The 10 Very Likely Ways You’ll Get Jipped In Ecuador

I just traveled through the country of Ecuador. In many ways, I was happy to be in a Latin American country, practicing my Spanish, and seeing new sites.

At a certain point, though, I began to get tired of all the bullshit.

You may have heard some of it via facebook and twitter, but eventually it just got to me. Travel, I realized, is not always peaches and cream.

Here are 10 ways you might get jipped while traveling through Ecuador.

// Begin rant.

10. Look at the price of a Snickers bar.

Look, Ecuador, I know you don’t have great food and all. Your desayunos are nothing spectacular– toast and jam. Your almuerzos are bland– tasteless soup and some meat— and, apart from certain special restaurants, your dinners consist of two choices: hamburgers and fries, or chicken and fries.

So, you could have at least offered me a Snickers bar for 50 cents, and not the price of a freakin taxi fare.

9. Have someone tell you something cost $X. Ask if the price includes Y and Z as well. Hear the Ecuadorian say “yes”, only to later find out, right when you are in the middle of doing Y and Z, Y and Z cost extra.

This happened on several occasions, including at restaurants, gyms, and stores. Each time, some extra charge always comes up at the last moment. Eventually you wonder if they have ever considered customer experience in their life.

For example: Want to go to use the basketball court? OK that will be $5.

“Does that include the whole facility, like the weight room, pool and racquetball court?” “Yes.”

Later: Oh, the side weight room costs $3 extra. The pool costs $3 extra. The racquetball court costs $3 extra.

And by the way, this will have nothing to do with your level of Spanish. Speak perfect Spanish and this will still happen to you.

8. Have someone not tell you at all (until the end) that you are incurring a charge.

Look, after a few times of having a misunderstanding in a foreign country with regards to payment, you take extra caution. In fact, I made it a point to ask the handful of people standing outside the club until I understand perfectly clear whether or not there will be a charge for something…

For example, I walk into a club and ask “Hay un cover?” They tell me no, give me a wrist band and let me walk in.

Just for good measure, I ask the 2 more workers standing next to the door… “Gratis para entrar?” Yes, they reply.

Only when we are leaving do we learn the cover was $15 and that we now have to pay it in order to leave.

Is this how you keep customers happy, discotecas of Ecuador?

7. The country’s capital is the thievery capital of the region.

You expect to visit Quito and have a great time… maybe blog about it, maybe spend some time there, invest my money, start a family there?

Turns out every single person I have talked to who has visited Quito has either been robbed, seen a robbery, or had a close friend or family member be robbed there. Even when I was there, my buddy’s cousin was robbed 2 blocks from my hostel, and another buddy had $3000 of photo equipment stolen… On top of this, some of you Ecuadorians had the nerve to tell him it was his fault?

Ecuador, if I can help it, I will not be returning to your capital.

6. Crime even on the beach.

It would be one thing if the thievery were confined to the capital. That would leave the rest of the country for us to explore in peace. But no...

The sleepy town of Canoa, a place with little but hostels and beaches, had suspect security at best. Two girls I met were robbed as they were walking down the beach. Another girl I met was choked by a man and only saved by her friend. And there’s the rumor of the body of an American tourist found in a trash can.

Peace and tranquility? Try a lot of sand, some crime, and nothing else.

I’m not sure what you’re hoping for, Ecuador, but you’ve got to give me something more than some tasty watermelon to get me to stay… Is it any wonder I was inspired to write not one, but two posts on minimizing your theft exposure while touring your cities?

5. Lack of clarity.

On hikes, on bus routes, and on maps in general, there seems to be a penchant for not being clear. Sometimes there aren’t signs, sometimes the signs are unclear, sometimes the signs are wrong.

Like the time I went hiking in Baños and got totally lost high in the mountains among some cows.

And I’m not that dumb! I followed all the signs, yet still ended up swatting mosquitoes and bush-wacking my way back to civilization.

Don’t expect 100% clarity on things you do in Ecuador.

4. Clubs that play Ecuadorian ska.

In the clubs, I understand the playing of the standard rotation of latin music, like reggaeton among others. I can take the Pitbull, the Daddy Yankee, the Don Omar. All good.

But, honestly, after the 10th Black Eyed Peas run through, I get a little worried. Sometimes I would wonder if the DJs even know what good music is, or are they trying to import their experience from somewhere else.

And then they put on some of their own music, like this Ecuadorian ska I heard, which sounds like a high school band suffering from an identity crisis.

[*** Sorry for being harsh on this point, Ecuador. If you want to show me some of your good Ecuadorian ska or rock, I’d be willing to change my mind. But keep in mind I have looked long and hard for good Ecuadorian rock and cannot find any.***]

3. Sidewalks not for walking.

Unless you really enjoy the experience of stepping over the incessant oncoming of crevices, uneven pavement, jagged pieces of concrete, broken stones, metal pipes, curbs, and sinkholes — not to mention the occasional disappearance of the sidewalk altogether– you will not like walking on the sidewalks.

Occasionally there’s a sidewalk that pushes you into oncoming traffic, like in Cuenca.

This can be frustrating.

Why don’t we call them “stumblewalks”, it would be more accurate.

2. Taxi cabs without functioning doors.

OK, I understand in a developing country the cabs might not be in the best shape, but I literally almost fell out of a taxi on the way to Guayaquil airport.

Not only did the taxi driver do a complete U-turn in front of 4 lanes of traffic in the middle of the intersection, not only did the seat belt not work, and not only did the door fly open, putting my life at risk, but we continued to drive for half a mile more, the door clinging to my outstretched arm.

The Ecuadorian police also ostensibly tried to extort money out of my cab driver. And you don’t have meters in your cabs.

Not a good taxi experience, Ecuador.

You charged me $5 for this 5 minute experience, when I should have charged you that much for saving your worthless cab.

1. Hearing a club say ‘barra libre’ only to have it retracted at the end of the night.

OK, so it should be a recurring theme that in Ecuador you will all of a sudden be charged certain things you didn’t think you would be charged for, but this experience of mine was the height of ridiculousness.

See, I had been to this club at least twice before. I knew the routine. Each Thursday night is ladies night. Free drinks for the ladies, discounts for the guys etc.

So on this particular Thursday night I was excited when not one, not two, not three, not four, but all FIVE employees we asked upon entry stated that it was ‘barra libre’, meaning open bar, for everyone.

We had a great night, and it could have been one of the better nights ever, except when it came to the bill at the end of the night, when suddenly we were told $170.

Hey Ecuadorian bouncers, are you ridiculously stupid? My friend and I asked you 5 times whether it was bare libre, and you said unequivocally said yes. OH, but nowwww, at the end of the night, we need to get out and you’ve got the upper hand.

Even though we explained the situation to your manager and to your owner, hoping to have further conversation, your ridiculous delays and avoidance of my calls showed you did not give a rats ass what happened.

So, congratulations, Dos Dos night club of Cuenca, Ecuador… You and your pawns are the number 1 way a person might be jipped while visiting Ecuador.

// End rant.

  • Gabriel Lopera

    Wow, well… I feel a lot of frustration in that blog post hehe. It seems you were expecting something from Ecuador but somethings didn’t happened the way you expected them. It happens and I know that feel bro… it happened when I first visited Cartagena as well L0L.

    • I guess I was just used to things being clear, Gabriel. But oh well! 🙂

  • jaja, jamas una buena cosa, no importa el lugar… colombia en lugar de los dos?? 🙂

    • Felipe O

      I’m not sure what your objective in this
      blog is, to be completely honest with you Bryan, to me it seems like you went
      to Ecuador with high royalty reverence expectancy and it didn’t go well, also
      it seems like you are a guy that has traveled a lot, and by doing so you must very
      well know that every country has a different culture, different food flavor, different
      live styles specially if there is a big gap on between social classes, you have
      to know that if you go to any country in the world and you show “I’m a foreigner”
      you will be an easy target for thieves and every other person looking to make a
      quick buck of a “open mouth tourist” especially if this person shows a I’m
      better than the air attitude, crime is present in every single country, in
      every city in the world, every country/city will have zones that we the
      tourists need to stay away from for their own safety, and in most cases even
      the locals avoid these zones, I have also traveled a lot and when I’m told do
      not go there guess what, I stay away from it

      I see a lot of comparisons between Colombia,
      Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil, …………… how idiotic…….. each one of these countries
      have the good the bad and the ugly, how we direction our stay in each one of
      them will have a lot to do with what we think of them, with how we will tell
      our stories on how it went we cannot judge any country in the world by what’s
      written in a “sad blog” written by a person that did not know how to route his
      stay in the country he’s writing about.

      Traveling is more than going somewhere just
      to say I’ve been there, to travel you need brains, a good physical condition
      (you never know that could happen), some knowledge of what you want to see and
      where you want to go, have a slight idea of what boundaries are, and last but
      not least respect locals you are visiting their home have some respect.

      Yes I am Ecuadorian I am not commenting on
      your blog to just to defend Ecuador from all the twisted lies you’ve said about
      it but also to give you some advice, if you have nothing nice to say don’t say
      it, but don’t lie to make you look like a victim.

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  • I thought it was clear that you had to be careful in the cities. Or that speaking english there is a like holding a big sign that says ” I am american take my money.” If your careful enough it’s going to be fun but our life is hard there. And about the food ; in my home we ate cheese and bread with coffee. At lunch it was soup with meat or fish. Dinner was cuy, corn, rice, chicken and beans but soup came before everything else. When I came to America I thought the food here sucked and was too sweet. You shoudl’ve gone to cuenca

    • Went to Cuenca, still got jipped.

      • Brandon

        I have lived in Guayaquil for the past 1.5 years and I can tell you Althat Ecuador is definitely a dog-eat-dog culture at times. I have also lived in Chile and traveled extensively through South and Central America…no other country really compares to it. I have seen friends screw over their friends just over a little extra money or some stupid ass machismo bullshit. I am shocked on a daily basis here. And, you will eventually get robbed if you stand out as a foreigner, especially if walking around with electronics or in groups of tourists. I am lucky that I’m not a super tall, white gringo. I blend in and speak with a decent accent, so I’m not immediately pegged as a European/American tourist. Saying that, most of my Ecuadorian friends have been robbed 2+ times in their life in Guayaquil. Secuestro express is also quite popular here in Guayaquil, so when here you have to avoid street taxis at night and only use the radio taxis. It’s annoying, but after a little you get used to it, and it’s always better than being kidnapped for your ATM pin. Also…COMMON SENSE. I see far too many tourists walking along the streets with their cameras and phones out. Need to be aware of surroundings.

        HOWEVER, Ecuadorians are also some of the nicest and most accommodating people I have ever met. Yes, the food may not be as good and diverse as other South American countries, but if you ever spend time down on the coast, you will eat some of the best seafood dishes in South America. Fresh shrimp ceviches on the beach are an absolute delight.

        In conclusion, the two main cities of Ecuador (Guayaquil, Quito) can be hellish sometimes. High crime, dirty (mainly GYE), and lacking culture. But, I don’t think Ecuador should be explored like that. Ecuador is tiny, yet extremely diverse. One day you can be on a tropical beach, the next on a 20,000 ft. volcano, and the next in the Amazon. Not to mention the Galapagos.

        • Good observations here. Thanks for the comments, Brandon! 🙂

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  • Alexis Groll

    Are you Colombian? if you are.. than it makes sense…. i lived in the United States and also in Ecuador and living in Brasil recently ! and a prefer Ecuador wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy better! Ecuador Seriously has the best food, really nice people, and also latin america, is not the USA! you cant go around like a dumbass walking with your iphone or whatever everywhere and expect to not robbed! bien ignorate que eres tambien vos! i’ve been almost everywhere in south america and i refuse to go to Colombia! no way in hell!! probably get kidnap

    • Wow, Ecuador over Brazil? I couldn’t see that in a million years… Hold your opinion on Colombia until you go there, especially to Medellin! 😀

  • jamile martinez

    i live here in ecuador and it seems they fooled you and you just hate everything that everything sees like sht ,because is an awesome country and you dont met him very well next time you come you should come to guayaquil,monpiche,banos and a lot of amazing places
    im sure now things have changed so im sure you wont regret if you come again

    • They did indeed fool me… 😉

      • Britt

        I don’t know…He is kind of right. People in Ecuador, from my experience are rude. They are sneaky(especially in Guayaquil) and the lack of customer service makes me want to scream! THe food is awful to say the least, and for such awful food you would hope at least the service would make up for it. On a more positive note, I did have a great time in the Galapagos and Montanita/Salinas. The food alone and cold showers would deter me from ever moving here. Can a girl just get a damn salad! And I don’t mean shredded lettuce with tomato, onion, potato!, and mayonaise(mayonesa) this is not dressing! Okay I am done venting.

        • Beatris

          You are crazy. Ecuadors food be on point. Ecuador high carajo

        • Maus Merryjest

          And Ecuador is one of those countries where corruption is just about everywhere. In politics, if you don’t steal while you’re in office, people consider you to be an idiot.

          I’m a native Ecuadorean, my family is still living there, and after twenty years of that shit I decided to go somewhere else.

  • cryingforpoorfarmers

    Hey Ryan,
    I felt your post to be a little over the top with the negativity, but I was really offended by the continuous use of the term “Jipped” Because 23 of us from BC are flying to Quito to take part in the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students in 3 days, and your post shows up 1st when one types,” top 10 things when travelling in Ecuador” I thought it would be worthwhile to call you in a bit (rather than calling you out). The term “Jipped” is to Roma people and to Gypsies as the term “Jewed” is to Jewish people. It is a derogatory term that stereotypes a culture of people in a negative way. I don’t expect everyone to know every term and where it comes from, but thought you may wish to know this so you could think about changing the word “jipped” to something less offensive, like “ripped off” or “scammed”. Saludos de Solidaridad –

  • Liz

    I found your blog last night and I can’t stop reading it. I’ve read about crime in Ecuador in a few forums before but this post adds more detail. Better to be prepared than sorry. Thanks for posting! I learned a new word “Jipped” and I don’t find it offensive. Following on Twitter.

    • Thanks Liz! 🙂

    • Thanks Liz! 🙂

  • Mel

    I find this post way over the top and frankly a bit offensive towards the people of Ecuador. Anywhere in the world, if you look like a tourist people will want to take advantage of you. I currently live in Toronto and I have met people here who have been robbed before so what does that say about Canada? nothing in particular…
    If you are a tourist simply take precautions, don’t have your valuable objects in plain sight, do as the locals and don’t be pretentious with your gadgets.
    People in Ecuador are extremely friendly and the food is delicious so I don’t know what you are talking about.. Maybe your budget was a bit too low for decent food??
    Here is a link is Spanish so you can see what real Ecuadorian food is like:
    To everyone travelling to Ecuador:
    We are friendly people. There is no denying that delinquency exists, however all you need is common sense and basic street smarts.
    Please, do not be discouraged by this negative post. Ecuador has so much to offer…

  • Mel
  • Beatris

    Que importa que esta cosa haiga dicho de ecuador. No vale la palabra de el. Tu tienes que ir a visitar por tu propia cuenta. Ecuador es maravilloso

  • Tim

    Ryan…Welcome to Latin America!

  • MacCoon

    How odd that I have had such a different experience in Ecuador! I’ve been twice, once for a week in 2011, then again for six weeks in 2013. I visited a friend who moved to Santa Elena (near coastal Salinas) from New Orleans, where I live. I found the food mostly good, especially seafood dishes, and public transportation to be reliable, inexpensive, and safe. Another friend who was visiting then and I took the bus from Santa Elena to Guayaquil, then from Guayaquil to Cuenca where we stayed in a hostal in el centro, walking distance to everything, and a block from a brew pub where the beer was great and the service excellent. Some almuersos were mediocre, but at $2, what’s to complain about with a three-course lunch with fresh juice, table service, and no tipping? In the nearly four years my friend has lived as the gringa sola in Santa Elena, only once has she experienced a ripoff. She and her husband were in La Libertad, where most business is conducted in the area, when someone who offered to help put something in their car trunk ran off with her husband’s wallet. When they called out, a crowd gathered, and with their minimal Spanish the locals understood what happened and chased the guy down, retrieving the wallet and everything inside intact. I found that incredibly remarkable, especially as I live in one of the most dangerous cities in North America. Just about everything you describe that happened to you in Ecuador could and does happen in New Orleans, so beware traveling here! One thing- I found the Ecuatorianos, well, very non-chalant, almost aloof, but not unfriendly. I even walked alone late at night in Santa Elena and Cuenca and nothing caused me any trepidation anywhere, only people passing by without speaking unless I spoke first. I’m about 5’8″, caucasian, and 63, with less proficiency in Spanish than I would like to have. Is it my age?

  • Maus Merryjest

    I am from Ecuador. This list is 100% accurate… and part of the reason why I no longer live in Ecuador.

    • Juan Carlos Vega

      I respect you so much

  • cindyswartz

    I hate you had a bad experience. My experience was different. I think that in many large cities you have to worry about petty theft, pick pocket, etc. However, I have not had the experience of people trying to get over on me. As a matter of a fact, I have had the opposite experience. I found Ecuadorian’s kind, and accommodating. As an example, in Guayaquil the man running the Hosteria we were staying at, gave us his cell phone to use as we were sight seeing for the day. In Puerto Lopez the manager of the Hosteria we stayed gave us a 30% manager discount off our food, drink, and stay, which we stayed a week. In Quito I had placed several dollars on the table, waiting for my hot chocolate and coffee and a beggar grab my dollars and ran. He got 2 dollars, and everyone around me ran after the man. Including several police. When they caught up with the man, they all stood in a circle and scolded him for taking my money. When asked, he told them he was hungry. A man who own a restaurant told him, that he did not take, that he was to ask. He then told the man to give back the money and he would give him something to eat. Personally I didn’t care about the two dollars, but the people of Ecuador did not want tourist to be stolen from and they let him know it was unacceptable.