In this section you can find advice and contact details that may prove useful to you before or during your visit. Some categories are included on this page in the text below and you can link to the others by using the menu on the left.
The international code to call to Ecuador from another country is +593.
To phone different regions add the following code:
Quito and Pichincha province 2
Guayaquil and Guayas province 4
Cuenca and Azuay province 7
Bolívar province 6
Los Ríos province 5
When phoning within Ecuador, omit the +593 and add 0 before the region code.
The postal service is not particularly reliable. People don´t tend to send that much in the mail here and when they do they will often use a courier service.
Click here for more information about communications in Ecuador.
Sometimes when you walk around a small town (Baños and Otavalo spring to mind) there are so many offices offering tourist information it is difficult to know which is the official one. In reality most agencies are extremely helpful even if you don’t choose one of their tours. However the tourist ministry do also have a good network of offices under the iTur name. Failing that, go to the municipio (municipal office) and ask around – you will find lots of friendly and helpful people and maybe even a knowledgeable one.
Most offices are open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. They may close for lunch although not usually for more than an hour. Banks tend to close at 4pm but are open on Saturday mornings.
Note that the actual holiday is often changed to the nearest Friday or Monday and for some reason this decision is often left to the last minute. Things don’t really shut down though, even on Christmas Day you’ll see about the same degree of movement as on a normal Sunday (banks and offices closed, shops open and transport operating).
January 1 New Year’s Day
February / March Carnaval (2 days + weekend)
March / April Semana Santa (Easter) (Good Friday + weekend)
May 1 Labor Day
May 24 Battle of Pichincha
July 24 Fiesta de Guayaquil/ Bolivar’s Birthday
August 10 Quito Independence Day
October 9 Guayaquil Independence Day
October 12 Columbus Day
November 1+2 All Saint’s Day + Day of the Dead
December 25 Christmas Day
Handicrafts are probably the most popular souvenir for visitors to Ecuador. These include hats, bags, woollen clothes, weavings, leather goods, jewellery, baskets and wood carvings. You can find things to buy in many local markets around the country but equally the handicraft markets in Quito and Guayaquil have a quite reasonable selection. Consult the crafts section (ENLACE D3e/ About Ecuador/ Society/ Crafts) to read more about how these goods are produced and the Where to Buy page for listings to help you locate both travel-related items and souvenirs.
If you need legal assistance in Ecuador you can try to contact a lawyer through your embassy or from the list below. Note that a lot of bureaucratic procedures require a signature from a notary or a lawyer somewhere. It’s worth establishing exactly what they have to do for their money (in some cases not much) and shopping around to avoid getting ripped off.
Based in Guayaquil
Marina Blum Cevallos (my sister-in-law)
General advice on money can be found in the Before You Travel section.
Ecuadorians are not great tippers. In Guayaquil people generally pay 50 cents to guys who watch your car when you park on a street, the same to kids who carry your supermarket bags to the car or your trolley in the airport), and maybe $1 to the waiter in a restaurant unless it’s a cheap set lunch. Any other ‘tipping’ here tends to be done before a service is provided in order to push in front or ensure better treatment.
Tipping is voluntary in most cases. The more expensive restaurants add a 10% service charge to your meal. Most do not. You can tip the waiter directly if you wish but it really is voluntary. Drinks in a bar are usually brought to your table and you pay at the end but again, tipping is voluntary. Taxi drivers don’t usually expect a tip.
Guides on tours probably will expect a tip, but you can decide how much based on the size of your group, the time you spend together and obviously the quality of the service. On Galápagos tours there seems to be an established pattern to tip all the people working on your boat very generously. That’s fine if you want to do it, but you’re following a tourist, rather than societal standard.
Don’t forget to put toilet paper in the bin provided – the water pressure is not sufficient to clear it from the pipes.
Public toilets (marked servicios higénicos or SS.HH) can be found in bus stations, markets and some popular public places. You can’t always guarantee there will be toilet paper (carry some with you or hope there is an attendant to sell you a few sheets).
Toilets in simple restaurants and petrol stations are generally left in an appalling state and are definitely not somewhere you would want to put your bag on the floor.
Instead of just putting a stick figure of a man and a woman on the door, a lot of places like to be clever and put some sort of confusing symbolism. Remember hombres/ caballeros = ‘the mens’ and mujeres/ damas = ‘the womens’. When you are on the malecón in Guayaquil you have to choose between two fairly asexual monsters – try and wait to see where your fellow brethren go.
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