I just got back three days ago from an 11 day whirlwind of a trip through Mexico City, Quito (Ecuador), Guayaquil (Ecuador), and Havana (Cuba). After my 12 hour layover in Mexico City, I spent one night in the capital city of Quito, Ecuador and then flew to Guayaquil and spent 12 hours in the city. It was my first time in Guayaquil and I didn’t know what to expect. Here are 10 Things I Learned From My Recent 12 Hour Layover in Guayaquil Ecuador:
1. You can get from Guayaquil International Airport (GYE) to the city center for $5.00 – The best way to get from Guayaquil’s José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE) to Downtown Guayaquil (Centro) is actually by taxi. Taxi cabs are inexpensive from GYE Airport to downtown because it’s only 4 miles away! It’s great because you can get to your hotel in Centro Guayaquil in less than 12 minutes for only $5.00 USD with no tip required. If you’re paying more than $5, then you’re doing it wrong. Note that fares must be negotiated in Quito before you hop in and should cost no more than $5 anywhere within a 10 mile radius.
2. It gets really hot and humid in Guayaquil – Because of Ecuador’s sub-tropical climate and the geographical location of Guayaquil located near the water, it can get really humid. With temperatures high into the 90’s during April and the combined humidity, the weather in Guayaquil really feels like 100 degrees F. Even though you’re drenched in sweat from the humidity in 100F weather, there could also be a slight chance of rain and downpour which dries up quickly. Sunblock is highly recommended along with replenishment of liquids while walking around Guayaquil.
3. A visit to Barrio Las Penas is a must – Las Penas is a neighborhood where Guayaquil was actually originally founded, rebuilt and painted in bright colors.
4. Go to the top of Las Penas for beautiful views – Climb up the multitude of stairs and you’ll see the amazing sweeping views of Guayaquil. There’s also a church, lighthouse, and a museum at the top.
5. The Malecon 2000 is worth a stroll – The Malecon 2000 is a seaside waterfront that stretches two miles in Guayaquil. Here you can find a kids play area, movie theaters, museums, bars, and restaurants. The Malecon is heavily sectioned off (high fences, gates) from the streets and there is plenty of security on site which makes it a safe place to be. It’s definitely one of the must do’s when in Guayaquil.
6. Empanadas are absolutely delicious – Street food is plentiful in Guayaquil and most items are less than $1 and fulfilling. My favorite is the empanada which is huge and filled with meat (meat pies).
7. The lottery is a huge deal in Guayaquil – I ran into a lot of street vendors only selling lottery tickets which is actually a big thing in Latin America. It wasn’t until I found a large store that ONLY sold lottery scratchers that was filled with people purchasing tickets. It’s quite a phenomenon in Guayaquil.
8. You can get a multi-course meal for only $2.50 USD – Most hole in the wall lunch places in Guayaquil are inexpensive and have a menu del dia where the set price of a multi course meal is only $2.50 more or less. You always get an appetizer, main course, dessert, and a beverage included which is an absolute bargain. Appetizers are usually soup followed by the main course with protein. The dessert could be a graham cracker with some jam, but it’s still dessert nonetheless.
9. Bring lots of US Dollars in small denominations – The official currency of Ecuador is actually the U.S. dollar which makes it easy for the American tourists because changing money is a hassle with ATM fees and commission deductions. Bring lots of $1 and $5 bills because most businesses are hesitant to break a $20 bill. They treat a $20 bill like a $100 bill where it’s examined thoroughly for rips, tears, and security features. Counterfeit money is a big problem in Ecuador and I highly recommend bringing a roll of $10 quarters as well.
10. Guayaquil is really only good for one day – I read online prior to arriving in Guayaquil that it’s not really a tourist destination and just a place to overnight before heading to Quito or the Galapagos Islands. I only had 12 hours in Guayaquil and I felt like I saw pretty much everything including walking all over Centro Guayaquil, the Malecon 2000, and Barrio Las Penas. Now that I’ve seen Guayaquil, I don’t think I’ll ever spend more than 1 day there since I got a good taste of the city.