Ecuador has a lot to offer and is a relatively friendly country. However, just like any destination tourists are easily exposed to scams. These are some of the scams to look out for.
Gate fee and Bus fare scam at Quitumbe bus station in Quito
- At Quitumbe bus station travelers have to pay for both bus tickets and gate passes. Gate pass costs only 20 cents while bus fare differs depending on your destination. Frequently most tourists get scammed by the attendants and end up paying double the bus fare.
- Both bus fare and gate passes are purchased at the various ticketing offices across the terminal.
- The attendants will ask for veinte centavos (it means twenty cents in Spanish). Don't give out a $20 bill since they won't refund your change. After paying the gate fee, the attendant will also ask for the bus fare. You're supposed to leave the booth with two tickets, the gate pass, and a bus ticket. You won't board the bus if you don't have either.
- There are several ways taxi drivers in Ecuador can scam tourists.
- Most taxis in Quito and Guayaquil are not metered, some drivers even refuse to run the meter and prices are settled by negotiation. Expect to be overcharged if you can't speak any Spanish and are not in the company of a local. The best option especially for solid travelers is hailing taxis on Uber, Cabify, or Easy taxi. These are all available in Guayaquil and Quito.
- A taxi driver once refused to give me back my change in Guayaquil. Always be sure to have loose change before taking any taking taxis.
- Border taxi drivers scam. This is common in Peru -Ecuador border towns. Most tourists hire taxis on the Ecuadorian side then cross by taxi to the Peruvian side. It's common for taxi drivers to reject payment in US dollars ( which is the currency used in Ecuador) and demand payment in Peruvian soles. Some even offer to change your dollars to soles and will give you a very bad rate.
Galapagos boat operator scams
- It's easy to be a victim of this scam if you book a boat tour online. Some boat operators post luxurious boats and cruise ships on their websites, ask for high reservation fees only for you to be booked into old and unsafe boats.
- The easiest way to avoid this scams is to book tours with reputable offline operators in the Galapagos islands Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island has the largest of operators, you'll easily get a boat tour on any budget.
- Beware of boat operators who charge incredibly low fees. They'll be some extra small charges and it'll end up being a big rip off.
- Pickpocketing is the most common scam in Guayaquil and Quito. It doesn't only take place in crowded places such as bus stations and airports. Beware of distractions from strangers. In most cases, it's just a tactic to buy time to snatch your phone or wallet.