Banks are everywhere in Bogotá where there is commercial activity. Some head offices are grouped around the Avianca building at the corner of Plaza San Francisco, others have moved to North Bogotá on or near C 72.
The best way to obtain pesos in Bogotá is to use ATMs. Any other method will require your passport and, often, queues. Since it will probably require at least 2 or 3 attempts, either go downtown or in the north, where there are many banks. Unfortunately, there are no rules; there are countless ATMs accepting MasterCard, Visa and other cards; but machines may be down or out of cash, or just don’t accept the cards stated. ATMs also tend to give out a frustratingly small amount of cash at a time (though you can go back several times a day), resulting in much money lost in transaction fees. Most banks have a paltry COP300 (US$167) maximum, though Davivienda (COP500/ US$278) and Bancolombia (COP400/ US$222) are more generous. Those in more affluent areas tend to dispense more.
Emerald Trade Center, Av Jiménez, Cra 5-43, Local 128, T2866181, open 0800-1800, accepts Thomas Cook TCs. Titan, Cra 7, No 18-42, Local 116, T3413875. Cambios Country, Cra 11, No 71-40, Of 201, and at El Dorado airport, T413 8979. Several other city offices, good rates, speedy service. Orotur, Cra 10, No 26-05 (below Hotel Tequendama in pedestrian subway) is quick and efficient, cash only, including sterling. Cambios New York Money, in CC Unicentro, Av 15, No 123-30, loc 1-118, accepts sterling, efficient. Other cambios on Av Jiménez de Quesada, between Cras 6 and 11, and in the north of the city. On Sun exchange is virtually impossible except at the airport. CC Hacienda Santa Bárbara has several cambios but buying sterling can be difficult. To replace lost Amex TCs, American Express, Expreso Viajes y Turismo, C 85, No 20-32, T593 4949 (has other branches), open 0800-1900, Sat 0900-1400, with full details, a police report of the loss and preferably proof of purchase. They first authorize cash advance on Amex cards and then direct you to the appropriate bank (Banco Unión Colombia).
British Council, Cra 9, No 76-49, Piso 5, T3259090, http://www.britishcouncil.org/colombia. New modern centre, open Mon-Fri 0900-1700, good TEFL library, British newspapers. Centro Colombo Americano, C 19, No 2-49, T3347640 or C 110, No 15-36, T2755052, http://www.colombobogota.edu.co. English and Spanish courses, recommended. Also in Medellín. Alianza Colombo-Francesa, Cra 3, No 18-45, T3411348 and Cra 7, No 84-72, T2368605, www.alianza francesa.org.co. Films in French, newspapers, library monthly bulletin, etc. Other branches in major cities across Colombia. Goethe Institut, Cra 7, No 81-57, T2551843, http://www.goethe.de/ins/co/bog/deindex.htm.
Embassies and consulates
Austria, T3263680 (emergencies) Australia, Cra 18, No 90-38, T6365247. Belgium, Apto 3564, C 26, No 4A-45, 7th floor, T3800380, email@example.com. Brazil, C 93, No 14-20, piso 8, T2180800. Canada, Cra 7, No 114-33, piso 14, T6579951, http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca Cuba, Cra 9, No 92-54, T6217054. Ecuador, C 89, No 13-07, T6350322, www.embajada ecuacol.net. France, Cra 11, No 93-12, T6381400, http://www.ambafrance-co.org. Germany, Cra 69, No 25B-44, Piso 7, T4232600, http://www.bogota.diplo.de. Italy, C 93B, No 9-92, T2186680, www.ambbogota. esteri.it. Israel, C 35, No 7-25, Piso 14, T3277500. Japan, Cra 7, No 71-21, Torre B, piso 11, T3175001. Netherlands, Cra 13, No 93-40, piso 5, T6384200. Mexico, C 82, No 9-25, T6104070. Panama, C 92, No 7-70, T2575067. Spain, C 92, No 12-68, T6220090. Sweden, C 72 Bis, No 5-83, piso 9, Edif Av Chile, T3256180, http://www.swedenabroad.com. Switzerland, Cra 9, No 74-08, Of 101, T3497230. United Kingdom, Cra 9, No 76-49, 9th floor, T3268300. USA, C 22D Bis, No 47-51, T3150811. Venezuela, Cra 11, No 87-51, piso 5, T6401213 (610 6622 visa information), 0830-1200. Visas can be collected the following day 1200-1630. Enquire by telephone before you go.
DAS head office, Cra 28, No 17A-00, T208 6060, http://www.das.gov.co. Open 0730-1530, or T153. Cundinamarca office, C 58, No 10-55, T5701077. Dirección de Extranjería (for extending entry permits): C 100, No 11B-27, T6017200, open Mon-Thu 0730-1600, Fri 0730-1530. DAS will not authorize photocopies of passports; look in Yellow Pages for notaries, who will.
Most hotels and hostels and some restaurants are now Wi-Fi-enabled and provide several computers for surfing the net. There are many internet cafés, charging US$1-2 per hr.
Listelnet Communications, Cra 3, No 15-47. Skype and heaphones. International calls. Café Xanaledra, Cra 4, No 12-78 Esquina. Skype and headphones as well as coffee, tea and cake. Café del Cubo, Cr 4, No 13-57, Mon-Sat 0900-2200. The tourist kiosk on Plaza Bolívar, Cra 8, No 9-83, has 3 computers. First 15 mins free. Coffeemail, CC Santa Bárbara. Mon-Sat 1030-2000, Sun 1400- 1800. Helpful staff. US$1-2 per hr. Foto and Internet Café, Tequendama Hotel/Centro Internacional complex (2nd floor), loc 164, helpful, good service, Mon-Fri 0700-2000, Sat 0900-1600, US$0.90 per hr. Web Café, Diag 27, No 6-81, Mon-Fri 0900-2000, Sat 1000-1800.
You need a student visa, not a tourist visa, to study. Some of the best Spanish courses are in the Universidad Nacional, T316 5000, http://www.unal.edu.co, about US$180 for 2 months, 8 hrs per week, or Universidad de los Andes, T3394949, http://www.uniandes.edu.co, US$300, 6 weeks, and Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, T320 8320 ext 4620, www.javer iana.edu.co. Good-value Spanish courses at the Universidad Pedagógica, C 72, No 11-86, T594 1894. Good reports, around US$90 for 40 hrs, 2 hrs per day, one of the cheapest on offer. Language exchanges with students wishing to learn English are also popular. Enquire at Platypus hostel. Carmen Trujillo, T3158741325 (mob)/T70439636, carmen. trujillo@ colombiaquest.com is recommended. English, French and Italian spoken.
Cruz Roja Nacional, Av 68, No 66-31, T428 0111. Open 0830-1800, consultations/ inoculations US$12.50. Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá, C 119, No 9-33, T6293066, and El Bosque, C 134, No 12-55, T274 0577, are both modern, private hospitals, with good service. For vaccinations, try Clínica Marly, C 50, No 7 -72, T2454729.
Dr Paul Vaillancourt, Cra 11, No 94A-25, Of 401, T6356312. English-speaking. Dr Brigitte Scholz, C 183, No 76-65, T6704982.
Hyung Kuk Kim, Diagonal 86A, No 32-43, T6161151, firstname.lastname@example.org. English-speaking.
Main Avianca ticket office and Deprisa airmail office in basement of Ed Avianca, Cra 7, No 16-36, open 0730-1900 Mon to Fri, 0800-1500 Sat, closed Sun and holidays (poste restante 0730-1800, Mon-Sat, letters kept for 1 month, US$1 per letter). Parcels by air are sent from here too. Also Cra 7 y C 26-27, near Planetarium; C 140 between Cra 19 y Autopista. Parcels by air, contact Avianca. Adpostal, Cra 7, No 27-54, handles international parcels.
Fire T119, Ambulance T125, Red Cross T132, Red Cross ambulance T127. CAI Police T156 or 112.
Calls can be made from several Telecom offices in centre of Bogotá (eg in the Tequendama Hotel complex, Cra 13, No 26-45, Mon-Sat 0800-1900); all close within ½ an hour of 2000 and may be closed on holidays. Purchase of phone cards is recommended if you are using call boxes.