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Jorge Abila

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I'm a local living in Buenos Aires

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Americas > Argentina > Buenos Aires > Useful Info
Submitted on Apr 05, 2020 Useful Info

Key safety tips for travelers to Buenos Aires

  • In terms of how safe Buenos Aires is, I'd say Buenos Aires is overall a very safe city for tourists. We have our share of crimes but it really isn't any worse than most major cities in the world. There are no glaring major safety issues you have to worry about, and overall using common sense and exercising normal precautions as you would in any American or European cities is all that's needed
  • Here are some general safety tips for visiting Buenos Aires:
  1. Keep your belongings close: pickpocketing is the most common crime in the city, and tourists are disproportionately targeted. Especially when you're on busy shopping streets like Calle Florida, you need to be careful to keep an eye on your belongings at all times
  2. Don't wear flashy things: this goes without saying, if you're dressed flashy and wearing jewelry, you'll stand out for pickpocketing and potential mugging. It's best to dress casual and understated while you're in Buenos Aires for the day time sightseeing. Of course dress as nice as you want to fancy parties or venues where you're taxiing directly to and from your destination
  3. Don't look like an obvious tourist: aside from not wearing anything flashy, also try to not look like an obvious tourist. You know what I'm talking about, young guys and girls with those giant backpacks that screams "I'm tourists!" for all potential thieves to see. Sometimes you can't help it, like if you are an asian person people will assume you're a tourist, but even so try to blend in as much as possible
  4. Keep your passport safe: keep your passport in your hotel safe. If you must bring it with you, don't put it in your backpack. Keep it separate from your other belongings, so that if god forbid your backpack or other possessions get stolen, your passport will still be safe. In the worst case that your passport does get stolen, the first thing you need to do is to go to the nearest police station and file a report. The police will like not be able to help you get it back, but they will produce an official report stating that your passport is stolen. Then, go to your embassy and consulate immediately with the police report, and get a temporary passport that will allow you to continue your travel. Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina so you will find all embassies here
  • Specific safety tips for Benos Aires:
  1. Be extremely vigilant at the Retiro Bus Terminal: this is the main long distance bus terminal in Buenos Aires, many tourists and backpackers come here to take buses to other places in the country such as Mendoza and Iguazu. Therefore, there are a lot of thieves here. The official name of Retiro is Terminal de Ómnibus de Retiro (here), and this place is just notorious for scams and petty crimes targeting travelers. Put a lock on your backpack, and wear it on your front side if possible. Don't put your wallet in your pocket (put it in your inner jacket pocket). Don't flash your iPhone if that's what you use. Ignore strangers. Just generally be aware of your surrounding and who's close to you at all times
  2. Watch your iPhone and other Apple products: iPhone is like gold here, it's so expensive because our government put so much taxes on it that there was an article written a while back saying that it's cheaper to fly to Miami to buy and back than to buy one here. There's a big black market iphone trade here so stealing it from tourists is a big problem. Avoid using it in public, especially if you have the latest models, only use it for essential stuff and even so use it sparingly. Don't chat on it for hours in public, you will draw a lot of attention. This to a lesser extent also applies to other Apple products. Don't wear your Apple Watch. Don't wear your Air Pods. Use your Apple laptop in your hotel room, not in a cafe
  3. Mustard/bird poop scam: be wary of strangers telling you that you have mustard/bird poop/whatever, on you. They're trying to distract you and fumble with your belongings to create the perfect time for their accomplice to steal your stuff. Just ignore any stranger who you're not expecting
  4. Avoid protests: we have protests here in Buenos Aires rather frequently. For your own safety just avoid areas where there are large crowds of people gathering for whatever reason. Things are most often peaceful, but they can take quick turns. Plus, large gatherings is perfect place for thieves to take things from you
  5. Motochorros snatching: this is a problem that affects locals and tourists alike. Basically two criminals (most often men) on motorcycles would ride up to you, one of them gets off to snatch your bag, electronics, or any other valuables, then they ride away. You just lost your valuables and there's no way to find them. This happens often enough that you can search "Motochorros" on Google and find see some stories about them. My tips for avoiding them is to basically walk as far away from the road on the sidewalk as possible, and always stay alert to your surroundings. Hold on tight to your belongings (of course if you're being mugged with a weapon, do not try to fight, just give the robbers whatever you have)
  • Areas to avoid in Buenos Aires: in the map below I've highlighted in red and yellow and particularly sketchy and potentially dangerous areas of Buenos Aires. However, don't let your guard down anywhere, even in posh neighborhoods like Recoleta and Palermo, because upscale and sketchy areas frequently exist right next to one another. The particularly bad areas in the central parts of Buenos Aires include the Retiro terminal area, Once terminal area, Constitución area; La Boca is a hipster artsy area, but there are some very bad neighborhoods mixed in. You can click the red and yellow areas in the map below to see the name of these areas