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Safety in Argentina

Before continuing

We highly recommend reading the State Department’s Country Specific Information about Argentina, and enrolling in the Smart Traveler program before leaving.

Below, we have a brief summary of their report, and contact information for the U.S. Embassy. Please also feel free to contact us directly with any safety questions or concerns: info@keteka.com.

Important Phone Numbers

The U.S. State Department on Safety in Argentina

While the country may not be quite as safe as Chile right across the border, travelers usually visit Argentina without issue. A little common sense and a closer eye on your belongings is typically sufficient protection.

Civil Unrest: Protests and demonstrations are common in Buenos Aires, and occur in other cities as well. While they scarcely turn violent, it’s still recommended to avoid them.

Road Safety: Argentina can be a dangerous country both for drivers and pedestrians. Drivers in Argentina tend to be more aggressive and often ignore traffic regulations, so more vigilance on the streets is key. Also, if you are driving, make sure you prepare for any longer trips as gas stations can be separated by great distances.

Crime: Petty crime is certainly the biggest risk in Argentina. However, violent robberies and muggings do occur in big cities such as Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Rosario. In Buenos Aires, avoid the San Telmo, Recoleta, and La Boca neighborhoods, particularly at night.

There are a variety of common scams, including:

As with most major cities, pickpocketing is common. Don’t keep items in your back pockets and don’t place you bags on the floor or the back of your chair at restaurants. Be extremely cautious with smartphones, particularly iPhones. They are not widely available in Argentina, causing them to be targeted for theft. Laptops and tablets face a similar threat.

If your phone is stolen, find a phone you can use and contact your family as soon as possible. Let them know you are safe, because thieves commonly use stolen phones to fake kidnappings so that families will wire them money for ransom.

Express kidnappings, while not common for citizens and even rarer for tourists, do occur. This is where victims are taken and forced to withdraw as much money as possible from ATM before being released, in most cases unharmed.

In Our Experience

The areas of San Telmo and La Boca in Buenos Aires are particularly renowned for pickpocketings and violent muggings can take place, so please be cautious when going through these areas. Only go during the day to these places, stick to the tourist main trails, and remain vigilant of your possessions.

You should be wary of anyone approaching you on the street, or trying to entice you to a shop or bar with offers of ‘free’ drinks. It is likely you will be made to pay extortionate prices for supposedly free items, or will be distracted whilst someone is speaking to you on the street for long enough to be pickpocketed.

It is advised in Buenos Aires to only take ‘Radio Taxis’ which are black and yellow and clearly have ‘Radio Taxi’ written on the roof of the car. These are known to be safer and more reliable, and can be hailed on the street without any problems. If you have not pre-ordered a taxi, make sure you agree a set fee up front, and do not pay the fare to anyone except the driver. Sometimes ‘handlers’ will help you into a taxi and ask for the fare, however you may then find yourself with a problem when the driver then asks for the fare at the end of the journey again, claiming no association with the handlers.

You should also try to be aware of your route as many taxi drivers will attempt to take you in circles to increase the fare once they realize you do not know the area. They may ask you ‘Should I take X road or Y road’, to test if you know the way. Where possible, look up the route to your destination beforehand so you are at least aware of the direction you should be going in and some road names along the way. Of course, if you are asked this question, it may be legitimate and does not necessarily indicate a scam, however it’s best to be prepared.

There is a distinct difference between rich and poor on the street, with homelessness rife even in main areas. Pickpocketing is extremely common and if going to touristy areas such as the market in San Telmo or out to a bar, do keep a very close eye on your possessions. We would recommend taking only a small purse and not carrying too many valuables. Avoid wearing expensive jewellery so you don’t advertise wealth unnecessarily. When walking along, try not to use your cell phone either texting or making calls. If you must, ensure that your fingers are wrapped around three sides of the phone (eg. wrap your index finger round the top), so that a mugger cannot easily swipe it from your hands.

U.S. Embassy Buenos Aires Information