Ecuador Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit Ecuador in 2023

Welcome to Ecuador

Ecuador offers a unique experience for tourists, from the rich ecosystem of the Galápagos to the well-preserved historical cities in the high Andes. Be ready to learn about Indigenous cultures, explore colonial architecture, and see breathtaking landscapes.

In this ultimate Ecuador travel guide, we will share some travel tips and tricks and everything you need to know about how to enjoy your visit to Ecuador.

Document Checklist for Ecuador

  • Valid passport - At least six months of validity

  • Ecuador Traveler Health Declaration

  • Visa (most countries are exempt, but some nationalities may need a VoA or ETA)

  • Sufficient funds

  • Return ticket

Essential Travel Information for Ecuador

  • Currency - US Dollar (USD)

  • Daily budget for 1 person - A daily budget of around $51

  • Languages - Spanish

  • Socket type - Types A and B, 120V supply voltage and 60Hz

  • Time zone - Greenwich Mean Time (GMT): GMT-5, UTC-5

  • Top 3 cities to visit - Quito, Guayaquil, and Tena

  • Top 3 landmarks/monuments - Galápagos Islands, La Compaña de Jesús Church, and Ancient Incan ruins.

Visa Information for Ecuador

Most countries don’t need a visa to visit Ecuador. The visa-exempt countries can stay in the territory for 90 days. This is the case for United States nationals and most citizens from South America and Europe.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has different entry and exit requirements for other nationalities. For example, Sri Lanka travelers must apply for an Ecuador ETA, and visitors from Egypt need to obtain a Visa on Arrival.

You can use the iVisa Visa Checker to see what documents you can get on our platform and consult the nearest embassy or consular assistance for further information.

Ecuador Health Declaration Form

All passengers must present the Ecuador Traveler Health Declaration on arrival. This is a travel form developed by the local authorities to track travelers’ health status with the main goal of reducing the COVID-19 infection rate. The Health Declaration helps the government to quickly identify potential virus outbreaks and take the necessary measures to safeguard locals and visitors.

In the application form, travelers must inform vital data such as their state of health, flight details, vaccine status, and emergency contact info. It’s a mandatory document for foreign tourists and returning Ecuadorian citizens. The Traveler Health Declaration is a single-entry form and you must fill out a new application every time you intend to enter the country.

Typical Costs and Budget for Ecuador

A basic guide to what you'll spend daily traveling through Ecuador on a decent budget.

  • Daily spending - Around $51 per person/per day on a budget vacation. This includes:

  • Meals - $15

  • Transport - $8.15

  • Hotel - $32 for two people

A trip for two for one week will cost an average of $708.

Transport and Best Ways to Travel around Ecuador

The best way to travel around Ecuador is by air. It’s the safest and most affordable option for transport. An international driving permit for a road trip may not be a good idea. The road conditions make it difficult to explore this destination with a rental car. But if you want to enter the country by land, you can pass through an official border crossing town like Huaquillas-Tumbes, between Ecuador and Peru.

You can use public transportation to travel to major cities; there are large and comfortable buses for the route. However, the price may be more expensive than flying (and it will take more time). Taking a boat is an option to visit the Galápagos Islands and enjoy the pacific coast, there are many cruises for this route. Otherwise, air travel is a cheaper option for visiting the islands.

In the cities, tourist buses are a fun way to explore without worrying about maps. You can easily find a tour operator for these trips. If you prefer private transport, opt for registered taxis to avoid problems.

Safety in Ecuador

In 2023, Ecuador’s president called for emergency assistance twice due to a security situation. One of the episodes was a measure to counter violent crimes related to drug trafficking. So, the country faces problems like violent crime, illegal drugs, and armed robbery, but in tourist spots, you shouldn’t have any trouble; in any case, try to always exercise caution.

The second incident was the Indigenous-led strike, which led to nationwide political protests. The advice for travelers is to stay away from protests to avoid civil unrest. In this case, it’s recommended to monitor local media.

Regarding natural disasters, Ecuador’s geographic position makes it susceptible to flooding, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis. If some event like that happens, follow the instructions of local authorities and the natural disaster evacuation procedures.

Weather in Ecuador

The best time to visit Ecuador depends on which region you want to visit. You can find very different climate conditions from the coast to the countryside because of the different reliefs of the land. You may travel to the highlands from June to September to enjoy the drier season, but always be prepared to experience four seasons in a day in this area.

January to May is the best time of the year for visiting Ecuador’s coast. It’s the wet season, but temperatures are warmer, and rain usually falls in short bursts at the end of the day, so you can enjoy sunny mornings.

Other attractions you can enjoy year-round, like the Amazon forest or touring the Avenue of the Volcanoes.

Popular Cities and Towns in Ecuador

When entering Ecuador, there is no lack of destination options. You’ll be amazed by the historical cities and beautiful natural attractions. Here are some cities to include in your itinerary:

  • Quito - Ecuador’s capital is the best-preserved colonial architecture in the entire Latin America.

  • Guayaquil - The country’s largest city. It’s a good place for delicious seafood and to enjoy the nightlife.

  • Cuenca - One of Ecuador’s UNESCO-recognized heritage cities. It has Ancient Incan ruins, great museums, and excellent restaurants.

  • Baños - Destination for adventurers, this city offers a gorgeous natural setting for sports like canyoning in waterfalls or rock climbing.

  • Tena - It’s the most accessible city to explore Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest.

Travel Advice: Must Do and See in Ecuador

Once you travel to Ecuador, don’t miss these fantastic sights:

  1. Visit the Galápagos Islands, with all their natural beauty and diverse species.

  2. Hike in the dense jungle-like forests of Baños.

  3. Visit La Compañía de Jesús Church, a 17th-century construction listed by UNESCO as one of the world's top 100 most important buildings.

  4. Make a train trip in La Nariz del Diablo (The Devil's Nose) to explore the spectacular Andes’ views.

  5. Visit the Inca Ruins near Cuenca, a historical complex with integrated roads, food deposits, houses, a cemetery, an astronomical observatory, and the famous Temple of the Sun.

Typical Ecuadorian Food to Try

  • Ceviche - It’s a seafood dish, very common on the coast and in the Sierra. Traditional ceviche in Ecuador is slightly different than in some other countries: Ecuadorians cook the seafood before serving. It’s made with red onion, lime juice, cilantro, olive oil, and garlic.

  • Encebollado - This is a seafood (usual tuna) soup with pickled red onion, boiled yuca, tomato, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. The dish is very popular on the coast, but you can also find it in the Andes.

  • Churrasco - The Ecuatorian churrasco is a grilled steak seasoned with garlic, oregano, cumin, and olive oil. It’s usually served with rice, slices of avocado, fries, fried plantains, and a fried egg.

Vaccine Information for Ecuador

It's important to know what routine vaccines and COVID-19 measures are required to travel to Ecuador to avoid health risks. We recommend you check out the CDC website to learn more about all vaccine requirements and any recommended guidance or medicine lists.

Currently, you don’t need to present a rapid antigen test or RT PCR test for public health authorities; travel insurance is also not mandatory.

South America Destination: The Fantastic Ecosystem of the Galápagos Islands

Galápagos Islands are a unique place to visit in Ecuador. The archipelago is 1,000 km from the South American continent, constituted by 19 islands in the Pacific Ocean. You can travel there on flights departing daily from the principal cities of Guayaquil or Quito.

They are one of the richest and most preserved ecosystems in the world. The isolated localization allowed the development of unusual animal life, such as the land iguana, the giant tortoise, and the many types of finch. This diverse habitat inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection when he visited the region in 1835.

Located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos are home to incredible marine species: be prepared to see sharks, sea lions, fur seals, marine turtles, rays, mantas, marine iguanas, and reef fishes. The best way to explore is to choose one of the tour providers with permission to visit the Galápagos National Park.

Fun Facts About Ecuador

Now, you already know about the incredible places you must visit in Ecuador. It’s time to find out some fun facts about the country!

  1. Ecuador may be the originator of cacao. Chocolate has been consumed for over 5,000 years here!

  2. There are around 300 types of bananas in Ecuador! The country is the world’s largest exporter of this fruit.

  3. Mount Chimborazo, in Ecuador, is not the tallest mountain in the world, but it is the closest to the sun, about 2,160 meters farther than Everest's summit. This is due to the Earth's slight bulge in the country.

  4. Ecuador has the first and second UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Galápagos and Quito.

  5. You don’t need to exchange dollars! While it is not related to the United States, the country has used the American Dollar since 2000.

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