Life in Armenia

Can anyone tell me a bit about Armenia. The culture and practices, the people and their personalities, shopping areas, housing and general cost of living. And the limitation or lack thereof of extra curricular activities?

Thank you

Armenia is a peaceful place to visit for a few months for a very traditional South American holiday experience.  The people are very friendly and polite, the standard of dentistry, medical care and aesthetic surgery are all very good and reasonably priced.  The climate is excellent, the countryside very picturesque and of course the women are pretty.   Parque del Cafe is well worth a visit as well as a lazy trip down the river on a bamboo raft.  There is also an excellent International School, Gymnasio Ingles.  There are a few good places to eat and drink, such as El Secreto, Container City (The City Public etc), Helena Adentro in Filandia and Brunch in Salento.  After living here for four years, unfortunately I have to advise you that Armenia is very boring; essentially a small old fashioned town with pretensions of being a city but the majority of people do not want to change.  There is little culture, alot of corruption at all levels, poverty, public and private customer services are very poor, driving is atrocious, construction and materials are generally poor and totally unreliable.  The legal system exists but is very cumbersome and international banking is a nightmare.  On the other hand, the North of Bogota and Medellin are fabulous and combine modern city life with Colombian culture and Latin excitement.  I would suggest you rent first and assess Armenia over a year before making a move.

Thank you! Your post was very thorough. Maybe you can pm me with renting suggestitions.

A pleasure, although uncomfortable it was my honest opinion after living in Armenia for four years. For renting you might try the following link, as they seem to have a good reputation.

I just spent a week in Armenia and I like it here.

Top 10 Things I Like About Armenia, Colombia

10.  The weather is cooler than Medellín.

9.  Taking buses and taxis, it’s easy to get around.

8.  You can play blackjack at the casinos for as little as $1.67 US a hand (5,000 pesos).  You can play multiple hands per round for that amount.  At the Havana Casino when it’s slow at the table, you can play six hands at a time for 10,000 pesos each.

7.  There’s an actual jungle in the middle of town.  It’s called Parque de la Vida and it’s a joy to walk through.  There are paved walkways and unpaved ones covered with leaves.

6.  You can stay in 4-5 star hotels for about fifty bucks a night.  I paid $53 US a night here at Allure Aroma Mocawa hotel, and no tax was charged based on my tourist status.  I have DirecTV, a great view of Armenia, there are a ‘climatizada’ swimming pool and a warm jacuzzi on the rooftop floor, the lobby and front-desk staff are classy and you can get a massage on the 6th floor.  With the exception of hotel row near Ram Hospital in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this may be the best value I’ve ever found for a quality hotel anywhere in the world.

5.  The food around town is tasty.  Among the places I like are the Leña restaurant (ribs and chicken) at Portal Quindío mall’s Patio de Comidas .. Luca’s for ribs near the Mocawa hotel .. and the Chinese restaurant next to Luca’s, where i twice had the jumbo shrimp with vegetables.  My occasional craving for a club sandwich was satisfied by the Mocawa room-service team, including prompt delivery to my room, with some of the tastiest French fries I’ve had in a long time.

4.  People were amazingly friendly and cooperative.  For instance, when I didn’t like the ambiance at the Mocawa’s pool area on some days -- too much bubbling in the jacuzzi, too much music -- all I had to do was ask the several poolside guests and the pool muchacho (whom I gave small tips), and everything was rectified to the way I prefer.

3.  The massage I got from a freelance masseuse who works part-time at the hotel was one of the best I’ve had in South America outside my home city of Quito, Ecuador.

2.  Armenia is just down the road from Salento, where there’s an incredible Mirador overlooking the vast and verdant Cocora Valley .. and (at 6,000-feet altitude) extremely refreshing weather and a lovely main plaza.

And the #1 thing I liked about Armenia....

1.  At the Armenia Hotel (across the street from Mocawa), the available room they showed me had one of the most incredible views I have seen since I once tried to buy an apartment overlooking Central Park in Manhattan.  This view featured a panoramic scene of the jungle-like Parque de la Vida from the 7th floor of the hotel.  It was breathtaking.

cccmedia, from Armenia, Colombia

About hotel rates...

Armenia’s luxury hotels The Armenia Hotel and Allure Aroma Mocawa sit across the main drag Bolívar avenue from one another near Parque de la Vida.

Based on recent checks of their nightly rates at, it’s evident that both hotels charge between $53 and $60 US per night on a regular basis for their standard -- aka “double” -- rooms.

However, the Armenia Hotel features many suites, and right now, during the height of summer, the Armenia Hotel is charging $147 per night for its suites;  a standard room is not available this week.  On some days in late August, for which a standard room is available, a rate just under $60 is still possible.

Checking September and November, the Armenia Hotel’s rates are in the low 50’s for standard lodging, in line with what the Mocawa charges.

The 16 percent hotel tax is not supposed to apply to Expat tourists.  At the Mocawa, you show your passport stamp and fill out a brief form in order to receive this tax exemption.

All this may be of little interest to those whose budget for hotels is $20 per night and who like the easy-to-make-new-friends vibe of lower-cost hostels.

However, for those who like an occasional splurge or have a bigger budget, Armenia’s top hotels offer the rare opportunity to stay at a five-star property for $53 to $60 when standard rooms are available.


The Armenia’s pool, unlike Mocawa’s, is not heated, although that may be fine around this time (August) for many swimmers, what with daily highs in the low 80’s Fahrenheit.  The Armenia’s pool is not open in the afternoon until 5 p.m.  The Mocawa pool sometimes closes one day a week for chemical treatment.  This week it was closed for this purpose on a Sunday, which happened to be a national holiday in Colombia.

Both hotels offer air conditioning, which is not found at most hotels in this city, and are beautifully decorated.

The Armenia Hotel is slightly closer to Parque de la Vida and some of its rooms offer spectacular park views as a result.

Hotel rates quoted in this post include a 10 percent “Genius” discount available at

cccmedia, on the road in Armenia, Colombia

cccmedia :

About hotel rates...

Armenia’s luxury hotels The Armenia Hotel and Allure Aroma Mocawa sit across the main drag Bolívar avenue from one another near Parque de la Vida.

With the Colombian optometrists association occupying the Mocawa Hotel in Armenia this weekend, I got booted out for two nights and so I had my first experience staying at the Hotel Armenia.  Meaning, I can now compare the guest-rooms at the two hotels that have ‘primo’ locations near Parque de la Vida, based on direct experience.

As mentioned, the rates for standard rooms are virtually the same year-round at $53 to $60 with’s Genius rate.  The location of each hotel is similar.

My conclusion:

Based on my comfort levels, I prefer the Mocawa Hotel.


1.  Noise insulation.  I stayed in rooms facing the main drag, Bolívar avenue, in both hotels -- on the 6th floor at Armenia Hotel and (in separate stays) on the 7th and 11th floors of Mocawa.  Mocawa is quieter.  Street noise in the Armenia Hotel room was a problem.  Buses grinding to a halt.  Sirens and car alarms quite audible.  Over at Mocawa:  much quieter, almost certainly due to better window insulation.

2.  Room-darkening capability.  So much light entered my Armenia Hotel room that I had to sleep with a sleep-mask after 6 a.m.  Mocawa’s rooms have perfect room-darkening curtains. :)

3.  Room security.  Only Mocawa of the two hotels provided a lockable security box.  I had to hide my laptop when I was leaving the Armenia Hotel room without it.  Only Mocawa provided limited-floor-access by key-card to guest-room floors.  That may be one reason why the Vice-President of Colombia stayed at Mocawa last week on a visit to Armenia.

4.  In-Room TV Viewing.  Mocawa’s greater choice of English-language channels via DirecTV Satellite, including CNN and Bloomberg, makes it a clear favorite for Expat visitors.  Armenia Hotel provides cable programing in the guest-rooms.

The Armenia Hotel has some nice features -- a lovely lobby and a quieter swimming-pool area, for instance.  But if getting a restful sleep is a priority for you, the Mocawa is the clear choice.

Note:  Armenia Hotel guest-rooms facing the park (not the avenue) are probably quieter than what I experienced, if you can get one.

cccmedia from Eje Cafetero

Top Features of Parque de la Vida in Armenia, Colombia....

10.  Ducks on the ‘pond’ -- live ducks on the 100-yard-long canal.

9.  Kids’ park -- games of various types laid out for the youngsters.

8.  Rumbo in the Jungle:  Follow the ‘Bosque Nativa’ (natural forest) signs to an actual jungle in the heart of the city.  Populated with tropical plants and trees and native wildlife.

7.  El Escenario -- the scenic, landscaped area popular with picnickers and casual walkers.  The most visited area in the park.

6.  El Patinódromo -- the enormous roller skating rink.  I saw a group of 20 young women on skates in tight formation one evening, whipping by the spectators at high speed.

5.  Waterfalls and other fascinating features of cascading water, on the far side of the canal.

4.  The upper paths -- a challenge for strong, young legs up and down the hillsides at the outer reaches of el parque.

3.  Pagodas and outdoor seating.

2.  Amphitheatre where músicos come to perform.

And the #1 feature of Parque de la Vida....

1.  Man-made walkways that lead you from one end of the park to the other side ... and natural pathways that take you on side trips to secret destinations.


Admission to Parque de la Vida:  1500 Colombian pesos .. or about half a dollar U.S. (August 2016 exchange rate).

cccmedia, back at the hotel just two blocks from the entrance to Armenia’s Parque de la Vida

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