Popayn may not be the most lit up town in the world but it was one of the better ones in Colombia. The main square could use some more but they did a nice job with the churches up high. Both Iglesia La Ermita and Capilla de Belén were well lit and quite colorfully at that.
One thing about night photography is you'll need a tripod to get good shots though with digital cameras it is not as necessary as it once was. That said, your best shots will be with a tripod and also just after the sun goes down. There's no need to wait till midnight to grab these shots. As soon as the lights come on, shoot away!
We had a good experience in a local pool hall dive bar in Salento so on reading about El Sotareño in Popayán we decided to give it another go despite its foreboding exterior. The bar in Salento had been big and open, with two wide doors welcoming you in and offering a quick exit as well. El Sotareño was minuscule in comparison and the one tiny door it had seemed perennially closed. It was very dark and not exactly inviting but it was reportedly a 40 year old institution traditional Hispanic music on vinyl no less. So, we bellied up and entered into the dingy dive to find it thankfully mostly empty. There were booths so we didn't have to sit with anyone and could keep to ourselves. I went up to the bar and ordered a couple of Club Colombian's and paid 2500 COP ($1.25) for the two of them, certainly a fair enough price but once back at the table we discovered them to be “cool” at best. It's likely that one of the cheaper mass-produced brands was the beer in the bar and likely all the cooler space was reserved for them. At any rate, no mass-produced Colombian beer is good enough to drink warm and though the place had an admittedly bizarre charm to it, we took off after one beer, glad to have seen El Sotareño but equally glad to have it behind us.
Dress Code: You couldn't possibly be under dressed here though if a woman, it would probably be best to not wear something too skimpy!
Popayán doesn't have especially wild nightlife though the friendly locals like to meet in the towns excellent cafés or salsa clubs to spend a sociable evening. If you like to dance salsa or reggaeton, or just chill with a drink listening to latin jazz and bossa nova, you will find a place to sit and relax after a day of sightseeing. Many nightclubs and bars are located right in the historic centre. There is also a party bus, Chiva Rumbera (chiva buses are colourfully painted old buses in Colombia) which will take you on a tour of Popayán every Friday and Saturday. Entry is 5.000 COP and you can drink, dance and socialize in this moving nightclub :)
One night I was invited by Eddie from the HostelTrail to a private salsa party. It was organized by his friendly local friends and their english teacher, another Scotchman. The party was a great fun, with a lot of salsa music, dancing and aguardiente caucano (a strong alcoholic drink based on anis, favourite drink at informal parties).