I lived in Quito for 2 years so I can give an honest review. It is at an altitude of 9000 feet so the the temperature in Quito is not always tropical, it ranges from 55-80 degrees and can be cold and damp during the rainy season (Dec-March/April) and at night.
The city has much to offer travellers as they finally are realizing the importance of tourism. It has great restaurants, especially the ones in the fanciest hotels namely Swiss Hotel (previously called Oro Verde) and Hotel Colon. Calle Amazonas, (Amazonas street) is the best place to shop for tourists not leaving the city. Leather goods, Indian crafts, llama blankets, jewelry. If you venture out of the city, read my review on Ecuador, shopping. For wonderful art pieces, go to the park across the street from Hotel Colon on Saturday or Sunday (Sunday p.m. you can really bargain).
Very few of the people, outside of the good hotels, know English, so practice on your Spanish before you go. Maybe bring a pocket translator if you have to.
For safety, I don't wish to deter visitors, but you have to be careful. Take precautions such as: Hide your money in different places & bags. Never walk alone anywhere in the city. Always look around you and be aware of people who may be following, if this is the case, go to a public place, a store or restaurant until they leave. Don't carry cameras over your shoulder, put them in your bag. Avoid going to the South part of the city, the image of the Virgin may be appealing but it is one of the most dangerous parts of the city. If you do go to the south to see the wonderful architecture, dress down and go in a group and try to use as much Spanish as you can.
A trip to Quito is for the adventurous traveller. You can do it cheaply by staying in hostels and doing free excursions like hiking or hanging out in the urban center, going to the local markets or you can spend a lot of money on fancy hotels, restaurants and stores that would rival any European class shop.
Quito is one of the most interesting cities in the world but you have to have a lot of patience for the third-world thinking that invades every aspect of life. If you are near the Toronto area, try to book your flight through a Latin/South American agency, they usually have better prices. Amazona Travel is one of them.
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