Why Bogota is Safer Than You Think | ViaHero
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Why Bogota is Safer Than You Think

ViaHero · Updated August 27, 2018

Like any other big city, Bogota has had its share of bumps in the road (Narcos, anyone?) But today, the Bogota's gritty days are far behind it and the city is now one of the safest in Latin America. Here's everything you should know about safety in Bogota. Any questions? Message us.

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Violent crime is incredibly rare

Seriously! The violent crime rate in Bogota is actually lower than that of many "safe" American cities like Indianapolis and Miami! In addition, kidnappings in the capital have dropped by a massive 92% over the past two decades. And just like in any American city, these crimes almost always occur in outlying neighborhoods that you would have no reason to enter in the first place. Don't believe us? Ask a local!

It's easy to avoid scams

LIke in any crowded city, scams and pickpockets are common in Bogota. However, with just a little knowledge, you can easily avoid annoyances and navigate the city like a local.

Top Tips to Avoid Scams and Petty Theft in Bogota:

  • Don’t flash valuables or use expensive electronics in public—especially in areas popular with travelers.
  • A common Bogota scam involves a “police officer” asking to “inspect your money for counterfeits”. Obviously, don’t give it to them—even if they show you a badge. Real police do not do this! Instead, simply ask the “officer” to bring you to the closest police station.
  • While very rare, some taxis have been known to take riders on “millionaire rides”—in which rogue taxi drivers (or their friends) rob customers. Avoid this scam by taking Uber!
  • Make sure to spread your cash around different pockets or, better yet, carry a dummy wallet. Remember: muggings are rare, but it’s always good to be prepared.
  • Don't take drinks from strangers! And this isn’t just a PSA for women either; men are considered just as—if not more—likely to be targeted with spiked drinks.

Essentially, we’d recommend taking the same precautions in Bogota as you would in any other major metropolis. If you’re still concerned about petty crime and scams in Bogota, however, feel free to read more about Colombia safety or talk to a local expert.

You probably have all the necessary vaccines already

While you should still consult your doctor before traveling, you probably have all your necessary vaccines for Colombia already—MMR, polio, hepatitis A, and the like. And while the CDC recommends certain vaccines for travelers going far off the beaten path, visitors to Bogota can rest easy on the vaccines they already have.

Zika, malaria, and yellow fever are almost nonexistent in Bogota

Due to the city’s extremely high elevation (over 8,500 feet above sea level), mosquitos are physically unable to live in Bogota. This means the three main health concerns for travelers to Colombia—Zika, malaria, and yellow fever—are almost nonexistent in Bogota! That being said, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still suggests you visit your doctor 4-6 weeks before traveling to ask what other precautions you should take.

You can drink the water

It’s a common misconception that drinking tap water in Colombia will give make you sick. In actuality, the tap water in Bogota is perfectly safe to drink.

Solo female travelers love it

Due to its huge population of young people and students, Bogota is known for being quite hospitable to female travelers roaming alone. Many women feel perfectly safe grabbing a cup of coffee, exploring the city, and even going out to enjoy Bogota’s fabled nightlife by themselves. And while sexual harassment is a known issue in Colombia, Bogota is often thought to be one of the cities where it’s slightly less common.

There are great options for safe transportation

There are plenty of safe transportation options in Bogota. The Transmilenio (Bogota’s Bus Rapid Transit System) and busetas (local buses) are cheap and reliable; additionally, yellow cabs are inexpensive and ubiquitous. If you do end up hailing a cab off the street, either decide on a flat rate beforehand or be aware that la tarifa, the tariff, is listed in the back of the cab to show how much you should be paying per distance. Some drivers—as is the case all around the world—will overcharge those unfamiliar with the city. To avoid the haggle (or the possibility of a “millionaire ride”), you can always take Uber—or better yet, have one of our Heroes give you advice on how to navigate the city with ease!

As not seen on TV: Colombia is a country at peace

For decades, Colombia has been getting safer than ever. Widespread shifts to a modern coffee-and-tourism-based economy and massive crackdowns on illegal activity have brought Colombia an unprecedented period of tranquility. Moreover, ever since the conclusion of its long civil war with the 2016 FARC peace accord, Colombia has been actively reinventing itself as a traveler’s paradise—complete with modern infrastructure, tourist police, and an emphasis on safe travel.

Emergency numbers everyone should know

In the off chance that you run into any trouble while galavanting through Bogota, here are some numbers to call for assistance.

  • National Emergency Number: 123
  • Tourist Police: (1) 3374413
  • Information: 113
  • U.S. Embassy in Colombia: (+57) (1) 275-2000

Any other questions that would soothe your mind before planning your unique Colombian adventure? Message us or talk to one of our Colombian travel experts! And before your trip, make sure to check out:

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