Machala is a city in El Oro.
Machala is known as the 'banana capital of the world' because of its central role in exporting Ecuador's bananas. It's recognized as one of the most modern and important cities in Ecuador, crossing the Pan American Highway, Machala is a crossing point for tourist going between Ecuador and Perú, as it is the largest city near the Peruvian border. Machala has expanded and become a lot safer in recent years. The city features a nice harbour called Puerto Bolivar, there are restaurants right on the water. Machala's cuisine is unique in that it is a blend of Ecuadorian coast cuisine and authentic Peruvian cuisine, making Machala's cuisine truly undiscovered. Machala also features a few malls and noteworthy monuments such as the Sword-Fish near the elevated flyover and the monument to the Bananero which is located on a roundabout near La Piazza. The Hotel Oro Verde, for example, is a great location to stay in Machala. Machala's people are kind and welcoming, making it an ideal stopover if you're travelling between Ecuador and Peru. Machala has a distinct small-town feel and some excellent lunch and dining options, including fantastic seafood, and barbecue restaurants. In December, the city is illuminated by Christmas lights and decorations.
You can take a provincial bus from most cities in Ecuador to the brand new Machala Bus Terminal, which has a small mall inside where you can shop for any essential items you may need for your trip when you arrive or before you depart Machala. There is a pharmacy, a grocery store, a sports store where you can get comfortable clothes if needed, and a food court with KFC and local fast food restaurants.
Trips from Guayaquil take about 3 hours, and trips from Cuenca take about 3 hours. AndesTransit has further information on bus schedules and trip times.
Santa Rosa International Airport (ETR IATA). Latam Ecuador is the only airline that currently operates to or from Quito.
In Machala, you can walk around within town in about an hour. During the day, it is a safe option but during the night might be a different story
Buses are $0.25 everywhere, and there are numerous bus lines that connect Puerto Bolivar to El Cambio and El Shopping. For example, the number one bus does this.
Taxis are $1 within town, $3 to the port (Puerto Bolivar), $2.50 to El Shopping, and $1.50 after midnight. Unlike many other regions, taxis may seek to overcharge North Americans; the simplest approach to avoid this is to not ask for the price before entering. Instead, hail a cab to your desired location, pay the driver $3, and exit the taxi.
Puerto Bolivar is Machala's port, about 20 minutes away by bus ($0.25) or 15 minutes by taxi ($3). You can see big ships being loaded with bananas, if you particularly want to.
There are a few things you can do as a tourist in Machala, you should visit the Parque Urbano, it's a very nice large park. You can take a drive to the Petrified forest of Puyango. You can go to Puerto Bolivar and see the ships exporting bananas in containers while you grab a bite.
You can go to Jambeli beach. From Puerto Bolivar, take a boat ($3) for half an hour to Jambeli. Whether it's worth the trip or not is debatable - although Jambeli is popular with Ecuadoreans its a narrow, quite dirty, very busy beach (especially at the weekend).
There are a number of places to grab a drink like bars, live music restaurants and clubs, across the city. There's a Zona Rosa, but it's not very safe specially after dark.
Puerto Bolivar is normally not a safe area to walk on the boardwalk at night and sometimes during the day as well therefore if you must go, it is best to travel by car rather than walking and dont bring any valuable belonging or big brand bags that can attract attention.
Zona Rosa is not a safe place usually because of all the bars and nightclubs around the area
Dont walk with any valuable belongings at any time while in the city, it is not safe to do so and you could possibly be followed for it and taken away from you. Leave anything expensive in your hotel rooms or place that your staying in and if you do for some reason want to bring something with you make sure its not too valuable like a cheap camera or phone.
There is a tourist information office on the corner 9 de Mayo and 25 de Junio.
Buses to Guayaquil take 3 hours, and run every half an hour during the day and evening. Rutas Orenses on Tarqui and Bolivar are recommended (they cost $6 but are reasonably safe - the route from Machala to Guayaquil is known to be a bit dodgy).
Loja Internacional goes to Loja and takes 6 hours. Buses about every hour.
Transportes Panamericana buses go to Quito and usually take 11-14 hours to get there.
TAC and Piñas go to Piñas and Zaruma (2-3 hours, $3)