Security & Scams

One of the questions I get asked a lot on my tour is “How safe is Buenos Aires?”, to which I always answer “Very”.

Buenos Aires is without a doubt a safe city for tourists, but problems can occur and below is a list of the most common I’ve heard of with tips to avoid them. If you have heard of any others then feel free to add them in the comments.

Pickpockets / Thefts

Every large city around the world has this problem and Buenos Aires is no exception. Everyone who has spent any time here has either suffered at the hands of a nimble-fingered thief, or knows somebody who has. Theft is an opportunistic crime, and whilst there is no need to ruin your trip worrying about the possibilities, there are ways to reduce the number of opportunities a thief has.

  • On buses and the Subte always carry bags and backpacks in front of you and keep your hand resting on it where possible.
  • Gents – don’t think that because your wallet is in your front pocket it’s safe. It’s not. Put it in a bag and keep that bag in front of you in crowded place. On a related note never put anything of value in those pockets halfway up your leg – they are impossible to keep safe.
  • Keep your camera’s wrist strap wrapped round your wrist when snapping a pic – makes it harder to snatch / drop
  • Never put your bag on the ground -it can be gone in seconds
  • Leave important stuff in the safe – if you are walking around Buenos Aires you do not need your Driving Licence or the 50 other cards and documents you normally carry around with you. That way, if the worst should happen, you’ll have only lost a few pesos and possibly a bank card – don’t push your luck.
Buenos Aires Taxi

Buenos Aires Taxi. Flickr Photo by Diego_3336

Taxis & the Airport

There are 45,000 taxis in Buenos Aires and the vast majority are perfectly safe and driven by honest PorteƱos. However, there are some bad apples and a couple of things to look out for are:

  • The fake note switch – pay with a 50 or 100 peso note and the driver will look at it, proclaim it false and pass it back expecting another note. What he has actually done is taken your perfectly good note and switched it for a fake. If paying with a large note, lean forward and make a show of watching him so he won’t be tempted to try anything
  • Official taxis at the International Airport – before you leave the terminal there is an official taxi booth (Taxi Ezeiza) where you pay upfront and are given a driver (the price to anywhere in the centre is currently 150 pesos). Never, ever take a taxi from outside the terminal – I’ve heard horror stories of tourists being charged 500 pesos.
  • On a similar note, taxis from the centre to the airport should charge a standard 120 pesos (including tolls). If you flag a taxi in the street agree this price before you get in. If your hotel / hostel is calling a cab, doublecheck the price before getting in
  • Whilst waiting for your bags, do not change money at the Global Exchange booths by the carousels, regardless of how official they look. The rates they use verge on the criminal – they are currently offering 3.4 pesos to the US Dollar whereas outside of the airport you will get 4 pesos / $1 in any Bureau de Change / ATM, that’s a 15% difference.

There is no need to worry about any of these, simply bear them in mind and enjoy your stay!

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