Lying on the equator, Ecuador has a Pacific Ocean coastline and surrounded by Colombia in the north and Peru in the south. Along with Chile, this is the only country that does not share a border with Brazil. The capital city Quito was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in the 1970s for preserving its bountiful colonial culture. Other cities within the country were also declared as world heritage sites which shows how culturally-rich the country is.
You can enter Ecuador through different locations. The most common is through the capital city in Quito. The airport is modern and has an executive lounger showing a great view of the Ecuadorian mountains. If you're travelling on business class, then you'll get a free invitation to this exclusive lounge. The city of Guyaquil, located north from downtown, also has an airport equipped with modern amenities such as restaurants and duty-free shopping. Another entry point is through the province of Galapagos Islands. Aerogal airlines fly to two locations in the island namely San Cristobal and Baltra. If you're coming from Colombia, then you can ride a bus passing through the Rumichaca border near Ipiales and Tulcan. The coast of Ecuador allows you to enter the country by riding a boat.
Low-cost hostels are abundant in Ecuador. Price ranges from $6-14 and you can still bargain for cheaper prices especially when you're travelling in groups. People in Ecuador are very amicable so it is advisable to ask the locals' opinions on where to stay. In addition, staying in eco lodges and haciendas has been an emerging trend among tourists.
If you want some breathtaking view, take yourself to Cotopaxi National Park, the country's most visited national park. Standing a midst the park is Volcán Cotopaxi, the world's highest active volcano. At 5,900m above sea level, the volcano has been a popular destination from thrill-seekers wanting to climb and reach the peak. Amenities in the park include overnight mountain huts, camping, and picnic facilities. The best time to go here is from December to April.
Situated at the heart of the city is the Plaza de la Independencia. Also known as Plaza Grande, it is here where you will find the city hall, the government palace, Archbishop's palace and the Cathedral. This cathedral is the oldest in South America and showcases an impressive architecture.
If you're craving from some culture-dipping, then the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca is a must-see for you. Founded by the Spanish colonizers in the 1500's, Cuenca is also Ecuador's third largest city. This place is also a photographer's haven, surrounded by 16th century houses, grand cathedrals and museums. It definitely feels like going back through the ages!
Other places that you shouldn't miss are the small beach town of Canoa, famous surfing beach Montañita, the cozy Andes village of Guamote, and Esmeraldas, one of the most popular beaches in the country. Visit Mindo for an excellent bird watching experience and the Museo del Banco Central to see a collection of ancient and religious paintings.