In this blog post, I will explain why Bogota isn’t safe for tourists. We will explore the reasons behind this reputation, and I’ll discuss my experience in Bogota.
Bogota, the capital city of Colombia, is a bustling metropolis with a rich history and culture. However, despite its many attractions, it has earned a reputation as a dangerous city for tourists.
High Violent Crime Rates in Bogota
Bogota has a high crime rate, particularly regarding violent crime. In addition, the city has a history of drug-related violence and gang activity, leading to increased homicides and other violent crimes.
Despite vast improvements since the peace treaty with FARC in 2016, according to a U.S. Department of State report, Colombia’s homicide rate was 26.1 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2022. Source The majority of these occurred in cities like Bogota.
Petty Theft in Bogota
Another area that tourists need help with in Bogota is theft. Pickpocketing and bag snatching are common occurrences in crowded tourist areas, particularly downtown and in the La Candelaria neighborhood.
Tourists are often targeted because they are perceived as wealthy and carrying valuables. Therefore, it is recommended that tourists avoid wearing expensive jewelry or carrying large sums of cash.
Tourist Scams are a Real Danger in Bogota
Scams are also a considerable problem in Bogota. Tourists are often targeted with scams that involve fake police officers or taxi drivers.
These scams can be particularly dangerous because they can lead to robbery or assault. Therefore, it is recommended that tourists only take official taxis and ask their hotel for recommendations.
Protests and Demonstrations are Dangerous in Bogota
Bogota has a history of protests and demonstrations, particularly on political and social issues. While these protests are usually peaceful, they can turn violent quickly, and tourists can find themselves caught up in the middle.
It is recommended that tourists avoid protests or demonstrations and stay away from the areas where they occur.
Bogota’s Unsafe Infrastructure
The infrastructure in Bogota is only sometimes up to the standards that tourists are used to in Western countries.
Roads can be poorly maintained, and sidewalks may be uneven or non-existent in some areas. This can make walking around the city challenging and potentially dangerous, particularly at night.
Why I Think Bogota isn’t Safe for Tourists
In the video above, or in the link below, I take a walking tour from the central tourist area of Plaza de Bolivar, down the pedestrian avenue, and finally ending at Bogota’s notorious Santa Fe neighborhood.
From the start in Plaza de Bolivar, I feel uneasy. The Plaza is massive, combining colonial style and new architecture. At the center is a statue of Simon Bolivar, a hero of South America.
Nicknamed “El Liberator,” he is credited for being the leader that eventually led to independence from Spain in multiple countries. Unfortunately, however, his statue is covered in graffiti. That’s the equivalent of visiting the United States and seeing the Lincoln Memorial defaced.
The Plaza is the center of government for all of Colombia, not just Bogota. So if Colombia can’t protect such an iconic symbol in their front hard, why would I believe they could keep me safe in Bogota.
Everything I’ve read told me to avoid walking around with my camera out, regardless of the area, even in the Plaza. Still, as you’ll see, I ignore the warnings.
After leaving the Plaza, things only get worse. While I feel safe for the most part, I grow increasingly uncomfortable walking around with my camera out.
Eventually, I reached Bogota’s “Tolerance Zone” in the neighborhood of
Prostitutes in Santa Fe Bogota
Santa Fe. It’s called that because anything goes. Drugs and prostitutes are rampant.
As you will see in the video, there’s no mistaking how dangerous this area of Bogota is. I feel highly unsafe whether my camera is out or not.
Bogota isn’t Safe for Tourists
Bogota isn’t safe for tourists, in my opinion. It is a city with many attractions, but still, it is also a city that comes with many risks for tourists. The high crime rate, theft, scams, protests, and infrastructure issues are all factors that contribute to the city’s reputation as a dangerous destination.
However, with proper precautions and awareness, tourists can still enjoy Bogota. Research before traveling to the city and seek advice from their hotel or local authorities on staying safe.
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