Well, I didn’t expect this. How is it that a tiny country in the top corner of South America that no one has heard of can be such a gem? There’s something subtle and endearing about Paramaribo, and I’m sure that a lot of it has to do with the beautiful mix of people that make up the capital of Surname. A walk down any street downtown is almost like a wander through a hundred world villages. Roti shops, grocery stores unscripted in Chinese lettering and restaurants serving any thing from Dutch to African cuisine. On the streets your ears will be bombarded with a cacophony of different languages and dialects. In what probably should be a flashpoint for segregation and discrimination, Paramaribo is instead a cultural mosaic worth treasuring.
Things to do in Paramaribo
For all that it is, there really isn’t too much to do in the city. In fact, you could probably see all that you’d want to see on one full day of exploration. However that doesn’t mean that you only want that day. One of the best things to do in town is to simply wander or sit out at a cafe and people watch.
- Tweeting: Yeah, most random thing I’ve ever seen in my life. On one of them main streets of town you’ll hear the locals take part in “bird song” competitions every Sunday. It’s a must see… I swear.
- The Fort: The fort is a nice stop for an hour or so. There is also a museum inside worth peeking your head into.
- The Mosque: They say that this mosque is the biggest in the Caribbean, although I’m not sure how accurate that is. Almost more impressive than the mosque is the fact that it shares a piece of land with a Jewish synagogue. Either way, it’s quite the sight to see in South America of all places.
- The Market: I loved the market here because it was so eclectic. There is just so much going on. You’ll find everything from food to potions to monkeys. However, you’ll want to watch your pockets as petty crime is completely possible.
- Tours out of town: There are a number of tours available that will take you either to Brownsberg or Galibi, but either one will cost you. If you’re planning on only being in Paramaribo while in Suriname I highly recommend that you take at least one of your days to do a tour out of town.
Where to Eat in Paramaribo
As mentioned in the intro, there are a number of different styles of cuisine here. You don’t need to feel bad eating “international” cuisine in Paramaribo because that is the local dish. Local foods are simply international meals with a local twist.
- Joosje Rotishop: On my first day in Paramaribo I followed the guidebook’s recommendation and went here. I wasn’t disappointed. I got a great feed for 6 Euros!
- Sarinah: I splurged a bit on night two based on a recommendation of my hotel. However, I thought I didn’t get much bang for my buck I felt like the 10 Euros I spent here were too much for what I got. On the bright side, the Indonesian cuisine here was quite good.
Where to Sleep in Paramaribo
If you’re on a budget there really is only one choice in town. Don’t be fooled by the claim in some guidebooks that you can simply string up your hammock on the porch of a guesthouse; that practice simply doesn’t happen anymore.
- Guesthouse TwenTy4: I thought that I got great bang for my buck here. I paid 15Euros for a huge room with a fan. The place has wifi although it is a little bit slow. There is also a kitchen available. http://www.twenty4suriname.com
Getting out of Town
Personally, I hitchhiked everywhere in the Guinanas since I was extremely short on cash when I was there. However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t do my research for you!
- To Georgetown: You can actually get to Georgetown for quite cheap. I was told that the trip was about 20 Euros in a shared van that leaves every morning. Just ask at your hotel and they will hook it up. As I mentioned, I hitchhiked. I wouldn’t recommend this hitchhike to beginners as the section in Guyana is tough to get a ride from and its quite dangerous along this stretch of road.
- To French Guiana: There is the easy way to get to French Guiana and the difficult way. The easy way is to take the bus to the border, cross the river by motorized canoe and then pay 40-50 Euros to get to the capital. The entire trip will cost about 50-60 Euros. The more difficult way is to catch the bus to the border, cross by boat again, and then hitchhike. You might have to hike to town as there’s not a lot of traffic otherwise. Another idea is to wait at the other end of the ferry line to see if drivers will take you for a small fare.
Back to the Suriname travel guides