Why Bogota is Safer Than You Think

Updated January 13, 2020<span style="font-weight: 400;">

Is Bogota Safe? The quick answer: definitely! To learn why, here's everything you need to know about safety in Bogota—including information on water quality, crime statistics, vaccines, transportation, and safety tips. Any questions? Message us.

Want to make the most out of your trip? Tap into our network of local travel planners—Heroes—who build unique, locally-curated trip plans, designed just for you. Get started.

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.
  • 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 get insider safety info from a Bogota local. You could rely on TripAdvisor recommendations to plan your trip, but we wouldn't recommend risking it.

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.

The easiest way to get around? Ask the people who know best. Our local trip planners can give detailed instructions on the best ways to navigate Bogota. 

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

Ready to head to Bogota? We don't blame you. Before you go, make sure to have a local Colombian trip planner help build your custom Bogota itinerary—no one knows the city's hidden gems, dos and don'ts, and safety info the way they do. Additionally, feel free to message us with any questions you have, and make sure to check out:


Still have questions about travel to Colombia?
Why not ask someone who lives there? ViaHero connects you with a local to help plan your trip. They’ll create a guidebook based on your personal travel style.
You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

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