Baños, a city full of adventure.
Baños is the adventure capital of Ecuador. A thriving tourist town, equally popular with both Ecuadorian and international travelers, that has 80% of your population working with tourism.
It is located 170 km from Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, a three-hour’s drive south. Baños is blessed with an abundance of thermal waters and waterfalls, just the perfect place to do some extreme sports. And that made it be recognized as a popular spa and outdoor-sports town, as well as home to a small community of expats.
The town is also known as the “Gateway to the Amazon.” Just some kilometers downhill from Baños is the town of Puyo, the country’s largest jungle town. Although Baños and its surroundings are very touristy, lots of people love it (me too).
What are the most popular attractions among the backpackers (diving/surfing/skiing/climbing/hiking etc.)
The city is THE destination in Ecuador for mountain-biking, hiking, rafting, kayaking, canopying, bridge jumping, zip-lining, horseback riding, partying and doing some SPA (hot springs, massages and facials).
What are the “must see” attractions?
- Cascada de la Virgen (The Virgen Waterfall and hot springs)
- Puenting from San Franscisco Bridge
- Night Chiva to see the city from above
- Hike to the statue of the Virgin Mary
- Cascada Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron Waterfall)
- Ruta de las cascadas (by bike or Chiva)
- Tungurahua Volcano
- La Casa del Árbol (swing)
- Church of the Virgin of the Holy Water (Nuestra Señora del Agua Santa)
- Rafting or canoying at Pastaza River
- Canopy or zip-lining
- SPA (full body massage)
- Jungle tour at Puyo
What are the best restaurants for backpackers? What those restaurants has to offer? (Mediterranean/Italian/Caribbean/ any another type of cuisine).
Even for a small town, Baños has pretty good options of restaurants, coffee shop and street food. In general they are at the main streets, around the plaza (close to the church). Some options for the backpackers are: Popular Café Hood (nice american owner), Café Mariane (for lunch, dinner or snacks), Alto Caribe Bistrot (reaaaaaally good food for a backpacker price), Ponche Suizo Coffee Shop (best breakfast), Mercado Central (cheap local food and local people), Pappardelle (Italian Cuisine), Ali Cumba Café (funny dutch owner and tasty sandwiches), Leoni Pizzeria and Garfield Pizzeria (cheap and tasty).
What are the best nightclubs and bars? What did you specially liked about them?
In September is considered low-season in Baños, and the bars that are open, almost all of them, turns into a nightclub some moment during the night. The better ones were: Volcan Bar Disc (locals and free welcome drinks), Leprechuan Bar (nice bonfire and different spaces), Jack Rock Cafe (good balcony, music, perfect for a couple of beers), Stray Dog Brewpub (for good beers).
What are the coolest places around the city you’ve visited?
Baños has more activities around its surroundings than in city itself. The coolest options are definitely The End of the world swing, Tungurahua Volcano, the waterfalls route (pailon del diablo) and the jungle tour to Puyo.
Where backpackers usually continue after the place you’ve been?
Backpackers usually go to Latacunga (Quilotoa Lagoon), Riobamba (Train and mountain biking), Puyo (jungle) or Guayaquil.
From where they are usually coming?
During the low season the city was a bit empty, but I could see some backpackers around. They were usually from Ecuador, Canada, Europe (France, Germany and Netherlands), and United States.
What did you feel was missing in the city? What could make your visit to a perfect one?
I missed seeing more traditional stuff, like clothing, music and food. The city offers good options of entertainment during the day and night, but has a lack of museums and others cultural places.
Also, does not have big stores. If you need something more specific need to wait until Guayaquil to get it! But in general, it is a very nice, touristic and beautiful city to spend a few days.
If Selina will set a hostel there — how do you imagine it?
I imagine a chill hostel, almost like a SPA. A place where people can hang out, relax and recover the energy. A room or a area to do massages, yoga, slack line, hammocks and things like that! A rooftop terrace with a bar/restaurant would a good thing for Selina to have too, especially with a view of the city.
Eventually, please write in your own words your opinion and describe your personal experience
I had lots of fun in Baños, I wasn’t expecting much and it surprised me! The waterfalls were beautiful and the bridge jumping were soooooo cool! The city explodes into adrenaline and I really love that. Almost everybody leaves with a big smile on their face and great stories from their adventures, including myself!
Ariadne Nardeli (Brazilian Backpacker Researcher for Selina Hostel)