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Uncovering the Quirky Charm of Paramaribo, Suriname

submitted on 11 January 2024 by

Why Paramaribo?

When one thinks of South American holiday destinations, cities like Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Lima often come to mind. But hidden deep within the tropical jungle lies an underappreciated gem just waiting to be discovered by the intrepid traveler – Paramaribo, the vibrant capital of Suriname. With its eclectic mix of architectural styles, unique cultural attractions, and friendly locals, Paramaribo offers a delightful alternative to the tourist-packed cities of its flashier neighbors.

Getting There

Finding your way to Paramaribo can be an adventure in itself. As a small and often-overlooked country, Suriname doesn't exactly boast a bustling international airport. However, fear not! With a bit of creativity, one can easily fly into Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport (PBM) via connecting flights from Miami, Amsterdam, or a handful of Caribbean islands. Once you've arrived, brace yourself for a potentially chaotic taxi ride into the city center, where the real fun begins.

Historic Inner City: A True Melting Pot

The historic heart of Paramaribo is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site but also a testament to the city's rich and diverse history. Here, you'll find a delightful mishmash of architectural styles, ranging from Dutch colonial buildings to ornate mosques and synagogues. As you wander through the narrow streets, you'll likely encounter locals speaking Dutch, English, Sranan Tongo – the local creole language – or any of the several indigenous languages spoken in Suriname.

A Taste of Suriname: A Culinary Adventure

Paramaribo's multiculturalism truly shines when it comes to its culinary scene. Surinamese cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors and influences from around the world, including Javanese, Chinese, Indian, and African. Be sure to try some local specialties, such as roti – a delicious Indian flatbread served with curries – or saoto soup, a fragrant Javanese chicken broth. For a truly unique dining experience, check out Blauwgrond, a lively Javanese neighborhood known for its food stalls and casual eateries.

Fort Zeelandia: A Storied Past

No visit to Paramaribo would be complete without a trip to Fort Zeelandia, a historic fortress that has played a central role in Suriname's tumultuous history. Built by the Dutch in the 17th century, the fort has been occupied by the British, French, and Surinamese over the years and now houses a fascinating history museum. Be sure to join a guided tour to learn about the many twists and turns in the fort's storied past – and perhaps pick up some ghost stories along the way.

Paramaribo Nightlife: Bright Lights, Big City

As the sun sets and the tropical heat subsides, Paramaribo comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene. Head to the bustling Waterkant promenade, where you'll find an array of lively bars and restaurants overlooking the Suriname River. For those with a taste for the high life, try your luck at one of the city's several casinos, or dance the night away at a local nightclub. Just be prepared for the possibility of a sudden tropical downpour – but then again, what's a little rain when you're living it up in Paramaribo?

Exploring Beyond the City Limits

Paramaribo may be the crown jewel of Suriname, but the country's true beauty lies in its lush and unspoiled wilderness. With over 90% of the country covered in dense rainforest, there are endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. Join a guided tour to Brownsberg Nature Park, where you'll hike through the jungle and be rewarded with stunning views over the Brokopondo Reservoir, or venture deeper into the forest to explore the remote Raleighvallen Nature Reserve. And for those seeking an immersive cultural experience, consider a visit to one of Suriname's many indigenous Maroon villages, where you'll gain insight into the unique traditions and way of life of the local people.

In Conclusion: Paramaribo Awaits!

While it may not have the glamour and glitz of its South American counterparts, Paramaribo offers a truly unique and unforgettable experience for those willing to venture off the beaten path. With its quirky charm, eclectic cultural scene, and warm, welcoming locals, this hidden gem is just waiting to be discovered by intrepid travelers seeking a holiday like no other. So pack your bags, brush up on your Dutch, and get ready to uncover the quirky charm of Paramaribo, Suriname!
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