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Valle del Cauca : Cali
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Cali [12] is a city in southwestern Colombia, capital of the Valle del Cauca department. It has about 2 million inhabitants and it is a significant industrial and commercial center of activity in Colombia. Being at around 1,000 meters above sea level, it has a warm, but not excessively hot climate.

It's best known for its salsa music.

Get in

By bus

From the Terminal de transportes you have the choice of many different regional, national and domestic destinations.

The trip from the airport to the terminal lasts around 20 minutes and you can do it either by taxi (45,000 COP) or mini-van (4,000 COP). Recommendation: Travel only by certified transport companies, like Expreso Palmira, Bolivariano or Expreso Brasilia. These companies bring you safety and comfort for you and your luggage. You may bargain with other companies, but the trip may be very uncomfortable.

By plane

Cali's International Airport Alfonso Bonilla Aragón [13] is located 16km northeast of the city and can be reached by bus or taxi. Many domestic and some international destinations can be reached. There are flights to and from Medellín, Bogotá, Barranquilla, Ibagué, Pereira, Pasto and Cartagena. Foreign cities that can be reached by non-stop flights are Miami, Madrid, Panama City, Quito, Guayaquil and Esmeraldas in Ecuador. The airlines with international flights are : Avianca, American Airlines, Aerorepublica, Copa, TACA, LAN and TAME.

Get around

By taxi

Taxis are a fast and affordable way to get around the city. Only use official cars and it is strongly recommended to call for one if possible (you may call the local numbers 444 44 44, 555 55 55 and ask for one, your name and destination will be registered in the head office). Make sure the driver starts the meter running. The meters count units, not in the local currency. The minimum fare during daytime is 3,600 COP, during nighttime it's 4,500 COP. 14 units equal 900 COP. Do not leave your luggage inside the taxi while you are not, it sometimes happens that drivers get off as soon as you are out the taxi and your luggage is still in the trunk. In any case, many of the taxi drivers are nice and gentle people and have some good stories to tell, so hopefully you speak or understand Spanish at a reasonable level.

By bus

  • MIO - Masivo Integrado de Occidente: Inaugurated in March 2009, this transport system consists of large blue buses running in exclusive lanes with enclosed stations and offers the best option for local transit. All buses are air-conditioned, clean and safe. A one way trip costs 1,500 COP with no discount for bulk purchases. The system continues construction of new lanes with the eventual goal of comprehensive coverage of the metropolitan area. [14]
  • There are 23 urban transport companies to travel around the city. You may ask someone for a route, the local people are very eager to help. A regular trip costs 1,500 COP.


La Ermita church, downtown
  • Historic churches, there are many historic Catholic churches that represent different Spanish Colonial architecture of a time gone past. The city is over 450 years old, so architecture is one of the best things to see.
  • Museo del Oro del Banco de la República, Calle 7 No. 4-69. A Museum containing archaeological exhibits of pottery and gold of pre-Columbian cultures which existed in the region. There is also a small art exhibition. The entrance is free and it's open Monday till Saturday.
  • Museo Arqueologico La Merced, located in the downtown, is a Colonial-type church, with an archaeological museum displaying pre-Hispanic exhibits and religious art from ancient cultures which inhabited the region in pre-Colombian times.
  • Cristo Rey, a statue located in the top of a hill, similar to Cristo de Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Offers a great city view and climbing the mountain is a good exercise. Do not walk alone, it's not a really safe place.
  • Cerro de las Tres Cruces, a hill embellished with three big crosses from which the whole city is visible.
  • Iglesia de San Antonio, colonial-type church at the top of a hill. Another great view of the downtown area.
  • Estatua de Belalcazar, like its southern neighbour Popayan, Cali was founded by the spanish conquistador Sebastian de Belalcazar. There is a statue in Belalcazar's honor in a nice residential area of Cali, where you can look out over the whole city. It's much safer than Cristo Rey.
  • Zoologico de Cali, this is an excellent zoo with many animals from around the world. The premises are very well kept and, surprisingly, it is in an up-scale side of town. The animals generally have lots of space for themselves. Do not miss : the Bengal tigers, the butterflies and the birds. Lonely Planet has called this South America´s best zoo.
  • La Ermita, a Gothic-style church located in the downtown area. It was built in 1678 and then renovated in 1930.
  • La Tertulia Museum of modern art.
  • Plaza de Toros The city's bullfighting arena. Only active in December during the "Feria de Cali" festival.
  • Culture Cali has many cultural offers, like the Teatro Municipal Enrique Buenaventura, Centro Cultural Comfandi or the Teatro Jorge Isaacs.
  • Nice places: Lake Calima (one and a half hour drive from city) nice place to stay for about 30 dollars night also one of the best places for windsurf in south America


  • Soccer Matches: In the Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero is the Host place of the local teams of the city, Deportivo Cali [15] and America de Cali [16]. regularly each Sunday one of them plays a Match for the National Championship. Between the months of May-June and November-December they are in playoffs, so the matches are more exciting. It is recommended that tourists sit on the west side section, "Occidental", of the stadium. Under no circumstances should a tourist sit at the south side of the stadium as this is where the popular barras for both teams are located.
  • Mountain Biking: Excellent tracks there, get information at BTT de Colombia Bike store (yellow pages ask for Julio).
  • Wind or Kite surfing: The best place in south America, wind blows virtually 365 days a year find information at [17].
  • Salsa Dancing: Cali is one of the most famous or popular places for salsa in the world. You can find people dancing in the streets and every single night find a club open for salsa dancing [18]. These clubs have live salsa music, with popular groups as "La Sonora Carrusel".


  • Universidad del Valle [19] - public university of the Valle del Cauca department. Well know for their high level in Health Careers.
  • Universidad Santiago de Cali [20] - one of the most popular Universities
  • Pontificia Universidad Javeriana [21] - Jesuit university
  • Universidad Autonoma de Occidente [22]
  • Universidad ICESI [23]: Traditionally a business school, nowadays hosts many careers from Medical school to history to biomedical engineering.
  • Universidad de San Buenaventura [24]


Shopping Centers

Souvenir store at Chipichape
  • Chipichape mall [25]: a big indoor/outdoor shopping center built on an abandoned train station and warehouse north of downtown. It provides nearly everything and especially the possibility to have a drink at various outdoor bars, and to see many calenas. Its the best place to meet other foreigners, immigrants and English speaking natives. Also a great place to buy local handicrafts and souvenirs at Tu Tierra Linda store, 2nd floor. The mall has movie theaters, two food courts, supermarket, a department store and much more. A hotel is now under construction. Chimichape also has free wireless internet in the open air where all the cafe bars are located.
  • Unicentro [26] is the largest mall in town located 10 km south of downtown. It has over 200 stores, 30 restaurants and cafes, a Multiplex, Casino as well as office space, a supermarket and a department store. A new addition opened in October 2008 features the largest water fountain in town.
  • Palmetto Plaza [27] is popular with the young crowd with its many outdoor bars and cafes.
Colorful handbag made with materials crafted by natives

  • Cosmocentro has a large supermarket and a some stores.
  • Jardin Plaza [28] is the newest mall in town with beautiful indoor gardens for a mostly outdoor experience. It has a nice Movie Theater Complex [29]. This mall is just across the street from the high tech hospital Fundacion Valle del Lili [30].

Other shopping

  • Parque Artesanal Loma de la Cruz: A place to buy inexpensive, sometimes cheap, artesanal figures and other stuff. Beware this park is outdoors and can be unsafe at night.


  • Cholados- a delicious mix of shaved ice and exotic fruit with rasberry and sweet condensed milk sauces and a wafer cookie. Often sold from vendors that have stands that display fruit and shaved ice, and best found in Jamundi, about a 15 min drive from the southern neighborhoods of Cali.
  • Pandebono - baked rings of cheese bread which is quite typical of Cali
  • Buñuelos - sweet fried doughnut balls
  • Sancocho de gallina - a very popular chicken soup, best found in a town called Ginebra, about one hour drive from Cali
  • Manjar blanco - a candy made from cooked sugar and milk, similar to dulce de leche (Milk candy)
  • Chontaduro or peach palm fruit - a local delicacy that is sold on the street, topped with salt or honey
  • Mango viche - green unripened mango, which is sold on the street and eaten with salt and lemon juice
  • Guarapo - a deliciously refreshing drink of freshly pressed sugar cane juice (usually the seller has a machine and extracts the juice right in front of you) served with ice and a squirt of lemon juice
  • Grosellas - small sour fruits which are sold on the street in bags and are eaten with salt
  • Arroz atollado - one of Valle del Cauca's most delicious dishes, almost like a risotto with chicken, sausages and potatoes
  • Empanadas - corn pastries filled with meat or chicken and eaten with hot sauce (aji)
  • Champus - very exotic mix of pineapple , "lulo" (see below), corn and a plant called "limoncillo"... just delicious!.
  • Jugo de lulo or lulo juice - the most delicious of all local fruit juices
  • Aborrajados - fried cheese-filled plantains
  • Dulce de Guayaba con queso - a delicious dollop of guava paste on top of a fresh slice of local 'cuajada' cheese
  • Marranitas is a delicious mix of plantain with "chicharrón" (pork`s skin fried)(The best ones are in "El champus de Lola" in San Antonio hill.


  • El Solar (Trattoria Faró), calle 15 Norte # 9 N-62 (+572 653 4628). until 1 AM. A fun place with outdoor seating, many options in the menu. Live music on weekends. $$.
  • Pacífico (Seafood), Ave 9 N # 12-18 (Granada), +572 653 3753, [1]. Noon-3 PM, 6-11 PM. Well made seafood, many recipes from the Colombian pacific. $$.
  • Tizones (Steaks & seafood), Ave 6 BN # 28 N - 57 (Corner across from Carvajal headquarters), +57 2 653 0181. Great meat. $$$.
  • Ringlete (Regional food), Calle 15 A Norte # 9N-31 Granada (in the middle of a narrow street), +57 2 660 1540, [2]. Well done and served local food. Many recipes with plantains. $$.
  • El Patio Verde (Local food), Cra 9 # 4-53 (San Antonio), +57 2 893 6219. M-Sat 5,30-11 PM. Plantain is king in this restaurant. Closed Sundays. $$.
  • Faro El Patio, Calle 19 # 105-52 (Ciudad Jardin-South), +57 2 333 1456. Until 1 AM. Large menu, outdoor area. Live tropical bands on Fridays and Saturdays. $$.


Local Drinks

  • Guarapo - the juice of sugar cane which grows in the Cauca river valley.
  • Aguardiente - one of the favorite alcoholic beverage in Colombia, with each region has its preferred brand - the local brand is Aguardiente Blanco del Valle and is sweet and licorice-flavored.
  • Chicha - slightly-alcoholic beverage made of fermented pineapples.

Cali's nightlife is on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. There are some good clubs and bars to go out.

Visit Avenida Sexta Cali's Broadway at day & night. Some bars and dance clubs popular with the working class are located there. Many banks branches are settled here. The avenue is crowded pretty much all day long. Be careful at night, could be unsafe.


  • Cali Plaza Hotel Restaurant & Bar A favorite hang-out for International Tourists, free wi-fi. Calle 15 Norte 6N 33 at Cali Plaza Hotel [31].
  • Alterno Bar is more like a crossover type of bar, its pretty good and you can meet a lot of people there.
  • Blues Brothers Bar is a big and popular bar, live music on Thursdays. Avenida 6A Norte # 21-40 Barrio Santa Mónica. Phone +57 3 661 3412. [email protected]
  • Casa del Arte is a lively bar and restaurant with a mixed age crowd, mostly gay costumers. Closed Mondays. Phone +57 3 665 2365 Calle 44 #4-31 Norte Cali [32].
  • El Faro is the place to go if you like classic rock/heavy metal. Located in "El Limonar" A "Jirafa" (Lot of beer) is about USD3.
  • Eliptica is an outside bar settled on a hill at the outskirts of Cali. The views are beautiful and this is a good place for an after party. Open till six or till the police shuts it down.
  • Fanaticos Sport's Bar is the IN place @ Palmetto Plaza Shopping center, where college guys and young professionals meet to watch their favourite sports games. Great beer and good prices, open every day until 3AM.
  • Flores Frescas is a renowned cabaret just off Avenida Sexta, with lots of good looking local girls. 15,000 COP entry, beers 5,000 COP a can.
  • Forum is a popular club for electronic music with an energetic atmosphere.
  • London Tavern is busy only on a Thursday night when there is a live salsa band playing.
  • Martyn´s Bar is a classic rock bar that has been around since the early ´80s.

Dance Clubs

  • Chango is a popular salsa club in the famous Juanchito sector in the other side of the Cauca River. Best salsa party in town.
  • Kukaramakara is a great local club with excellent mix of Latin music and good looking locals. Get a bottle and a table and enjoy [33].
  • Lulu - Electrónica is a popular club for the young in the middle of Granada neighborhood, not far from Avenida 6ta. Calle 16 Norte # 8N-46 [34].
  • Lulu - Latino a fun disco with latin dance music alternating with the 80's. Address: Antigua vía Yumbo just a few meters after -and across - discoteca Praga. Big and safe parking lot. [35]
  • Praga is a popular club which plays mix of all types of music called crossover. Located in the neighbor town of Yumbo not far from Cali.
  • Tin Tin Deo is a very comfortable and almost magic place where people can enjoy the classic salsa music and other Caribbean rhythms.
  • La Matraca (Tango bar and dance), Carrera 11 # 22-80 corner (Barrio Obrero), +57 2 885 7113, [3]. 8 PM - 2 AM. $$.


Hotel Intercontinental Cali


  • Casa Agua Canela, Cra 24A N°2A-55 Miraflores, [4]. Beautiful views, a fantastic location in the Miraflores area, and bright, spacious rooms all come standard at Casa Agua Canela, as does friendly staff and good prices. Cook for yourself using the equipped kitchen or ask them to prepare something tasty. If you are looking for a more personal hostel with a relaxing vibe, this is it.
  • Kaffee Erde, Avenida 4Norte #4N-79, +573014000914, [5]. Friendly owners who care about their guests run this great hostel close to bars, restaurants, shopping, and more. They have cheap prices but quality rooms, and offer free organic coffee and salsa lessons to their guests. They can arrange trips and tours, and the owners love to chat and share stories with the guests. A very homey, comfortable atmosphere.
  • Casa Blanca Hostel (Best chill-out for adventures travelers), Ave. 6bis, Calle 26N, 57, Santa Monica (One block of the famous La Sexta, 4 blocks from Super mall Chipichape), (2) 396 38 49, [6]. checkin: 7:00; checkout: 11:00. Run by Danish/Colombian couple (Mike & Diana) Casa Blanca Hostel opened in August 2008 in the safe and convenient location one block of the famous La Sexta avenue. The hostel offers big well equipped self-catering kitchen and dining area. There's a large living room with 42" flat screen, cable TV package and lots of DVD's, reading section and magazines, free WiFi and guest computers, hot water showers, 24 hour reception, laundry service, airport pick-up, mini market, free parking for cars and motorcycles (indoor) and an outdoor patio. Dorms beds range from 15.000 to 20.000 COP. Double bed private from 35.000 to 50.000 COP and twin bed privates from 35.000 to 55.000 COP (with possible 3rd bed on sofa bed). (03°28'09N,076°31'47W)
  • The Pelican Larry Hostel, Calle 23 Norte #8N-12 Santa Monica Residencial, 572 396 8659 / 315 770 6770 (), [7]. Award winner best hostel 2008 by Hostelworld, BBQ, WiFi internet, beds 1x2 meters, clean and huge patio, double rooms from 35,000.
  • Iguana Hostel, Avenida 9N No. 22N-46 (Close to Avenida Sexta), (+57) (2) 660 8937 / (+57) 313 768 6024 (), [8]. A welcoming hostel opened in 1998 by Swiss owner Urs Diethelm. Can get pretty full at the weekends due to travelers coming for "the Rumba". Internet, Self-catering kitchen & Cable TV. Dorm beds from 16,000 COP and single occupancy from 24,000 COP.
  • Calidad House, Calle 17N & Avenida 9A No.39, Barrio Granada, [9]. Opened in 1993 by English/Colombian couple (David & Emma), this hostel is a popular hangout for backpackers. Free Internet, kitchen, barbecue, cable TV, 100 DVDs, washing machine, hot water (coming soon), free coffee, free towels, hammocks, 24hr reception, walking distance to South America´s best zoo (Lonely Planet) and to Colombia´s famous outdoor shopping center Chipichape, two minutes walk to Cali´s famous nightlife ¨Avenida Sexta¨ with all its pubs, discotecas & restaurants. Salsa classes, therapeutic massage, and Spanish language lessons all available on premises. Periodically two free tickets (a COP56,000 value) are available in the members section for one of Colombia´s best football teams Deportivo Cali. Dorm bed : 18,000 COP / Private double room : 36,000 COP.


  • Hotel Astoria Real, Calle 11 No. 5-16, Plaza de Caicedo, 883-0140. A historic hotel overlooking Caicedo Square. Most rooms have a balcony. Aging, but affordable and safe. Centrally located. Hot water, cable TV. Single rooms for 45,000 pesos.
  • Hotel Plaza, Carrera 6a No. 10-29, Plaza de Caicedo, 882-2560. A modern hotel centrally located. Hot water, cable TV, carpeted rooms. Single room : 40,000 COP.
  • Cali Charm Bed & Breakfast, Calle 38 Norte # 4N-23, [10]. Located in one of the best parts of Cali, La Flora. Just four blocks from Chipichape mall and five minutes from avenida sexta and Menga Night Life. The Cali Charm House has been remodeled to Western standard and the best part is that it's very affordable.
  • Cali Plaza Hotel, Calle 15 Norte No. 6N-37, (), [11]. An American owned hotel with apartments and 24 hour security in the heart of Cali.
  • Hotel Dann Carlton, (One block from the Hotel Intercontinental). Excellent too.


  • Hotel Four Points by Sheraton, Calle 18N # 4N-08. Member of the Sheraton Hotels. Five-star.
  • Hotel Intercontinental. Excellent place to stay. Five stars. Safe and good location

Stay safe

Keep your eyes open at night or take a taxi.

Walking alone at night at Avenida sexta can be unsafe.

Like any other capital city, don't walk with jewelry or let people around you know you have cash on you. Most places around hotels are safe.

Try not to talk on cellphones while walking through streets, that might lure in robbers.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued a warning to travellers to reconsider their need to travel to Cali because of the uncertain security situation in the area. [36]


Fundación Clínica Valle del Lili. Interior gardens

There is a great high tech hospital in town: Fundación Valle del Lili with many bilingual doctors. [37]

Get out

  • The little hamlet of San Cipriano is a good day trip. Most people visit this place only for the ride to it, but it is also possible to stay overnight. Enjoy a swim in the various river beaches, or enjoy a tube ride down the river.
  • Calima Lake
  • City of Buga 1 hour drive. Visit "La Basilica", a major pilgrimage site in Colombia (Ask for Dulces del Valle best place for traditional Dulces). Also, Buga is more tranquil and cleaner than Cali.
  • Parque del Cafe [38]. Approx 3 hr drive from Cali ( approx 2 hrs from Buga, listed above). This is an amusement park, and the Colombian Coffee Museum, complete with the history of Colombian coffee and Juan Valdez. See the theatrical show there that explains the local culture celebrating coffee.
  • City of Jamundi half hour drive (ask for Cholados that Jamundi is famous for-a delicious mix of shaved ice and exotic fruit with rasberry and sweet condensed milk sauces and a wafer cookie. Often sold from vendors that have stands that display fruit and shaved ice. There is a traffic circle roundabout near the city entrance with many Cholado stands)
  • Popayan is about two hours away, and a nice place to stay for a couple of days.
  • Isla Gorgona is a remote Island in the pacific. The whole island is a national park, specially known for scuba diving expeditions because of the great diversity in fauna. There is a brand new fancy ECO hotel opened in 2009 [39]. Reachable from Cali: Either via Buenaventura (2.5 hrs to the west by car) or regional flights available from Cali to Guapi. From any of these towns you need to take a boat to the island.
  • Watch humpback whales: around 1,200 humpback whales are expected to arrive every June - July in the Pacific ocean waters of Isla Gorgona, Sanquianga and Utria National Parks. With the whales come dozens of tourists every year to watch them mating. The whales spend the summer months feeding in polar waters and head to tropical waters in winter for mating and calving, sometimes traveling up to 17,000 kilometers. They are black, grey and white, can grow up to 18 meters long and weigh up to 40 tons. [40]Create category
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