Staying safe in Argentina
Argentina has suffered with high levels of unemployment and inflation over the last few years. Now, petty crime is common and violent crimes can be a problem in areas with large numbers of tourists. Here's a rundown of how to keep safe when you're travelling in Argentina.
For the latest advice on health and safety risks including terrorism, conflict, natural disasters and outbreaks of disease in Argentina, visit smartraveller.gov.au.
Crime in Argentina
Petty crime such as bag snatching and pick-pocketing is a problem throughout Argentina, but particularly in areas with a lot of tourists or on public transport. Some thieves may pose as taxi drivers, particularly in Buenos Aires airport, while others may target tourists in rental cars, especially while you're stopped at traffic lights. Others still may attempt to distract you, for example by throwing mustard or sauce at you, in order to rob you.
Violent crimes, such as armed robbery, are an issue in tourism hubs like Buenos Aires, as well as Mendoz and other large cities. There have been some cases of thieves forcing tourists to withdraw money from ATMs.
Passports are a common target for thieves, so make sure you keep yours safe.
Emergency contact numbers
If you're a victim of crime, you should report it to the police, particularly if you intend to make a travel insurance claim. In an emergency, call 101 or 911.
Buenos Aires also operates a 24-hour multilingual police helpline. You can reach them by dialling (0800) 999 5000. In Mendoza, the tourist police number is (0261) 413 2135.
Given Argentina's volatile political climate, protests are common, particularly in Buenos Aires around Plaza de Mayo and Congreso. At times, these can get violent, so you should try to avoid them. If you're in an area where protests are being held, keep an eye on local media to ensure you can avoid getting caught up in them.
Argentina has been targeted in a number of terrorist attacks, particularly in areas popular with tourists and expats. There have also been some small explosions targeting banks.
Beware of dangerous drivers
Drivers in Argentina tend to be aggressive and may not follow road rules such as speed limits, traffic lights, lane markings or pedestrian crossings. In fact, according to the WHO, you're two times more likely to be killed in a car accident in Argentina than Australia. Exercise extreme caution, whether you're a pedestrian, riding your bike or driving a car.
Top tips for staying safe
- Watch your personal items and keep them close by at all times – never leave your bag on the seat next to you on public transport.
- Leave expensive jewellery and watches at home to avoid being targeted.
- Lock passports and any valuables in a hotel safe and keep a photocopy of your passport with you.
- If you rent a car, keep your doors locked and windows shut.
- Be cautious in touristic areas, particularly in Buenos Aires' San Telmo, downtown, the Retiro bus terminal and the Buque ferry terminal. Avoid La Boca after dark and stick to the tourist trail at all times. In Mendoza, be particularly careful around the bus terminal and the General San Martín Park.
- If you can, book your taxis in advance.
- When taking taxis, look for those marked with the sign "Radio Taxi", with the company's name and phone number visible. As a precaution, never share your taxi with strangers.