10 Secrets of Baños, Ecuador

Thinking about visiting Baños de Agua Santa? Baños is truly an incredible place, with many things to do. But that doesn’t come without some caveats. The curious explorer could easily get lost, or even taken advantage of. Although Baños is a safe place overall for tourists, you will need to educate yourself a little bit about the area. 

Fortunately for you, this guide will not only help you to navigate, but it will also save you some serious $$$ in Baños, Ecuador.

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1.) ALWAYS Negotiate in Baños, Ecuador

Merchants in Baños have two different prices: one for the locals and one for tourists. If a merchant picks up immediately that you are not from there, then you may end up with a hefty price tag on, well… everything. A way around this is to pick up an item that you are interested in. Ask for the price by saying: “Cuanto cuesta?”

Once the merchant gives you the price, say this single word: ”Rebajando?” Most merchants should give you a lower price at this point. But if you want to go even further, set the item down and start showing disinterest. This will motivate the merchant to give you the best discount (or sometimes, the normal price) for their products. Rinse and repeat this process to save money on virtually everything.

More negotiating tips are coming up.

 2.) The “Chivas” are a MASSIVE time-saver

Want to see all the waterfalls, but you also want to visit “La Casa del Arbol”? The Chivas, or tourist buses are a massive time-saver. They offer group rates and will allow you to visit several attractions in just the span of a few hours. 

But here’s another secret for you: you can negotiate here too. Chiva drivers will sometimes try to charge up to $10 a person. But the price for the locals is just $3. Visit multiple Chiva drivers located just in the central, by the bust station. You will be surprised to know that every place may offer a different rate. Compare prices, and always ask for a discount. Simply say: “Tres dolares?” or “Cinco dolares?” to get them to go down. Usually, they won’t go down until you start walking away, showing disinterest. 

3.) Hotel Pricing

The typical rate for a hotel will range from $10 on the lower end and $15 on the higher end. There are several clean hotels with hot water right in the central. The farther out you walk the cheaper the lodging. Also keep in mind that there are several Airbnb’s in Baños. Some feature some striking views.

 4.) Simple Trick for Navigating Buses

Public transportation can be a great option. The bus routes will take you to virtually any part of the country. But they can be a bit intimidating if you have never used them before. The buses only go two directions in Baños. Here’s a simple trick: Ask for the bus to “Puyo” if you are navigating the waterfalls, or to go deeper into the rainforest. Or ask for the bus to “Quito” if you want to leave Baños and the forest. This can be especially helpful if you are residing in a small town that many may not recognize.

 5.) Do not speak English

Okay, maybe I should clarify. You can definitely speak English. BUT, never speak English around bus drivers or merchants. This immediately makes you an opportunity to exploit. You will suddenly be charged way more money for your typical expenses. 

6.) Save Money on Food

I have 2 rules for myself when purchasing food: Don’t buy if they don’t show you the price and never buy food near the bus station.

There’s a good reason for this. If a restaurant owner doesn’t show you the price, then they feel that they can charge whatever they want. Depending on the customer. Always ask for a menu and leave if there are no prices on it.

Also, you can save a ton of money on the exact same food options by just walking a street or two away. Restaurant owners know that tourists will be more toward the central and locals will walk a little bit. That’s why the prices suddenly drop on everything when you walk for a bit.

Bonus Tip: there is a KFC just a 5 minute walk away from the bus station!

 7.) NEVER pay cash on buses

There is a rule that exists in many parts of Ecuador. If one pays in cash, then they are charged a small fee for it. This fee is usually just 5-10 cents. But for a tourist, it can be 5-10 dollars. This is because bus employees assume that a tourist doesn’t know the exact price a bus fare costs. So, they will charge whatever they want. To avoid this, keep a coin purse. They cost about .50 but will save you a ton of money. 

If you’re unsure as to how much a short bus ride will cost, they usually cost .50. The most cash you should give is only one dollar. If you are traveling much farther, however, then they may ask for a little more. This is how you receive the real fare.

 8.) Never Pay Full Prices for Sports

Baños has a ton of extreme sport options. Ranging from Kayaking in the river to jumping off of waterfalls (canyoning, I HIGHLY recommend it). These activities are much like the Chivas that I mentioned earlier. They offer group rates, but sometimes you have to ask for it. The more you negotiate, the more you will save. 

 9.) Bring Your Best Hiking Shoes

You will be walking quite a bit in Baños. Whether it’s hiking the many trails or simply exploring the town itself, you will inevitably be walking a lot. I personally recommend these super comfortable hiking shoes. Your shoes can be the difference between an enjoyable trip and a miserable one.

10.) A “Secret” Waterfall

The tourist buses take many routes. But almost none of them will take you to the “Cascada El Rocío Machay”. This is a beautiful trail that will take you down to a breath-taking waterfall. Enjoy bird-watching, hiking and scenic murals all in one place. The entrance to this waterfall can be accessed by bike, taxi and bus.

Now You Know the 10 Secrets of Baños, Ecuador

I hope that this guide will make your trip to Baños much more enjoyable. Travel safe, and be sure to check out my article on the “Top 3 Waterfalls in Baños, Ecuador”!

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