Buenos Aires - Argentina
Personal Safety Tips

Argentina travel tips - this time personal safety and financial info especially for those visiting Buenos Aires.

Page 3

Argentina: Personal Safety

After focusing on food and restaurants in the first part provided by:
Restaurants in Argentina- (page 1)
and correspondingly public transport provided by:
Argentina Public Transport - (page 2)

now is the time for the personal safety and financial info in Argentina. Needless to say that both these issues are very important. Finally you would like to enjoy your time in Argentina and live there your dreams. 

There is no need to be paranoid providing you are aware of dangers and take the necessary precautions. Simply be careful and use the common sense as you will do it everywhere else when traveling.

Hopefully these tips will help you to have great and safe vacations in Argentina.

  • As in every city they are best areas, good, so-so and “do-not go” ones. For example everybody should visit La Boca, but do not try to walk there. Take the bus or taxi.

    Similarly San Telmo – one of the major tourist attractions, is not the safest place to be although it is difficult to imagine being in Buenos without visiting San Telmo.

    Plaza Dorrego is the center of Bohemian life where music and dance go on probably 24/7…. Here you will find plenty of souvenirs and antique shops- some with real “treasuries” and some with “antique-like-looking” stuff. Do not forget the biggest fair in BA – each Sunday on Dorrego Plaza and surrounding streets.

    Another place where you should be careful is the Retiro (main railroad station) and subway (Subte). These crowded places are a paradise for pickpockets and bags snatchers.

  • Be careful and do not expose your precious objects (gold chains seen on your neck may easily change the owner). Similarly whenever possible, keep your photo or video cameras unexposed.

    The general rule is – carry with you as little as possible. And try to keep these few “little things” in zipped pockets (city’s pickpockets are very skilful). Everything else live in the safety box of your hotel (most short-term rental apartments also have safety boxes).

    To be clear – Buenos Aires is like most big touristic centers, not better but not worse. They are tourists and those trying to profit from their naïve behavior and/or lack of awareness. On the positive note – I was warned few times by local people to keep my camera in its case when walking on the streets of San Telmo.

Free Buenos Aires Pictures

Free Buenos Aires Pictures

Free Buenos Aires Pictures

full size: 1.38MB 2.48MB 1.40MB

Left - streets of bohemian San Telmo
Center: San Telmo - Calle Chile, the famous bench with the sculpture made to mark the 200 years anniversary of the Revolution of May 1810.
Right: San Telmo - In front of the bar-restaurant "Rey Castro".

  • If you have a small backpack with you then flip it around and keep hanging over your chest. Do not carry with you any big items! Hold to your bags. BTW - there is a company (one of many) selling all kind of theft-safe bags, camera and computer cases…. These bags future stainless steel wire mesh to protect the bag, the slash-proof adjustable straps preventing thieves from cutting the bag with the knife or razor. They also have build-in lock for anchoring the bag to something secure (important in restaurants, bars etc…). Check at www.pacsafe
  • Cell-phones (specifically these more fancy) may be an easy target for pick-pocketing. You laboriously write your sms concentrated on the keypad and then suddenly the phone is snatched from your hand on gone (often on a bike). So please pay attention when you talk or sms using your cell. This may also happen to your watche (yes, they can evaporate quickly from your whist) – so use inexpensive one.

Free Buenos Aires Pictures

Free Buenos Aires Pictures

Free Buenos Aires Pictures

full size: 1.32MB 3.05MB 3.11MB

The famous Boca - colorful and relatively safe only in the small are of the touristic center. Outside of these limits is a "no-go" zone. Also - do not visit La Boca the day of a football (soccer) game. The games played by Boca Juniors are like magnets bringing not only fans.....
Left: Invisible man!

  • In some areas considered as less safe many shops and offices are locked during the opening hours (San Telmo is one of them). You have to ring at the doors to be let in. That is quite shocking experience! Later I found that even in Recoleta (considered as the safe area) many offices are locked – but this is probably too conservative measure mostly due to the “old habits”.
  • One of the known “tricks” used by “street robbers” is to “spit” on you some “liquid” (eyes or eye-glasses are the best targets). Then taking advantage of confusion often combined with your tendency to open the purse and get some Kleenex - they simply do the job! And you still do not know what really happened till you realize later… . Other trick is to throw something on your back. Pretending that it is a “bird’s poop” (they may even point on the bird flying above) they will try to help cleaning your back by the same time “cleaning” your pockets or bag.
  • I heard that sometimes you may get a “not-to-be-refused” proposal. In most cases it is enough to give something and according to those “well informed” a good protection (so far) may provide a “ready to use” wallet with few bucks and an expired credit card in it.
  • Both Buenos Aires airports provide the sealing service for the luggage. Keep in mind that sealing luggage with plastic wrap is an extra protection – may be a bit costly but may save you many problems later. To make it clear - I do not think that Buenos Aires airports are very different from most other airports in the world (see statistics on lost luggage).

Financial Tips

  • Good news is that in Buenos Aires (and most major cities in Argentina) there are several branches of Citibank. That allows you to take cash from your US Citibank account (or Citibank account in any other country) without any fees! Otherwise you will be charged up to 60 AR pesos for each withdrawing operation ($1 = 4 AR pesos as of January 2011). For your security use an ATM machine during the day and inside of the bank.
  • All major Credit Cards are widely accepted in Argentina. However keep in mind that these days majority of CCs charge extra fees called “Foreign Transactions Fees” (you will see them only on your monthly statement).
Free Buenos Aires pictures

Usually they are about 3% of the transaction amount. On top of that you have to add the “out-of-control” exchange rate CCs apply to your charge in a foreign currency.

I'm aware that after reading so many warnings you need some boost of energy and enthusiasm to still pack for the trip to Buenos Aires. This building facade may convince you that you made a good decision. Buenos is a great city and you will absolutely enjoy it.

  • To change your foreign currency in the bank you will need your passport. However this is the only case when you need your passport with you in the city (obviously you will need it at the hotel when checking-in and at the airport). The bottom line is – do not carry your passport with you on the streets of Buenos Aires if you do not want to lose it (see safety tips above).
  • If possible try to avoid exchanging your bucks in currency exchange kiosks and/or similar offices. There are a lot of counterfeit notes circulating in Buenos. So walk “an extra mile” and get your AR pesos from the trusted bank.
  • If you want to rent an apartment (short term), on top of rental fees you will be asked for a substantial “safety deposit” in cash! The deposit will be returned to you the day you are leaving apartment.
Free Buenos Aires pictures

Be aware that this is an opportunity for scams and you may face the situation to “weight” the cost of your air ticket versus the deposit. For your best protection either write down serial numbers of the deposit notes or insist on sealing the envelope with the deposit and sign it across the seal.

Unspoken power and beauty of this few hundred years old tree in Recoleta (see the vast web of roots)....

If you are renting an apartment through a recognized agency the chances of such scam are close to none.

However if you rent an apartment on your own then you are on your own.

      I hope that you found here something interesting and helpful and you are ready to move farther with your vacation plans.


If you want to read more travels tips to prepare yourself for vacation in Argentina then please select one of the following links:

Food and Restaurants     Argentina - Restaurants -(page 1)
Public Transport             Argentina - Public Transport -(page 2)
City of Buenos Aires       Capital of Argentina -(page 4)
Argentinean People         Buenos Aires - "Gente"  -(page 5) 

Not sure yet where to go and what to see in Argentina? You may find help selecting: Tourist Destinations in Argentina

However if you are falling in love with Buenos Aires (I do not blame you, it happened to me) then please select: Buenos Aires Walking Tours

If you enjoyed this visit, then please share your experience with friends :-)

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