Budget Travel Ideas in Cali

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A famous and lively party scene, welcoming locals, warm sunny weather and women that are said to be the most beautiful in the country have all contributed to Cali's increasing popularity on the South American backpacker trail. There are a handful of good, inexpensive hostels here, as well as plenty of places to eat and drink on a budget. Visitors will be received with open arms at Cali's many cheap and cheerful neighborhood bars, and getting around the city by public transport costs very little. While safety concerns dictate that most visitors will need to take a taxi at some point during their stay, these are abundant and relatively inexpensive. While Cali is better known for its salsa than its sightseeing, there are some decent museums, galleries and historic buildings that cost little or nothing to visit.

Budget Accommodations in Cali

Cali's increasing popularity with international backpackers has led to a good hostel scene, and there are some good, competitively priced options to choose from. Possibly the best of the bunch in terms of atmosphere is Iguana, at Calle 21N, number 9N-22. Friendly staff, spacious dorm rooms, a pleasant outdoor terrace area and a good location close to bars and restaurants make this a good place to get to know other travelers. For couples traveling together it can be more cost-effective to pay for a low-cost hotel room than two dorm beds, but be aware that the cheapest options may be somewhat seedy - always be wary of anywhere that offers room rates by the hour. Motels, situated on the outskirts of the town, are aimed at couples looking for a little private time but can be excellent value - a 12-hour stay, with breakfast, often comes in at half the price of a stay in a hostel.

Eating and Drinking on a Budget

Even travelers on very tight budgets will have little difficulty finding something tasty to eat in Cali. At the very least, the city's many bakeries offer sweet and savory pastries stuffed with everything from apple to cheese or meat, and look out for street vendors selling Arepas - warm corn cakes filled with cheese. A wise move for budget travelers in Cali is to make lunch the main meal of the day. Many cafes offer excellent set lunches that include three filling courses and a fresh juice or coffee. Vegetarians should look for Hare Krishna restaurants, which typically offer excellent value for money and tasty, healthy vegan food. While there are lots of over-priced salsa clubs and bars in Cali, there are also countless simple street bars offering cheap, chilled beer, good music and a warm welcome.

Sightseeing on a Budget

It's worth taking a cheap coletivo bus into Cali city center, where the bulk of the city's tourist attractions are to be found around the Plaza de Caicedo. The elegant Cathedral is free to enter, as is the impressive San Francisco Monastery. There are some interesting museums to be found here too - including the Museu Archeologico, with pre-Colombian artifacts, and the Museu del Ouro (Gold Museum). Admission rarely costs more than the equivalent of a couple of US dollars.

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