Cucuta, Colombia: A Hidden Treasure
Submitted 1 year 5 months ago by Aleksey.
You've probably never heard of Cucuta unless you've spent a fair amount of time in Colombia. It has a population of 750,000 people, making it Colombia's sixth largest city. It is Colombia's largest city, located on the border with Venezuela. Typically, the weather is *extremely* hot.
I confess that I only stayed in Cucuta for a short time to scope out the area, see if it has potential, and cross the Venezuelan border.
General observations: There were no foreigners other than Venezuelans, the city was remarkably green and safe, the people were polite, and the city was extremely inexpensive. Restaurants, nightlife, and transportation all provided excellent value for money. All seemed to be a little cheaper there than in Colombia's larger cities. There have been several rumors of security problems in the area, which I'm not sure are true or not after staying there. Taxis informed us that the city is not at all secure. Always be on the lookout, particularly if you're walking alone or in a small group.
Places to Stay
I stayed at the Holiday Inn Cucuta because I wanted to make sure I stayed somewhere safe, and it seemed that there was a lot going on in the immediate vicinity. It is literally next to a mall, which has proven to be one of the best in the region.
As a result, you'll want to remain near Centro Comercial Ventura Plaza. Why is this so? The mall is cool, there are a lot of girls there who look like they've never seen a foreigner, and you can walk to a lot of the city's best restaurants and bars from here. Just be particularly vigilant at night.
Other good hotels in the city include Hampton Inn, Hotel IBIS, and Hotel Casino Internacional, which is directly across the street from the Holiday Inn.
My hotel cost $50 per night, but the usual range for these top hotels is $30-$70 USD per night, with $50 being about the average.
I didn't even look at Airbnb options before booking the hotel because I wanted to make sure I stayed somewhere extremely safe on my first visit to the area. While writing this, I went back and looked at Airbnb, and it doesn't appear that there are many Airbnbs in this specific neighborhood. There were about 6 Airbnbs in the region, and some of them seem to be inaccurate and not even in that area. The others seem to be very run-down and, without a doubt, a step down in terms of quality from the hotels. If you go this path, don't have high hopes for Airbnbs in Cucuta.
You wouldn't think that every hotel will be okay with taking in guests without reporting them, but the Holiday Inn works out pretty well because they also have a rooftop bar and restaurant, so people who aren't staying there can come in and out without issue during regular hours. That won't work if you turn up at 2 a.m. with a guest.
Where to Eat and Drink
At a restaurant named Molinito, I had an excellent steak. It seemed to be a very high-end restaurant for Cucuta, but it was very affordable and served a delicious meal.
I've heard about this place. Vianka Pizzeria, which was close to the hotel, was also fine. Restaurante An'k, which is also nearby, is said to be one of the best in the region.
There are several options near the hotel and the “malecón,” which is a path that runs along the river a few blocks away. But, as this is Cucuta, not Paris, don't expect incredible fine dining.
There is a Bogota Beer Company (BBC) near the hotel where you can get beers, a nice bar with good drinks nearby is Solario or this spot two doors down from it, or the Holiday Inn has a bar on the rooftop where everyone can go. The Centro Comercial Jardn Plaza mall also has a good beer selection.
How to Get Around
I was nervous about this area, so I tried to limit my use of Uber and other traceable services while I was here. The issue was that there weren't many Ubers available. Drivers don't want to bother because the fares are so poor.
I always took taxis on the street or from the hotel, but it's always better to use a taxi app if possible.
In addition, when in Cucuta, I used InDriver for the first time. You can receive offers if you pay a reasonable price. We received many offers, and the individual was nearby when I requested an InDriver to take us to Plaza Bolivar.
What You Can Do
That's an excellent topic. With just a few days in Cucuta, I didn't do much touristy things. However, it seems that tourism does not exist there.
It was cool to see the Venezuelan border. But it was also shady because you stand out so much and you can tell people are in a lot of trouble. The actual border region, however, is much better because there are a lot of people around, and people can't just rob you and then run back across to Venezuela or Colombia's checkpoint. But don't let your guard down and certainly don't be flashy there.
Cucuta, as previously said, is extremely hot. Malls are likely successful for this purpose. Centro Comercial Ventura Plaza was nice, and it was likely the best mall in the region.
Centro Commercial Jardn Plaza is the city's newest mall and, unexpectedly, one of the best-designed malls in Colombia. There are several higher-end shops there, but nothing particularly thrilling or memorable.
Ccuta's malecón is a pleasant place to stroll. There's a good little park there, but other areas farther down aren't as well kept. Be cautious around here because it appears to be an easy place to be robbed if you are not paying attention to the people around you.
Cucuta is hilly, so our taxi driver told us there is a place to drive to and see the view of the area, but we don't know where that was. When we asked around, no one could tell us where it was. I'm sure there are a few places like this in the city or just outside of it.
There appears to be some interesting nature activities just outside of Cucuta.
Where to Go for a Night Out / Nightlife
On a Thursday night, we arrived. For the best Thursday night action, we were told to go to Plaza Bolivar. That is an excellent suggestion. When it's completely open on the weekends, it's a plaza with potentially a dozen bars and clubs.
I didn't have high hopes, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover a very good club with a large crowd and good crossover Spanish music. It was known as Adonay Cantina. It appears to be a fonda from Medellin. I went perreo dancing with some girls and got one cute girl's number who was really interested. Thursday seemed like a good night to go out in Cucuta.
The two best clubs in town seemed to be this one (Adonay) and another named Fuego. However, it is better to walk around and evaluate the situation because it can change on any given night.
The Venezuela situation is clear, with a swarm of girls standing outside of these clubs, many of whom are Venezuelan. So, make sure you know if you're talking to a normal girl or a working girl.
On Friday night, we went to Arka, a club near Plaza Ventura, and charged a 30,000 peso ($9) cover charge to sit in the best section. This is a hefty cover charge for Colombia, but we thought it was worth a shot to see what it got us.
This place was packed with smoking hot sexy chicas, and we knew it had to be one of the best clubs in Cucuta for the wealthy. Bottles were very cheap in this town, which was fantastic. In addition, the waiter we had provided us with excellent service. He was extremely fast and attentive, which is NOT at all popular in Colombia. This made me want to go back, and if you find anything like this in Colombia, you can let them know how much you love it and that you'll be back. We made sure to tip him well.
Someone went upstairs at one point during the night and began throwing Venezuelan Bolvares (their currency) down, making it rain in the club. This was most likely the moment that best summed up this city for me. There are a lot of groups at this place, so it might be difficult to break into any of them, but if you can show you're not a weirdo or open people by offering to pour them some shots, you can probably meet some girls from this place. A high-end girl will most likely want you to take her here. The same could be said for a lower-class girl, who would most likely be delighted if you brought her here. If you want to take a girl out, this is a decent place to take her and grind her all night.
A side note about Cucuta: I'd read a few articles before coming here about how prostitution is big here because of all the Venezuelans who come over to offer their services. But I'm not sure what's going on here. Any location that advertised it seemed to be extremely shady. Taxis actually know where places like this are, but they're most likely big shitholes.
Cucuta's girls were beautiful!! I saw a lot of really attractive ladies in both the malls and the nightclubs. I'm pretty sure that about 75% of the top ones had their breasts taken care of, so if you don't like fake boobs, Cucuta is definitely not the place for you. Most are darker-skinned, but not as black as in Cali. You won't find any natural blondes or white-skinned ladies here. They also made regular eye contact and seemed to be curious about foreigners. The downside is that the clubs are set up in the traditional Colombian style of VIP tables, which makes it difficult to strike up a conversation.
The male-to-female ratios in the clubs were roughly 60-40, which was appropriate. A small bottle of aguardiente cost about $20, and a large bottle cost about $35-40, so it wasn't much. Cocktails cost about 6-7 dollars, and beers cost about 3-4 dollars. Overall, I'd say the nightlife is fun, but I did note that the group is very small. Girls were concerned with who was watching and doing what, so I think if you lived here, you'd soon be recognized by everyone, which might stymie you. A smart idea here would be to have a business card on hand and just slip em to girls in the nightlife on the low. The guys in Cucuta seemed pretty friendly; there were no active cockblockers that I saw, but they also didn't seem to want to include you in their party. They notice a foreigner. They recognize the appeal of a foreigner and would probably prefer not to add to the rivalry for their prized fake breasted divas.
Why come to Cucuta when you could go to Medellin, Bogota, or Cali? It's a legitimate question that you should probably ask yourself to see if you have a reasonable answer to. But if you're a Colombian veteran, you'll probably want to try something new at some point, and hopefully you'll find this datasheet useful.