Did you know that the currency used in Ecuador is the US Dollar? It makes it very convenient for traveling. So don’t worry about getting confused with exchange rates. The only difference is that Ecuador is used to the one dollar coin. Especially for fruits and street food, you will need lots of small bills or coins. Trying to pay some bananas with a twenty dollar bill won’t work in most cases. The same applies for paying for public transport or taxis.
Bring a fair amount of dollar and five-dollar bills to make sure you are able to buy small souvenirs and pay for taxis.
When you first arrive in Ecuador you might have pre-booked transportation to your hotel or hostel. This is especially a good idea when you arrive later at night and you don’t want to worry about safety. Taxis are usually pretty cheap in Ecuador (due to the cheap fuel prices), but taxis to and from the airport usually charge more than you would pay for the same distance going somewhere else.
To get around in bigger cities like Quito or Cuenca you can either use taxis (most of the time you won’t pay more than 3 to 5 USD) or use local buses (fares are around 0.50 USD). Sometimes it is a little confusing to find out which direction buses are heading. Either look for signs in the front of buses or ask some passengers waiting with you. You don’t need to speak Spanish to get a “yes” or “no” for a destination! Getting from city to city there are overland buses going multiple times a day.
How about buying your own donkey like these guys did for hiking in Chugchillan? They named him Helmut and he carried some of their bags on a multiple-day hiking tour in the Andes! It looked like fun!
Bigger cities will have any kind of restaurants serving traditional Ecuadorian cuisine as well as international food. You will also be able to find all kinds of fast food chains. But that’s not really what you have gone to Ecuador for – am I right?
Don’t hesitate to taste the so called “street food”: Grilled chicken or pork, rice with beans, fried plantains and yuka patties. It usually doesn’t cost more than 3-4 USD for a big meal!
People in Ecuador speak many different tribal languages. But almost everybody understands and speaks Spanish fluently. Learning a few phrases before you travel is definitely a good idea as even restaurant or hotel staff don’t speak English most of the time.
If you have special dietary requirements or don’t like certain things learn those words beforehand!
My special tip: visit the Amazon!
There are many beautiful spots in Ecuador: mountain scenery, city highlights like Quito or Cuenca, beaches and of course the Galapagos islands. But if you have some more time, make your way towards the Amazon basin! You won’t be disappointed going on an eight hour boat ride on different rivers, taking you out into the jungle. Spend the night listening to the jungle noises and learn about the different plants. There is nothing more fun than smoking a jungle cigarette and drinking water out of a vine!