Visit Quito's old city (El Centro historico), which
has been declared a world cultural heritage site
by UNESCO. Old Quito has many colonial buildings
and a huge market with a lot of hustle and bustle.
Go north and you end up in the new centre (La Mariscal),
where tourists will find most hotels, restaurants,
travel agencies and nightlife.
Arrival: Most visitors will arrive in Quito
at the airport (Aeropuerto Mariscal Sucre). Don't
worry, the plane is not going to crash in the city,
although it might seem like it. Strangely enough,
Quito's airport is located in the middle of the
city. This means that during your stay in Quito
you will often hear the noise of low flying planes.
Visa: Most nationalities will need a visa
to enter Ecuador. You can
get a tourist visa at the airport or the border.
Depending on your nationality, you will get 60 or
90 days. You can get an extension at the migration
office at calle Amazonas 2639.
You can also get
a work, student, business or residence visa,
which is more complicated and expensive.
Because chances are that you will be asked to show
your passport at a checkpoint, it is not advisable
to overstay your visa. However, the official fine
for overstaying your visa is only 40 cents.
For medical services in Quito click
Where to stay:
As a capital city befits, Quito has a wide variety
(in Spanish also called hospedaje or hosteria).
Most hotels can be found in the new city centre.
The area around the Amazonas/Colon-junction, which
is called La Mariscal, is the place where most foreigners
hang out, since it also has many restaurants, internet
cafes, travel agencies and bars. For this reason
La Mariscal has 'Gringolandia' as a nickname.
Quito has many first class hotels
with luxury and business facilities. Many cheap
can be found in the old city, but many foreigners
prefer to stay in La Mariscal for safety reasons.
This area has also many hostals
for the budget traveller. Expect to pay 3 or 4 dollars
for a reasonably clean hostal
with shared bath. Add a dollar or two for a private
bath. Sometimes it is possible to negotiate a lower
price if you're staying longer than a week.
Some useful phrases for organising accommodation:
Have you got a room available? = Tiene una habitacion
A double room = Una habitacion doble
How much does it cost? = Cuanto cuesta?
Has it got a private bath? = Tiene baño privado?
Can I see the room, please = Puedo ver la habitacion,
How to get around: Transport in Quito is
relatively cheap and easy. Since Quito lies in a
valley between mountains, the city has a long but
narrow shape. The distance from the most southern
point of Quito to the far north is 30 km, but from
east to west it is only 3 or 4 km. Therefore most
buses drive in the north/south direction.
The small blue/pink buses are called populares and
cost 12 cents. The red buses are called especiales
or selectivos and cost 20 cents. There are also
pink buses (interparroquiales) that go to towns
and villages just outside of Quito. The fare depends
on the distance.
Another fast and cheap (15 cents) way to travel
in the north/south direction is the trolley bus.
The 'trole' goes over Avenida 10 de Agosto
from the old city to the north. The second trole:
Ecovia, goes over Avenida 6 de Diciembre.
This Ecovia is fully operational.
All taxis are yellow and some are very old. During
the day ask the driver to turn on the metre (el
metro). The minimum fare is 1 dollar, which should
pay for a 20-minute drive. At nighttime prices go
up and fares have to be negotiated in advance. Two
dollars should be enough for a 20-minute drive.
Addresses in Quito are given with two streets; the
destination should be close to the junction between
the two. Many addresses have house numbers, but
I haven't discovered any logic in them. Some houses
have even two house numbers.
Where to eat: Restaurants
in Quito are usually cheaper than in Europe or the
U.S. and the quality varies from reasonable to excellent.
Off course the local Ecuadorian cuisine is worth
a try, but you can also find Mexican, French, Thai,
Israeli etc restaurants
Many Ecuadorian restaurants
have a set menu, which is cheaper than eating a
la carta. Ask for the 'almuerzo' (lunch) or
'merienda' (dinner). A set menu should be 2 dollars
or cheaper and often includes a starter and a drink.
The main course is often chicken (pollo), rice (arroz)
or chips/fries (papas fritas) with some fried bananas
(platano frito). Ecuadorian specialities are for
example 'ceviche' (seafood) and cuy (roasted guinea
are specialised in breakfasts (desayuno), which
usually consist of scrambled eggs, bread, coffee
and juice and costs around a dollar.
add service charges and VAT to their prices. Although
usually this is mentioned on the menu, it is worth
asking if this is included.
Some useful phrases for eating out:
Have you got a table for one/two/three/four persons?
Tiene una mesa para una/dos/tres/cuatro personas?
It tastes delicious = Es deliciosa
Can I have the bill, please = La cuenta, por
salt = sal
Pepper = pimienta
knife = cuchillo
spoon = cuchara
fork = tenedor
meat = carne
beef = res
pork = cerdo
Eat well! = Buen provecho!
Where to go out: Although the Quitenos do
not have the temperament of the Brazilians or the
party life of, say, Madrid, Quito definitely has
an entertaining nightlife. Most bars
are located in La Mariscal and most foreigners can
be found here.
Beer is the most common drink. A big bottle of the
national Ecuadorian beer Pilsener costs around 1
dollar, but many bars
also serve cheap cocktails.
music; for example salsa bands, rock bands or
Ecuadorian folklore music (with panpipes, guitar
and a small guitar (charango)).
For the partygoers that are not tired after closing
time, Quito has many clubs.
Many play 'western' dance or rock music, but the
clubs (salsatecas) are also definitely worth
a visit. Ecuadorians are great dancers and salsa
is the music that makes their hips shake.
Entrance should be 2 dollars or less and sometimes
includes a drink.
Some useful phrases for going out:
A beer, please = Una cerveza, por favor
A big bottle of Pilsener = Una Pilsener grande
Have you got a boy/girl-friend? = Tienes un(a)
What kind of cocktails do you have? = Que tipo
de cocteles tiene?
Can I see the menu? = Puedo ver el menu?
Where to go: Located in the Andes, Quito
is the perfect base for exploring the mountains.
Big mountains like Pichincha, Cayambe and Cotopaxi
are very close by and also Andean towns like Otavalo
and Papallacta are popular daytrip destinations.
agencies in Quito organise guided trips to the
national parks like Cotopaxi. Hiking and climbing
gear can be rented in Quito.
agencies organise trips to the Galapagos Islands.
The Galapagos Islands are world famous for its wildlife
(penguins, many beautiful birds, reptiles, turtles,
sea lions, dolphins etc.). Darwin was already fascinated
by the Galapagos wildlife and did research here.
A trip to the Galapagos is not cheap: expect to
pay roughly a 1000 dollars for a four-day trip.
The jungle at the west of Quito (el Oriente) is
another popular destination. Jungle expeditions
can be organised at the spot or booked in one of
agencies. Trips can include guided tours, white
water rafting or boat trips. Make sure you know
all the details before you book.
If you want to know more about Quito, we hightly
in Quito On line guide
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