In this latest series, I will be going through all the countries I’ve travelled to on my mission to visit every single country in the world. In this article, we will be covering country #39: Suriname. If you haven’t gotten a chance already, read this story first to find out why I’m trying to visit all 193 UN-recognized countries.
Despite the difficulty of overland travel through Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana, I found myself having a small respite in Paramaribo to recover physically and mentally before finishing up this journey.
VIDEO – Country #39: Suriname
Blog post on Suriname
- The Step-By-Step Guide to Overlanding the Guianas Starting from Brazil
- Complete French Guiana, Suriname, and Guyana Spending Breakdown
Crossing over to Suriname and heading towards Paramaribo
When my ferry landed in Suriname, I started walking quickly towards the ferry port exit.
In the confusion, many taxi drivers and van drivers were selling their services to the ferry passengers. I then exchanged what the remaining Guyanese dollar I had left. Obviously, I got ripped off as I should have exchanged the Guyanese dollar prior to boarding the ferry.
A taxi driver saw my ticket from the previous mini-bus in Guyana. He then pointed me out to their partner company. I boarded a mini-van that would take me to Paramaribo.
I sat beside a friendly elderly black woman who made small talk with me. Before long, the long drive to Paramaribo began.
The drive was rather rough as the road was oftentimes flooded. Driving in these conditions was tough but our driver seemed accustomed to this type of journey.
Before long, we arrived in Paramaribo and I was the last one they dropped off at my accommodation.
Arriving and relaxing in Paramaribo
I ended up redeeming some of my Marriott points to get a free night stay at the Courtyard Paramaribo. Feeling beaten up by my journey in the Guianas thus far, I needed a break. Finally, I got to stay in a nice hotel and get a proper shower.
It felt so good to have modern amenities again. I felt like a peasant traveller these past few days.
Before it got dark, I took the time to go outside the hotel and buy some Chinese food.
Having that delicious Chinese food and a nice shower really did the trick and I slept soundly that night.
The next morning, I ended up hiring a taxi driver to show me around the city. The friendly Indian man took me to see the government buildings in the centre of the town.
Then, we went closer to the waters and saw the UNESCO world heritage site.
I felt that Paramaribo was a nice place to visit and I had fun checking out these sites. The driver charged me 40 Suriname dollars which are about $7 CAD for the service.
Reunion with Russian friends
That afternoon, my friends from Russia whom I met while travelling in Venezuela would be joining me. I knew they were dying like I was travelling in these Guiana countries. So, I offered them to stay with me in the hotel. I booked a room with two double queen beds and offered then the other bed.
When they arrived, they also looked like a peasant like I did when I first came to Paramaribo. They were beaten up as I did and really enjoyed the air conditioner and comfort of this hotel.
We ate some Chinese food together and just caught up on their adventures seeing Kaieteur falls in Guyana. Apparently, the adventure to Kaieteur falls is awesome and there’s definitely a part of me that wonders if I should I have joined them on that trip.
Paramaribo to Suriname-French Guiana river border
The next day, I said goodbye to my Russian comrades as I will be continuing my journey to Cayenne in French Guiana. My friends Aleks and Irina would be doing a Workaway gig in Suriname for the next while.
It took forever for the driver to find enough passengers before we finally made our journey towards the Suriname-French Guiana river border. Thankfully, the drive there was nowhere near as bad as I previously experienced in Guyana.
I did have some problems at the Suriname immigration and the officer was giving me a hard time about some missing document before I can exit the country. After our driver spoke to the immigration officer, he stamped my passport and off I go to the river crossing.
Suriname-French Guiana river crossing
Before boarding a canoe, the driver told me that there are Filipinos that work at one of the shops. I was shocked. He then took me to the shop and I met the Filipinos. I then asked them what they are doing here. They laughed and told me they work here. I thought to myself, “man, Filipinos are everywhere!”
Before long, I boarded a canoe that was manned by a very grumpy Rastafarian. You would think based on the stereotype that these guys are chill. But alas, in reality, that is not true. I paid him 20 Suriname dollars for the canoe ride to cross over to the French Guiana side.
Journey to Cayenne
After landing in French Guiana soil, the friend of the driver offered me a ride to Cayenne. Because I had a mishmash of currency at this point, I ended up paying him 30 Euros and 20 USD ($70 CAD) for his service.
He then took me to the French Guiana immigration to get stamped in this French overseas territory before continuing on my journey.
French Guiana is a super expensive country. So, when we arrived in Cayenne, I used my Best Western points to get a free night stay at the hotel there.
I’m probably the only person to ever redeem their Best Western points in French Guiana so the hotel clerk was surprised at my booking. Apparently, this hotel is no longer a Best Western hotel. Thanks to Airbnb, there are now affordable accommodation options in Cayenne if you plan on going there yourself.
The next day, I overslept and the owner of the hotel was being a jerk and wouldn’t let me grab some breakfast. Thankfully, his disgruntled front desk staff snuck me in the restaurant and allowed me to get some lunch instead.
I then went out to sightsee Cayenne.
Because I was flying out of Cayenne that evening, I also took the time to withdraw some Euros to pay for a ride to the airport.
Then, I enjoyed more Chinese food which is the cheapest food you can buy in the Guianas.
I spent the rest of the evening just sitting at the lobby of the hotel while waiting until it was time for my flight departure.
Flying out of French Guiana
Did I mention that French Guiana is horribly expensive? The 5-minute drive to the airport cost me 40 Euros. And this is already discounted because the taxi drivers typically charge 45-50 Euros.
I think I was the first one to arrive at the airport as I didn’t see any passengers anywhere. I admired the displays of the main tourist attraction in French Guiana which is their rocket launching sites.
After a long wait, I boarded the plane going to Belem, Brazil. I was glad that my journey in the Guianas has finally come to an end. Never in my life have I been beaten up so badly by rough travel. But, I have no regrets. It has been one hell of an adventure.
VIDEO – French Guiana
If you ever want to travel to the Guianas, make sure you are mentally prepared for some of the roughest travel conditions ever. Suriname is actually the best of the Guianas because it’s the cheapest of the three while maintaining decent infrastructure compared to Guyana.
I wouldn’t mind staying longer in Suriname had I not been beaten up so badly by my trip to Guyana. French Guiana’s prices are so obscene that I don’t recommend staying there longer than one night.
After Suriname, I flew to Brazil and then flew to Europe which ends the South America segment of my one year trip around the world.