Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Suriname? Here you will find information on working in Suriname, entry visas, Suriname hostels, and much more.
Table of Contents
- Facts About Suriname
- Entry Visa Requirements for Suriname
- Work Permits and Backpacker Jobs in Suriname
- Suriname Hostels
Facts About Suriname
The Republic of Suriname is the smallest sovereign state in terms of area and population in South America. Situated on the Northern Atlantic coast of the peninsula, the country is sandwiched between French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west and Brazil to the south.
Geographically divided into two main areas: lower lying northern coastal areas, where the land is more cultivated and the majority of the population resides; and the southern tropical rainforests and almost uninhabited savannah area that share the border with Brazil.
Formerly a Dutch colony, Suriname received its complete independence in 1975. Dutch is still the country’s official language, but a plethora of other languages are spoken, the most widespread of which is Sranang, which is essentially an English Creole with influences from Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese.
English is also spoken by the majority of people, especially in tourist areas, making navigating one’s way around the country relatively uncomplicated.
- Currency – Surinamese Dollar (SRD)
- Time – GMT/UTC -3
- Language – Dutch
- Telephone Service – Calling code +597
- Emergency Numbers – 115 for Police, Fire and Rescue
Climate in Suriname
When deciding the best time to visit Suriname, the weather plays a big role. The climate in Suriname is tropical and characterized by high precipitation, humidity and hot temperatures. Luckily, the searing temperatures are kept within reasonable limits by trade winds blowing from the north-east.
Suriname experiences four seasons: two dry seasons from August to November and February to April, and two wet seasons from April to August and November to February. The seasons are of a very loose definition, as none are ever completely dry or wet; this is something to bear in mind when packing for your trip – always pack a good quality light raincoat, light clothing and finally, shades.
Situated just above the equator, Suriname experiences two kinds of weather, hot and wet – usually simultaneously. The high humidity levels can create quite oppressive conditions, particularly in the lowlands and coastal areas. Fortunately, temperatures never soar to especially dangerous levels, usually remaining around the 30°C mark. Sunshine is always aplenty in Suriname.
The Best Time of Year to Visit Suriname
The majority of travellers visit Suriname through the months of July and August, which in fact are not the best months of the year to see the country; prices also slightly inflated during these high season months.
It is much more advisable to go during the dry seasons, early February to late April and mid-August to early December. Between the months of March and July, species of sea turtles come ashore to nest at Wia Wia and Galibi reserves, an extraordinary sight to see, and something to consider when planning the timing of your trip.
Things to do in Suriname
When deciding the best things to do in Suriname, there is an abundance of options. Above all, Suriname is an incredibly diverse and in many ways, untouched area of dense rainforest, rivers and mountains. If you are allured by exceptional natural surroundings then this is for you. Ensure that you research all the options before embarking on your trip to explore this wonderful country. Here are the top bucket-list items when backpacking Suriname.
Colonial architecture coupled with vibrant native cultural symbols and cuisine makes Paramaribo a perfect point from which to begin exploring the country. The Surinamese capital city is a product of its multi-ethnic history, with striking Dutch colonial influences.
Taking a wander to the heart of the city you stumble upon Independence square or ‘Onafhankelijkheidsplein’. In the centre of the square the statue of the former prime minister Johan ‘Jopie’ Pengel can be found, surrounded by 18th-century Dutch colonial architecture, the most striking of which being the stately Presidential Palace.
The people of Suriname are proud of their multi-ethnicity and the city is a staggering melting-pot of sights, smells and flavours. One of the best places to begin sampling this bubbling culture is the central market, also known as Saramacastraat.
All manner of exotic items are on display in the market that lies along the waterfront, from caged monkeys to strange and wonderful South American fruits. Close by is the outdoor bustling fish market, where you can watch the fisherman bring in the latest fresh catch.
However, you must get out of Paramaribo and into the rugged jungle interior to truly explore and appreciate the country’s allure. In easy reaching distance of the capital is the popular Brownsberg Nature Reserve. The reserve is a stunning, rainforest covered, mountainous area riddled with trails for the intrepid walker. The reserve is set above the Brokopondo Reservoir.
In any trip to Suriname, the stunning Central Suriname Nature Reserve must not be missed. Encompassing the Raleighvallen, Tafelberg and Eilerts de Haan nature parks, the 1.6 million hectares (3.9 million acres) World Heritage Site covers in total, 12% of Suriname’s total land surface.
This area is an excellent opportunity to witness some of the biodiversity of plant and animal species that the Amazon rainforest can support. Any trip to Suriname should include at the very least, a brief exploration of this magnificent area of the world.
Within Raleighvallen Nature Reserve there are two features of stunning natural beauty. Firstly, Raleigh Falls are fed by the Coppename River and situated in a diverse area of jungle inhabited by numerous exotic species.
Secondly, the imposing Voltzberg is quite a spectacular sight, especially at sunrise and sunset. It is a 240m dome-shaped geological upheaval, composed of granite and therefore ideal for rock-climbers and other such risk takers.
Unique Activities in Suriname
Another good way to get an idea of what to do in Suriname is to scan the activities offered by Viator. They work directly with local tour operators in Suriname, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.
How to Find Cheap Flights to Suriname
In order to find the best flights to Suriname we recommend using a few well-known flight comparison search engines. These websites offer powerful search options, like entering flexible dates and airports in order to find the cheapest flight to Suriname.
Our go-to flight search engine is Skyscanner, which we love for its extremely flexible search options. Our favourite way to get travel inspiration is their “Everywhere” feature. Simply enter “Everywhere” as a destination, and it will then list all available flights from your departure city in order of price. This also works when entering the entire country of Suriname as your destination. Skyscanner will search all possible airports in the country in order to find the cheapest option.
Kiwi is another new favourite flight search engine among savvy travelers. Kiwi works by combining flights from different carriers in order to get the best deal. Also, if there is a better ground or ferry option for the route you’re searching, Kiwi will include that in the search results. On average, we have found the cheapest flights to Suriname with them compared to the other websites out there.
There are flights twice a week from Amsterdam to Paramaribo. From America, most of the planes for Suriname fly from Miami or Atlanta. Surinam Airways flies from Miami and Amsterdam, and other carriers flying into Suriname include KLM, Air France and Caribbean Airlines.
Renting a Car in Suriname
If you decide you want to rent a car in Suriname, you can use DiscoverCars to compare offers from the major car rental agencies in the region.
Health and Safety in Suriname
Medical care is not as extensive as in the UK or many other European countries. For example, outside of Paramaribo emergency medical care is limited, and virtually non-existent when you reach the interior of the country. Medical insurance, therefore, comes highly recommended – especially to cover the possibility that medical evacuation is required. Consult your medical insurance company prior to travelling abroad in order to confirm what is covered by your policy.
Before travel, be sure you are up to date on all routine immunisations according to schedules approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP). See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.
Yellow fever is present in Suriname and vaccination is recommended if you travel to the endemic zones. The interior of the country is a risk zone, except Paramaribo and coastal districts of Nickerie, Coronie, Saramacca, Wanica, Commewijne, and Marowijne north of latitude 5°N.
Hepatitis A Hepatitis B Malaria Rabies Typhoid
Entry visa requirements for Suriname
Suriname requires British nationals to carry a visa that you must get before your trip from the Suriname Consulate in Amsterdam. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is also mandatory for anybody entering Suriname via Guyana, French Guiana or Brazil.
On leaving Suriname you will have to pay a departure tax of $35 US , please note that Surinamese dollars are not accepted. If you require a Visa extension a passport and outgoing ticket must be presented to complete the procedure. Like lots of South American countries, the visa extension is almost always granted, but one must undergo the bureaucratic rigmarole that these procedures entail.
Visa requirements for Suriname can vary widely depending on your country of origin and can change over time. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, be sure to check the latest visa requirements while you’re still planning your trip.
Foreigner work permits and backpacker jobs in Suriname
To be able to work in Suriname, it is necessary to apply for a working visa. Tourist visas do not permit legal work, but of course, volunteering is an option.
Teaching English in Suriname
If you manage to get a working visa, a solid work option is teaching English. Even better if you arrive in possession of a TEFL qualification as you will be in a better position to demand decent working conditions. However, English teachers are in such high demand that even without the TEFL qualification, it shouldn’t be a problem to find work. Work is readily available in private language institutions, public schools and also within companies.
Volunteering in Suriname
Volunteering work is a great thing to do if you really want to spend some time in the country and also want to access areas and situations that are not common to the regular tourist route. Many volunteer projects require you to raise a large sum of money in sponsorship and for this reason, it is worth researching this in great depth and well in advance if you are considering it as a serious option.
Suriname Hostels and Budget Accommodation
Finding good but inexpensive accommodation is essential while backpacking Suriname on a budget. In the capital city Paramaribo, there is a great deal of accommodation: hotels, hostels and private lodgings. Prices can range from extremely cheap (usually in hostels) $3-25 to very expensive (luxury hotels) $100+.
Venturing outside the capital, finding cheaper accommodation becomes slightly trickier. When travelling into the nature reserves in the rainforest interior of the country, there are two good options for backpackers. One is to find one of the comfortable tourist lodgings in the reserves; however, relying on this option could drain the funds of even the most moneyed backpacker. Many of the organised trips into the jungle include accommodation arrangements of some description in the package.
We have had good experiences finding hostels in Suriname on HostelWorld. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers, you know exactly what to expect.
Another good way to find accommodation in Suriname is by checking booking.com. You’ll find hotels, homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodations. They have the most reviews and advanced filtering of any accommodation-booking site, so you’ll be sure to find a great place in your budget. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip to Suriname.
If you are backpacking with another travel companion, we highly recommend booking a rental via VRBO. With a vacation rental in Suriname, you’ll have more space, your own kitchen, and you’ll get a better feel for how the locals live. Plus, the cost of a vacation rental can be split among your group, oftentimes making it cheaper than doing individual hotel rooms.
If you’re looking to save even more money while backpacking in Suriname, there are plenty of creative ways to get free accommodation in exchange for work. For example, one of our favorite ways to stay in amazing locations for free is by signing up as a petsitter with Trusted Housesitters. The site connects responsible animal lovers with petsitting opportunities in Suriname and all over the world. It’s a win-win for both sides – travellers can stay in amazing locations for free, and homeowners can rest easy knowing that someone is watching over their place.
And lastly, CouchSurfing is a great community that connects travellers with local hosts in Suriname. You can stay for free with verified hosts, who will usually take some time to show you around the local spots.
Useful links for backpacking in Suriname
- DiscoverCars – The world’s leading rental car search engine to rent a car in Suriname
- Kiwi and Skyscanner – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Suriname and within the country
- Viator – a collection of local tours and activities in Suriname. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
- HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website to find accommodation while backpacking Suriname. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers
- Booking.com – commonly used booking site for accommodation in Suriname. Find hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodations in Suriname with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
- World Nomads Travel Insurance – Comprehensive travel insurance for long and short trips when backpacking Suriname
There you have it, the ultimate Suriname backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Suriname.
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