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Is Bogotá Safe? | Travel Tips & Safety Concerns

Is Bogotá Safe? | Travel Tips & Safety Concerns

Bogotá has been growing steadily as a tourist destination worldwide in recent years. It’s a beautiful city to visit or call home because of everything it offers in terms of history, culture, fashion, art, possibilities, and one-of-a-kind experiences. 

Traveling responsibly in Bogotá requires more than avoiding the city’s streets at night. It also requires being careful about what and where to eat, planning your itinerary, and being watchful at all times.

Learn some helpful travel tips and best safety advice for Bogotá, whether it’s your first time visiting the city and just curious about the situation there or wondering whether you should take your family there for a getaway.

Is Bogotá Safe to Visit?

Seventh Street pictured for a piece titled Is Bogota Safe to Visit

Bogota Colombia August 6 The Seventh street in the center of Bogota is full of life and every day there is a an event to celebrate. Shoot on August 6, 2019/Mark Pitt Images/Shutterstock

The city of Bogotá is typically safe for tourists, as long as they take appropriate care. Until now, minor street crime poses the greatest hazard to visitors to the Colombian capital of Bogotá.

Tourists who walk into the wrong area or act inconspicuously risk becoming easy prey. Colombia does have earthquakes. However, they are seldom of a catastrophic magnitude.

However, if you’re using a bus or a private car on rural roadways, you should look for landslides, which are far more deadly.

In Colombia, guerillas and other armed organizations are active in remote jungle regions and small towns, although their activity is concentrated in these places. Foreigners seldom come into contact with these people. Thus, their primary concern is urban crime.

Crime in Bogota

Many safe lodging alternatives, increased police presence, and secure transportation systems are now in place in Bogotá to ensure that tourists enjoy their time in the city to its fullest. However, the city’s crime rate remains high.

Pickpocketing

Pickpocketing and muggings are two of the most common crimes committed against visitors in Bogotá, according to Numbeo. For example, wearing money belts beneath your clothes when out and about or putting your valuables in a safe will help prevent this crime.

Pickpocketing is prevalent in crowded places and on public transportation. So, it is essential to keep a watchful eye on your possessions at all times. However, if you know the danger, it is simple to avoid being a victim of this crime.

The phrase “don’t create oneself a target” is a literal translation of the local saying “no dar papaya,” which translates more loosely to “don’t make yourself a target.”

General Crime

Some of the most serious crimes in Bogotá include the following:

  • Mugging
  • Armed robbery
  • Home invasions
  • Kidnappings
  • Drug-trafficking
  • Cab scams
  • Corruption
  • Gang and guerilla movements
  • Political violence

Theft

In stores and restaurants, never leave your luggage unattended; never wander about with costly cameras or cash visible on your person, and stay away from backpacks. 

It’s a good idea to keep your valuables in a safe at your hotel, but it’s particularly crucial not to leave your passport behind.

Threat of Protests

A danger to visitors’ safety in Bogotá is the presence of protests. Protests over tax hikes, health care reform, and corruption rocked the nation in 2021 and continue to this day. 

Clashes between the demonstrators and the police often resulted in violent protests that disrupted the city of Bogotá. Despite the nation having weathered this wave of demonstrations, there are still occasional strikes – protests should be avoided in certain parts of town.

A two-block detour might jeopardize you if you’re in a picturesque location near a dangerous one. Inquire with a fellow guest on the best path before you plan your day. For added security, take a walking tour.

Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods

Barrio Egipto pictured for a piece on Is Bogota Safe to Visit

MatthieuCattin/Shutterstock

The first thing you should do is stay away from dangerous areas. The good news is that it is much less complicated in Colombia than in other nations. Other countries make it a lot more difficult. 

Staying in the northern part of Bogotá is the easiest way to avoid dangerous districts in the city. When traveling south from the city’s heart (La Candelaria), the atmosphere grows more shady and hazardous the farther you go.

Muggings are common on Calle 9 and in the areas south of Barrio Egipto. If at all possible, stay away from it. In La Candelaria, the most dangerous area in Bogotá, you’ll need to be more careful of your environment than in any other part of the city.

Your hotel safe is a great place to keep your belongings secure. You may wish to steer clear of particular areas according to locals. They say that the southern parts of Bogotá are typically less safe than the rest of the city.

Stay away from the following:

  • Bosa
  • Ciudad Bolívar
  • Kennedy
  • San Cristóbal
  • Usme

Where to Stay in Bogotá

If you’re a first-time visitor going to Bogotá, it’s highly recommended to stay in Zona Rosa. An upmarket section of Bogotá known as Zona Rosa is home to some of the city’s best retail malls and most popular nightclubs. 

Even though it isn’t the most affordable part of town, North Chapinero has some of the city’s greatest boutique and luxury hotels and is near many other tourist hotspots.

Even though Bogotá is a safe city to visit by South American standards, tourists, particularly foreign visitors, are nonetheless concerned about their own safety. According to a general rule, districts in the north tend to be more affluent and more secure than districts in the south.

Located just north of Zona Rosa, Chicó is one of Bogotá’s most upscale neighborhoods. The Parque de la 93, the Parque del Virrey, and the Museo del Chicó are all located in this neighborhood, one of the safest districts in Bogotá. 

Boutique hotels, including Hotel Vintage, the Top Western Plus 93 Park Hotel, and the Click Clack Hotel Bogotá, are among Chicó’s best options.

Situated at the north end of Bogotá, Usaquén is an affluent neighborhood. At one time, it was an autonomous township, but today it is one of the most important residential, commercial, and financial districts in the city of Bogotá. 

The Sonesta Hotel Bogotá, NH Collection Bogotá Royal Teleport, and Biohotel Organic Suites are just a few of the top-notch accommodations in Usaquén.

If you’re seeking a secure and central location in the heart of Bogotá, Zona Rosa is the place to be, as previously said. Despite its reputation as an entertainment neighborhood, Zona Rosa remains secure day and night.

How to Stay Safe in Bogotá

La Candelaria with buildings on the side of the street for a piece on Is Bogota Safe to Visit

Gabriel Leonardo Guerrero/Shutterstock

Just like you would in any other tourist destination, take the following steps to guarantee a trouble-free vacation.

Don’t Wear Flashy Clothing

What you wear has a significant impact on how others see you. Avoid wearing jewelry that draws attention to itself and clothes with evident brand labels. 

Try not to draw too much attention to the fact that you are carrying a large and costly camera. If you do, you put yourself in a position where burglars may easily target you.

Show Confidence Wherever You Go

It is almost certain that robbers will pursue you if you appear like a helpless lamb. Maintain a constant awareness of your destination, and go forward with intent.

Instead of bringing out a massive map when you are lost, you could try asking a local for instructions. The people of Colombia are very hospitable and eager to make a favorable impression on visitors.

Use Extreme Caution When Withdrawing Money

ATMs are popular targets for robbers and those who engage in express kidnapping, often known as secuestro express. If at all possible, you should stay away from utilizing ATMs that are located on the street. 

Stick to the ATMs inside shopping malls or the ones that are secured inside banking institutions. It is recommended to use ATMs during the daytime. It would be fantastic if you could locate some people who would be willing to come with you.

Use Uber to Get Around

When it comes to getting to Bogotá, the locals recommend utilizing Uber. They suggest that you may use taxis, which are not expensive and can be located readily across Bogotá; nonetheless, tourists are occasionally taken advantage of in taxis. 

Therefore, if you take a cab, be wary of the so-called “millionaire rides,” which is the slang phrase given to a common scam that occasionally occurs in Bogotá and involves taxi drivers robbing their victims.

Ignore Catcallers

Although sexual assault is still a problem in Latin America, it is generally accepted that Bogotá is less dangerous than the majority of other big cities in South America in this respect. 

Catcalling is a regular annoyance in the culture of Bogotán, although it will nearly never escalate if ignored. According to the locals, if you are being catcalled, you should not seem scared and not reply to the calls.

Never Entertain Strangers Who Offer Drinks

Male and female tourists alike have fallen prey to tainted cocktails in Colombia. The Colombian narcotic scopolamine, sometimes known as Devil’s Breath or simply “Devil’s Breath,” is odorless and tasteless. 

It is regularly used to render victims unconscious before robberies. With large dosages, it may cause a person to lose their memory and inhibitions. Take a moment to observe your beverage being prepared.

Stay Away from People Protesting

Bogotá is typically the focus of political rallies and protests. While crime is declining and police presence is growing, demonstrations may become ugly like in many other nations.

Things to Consider

Here are some of the things you should never do in Bogotá:

  • Don’t purchase and use cocaine. Throw out the coke jokes, too, because they aren’t amusing.
  • For your comfort, avoid wearing shorts and flip-flops. Bogotá is 2,600 meters above sea level. Therefore at night, it may get rather chilly.
  • Never decline an aguardiente shot. Consider it more as a sign of togetherness and friendliness.
  • Avoid making jokes about Pablo Escobar or the guerrillas. Avoid these topics at all times since they can make others despise you.
  • Don’t bargain forcefully. Keep the conversation light-hearted when haggling.
  • Never leave without cash. Using a credit card to make purchases might be challenging because the country still relies heavily on cash.
  • Never decline a kind request to dance. In this nation, dancing is really popular. So, put your nervousness and shame aside when someone invites you to dance.
  • Don’t expect excellent coffee. Sadly, despite producing some of the world’s greatest coffee, most of it is shipped outside of Colombia.
  • Take it easy, and don’t be shocked if your 7 am pickup shows up closer to 7:30 am. If you allow it to get to you, it might be annoying. So, don’t stress out so much about time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Bogotá City, bullring and buildings urban

Cristian Vivas/Shutterstock

The following are a few of the most often asked questions regarding visiting Bogotá:

What is unique about Bogotá?

Bogotá is a location where people from all over the nation get together, so it’s really multicultural and different. The past and the present merge in this metropolis. It has the most universities and research institutes in the nation, as well as a plethora of theaters, museums, and libraries, making it a significant cultural hub.

Is it worthwhile to visit Bogotá?

It is a pleasure to both visit and reside in the city of Bogotá. Within the last five years, there has been a significant rise in the number of tourists traveling from all corners of the globe to visit different parts of Colombia. As a result, the whole country is worthwhile visiting.

What language is spoken in Bogotá?

The majority of Colombia’s 50 million inhabitants are fluent in Spanish, which is the country’s official language and the language most often used. However, Colombian Spanish is its own distinct language, distinguishable from the standard Spanish used in other Spanish-speaking nations by its highly distinct pronunciation.

When is the best time to go to Bogotá?

December to March seem to be the best months to visit Bogotá. The driest months of the year fall during this time period. However, there is no assurance that the weather will always be pleasant or unpleasant.

Is Bogotá safe for female travelers?

Despite the city’s reputation for street violence, La Candelaria is a secure place for a solo female traveler to get a coffee and enjoy live music in the city’s historic center.

Is a visa required in Bogotá?

U.S. citizens don’t need a Colombian visa for trips or business trips lasting less than 90 days or for stays that add up to less than 180 days in a calendar year. Before your 90-day stay ends, you can ask Migración Colombia to let you stay for up to 90 more days.

So, Is Bogota Safe to Visit?

The majority of travelers who are watchful and aware of their surroundings find this magnificent city a safe and worthwhile destination. However, like in every large city, there is a certain amount of street crime, such as stealing, pickpocketing, and snatching.

Keep an eye out for muggers and thieves in certain places mentioned and restrict your stay there to daylight hours. It’s no secret that Bogotá has become a popular tourist destination and one of the most-visited towns in Colombia. 

As a result, officials are working to make the city even safer and more welcoming to visitors, including introducing nighttime police patrols and expanding public transportation. Happy travels!