Baños has the reputation of being the adventure capital of Ecuador. There isn’t a lot to see in town as most stores consist of tour companies, touristy restaurants, or taffy shops. But that is definitely made up for by the endless activities to be found right outside of town.
DO everything you can without spending your entire savings! Take a local bus for approx. $2 USD to the Casa Del Arbol (“The Swing at the End of the World”). Be sure to check the times, as it only transports to/from the Casa Del Arbol about three times per day (when we were there bus options were 5:45 AM, 11:00 AM, 4:00 PM). We would recommend going early to have the best chance of getting clear skies over Tungurahua Volcano.
One of our favorite activities was a one day Amazon tour that we booked through Imagine Ecuador. In about 9-10 hours, we visited an animal refuge, rode a hand-carved wooden canoe down part of the Amazon river, ate a traditional meal, hiked to a waterfall, met a local community (where we had our painted and learned to use blow guns), visited a beautiful lookout, and made chocolate from scratch with a local family. It was a bit exhausting but one of the best excursions we’ve done!
Baños is also known for its many waterfalls and la Ruta de las Cascadas - an 18km ride along the rural country road just outside of the city. You can rent mountain bikes/helmets and spend a morning riding along the canyon and checking out the waterfalls. Make sure to go all the way to the end to see Pailon del Diablo. This is the biggest and most beautiful of the waterfalls.
For a cheap activity in town, you can hike up the ridge to see any of several viewpoints overlooking the city and surrounding mountains. Make sure to grab a map in town as the trails can be slightly confusing to navigate. Near the top, you can have food/drinks or a spa day at Luna Runtun with a fabulous view of the entire city.
EAT a very affordable yet incredible dinner at Alto Caribe. We ended up eating there several nights, and ordered the “Menu”. For approx. $5 USD, this dinner included a fresh juice, large bowl of quinoa/vegetable soup, and a main dish. Each meal was delicious!
CAFFEINATE at Honey Coffee and Tea. This is definitely a traveler's escape for great wifi and plenty of comfortable chairs/tables to work at. They have delicious sandwiches, fresh juice, and coffee. We also loved the dessert here.
For a more local feel, try the coffee and chocolates at Arome Cafe y Chocolate. There are many locations throughout Baños.
CRUISE by foot for anything in town. Most excursions outside of the city will be arranged by the tour company.
KNOW it’s uncommon for there to be toilet paper in the restrooms. Sometimes there is an option for free (or coin operated) toilet paper near the sinks. But always check before going into a stall!
*Please note: All photos in this post were taken on an iPhone only.