Monday 4 December 2017

SURINAME: Paramaribo, As Nice As It Is Plenty Of Fake Goods Sold

Paramaribo, sometimes caalled Par'bo, is the busy capital and only city of the sparsely inhabited country of Suriname.

With a population of about 250,000 people, or over half of the country's population, this city lies just 15km from the Atlantic Ocean.

It's the country's main harbour, governmental seat and centre for business and learning. Many visitors to Suriname come by here, spending some time to take in the city's pretty UNESCO World Heritage listed colonial centre.

Paramaribo leads by example in Surinam's efforts to expand its tourist economy, with a strong focus on eco-friendly travel.

Paramaribo is located on the banks of the Suriname River in the Paramaribo District. Paramaribo has almost half of Suriname's population. The historic inner city of Paramaribo has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002.

In Paramaribo city, take a pick from the large stacks of fruits at its bustling central market and wander around town to admire its colonial heritage.

Then, head to the Waterkant or water side to join the locals for Djogo or local beer and salty fish while gazing at the boats on the Suriname river.

Paramaribo derives its name from an Indian village called Parmirbo or Parmurbo or Parmarbo.

The Dutch settled a trading post in 1631 which fell into English hands when the Dutch abandoned it. The British built a fort called Fort Willoughby. In 1667 the area was conquered by a Zeeland expedition.

They called the fort Zeelandia and re-named Paramaribo to New Middelburg, a name that never caught on. Paramaribo grew after the abolition of slavery in 1863 as it attracted many former slaves to the city.

These days 48% of the population of Paramaribo is Christian, 14% Hindu, Muslim 9%, 4% have a different religion, 4% have no religion and 21% did not answer this question in the last census.

In two-thirds of the households, Dutch is the most spoken language and in most other households it is spoken as a second language.

Other commonly spoken languages are Sranantongo, Sarnami Hindustani and Javanese. About 2% use English as their first language; however English is widely spoken by many inhabitants.

Paramaribo has a tropical rainy climate, hot and humid. It has two rainy seasons per year. The long rainy season runs from late April to mid-August. The short rainy season runs from mid-December to mid-February.

Usually it does not rain all day but there are heavy tropical showers mainly in the afternoon. The temperature is about 30°C but in the dry period from mid-August to mid-December it can rise to 35-40°C.

Humidity is year-round about 80% and can exacerbate temperature extremes. It feels clammy and sticky.

Paramaribo is the business and financial centre of Suriname.

Even though the capital city does not produce significant goods itself, almost all revenues from the country's main export products gold, oil, bauxite, rice, and tropical wood are channeled through its institutions.

All banks, insurance corporations and other financial and commercial companies are headquartered in Paramaribo. Around 75 percent of Suriname's GDP is consumed in Paramaribo.

Tourism is an increasingly important sector, with most visitors coming from the Netherlands.

Paramaribo is served by the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport and Zorg en Hoop Airport for local flights. The Jules Wijdenbosch Bridge, which is part of the East-West Link, connects Paramaribo with Meerzorg on the other side of the Suriname River.

Most airlines like Gum Air, Caricom Airways and Blue Wing Airlines have their head offices on the grounds of Zorg en Hoop Airport in Paramaribo.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has three weekly direct flights from Amsterdam. Surinam Airways or Surinaamse Luchtvaart Maatschappij also has three weekly direct flights from Amsterdam.

If you are coming from Europe, another alternative is to fly with Air France from Paris to Cayenne in French Guyana and travel from there, either by plane or overland.

From Guyana, daily flights to a small local airstrip. One cannot purchase tourist cards there, they have to be purchased at the Embassy in Georgetown upfront before buying the ticket.

From the United States, airline service is available from Miami and New York (JFK) via Caribbean Airlines, which stops in Trinidad and Tobago en route to Suriname. It's also possible to fly with Surinam Airways to and from Miami with a stop in Aruba.

From Brazil, there is a twice a week flight by Suriname Airways from Belem to Paramaribo and vice versa. The flight takes an hour and a half and only drinks are served.

You can change money inside the airport terminal while you wait for your baggage.

From the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, also known as Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport, into Paramaribo there is a bus running. It takes about an hour. There are also taxis available.

The situation outside the airport is a bit chaotic, with many taxi drivers hustling for clients.

A one-way taxi fare to the city centre was SRD100 while the bus would cost SRD45. A transit minibus will take you to any hotel in Paramaribo for SRD40 (€10) however it can happen that the driver waits until all seats are occupied.

From Georgetown, Guyana, take minibus #63a to Molson Creek in eastern Guyana just across the river from Suriname. The trip takes at least 3 hr and costs c. USD10. From there, you will go through customs on the Guyanese side.

Then take the 11:00 daily ferry across the river to the South Drain. The actual ferry ride takes about 30 minutes.

From there you can get a minibus into Paramaribo. Again the trip takes at least 3 hr and costs c. USD15.

From Georgetown, there are also private companies and minibuses that will cover the cost of the minibus to the river, the ferry, and the cost of the minibus on the other side.

From Albina Shared taxi's and minibuses are plentiful, leaving when full €10-15. Buses depart from the bus station every 2 hours a few times a day SR$8.5. The journey takes around 3 hours.

Boat taxis can take you over the Suriname River to the Commewijne district. You can find boat taxis in downtown Paramaribo at the platte brug between Central Market and Waterkant to Meerzorg across the Suriname River, or at Leonsberg, North Paramaribo, to take you to New Amsterdam. You can take your bike on these boats.

The old colonial centre mostly lies directly behind the Waterkant and most of the main sights, including the fort, the palm garden, colonial officers' houses and the central market are easily explored on foot.

There are several car hire services based in Paramaribo. Because of its neighbours and the historical accident of the first imported vehicles being from Britain, Suriname drives on the left with steering wheels on the right.

Netherlands, at the time of its colonisation of Surinam, still drove on the natural left-hand side of the road or that Surinam's first colonial settlement was English.

CarsPlus, Kwattaweg 246. CarPlus offers good service and cheap. €21 per day inclusive of full insurance.

Enterprise, Fred Derbystraat 60. Enterprise is good and fast service €29 per day inclusive of full insurance.

In Suriname, the buses are private. The drivers, however, follow collectively determined routes. The buses are somewhere between private taxis and public transportation and leave the bus station only when they are totally full, meaning there are not specific schedules.

If you do see a bus, take note that the buses are hand painted.

A central bus station can found in the Knuffelgracht near the Waterkant.

Renting a bike is a good alternative to get around and also to explore the outskirts of town. Keep in mind that you have no shelter from the sun and that you can be surprised by torrential rain. Most drivers take notice of you but if there is less traffic, people often drive too fast.

Fietsen in Suriname (Bike tours), Grote Combeweg 13a.

Attractions in Paramaribo:

St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Henck Arronstraat 22. 08:00-14:00. This Roman Catholic cathedral is one of the biggest wooden structures on the entire American continent. Building started in 1883 and the church was consecrated only two years later.

The towers were not finished before 1901 though, and the characteristic yellow and grey painting of the outside was done only in 1926.

The design of the church was inspired by the Redemptorist church in Roosendaal and the Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston, while the interior, carried out in unpainted cedar wood, was a Surinamese design.

Poor restoration efforts were undertaken in the late 1970's, leaving the building in need of new repairs shortly after. Finally, termite damage and severe tilting led to the closure of the cathedral in 1989 for safety reasons.

The Vatican provided some funds for initial repairs in the mid 1990's and after fundraising efforts and a large EU grant, thorough restorations were carried out between 2007 and 2010. The cathedral was re-opened for the public in that year.

Only the large organ, of which most of the pipes had been stolen, is still a work in progress.

The Central Market, Waterkant. 05:00-17:00. A large market with over 3,000 stalls inside a hall at the Waterkant. It's a colourful, buzzing place with smells and sounds to perceive deficit. They offer fresh fish (delivered directly by fishermen), vegetables, fruit and meat.

On the first floor are non-perishables sold as clothes, shoes, kitchen utensils and more. Many market vendors, especially the Maroon people, strongly object to having their pictures taken.

Fort Zeelandia, Abraham Crijnssenweg 1. Tu-F: 09:00-14:00, Su 10:00-14:00.closed on Satrday and Monday. The English laid the first foundations for the current brick fort around 1650, replacing an earlier wooden structure built by the French around an even earlier Dutch trading post.

In 1667, Dutch and English forces fought over the fortifications, then called fort Willoughby, and the surrounding lands.

The Peace of Breda later that year put the whole of Suriname in Dutch hands, however, when the Dutch preferred to retain Surinam and its Sugar factories rather than swap them for what later became New York and the fort was renamed Zeelandia.

The was used as a colonial base for the Dutch, it later served as an army barracks and a prison.

In 1982, Fort Zeelandia was the scene of the so-called December murders, as fifteen prominent Surinamese men who had criticized the then military dictatorship ruling Suriname were tortured here and then shot dead.

The events remain controversial today, as the exact circumstances are still unclear, but the current president of Suriname is the main suspect.

In 1995 the restored buildings were opened to the public as a museum. The collection of the Suriname Museum covers the different cultures of Suriname, the colonial period, 20th century art, a library collection and a photo archive.

There is a cafe and a restaurant or Baka Foto with an outdoor terrace in the courtyard. In front of the entrance are historical officers houses.

This beautiful area gives you an impression of how the city once was when trees lined the streets. A statue of Queen Wilhelmina is on the waterfront, looking over the Suriname River.

Numismatic Museum, Mr F.H.R. Lim a Po Straat 7. M-F 08:00-14:00. Highlight of this small museum is a 1679 copper Parrot coin.

You'll probably need to have a real interest in the history of money to fully appreciate the collection on display, but there's no admission fee and walking in for a quick glance can't hurt.

The museum is part of the Bank of Suriname, and it's housed in one of the nice colonial building. It hold almost every legal currency used in Suriname since the late 17th century. Free.

Historical city centre. Paramaribo's distinctive historic city centre, packed with wooden buildings from colonial times, has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since July 2002. It's the planned nature and remarkable architecture that makes this place unique.

The spacious, tree-lined street plan was laid out by the first Dutch governor in the 17th century. Most of the current mansions originate from the first half of the 19th century however, as they had to be rebuilt after large city fires in 1821 and 1832.

Designs are clearly inspired by Dutch architecture of the time, but incorporated a range of indigenous techniques and used local materials. The Waterkant and Mr.Lim A Postraat have some of the best examples.

Many of the wooden houses are in dire need of restoration, however, to the point where UNESCO has urged the state to address the problem and threatened to revoke the city's status.

Onafhankelijkheidsplein or Independence Square and Presidential Palace. The square is the heart of Paramaribo surrounded by important buildings like the Presidential Palace, Court of Justice, the Parliament. A place for festivals like Carisfesta XI in 2013.

There's not much activity, but on Sundays men exercise the national hobby: letting their caged birds sing.

Palmentuin or Palm Gardens, Behind the presidential palace. The Palm garden, a small park filled with king palms behind the Presidential Palace, was part of the original city plans of Cornelis van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck, the first Dutch governor.

He opened the garden for public in 1685, but was murdered only three years later, after which the property was closed again. Not until the early 20th century was the Palm Garden re-opened. In 2009 it was restored with funds from UNESCO.

It has a small play ground now, some statues and benches to hang out on, making it a pleasant, shady place on a hot day.
Except on holidays, when the place comes to live with food stalls and such, the garden is best avoided after sundown for the lighting is poor and the place attracts less friendly crowds.

Paramaribo Zoo, Letitia Vriesdelaan. daily 09:00-18:00. Establishing a zoo was an idea of Prime Minister Pengel in the 1960's. Awaiting the actual construction of the zoo, he started collecting animals in his own backyard, until the zoo was opened in 1972.

Both the number of animals and of visitors declined over the following decades, however, leaving the zoo in poor state. Starting in 2003 it successfully engaged in a cooperation with Dutch Diergaarde Blijdorp in Rotterdam, which helped raise funds to restore the place.

In recent years the zoo has gained popularity again. Its collection of animals includes mostly regional species, among which are many indigenous monkeys, jaguars, caimans, many tropical birds and a petting zoo. There's also a nice playground for kids. SRD10.

The Jewish community in Paramaribo is reputed to be the oldest continuing Jewish community in the Americas and the current wooden Neve Shalom or Oasis of Peace or Valley of Peace synagogue dates from 1835 and replaced the building constructed in 1719 by Ashkenazi Jews.

The original Jewish settlers were descendants of Jews fleeing persecution by the Spanish Inquisition in Holland, Portugal and Italy and came here via Brazil. Just one of the unique features of this Synagogue is its floor of sand rather than boards or tiles.

This floor is supposed to be both a reminder of the 40 years in the desert that the Hebrews were forced to endure after their exodus from Egypt, and the times that marranos had to muffle their prayers and footsteps with sand so as not to be discovered by the Inquisition and put to death.

There are several beautiful Torahs that are hundreds of years old and the carved woodwork exhibits fine craftsmanship.

- Stroll through the historic centre with its old wooden houses.

- Walk to the Keizerstraat where a mosque and a synagogue are built adjacent to each other. Not far from this place are also a Catholic church and a Hindu temple.

- Visit Waterkant, share a djogo or 1 litre Parbo, the national beer, and enjoy the sunset.

- Visit the flea market on Sunday and the daily lively Central Market.

- Visit the flower expo at the Letitia Vriesdelaan which is scheduled every other Sunday. They sell different type of orchids, cacti, and other plants.

- In the north of Paramaribo is the Blauwgrond quarter. On this former plantation live Javanese people. Sit down at a warung which is Javanese for small restaurant or shop and try one of the lovely dishes.

- Bike or take a taxi to Weg naar Zee Road to the Sea which is a Hindustani open air cremation site north of the Kwattaweg. You're permitted to attend a ceremony. Nearby is a pilgrimage sanctuary.

- Thalia theater a Surinamese theater company, Dr. J.F. Nassylaan 4. The Suriname theater company was founded in 1837 and is the oldest theater company of the Caribbean. The Thalia theater building was opened in 1840, but after its 2011 renovation it now seats 500. edit

Activities in Paramaribo:

Carnival (Feb), Colourful carnival parades.

Avondvierdaagse (Apr), Walking and dancing four days long in the streets of Paramaribo. The event starts at 17:00. The route varies and holds a different surprise every day. It meanders through the various neighbourhoods, each with its own characteristics.

Suripop or National Song Contes, This festival for Surinamese songwriters is held every two even years.

Divali, This Hindu festival of light is a national day in Suriname since 2010

Jaran Kepang, Jaran Kepang is a traditional Javanese dance accompanied by gamelan music. This spectacular folk-dance is very popular in Suriname.

Winti Pre, This Creole worship is a dance ritual for gods and ghosts.

Jaarbeurs (Nov), This annual trading fair lasts a week and is held on the KKF-Beursterrein.

Bodo the end of the Javanese fasting period, Bodo is the Javanese name of the Eid al-Fitr or Sugar Feast festival in Suriname.

Owru Jari a New Year celebration, Three days of festival to celebrate the old and new years with lots of fireworks.

Paramaribo is packed with small shops, boutiques and markets stalls, selling anything from Western brand clothing plus at least as many fake versions to cheap daily amenities, great hammocks, illegal DVD copies and Chinese jewellery.

It remains a fairly cheap place for foreign visitors, which makes shopping for souvenirs a fun way to spend an afternoon.

The Centrale Markt, on the far east side of the Waterkant, is in many ways the beating heart of the city. A colourful range of street stalls and sellers mark the entrance of the covered market area, supposedly the largest one of its kind in the Caribbean.

It's a two story market tucked away in a massive warehouse, with stalls selling anything from fresh vegetables and meats on the ground floor to t-shirts and hair extensions on the second floor.

A visit to town is hardly complete without a quick visit to this bustling place and if you're not interested in any of their goods, you might be in one of the many tasty snacks for sale.

Open for business daily except Sunday, from early morning until 15:00, but coming early is advised. The Flower Market around the Kleine Waterstraat is another colourful experience, and set nicely against a colonial background.

The Maagdenstraat is your best bet when you're interested in Chinese jewellery. Most of the jewellers are specialized in labour-intensive handmade jewels. You can also have your own jewels cleaned, returning the glow they used to have, or have them repaired.

These services are typically cheap, but make sure to agree on a price beforehand.

On the corner of Maagdenstraat and Steenbakkerijstraat, Ready Tex is a highly popular place for souvenir shopping, with a broad collection including postcards and T-shirts as well as Suriname ceramics and art works.

The Domineestraat is another main shopping street, with a number of quality clothing shops, some mobile phone shops and several book stores.

You might be approached by souvenir sellers at the Waterkant, with a small selection of necklaces or leather works. Use your negotiation skills to settle for a reasonable price.

For a more modern experience, follow Paramaribo's middle and upper class to the Hermitage Mall, Lalla roohkweg 229. It's the largest mall in the country with about 20 clothing stores, gift shops and a food corner. A mega theatre is currently under construction.

Paramaribo has its own university, which offers a few courses in English.

Many of the country's young people head abroad however, to study at different universities or pursue different fields of study at universities in the Netherlands, in the United States or neighbouring South-American countries.

Anton de Kom University of Surinam, Leysweg 86, Universiteitscomplex, Building IV.

Paramaribo's many restaurants reflect its diverse culture and strong Chinese, Javanese and Hindustan influences.

Small food stalls serve inexpensive traditional snacks at the markets and along the Waterkant. If you're looking for Javanese style food, consider driving out to the Blauwgrond area of town.

This Javanese part of the city is known for its many small restaurants, typically unpolished places with simple plastic outdoor furniture but great food.

However, for the travel weary visitor there's a Kentucky Fried Chicken around and a few places that cater to the much less spiced Dutch taste.

Food is typically cheap by western standards, with full 3 course meals anywhere between SRD25 and SRD60 and simple mains around SRD20. If you follow the locals to smaller places you'll be able to eat for SRD10. Most of the small restaurants are quite casual in style.

For a somewhat more formal experience, the upmarket hotels in town usually have their own restaurants, serving both traditional and international cuisine for obviously higher prices.

Chi Min, Cornelis Jongbawstraat 83. 11:00-23:00. Chinese restaurant specialising in seafood.

t Vat, Kleine Waterstraat 1. For some reason, this place is especially popular with travellers and the many Dutch trainees staying in town. They cater to Dutch tastes as well, with anything from traditional Suriname Pom sandwiches to burgers and French Fries with Dutch frikandel sausages.

They also offer a range of services besides the food, including some good mid-range lodging options, car hire and a souvenir shop. SRD25 for their special, 3-course tourist menu.

Di Gadri, Zeelandiaweg 1,Between Fort Zeelandia and the National Assembly. M-F 08:00-22:00 Sa-Su 11:00-22:00. Good Creole meals, soups and snacks. At 08:00, fresh bread rolls are avaialble. It has a nice terrace under a huge mahogany tree. Also popular with parliamentarians. Dishes around SRD20.

Joosje Roti Shop, Zwartenhovenbrugstraat 9. M-Sa 08:30-22:00. East Indian restaurant in the centre of town, well known for their chicken roti.

Dumpling #1, Dr J.F. Nassylaan 1. Famous for their king crab.

Fatai Restaurant, Maagdenstraat 64 Asian food.

Restaurant Jawa, Kasabaholoweg 7 uitvlught. 11:00-22:00. A good choice for travellers on a budget, with tasty Javanese food. from USD5.

Liang Lang, corner Dr J.F. Nassylaan and F. Derbiestraat. Famous for their tjoeng

Mirosso Indonesisch Restaurant, J. Samson Greenstraat 104. Tu-Th 18:00-24:00. M,F-Sa 18:00-02:00. This is considered one of the better options in Blauwgrond and was granted the Fernand de Rooy Certificate. Service can be on the slow side, but the food is very nice.

It gets crowded on weekends, so call ahead if you want to ensure a spot.

Pannekoek & Poffertjes Cafe, van Sommelsdijckstraat 11. Pancakes and poffertjes,typical Dutch small, fluffy pancakes.

Popeye's Chicken and Biscuits, Domineestraat 39. On the first floor of the Krasnapolsky Hotel. Popeye's serves Cajun style fast food.

Sun Do, corner of Weidestraat and F. Derbiestraat. Serves good dim sum.

JiJi's. upscale place at the waterkant with a nice view over the river.

De Waag, Waterkant 5. upscale place at the waterkant with a decent wine selection but no river view'

Brotik. Between De Waag and Riverside Kitchen, huge terrace towards the river. Open only for dinner but until late. Serves local dishes; the most affordable of the upscale restaurants at the waterkant.

Riverside Kitchen. Next door to Brotik with a huge seating area at the river. The kitchen is open only for lunch. Great local dishes for SRD20 to SRD30. Hangout for locals.

On the Waterkant, between the street and the river, are a number of pavilions with simple, but atmospheric, terraces. There's no service and you have to get your drinks yourself.

Music is everywhere and while adults pour out a djogo in cups, children play between the tables and teens hang out near the quay wall. There's always something happening on the Waterkant.

Just next to the pavilions are 3 more upscale restaurants with good bars, followed by a 24/7 bar that also has a nice terrace that overlooks the river.

Club Touche,Corner Dr. Sophie Redmond - A. L. Waaldijkstraat. Every day.

Margaritas Poolcafe, Kleine Dwarsstraat 3. Every day. Pool billiards, cocktails, has a terrace.

Euphoria formerly Starzz, Kleine Waterstraat 5-7. W,F-Sa 23:00-?. Euphoria Nightclub is one of Parbo's coolest dance venues with a good blend of DJs playing a variety of sounds.

Torarica, Mr. L.J. Rietbergplein 1. daily. Torarica is for all kind of activities. Dancing and casino at night, B&B and swimming at the pool, entertainment.

As Paramaribo's tourist economy develops, hotels and guesthouses are popping up while older ones get restyled. There's plenty of choice now to fit your budget, from €15 dollar single rooms in a basic guesthouse to €100 and more for a stay in one of the upmarket resorts.

If you're travelling with a family or group, apartments are a good option and often cheaper while more convenient than multiple rooms. VAT and service charges are typically included in hotel prices and almost all of them can arrange tours to other towns or the country's tight jungle backlands.

Note that many hotels charge their prices in either US dollars or euros. Usually they will accept Surinamese dollars, but check in advance.

Guesthouse Albergo Alberga, Lim A Po straat 13, Check-in: 12am, check-out: 11am. Guesthouse in an old colonial building from €20 for a double with fan; discounts for weekly or monthly stays.

Guesthouse Amice, Gravenberchstraat 5. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Guesthouse €35-50.

Guesthouse Zus & Zo, Grote Combeweg 13a. Very popular guesthouse that has 12 rooms. €15-50.

Guesthouse Stay-Cey, Verlengde Hoogestraat 41. Apartments €30.

Kekemba Resort Paramaribo, Mangolaan 118. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Small scale resort with well-appointed studio apartments. Shared hotel facilities include a swimming pool, hot tub, hammocks.

They are a good partner to arrange tours to the interior of Suriname or day trips to the many cultural sites to visit. €37.

1 Downtown Oasis (formerly Guesthouse Flair), Jessurunstraat 9. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Luxury guesthouse and apartments. The rooms are clean and the kitchen is new and well equipped. Free WiFi and parking. €39-75 per day, € 10 per person for extra bed.

Amber Apartments Paramaribo, Belemstraat 4. Apartments

Linur Apartments, Gonggrijpstraat 49.

Hotel La Petite Maison, Waterkant 4. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. This hotel is in an old colonial building. You are allowed to swim in the pool of the Torarica hotel.

Tropicana Hotel & Casino, Saramaccastraat 17.

Tran Elite Hotel, J.D. Gompertstraat 143. Good 3-star hotel located a couple of minutes drive from the Waterkant. It has a small pool, in-house restaurant and free internet. It caters also to business travellers staying for a longer period of time, with special rates for long term apartment rent. Doubles without balcony from US$ 55.

Paramuru Hotel, Waaldijkstraat 28. Central location close to the Waterkant, fairly modern hotel with an in-house restaurant. Standard doubles from €40, penthouse €50.

Royal Torarica Hotel, Kleine Waterstraat 10. Check-in: 17:00, check-out: 13:00. USD145.

Spanhoek Boutique Hotel, Domineestraat 2-4. Check-in: 12:30, check-out: 14:30. €110 per double room.

Hotel & Casino Torarica, Mr. L.J. Rietbergplein 1. Check-in: 17:00, check-out: 13:00. This large 4½-star hotel is as high quality as it gets in this town.

Located on the river side, it offers good service and facilities like a gym, swimming pool, tennis courts and one of the rare fine dining experiences in town. USD140 and up.

Eco Resort Inn, Cornelis Jongbawstraat 16. Check-in: 17:00, check-out: 13:00. USD106.

Krasnapolsky Hotel, Domineestraat 39. The hotel has rooms with view over the old town and Suriname River €109.

North Resort Hotel, J.D. Gompertstraat 145-147.

Residence Inn Paramaribo, Anton Dragtenweg 7. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. 4-star.

The country code for international calls to Suriname is 597. There are no trunk or area codes.

Many hotels and Bed and Breakfasts offer their guests a Wi-Fi connection - mostly for free. The number of internet cafes in the city is declining due to the usage of smart phones and tablets.

Main Post Office, Kerkplein 1. M-Th 07:15-14:00, F 07:15-13:30. The main office of SurPost, the country's postal company, handles anything from postcards and packages and large sea post freight.

The beaches near Galibi are one of the main nesting grounds for protected Leatherback sea turtles.

As nice as Paramaribo is, it would be an absolute pity to leave Suriname without at least one or two trips to its other destinations, jungle villages, remote resorts or sandy beaches.

Getting around on your own can be challenging, especially when heading into the dense Amazon rain forest.

Fortunately, tour operators seem to be available at every corner in Paramaribo, ready to make any arrangement you might dream of. Look around and negotiate, as there are fine trips to be found for every budget.

Whether you're looking for a helicopter trip to a protected sea turtle nesting beach, a week-long boat trip down the Maroni river or just a day trip to the Jodensavanna, Paramaribo's tour operators will make it happen.

Good places to get out to and enjoy yourself:

Albina (East Coast), a small town on the Maroni river. Directly across the river lies the French-Guianian town of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni. It's a good starting point for boat trips down the Maroni river, and a transport hub for Galibi.

Awarradam (Surinamese Rainforest), in upper Suriname, on an island in the Gran Rio River, is a beautiful and comfortable resort, built by the government. This is a great place to contact Marroon people and to experience the jungle.

Galibi (East Coast), large groups of protected leatherback sea turtles visit the beaches close to this small town to lay their eggs. In fact, the Galibi Natural Reserve is one of the most important nesting areas for this species in the Western Atlantic region.

Nieuw Nickerie (West Coast), travel by bus or rental car to the most western part of Suriname to visit Bigi Pan natural resort and see the rice culture in the Nickerie province.

Palumeu (Surinamese Rainforest), More inland then Awarradam is Palumeu, a village of native Indians on the shore of the Tapanahoni River. Stay a few days in the government resort, visit the village and explore the direct environment.

For more advice or arrangements to head out of town, ask local tour operators. There's a wide range of companies offering all kinds of services. A small selection is listed below, but make sure to shop around and bargain for the tour you'd like.

- METS Travels and Tours, Dr. J.F. Nassylaan 2, Paramaribo. M-F 08:00-16:00.

- StiNaSu, Cornelis Jongbawstraat 10.

- Tourist Photo Shop, Kerkplein 8, M-F 08:00-15:00, Sa 09:00-13:00.

- Zus&Zo, Grote Combeweg 13a.

Enjoy your visit in Paramaibo

Tourism Observer

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