Updated: May 15, 2022
Is Colombia safe to travel? Short answer yes. Just like anywhere else in the world, you’ll want to practice some safety tips but I felt just as safe in Colombia as I have anywhere else. Here are my safety tips for Colombia.
When I started talking about Colombia with my parents and told them how excited I was to go, I can’t say they shared the same sentiment right away. This is because Colombia has a reputation for being unsafe, but honestly…
Honestly, for me safety is important anywhere. These tips can work pretty much anywhere you go and are especially important if you go to Colombia solo. I know people are worried about Colombia specifically because of it’s history. There are parts of Colombia that are more unsafe than others of course. Touristy areas though are very safe. Also, I don’t want you to think that Colombia is particularly unsafe or you have any more worries when visiting there than anywhere else. So, is Colombia safe to travel? Yes.
Always negotiate price first
In many places, including Colombia, price is negotiable. One really good example of this is getting into a taxi. You may ask a taxi for a ride just 15 minutes away and if you don’t agree on price first, they could switch the price on you to a way higher amount than you expected.
Instead, tell the taxi where you are going and agree on the price before you get in. That way when drop off comes, there are no surprises on either side.
The same goes for purchasing anything from a street vendor, in a tourist shop, or from a local. Negotiate and shop around!
One instance of this that’s interesting is the Palenquerias you see on the street. Legally, they are only supposed to charge one dollar per person, however, many will charge you more if you do not know this rule. Find out the price first and specifically with the Palanqueria ladies make sure you tell them you know the rules!
Be careful at ATMs
This one comes from personal experience… I used an ATM near our hotel and tried to take out money twice. No money came out of the ATM but it still said processed. Well, I got home and the ATM had charged my card multiple times for $100 USD each. My bank reversed it and I was able to get the money back, but be careful about the ATM you use and get a recommendation from your hotel, tour guide, or a local you trust.
Be Prepared for Lots of Street Vendors
This is maybe not so much a safety tip and a comfort tip. Although, I feel more safe when I feel like I know what to expect. Colombia is full of street vendors – people asking you on the street to buy water, jewelry, food, you name it. We counted our first day, and we were asked to buy something while we were walking over 30 times.
Our tour guide gave us a few tips that help you show that you are not interested, but are also not rude. This is the way many people make money afterall, but it doesn’t mean if you are not interested you should feel uncomfortable saying no.
If you aren’t interested, don’t make eye contact. If you make eye contact, people will think you are interested.
When they ask if you are interested, you can firmly say, “No thank you,” and walk away. You don’t have to feel obligated.
If you are interested, negotiate the price and offer a fair deal.
This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s easy when you’re having fun to forget your surroundings. Especially after a few drinks or a long day walking around the city. Staying aware of your surroundings, where you’re walking, and who is around you is honestly something you should do in every city.
Keep valuables close
Pickpockets are an issue, just like many other places around the world! I always use a crossbody bag with two different steps to get open. For example, a clasp and zipper to get into the purse or a zipper and a button. It’s helpful to have a two step opening process so that things are harder to get to. Plus, a cross body means your things are always close.
Don’t flaunt money
It’s easy for people to see you as a target if you flaunt the fact that you have a lot of cash on you. My advice is to make sure you stay somewhere with a safe, good reviews, and a place to keep things securely. So, when you leave your hotel, you only take what you need with you for the day. I typically don’t carry all my cash or cards with my while I am out for this very reason.
If someone offers you something for free, it’s probably not free
This happens a lot. Someone will walk up to you and offer you a little trinket, then once it’s on or once you are talking they will ask for money. I have had this happen to me in Paris, Italy, Peru, and Colombia. It’s not a country specific problem, but definitely something to keep an eye out for and be careful with!
So there you have it. Is Colombia safe to travel? YES! You’ll love your trip – make sure you take time to visit the islands nearby! Any other safety tips you think are important to add? I’d love to hear them.