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Discovering Ecuador: Do's and Don'ts for Expats

The EcuaAssist Team

Ecuador has something for everyone. As an expat with extensive experience living abroad, let me guide you through the do's and don'ts of making the most of your Ecuadorian adventure, sprinkled with some fun and interesting facts about this fascinating country.

Do's for Expats in Ecuador

1. Embrace the Diversity

Ecuador is incredibly diverse, with distinct regions offering unique experiences. The coast, highlands, Amazon, and Galápagos Islands each have their own charm. Do take the time to explore these different areas.

Fun Fact: Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, housing about 10% of the planet’s plant species despite its small size.

2. Learn Basic Spanish

While you’ll find some English speakers in tourist areas, speaking basic Spanish will significantly enhance your experience. Do try to learn key phrases and greetings.

Fun Fact: Ecuadorian Spanish is considered one of the clearest and easiest to understand in Latin America, making it a great place to improve your language skills.

3. Respect Local Traditions and Customs

Ecuadorians are proud of their cultural heritage. Do participate in local festivals and respect traditions. For instance, if you’re invited to a meal, it’s polite to try everything that’s offered.

Fun Fact: One of the most important festivals is Inti Raymi, a celebration of the sun that dates back to the Inca civilization.

4. Get to Know the Cuisine

Ecuadorian food is varied and delicious. Do try local dishes like ceviche, cuy (guinea pig), and llapingachos (potato patties).

Fun Fact: Ecuador is the largest exporter of bananas in the world, and you’ll find bananas incorporated into many dishes.

5. Take Safety Precautions

Ecuador is generally safe, but like any country, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. Do use common sense, especially in crowded places, and keep an eye on your belongings.

Fun Fact: The capital city, Quito, was one of the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO due to its well-preserved historical center.

Don'ts for Expats in Ecuador

1. Don’t Expect Punctuality

Time in Ecuador can be more relaxed than what you might be used to. Don't stress if things don’t start on time – it’s often referred to as "Ecuadorian time."

2. Don’t Neglect Altitude Sickness

If you’re heading to the highlands, especially cities like Quito or Cuenca, the altitude can be challenging. Don't underestimate it – take it easy your first few days.

Fun Fact: Quito, at an altitude of 2,850 meters (9,350 feet), is the second-highest capital city in the world.

3. Don’t Ignore Environmental Protection

Ecuadorians take pride in their natural environment. Don't litter or harm wildlife. When visiting places like the Galápagos Islands, follow all guidelines to protect the unique ecosystems.

Fun Fact: The Galápagos Islands inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and are home to species found nowhere else on earth.

4. Don’t Forget to Bargain

In markets and with street vendors, bargaining is expected. Don't pay the first price you're given – it’s all part of the shopping experience.

5. Don’t Miss Out on Public Transportation

Ecuador has a well-developed and affordable public transportation system. Don't hesitate to use buses and trams to get around, especially within cities like Quito and Guayaquil.

Fun Fact: The “Tren Crucero” is a luxury train journey that offers a scenic and cultural route from Quito to Guayaquil, traversing the Andes and the coastal plains.


Equator Line: Ecuador is named after the equator, which runs through the country. You can visit the “Mitad del Mundo” monument to stand with one foot in each hemisphere.

Volcanoes: Ecuador has over 30 active volcanoes. Cotopaxi and Chimborazo are among the most famous, with Chimborazo’s peak being the farthest point from the Earth’s center due to the equatorial bulge.

Panama Hat: The iconic Panama hat actually originated in Ecuador. It’s traditionally hand-woven from toquilla straw in the coastal town of Montecristi.

Biodiversity: Yasuni National Park in the Amazon is considered the most biodiverse place on Earth, hosting thousands of species of plants, animals, and insects.

Ecuador is a land of incredible beauty and rich cultural heritage, offering expats a unique and rewarding experience. By embracing the do's and steering clear of the don'ts, you’ll be well on your way to a memorable stay. Dive into the local culture, respect the environment, and enjoy all the wonders this vibrant country has to offer!

If you have any questions about living in wonderful Ecuador, make an appointment FREE OF CHARGE.

EcuaAssist #1 Expats Immigration Law Firm in Ecuador


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