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Getting There

By Plane -- All international and national flights arrive at the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (tel. 04/2391-603; airport code: GYE), which is located about 10 minutes north of downtown Guayaquil, just next door to the now-defunct Simón Bolívar International Airport. Many international flights to Quito first touch down in Guayaquil, and outgoing international flights often similarly stop in Guayaquil to pick up and discharge passengers.

Icaro (tel. 1800/883-567 toll-free nationwide; www.icaro.aero), Tame (tel. 02/3977-100 central reservations number in Quito, or 04/2310-305 in Guayaquil; www.tame.com.ec), and Aerogal (tel. 1800/2376-425 toll-free; www.aerogal.com.ec) all offer numerous daily flights between Guayaquil and Quito. Tame and Aerogal also offer a couple of daily flights between Guayaquil and Cuenca. One-way tickets range from $60 to $90 (£40-£60) to or from Quito, and from $60 to $70 (£40-£47) to or from Cuenca.

Your hotel may provide a shuttle service from the airport. If not, it's incredibly easy to catch a taxi. As you exit Customs in the international arrivals area, you'll see a desk with friendly staff who will arrange a taxi for you. You pay at the desk and receive a voucher, which you then present to a driver, who will be waiting for you once you exit the terminal. A taxi to the downtown area should cost no more than $9 (£6).

Tip: The airport provides free wireless connections throughout the terminal.

By Bus -- Guayaquil is connected to the rest of the country by extensive and frequent bus service. From Quito, buses leave the main terminal (Terminal Terrestre) at least every half-hour for Guayaquil; the 8-hour ride costs $10 (£6.65). Buses from Cuenca leave on a very frequent schedule as well; the 5-hour bus ride costs $8 (£5.35). Flota Imbabura (tel. 02/2572-657 in Quito, or 04/2320-925 in Guayaquil), Panamericana (tel. 02/2570-900 in Quito, or 04/2284-491 in Guayaquil), and Transportes Esmeraldas (tel. 02/2572-996 in Quito, or 04/2297-642 in Guayaquil) are the main companies making the Quito-Guayaquil run.

The modern Guayaquil bus station, Terminal Terrestre Jaime Roldos Aguilera (tel. 04/2140-166), is just north of the airport. This massive complex features a range of shops, restaurants, and food courts. All buses to and from Guayaquil leave from here.

Note: If possible, it's best to travel through the Guayas province -- of which Guayaquil is the capital -- during daylight hours. While night buses are now generally considered safe, in recent years some bus hijackings have occurred after dark.

By Car -- To reach Guayaquil by car from Quito, start off heading south on the Pan-American Highway (E35) until the intersection at Aloag. From here, head west on E30 toward Santo Domingo de los Colorados. In Santo Domingo, take the well-marked exit for E25 south to Quevedo. This road continues on to Guayaquil via Babahoyo.

If you're going to make this drive, I strongly recommend you do so during the daytime -- road and weather conditions can make this route treacherous and hair-raising after dark.

Getting Around

Guayaquil is a compact city, and it's easy to walk most places around the downtown and Malecón Simón Bolivar. However, the midday heat makes a taxi very appealing, even for short rides. Moreover, a fair number of the hotels, shopping centers, and restaurants are located outside the downtown area. Luckily, taxis are an inexpensive and efficient way to get around. It's easy to flag one down on most any street. You can also call Cooperativa de Taxis Bucaram (tel. 04/2403-592), Cooperativa de Taxis Centro Cívico (tel. 04/2450-145), or Cooperativa de Taxis Paraíso (tel. 04/2201-877). Rides within the center of the city cost only $2 to $6 (£1.35-£4).

Most of the major car-rental agencies have offices in Guayaquil: Alamo (tel. 04/2560-822), on Av. Córdova 808; Avis (tel. 04/2285-498; www.avis.com) on Avenida Kennedy and Avenida de las Américas; Budget (tel. 04/2284-559; www.budget-ec.com) at the airport as well as on Av. de las Américas 900; and Hertz (tel. 04/2169-035; www.hertz.com), at the airport.

Visitor Information

The Guyas Province has a tourist information office (tel. 04/2684-274) on the eighth floor of the Edificio Gobierno del Litoral, on Avenida Francisco de Orellana, out near the Hilton. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5pm, and provides a city map, as well as other useful information on tours and attractions. There's also a helpful information booth (no phone) beside the Museo Nahin Isaías in the center of town; it is run by the municipality of Guayaquil, and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

Orientation

Guayaquil is located on the western bank of the Guayas River. Avenida 9 de Octubre is the main street, running west to east through the center of the city and dead-ending at the Malecón Simón Bolivar, the large pedestrian mall on the river. Avenida Malecón runs along the river as well as the Malecón Simón Bolívar development. The central downtown area and most of the museums are located within a block or two of the Malecón. The airport and bus terminal, as well as several major malls and popular hotels, restaurants, and bars, are north of downtown in the neighborhoods of Urdesa and Nueva Kennedy.

Fast Facts -- In an emergency, dial tel. 911. To reach the police, call tel. 101 or 04/2402-427, and for the Cruz Roja (Red Cross) tel. 131. The main post office is located on Clemente Ballén and Pedro Carbo.

Most banks in Guayaquil are clustered around the intersection of Pedro Icaza and General Córdova; you'll find branches of Banco Pichincha and Banco de Guayaquil here. You'll also find ATMs all over the city and in all the modern malls and shopping centers.

The best hospital in Guayaquil is the Hospital Clínica Kennedy (tel. 04/2289-666; www.hospikennedy.med.ec), which actually has three facilities in town; the main one is at Callejón 11-A and Avenida Periodista. There are hundreds of other pharmacies around Guayaquil. The chain Pharmacy's (tel. 1800/9090-909) has various outlets, is open 24 hours, and offers delivery.

There are scores of Internet cafes in Guayaquil. Rates run around 50¢ to $1.50 (35p-£1) per hour. Many city hotels also provide reasonably priced or complimentary Internet connections.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.