Ecuador Travel Tips for Digital Nomads in 2024

From the lush beauty of the Amazon to the diverse wildlife of the Galapagos, Ecuador is a must-visit destination for travelers. Here are 17 Ecuador travel tips for digital nomads to enjoy the country of four worlds.

Flavio Amiel

Flavio Amiel

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Published in Travel on 1/5/2024
Ecuador Travel Tips for Digital Nomads in 2024

When you visit Ecuador, you can explore not one but four new “worlds” of landscapes and ecosystems. Dubbed “the country of four worlds,” Ecuador features the biodiverse, green

rainforests of the Amazon, the chilly mountains of the Andes, the serene beaches of the Pacific coast, and the wildlife-filled Galapagos Islands.

But beyond its four enchanting regions, Ecuador attracts many digital nomads for long-term stays because of its low cost of living, safe communities, and numerous co-working spaces in Quito and other cities. It might not be as famous as Argentina, Colombia, or Brazil, but Ecuador’s popularity among travelers has risen over the past few years.

In addition, Ecuador is a small country, almost as large as the state of Colorado. Thus, it’s easy (and cheap) to go around and unwind at Ecuador’s natural wonders and attractions.

Are you now convinced to travel to Ecuador? Great! Look at my Ecuador travel tips below for a comfortable, memorable, and wallet-friendly stay in this country as a digital nomad.

Top 17 Travel Tips for a Great Stay in Ecuador

1. Plan Your Trip in Advance

Other Latin American destinations like Colombia, Costa Rica, or Mexico often overshadow Ecuador. So, I understand that most travelers are unfamiliar with this charming country. People’s slightest idea about Ecuador usually revolves around the Galapagos Islands or the fact that the country sits near the equator.

But Ecuador is more than just the Galapagos and its proximity to that imaginary line. This country is also home to rich colonial architecture, pre-Columbian artifacts, glittering beaches, and even the point on Earth closest to space—the peak of Mt.Chimborazo.

If you’re still unfamiliar with Ecuador, it helps to learn the country better to plan your trip. As a digital nomad, check if its community, infrastructure, cost of living, and lifestyle fit your preferences as a remote worker. Afterward, look at its top attractions and see if they captivate your interest.

Once convinced that Ecuador should be your next destination, look for your possible accommodation (hostels, hotels, or apartments), travel setup (solo or all-inclusive travel package), and itinerary.

Keep reading this Ecuador travel guide to learn the best tips for an excellent remote work experience.

2. Consider the Cost of Traveling to Ecuador

Many digital nomads go to Ecuador because of its affordable living costs. Compared to the US (and other developed countries), the cost of living in Ecuador is around 50% lower. This country is also cheaper than some Latin American countries like Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Mexico.

A digital nomad can live in Ecuador with a monthly budget of around $880 to $1300. With this budget, you can stay in a good hostel, eat in local restaurants, occupy a shared office for remote work, and enjoy some tours.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of expected costs a digital nomad may incur while staying in the country, as well as some budget-friendly Ecuador travel tips for you:

  • Accommodations: Private hostel rooms, usually starting at $10 per night, are one of the cheapest accommodations for remote workers. There are cheap, 2-star hotels, but they’re more expensive, usually starting at $25 per night. Hostels and hotels usually provide free Wi-Fi, breakfast, and toiletries.

Apartments are inexpensive, costing around $200 to $500 in Quito and other cities. But rooms can be much cheaper in rural areas.

  • Transportation: Buses are Ecuador’s main public transport system and are cheap. A bus ticket typically costs less than a dollar for an hour of intercity travel. Meanwhile, local buses for travel within towns or cities charge flat rates as low as $0.25 per trip.

For longer travels, flying is more pricey but still an affordable and convenient option (especially if you’re going to the Galapagos). A flight route within Ecuador (except going to Galapagos) usually costs around $100 per trip. Meanwhile, a flight to the Galapagos from Quito costs $130 to $160 per trip.

Car rental is not advisable as roads and traffic are usually not good in most cities. But if you still want to, daily rent costs around $35 to $40.

  • Food: Regular meals in local eateries cost around $3 to $5 per serving. There are also cheap snacks and street foods like empanadas that cost only $1 each. If you want to cook your food, a week of groceries costs around $20 to $30.

3. Choose the Best Time to Visit Ecuador

Visiting Ecuador during the dry season (typically June to November) is advisable, especially if you want to explore the Amazon or the Galapagos Islands. There’s only a little rain during these months, and the paths are not muddy. The skies are also clear, perfect for birdwatching and wildlife viewing.

4. Explore the Must-Visit Destinations in Ecuador

Ecuador offers everything a traveler could wish for—scenic landscapes, serene islands, lush forests, and elegant cities. What's more, these attractions are typically just a few hours away, making it easy to make the most of your Ecuador trip.

Here’s a rundown of Ecuador’s top destinations to appreciate its natural marvels and immerse in its vibrant culture:

  • Cuenca: Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this charming city reflects the country’s rich colonial influences with its old churches, cobblestone streets, and historic museums. Some of Ecuador’s best colonial architecture is located here, like the 16th-century cathedral of El Sagrario, which is located in the Old Town.

This city is also famous for its straw, fedora-styled Panama hats. Yup, these hats originated from Ecuadorian hat makers who traveled to Panama during the 19th century. You’ll learn more about this fascinating “hat history” by visiting Cuenca’s Panama Hat Museum.

  • Quito: Like Cuenca, the capital city of Quito is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place is a treasure trove of Ecuador’s rich history and well-preserved colonial-era architecture, like the famous 16th-century Catedral Metropolitana de Quito, one of South America's oldest cathedrals.

Other top destinations in the city include La Iglesia de la Compañía, well-known for its Baroque-styled walls and ornaments, and Museo Casa del Alabado for its display of pre-Columbian artifacts and archaeological pieces.

  • Amazon Rainforests: The vast Amazon rainforests are the centerpiece of Ecuador’s nature. Amazonian Ecuador covers around a third of Ecuador’s land area and boasts over 1,000 species. Yasunii National Park is one of the tourists’ favorite spots here because of its wildlife megadiversity, attributed to its stable temperature and high rainfall rate. Get ready to meet the Amazon’s jaguars, snakes, ocelots, monkeys, and armadillos in this vibrant park.
  • Galapagos Islands: Darwin’s theory of evolution was born thanks to this wildlife-rich paradise. Countless species await you here—sea lions, iguanas, finches, flightless cormorants, flamingos, and, of course, the famous 5-foot-long Galapagos giant tortoises. And oh, these islands are exceptional, as almost 80% of Galapagos’ land animal species can be seen in this place only!

More than that, the Galapagos Islands have glittering sand beaches with crystal-clear waters. Don’t miss the chance to dive or snorkel and see the rich marine ecosystems deep in the islands’ waters.

  • Baños: This charming town in the soaring Andes mountains is dubbed Ecuador’s “adventure capital.” There are a lot of ziplining, mountain biking, and canyoning spots here, with the rugged beauty of the Andean landscapes as the backdrop. Baños is also the home of Tungurahua volcano, a devilish lava-spurting volcano that heats the town’s hot springs and thermal baths.

5. Pack Appropriately for Ecuador

Whether you’re exploring the Andes, Amazon, Galapagos, or the Pacific Coast, your backpack must have the following essentials:

  • Documents: Put your passport, visa, airline tickets, travel insurance card, travel itinerary documents, and driver’s license in a separate waterproof bag.
  • Walking shoes: Bring a pair of sneakers for wandering around cities or towns.
  • Hiking Boots: If you’re in for some multi-day trail, waterproof hiking boots offer top durability that you can rely on. You can use a pair of trail running shoes if you prefer a lighter alternative to boots.
  • Beach Outfit: For men, swim trunks and water shirts will suffice. Women can bring sundresses, swimsuits, and sarongs. Meanwhile, flip-flops or sandals with heavy-duty treads are advisable as beach footwear.
  • Light and moisture-wicking clothes: Hot weather is typical in most areas of Ecuador. So, it’s wise to wear breathable and loose-fitting summer clothes (e.g., t-shirts, shorts, short-sleeves, long pants, etc.) made of natural fabrics like cotton, linen, bamboo, or silk.
  • Sweaters and jackets: Evenings in Ecuador can sometimes be chilly, especially in the Amazon and Andean highlands. Hence, it’s advisable to bring some layers to warm you up.
  • Bathrobes and towels: These are important whether you’re lounging on the beach or in hot tubs.
  • Bug repellant: This can be a spray or a lotion, whatever floats your boat.
  • Reusable water bottles: Single-use plastics are prohibited in Galapagos, so bring reusable water bottles.
  • First-aid kit: Your kit must have prescription medicines, bandaids, painkillers, vitamins, gauze, disinfectants, and hand sanitizer.
  • Electronics: Bring every electronic device you need for remote work—laptop, smartphone, headphones, charger, portable Internet router, etc.

6. Stay Safe in Ecuador

Ecuador is one of the safest South American destinations for digital nomads. It’s not a zone full of violent crimes, terrorist attacks, or political upheavals.

The ones you should be wary of are petty crimes like pickpockets, snatchers, and thieves. But with little caution (and common sense), you can avoid being a target. Keep your jewelry, cash, electronics, and other valuables out of people’s sight so you’re not an easy target. It’s also advisable to wear casual clothes when visiting attractions, as fancy outfits usually attract people’s attention.

Are there any areas to avoid in Ecuador?

Most cities, like Quito, are safe for tourists. However, according to some travelers, Quito’s neighborhoods, like La Villaflora and La Magdalena, as well as the Old Town, are typical spots of taxi crimes.

Taxi crimes are also common in other areas, like Guayaqui and Manya. To avoid such mishaps, don’t travel alone and be extra vigilant.

7. Learn the Visa Requirements for Ecuador

With the Ecuador digital nomad visa, you can stay and work remotely in the country for up to two years. You can also extend the visa’s validity for another two years upon renewal.

To be eligible for a digital nomad visa, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • You live in a country/territory eligible for visa application. Otherwise, you can only apply for a tourist visa (90 days validity only).
  • You’re a business owner or a remote company worker based outside Ecuador.
  • You have a minimum monthly income of $1,275

Here are the documentary requirements to get a digital nomad visa:

  • Valid passport (with a minimum validity of 6 months)
  • 2 inches x 2 inches photograph on white background
  • Proof of income (bank statements indicating you meet the minimum monthly income requirement)
  • Proof of clean criminal record, such as police clearance.
  • Valid national or foreign health insurance that covers Ecuador in the contract.
  • Duly filled out the application form.
  • Proof of remote work employment.
  • Proof of accommodation (e.g., hotel/hostel/Airbnb receipts or rental contract)

After preparing the requirements above, proceed to the nearest Ecuadorian consulate in your area to start your application. The application costs around $50, while the approved visa costs around $400.

8. Consider All-Inclusive Vacation Packages

A solo trip to Ecuador is a bold but impractical choice for first-time travelers. Imagine visiting a non-English country, and you have to prepare your travel documents, accommodation, transportation, food, and itinerary yourself! Good job for giving yourself a headache!

If you plan to stay in Ecuador for only a few days or weeks, consider availing yourself of an all-inclusive travel package. This package turns your trip into autopilot as a travel company handles all the arrangements, from accommodations and meals to travel destinations and outdoor adventures. All you have to do is communicate your preferences and pay for the package.

9. Make the Most of Ecuador Itinerary

Planning a travel itinerary may seem simple at first—pick your destinations and be done! But it’s actually not as easy as an “eeny-meeny” game. You must mindfully plan it and consider your budget, schedule, transportation, meals, and accommodation.

Here’s a detailed guide for a well-crafted Ecuador travel itinerary:

1. Pick specific places in Ecuador you want to visit. For instance, if you plan to explore Quito, specify the attractions in the city you want to explore, like its museums, churches, or plazas.

To ensure your itinerary is well-rounded, your chosen destinations must feature nature, culture, and adventure. Nature pertains to landscapes, beaches, or any natural wonders.

Culture is for colonial buildings, museums, old towns, and local communities. Lastly, adventure is for outdoor activities.

2. Research all information related to your destinations. Search for the available restaurants, accommodations, and transportation at every attraction and their respective prices to prepare your budget.

3. Finalize your itinerary’s schedule. Indicate your estimated time of arrival and departure for each destination. Make sure to consider travel times, waiting lines, and weather conditions to make a realistic plan.

10. Experience the Local Cuisine

The country of four worlds is also a country of many flavors. As diverse as its nature and culture, Ecuador boasts many dishes for all palates.

In the coastal areas, meat and seafood meals are the stars. In the Andes, the food usually includes root vegetables, pork, beef, and chicken. In the Amazon, the local fauna is typically cooked, leading to some of the must-eat exotic Ecuadorian dishes.

Check out some of Ecuador’s best dishes below:

  • Ceviche: Typically, a ceviche is raw seafood (e.g., fish, shrimp, clam, or octopus) “cooked” by marinating it in lime juice. But Ecuador has a fascinating twist to this classic dish by cooking the fish before marinating and including ketchup or tomato sauce that adds sweetness to ceviche's fresh, spicy, and sour flavor.
  • Uchumanka: A spicy fish broth usually served in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This dish contains smoked fish, mushrooms, chili pepper, palm hearts, salt, and patasmuyu (or white cacao).
  • Encebollado: Encebollado de Pescado is a flavorful fish stew made of albacore tuna, cassava root or yuca, cilantro, onions, and tomatoes. This soup is a traditional dish usually consumed by fishermen in Ecuador’s coastal regions. Still, many restaurants in the country offer encebollado with various side dishes like corn nuts, avocado slices, or plantain crisps.
  • Cuy: As cute as they are, Guinea pigs are actually one of South America’s favorite meats to roast. Cuy is a roasted guinea pig typically served as a whole spit on a stick. This food was traditionally served in mountainous regions, but most Ecuadorian restaurants now offer it.
  • Maito: A well-known Amazonian food, maito is a river fish (typically tilapia, tambaqui, or bocachico) wrapped and cooked in bijao (banana) leaves. The leaves enhance the fish’s flavor, so some people place them over the grills first before wrapping the fish inside. There are variations where the fish is seasoned with garlic, salt, and onions for extra flavor.
  • Empanada: This classic pastry is a very common snack in former Spanish colonies like Ecuador. An empanada is a golden-fried dough filled with meat, cheese, vegetables, corn, and raisins.

11. Engage in Sustainable Tourism Practices

Ecuador’s booming tourism is a double-edged sword. We can’t deny its positive impacts—job creation, infrastructure development, greater cultural appreciation, and more.

However, we can’t ignore tourism’s negative impacts, especially on the natural environment. For example, the large volume of tourists visiting the Galapagos has led to the construction of hotels and commercial establishments, potentially causing increased pollution, deforestation, and disruption to the island’s wildlife.

As a traveler, you also have to preserve the country’s rich ecosystem by engaging in sustainable tourism practices like the following:

  • Embracing public transportation or opting to walk or bike around a city to minimize carbon emissions.
  • Use reusable containers for food and drinks instead of single-use plastic.
  • Be mindful of the use of water and electricity in hotels.
  • Don’t share food with wild animals; it may transfer human disease to wildlife.
  • Support businesses and tour companies that have a solid commitment to environmental preservation.

12. Stay Connected

Major cities like Quito, Cuenca, Santo Domingo, and Guayaquil have stable and high-speed Internet connections, and you can find many coworking spaces with high-speed and reliable Internet. So, if you work remotely in these coworking spaces, you’ll most likely finish your tasks without any connectivity issues.

But what if you need to access the Internet outside a coworking space?

You can bring a portable Wi-Fi modem without a local SIM card. Unfortunately, a router is usually pricey. For instance, the Solis Pocket Wifi (which works in Ecuador) costs around $149.99.

So, the best way to stay connected in Ecuador is to purchase a local SIM card at kiosks located in airports, bus stations, malls, or convenience stores. The main network operators in Ecuador are Claro, Movistar, and the state-owned CNT.

Many suggest that Claro (the largest operator in Ecuador) is the best for tourists regarding reliability and 4G/LTE coverage. Claro’s SIM card typically costs $4.48. You can top up your Claro SIM card with 15 GB of data, valid for 30 days, for $15.

13. Learn Basic Spanish

Many local Ecuadorians know English but don’t have the fluency to use it on a conversational level. Spanish is the primary language here, and since most locals are monolingual, you can’t expect them to be proficient English speakers.

Living in Ecuador without knowing Spanish will be difficult for a digital nomad who will stay here for months. So, start learning Spanish through a dictionary, a language-learning app, or a formal Spanish class. Focus on common phrases, such as the following:

  • Buenos dia (Good morning)
  • Buenas noches (Good evening)
  • Hola (Hello)
  • Gracias (Thank you)
  • Por favor (Please)
  • Me llamo… (My name is…)
  • ¿Tiene? (Do you have?)
  • Cómo está? / ¿Qué tal? (How are you?)
  • Cuánto cuesta? (How much does it cost?)
  • Yo necesito (I need)
  • Habla Ingles? (Do you speak English?)
  • ¿Dónde? (Where?)
  • ¿Cuánto? (How much?)

14. Be Prepared for Outdoor Adventures

Ecuador isn’t just for nature lovers and culture connoisseurs; it’s also a paradise for thrillseekers looking to conquer their fears with electrifying adventures like:

  • Hiking: Ecuador brims with stunning landscapes to hike. For example, the Rucu Pichincha Trail is a single-day exploration of Ecuador’s mighty 15,695-foot-high stratovolcano. There’s also the 45-kilometer-long Ecuadorian Inca Trail (not to be confused with Machu Pichu’s Inca Trail) that leads you to Ecuador’s famous ruins of ancient Inca civilization, Ingapirca.
  • Snorkeling: The Galapagos is every diver’s delight with its rich marine ecosystem brimming with sea turtles, fish, sea lions, penguins, hammerhead sharks, and more!
  • Rafting: Ecuador is teeming with crystal-clear rivers, perfect for rafting. In this activity, you’ll join a team (with the guidance of a professional) working together to paddle an inflatable raft and maneuver over the river’s strong waves and solid obstacles. Top rafting destinations are primarily located in Quito, Baños, and Tena.
  • Mountain-biking: Let the adrenaline rush to your system with Ecuador’s mountain-biking trails in Quito, the Andes, and the Galapagos. This country offers one of the most challenging elevations and descents in the world, averaging 2000 to 4000 meters.
  • Swinging: Unleash your inner Tarzan with Amazon’s truly daredevil activity. The town of Baños features the “End of the World” swing with an elevation of over 2660 meters. The steel cable swing is placed on a descending, steep canyon, giving you a euphoric bird’s-eye view of jungles and lakes and that ecstatic feeling of floating above the vast Amazon.

15. Capture the Moment

A DSLR camera is perfect for both still and moving images. Whether you’re capturing wildlife, architecture, or landscape, you’ll get a high-resolution photo. But if you prefer a lighter and more portable camera than a DSLR, you may choose a mirrorless one.

If you don’t want to spend on camera equipment, your smartphone will suffice. Most camera apps nowadays have higher resolution, multiple lenses with different focal lengths, and RAW photography capability (RAW files offer high-quality files best for editing), making them more suitable now for travel photography.

16. Protect Against the Sun

Ecuador’s proximity to the equator and high altitude make it more susceptible to the sun's intense UV rays. So whether you’re relaxing on the beach, conquering the Andean highlands, or feeling classy along the streets of Quito, your skin is always at risk of extreme damage when exposed to the sun.

Always apply high-SPF sunscreen to your screen 30 minutes before you go outside. Apply it everywhere: ears, neck, nape, arms, legs, lips, and knees. Make sure to reapply the lotion after a few hours, especially when swimming or lounging on the beach. You can also wear a wide-brimmed hat for additional protection

17. Embrace the Ecuadorian Lifestyle

Learn to live in Ecuador as a local and immerse yourself in its unique way of life. Aside from its nature and outdoor adventures, Ecuador is also famous for its vibrant communities, which are fond of dancing, drinking, and karaoke. So when you’re not in front of your laptop, get in touch with other locals and have fun!

Make the Most of Ecuador

With my Ecuador travel tips, I’m sure you’ll have the best escapade in the country of four worlds. Don’t hesitate to come back once your trip is over to explore more of Ecuador’s enchanting beauty. Get travel insurance from Nomad Insurance for a worry-free trip to the gems of Latin America.

People Also Ask Questions

What I wish I knew before traveling to Ecuador?

Before traveling to Ecuador, I wish I knew that it has four major geographical regions with varying cultures and natural wonders. I also wish I had first learned the country’s norms, traditions, and language to get closer to other locals.

What do you need before traveling to Ecuador?

If you’re a digital nomad, you need a digital nomad visa to stay in the country for up to 2 years.

What are some things tourists should be careful about in Ecuador?

Petty crimes like pickpocketing and snatching are some of the things tourists should be careful about in Ecuador.

Do I need malaria pills for Ecuador?

No, Ecuador has a low malaria risk for tourists.