Guayaquil, Ecuador, Cost of Living, Things to Do

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I wrote this Guayaquil, Ecuador, Cost of Living, Things to Do Guide, to save you time and money.  This Guayaquil, Ecuador Cost of Living, Things to Do Guide includes:

Guayaquil Top Things to Do
Guayaquil Cost of Living
Guayaquil Accommodations
Guayaquil Restaurants
Guayaquil Nightlife
Guayaquil Livability
Guayaquil Final Thoughts

Guayaquil, Ecuador: Gateway to Galapagos Islands

This is Dan from Vagabond Buddha. I last updated this post on April 26, 2018.

I am traveling around the world, presently in Ecuador, South America. I have been living the “laptop lifestyle” for 11 years. I left the United States in 2007. I make money using my brain, my computer, and the Internet.

The last 11 years of my life prove that there is a new type of freedom available to people who think differently. There are thousands of people living all over the world now that are living location independent lives. I am beyond happy to say that I am one of them.

Ecuador is the 64th country I have visited in my life. Until 2016, I shared my travels on a personal blog, but now I share them on VagabondBuddha.com.

You see, I share my travels on Vagabond Buddha and include affiliate links. If you buy something using an affiliate link, you pay nothing extra, but I make a small commission. If you would like to learn how to (1) make money online, or (2) how to live internationally for less $$ than you spend at home, click here and get a free copy of my Ebook.

Back to my story about Guayaquil …

We are presently in Guayaquil, Ecuador. We are here for just a few days on our way to the Galapagos Islands. We have already spent almost 2 months in Ecuador (Otavalo, Quito, Banos, Cuenca). Before that we were in Colombia for about 6 weeks (Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, and Santa Marta). You can follow me around the world and you can see everything I have seen. By following me, you can focus more on having fun and less on doing location research, because you will have my research and experience under your belt.

Ecuador gave us 90 days to visit when we crossed the border from Colombia. We have already used 60 of those days. Since we only have a month left before we head south to Peru, we want to spend our final month in the Galapagos Islands. But all the best prices on flights to and from Galapagos are from Guayaquil. So we grabbed a bus from Cuenca to Guayaquil, and now we have another adventure to tell you.

Welcome to Guayaquil … for 2 days.

If you are traveling from Cuenca to Guayaquil, just go to the Terminal Terrestre bus terminal (in Cuenca) and buy an express ticket to Guayaquil for $8 USD per person. The express bus takes about 4 hours. If you are prone to motion sickness pick up some Anautin at any pharmacy and take 30 minutes before departure. I am not sure why, whether because we were going downhill for so long or because the windows were all steamed due to rain, but Qiang Hui got sick on the bus ride from Cuenca to Guayaquil.

Upon arrival in Guayaquil, grab an Uber taxi to your accommodations. Try to stay close in around my below Top Things to Do, so you aren’t wasting time commuting. I have suggested places below based upon your budget and travel style.

Before discussing the top things to do in Guayaquil, here are some fun facts from Wikipedia about Guayaquil:

Fun Facts

  1. Guayaquil City has the largest population in Ecuador at about 2.7 million people.
  2. Guayaquil was founded by Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Orellana in 1538. Does anyone else ever think it is odd that a place can be founded by someone arriving by boat that is greeted by natives already living here for thousands of years?
  3. Pirates of English and French origin attacked the city in 1687 and took woman as concubines. Wouldn’t you just call them sex slaves then? It seems that concubines in movies and literature are more typically consensual, educated, even sophisticated partners. Have you been to Kyoto Japan? That is what I think of when I hear the word concubine.
  4. Local revolutionaries arrested the official Spanish authorities and declared the city’s independence in 1820. So, 2020 will be the 200 year anniversary for the independence of Guayaquil!
  5. Most international trade with Ecuador passes through Guayaquil, so it is by far the most developed port.
  6. Although the citizens are primarily Catholic, the fastest growing Church in Guayaquil is Mormon. That reminds me of the South Park Episode when all the religions of the world are told that Mormons are the correct religion.

Guayaquil Walking Tour

You can visit these places using my below google map, or join others on a tour. If you join a tour, pick one with the most social proof on GetYourGuide or Viator. Normally I would put these in order of most favorite to least favorite. But since they are all so geographically close to each other, I will just give you a walking path to cover them all.

So here is the walking path I created on Google for you. When you arrive in Guayaquil, if you decide to go on your own, just click this map and it will guide you to each place. You can also just click the below map. When Google Maps opens, click “get directions” then click “from my present location.” Make sure to buy a local SIM card ($5 USD) at the airport when you land, and load it with 2 GB of Internet data ($15 USD) so you aren’t paying international roaming rates, when you start clicking the links to all of my suggestions. Claro and Moviestar are the top two cell providers in Ecuador.

Here is the embedded map:

Guayaquil Top Things to Do!

Las Penas: The Las Penas neighborhood of Guayaquil is the oldest neighborhood in Guayaquil dating back 400 years. In 1982, Las Penas was declared a Unesco Heritage site. The neighborhood was restored by the city of Guayaquil in 1982. Much of the neighborhood which was built in the original colonial style was burned during several fires. It was rebuilt in the Republican Period of around the 1820s, and refurbished in 1982. It has a unique architectural style and colorful romantic feeling as it sits upon a hill over the river. It has a bohemian style with cobblestone streets and has been called home by many musicians, poets, writers and controversial politicians over the years. Mornings have the best light for photos but this is also a great place in the evenings.

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Faro Cerro Santa Ana: At the top of the 444 steps leading up from the previously discussed Las Penas neighborhood, is a church and a lighthouse. This is called Santa Ana Hill and was founded in 1547. There is a legend that a Spanish treasure hunter called out for the help of Santa Ana when he was in danger, and that is where it gets its name. Like La Penas, Cerro Santa Ana is also known for its restaurants, cafes, art galleries. The lighthouse at the top is 18 meters and the nearby cannons were used to defend the city from pirates. The view of the city from the top is amazing.

Malecon 2000: Is the name of the boardwalk urban renewal project along the riverfront in Guayaquil. This 1.5 mile scenic walk includes statues of famous historical figures such as Simon Bolivar. There are also gardens, restaurants, shopping, bars, and docks for boarding river tours for day and night tours of the Guayas River. The walk includes three main sections. Make sure you walk the entire area since various sections of the boardwalk are intended to appeal to different people.

Catedral Metropolitana: This Church is formally known as San Pedro Apostol Metropolitan Cathedral. The original cathedral was made of wood and constructed during the colonial period. It was located on Santa Ana Hill and destroyed in the fire in 1692. This new cathedral was built in neo-Gothic style starting in 1924.

Parque Seminario: While enjoying the Iguanas in this park, you will see the towers of the Catedral Metropolitana. The city estimates that about 350 Iguanas live here. This park was created in the year 1695 but has undergone several renovations since then. Most recently, the park was regenerated in 1895 by a french architect and highlighting an equestrian statue of Simon Bolivar, the George Washington of South America. If the light is nice when you visit you will get a great shot of Simon riding his horse with the Catedral Metropolitana in the background.

La Bahia: The neighborhood surrounding the Catedral Metropolitana and the Iguana park is called La Bahia. This 8 square block area is one of the oldest most interesting and picture worthy parts of Guayaquil. Just walk around the neighborhood surrounding Iguana Park and take some pictures.

Isla Santay National Recreation Area: If we had time we would have visited this island national recreation center. There is a walking bridge between Guayaquil and this island that you will cross as the last stop on my above walking tour map.

Montanita: This is a beachside backpacker party hangout. You will find many westerners there for the party, surfing, and cheap beer. It is about 3 hours northwest from Guayaquil by bus. We didn’t make it here either. Maybe on the way back from the Galapagos?

Please purchase a tour using these affiliate links, GetYourGuide or Viator, so we can continue to create these tour guides for you.

Best Price on Flights to Guayaquil!!

We found the cheapest flights to and from the Galapagos using Skyscanner. Skyscanner searches many of the big name web pages on the internet and reports the lowest prices to you. Please try Skyscanner and see if you can find a lower price. If so, please let me know so I can tell people about it.

Best Guayaquil Accommodations

Guayaquil is spread out over a fairly large area. But the places you’ll want to see are close-in. Here are my recommendations based upon your style and needs.

The Las Penas Experience:

  1. One Bedroom Apartment: This one bedroom apartment with Kitchenette and swimming pool will be your oasis within the fun of Las Penas.

Intercontinental (La Bahia Area):

  1. Intercontinental Hotel: When was the last time you stayed in an Intercontinental for this price?

Airbnb Apartment (Las Americas Area)

  1. Apartment Where We Stayed: This is a 1 bedroom Apartment with Wifi and AC. There is also a kitchenette with refrigerator, microwave, rice cooker, coffee maker, an electric cooker, and pots and pans. This is very private and secluded. Plus, the operator of this Airbnb (Carla) gave us some great tips about Galapagos! ($20/night). (If you are new to Airbnb, use this code www.airbnb.com/c/dbell50 for a discount).

Price Check: Once you have selected where you want to stay, then use HotelsCombined to find the agency offering the lowest booking price for that property. Just insert the property name and dates and it will return the name of the agency offering the lowest nightly rate for that property.

Best Guayaquil Restaurants

We neither sought nor experienced any food worth mentioning while in Guayaquil.

Best Guayaquil Nightlife

If you are in Guayaquil for only a few days like us, you won’t have much time to experience the nightlife. We did enjoy walking down Malecon 2000 and then up Las Penas steps on a Saturday night. Both of those locations are well worth your time and energy for people watching and nightlife opportunities.

Guayaquil Livability Factors

Walkability: Las Penas and La Bahia are walkable. I could live in Las Penas but La Bahia feels a bit sketchy for everyday life.

Internet: The Internet at our Airbnb was okay. But we were there over a weekend. I would need to test it during working hours during the week to know for sure.

Food: Food costs in the neighborhood markets was about 20% lower than the USA.

Weather: We have been in the Andes mountains (10-12,000 feet) since leaving Santa Marta, Colombia, 2 months ago. It feels really nice to be at sea level again. There are warm but not hot breezes always blowing off the Pacific ocean. The humidity feels good on our skin. There is a mosquito here and there, but we are not being overwhelmed. The lows have been in the low 70s (21C) and the highs have been in the mid 80s (29C). It has rained for 1-2 hours everyday. You just pause during the rains and then go about your day after. Reminds me of Hawaii in that way.

Desire to Move Here: Low. This has been our least favorite place in Ecuador. But understand that we really love Ecuador, so being last on the Ecuador list is not a bad thing. Just for a point of reference, our favorite place in Ecuador was Cuenca. I thought about moving to Cuenca several times. We go to the Galapagos next, so maybe we will like Galapagos more than Cuenca?

Guayaquil Cost of Living

Below is the estimated cost of living one month in Guayaquil as a temporary visitor. Some of the estimates could be reduced as a long term visitor, or full time Expat. We saw a 2 bedroom furnished apartments for $525.00 per month in the Las Americas neighborhood of Guayaquil.

Monthly Cost of Living, Guayaquil, Ecuador ($USD)

Expense

Cost

Low

Medium

High

Airbnb (1 Bedroom Apt)

$40.00

0

14

30

Moderate Hotel

$50.00

0

12

0

Backpacker Hostel

$12.00

30

3

0

High End Restaurant

$12.00

1

4

8

Neighborhood Restaurant

$5.00

30

44

48

Food Cart

$2.00

30

12

4

Subway/Train/Metro

$0.30

20

26

8

Bus

$0.30

20

10

0

Taxi/Uber

$5.00

6

10

20

Total

Per Month

$1164.00

$1613.00

$1646.00

Total

Per Day

$39

$54

$55

For more information about how the above “Cost of Living Monthly Multiplier” works, please visit the bottom of this page at Vagabond Buddha. It does not include alcohol, excursions, or extras, and it is for one person. Some of the expenses remain unchanged when you add another person.

Final Thoughts on Guayaquil

Some of the travel bloggers call Guayaquil the gateway to the Galapagos. I have to agree. For such a large town, it doesn’t seem to offer more than smaller more quaint places in Ecuador like Cuenca or Otavalo. Quito, though a ‘smaller’ large city, seemed to have much more to offer.

The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?

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