their abilities in and out of the classrooms.

The list includes universities like Universidad Nacional, Universidad de Los Andes, Universidad Externado de Colombia, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Universidad de Antioquia and Universidad de La Sabana.

Ease of Access to Education

Another advantage that draws foreign students to the country is how easy it is to complete immigration procedures and obtain a visa to study in Colombia.

In fact, the majority of Colombian universities accredited by the Ministry of Education work to establish agreements with universities from other countries to facilitate student exchanges and procedures such as obtaining temporary visas, which allows students from anywhere in the world to enroll in academic programs with or without a scholarship in Colombia. Moreover, if you are from one of the countries members of the Pacific Alliance, you will not need a visa to study in Colombia.

One such case is that of Universidad ICESI, which has created international alliances that brought 44 students from Germany, Spain, France and the United States to Colombia during the second half of 2016 to enroll in various programs, particularly Business Administration, Anthropology and Political Science.

Specialized Programs

One of the biggest advantages of higher education in Colombia is that it offers specialized academic programs that are hard to find in other countries.

Some examples of this include the Nanotechnology Engineering degree offered by Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, the Pedagogy of Mother Earth bachelor degree specializing in indigenous customs and traditions offered by the Universidad Nacional de Antioquia, and the Archaeology, Museology and Conservation and Restoration of the Movable Cultural Heritage degree at Universidad Externado de Colombia.

What’s more, if you want to learn or perfect your Spanish, Colombia is the perfect place not only because Spanish is the official language of the country, but also because of the efforts by the government to launch initiatives like ELE Colombia (Spanish as Foreign Language), which has been offering quality programs since 2012, in partnership with the top universities in the country, for foreigners who want to learn the Spanish language in Colombia. Find more information about these programs at www.spanishincolombia.gov.co

Low Cost of Living

The quality of life outside the classroom is also a factor that benefits foreign students, and in that regard, Colombian universities offer a lot of advantages since the cost of living is a lot lower than in most European and American cities, and it is very viable for students from Latin America.

Besides, the educational offer can be complemented with trips to the hundreds of paradise destinations around the country which will undoubtedly enhance the experience of studying in Colombia for any foreigner without affecting his or her budget.

Ministry of National Education

The Vice-ministry of Higher Education was created as part of the organizational structure of the Ministry of National Education, with the reform introduced in higher education with Decree 2230 of 2003.

The Vice-ministry of Higher Education supports the development and adoption of policies, plans and projects related to higher education in Colombia. This division is responsible for giving support to the Minister’s Office in the coordination and articulation of intersectoral relations with the bodies and agencies involved in the different roles of the system of quality assurance of higher education in the country.

ICETEX.

ICETEX is the Colombian Institute for Student Loans and Technical Studies Abroad, which promotes the educational and cultural development of Colombia, particularly through student loans, as well as other national and international educational cooperation activities.

Colombia Challenge your Knowledge

Colombia Challenge Your Knowledgeis a campaign of the network of accredited universities of Colombia in alliance with the Ministry of Education, ICETEX, Procolombia, Colciencias and other strategic national allies to promote Colombia as a destination for academic and scientific collaboration. CCYK’s main objectives are to promote and disseminate Colombian research, academic and outreach programs abroad, strengthen the internationalization of the Accredited Universities of Colombia, study current trends in internationalization, and promote quality processes in all Colombian higher education institutions. CCYK promotes active collaboration between Colombian Universities, converting our country into a diverse and increasingly integrated campus for national and international students, as well as a relevant and reliable partner for international education programs.

Colciencias

Colciencias, the  Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation of Colombia, answers directly to the Presidency and leads the National System of Science, Technology and Innovation (SNCTI in spanish). The entity focuses its efforts in four specific areas: Education for research, Research, Innovation, and Mindset and Culture.

Everything You Need to Know Before You Travel to Colombia

Traveling to colombia will take you to classic historical sites, is a country that has, throughout recent years, earned its status as being a wholly diverse paradise and one of the best countries to visit in South America. Bathed by its precious Pacific and Caribbean waters, this country galvanizes the imposing beauty of the Andes Mountain Range, the Amazon, and its countryside with the warm smiles of its inhabitants. Despite its tumultuous and notorious history, the country has managed to shed its past and earn its place among one of the top destinations to visit while in South America. Now, Colombia is just as safe to visit as the grand majority of countries in the world and, as the country’s slogan goes “the only risk is wanting to stay.” What’s more? Due to its geographical location, Colombia holds the title for holding one of the highest levels of diversity of flora and fauna in the world.

If you’re looking to visit Colombia but aren’t sure what you’ll need to know about traveling there (and moving about within the country), then this blog is here to help you resolve exactly that!

The Basics

Can I travel to Colombia without a visa?

In order to visit Colombia, the grand majority of visitors do not need to apply for a visa beforehand. Countries that are exempt from requiring a visa upon arrival are: the U.S., Canada*, Western Europe, and select countries in Asia and the Middle East. Citizens from these countries and regions will automatically receive a tourist visa upon entering the country. This visa grants tourists the ability to stay in Colombia for up to 90 days. Additionally, it is highly recommended that visitors also have their return ticket handy, as this may be requested by immigration officials upon entry.

If you’re a citizen that’s not from one of the aforementioned countries or regions above, then it’s best to check if you’ll need one!

*Canadian citizens are required to pay a “reciprocity fee” for entering Colombia is $160,000 Colombian pesos (approximately $68 Canadian dollars).

Can I travel to Colombia without a passport?

Citizens from the countries of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru do not necessarily need to travel with their passport, as they are readily allowed to enter with a valid photo ID from their respective country. Otherwise, you’ll definitely be required to show your passport at your Colombian point of entry.

Important: Don’t forget that your passport must still be valid for at least six months after your return date from Colombia.

Tip for travelers: While traveling through any country, Metrojourneys always recommends keeping color copies of your important identification documents (passport or official ID) at all times and leaving all original documents back at your hotel in a safe deposit box.

What language is spoken in Colombia?

Spanish is the dominant language of Colombia, with over 99% of the population using it to go about their daily lives. Nevertheless, in certain major cities, you may be able to find Colombians that speak English with varying degrees of fluency. If the Spanish language might present a potential barrier for you as a visitor, it is recommended that you book through a Travel Agency. Doing so will most certainly give you the benefit of having a bilingual guide accompany you around and resolve any language barriers that might arise throughout your journey in Colombia. What’s more? A reputable Travel Agency will also include accommodation options, transfers, meals, and first-class tours through this gorgeous destination, meaning you won’t have to lift a finger when it comes to planning the potentially tricky logistics of your journey.

Colombia Fun Fact: The remaining, less than 1% of languages in Colombia consist of 65 different Amerindian languages, 2 creole languages, and the romani language.

What currency is used in Colombia?

The peso is the official currency of Colombia, so get ready to change your money! No other currency is accepted in Colombia, and don’t let that “$” symbol fool you! Colombia uses the same symbol as the U.S. does to designate their currency. The exchange rate, at the time of writing this blog, stands at around $1 US dollar = $3,200 Colombian pesos (€1 Euro = approx. $3,600 Colombian pesos).

As you’ve probably already noticed by the exchange rate, banknote denominations in Colombia are normally seen in the thousands, with the highest banknote denomination being $100,000. This may very well mean that, depending on how much you’re carrying with you, Colombia could be the place where you get to be a millionaire!

Tip for travelers: We recommend exchanging your money upon arriving at the airport, as the rate offered there is oftentimes better than what’s offered just outside or in the city.

Does Colombia accept and use credit/debit cards?

Credit and debit cards (Visa, American Express, and MasterCard, among others) are accepted throughout Colombia. It’s worth noting, however, that you’ll most likely only be able to use these at major commercial establishments, such as shopping centers, restaurants, and/or at hotels. Otherwise, if you’re looking to buy items from artisanal markets, pay for a local taxi, or eat at a small, typical restaurant, then you’ll definitely want to keep cash on you.

What time zone is Colombia in?

Colombia’s time zone is GMT-5, meaning that if it’s 10 a.m. in Colombia, then:

  • In New York it’s 11 a.m.
  • In Los Angeles it’s 8 a.m.
  • In London it’s 4 p.m.
  • In Madrid it’s 5 p.m.

A beautiful sunset over Colombia

When is the best time to travel to Colombia?

In determining when is the best time to travel to Colombia, one of the first considerations to note is weather and climate. This being the case, you’re in luck! Thanks to its geographical location and incredible topography, in general, the climate of Colombia is attractive all year round. The coastal areas are typically hot and humid. Moving inland a bit, the lower valleys and forest regions take on a slightly cooler, yet still warm and very comfortable climate. This region tends to experience a healthy amount of rainfall too and, during certain times of the year, are more consistent as well.

Meanwhile, areas like the capital, Bogota, situated in much more elevated areas of the country, see very comfortable, yet slightly cooler weather patterns throughout the year.

Weather along Colombia’s Coast 

Popular coastal destinations like Cartagena, along with nearby Barranquilla and Santa Marta, occupy the northern tip of Colombia and about the Caribbean Sea. These locations, however, still vary in climate, mainly due to rainfall. Cartagena, for instance, sees very little rain from December through April, but quite a bit of rain, up to 7.5 in (191 mm), in the month of October. Temperatures here are incredibly consistent throughout the year, ranging between about 72°F and 89°F (22°C – 32°C) year-round. In contrast, Santa Marta sees consistently more rain throughout the year, with only a couple of months that feel considerably drier (mainly, July and August). Temperatures are a little more dynamic, ranging between 70°F and 94°F (about 21°C to 34°C) on average.  

Weather throughout Colombia’s inland regions

For inland cities, such as that of Medellín, one of the biggest advantages, climate-wise, is the incredibly temperate weather. Warmer than Bogota, residents of Medellin and visitors to the region can enjoy temperatures that typically range between 62°F and 78°F (16°C and 26°C). One slight downside is that the skies tend to be more overcast than normal. Regardless, the climate in this region lends itself to exploring numerous parks and plazas found through each city.  

Weather in the Coffee Triangle 

One of the main reasons why the Coffee Triangle is so ideal for coffee production is the fact that the climate here is generally perfect. The warm weather, the welcome and frequent patches of rain, the marvelous sunshine, and the sloping topography all combine to create some of the best conditions for coffee cultivation in the entire world. These factors are also why this is becoming an increasingly popular touristic region. 

Throughout the year, the rainfall is quite dynamic, essentially creating two separate harvest seasons. The heaviest periods of rain are April into May and October into November. The rest of the months tend to see moderately less rain. The temperatures year-round don’t often drop below 60 °F (about 16 °C), nor do they typically climb above 82 °F (about 28 °C). 

Weather in Bogota

The two distinct periods of heavier rainfall that we see in the Coffee Triangle region (April into May and October into November) are also typical for Bogota, despite its much higher elevation: 8,000 ft (2630 m) above sea level. The climate in the nation’s capital is quite moderate, though a little cooler than in the rest of the country. If you’re a fan of dressing in a couple of layers, this is the perfect city for you! Temperatures average between 46°F and 68°F (8°C and 20°C), with the cooler months being December through February. 

Weather in Orinoquia 

The remarkable nature on display in the Orinoquia region, home to Caño Cristales (Crystal Channel), sees an incredibly dynamic climate that varies throughout the year. The months of January, February, and March are significantly warmer when temperatures range between 72 °F and 96 °F (21 °C and 35 °C). The rest of the year sees temperatures that, though still warm, range between 73 °F and 90 °F (22 °C and 32 °C). Incidentally, this tends to cover the most colorful period on display at the Crystal Channel (late June through November). And, though rain tends to be more frequent in the months between April and August, the rest of the year enjoys a truly lovely, though humid climate. Really, any time of year is perfect for visiting this fascinating region

Additional Considerations: Local Festivities in Colombia 

These things are worth taking into consideration when planning your visit to the country. Additionally, no matter which regions you visit, chances are you will come across some local festivities, celebrations, and events that will enhance your experience of Colombia. In general, national and religious holidays are scattered throughout the year; however, the country is proud of its heritage and customs and this is reflected in the pageantry, dress, and cuisine waiting to be experienced through locally-based celebrations of music, art, and performance, which, fortunately, are both frequent and varied.

What’s the electricity and voltage in Colombia?

The standard voltage in Colombia is 110 volts, with a frequency of 60 hertz, the same as that which is used in the U.S.

What type of electrical plug will I be needing for Colombia?

There are two kinds of electrical outlets that are used in Colombia: Type A and Type B.  

Type A are plugs are those that are typically seen in the U.S. and Canada, which basically consist of two flat prongs that are parallel. Type B are pretty much the same as Type A, except that these have an extra, rounded prong for grounding. Type A plugs work with either Type A or B outlets, while Type B plugs only work with Type B outlets.  If you’re planning on visiting Colombia and reside in a country that doesn’t use either of these, then it’s recommended that you bring an electrical outlet adaptor with you.  

What vaccines or vaccinations do I need to travel to Colombia?

Proof of having received specific vaccinations is not required for entering Colombia. Nevertheless, normal precautionary measures should be taken, and it’s best to check with your country’s embassy, center for disease control and prevention, and/or consulate to see what vaccinations they recommend for traveling to Colombia.

Do I need to have health insurance to travel to Colombia?

Proof of health insurance is not required to enter Colombia. However, we strongly recommend having it in the rare event that an unfortunate incident does occur during your travels, as it always helps to have that peace of mind when traveling in a country that’s far from home. And while we’re on the subject of unfortunate incidents…

Try not to drink the tap water in Colombia

While potable, it’s recommended that visitors refrain from drinking the tap water in Colombia. Oftentimes, it simply isn’t as filtered as other parts of the world, which may lead to an upset stomach.  Instead, it’s best to stick to bottled, mineral, or filtered water that you can readily find throughout the major cities.

How do I get around Colombia?

Traveling by bus in Colombia is a relatively cheap way of getting around, albeit time-consuming. Journeys from Bogota to iconic destinations, such as Cartagena, can take approximately 23 hours to complete! Such long-distance trips typically won’t cost more than $50 one-way.

Another and highly time-efficient way of getting around Colombia is by air, with numerous airlines offering domestic flights to several popular cities in the country. A trip from Bogota to Cartagena by air, for example, takes just 1 hour and 30 minutes, and can often be found at prices that are just a little bit over $50, one-way.

Ultimately, the choice will depend on just how much time you have in Colombia, and whether you’re willing to cut some corners out of said time in order to save a relatively modest sum. Given it’s easier to acquire airline tickets online, and because most bus companies don’t offer this option (and might sometimes even be sold out upon getting to the counter), we recommend traveling from city to city by air.

Tip for travelers: If you already know that your timeframe within Colombia is rather limited and that you’d rather avoid getting caught up in the logistical intricacies of planning your trip from scratch, then it’s highly recommended that you book your trip through a reputable Travel Agency! These will often deal with all of these steps for you; and even organize your accommodation, transfers, tours, and meals throughout your trip. If this catches your interest, the only thing you need to do is have a look at the tour packages that are available in Colombia. Speaking of which, why not take a gander at ours?

Transportation within the cities of Colombia

The best way to get around within cities in Colombia is undoubtedly via taxi. These are abundant in number and quite economical in price. It’s also impossible to mistake them for any other type of vehicle, as registered taxis are all bright yellow. Taxis in Colombia operate using taximeters, with few exceptions. In the cities of Cali and Medellin, clients are expected to pay the price reflected on the meter. In Bogota, however, a slightly different system is used: the price of your journey is calculated by zones or bands, and the taximeter displays what band your ride falls into at the end of your journey. To know how much each band costs, clients need only consult the chart (usually a laminated sheet of paper) that is always found hanging off the backside of the driver’s headrest.

When it comes to taxis in Colombia, Cartagena is one of the few cities that break from the standard mold. Here, instead of relying on a taximeter to figure out the price of your trip, you’ll need to negotiate costs with the driver before you even get inside the cab.

Tipping taxis in Colombia is not required nor expected. However, it is expected that you do pay for your ride in cash.

Other alternatives to taxis in Colombia include using popular Apps such as Uber or Cabify. These Apps, as readers of this blog may already know, allow users to request a taxi through their own smartphone and establish their pick-up and drop-off point. Oftentimes, ordering a taxi through these kinds of Apps even allows the user to see the estimated cost of their journey before ordering their cab!

Is it safe to visit Colombia?

In spite of its grim past consisting of guerilla warfare and drug barons, Colombia has, over the course of the past two decades, managed to completely shed that dark and tired, old skin to become one of the safest destinations to travel to in Latin America. The difference between what it once was versus what it is now is day and night – visitors are warmly welcomed to the country and virtually never have to worry about being kidnapped, mugged, or worse.

Having said that, it’s still worth reminding our readers that Colombian cities do require a certain level of prudence and awareness, just like any other major city in the world. Common sense should not be discarded, and it’s always best not to stray too far from the main parts of town or into neighborhoods that are regarded as shady. The same applies to regions or areas of Colombia that are off the beaten path (particularly the border along Venezuela) which, for the most part, we advise not going to without doing proper your proper research or asking the locals about their thoughts on those places first.

Note: Recently, mass immigration coming in from Venezuela has raised concerns with respect to Colombia’s safety, but such concerns are only focused on the border between Colombia and Venezuela. Major tourist destinations in Colombia are operating normally and are free of such troubles.

Should I organize my trip to Colombia beforehand?

It’s always a great idea to do a little bit of research and planning before embarking on your trip to Colombia. That being said, many people do simply align themselves to what’s commonly known as “the gringo trail.” This trail covers some of the most popular cities in the country, connecting to each one in a rather convenient way thanks to numerous air and bus transit options. However, such a “play it by ear” trip might not be the best option for those that have a limited timeframe.

By planning your trip with a Travel Agency, on the other hand, you’ll be able to optimize your time as a whole and enjoy each place properly without ever feeling too rushed or concerned about logistical factors.

What type of vacationing is Colombia ideal for?

Colombia offers a wide array of different vacationing styles for all those that wish to satisfy their interests and desires while traveling through this magnificent country. Principally, however, visitors tend to come to Colombia to soak in the rich history and the colorful culture it is home to.

Historical Tours in Colombia

Colombia was a country originally populated by several indigenous groups that included the Muisca, Tayrona, and Quimbaya. However, after being invaded and conquered by Spain, these indigenous populations decreased substantially in number, as the Spanish conquest brought with it European settlers that ultimately assimilated these indigenous tribes into their own colonies and bloodline, leading to a mix of Spanish and indigenous ancestry.

While Colombia did gain its independence from Spain in 1819, several and enormous facets of the Spanish empire’s presence still remain standing to this day. These can be seen in the numerous forts, castles, and architectural styles that are still present at various visitor sites, the biggest and most notable of which are found in the coastal city of Cartagena.

Cultural Tours in Colombia

Wherever you go in Colombia, its people exude a sense of pride, energy, and charisma that’s hard to compare to anything else. That’s why a trip to Colombia wouldn’t be complete without properly engaging with the culture and traditions it is home to. Visitors, for instance, can have humbling encounters with Colombian farmers that have worked the rich, fertile lands to grow some of the best coffee in the world over in Pereira. You can also encounter the proud and charming palenqueras that enliven the streets of Cartagena with their dazzling and colorful, traditional dresses and bowls of fruits that they carry atop their heads. Medellin, too, holds its fair share of flower cultivators that impress with their flower farms and flower arrangements. Wherever you go in Colombia, there’s an invigorating story behind each person you meet and a captivating smile to accompany it.

A Colombian Gastronomical Experience

Colombia’s cuisine is influenced greatly by its tremendous biodiversity and cultural traditions. Dishes in the country will usually include some form of rice, corn, potatoes, and a variety of meats (chicken, beef, pork, goat, and seafood). The country has an exotic and enticing medley of fruits, too, these of which include: granadilla, guava, dragon fruit, goldenberry, among several others! So definitely don’t be afraid to dabble in new and exciting flavors while in Colombia!

Some of the most typical plates you’ll find throughout your travels are arepa (thick corn tortillas), ajiaco (a hearty potato and corn soup with avocado and chicken), and the pandeja paisaja (rice, beans, eggs, and plenty of meat).

Tip for travelers: Think twice before buying street food! While alluring, cleanliness standards at these spots sometimes is not up to par with that of many of the other traditional establishments and restaurants.

What places should I definitely visit in Colombia?

Bogota

The capital city of Colombia is home to over 8 million people. Located at around 8,000 ft (2630 m) above sea level, this remarkable metropolitan city is full of history, museums, financial and governmental institutions, elegant neighborhoods, modern shopping centers, first-rate universities, and incredible restaurants. Even more impressive is how this metropolis buzzes with life and excitement. There is almost too much to see and do in Bogotá! Here is just a small sample of some things not to miss.

The Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) is perhaps the most well-known museum in the city. Colombia, highly regarded for the quality of gold found here, boasts Incredible artifacts from pre-Colombian times on display in this ultra-sleek and uniquely-lit museum.  The Botero Museum pays homage to one of the most important Colombian artists, Fernando Botero. His portrayal of the human body is charmingly curvaceous, and his paintings are wildly popular for the life and humor with which they capture the human experience. The Colombian National Museum is another solid option. This treasure features cultural, historic, and artistic works that are significant contributions to and reflections of the Colombian identity and experience.

High atop the city, on Monserrate Hill, sits a mystical church dedicated to El Señor Caído (The Fallen Lord). Legend has it that when couples make the trek to this shrine, only those of which the Lord approves truly last, the rest ultimately separate. This doesn’t stop the curious visitors from riding the teleférico (cable car) all the way to the top and enjoying the stunning views of the city, no matter the time of day.

Just to the north of Bogotá, about 90 minutes outside the city center, is the astonishing Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, a Roman Catholic church built deep inside the salt mines, over 650 ft (200 m) below the ground. This feat of architecture has been referred to as the “Jewel of Modern Architecture” and represents an important cultural and religious patrimony for the Colombian people.

Cartagena

One of the geographical features of Colombia that really sets this nation apart from other countries in South America is the fact that it straddles both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. This is where Cartagena de Indias really comes into fashion. Perhaps the most important port in all of Colombia, Cartagena was founded in 1533 and its extensive history echoes throughout the old town, a walled-in area that includes a fortress as well as numerous colorful and well-preserved colonial buildings. A favorite spot of many visitors to Colombia, Cartagena offers a rich and festive cultural tradition, visible in its distinctive art, food, and architecture.

Some notable highlights worth exploring in Cartagena include the Ciudad Amurallada (Walled City), which is a popular neighborhood among tourists and locals alike and features Andalusian style architecture. It is full of cool little shops, restaurants, bars, and hotels, not to mention the fact that it is conveniently located in the center of the city. Another true landmark is one of its numerous fortifications, the impressive Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas (San Felipe de Barajas Castle), which functioned as more of a fortress, from its strategic location atop the Hill of San Lázaro. It was one of the earliest colonial fortifications.

The Cartagena Gold Museum, the Teatro Heredia, the famed Clock Tower, and the Bóvedas (or Vaults) are just a handful of other, really interesting sites to visit when touring through Cartagena.

Medellin

Located about 250 mi (400 km) from Bogotá, the unique and popular city of Medellín is the crown jewel and capital of Antioquia Department. It is also the second-largest city in Colombia with over 2.5 million people. Located in one of the more mountainous sections of the department, one of the exemplary features of Medellín is its modern commuter rail system; a network that combines rail, gondola (cable cars), tram, and bus transportation, unites the different neighborhoods located throughout the city, at various altitudes. It also provides residents and visitors with a great way to view the city.

Throughout this current century, Medellín has seen an incredible transformation. Municipal leaders have invested heavily in increased security, better education, and overall development. In turn, this has made the city an attractive destination to visitors from all over the world. Many of the city’s numerous and beautiful plazas and parks are designed to be interactive and to inspire outdoor activity and education. In fact, education and ecotourism are at the heart of many of Medellín’s natural viewpoints, situated atop the hills that surround the city.

Medellin’s Festival of the Flowers is an incredible showcase of the country’s agricultural richness. It’s no small wonder that Medellin is often referred to as the “Capital of the Flowers.”

In the northeast part of Medellín, Ecotourism Park Arví serves as both an ecological nature reserve and an important Pre-Hispanic archeological site. A little over one-tenth (about 1,760 ha) of its total size features forests in their natural state. Add to this, over 50 miles of walkable trails, and convenient public transportation to and from the park, and you have one of the most important tourist attractions in Medellín.

The city is also a fantastic for arts, culture, science, and history, as is the case with really interesting places like the Museo del Arte Moderno (Modern Art Museum), Museo de Antioquia (Antioquia Museum), Medellin Planetarium, and Jardines Botánicos (Botanical Gardens of Medellín).

Pereira (The Coffee Triangle: Cocora Valley & Salento)

One of the most important exports, and perhaps the most widely loved throughout the planet, is coffee. Colombian coffee is renowned for its rich flavor, thanks in part to the volcanic soil in this region just west and adjacent to the Andes. The “coffee triangle” (or “coffee axis”, eje cafetero, in Spanish) refers to three different, adjoining departments that comprise this beautiful, often-sloped, humid and warm cultivation area: QuindioRisaralda, and Caldas. This region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each department has a beautiful capital city worth visiting. These are: Armenia, Manizales, and Pereira -a city with over 700,000 inhabitants, which features monuments like the Bolivar Statue, architectural structures like the César Gaviria Trujillo Viaduct, fancy shopping areas like Circunvalar Avenue, and many swimming areas and parks, not to mention the Botanical Garden of Marseille.

Additionally, small towns also play important roles in the coffee production and tourism economy of the region; among these is the charming town of Salento, which features remarkable colonial architecture, colorful neighborhoods, and any number of unique shops and restaurants. A typical lunch here involves smoked trout. A visit to the Coffee Triangle gives visitors to Colombia an important window into the culturecuisinenature, and beauty that the country has to offer.

Orinoquia

In the region best known for being home to the Orinoco River, one of the longest in South America and one of the largest (by volume) in the world, nature is most impressive. Orinoquia’s Eastern Plains, or Llanos Orientales, play host to an area called the Macarena. Here you will find the famous, though not heavily– visited, Caño Cristales. This magical place is notable for the Macarenia clavigera plants, which are responsible for the rainbow of colors (red, yellow, green, blue, and black) displayed along the riverbed, mainly between the end of June and through November. The flora and fauna in this region are equally interesting and attractive. If nature is what you’re looking to explore in Colombia, this destination is a good one to keep in mind. 

Bonus: Practical Tips for Your Trip in Colombia

Tipping in Colombia

The level and quality of service in Colombia shines in its own, authentic way. The very character of Colombians, in general, tends to be charged with friendliness, intuition, and warmth. This, among the general population, greatly reflected in the waiters, hotel staff, drivers, and tour guides.

If you’re going to eat at a mid- or high-end restaurant, then don’t be surprised if your waiter asks you if you would like to have the tip included in the final bill or if you’d like to tip separately from the bill at the end. If you opt for the former, then 10% of the total of your bill will be added as a tip. If this is the case, you won’t be expected to leave anything additional. However, if you opt for the latter option, then it’s recommended that you yourself leave at least 10% of the total bill on the table yet, knowing the quality of Colombian service, we think you’ll be more than inclined to leave more than that!

When it comes to bellboys at hotels and airports, we recommend leaving a dollar or two (between $3,200 and $6,400 Colombian pesos) for each piece of baggage item that was handled. For cleaning staff at hotels, you’ll be able to leave around the same amount for each day they cleaned your room. When it comes to taxis, you won’t need to leave a tip; however, if your driver was extra helpful, you can tell him or her to keep the change when you pay them for the ride.

Last but not least, tipping tour guides will all come down to just how satisfied you were with them, along with the length and complexity of the tour you received. What we recommend for a day tour is around $10-15 US dollars (around $32,000-48,000 Colombian pesos). If you’re going to be with the same guide for multiple days, then you can leave them around 10% of the total cost of your tour on the last day of your journey with them.

Wear layers!

Countries close to the equator often have weather that’s rather unpredictable throughout the day, especially at higher altitudes! When you visit Bogota, it’s highly recommended that you wear layers. Metrojourneys recommends that you keep a warm windbreaker or an umbrella in your daypack should the weather change unexpectedly. Additionally, if you’re planning on touring the city during the evening, then a scarf might come in handy, too!

Change in Colombia

Think hard about where you want to spend (and break) that $100,000 Colombian peso bill! Having smaller bills handy is what occasionally can draw the line between being able to successfully make a purchase and have the seller simply tell you they have no change. That being said, the majority of major establishments always have change. Taxis and smaller business, on the other hand, often won’t be able to provide you with change as easily. We recommend holding on to all the change you get in a money pouch of some sort so that, should the moment arise, you’ll be able to pay with the exact amount, or at least close to what the final price is.

Haggling in Colombia

See something you like at a local market? You’ll most likely be able to purchase it for a price that’s way below what the seller first asked for. Haggling in Colombia is completely acceptable at artisanal markets and with street vendors. Generally, if you play your cards right, you can lower the price of what you want to buy by up to half of its original price!

Sunblock in Colombia

Watch out with the sun! Destinations along the coast, just as much as those up in the highlands, are exposed to high levels of UV radiation. Before heading out to explore the wonders of Colombia, lathering on that sunblock (at least SPF50 or higher) can save you from falling victim to terrible sunburns. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to keep your sunglasses handy!

Take advantage of the fact that you’re in the “neighborhood” and combine Colombia with other destinations!

Your adventure in Colombia may only be the beginning! After falling in love with Colombia, there are numerous other destinations in South America for you to enjoy!

  • The Galapagos Islands in Ecuador
  • Paracas National Reserve in Peru
  • The Choco Bioregion in Ecuador
  • The Atacama Desert in Chile
  • Isla del Sol y la Luna in Bolivia
  • Fernando de Noronha Islands in Brazil

12 Things you Need to Know While in Colombia

If you think Colombia is what you see on international news, you’re sadly mistaken. Colombia, that country located in the top left corner of South America is a diverse, vibrant place with a rich history and interesting culture. Including a cultural trip to Colombia on your bucket list (or even better a study abroad trip!) is a fantastic idea!

Pueblito Paisa near Medellín. A small replica of the typical town in the region of Antioquia
Photo by Carolina Ayerbe

There’s so much to do and see in Colombia for every taste and every kind of traveler, but here are some facts you need to know before you go:

The Cultural History

Colombia used to be inhabited by indigenous civilizations that date back to 20,000 BC. Even the Incas had settlements in the southern part of the country. In the 1500s Spanish explorers came to South America (in part in search for El Dorado) and conquered the land with their mixture of violence and religion. During colonial times the Spanish brought black slaves from Africa. Later on Colombia gained its independence from Spain in 1819 with Simón Bolívar and his military campaigns. So today Colombia is mostly the amalgamation of both Spanish, African, and indigenous cultures. In general it’s safe to say it’s a western civilization, there is democracy and a state of law where citizens enjoy freedom of cult and speech.

All of Colombia’s historic past makes for one of the most diverse and culturally intriguing countries in South America.

The Importance of Race

The stereotype of the Latino in the U.S. does not occur in Colombia and the culture is not at all what you’d find in Mexico, for instance. In Colombia, Colombians are Colombian and people from other countries are foreign. People from other parts of Latin America are just as foreign as Germans or Americans (Now, beware, as a foreigner, you’re going to be stared at, a lot). People from all races have made families together creating what could be considered a mestizo race. Black people have never been treated differently if you ask a person born during the 20th century, because slavery was abolished around 1853. Since Colombia had an early abolition of slavery, the country has had time to embrace individuals in the black community as just more Colombians. Unfortunately, the protection and preservation of the few truly indigenous cultures that remain are something only recently being addressed.

The Local People

Foreigners are treated almost like royalty, because Colombians are fascinated with people from other parts of the world. They will walk the extra mile for you and they’re very friendly! You’ll find that the warmer the weather, the warmer the people, but everybody is very helpful and accommodating regardless! People in Colombia smile a lot and are generally happy; streets on weekends are full because everybody goes out, and the discos are always in full swing. A lot of Colombians struggle to make ends meet and you’ll see a lot of informal businesses on the streets. Colombians would say they’re descomplicados, which means that they go with the flow and they don’t tie themselves into a knot. You’ll see that attitude reflected everywhere. Now, beware that Colombians don’t appreciate narcotic trafficking related jokes, comments, or innuendos. The past of drug and violence is painful and something that they’re working hard to move past.

You Can Satisfy Any Craving

There are many affordable trips for international students in Colombia. The culture in Bogotá and Medellín is incredible, with a vast array of activities from opera, theater, museums, cultural activities, and lectures to incredible cuisine. Pristine beaches are located in the islands of San Andrés, Santa Marta, or Islad del Rosario, and many more. You can attend local festivals like the Carnaval de Barranquilla or the Carnaval de Blancos y Negros in Pasto. You can visit the Amazon jungle and see nature up close and personal.

With its vast biodiversity, Colombia is one of the top countries in the world to visit if you enjoy communing with nature.

You Can (And Should) Experience Every Facet of the Culture

You can visit charming little colonial towns in Boyacá, with an incredible offering of arts and crafts for all styles. You can have a salsa immersion and learn to dance like the pros in Cali; trust me, you’ll never be the same after that. You name it, Colombia has it!

The Street Food is a MUST

The variety of food in Colombia is astonishing. Think about it: what could result from Spain’s excellent cuisine, mixed with indigenous exotic ingredients, and an African heritage? A food offering like no other. If you go to Colombia you will be well fed, that’s for sure! Make sure to take advantage of the incredible variety of fruits and vegetables that you can’t easily find in America or Europe, at a fraction of the price and completely fresh, like they were just collected that morning. Fruit like uchuvasmaracuyáscurubaspitahayas, kiwi, piñas (pineapple), blackberries, guanábanasgranadasgranadillasanones, papayas, and more! Most food in Colombia is what you’d call “organic”, only because the food industry is not as advanced as in first world countries. Enjoy some tamales (not like Mexican tamales at all), lechonabandeja paisaajiacococido Boyacenseviudo de Capazcuyarroz con coco, and more!

How to Quench Your Thirst

Tap water can be consumed in big cities like Bogotá or Medellín, but if you’re a bit apprehensive, go for bottled water. Colombians like their coffee black, watery, and sweet (it’s called tinto) which for some connoisseurs would be sacrilege; so If you like the strong coffee or Cuban coffee, you’re going to have to go to a specialty store.

What to Expect from the Climate

Cities tend to be high in the mountains, so you may experience some altitude sickness. And Colombians are in love with their mountains! Colombia doesn’t have seasons; the weather depends on the altitude of the place. The higher the city, the colder it is. Bogotá is 8530 feet high so it enjoys a cool spring-like weather all year round. Medellín is a bit warmer, Cali is warmer still (temperatures are usually in the 80s) and Cartagena is located on a sunny coast with temperatures in the 90s all year round. There are generally dry and rainy seasons, but that’s all.

The Streets are Chaotic

The traffic in big cities like Bogotá or Medellín in completely chaotic; the cities are suffering with the fast increase in the number of cars. Medellín is the only city in Colombia that offers a metro system. In Bogotá, you are going to need a local’s help to get around. The main massive transportation system is called Transmilenio made up of red busses, but there are many other kinds of buses that only locals know how to navigate. It is not recommended that you hail a taxi on the street; it’s better to have a taxi called on the phone for you, or use the latest mobile device apps which are much safer.

The Basics: Time, Banks, & Communication

Local time is -5 GMT. The currency is the Colombian peso and other currencies are not really accepted at local stores. There are ATMs in every city and they do accept international debit and credit cards. Small villages and towns may not provide ATMs.  Internet is accessible in some restaurants and some hotels (though big chain hotels will charge you extra for it). Cell phones use SIM cards , if you want you can buy a cheap pre-paid phone and SIM card while in Colombia. You can purchase minutos in any local store. 

Visa Requirements

Foreigners that don’t require a visa for entry can stay up to 90 days; after that, they do require a visa. Check with your consulate to see what the requirements are for you.

Safety Precautions

Safety has increased significantly in the past few years in Colombia and Colombians are making a great effort to leave their violent past behind. The country is safe for the most part and groups outside of the law tend to be located in remote areas. The first rule you need to follow is to not go where other Colombians wouldn’t go. If a Colombian is telling you not to take a certain route or not to visit a certain place, comply. They know their territory. Big cities like Bogotá, Medellín, or Cartagena are as safe as big cities anywhere, so use common sense and don’t become a target. Don’t use flashy jewelry, don’t flaunt your iPhone on the street, don’t carry wads of money, you know, the usual.

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