There’s so much written about the bloody history of Colombia one could wonder what can prompt a person to go there voluntarily. After all, the Colombian Conflict is still ongoing, which means there are armed guerrillas lurking somewhere in the vast expanses of Colombian jungle. However, statistics indicate that traveling to Bogota, the capital of Colombia and city responsible for 56% of all tourism in the country, isn’t as dangerous as a trip to any other popular tourist hotspot.
There are dangers from scammers and thieves, and one definitely needs to be aware of their surroundings. But this situation is the same for any big city, and it’s actually much worse in many other places, NYC included. All in all, taking a few precautions and being reasonably vigilant is all you need to stay safe when traveling to Bogota.
How to Stay Safe When Traveling to Bogota: 5 Tips
1. Call for a taxi using an app only
When in Bogota, never trust a taxi that you haven’t called via an official app. There’s Uber there for those who don’t like EasyTaxi and Tappsi. When the car arrives, make sure it’s been sent by the agency you contacted. You can also ask the hotel staff to call you a taxi from their trusted service.
This rule is particularly important for anyone traveling alone and after dark.
2. Stay up north
Like any other city, Bogota has a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ part of town. This division is easy to navigate as the safest places are up north, the further – the better. However, those are also some of the most expensive neighborhoods. A budget tourist should consider staying somewhere around Calle 85.
You can enjoy the many attractions of the city center by taking a free tour in Bogota. Surrounded by fellow tourists and under the wing of an experienced guide, you’ll be safe to explore the city’s many confusing streets and discover interesting sites. Then have some fun on the beach, enjoy dancing in a club, and go back to your north accommodation in a licensed taxi.
Be aware of mugging risks and don’t wander the streets after dark.
3. Keep your valuables close to you in a theft-proof bag
Thieves of any kind, including pickpockets, are a common thing in any popular tourist spot. This means that traveling to Bogota requires following the same safety rules, namely not leaving your valuables lying around unobserved.
Using a theft-proof bag is also a wise precaution, especially if you plan on getting around in public transport. Don’t forget to keep your wallet and smartphone inside of it at all times. And it’s best not to walk around the city chatting on your phone, especially in crowded places.
4. Double-check your accommodation
Although not frequent, there were incidences of hostels in Bogota attacked by gangs. That’s why it’s always best to stay in reputed places with good security.
If you use Airbnb, pay attention to reviews from previous tenants and the accommodation’s rating on the website.
5. Don’t make yourself a target
A flashy tourist who is out to have fun is a prime target, so if you want to stay safe when traveling to Bogota, try to blend in. Don’t wear flashy jewelry and keep your fancy gadgets out of thieves’ reach.
Dress in comfy casual clothes and make your camera bag look a bit ragged, so it doesn’t look like it’s hiding a treasure worth a few hundred dollars.