Travel tips

Local currency

In Colombia, all transactions should be made in local currency – Colombian pesos (COP). US dollars, Euros and other foreign currencies (cash) are not accepted for payments in commercial establishments such as travel agencies, airlines offices, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, shops, etc.

The exchange of foreign currency should be made exclusively in official exchange bureaus (Spanish: Casas de Cambio), never on the street. Local Colombian banks are not authorized to exchange your foreign currency (cash) to Colombian pesos. However, some local banks may accept traveler’s checks for exchange (American Express and Citicorp) at very unfavorable rate (about 80% of the value). Therefore, it is not recommended to bring traveler’s checks to Colombia.

The exchange rate fluctuates from one day to another and has the U.S. dollar as the official reference rate (Spanish: tasa representativa). Use this link to have an idea of today’s exchange rate for Colombian peso (COP).

All Colombian cities and towns have an extensive ATM network (Spanish: Cajero Automático) that are open 24 hours and have English/Spanish menu.  You can verify your current account balance and make cash withdrawals and advances ONLY in local currency (Colombian pesos). Maximal withdrawal per transaction varies in different banks between 300.000 and 700.000 Colombian pesos. ATMs are strategically located at the airports, gas stations, shopping malls, etc. Most of them permit international debit and credit transactions (look for the signs of Cirrus, Maestro, Visa and Master Card).

The majority of hotels, restaurants, shops, and other commercial establishments accept international debit and credit cards. The most frequently used are Cirrus/Maestro for debit card and Visa/MasterCard for credit card. Some establishments may also accept American Express and Diners Club.

Local Time

Time in Colombia is based on Greenwich Meridian Time with a difference of five or six hours, depending on the season. When it is 12 noon in Colombia, in London it is 5 pm, in Madrid 6 pm, in New York 12 noon and in Los Angeles 9 am. In summer, the difference increases one hour.

Consult World Time here.

Drinking water in San Andres Island

Tap water on the island is not suitable for human consumption; it comes from the desalinization stations. Drink bottled water when possible, and better ask for carbonated water (Spanish: Agua con gas) to be sure it is not re-bottled.

Emergency Numbers in San Andres, Colombia

Toll-free national number
National Emergency Line :     123 (24 hours)
(Police, Ambulance, Fire Department, Civil Defense)

Local numbers in San Andres
Traffic accidents:    +57 (8) 512 6900
(Accidentes de tránsito)
Police:             +57 (8) 512 6665
(Policia Nacional)
Civil Defense:        +57 (8) 512 5608
(Defensa civil)
Fire Department:     +57 (8) 512 6226
Colombian Red Cross:    +57 (8) 512 7333
(Cruz Roja Colombiana)