Hi everyone! 😀
It’s been a while since the last time we covered anything about the original country of Shakira. You’ve probably read some piece of fun facts about Colombia, but what about the average budget to travel around the country?
Well, in this week’s $10 series, Mitch from Project Untethered will help us showcasing how far $10 could get you in one of the cities in Colombia. To be more specific, we’re now going to Cali in Colombia to see how much you could get in the city known for its signature dance: salsa!
Got $10 and Looking for Somewhere to Spend It?
Look no further than Cali, Colombia!
Your money will go far wherever you are in Colombia, but Cali —the Salsa Capital of the World— is by far the cheapest big city in the country. In fact, according to Forbes, it’s one of the best cities in the world to live well on a budget.
This is because Cali is much less touristy than the more popular cities in Colombia—Cartagena, Medellin, and Bogota. Since tourism is still quite low, so is the cost of living.
That said, before we get into what $10 can get you in Cali, let’s quickly go over how the Colombian currency works.
In Colombia, $1 USD usually equates to around 3000 Colombian pesos (COP).
In the past few months, the exchange rate has been at an all-time high, 3300 COP per dollar (meaning your money lasts even longer!). But for simplicity’s sake, we’ll say $1 = 3630 COP. That means $10 equals to 30,000 COP.
So what can you buy with 36,300 COP in your pocket?
Let’s take a look…
Cali is the number one place in the world to learn how to salsa dance. Not only are there hundreds of salsa schools and discotecas to choose from, but they’re CHEAP. To give you an idea, you can buy a package of 15 two-hour group classes for around 90,000 COP.
If you do the math, that breaks down to $2 per two-hour class, or $1 per hour! In the Western world, this would cost you 10-20x as much.
Or if classes aren’t your style, you can simply go out to a salsa club and find a nice Colombian to teach you for free (they love showing gringos how to dance).
I know fruit salads don’t sound very exciting, but hear me out…
Colombia is known for its huge variety of cheap, fresh fruit (I’ve probably tried 20+ new fruits I’d never heard of before). And their fruit salads have a special twist…
In addition to fresh fruit, they come loaded with shredded cheese, ice cream, condensed milk, coconut shavings, and peanuts.
Cheese on ice cream sounds weird, but give it a chance. It might be the closest you can get to heaven on earth.
Public transportation in Cali is super affordable. When I first arrived here, I was pinching pennies and always used the bus system (called the “Mio”). These will get you pretty much anywhere in the city for 2100 COP, or about $0.60.
They can get crowded at times, but that’s all part of the adventure, right?
Nowadays I normally just take Uber or a taxi. No matter where you go within the city, you should never pay more than around $7 (that would get you from one extreme to the other).
I’ve been living here for 3 years still can’t believe the value you get at lunchtime.
Pretty much anywhere you go, you can find a family-owned restaurant or bread store selling cheap “menu ejectivo” lunches. On average these will run you between 6000–9000 COP and include soup, a portion of meat, rice, beans, salad, a drink, and sometimes even dessert!
It’s like eating Thanksgiving dinner every single day.
Just like anywhere in the world, the price of a beer depends on where you buy it from. I like to keep it low key.
There are tons of small liquor shops with plastic tables outside where you can listen to music and drink beers with friends. In these types of places, a beer will cost you around 2500 COP (less than a $1).
In the more casual salsa bars (like La Topa Tolondra), you’ll pay 5000 COP… It’s about the same as what you’d pay for just the tip in a US bar.
$10 in Cali, Colombia
Well, there you have it!
As you can see, $10 goes a long way here… Imagine if you had $100 here! So, if you’re looking for adventure on a budget — Cali, Colombia is the place to go!
Contributor: Mitch from Project Untethered
Mitch is the blogger behind Project Untethered — a movement to teach adventure-craved wanderlusters how to escape the rat race and build an “untethered life”. If you’re looking for a boost in travel inspiration.