It is the city's awkward ugliness that gives it its charm and character - and the friendly quirkiness of its people as well as the pretty Las Penas more than compensate for the well-intentioned but badly designed waterfront with its tackily-constructed monuments and statues.
For a budget meal before you hit the town, it is best to head to the authentic Ecuadorian restaurants in the Urdesa suburb, which offer a multitude of fresh seafood options from the traditional apanado platter with rice, fried platano (a savoury banana) and battered fish to the scrumptious prawn ceviche.
One of the tastiest choices is the camaron con coco (shrimps with coconut sauce) washed down with a bottle of Brahma beer.
From here, you can take a taxi to La Zona Rosa for around $4 and scan the streets for your choice of haunt.
Tight-shirted boys hand out glossy flyers tempting travellers into various bars and from around 10 o´clock the streets come alive with Guayacos (people from Guayaquil) and tourists looking for somewhere to drink and dance.
There is a bar catering to every taste in the Zona Rosa, from the trendy IX with its well-dressed crowd, tasty cocktails and minimalist décor to classic rock joints that attract long-haired air guitarists.
A chilled-out, beatnik experience can be had at the smoky, cosy Ojos de la Perro Azur where punters sit back in their easy chairs listening to the sounds of soul and jazz music.
Those looking for an ambience less horizontal can check out one of the zone´s livelier venues, but often at a cost. The Guayaco nightlife´s one downfall is that there are perhaps too many bars to choose from, leaving most almost-empty and making it compulsory to pay into one of the fixed-price clubs (with an all-you-can-drink policy once you are in) if you want to party into the night.
At an average $10, the cover charge is worth it and means you can keep your wallet safely tucked away once you are in.
A typical South American haunt, Midas is a grimy, grinding basement bar that plays an upbeat mixture of salsa, 90s pop and reggaeton.