A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; however, one wrong step and everything you’ve worked hard for is gone! This rule applies on your journey to an adventurous trip, too. The fear of safety always tingles around your mind, especially if you are traveling to a most notorious South American country, Colombia. We don’t blame you if you have safety concerns, like whether it is safe to visit Colombia. Whether you are a solo traveler or traveling with family, Colombia can be a risky destination.
If your safety concerns have dragged you here, giving you second thoughts about visiting this country of diverse culture – you are at the right platform! Here, we will clarify every aspect of safety when visiting Colombia. Tag along and discover whether it is safe to see this place.
How Safe is it to Travel to Colombia?
Your journey to Colombia should have two simple goals: safety and security. Most importantly, knowing what goes around in the country is crucial if you are traveling alone.
Solo female travelers are the main target of terrorist groups; even families traveling together and solo male travelers have become the victims of petty crimes. The most common offenses in Colombia are kidnapping, civil unrest, and cyber crimes.
Whether you are a male or female solo travel enthusiast, exercising caution when traveling with friends or family is essential. Moreover, be alert during your stay in Colombia and be fully aware of the listed crimes below in Colombia.
When we elaborate on the safety aspect of any country for travel purposes, one particular factor remains prominent. This aspect is terrorism and substantially negatively impacts tourism in the country. You may be curious about how terrorism affected tourism in Colombia, and the answer to that question is that it has completely ruined the country’s name worldwide.
According to FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), high-profile terrorist cases in Colombia, especially with U.S. overseas citizens, have restricted travel flow. However, other than terrorism, criminality and violence are common in Colombia, Latin America, and the world.
Kidnapping in Colombia
Solo travelers are the main targets of kidnappers and gangs associated with terrorists. It is recommended to be cautious of your surroundings while visiting Colombia and stay alert.
Kids can also become the main target of gangs’ kidnapping for ransom. It is alarming to notice that the cases of kidnapping in Colombia have increased by 93% in 2023. According to an anti-kidnapping group of Colombian police (Grupos de Acción Unificada por la Libertad Personal – Gaula), almost 173 kidnapping cases were recorded this year.
Illegal Drug Trade in Colombia
In Colombia, crime is always on the rise. Authorities have taken some practical steps to eradicate the issues; due to leak in the departments, drug trafficking through tourists have increased even more.
Colombia’s most commonly consumed and smuggled drugs are cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. Cocaine is by far Colombia’s main export, indicating that most of the export is through illegal means.
The naive tourists can quickly become drug mules by the smugglers. Most tourists are the target of smugglers right after they land in Colombia without their knowledge.
From taxis to accommodations, visitors’ every move is tracked down by criminals and smugglers. Before they depart from Colombia, smugglers quickly transport the illicit drugs by tampering with the visitor’s luggage.
The Baggage Tag Switch
Some of the airport personnel have ties with the criminal rings. This perfect coordination removes the baggage tags from the traveler’s luggage and attaches them to drug-filled suitcases.
Health Risk: High
Colombia has gone through some economic distress for a decade, which has led to multiple drawbacks, including poor health issues. Following are some of the most widespread diseases in Colombia that can compromise the safe trip to Colombia:
Is the Food Safe in Colombia?
You must be wondering, is it safe to consume Colombian food? As long as you eat in moderation, the food in Colombia will not affect you. However, if you want to experience some street food, ensure they have covered stalls.
Buy food from the stalls with more patrons, wash your hands before eating, and know what you put in your mouth. There are restrictions for vegetarians as these foods are only found in the major cities in Colombia. The big cities have diversified running restaurants with various food options and a range of vegetarian Colombian dishes. However, only 4% of Colombian’s population is vegetarian. So, it would be hard for vegetarians to find food of their choice in most of the cities in Colombia.
Can You Drink Tap Water in Colombia?
Poor distribution systems and management of water resources have led to contaminated drinking water. Hence, this collapsed infrastructure can lead to cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and more deadly diseases. However, despite these horrific conditions, some cities, such as Bogota and Medellin, have better drinking water conditions.
You can drink tap water in Medellin and Bogota in Colombia, but not in other cities. If you travel to rural communities and the Caribbean Coast, grab a water bottle from the grocery stores, especially if you travel with kids.
Can You Flush Toilet Paper in Colombia?
Try not to be jumpy about this toilet paper situation. You cannot flush tissue or toilet paper in Colombia; they have pipes and septic tanks for the system. The rules are the same whether you are using a public restroom, hotel washrooms, or an Airbnb place. You cannot flush down the toilet paper; it can clog the pipes, leading to more inconvenient situations. This uncomfortable situation can further result in severe sanitary problems that ultimately are the primary cause of health issues like cholera and dysentery.
Are Taxis Safe in Colombia?
Taxis are generally safe in Colombia whether traveling alone or with family! However, it is essential to take precautions to ensure your safety. Always call a taxi in advance or use a reputable app like EasyTaxi or Uber, especially if you are a solo traveler.
Be careful not to get into random vehicles that may look like taxis but are not. It is also advisable to avoid taking taxis at night, mainly if you are a solo female traveler. In case of any trouble, you must memorize the following emergency contact numbers:
|National Emergency Number: 123||Tourist Police: (1) 3374413|
|Information: 113||U.S. Embassy in Colombia: (+57) (1) 275-2000|
Is it Safe to Travel to Colombia Alone?
Colombia is a remarkable and enchanting place with abundant natural wonders, such as the Tatacoa Desert and the Chicamocha Canyon. However, safety concerns have plagued the country for some time now.
Traveling solo in Colombia requires extra precautions, as visitors are often the prime target for terrorism, crime, and scams. Numerous reports have been of ATM scams, petty theft, and armed robbery with solo travelers.
Therefore, it is not safe to travel alone in Colombia. It is better to avoid solo traveling and either travel with a group or have a trusted companion with you.
Is Colombia Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
As a solo female traveler, safety is a top concern. When planning your solo trip, your situation is whether it is safe for a woman to travel alone in Colombia.
The truth is that Colombia does have some risks for solo female travelers, but there are precautions you can take to ensure your safety. However, your family, friends, and online information will lead you to conclude that Colombia is unsafe for solo female travelers. Somehow, it is true, but it can turn into a safe and joyous trip with some precautions. Experienced solo travelers know how to protect themselves in Colombia, and you can, too.
It’s essential to research, stay aware of your surroundings, avoid certain areas at night, and not flaunt expensive items. With these measures in place, you can confidently explore Colombia’s beauty.
Is Colombia Safe for Families?
Colombia is safe for families to visit; however, it is advised to plan a trip considering all the safety aspects of the tour. It matters, like how long you will stay with your family, where you plan to visit, and where you are staying.
For backup, keep your friends and family updated on your moves, and it’s best to avoid exploring unfamiliar areas. You can do so many fun and recreational activities without compromising your family’s safety.
Tips for Traveling with Kids to Colombia
Family trips are usually fun-filled; however, it can be a hectic job, especially traveling to a notorious country like Colombia. Listed below are the tips that can help you to have a safe and joyous trip with your family:
- Get yourself a trustworthy guide; this makes your tour and navigation responsibilities easier.
- As an adult, you must ensure the vaccinations are updated and have six months of password validity.
- Pack according to the season of Colombia.
- Be prepared for the travel sickness.
- Avoid long and hard hiking trails with kids.
- Take flights rather than local transport if the travel time is more than 5 hours moving between cities.
What to Bring on Your Family Vacation to Colombia?
Well, other than your necessary documents, there are a few things that you should pack with yourself. Here is a list of things you might need during the rainy season in Colombia:
A Dry Bag
A traditional family trip to Colombia must have a 2-3-day visit to its coastal region.
This country is known to have some of the best beaches in South America. A dry bag is handy to have an unbothered beach day with your family.
Colombia is usually hot from June to August. Keep sunscreen in your bags to save yourself and your kids from sunburns.
Take the ones that best suit your skin rather than buy them from any random store in Colombia. Re-apply sunscreen whenever you go outside.
One of the main reasons for Colombia’s beauty is rain, which makes this place so dreamy, lush, and gorgeous. It rains the most during April, May, October, and November, mainly in the Medellina and Cartagena.
If your family trip to Colombia is during these months, then make sure to pack your rain gear along with you. Keep the following equipment to save yourself and your kids during the rainy weather in Colombia:
- Packable Ponchos
- Flame-Resistant FR
- Warm Jackets–Insulated
Safest Cities to Visit in Colombia
Colombia is undoubtedly an unsafe place to visit this year; however, you can see many fun and safe places while traveling solo or with family. We have listed a few safe places in Colombia to make your trip worth remembering.
Safety Risks: Low
Per Day Travel Budget: $40- $200 (per person)
Main Attractions: Andes Mountains, Arvi Park, Museum of Antioquia, Museum of Modern Art, and the Botanical Garden.
Known for: The City of Eternal Spring
Medellin is known to be a safe place to visit in Colombia, and its accommodations are affordable and safe for solo female travelers. This city is blessed to have declined violent crime rates up to 82%, making it a safe place to visit in Colombia. Medellin is a picturesque location perfect for social media influencers and photography enthusiasts.
What parts of Medellin are safe?
Our purpose in traveling to another country is to explore. Similarly, there is no point in visiting Colombia if your trip is limited to airport and accommodation because of safety concerns.
You must cherish the exquisite beauty of Latin culture by moving around in the safest neighborhoods of Colombia. Following are the safe and secure neighborhoods of Medellin, Colombia.
The peak months of tourism in Medellin are between October and February. During these months, you will feel a rush of cultural diversity in these neighborhoods, and if you follow the essential safety advice, your safe trip to Colombia is guaranteed.
Safety Risk: Low
Known for: Cofee and palm trees.
Main Attractions: Corco Valley, Coffee farms, thrill hiking places, jeep tours, horseback riding.
This astonishing and prettiest town is situated in the Quindio province of Colombia. While planning a safe trip to Colombia, keep Salento on the list, too. You can either go by air or drive if leaving from another city called Bogota. However, the recommended and safest way for solo female travelers or with family is through a flight or bus. The bus services are also convenient and secure, especially if you travel at night.
Is Salento safe to walk at night?
Going for a walk at night in Salento, Colombia, is entirely safe. However, just for personal safety, stay close to well-lit areas and crowded places. This town sleeps early at night, although, during tourism season, there is enough rush around every corner. So, you have nothing to worry about.
Safety Risk: Low and Family-friendly
Location: Town of Salento, Quindio.
Main Attraction: Horse riding, palm trees, rafting, and hiking.
Cocora Valley is the perfect family trip destination in Colombia. This place is safe and gives you a prehistorical experience. Gigantic moss-covered mountains and tall, beautiful palm trees will surround you. You can hike with your kids or take a long walk along the trail of Salento town. The track is protected and safe, surrounded by jungle, cloud forests, and farmland. The residents around this area are humble, friendly, and cooperative. They are also used to tourists and are quite protective of their safety.
It’s okay if you happen to witness any unique species of birds, as this land is known for hundreds of species of birds. Horse riding, rafting, and scenic flights around these areas can be a mesmerizing experience purely due to the soothing sounds of birds.
Cities to Avoid in Colombia
Colombia has some high-alert places that every traveler must avoid, no matter the costs. Below are the cities and areas to avoid while traveling solo or with family to Colombia.
Cucuta – Norte de Santander
Among the most notorious palaces in Colombia is Cucuta; it is known to be dangerous due to gang involvement in most areas. Tourists can become victims of petty theft, robbery, drug trafficking, and violent assaults. It is best to avoid this place for your safety because no such improvements have been adequate to control the crimes.
Tourists are primarily attracted to Cali due to its famous bustling nightlife, but this is where the evil resides. Cali is the third-largest and the most dangerous city in Colombia, enriched with.
Latin culture and an inviting climate. However, it is not the safest place to visit in Colombia, especially as a solo traveler. Cut it out of your list.
Tumaco – Narino Department
Tumaco is widely known as the most significant center of cocaine production and has the highest homicide rate in Colombia. Travelers with family and solo female travelers must avoid this place at all costs. Most male solo travelers have become the victims of express crime in most areas of Tumaco.
Pereria – Risaralda
This city was named the Coffee Cultural Landscape by UNESCO and is commonly known among travel enthusiasts. Pereria’s main tourist attractions are the Bolivar Statue, the Viaduct, and its many open-air swimming pools and recreational parks.
Despite its astonishing landmarks, it is still not the recommended place for tourists to visit. There have been reports of property crimes, violent crimes, and drug trafficking in Perera.
Buenaventura – Pacific Ocean
Buenaventura means good fortune in Spanish. However, this does not bring good luck or experience to the ones who want to travel to this place. It is now the central Pacific port of Colombia, but it’s dangerous due to the high murder rate. Due to violent crimes and corruption, Buenaventura is the least recommended place for tourists.
Manizales – Department of Caldas
The main tourist attractions in Manizales are its cultural events and international theatre festivals. It is located near Nevado del Ruiz volcano and is not the best place for visitors to travel due to high crime rates.
Valledupar – Cesar
The birthplace of Vallenato music is located in northeastern Colombia. It is not suitable for visitors due to petty thefts, scams, high murder cases, and taxi and jewelry scams.
However, in the last year, places like Nabusimake, Balneario La Mina, Rio Guatapuri, and Plaza Alfonso Lopez Vallendupar had the highest rates of tourists. Due to the civil unrest, there are better places to visit with family; however, exercising high precautions can give you the best Colombia experience.
Villavicencio – Meta
Villavicencio is known for cattle farming and is located in Meta, Colombia. This place is partially safe for tourists as the women’s attacks are pretty high.
The assault and armed robbery in Villavicencio is almost high, up to 82.14 %, and the rate of women mugged and robbed is exceptionally high. These facts make Villavicencio an unsafe place for solo female travelers. However, solo male travelers are also the target of vandalism, theft, and drug trafficking.
Despite the underlying beauty of this country, it is a fact that Colombia is not a safe place for solo travelers. However, your trip experience depends on what you want to visit in Colombia. Due to safety concerns, you should only see the safe places in Colombia.
If you travel with family or solo, the risks of crimes, kidnapping for ransom, and assault are likely to happen. In other cases, a few travelers had the most adventurous trip in Colombia. The effective way to have a safe travel journey to Colombia is through taking extra precautions.
Diana was an active fitness model in the past. She has had numerous shoots done at different locations and found out that her true interest was in exploring the world! Later on, this passion motivated her to write multiple tarvel blogs about whatever place she visited and discovered, and here it is! Enjoy reading a variety of blogs by Diana to get a lively experience of several places.