Generally, Colombia is a safe place to travel for Americans (with a little know-how!). Yes, even during COVID -- read about the pandemic in Colombia below along with additional safety tips for this rewarding destination.
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Colombia opened its borders in September 2020 and has been open to travelers since with some rules in place to help keep COVID spread low.
Here are the current rules for travel to Colombia:
Because the pandemic evolves quickly, we recommend talking to a Colombian local who can share their firsthand experience.
Regardless of where you’re traveling, it’s always a good idea to make sure your vaccinations are up to date. The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for all travelers. But if you’ve had your covid shots, you probably don’t need any other jabs. If you want to air on the cautious side, however, you can also get typhoid and hepatitis A vaccines (if you don’t already have them)—although the CDC only recommends this for certain travelers.
The bond between Colombia and America has grown in recent years as Colombia has stabilized. With the country’s narco days decades behind, the number of Americans citing Colombia as their next travel destination increases every year. In addition, the 2016 peace treaty between the Colombian government and the extremist group FARC has drastically reduced violence throughout the country. In fact, kidnappings dropped a whopping 92% between 2000 and 2016! So don’t let Narcos scare you away—those violent scenes are more likely to be found in a Colombian museum than on the streets.
Pro tip: You can add a paintballing game in one of Pablo Escobar's old mansions to your Colombia itinerary if you don't mind being a bit gauche.
Colombian culture is naturally friendly and family-oriented, and Colombians love American visitors! Tourism has become Colombia’s top industry, and the country has taken extreme measures to ensure visitors’ safety—including the creation of an entire police division to protect travelers! Colombia's violent reputation is outdated, and shouldn’t scare you away from embracing the country’s rich opportunities. Between the wealth of family-friendly outdoor adventures, safe and secure lodging options, and incredible cities Colombia has to offer, you can feel safe bringing the whole family!
Pro tip: If you still have concerns regarding traveling to Colombia, you can always reach out to a Colombian local for some insider safety tips (even if just for peace of mind).
There is no reason for solo female travelers to shy away from visiting Colombia. Although women may experience catcalling or unwanted advances (just as in any other South American country) while in Colombia, the country is, on the whole, safe for American women. Moreover, by using Airbnb to bed down in Colombia’s cities and taking Uber through Colombia’s streets, you can avoid many of the traditional problems associated with traveling as a solo female. And as is the case in America, staying safe while out at night comes down to local safety knowledge and staying aware.
If you’re an American citizen, you can travel to Colombia without a visa for up to 90 days. Since America and Colombia have a strong relationship, all you need to travel into Colombia is an American passport and a return ticket. Skip the tedious paperwork and long lines—you’re good to go! If you’re unsure about the best time to book your trip to Colombia, chat with a Colombian trip planner for some advice on the best times to visit.
Colombia’s efforts to rebuild have worked miracles. The 4th Generation Infrastructure Program, a $70 billion endeavor to rebuild Colombia’s infrastructure from the ground up, has been a spectacular success. Along with improving the country’s roads, public transportation, and utilities, this reconstruction has largely redefined the Colombian economy—shifting it away from the prevalent drug trade towards a legal and sustainable coffee, textile, and technology-oriented future. Medellin was even awarded the Most Innovative City of the Year prize in 2013!
Technology has made traveling a breeze! Trying to learn some last-minute Spanish before your trip to Colombia? Apps like Duolingo encourage users to spend a few minutes every day learning basic words in other languages. Google Translate is another great go-to if you find yourself in need of an instant translator. Airbnb allows you to browse exciting and secure lodging options for your trip while engaging with a local host. Uber is your best bet for navigating the streets of Colombia, as Uber’s system increases drivers’ accountability and reduces the risk of having a bad experience.
Pro tip: Ask a local to make you some custom offline maps if you're traveling off the beaten path—you could rely on TripAdvisor and Apple Maps... but we wouldn't risk it.
It may come as a shock, but many Colombian cities are safer than their counterparts in the States. For instance, Bogota’s violent crime rate is considerably lower than that of Miami, Indianapolis, or even Pittsburgh! As always, most crimes in Colombia are merely those of opportunity—which means they’re easy to avoid! In Colombia, they say “no dar papaya”—a slang idiom meaning “don’t give anyone the opportunity”. You can make yourself an easy target by displaying valuables, leaving your phone on the table or drink unattended, etc.—but if you play it smart, it’s unlikely you will experience any crime in Colombia. Similarly, if you’re out in nature, use common sense. Whether you’re hiking to the Lost City of Teyuna or bathing in the Cano Cristales, bring lots of water to keep yourself hydrated, use sunscreen, and take some hand sanitizer along.
The exchange rate between the US dollar and the Colombian Peso is USD$1 to COL$2,820. That means that relative to the US, Colombian currency is quite weak. To that end, it’s extremely affordable for Americans to stay in more upscale and therefore safer Colombian neighborhoods!
If you’re nervous about traveling safely to Colombia, just chat with a local Colombian travel expert! The majority of crimes committed in Colombia are petty theft and crimes of opportunity, which can usually be avoided by planning ahead and being well informed. Be proactive about planning your trip—get some insider tips from a local when you do your trip planning. They've got the scoop on all the dos and don'ts that'll keep you safe (plus, they're available with 24/7 phone support if you run into any issues while in Colombia).
In the rare event you find yourself in a Colombian pickle, here are some numbers to have on hand:
Before your trip, make sure to check out: