Safety

TRAVEL TIPS

Safety

Argentina is safer than many Latin American countries. However, street crime is still a concern—mainly pickpocketing, bag snatching, and occasionally mugging—especially in Buenos Aires. Taking a few precautions when traveling in the region is usually enough to keep you out of harm’s way.

Crime

Walk with purpose; if you don't look like a target, you'll likely be left alone. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry. Keep a grip on your purse or bag, and keep it in your lap if you're sitting (never leave it hanging on the back of a chair or on the floor). Try to keep your cash and credit cards in different places about your person (and always leave one card in your hotel safe, if possible), so that if one gets stolen you can fall back on the other.

Tickets and other valuables are best left in hotel safes, too. Avoid carrying large sums of money around, but always keep enough to have something to hand over in the unlikely event of a mugging. Another time-honored tactic is to keep a dummy wallet (an old one containing an expired credit card and a small amount of cash) in your pocket, with your real cash in an inside or vest pocket: if your "wallet" gets stolen you have little to lose.

Women can expect pointed looks, the occasional piropo (a flirtatious remark, usually alluding to some physical aspect), and some advances. These catcalls rarely escalate into actual physical harassment. The best reaction is to make like local women and ignore them; reply only if you're really confident with Spanish curse words. If you're heading out for the night, it's wise to take a taxi.

There's usually a notable police presence in areas popular with tourists, such as San Telmo and Palermo in Buenos Aires. This deters potential pickpockets and hustlers somewhat. However, Argentineans have little faith in their police forces: officers are often corrupt, and at best, the police are well-meaning but underequipped.

The most important advice we can give you is to not put up a struggle in the unlikely event that you are mugged. Nearly all physical attacks on tourists are the direct result of their resisting would-be pickpockets or muggers. Comply with demands, hand over your stuff, and try to get the situation over with as quickly as possible—then let your travel insurance take care of it.

Protests

Argentineans like to speak their minds, and protesters frequently cause major traffic jams by blocking streets or clogging squares in downtown Buenos Aires. Some denounce government policies; others may show support for them. Demonstrations are usually peaceful, but exercise caution if you happen across one.

Scams

Beware of scams such as a kindly passer-by offering to help you clean a stain that has somehow appeared on your clothes: while your attention is occupied, an accomplice picks your pocket or snatches your bag.

Taxi drivers in big cities are usually honest, but occasionally they decide to take people for a ride, literally. All official cabs have meters, so make sure this is turned on. It helps to have an idea where you're going and how long it will take. Local lore says that if you’re hailing taxis on the street, those with lights on top (usually labeled "Radio Taxi") are more trustworthy. Late at night, try to call for a cab—all hotels and restaurants, no matter how cheap, have a number and will usually call for you.

When asking for price quotes while shopping in touristy areas, always confirm whether the amount is given in dollars or pesos. Some salespeople, especially street vendors, have found that they can take advantage of confused tourists by charging dollars for goods that are actually priced in pesos.

Advisories and Other Information

Transportation Security Administration. www.tsa.gov.

U.S. Department of State. www.travel.state.gov.

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