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You should add Baños to your bucket list if you like to get active. That’s why most travellers check out this little ‘off the beaten path’ destination. There are endless things to do in Baños, Edcuador and its also really easy to get to from Quito.
The bus from from Quito to Baños only takes 3 hours and will cost you the appetising price of $3. If you want to see Ecuador on a budget then this should certainly be appealing to you.
Along with all the great things to do in Ecuador on a budget, bus travel is very budget friendly. With most bus journeys costing $1 per hour of travel.
So with all the cash you save on getting from Quito to Banos, you can easily spend your time and budget white water rafting, biking, hiking, canyoning and more!
Backpackers in Banos
Baños attracts the waves of backpackers despite being a really small town in Ecuador. The small mountainous destination is alive with warm thermal springs, tourist friendly restaurants and some pretty unexpected nightlife.
In Banos you’ll find something to suit all tastes and budgets, which is why this ‘off the beaten path’ destination makes it on most Ecuador bucket lists.
The official name for the town is Baños de Agua Santa if you’re looking for routes to get here, but most people just say Baños.
With so much to do in such a small place this backpacker wonderland is becoming increasingly popular on the South America ‘gringo route’. And with 3 story clubs, amazing authentic restaurants and chilled little coffee spots its easy to see why!
Where is Banos?
Banos is located is located in the Tungurahua province of Ecuador and around a 3 hour bus journey from Ecuadors capital Quito.
This area is often regarded as Ecuador’s gateway to the Amazon as you can easily access the Amazon basin from this area.
Banos is one of the last towns before you reach the Amazon in the east and is fast becoming a major tourist hot spot for water sports in Ecuador.
Most people travel from other areas of Ecuador such as Guayaquil in the South or Quito in the north.
The bus to Baños, Ecuador
As mentioned it is very easy to get to Banos from Quito. Most backpackers do this cheap and easy journey from Ecuadors capital.
From Quito to Banos, the bus will cost you between $3 and $5, a bargain price in a country that uses US dollar as it’s official currency.
You’ll want to take the bus from the Terrestre Quitumbe Station, this is also know as Tumbe, which is much easier to remember. It is located in the Southern part of the city of Quito.
The journey from the bus station in Quito to Baños will take between 3 and 4 hours for most depending on which service you use.
It is usually recommended to take a faster or first class service if there is one available. The price usually doesn’t differ too much, but safety and theft can.
Where to stay in Baños?
We stayed at Erupcion Backpackers Hostel which is not the same as Erupcion Art Hostel – save yourself the confusion and remember that.
As a group of 5 it made sense for us to book a 5 bed dorm, which worked out to be pretty great!
We shared a nicely decorated, clean and spacious 5 bed dorm with bathroom with a private bathroom. We also had the small courtyard to chill in with added turtle.
Things to do in Baños
Baños attracts many tourists for a bunch of reasons. There are so many things to do in Baños but the main is to ‘swing from the edge of the world’, literally.
You may have seen photos on BuzzFeed lists of things to do before you die. Almost all of the ‘swing at the edge of the world’ references are talking about La Casa del Arbol just outside of Baños, Ecuador.
La Casa del Arbol
The swing at the edge of the world
Casa del Arbol aka the swing at the edge of the world draws tourists from near and far to jump on the local bus and travel upwards towards Casa del Arbol, the famous spot and photo opportunity in South America that allows tourists to swing from the edge of the world into the abyss below.
Jump a bus from the main central square in Baños (where the Quito bus drops you off).
The bus costs a couple of dollars and upon reaching the top of the winding route you reach a smaller replica of the swing at Casa del Arbol, you will be charged to use this and many tourists stop off here before heading to Casa del Arbol.
I wouldn’t recommend it, beat some of the crowd and head further up the hill to Casa del Arbol for the real swing, views and experience.
The swing at the edge of the world – La Casa del Arbol is a must do when visiting Baños its mostly very cheap to do and you won’t end up spending more than $10 dollars on the whole experience.
It’s not to be missed plus if BuzzFeed says it should be on your list of things to do before you die then it must be true.
Thermal pools in Baños
One of the other main attractions in Baños are the natural thermal pools that exist in this region due to volcanic activity. This is one of the best and most popular things to do in Baños.
We found ourselves visiting two separate thermal spa’s during our time in Baños. The air in Quito can be crisp and cool due to the Altitude and that goes for Baños too.
The warm waters from the thermal pools and heat from the equator sun mixed with the cool and crisp altitude air make thermal pools and enjoyable visit.
The thermal pools range in temperature from coolest to hottest and you are advised to start at the coolest and make your way to the hottest.
The warmest waters kind of feel like a very hot bath and you can actually feel the volcanic rock beneath your feet bubbling away. The thermal pools we visited also had a freezing cold pool. I wasn’t brave enough for that one.
El Salado Pools and Piscinas de la Virgen
We visited El Salado Pools and also Piscinas de la Virgen the most popular thermal pools in Baños. You must wear a cap whilst in the water. You can either buy one or rent one for $2 but you must have one to enter the pools.
At the pools, you can also rent boxes for your clothes and valuables for between $2-$3 depending on the pools you choose to visit.
As I mentioned earlier there are several thermal pools to choose from in Baños and most cost under $5 for the whole day.
Water sports in Baños
There’s an unrivaled range of water sports activities in Baños, you only need to walk the streets of this small town to see how many.
As one of the best things to do in Baños, we decided to try our hand at white water rafting.
White water rafting in Banos
Now I’ll say this, but if you’re a baby like me you probably want to sit this one out. Rated one of the best things to do in Banos, I probably should have enjoyed this more than I did.
My white water rafting experience in Baños was terrifying. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it oddly enough so I’m just going to give in and admit that I’m a scared baby when it comes to water.
White water rafting day trips vary – many start early and can last anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, most include photos, training, guides and our even included lunch at a local and family owned restaurant on the banks of the Rio.
The tours take place at either the Rio Pastaza or the Rio Patate and the difficulty level also varies depending on your tour package and group preference.
All tours include transport, wet suits and suitable footwear and the prices range anywhere between $25-$50. Our white water rafting trip cost $30 which seems to be the standard tour price in Baños.
Baños de Agua Santa
If you’re into the wilder things such as drowning, white water rafting, canyoning and zip lining then Baños truly is the destination for you.
It’s a small town and hostels fill up but there’s a range of great eateries, bars and plenty to see and do if you aren’t all about the adventure too.
When busses are such good value for money, there really isn’t much of an excuse for tourists heading from Quito to the Southern part of Ecuador not to stop off in Baños.
Check it out and get your famous swing at the edge of the world photo at La Casa del Arbol whilst you’re at it.
A 20-something travel blogger based in Liverpool. Covering all things from Latin America to Liverpool local guides and everything in between.