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Twin steeples of the Basilica del Voto Nacional, Quito, Ecuador | © Noradoa/Shutterstock
Twin steeples of the Basilica del Voto Nacional, Quito, Ecuador | © Noradoa/Shutterstock
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11 Things You Should Never Do in Ecuador, Ever

Picture of Vibeke Johannessen
Updated: 22 March 2018
Laid-back Ecuador is becoming more and more popular for tourists and expats, but while some people are more prepared, many will make mistakes. Here are 11 things you should never, ever do in Ecuador.

Take public transport during rush hour

Public transport that costs only $0.25 is very tempting but is also usually packed, especially during the morning, lunchtime and afternoon. The real pitfall is that you are pretty likely to be pickpocketed or even sexually assaulted. Unless you can walk to your destination, use a ride-sharing app or taxi.

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Quito Bus, Ecuador | © Sven Schermer/Shutterstock

Flash your valuables in public

This is especially a big concern in cities like Guayaquil and Quito. Holding your phone, or even having it out in public, is dangerous—same as with money and other valuables. Pickpockets won’t hesitate to follow you and snatch your things before you know what’s happened.

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Watch your valuables | Watch your valuables | © Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Wander outside after dark

Walking after dark, especially in big cities and dodgy areas, means you’re more likely to be robbed or assaulted—even many Ecuadorians take it easy at night. Places like Mindo, Cuenca, and Baños are very safe all day, but always ask a local if it is safe if you are unsure.

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Quito at night, Ecuador | © Ecuadorpostales/Shutterstock

Eat street food on your first days

Unless you want parasites, do not eat food from street vendors, no matter how delicious it looks. Street food doesn’t always follow quality and hygiene standards, so tourists usually can’t handle the bacteria that locals are long accustomed to.

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Guinea Pigs in Cuenca, Ecuador | © Julian Peters Photography/Shutterstock

Dress for warm, clear weather

The Andes get cold, Cloud Forest is rainy, and the coast and Amazon are hot and humid, yet tourists hiking volcanoes in flip-flops and scant clothing is a familiar sight. Don’t hesitate to bring a hat, scarf, and mittens to the mountains, and always carry an umbrella in Quito.

Get in a taxi that is not a taxi

People take advantages of tourists in desperate situations. Be aware that official taxis are yellow and have a green sticker on the side. In big cities like Quito and Guayaquil, use Uber or Cabify, which are known for being better, safer options.

Taxi driver in Milagro, Ecuador | © DFLC Prints/Shutterstock
Taxi driver in Milagro, Ecuador | © DFLC Prints/Shutterstock

Think that everyone speaks English

While people in bigger cities usually know a little English, they can be quite shy about it and may even turn you away if you ask for help in English, and those in smaller villages might not know English at all. So practice a little Spanish before your trip, or even carry a small dictionary. Generally, no one will make fun of you for trying, and it will only make it easier for others to help.

Woman selling fruits in Cuenca, Ecuador | © MindStorm/Shutterstock
Woman selling fruits in Cuenca, Ecuador | © MindStorm/Shutterstock

Settle for the first price at a market

Otavalo marketplace | ©Vibeke Johannessen / Courtesy of The Viking Abroad
Otavalo marketplace | ©Vibeke Johannessen / The Viking Abroad

Don’t feel bad for bargaining a lower price than what’s on the ticket. Marketplace sellers, like those in Otavalo, are experts at guilt-tripping customers (especially tourists) into buying an item for their price. For the best deals on the markets, bring a local to help you out.

Hike and climb high altitudes before acclimating

Ecuador has some breathtaking volcanoes and mountains that should be visited some of them if you can, but you must acclimate your body by staying in cities like Quito or Cuenca some days before starting a hike or climb. Otherwise, you may experience symptoms headaches, loss of appetite, dizziness, nausea, and breathlessness.

Climber on Cayambe volcano, Ecuador | © Ecuadorpostales/Shutterstock
Climber on Cayambe volcano, Ecuador | © Ecuadorpostales/Shutterstock

Only carry paper cash and no coins

© Burst / Pexels
Cash | © Burst / Pexels

If you try paying a taxi driver with a $50 bill, you most likely won’t get enough change back—same with small shops. The smaller the bills, the better, and coins are king. Try to carry at least $10 in coins at all times while travelling within Ecuador.

Only visit the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are the most popular destination in Ecuador, and for good reason—this unique locale is home to hundreds of native species not found anywhere else in the world—but they are far from the real Ecuador. As well as the Galapagos, Ecuador is divided into Andean, coastal, and Amazon regions. If you can touch on all four regions, you will have experienced the best of Ecuador and see how much such a small country can offer.

Floreana Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador | © sunsinger/Shutterstock
Floreana Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador | © sunsinger/Shutterstock