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Build on distinct and beautiful geography, history, culture, and food — Argentina is one of the most popular countries in South America. It has attracted thousands of visitors throughout the years for its picturesque beauty, vineyards and versatility. But how safe is Argentina for travelers? Let's find out.
Argentina is one of the safest countries in Latin America, not to say that crime is non-existent but crime in Argentina is as normal as it is in many countries around the world. However, Argentina has suffered high levels of unemployment and inflation over the past few years, with petty crime becoming a growing problem.
Beyond the common pickpocketing, Argentina is a relatively safe country with crime that is no less dangerous than the darker sides of New York. Similar to anywhere you go traveling, safety is always something to keep your eyes on. Here’s a rundown of how to keep safe when exploring Argentina.
- Avoid demonstrations and protests
The past few years have seen an evolution of opposing social forces characterized by an active culture of social protest. Demonstrations are common and occur regularly in Argentina, specifically in the capital of Buenos Aires. Like many protests that happen around the world, it can get violent and should be proceeded with caution. Nevertheless, if you become brawled in one indirectly, do your best to blend in, protect your belongings and trust your instincts.
- Carry change
Argentina is notorious for scams, especially with presenting 100 pesos notes as counterfeits. Cases of shop assistants claiming 100 pesos notes to be counterfeit, even when they are not, or giving counterfeit notes are common throughout the country. So. bring change. Change is good to carry since many places in Argentina don’t accept credit cards and paying with change will definitely help deter you from getting scammed.
- Take taxis at night
Argentina is quite safe to walk and explore in the daytime. However, in the evening, crime is heavier so taking a taxi at night is recommended. When hailing a taxi, be sure the taxi is labeled as a “radio taxi” with a visible phone number as those are the official taxi carriers. While waiting, be sure to wait near crowds and conceal any valuables you may be carrying.
- Don't flaunt valuables
Pickpocketing and mugging are some of the most common crimes found in Argentina. It has become increasingly popular because it's subtle, non-violent and often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Beware of your belongings in crowded areas — make sure valuables are hidden and not placed in open pocket areas. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or accessories as that will make you a target for pick-pocketers. Also, watch out for motorcyclists who are known to steal bags and purses from an oncoming bike.
- Beware of incoming natural disasters
When you travel to any country, you have to be wary of the natural dangers that can occur due to the country’s landscape. Argentina is a diverse country, with many mountains and hills. Seasonal flooding is prevalent with heavy rain, river floods and landslides. Volcanoes align many parts of the country so natural dangers of an eruption or earthquake can happen too. Stay updated with weather forecasts and take notes from your hotel or locals about any possible natural dangers.
- Get vaccinated
Depending on which country you’ll be traveling to Argentina from, the general health advisory for Argentina is to partake in vaccinations before you enter the country. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, measles, mumps, tetanus, shingles, chickenpox and influenza. Make sure to consult with your family doctor on the proper process and vaccinations you’ll need to take.
For more information on travel safety, refer to our article Travel Safety Tips.
Aside from safety concerns, here are some things to take note before making your trip to the South American coast.
- Argentina is expensive
Inflation has taken hold the past few years, forcing the country to see a spike in prices. If you’re traveling on a budget, expect to spend USD 50 – 60 daily, including accommodation and food. On average, if you travel with a mid-range budget and spend moderately, you will spend around USD 80 – 100* a day.
- Acceptance of credit card
Credit cards are accepted in many locations in Argentina. However, paying with credit card will entail 5 – 10% more, in order to cover the cost of credit card administration fees. Needless to say, cash is the best option of payment in Argentina. Credit cards are accepted in mainly tourist-bred places.
- Argentina is massive
Argentina is one of the biggest countries in the world. From the gauchos of the Argentine steppes, to the bustling city of Buenos Aires to Patagonia and hiking in Bariloche to the incredible waterfalls in Iguazu — there’s something for everyone. Make sure to plan your days in advance to make the most of your trip.
- Getting around Argentina
Buses in Argentina are inexpensive, comfortable and quite accessible all around. Many of the buses serve long-distance commutes and is a great mode of transportation for travelers.
Tipping in Argentina is not mandatory but appreciated by many in the industry. The standard is 10 – 15%.
- Electronics to bring
Bringing electronics to Argentina means carrying items that are valuable and would need careful attention. Try only carrying smaller electronics that are easy to hide such as a phone, tablet or camera. Leave the laptops at home.
Argentina requires some travelers to pay a reciprocity fee before entering the country. Be sure to check online about before arriving in Argentina. Countries like the US, UK and Canada no longer require a reciprocity fee.
- Visa requirements
Depending on which country you’re from, Argentina offers some countries tourist visas for up to three months while other countries may need to apply for a visa. Countries like the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom don’t need a visa for up to 90 days.
- Travel insurance
Based on your insurance policy, travel insurance should cover theft, loss, medical emergencies as well as any cancellation or delays to your trip. Travel insurance is optional when traveling to Argentina but is highly recommended given Argentina’s rise in theft and crime. It is also good to get travel insurance if you are planning to engage in extreme activities such as cross-country hiking, mountaineering and water rafting.
Argentina has 30 large airports where most direct flights come into Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE) in Buenos Aires that acts as a hub to the rest of Argentina. From there, travelers can take domestic flights to any major destination in Argentina. Many who come to explore Patagonia would take a direct flight into EZE and then transfer flights to fly into Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport.
Argentina is a country full of beauty, history and rich culture. Like any country you travel, it doesn’t come without its surprises and dangerous sides. However, with some common sense and putting safety as a priority, a trip to Argentina can bring you once-in-a-lifetime experience.
*Note: Prices are as of January 2019.
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Maria Szlafsztein Travel Expert in Argentina & Chile
Ezequiel Fernandez Estelrich Travel Expert in Argentina & Chile
Maria Barciela Travel Expert in Argentina & Chile