I know everywhere has its problems. i am planning my trip for next year and i just wanted any experiences/advice from anyone about places with alot of trouble that is recommended to avoid?
I know there will be differing opinions and its best just to decide for yourself but im just trying to build up a picture of all of these places ive heard so much about!
Im particularly concerned because i started planning my trip thinking i was starting off in South East Asia first and then off to South America, now im leaning towards doing it the other way round but all i seem to stumble across is 'avoid here, be careful with this..if you can survive going here you'll be ok here..' which all seems quite concerning when there didnt seem to be any mention of things like this when i was researching south east asia. (i know i know two very different places) Just as a first time traveller i want to get a good idea.
Thanks 😊 x
In my experience South America is nothing like as risky as the stories would have you believe. We travelled through Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela with cameras, a notebook pc, ipods etc and didn't have any problems at all. We took normal precautions, just like you would in many UK towns and cities, and kept our wits about us. yes there are a few places you shouldn't go but don't let the stories scare you or stop you doing things.
I don't think any one country is more dangerous than another. It is more down to areas within countries, usually big cities, and even areas within those cities, and the sort of crime varies. In one country night buses are not recommended, in another they are fine. You usually get good advice from other travelers you meet along the way. Also, a bit of research on individual countries helps.
Hello Abi 😊
Countries with a lot of poor people and/or with political problems will have their dangers.
I dont think you need avoid any of the countries. Just take precautions. ie. If there are a lot of muggings, then avoid wandering around after dark and in isolated places. Also, get advice from people who are currently travelling in a particular country, if it becomes politically unstable. ie. I think Honduras would be one to approach with some caution, since their president was ousted. That may be improving now though.
...'avoid here, be careful with this..if you can survive going here you'll be ok here..' which all seems quite concerning
For sure, there are things to be concerned about, but they always cause more worry when thinking about them, than while travelling and dealing with them. So go, take reasonable precautions, but dont get paranoid.
I can only give sound advice about Chile. I have been living in Vina del Mar and Valparaiso for the past few months and I generally feel safe where ever i go. There are definitely some places to avoid, that i found out the hard way, but ask the locals and they'll be more than happy to tell you where not to go. Chileans may come off as being harsh and closed off, but its only a tough outer shell built up from hard experiences, most will open up through casual conversation. But beware, Chileans are excellent pick pocketers.
Recently i couch surfed in Buenos Aires and the people there were some of the friendliest ive ever met.
So, watch your back, keep an eye on your stuff, dont let a gypsy read your palm, even if its a "gift" and most important of all have fun!
Like Rosie, I can only advise a bit about Chile & Argentina.
I felt very safe in both countries and the people there were very friendly. However, you need to keep your wits about you when using taxis in both countries as I heard reports of travellers being scammed and ripped off with the fares. Also, a couple of travellers I met whilst I was in Chile last year have been the victims of pickpocketers in Santiago (even if one of the travellers foiled an attempt).
It's a matter of being aware and taking the usual precautions whenever travelling (applies everywhere not just South America).
Things can change pretty quickly over there, so the best information you will get is while you are travelling from other travellers.
The major cities and coastal region on the Carribbean in Colombia were fine (including Medellin, which is beautiful and has great night-life).
Bolivia, and La Paz in particular can be a bit weird in places, but for the most part is quite safe.
JUst generally take precautions. If travelling alone, do so during daylight, or grab travelling companions at hostels to share taxis etc.
There are some pretty good scam artists, but I'm not particularly fussed when somebody tacks on 50% to a 0.75 Euro drink.
Definately go past the expensive tourist menus and find the little local place around the corner where the locals eat with the menu effectivo or menu executivo, which is basically a three course meal of the day with a couple of options.
From my experience, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay and Peru were perfectly safe.
Bolivia was slightly more sketchy, but a lot of fun to be had.
While in Colombia, we heard stroies from other travellers that Venezuela was very dodgy security wise, so didn't venture in.
Just to add, I felt less safe in areas of Los Angeles (not even the 'bad' parts) at the start of my trip than in almost all Sth American cities
Just to add, I felt less safe in areas of Los Angeles (not even the 'bad' parts) at the start of my trip than in almost all Sth American cities
This brings to mind a point. Is there a difference between the perception of safety and the reality?
I didnt feel unsafe on my recent visit to Sao Paulo, Brazil, but then when I look at the astonishing records for murders and robberies that happen there, I cant really discard the reality that it is in fact dangerous, even if I did not feel unsafe while I was there. Same with Rio. I had no problems there, but the crime reports from there are horrifying. Or is it that I took more precautions than I would, if I had been in someplace that does not have so much crime that I had no incidents...
Mell, yes, absolutely it is down to perception based on personal experience. Someone who is robbed at knife point somewhere will brand a place extremely dangerous and someone who had no problem will say it is perfectly safe. The truth lies somewhere between the two. It is also a matter of good or bad luck.
Crime in South America, in general, is mostly crime of opportunity: pickpockets, snatch and grab. Then there are the scams: helping you wipe off some substance they have just sprayed all over your back, switching a bill in a taxi and saying you gave them a counterfeit one. Much more rare are armed robberies, but they are possible. These are probably the easiest to avoid by being careful where you wander at night, not drinking so much you become an easy target, not bringing strangers back to your lodging.
Most tourists do not experience any problem. The vast majority don't. Most have a wonderful time, meet great people and see wonderful things.
Everyone I've talked to that's been to Quito has been robbed. Apparently there's only 4 safe streets. Also try not to take night buses in Columbia, or you risk being held up at gunpoint. You can Google your route and see if any news pops up about it being hijacked. You're more at risk of having your day back snatched. Every story about someone stuck somewhere for two weeks trying to get a new passport starts with: "I didn't feel like wearing my moneybelt so I put it in my daypack." I've heard stories of "bus drivers" (just a guy in a uniform) asking people to put there day packs below the bus and then walking off with them all. Insist you keep it with you. Just use common sense.
Everyone I've talked to that's been to Quito has been robbed.
When I was there 10 years ago, the old part of the town had a bad reputation for robberies. I spent only around a half hour there because of it, and headed back to the safer part I was staying in, after it. Dont know if anything has changed since.
The night bus bit about Colombia is rubbish, I lived there for the last 4 years, took night buses the whole time. Maybe they were trouble 10 years ago. Plus, it takes like at least 16 hours to go from Bogota to the coast, some of that has to be at night. Bogota's pretty sketchy, but with that many people below the poverty line it's to be expected. Be wary of the Million $ Taxi ride, meaning the driver stops and his friends get in and rob you. Mostly done on the drunk leaving the expensive parts of town.
La Paz isn't a place you want to arrive too late in, read your guide book, avoid the people who are touting you the hardest. Kids generally are the biggest problem if petty theft is your concern, from the ones selling chicle in the streets in Quito, to groups of them surrounding you in Rio. But yeah, we did get robbed in Quito. Oh, and Venezuela's a disaster right now, your biggest problem will be the police, and in one border town, the only three gas stations refused to sell us gas, most likely due to the quality of our character, not the color of our skin/nationality.
"Everyone I've talked to that's been to Quito has been robbed. Apparently there's only 4 safe streets" = 100% pure BS. We had no problems at all in Quito and walked along more than 4 streets. It also sounds like the person making this comment hasn't actually been there themselves.
"Also try not to take night buses in Columbia, or you risk being held up at gunpoint" yet more complete and utter garbage.
In 6 months we never once used our money belts. If you don't need your passport leave it locked in the hostel, if you don't need to carry all your cash and cards - don't, again lock it in the hostel.
Common sense is enough to see you safely around almost everywhere.
The night bus bit about Colombia is rubbish, I lived there for the last 4 years, took night buses the whole time.
Maybe things have improved, then. 😊
You're right, I haven't been to Quito, I'm just responding to stories I've heard from traveleres who've been there. But I have had friends who've had AKs held to there heads as they've been robbed in the night buses in Columbia. None of this stuff has happened to me but I'm overly cautious.
Took at least 4 night buses in Colombia and while I saw a lot of locked and loaded militray, there wasn't the slightest hint of trouble the whole time.
I also took night busses in Colombia without problems. We actually felt quite safe in most of Colombia. The taxi drivers warned me in Bogota because I couldnt remember where I was staying and the driver got mad because I was being so stupid and told me that if I did that again I could end up being in trouble as not all taxi drivers are trust worthy. Always have the address to hand.
Venezuela was a hassle with the military who constantly take you off the bus with your passport and then hope to get a bribe. They find any excuse, like for one guy they said his entry stamp was not clear enough and they would send him back to Caracas (11 hours away) - but all they really wanted was money.
We managed to avoid paying anything, but it was intimidating and many other people had to pay something every time to avoid hassle.
Cuidad Bolivar shuts down at night. There was not a soul on the streets so it feels dodgy and you have to stay in. Additional hassles in Venezuela is the money system of using the black market to make things reasonably priced. We did our research and came prepared with US dollars hidden everywhere to exchange on the black market for 3 times the official rate. Many many people had no idea that the official exchange rate is 3 times higher than its value, thereby making things like a can of coke cost about £1.50.
All that said though, we found Venezuela was worth the hassle. It has definately given us memories that will last a lifetime and we saw the most amazing things there after a year traveling round the world.
Having travelled extensively in both regions (before travelblog for SE ASia) recently th ebest advice is to go and get teh low down on the road.
Everywhere has its problems but no more obvious than the home town/country you are from.
We travelled from Rio to Mexico city overland and the only problem we had was some stuff being pinched out of a rucksack which we had stupidly left on th ebus while we went to the toilet - this was in Honduras.
For the remainder of the trip we became very complacent with security but luckily had no problems.
Don't let guide books or websites put you off. We had never dreamed of visiting colombia but heard from fellow travellers it was safe. Thankfully we went and found it to be one of th emost amazing places of our entire trip - and safest!
My husband and I travelled for 8 months around South America 2 years ago. We had the time of our lives and had the usuall attempts with scamming and were a couple of times, but we put it down to experience.
Our worst experience was being searched by boarder gaurds between Lake Titicaca and Bolivia and being accused of being drug traffickers. We were 50 and 60 years old in a bus full of young people! In the police station they wanted to go through our day packs and frisked my husband and felt his 'secret pocket' with $400 american dollars. They some how managed to swap this with counterfeit money. We found this out when I got sick in La Paz and paid the hospital bill with the money. The next day the doctor came and told us his wife had big problems with the bank and the money got confiscated. We paid again with Bolivia money. I wrote an email to the Peru Governement telling them what rotten people they had working for them and that they needed to send those police men to rescue people that were needing rescuing after a big earthquake. I am trained in rescue work and considered going back to Peru to help but I could not afford it. When we returned home I was able to get my money back from the insurance company. They took my email to the government as proof of what had happened.
Another time we had the 'what is the time scam', one person holding my hand and looking at my watch and when my husband turned to look, had the pickpocket attempt. They did not expect a 60 year old man to make chase and got the fright of their lives, they were yelling and shouting but we did not understand. He nearly caught them and was about to tackle one of them when one of them threw paper behind him. We thought this was the money, but it was only paper and they did not actually get any money from the pocket.
Everyone who is due to travel to South America have the time of your lives. We are going back in a year or two.