Safety advice for tourists in Argentina

If you are about to travel to Argentina, you need to take into account a series of precautions as a tourist, since there are some…

Puente de la Mujer is a rotating footbridge for Dock 3 of the Puerto Madero commercial district of Buenos Aires, Argentina. (shutterstock photo)

If you are about to travel to Argentina, you need to take into account a series of precautions as a tourist, since there are some differences in safety between the USA and this gorgeous South American country. Argentines are friendly and will help you with everything you need, but you must listen to specific recommendations to travel to Maradona’s and Borges’s homeland.

Don’t be alarmed unnecessarily, the crime rate in Argentina is similar or lower than that of other countries but you do need to be on your toes.

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Personal precautions

  • Don’t flaunt jewelry or valuable accessories when you hit the streets. Leave your valuables in the safe at the hotel.
  • Don’t dress in a way that will immediately call attention to you as a foreigner. Try to be discreet and wear comfortable clothes. Please don’t wear USA baseball caps or Texan hats… Too obvious!
  • It is preferable to deal with small amounts of money distributed in different pockets. Don’t trust strangers who seem too nice from the get-go unless you have taken the initiative. You could be mugged.
  • Carry your stuff securely, use cross-body bags and front-packs, and don’t carry anything in your back pockets.
    • Keep an eye on your camera. Once you have taken your photos, put it away. Be very careful if you ask someone to take your photo with your camera, he or she could run away with it before you can say “cheese”.
      • Don’t leave your bag or backpack hanging on the back of your chair in bars, pubs and restaurants. It becomes an easy target for thieves and pickpockets.
        • If you don’t speak perfect “Argentine,” avoid speaking loudly or calling attention to yourself. Criminals are on the prowl for unattentive tourists.
          • In Argentina you will find lots of 100 Argentine pesos -a common note for daily use- notes, and some of them are counterfeit. Do not change your dollars on the street from clandestine vendors. It’s better to change your money in a bank or authorized money changer … even when these will offer less bang for your buck.
            • Never give money, nor your personal documents to strangers who offer to help you out.
              • Don’t  hail taxis on the street, it’s best to request them from the hotel concierge or a radio taxi service. If you’ve taken a taxi and the driver tells you that your money is counterfeit (and you have changed it at a proper place, see above), do not believe him, get out, and immediately call the police.
                • When you decide to have lunch in a restaurant, check the prices first: they should be visible and, if you want to pay with dollars, ask how many pesos they will give you for each dollar. When tipping, calculate 10% of the total cost. If you liked the service then do tip. In Argentina tipping is not expected, but it’s nice if you do.
                  • If you want to go on a day trip, consult with tourist information offices which are authorized by the City Government.
                  • SEE ALSO: How to keep your summer vacation budget and health friendly

                    Buenos Aires, vacation desitinations Latin America

                    Caminito in La Boca Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Susanna Bauman)

                    Risky areas

                    • La Boca. This is a humble neighborhood located on the banks of Riachuelo. It has two tourist attractions, Caminito Street and “La Bombonera,” Club Boca Juniors’ stadium. It is not recommended to walk its streets on foot or depart from Caminito Street. There are certain tours that take you up safely to both places.
                      • San Telmo. It is one of the fashionable districts of Buenos Aires. It has several points of attraction such as Plaza Dorrego, but the area is full of pickpockets, and violent assaults have taken place there. Try to visit the area during the day. Never go alone at night.
                        • Don’t stroll around the city at night if you don’t know the area. Avoid, , Plaza Constitucion and surrounding areas at all costs, the area of Retiro railway, the parks and any town plaza or square that doesn’t have a police station.
                        • Useful telephone numbers

                          • Police (911)
                            • Tourist Ombudsman of the city of Buenos Aires (4302 7816)
                              • Commissioner of the Tourist (0800-999-5000)
                                • General Directorate for Defense and Protection of the Consumer of the City Government, (4370-9700)