As a vibrant paradise tucked amidst the Ecuadorian Andes, the enchanting town of Baños, Ecuador is a marvel that travelers from around the world come to explore.
Notoriously famed as the ‘Gateway to the Amazon’, Baños provides an enticing combination of natural wonders, fascinating culture, and gastronomic delights.
After having spent almost six years in Ecuador, Amelia and I had Baños sitting on our bucket list for the longest time. Now that we have finally experienced its charms firsthand, we can’t help but wonder why it took us so long to visit this magnificent corner of the world.
From its steep mountains veiled in vibrant greenery to the cascading highest waterfall in Ecuador, Baños offered an adventure that was nothing short of magical.
Our journey to Baños started in Quito. It was a scenic 3-hour drive from the city and about 4 hours from the Quito airport to Baños.
This article dives into our first impressions, cost of living, shopping, restaurants, spas, and outdoor activities that make Baños a true treasure of Ecuador.
Driving into Baños, the first thing that caught our attention was its mind-blowing natural beauty. Think green landscapes and mountains, steep but incredibly beautiful.
The city itself is very walkable. There was hardly any trash lying around, though you’ve got to be careful where you step – dogs love it here too!
While walking around, we noticed how happy everyone seemed. We often sat, enjoyed coffee at the Aromi cafe, and watched people just living their life – it was something special.
What’s the Weather Like in Baños?
Baños is located about 6,000 feet / 1.829 meters above sea level, which is actually lower than most mountain towns we’ve visited in Ecuador.
The weather was a little bit of everything – cool temps, hot sun, a bit of rain and also quite windy.
Our guide, Miguel, told us that Baños has 3 seasons each day: cold, hot and wet.
Baños Cost of Living
Life in Baños doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. We’ve been to a bunch of cities in Ecuador, and Baños fits right in, budget-wise. It seemed similar to Cuenca, Loja and Cotacachi.
We saw signs for almuerzos (the daily lunch special) for $2.50. When we ate out, our bill was usually around $20 to $30 for two people with drinks.
Some of the food items we buy at the grocery stores in Quito were actually less in Baños. We weren’t expecting that.
We saw a variety of Chilean and Argentinian wines for $5 to $10 at the Mega Bodega in the center of town.
Shopping in Baños
If you like shopping, you’ll love Baños. There are LOTS of stores selling everything from touristy souvenirs to high end clothing. And we saw a couple art galleries.
The town is known for its Melcocha, a taffy-like candy. I’m not a big candy person, but I couldn’t get enough of the Caca de Perros. That translates to “dog poop,” but they’re just peanuts roasted with panela (brown sugar).
Restaurants in Baños
When it comes to restaurants, we were really happy with the variety. We tried a bunch of places:
- Aromi Cafe – delicious coffee and hot cocoa
- Sativa Studio Cafe – vegan comfort food
- My Veg Restaurante – vegan, vegetarian and non-vegetarian comfort food
- Selina RoofTop Bar – amazing views in a bar atmosphere
- Sher E Punjab – delicious Indian food
- Pappardelle Ristorante Pizzeria – delicious Italian food in a family-friendly setting
Each place had something unique to offer and the prices ranged from $5 to $11 per entree.
Spas in Baños
If you’re into spas, you’ll find lots of options in Baños.
We went to El Spa de tus Sueños for two incredible massages. The atmosphere isn’t great. It’s very utilitarian, but the quality of the massages was fantastic! That’s why we went back for a second massage! The cost was $20 for 60 minutes and $30 for 90 minutes.
The Ayurvedic Spa at Sangay Spa Hotel was next level. The atmosphere was great and the massages were very relaxing. We got a 60-minute couples massage for $100 ($50 each) and a 60-minute jacuzzi soak for $50.
There are a lot of other spas and resorts to choose from and you’ll see several as you walk around town.
Outdoor Activities in Baños
Now, if you’re an outdoorsy person, you’ll feel right at home in Baños. There’s so much to do there!
We also hired a driver and visited Casa del Arbol, Columpio y Diamante, La Mano de la Pachamama, and Cascada El Pailón del Diablo (the Devil’s Caldron) – a waterfall so tall it’s the highest in Ecuador! It’s about 330 feet / 100 meters high!
Reflecting on our jam-packed adventure in Baños, Amelia and I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface of this quaint little mountain town.
It’s so much more than just a tourist spot; it’s a vibrant, welcoming community that has left a lasting impression on us.
From the mesmerizing natural beauty to the friendly, down-to-earth locals, everything about Baños screams ‘home’.
Honestly, we’ve already started thinking about our next visit. Maybe we’ll finally brave the crowd and hit the thermal pools, or perhaps we’ll indulge in more of the mouth-watering restaurant fare!
We also want to explore more hiking trails and venture down into the Amazon. It’s only an hour east of Baños by car.
No doubt, Baños, you have a magnetic charm that’s hard to resist and we’ll be seeing you again soon!
Watch Our Video About Baños Ecuador
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