Planning a trip to Bogotá, Colombia? If you’re wondering, “Should you tip in Colombia?” or “What is the cheapest time of year to travel to Bogota Colombia?”, you’ve come to the right place.
This article aims to guide you through the labyrinth of budgeting, tipping norms and the average overall cost of travel in Bogotá, one of South America’s most vibrant and exciting destinations.
Budgeting For Your Holiday In Bogotá Colombia
Tipping in Bogota, Colombia: An Overview
Understanding the local etiquette around tipping is a crucial part of any travel experience. In Colombia, tipping is not mandatory but is generally appreciated. It’s common to tip in restaurants, barbershops or hairdressers and hotels.
It’s common to tip service workers and in service based businesses. The amount (percentage) you should tip will vary depending on the type of service you’ve received.
Tipping in Restaurants
In restaurants, a service charge of 10% is often added to the bill. If the service was exceptional, an additional tip of around 10% is customary. Yet if the service charge has been added you don’t need to tip. The service charge is the tip. Tipping more than the service charge is entirely voluntary.
Tipping in restaurants is not obligatory. And you should only tip if you are satisfied with the service. If the staff have provided exceptional service the tip is their reward. Tip any restaurant staff who have given you great recommendations or who have provided exceptional service. And be sure to tip in cash.
Tipping Taxi Drivers
“Do you tip taxi drivers in Colombia?” is a common question among visitors. As a general rule, Colombians don’t tip taxi drivers.
However, as a tourist, if the taxi driver was especially helpful with luggage or provided a touristic guide, it’s courteous to tip around 2,000 – 5,000 Colombian pesos.
Now, I don’t use taxis for safety reasons. I instead use one of the three main ride hailing apps that operate in Bogotá, Uber, DiDi and InDriver. My preference is Uber in Bogota. When taking an Uber I won’t tip.
Uber’s often charge 4-5 times what a taxi costs in Bogotá. If they’re charging me 4-5 times what a taxi costs, then as far as I’m concerned they have tipped themselves.
Tipping In Hotels, Spas, Barber Shops and Hairdressers
In hotels or spas, you’re not tipping a percentage of your bill. Instead you should be tipping individual staff who have helped you. And the customary tip is 2,000-5,000COP. Which is anywhere from 50c to $1 USD.
If you’re getting a haircut, a massage or your nails done, you’re agin not tipping a percentage of the bill. Instead, give the staff member a tip of 5,000 to 10,000 Colombian pesos.
Haircuts typically cost from 10,000 to 25,000 pesos. So you’re aiming to tip around 50% if you’re happy with your new haircut. And this is because your happiness is entirely dependent on the skill of the staff member. When your happiness is entirely dependent on the skill of a service worker, tip more.
I’d also note that I tip when souvenir shopping. Because I’m often buying artisanal products as souvenirs. And again this is because the quality of these items is based on the skill of the artisan.
How to pay in Bogotá Colombia
I use a Wise digital card through Apple Pay to ‘tap and go’ virtually everywhere I spend money in Bogotá. It cuts down the need to carry cash, increasing safety.
With the digital Wise cards you can change the card number whenever you want (for free). Meaning nobody can skim, scan or otherwise copy your card and drain your funds.
Wise also saves me a small fortune each year on international transaction fees. And because they use the real mid-market rate, it gives me the best exchange rate available in Colombia of all banks.
Wise is a traveler, digital nomad and expats best friend in Colombia. You can get Wise in under two minutes at www.wise.com or click the banner below.
The Cost of Travel in Bogotá: How Much Should You Budget?
Now that you have a clearer understanding about tipping in Bogota Colombia, let’s move on to the next big question: “Is Bogota Colombia an expensive destination?” The answer, of course, depends on your personal travel style and budget.
Bogotá is a city of contrasts. You have some of the poorest people in South America living alongside some of the wealthiest. And at one end of Bogotá, prices as so cheap as to be almost free. At the other end you have some of the most expensive malls in all of the Americas. And the same contrast applies to the hotels and everything else in Bogotá.
Depending on where you’re staying in Bogotá and where you’re eating or shopping, your costs can vary between two extremes. You could be spending virtually nothing each day or you could be racking up huge credit card bills in Bogotá. It all comes down to you.
Here’s a breakdown of the average daily expenses you may incur.
Accommodation Costs In Bogota
Accommodation prices in Bogotá can range widely, depending on your preferences. If you’re a backpacker looking for a budget-friendly hostel, expect to pay around $10-$20 per night.
Mid-range hotels can cost between $40-$80 per night, while luxury accommodations start at $100 and can go up significantly.
Food and Dining
Bogotá offers a wide range of culinary experiences, from street food to high-end restaurants. On average, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs around $5-$7, while a three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant is about $20-$30.
A staple street food item like arepas could cost as little as $1-$2 and sometimes less. A Colombian coffee (tinto) from a corner store or cart will set you back about 700COP ($0.20 USD).
I should also note here that if your staple diet is American fast food chains, you should expect to pay the same as you do back in the USA. Macdonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and all the other American brands cost the same in Colombia as they do in the USA.
Local transportation in Bogotá is relatively cheap. A one-way ticket on the TransMilenio, Bogotá’s bus rapid transit system, costs about $0.70. Taxis start at around $1.50, with an average ride within the city costing between $2-$5.
An Uber on the other hand will set you back an average of 10,000 Colombian pesos for the shortest of rides. Ubers will range between 10,000-50,000 Colombian pesos. Or $2-$10USD.
Sightseeing and Activities
Many of Bogotá’s attractions are free, including the Botero Gallery, historic neighborhood of La Candelaria and various parks and squares. However, some museums and attractions charge entry fees.
For example, the Gold Museum has an entry fee of around $2.50, while a cable car ride up to Monserrate costs around $7. The National Museum (Museo Nacional de Colombia) has the largest entry fee of all the museums.
To give you a better idea of costs, three of my favourite activities in Bogotá for those staying 2-3 days in Bogotá are a visit to Monserrate, a Craft Beer Tour and Graffiti Tour. The Mural Walks (graffiti tours) are about more than just ‘graffiti’. You can see the costs of these activities below.
The Best Time of Year to Visit Bogotá Colombia
When planning your trip to Bogotá, consider the time of year. The cheapest time to travel to Bogotá is generally during the low season, from January to May.
However, the best time to visit in terms of weather is during the dry season, from December to March, when there’s less rain and clearer skies. Keep in mind that prices for flights and accommodation may be higher during this peak tourist season.
Planning Your Bogotá Budget
When determining how much to budget for Bogotá, factor in your travel style and the activities you wish to do. Here’s a rough guide:
- Budget Traveler: If you’re a budget traveler staying in hostels, eating at local restaurants, and utilizing public transportation, plan for around $30-$35 per day.
- Mid-Range Traveler: For those preferring mid-range hotels, dining, and a few extra activities, a daily budget of $50-$70 is more realistic.
- Luxury Traveler: If you prefer luxury accommodations, high-end restaurants, and premium activities, expect to budget $150 and above per day.
In conclusion, while Bogotá is not the cheapest destination in South America, it offers a good value for money due to its rich culture, history and gastronomy. With proper planning and budgeting, you can enjoy an incredible trip to this vibrant Colombian capital.
So, pack your bags, don’t forget to tip when it’s due and enjoy your journey in Bogotá, Colombia!
Where Can I Get More Information On Bogotá?
I’ve made my Bogotá Colombia City Guide available on this website. And I would strongly recommend you read it before traveling to Colombia. It will help you navigate Bogotá and Colombian society.
My Bogotá Colombia City Guide will save you a lot of time and a significant amount of money on your trip to Colombia. Colombia is not the sort of destination in which you can just arrive unprepared.
Read the Bogotá Colombia City Guide here.