To all the Filipinos traveling to Colombia this year, read this
The ultimate Colombia travel guide for Filipinos: I am a Philippine passport holder traveling the world for the last 12 years. Here are my Colombian adventures as a Filipina!
Reader Mail: Hello, Trisha! At first, I did not think you are Filipino. You’ve been to lots of places and I am jealous! I want to see if you have a Colombia travel guide for Filipinos? I know you started writing about these guides and I just want to thank you. Keep them coming and I hope to travel again this 2021!
– Michael, Philippines
I finally found time to write my Colombia travel guide for Filipinos! I started doing this series a few years ago but was not able to continue since, you know, life happened.
If you’re new to this blog, I want to tell you my story: I’m a Philippine passport holder and I’ve been traveling non-stop, without returning to the Philippines for the past 12 years. I really wished I stayed more in Asia but Latin America was my calling. I needed to be here! I am currently living in Mexico so if you ever come this way, let me know!
In this post, I want to tell you my story about traveling to Colombia for 90 days in 2014. In 2019, I came back for another month with some Filipino friends. Here’s everything you need to know about traveling to Colombia as a Filipino. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, @psimonmyway.
Lastly, please remember that this Colombia travel guide for Filipinos does not include places to visit, things to do, etc. This is only a guide for entering/exiting, formal visa requirements, etc.
Is Colombia open for tourism?
Colombia started opening its doors to international travelers last September 2020. Of course, these are limited routes as Colombia is one of the Latin American countries badly hit by COVID.
Initially, Colombia accepts flights from Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia, Guatemala, The Dominican Republic, and the United States of America. In October, they also opened their borders (air only, not land) to Panama and Peru. Land borders will be open from January 16, 2021.
Colombia used to require a negative PCR test but stopped doing so in November. In order to enter Colombia, you just need to fill out an immigration form online 24-hour up to 1 hour before the flight. You also need to download their CoronApp to report and follow-up health checks.
How to get to Colombia from Manila, Philippines
If you don’t know it geographically, Colombia is a long way from home. I did not fly from Manila to Colombia since I was backpacking South America for three years (all land crossing) but I’m quite knowledgeable about flying to Colombia from Manila.
First, know where you are going to land in Colombia. The biggest arrival hubs from all over the world are Bogota, Cartagena, and Medellin. In these flight itinerary samples, I will only show you the samples from Bogota. The rest, you’ll have to do on your own. I will also suggest what flight search engine I use to look for crazy long itineraries like this.
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The USA is the closest layover/stop to get to Colombia from Manila but please remember that in order for you to do a layover in the USA, you will need to apply for a US transit visa. And in my experience, the US transit visa application process is exactly the same as applying for a US tourist visa. If you have a valid USA tourist visa, then you don’t have to worry about this. Feel free to purchase a ticket that stops via the US. Here’s your best option:
Manila-Bogota-Manila (via USA, 2-way)
12-hour direct flight from Manila to Los Angeles. Once in LA, you will have a 5-6 hour layover. You can see this route via Philippine Airlines. From LA, you will have to fly to Miami (5h, 50m) and from Miami, the flight duration to Bogota is 3 hours and 40 minutes. You will do the same route back and the price for this route is ₱56,752 (est).
I used Kiwi.com to search for this itinerary. It’s cheap, for sure, but it’s actually asking you to book with three different airlines. But if you book through Kiwi, their search engine will book your itinerary (Manila-Bogota-Manila) without having to go to different airlines. I love Kiwi and I use it all the time since I don’t really do check-in luggage.
Singapore-Bogota-Singapore (2-way, via Madrid)
This is actually so cheap and it’s via a good airline, Qatar Airways. However, you need to book your Manila-Singapore ticket separately. This is only at ₱43,000+ for a one-way ticket. I suggest don’t book two-way if you’re planning to stay longer in Colombia. I never book two-way tickets.
You can also fly via Europe (Madrid, Amsterdam) since all European airlines fly direct to any South American country. Plus, you don’t need a visa to do a layover in Europe. Just make sure you are not changing airlines upon arriving in the EU because if you are, you will be needing a Schengen visa. But if it’s the same airline where you don’t need to re-check your luggage, then you’re good. You can stop in Europe!
Visa regulations for Filipinos entering Colombia as a tourist
Do Philippine passport holders need a visa to Colombia? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Filipinos can enter Colombia visa-free for 90 days! I did this three times already and each time, I am always given the 90-day visa without question. You might be asked for a yellow fever vaccine card if you’ve been to the Amazon jungle parts of Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil.
Since Colombia is visa-free for Filipinos, it’s just like entering Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, etc – you don’t have to worry about it. Colombians are not used to Filipino travelers yet but they know that we are visa-free. They really did not ask me questions. As long as your passport is valid, that’s powerful enough. I feel like we Filipinos always have the underdog attitude when it comes to going to countries like this but guys, visa-free is visa-free.
I receive lots of questions about this but you’re smart, you get it. Colombia is visa-free for Philippine passport holders and you don’t need to explain yourself. Just go in and enjoy!
All Colombian officers speak fluent Spanish but they will speak to you in Spanish because they think that Spanish is also our language in the Philippines! I always engage myself in small talk like this because they really believe Spanish taught us the language. They’re quite surprised to know that we do not speak Spanish.
As for me, I became fluent in Spanish by traveling around South America for years. If you don’t speak Spanish, then it’s time to learn!
What do I need to present as a Filipino traveling to Colombia?
They won’t ask you for any physical proof but they will ask you where you will stay and what’s the purpose of your visit to Colombia. As a full-time traveler, I always have my proof of accommodation ready.
I always use Booking.com to reserve since you don’t need a credit card when booking on this platform. You also don’t need to book the exact dates of your stay. If you are staying for an indefinite time, just book a one-week stay and it should be enough.
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I never entered Colombia with a return ticket and they never asked but last year, I had a 2-way ticket since I was doing Peru-Colombia-Cuba then back to my home in Mexico. They did ask for it but did not really look into it. The best thing to do is to book a bus from Colombia to Ecuador which does not cost a lot. This way, you can prove that you are going to leave the country.
You also do not need to know any Colombian national to enter Colombia as a Filipino. I think that’s just a European thing and lots of Filipino readers always ask me if they have to be sponsored by someone in the country. This does not apply in Colombia and the whole of South America.
My flight stops in the US. Do I need a US transit visa?
Yes, absolutely! Even if you are just stopping for an hour in the USA, you need to go to the Embassy to apply for a transit visa. The process of applying for a transit visa to the USA is as tedious as the normal tourist visa. Make sure to get a flight where Filipinos don’t need a transit visa like Istanbul, Dubai, or any European city.
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Please note that you will need a transit visa if you are changing airlines. For example, if your flight is from Manila-Istanbul-Bogota and you’re only flying with one airline, then you don’t need a transit visa to Turkey.
If you need to change airlines in any of your stops, then you need to apply for a transit visa to that country.
Can I do a visa run to Ecuador and return after a day or two?
No, you have to stay a few days. Let’s say, 7 days to two weeks? Please be mindful that I have not tried going back after a day or two. I always do at least a minimum of 7 days just to be sure. You can check my article on how to cross the borders of Colombia and Ecuador for the complete guide.
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[Update: July 18, 2021]: The border of Colombia is open but Ecuador only accepts emergency land border crossing. You need to apply for a permit in order to cross to Colombia. Should you not be qualified for the land permit, you can just fly to Ecuador. Their airports are open for tourism.
Can I extend my tourist visa in Colombia after 90 days?
You can only extend your visa if you entered Colombia with a stamp. In which case, Filipinos are qualified. If you have an actual tourist visa sticker (ex: India, South Africa, Nigeria, Vietnam), you can’t do this extension.
In order to extend your tourist visa stamp, you need to go to any immigration office in Colombia and present a photocopy of your passport bio page, a photocopy of your entry stamp, and a flight ticket out of Colombia. It’s still easier to do a visa run to Ecuador if you don’t want to buy your flight ticket in advance.
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After this one expires, you need to leave Colombia and not go back the following year. Tourists are only allowed to be in Colombia 90 days a year. If you want to do a 6 months stint, better arrive in October, leave in December then come back in January which is another year.
What is the ideal Colombia travel budget?
The cost of living in Manila is 28% more expensive than in Bogota, the capital of Colombia. I find Colombia a really cheap country, most especially if it’s cheaper than mine. There’s always yummy street food everywhere that made me survive my teenage rocking years backpacking around this region.
Related: 20 places to visit in Colombia
But to better understand how much money you should bring to Colombia, here are the basic costs that you need to know. The currency in Colombia is called the Colombian peso (COP). The ‘piso’ in Colombia starts at 1,000 COP (equivalent to ₱13.00).
The numbers above are estimates. It’s just an example of how far your Philippine peso will go in Colombia. I also wrote a guide about the best bank for Filipino travelers. If you want to know how to manage your expenses while on the road, I know Philippine banks suck so read the article to see your options!
Again, this is not my full travel guide for Colombia. I have a more extensive one that you will find within this blog. I just opened this series because lots of Filipino travelers ask me about Latin America. I feel like the most important things to answer here are the visas, exit/entry requirements, etc since these are the most frequent questions I receive from Pinoy travelers.
If you have any questions that weren’t answered in this post, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them!