Backpacking in Ecuador is one of the best ways to experience our beautiful country. If you have an experienced backpacking friend who knows you well, they will always provide the best advice on where to start, but sometimes you just want to embrace a new adventure in a place that nobody knows well. This blog will give you 10 fundamental tips to start planning your backpacking trip in Ecuador, but with tips that most travellers won’t know, only locals! We advise you to keep reading because at Outdoor Ecuador, we want to help you plan the ultimate trip that is both safe and fun.

Tips to travel around Quito

1. Book a hostel outside of the town centre

You don’t need to book a hostel in the center of town, there are plenty of places around the city! However, the center of town has become more popular for hosting tourists. Neighbourhoods like San Blas, La Floresta and El Dorado have amazing views of the city, and are located in the center. On the other hand, La Mariscal, or the old gringolandia as we used to call it, is not a hot spot anymore. It is definitely a place for party and dining out, but if you prefer a more relaxing atmosphere to rest at night, we recommend checking the areas above.

2. La Ronda

While you’re in Quito, don’t forget to check out La Ronda, it’s a cute little street filled with bars, salsa clubs, and restaurants, and is where the Spaniards used to live in the past.

3. Taxis from the airport

Quito’s Mariscal Sucre airport is about 45 minutes from the city, meaning it is actually quite far away. You can take a taxi for 25 dollars or a bus for 2 dollars. But honestly, for this one, we highly recommend the taxi. Buses may be cheaper, but after your flight you will be exhausted, and the bus takes a long 2-hour route to get to the city. Therefore, think twice! It might be better to spend a bit more money on this one.

view of a busy street in Quito while backpacking in ecuador

Tips to travel from Guayaquil to Olón or Montañita

4. Guayaquil bus terminal

The bus terminal in Guayaquil is actually a mall, it might seem a bit odd but this unconventional idea is actually very practical. You will always enter the building at the first floor; you can get your bus tickets there to go to the mountains, jungle and the border (some bus companies go to Perú and Colombia) and the opposite side has a food court, which is an amazing combination while you are traveling. You can get fries, McDonald’s, local food, Chinese food, etc.

5. Be aware of your belongings

Another piece of advice for the bus terminal, is be aware of your belongings. There is security around, however it’s always best to be vigilant when in high-traffic tourist spaces. Delinquency in Ecuador is not violent, mostly pick pockets, so you might feel comfortable leaving your belongings and bus ticket somewhere while you get food, but this is not a good idea.

6. The buses leave from the third floor of the station

The buses that come to Olón and Montañita depart from the third floor, and you can buy the bus tickets there as well. There is an office from CLP Cooperativa Libertadores Peninsulares that goes straight to both beach towns in Ecuador for only 6 dollars. Important tip: They have WIFI, so check the options to connect. Another thing to note, public transportation around Ecuador is very cheap, almost 1 dollar per hour, except when they offer a preferencial service and direct buses.

a dog relaxing on city steps in Quito, Ecuador

Tips to backpacking all around Ecuador

7. “¡Traiga cambio!” Make sure you have cash and small change

Even though Ecuador uses USD, the coins are unique to the country and therefore useless outside of Ecuador and unfortunately, change is very difficult to get. So anytime that you can use $20 or $10 bills in the cities, keep the change for #Montañita or #Olon.

8. Learn some essential Spanish phrases

Most Ecuadorians do not speak English, so learning a few phrases while backpacking in Ecuador will help you. Despite the non-English communication skills, Ecuadorians are super friendly and patient to try to understand you, and they will make a big effort to mime an answer. Of course, the ideal situation would be to learn some Spanish in that way you can communicate in better and easier. Please check our programs at Outdoor Spanish and Surf school, we are conveniently located at the coast, where you can relax, chill, and progress your Spanish skills while surfing or simply discovering Ecuador.

a view of palm trees on the beach in Olon Ecuador
Playa de Olón, Ecuador

9. Bring your own entertainment for bus trips

During long trips, buses play old movies, however, most of the time they are favorites from locals and sometimes they are just bad, very violent and always in Spanish. So, bring you music to travel or prepare yourself to enjoy a strange movie while traveling, because is nothing you can do about it, it is just part of the culture!

10. Ecuadorians will always be happy to help!

We love tourists! Most of the time, Ecuadorians like to help, so if you feel lost or need some help, there is always someone there that would like to give you a hand. If you speak some Spanish do not be afraid to ask. We like to help, and regardless of your level of Spanish, we will try to find a way to help you. So please always feel comfortable to ask.