Introduction on Suriname
To give you a brief introduction on Suriname, she is the smallest country in South America. Did you know that? Also, this place is one of two countries that does not speak Spanish or Portuguese. The official language is Dutch and the population is only about 500,000. She won her independence in 1975, that’s only a little over 40 years ago!
I only knew Suriname because I like watching football and there are some famous players from there such as Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, and Jimmy Hasselbaink. They all played for the Dutch National team though.
A Bit About Paramaribo
I could not find any hostels in Paramaribo and the prices for the guesthouses were around $50 USD+ for one or two, so I ended up staying at the Courtyard Marriott with my points that I accumulated while traveling for business. If you read the last post, the driver from the boat terminal drops you off at the preferred location in Paramaribo. The Marriott was located about one kilometer from the city center and there were frequent buses and taxis that ran the routes. The hotel had a daily shuttle into town on certain hours, which helped getting around town. Since I arrived late in the evening, my full on excursion started the following morning.
The first impression of Georgetown was a bustling city compared to Cayenne. There was traffic, people walking around everywhere, white wooden architecture, gardens, some tourists and a mix of nationalities. Paramaribo was very multicultural and had a wide mix of people, races such as East Indian, Maroon, Creole, Javanese, Chinese, mixed, and others. I was surprised to see the amount of Indian origins. When I visited Durban, South Africa, that felt like India, but Georgetown was on par. The city center was lined with casinos and elegant hotels and there were many shopping areas and markets. It was a huge difference compared to French Guiana.
I planned on going on a city bike tour with Zus & Zo Guesthouse, but the price was too expensive and all other excursions were way too overpriced for my taste. Instead, I walked around Paramaribo on foot for the next two days, visiting most of the historical sites and monuments. The best monuments and sightseeing places in Paramaribo were the historical city center, Central Market, Fort Zeelandia, Presidential Palace, Waterkant Street, and St. Peter and Paul Cathedral.
In terms of food, there was a wide variety of food options from Indian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese and Chinese flavors. I especially enjoyed eating at the stalls next to the Paramaribo River. There were a wide variety of food stalls, but I liked the Indonesian place with satays, typical sweets and ice cold beer.
There were a few nice posh restaurants around Ramada Paramaribo Princess Hotel, where I had a few drinks and ended up befriending some locals. We ended up spending the night at a nightclub on the second floor of the casino, but it was pretty empty. The drinks were reasonably priced and it felt pretty upscale, but the locals were very friendly, not like the typical “I got money” types from European. Just a side tip, but if you need to change money and the money changers are closed, the casinos can be a good option and they have pretty good rates. I played roulette for a couple of hours and won some pocket change to pay for my drinks.
In conclusion, Paramaribo was a nice city, multicultured (people with different religion live in harmony), Chinese with their little markets, lots of rain, lots and lots of mosquitos (I got bitten everywhere), jungle, trees, trees, and more trees. My recommendation is to stay away from the rainy season. It was raining cats and dogs every day for 6 days straight!
I left Paramaribo a few days later and visited Nieuw Nickerie on the western coast. I had to get there in order to cross over to Guyana. I took a shared shuttle taxi from the hotel and got dropped off at the hotel I booked. I don’t quite remember the cost (10 Euros for a 3 hour drive), but it was not that expensive. Just ask around some of the travel agencies in town about the shuttle taxi.
Nieuw Nickerie is the third largest city in Suriname with a population of around twelve thousand. Yes, it is that small! It lies on the mouth of the Nickerie River on the Atlantic Coast. There was not much happening in town and the main industries were bananas and rice. The town contains a few markets, several hotels, one casino and that was it! I was only there in order to cross over to Guyana the next morning.