Is Colombia Safe for Travelers? 6 Safety Tips

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Should you worry about express kidnappings? We debunk the dangerous myths to show you Colombia's safe side.


Photo © iStock/garytog

Colombia is a South American country with a bad reputation for drug wars and kidnappings. Despite its history of violence and insecurity, Colombia is – and has been for a while now – a favourite travel destination for adventure travelers.

From the charming culture and friendly locals to the vibrant nightlife and breathtaking natural landscapes, it's hard not to fall in love with this magical country.

So is Colombia safe for travelers? The short answer is yes – as long as you keep your wits about you and stay away from known dangerous areas. Do that, and Colombia will be one of the most incredible destinations you visit in South America.

The bad news about safety in Colombia

While Colombia's crime and kidnapping rates have significantly reduced over the last decade, you still need to use common sense and caution to stay safe.

Petty crime, such as mugging, pickpocketing and cell phone snatching, is common, especially in busy areas and on public transport in major cities. Keep your valuables out of sight when you're out and about. If you need to use your phone, don't whip it out in the middle of the street. Instead, go into a nearby shop or bank.

The number of kidnappings is down hugely from its peak in 2000, but it's a threat that you need to be aware of.

The southwestern and northeastern parts of the country, which border Ecuador and Venezuela, are dangerous. Many foreign governments recommend against any travel to those regions because of the risk of kidnap or getting caught in the crossfire of a drug war. Don't travel anywhere your government tells you not to. 

Civil unrest in Colombia

Colombians elected Gustavo Petro as their next president in June 2022. Petro will be the country's first leftist leader, and his election has given hope to millions of young, struggling Colombians desperate for change.

The transition of power has put a pause on anti-government strikes, and there is presently no major civil unrest in Colombia. That said, things could change, and protests and demonstrations can start up. Monitor local news reports and avoid all protests or demonstrations, which may turn violent quickly.

The good news about safety in Colombia

Government travel advisories have declared several regions of Colombia to be safe for travel. These include Bogotá, Tunja, Bucaramanga, Medellín, Cali, the Coffee Zone departments of Quindio, Risaralda and Caldas, San Andres, the Caribbean cities of Cartagena, Barranquilla, Santa Marta and Capurganá, and the Pacific coast towns Nuquí and Bahía Solano.

Bogotá has its dodgy areas, but stay clear of them, and you'll find that the capital city is an exciting – and safe – place to explore. 

When we speak to travelers who have been to Colombia and foreigners who live there, they only have good things to say about the country. They say it's beautiful and much safer than what the media make it out to be. However, that's only true if you stick to the well-known tourist destinations. 

Going off the beaten path to more remote areas will only be safe if you do so with a reputable tour agency and expert guide. And when you're in major cities, ask your hostel staff, a friendly local or other backpackers which areas to avoid.

Common sense safety rules apply when traveling in Colombia:

  • Don't wear expensive
  • Keep your phones, cameras and bank cards out of sight
  • Only carry enough money for the day
  • Avoid taking your passports out with you.

If you show excessive signs of wealth, you'll stand out and increase your chances of getting robbed or mugged.

Colombians dress nicely in the cities. So try to blend in, and you'll avoid looking like a tourist – and a target for criminals. Don't wear shorts, hiking pants, or flip-flops – wear jeans and a nice t-shirt. And if possible, wear clothing with hidden pockets to stash your valuables.

Kidnapping in Colombia

With increased security measures along major roads and the ceasefire agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC, the risk of being kidnapped in Colombia nowadays is very, very low. 

Criminals aren't waiting at the airport or outside restaurants to kidnap you and ask for ransom. However, if you venture into remote areas controlled by still-in-operation rebel groups, such as the ELN and dissidents of the FARC, you do place yourself at risk of being kidnapped. Stick to tourist spots, and you will be fine.

What are express kidnappings?

Secuestro express (express kidnappings), also known as paseo millonario (millionaire's ride), happens when you are kidnapped for an hour. Or however long it takes for the criminals to drive you around town visiting ATMs, emptying your bank account, and maxing out your credit card.

The ordeal usually begins when the victim gets into a taxi they flagged in the street. The driver will go around the corner where the bandits jump in. They persuade you to cooperate with knives, guns, or a punch of two.

Although express kidnappings don't happen often, criminals are opportunists and randomly select their victims. Stay safe by never hailing a taxi from the street. Nor enter an already occupied taxi or car you ordered on a ride-hailing app. 

You could take a second credit card with a low limit to South America and leave the main card at home. 

If this happens to you, your travel insurance may cover medical expenses for injuries caused by them. You'll have access to an emergency assistance helpline that will connect you with consular officials and experts who can help you deal with the psychological trauma. But, you'll have to argue with your bank about the credit card bill.

Traveling to South America? Listen to The World Nomads Podcast episode about Ecuador

How to avoid crime in Colombia

Ask any Colombian the best tactic to avoid being a victim of a crime, and they'll tell you "no dar papaya" (don't give papaya). 

This local saying means don't put yourself in a vulnerable situation where someone can easily take advantage of you. For example, don't walk alone late at night or flash valuables in public areas. 

Most travelers who've encountered problems in Colombia have likely broken this simple rule. 

Here are a few other ways to avoid crime in Colombia:

  • Try to keep a low profile
  • Don't use illegal taxis
  • Don't drive on rural roads at night at all
  • Don't ask for drugs
  • Lock the doors of the car, and keep at least a half a tank of fuel
  • Watch out for drink spiking at bars and clubs.

Video: Why you shouldn't do cocaine in Colombia

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  • Ethan said

    Fantastic article!!!


  • shikha Mehra said

    what is the current situation as of April 2013 ??? I am planning to go to Cartagena for 2 months in August.
    I am a woman so please comment accordingly.


  • Jay & G said

    Hey my boyfriend and I are currently on a round the world trip and I have to say Colombia is our favourite place so far! I agree so much so with what I read on this blog in terms of how to stay safe. From my experience and from what I saw in our 5 weeks in Colombia (especially in Cartagena) I still would not recommend Colombia to single female travellers but that just me. There were a couple of occasions where I felt unsafe and I was with my partner. We were both very careful when out and about but I definitely still sensed a certain amount of unease especially at night. If you do decide to go as a female traveller always be extra careful at night and try and stick with other groups. Even finding just one more person to walk around with is his better than alone. Other than that it is a beautiful country and must be explored now whilst it is not over run with tourists. Check out our blog for where we enjoyed and for info on where else we travelled in Colombia.

    Happy Travels Everyone. Jay & G


  • Monica said

    Looooooved Colombia! I did get robbed at knife point. They put on a show, pretending they were going to stab me. Thought I was going to die BUT I would go again. If you travel, you take risks, and you risk being robbed. I really want to go back but I don't know if I would feel comfortable going as a single female, I went with my boyfriend last time. If I was fluent in spanish I would go back by myself.


  • Dave said

    Monica you are kidding right?
    They don't put on a show like that, that is exactly how they act and will stab/rape you in a second. This isn't a game, its your life.
    Your statement is you thought you were going to die but would do it again. There is something wrong with your thinking process.


  • Alexa said

    Monica - your comments are very misleading, confusing& down right Dangerous!
    most readers will know your reaction(s) to you the crime against you, are not from a Conscientious person! Clearly you are not a seasoned traveler. Clearly you have never been a victim of a crime where you really thought you were 'going to die'! clearly you're having 'fun' telling a tale! I could understand if in general it was a safe part of the world , and you did not want people to think you're situation meant you felt whole area unsafe. But, that's not the case!! Colombia is extremely Dangerous! In some parts, statistics say, yes, -it's getting a little better. Smart people, real travelers, very adventurous travelers, and people that really do take their lives seriously , need REAL updates on the situation in Columbia! Please do not post things that many young and/or new travelers will be misled by! My young Naïve niece would read your post , add it to her crazy list of examples that 'it's totally safe for young solo women to travel there'! She'd then say 'see auntie, Even if I do get robbed at knife point, it wont be that bad! ' Think about it!


  • Melissa said

    COLOMBIA isn't just getting "a little better", it's crime rate has significantly decreased in the past decade. Obviously if you go you have to use common sense and check travel advisories. It clearly tells you where the "safest" areas/ tourist hot spots are. There is still crime so don't flash your phone around, but again as long as you use common sense while out at night you should be fine. There is a reason why it's such a popular travel destination. Don't let someone's bad luck keep you from enjoying such a beautiful country. It could happen anywhere and it does even in our cities. Let's not pretend that you'd go walk around NYC or anywhere alone at night with a pocket full of cash and flashing your phone around (male or female)

    Ps-- highly recommend the coast such as Barranquilla (smaller beaches, quieter) Cartagena (historic and hottest tourist destination-- lots of Europeans and Americans-- check out parque tayrona.... Definitely worth it!) and Santa Marta (backpacker country-- lots of Europeans as well-- recommend taganga and rodadero beach )



    With all respect....Is it safe to travel to the United States?


  • Willie said

    On Sunday, June 19th I will fly to Bogota and catch a flight to Santa Marta for vacation. I have been traveling to Colombia since 2003 for pleasure and business. I have visited on more than one occassion all the major Colombian cities, except Medellin. My experiences have without exception but very enjoyable and without incident. Every trip I have traveled alone. There is good and bad in every city in the world. It is imperative, when traveling to a strange place, that individuals use caution and a bunch of common sense. I love the Colombian people. They are very warm, caring, hardworking, humble, honest and loving people. Of course, they have their thugs just like we do in the USA. The majority of Colombians are law abiding citizens and hate crime as much as we do and did not like the drug cartels or their reputation as a drug country. I highly recommend Colombia as a vacation spot. Use caution and common sense and you'll have a wonderful experience. Love their coffee!!!! Juan Valdez yea!!
    PS: I have friends, a husband and wife, who were robbed in the Plaza Hotel in New York city in broad daylight.


  • Xander said

    Bloody hell, damn these nigerian scammers


  • Annette said

    Just came home from Cartegena. 13 family members went on the trip for 8 days. If you do not speak Spanish, you will struggle. The country does not cater to Americans and Europeans but does cater to other South American visitors. The nicest Colombians we interacted with were at our hotel, this was mostly the activities and acquatics workers.

    Several times during the trip we felt uncomfortable in the old city. I would never recommend an American woman travel to Cartegena alone. Please take a few friends on the trip with you. There are a lot of scammers in Colombia, so you have to be smart and cautious or you will lose your money. We were scammed by an English speaking tour guide, but we booked our tour through the hotel, so we got our money back.

    The beach is dirty, the Atlantic Ocean water is very cloudy, and Cartegena and the surrounding areas are extremely dirty. There is trash everywhere. Dogs and cats are treated like rodents. The number of underfed dogs and cats we saw on the trip was overwhelming. If you love animals, seeing the horrible way dogs and cats are treated will break your heart!

    Overall the trip was fun and interesting, but we are not in a big hurry to return to Colombia any time soon!


  • Yi Rui said

    I was drugged and robbed in Bogota a few years ago during my naive fist trip to Colombia/South America. When I think back I feel happy that I wasn't killed I was robbed - my wallet, my rolex, all my credit cards. I recall even giving them my pin numbers. I recall vaguely how I walked back to my hotel room. Next morning I overslept and missed my flight and people waiting for me at the LAX went crazy when my plane landed and I didn't show up. I returned safely on the same day with an afternoon flight. However, I had short term memory problems for several months after the incident. When seeing my friends or colleagues, I could not recall their names. Later, I gained my normal memory. I've been to many places in Colombia and South America since my first trip in 2010. All major cities in Colombia still have serious crime issues. I would say Colombia is much more dangerous than Rio de Janeiro's favelas because the Colombians use drugs and all kinds of "sophisticated" techniques to spike your drinks in bars and discos, or it could be a street beggar, or a senior/handicapped person, and so on. Even South Central Los Angeles will seem much safer. Sadly due to overall poverty in Colombia + still ongoing conflict with the militias in the jungles, despite the Catholic religious ethics - every Colombian praises Jesus Christ, there are many Colombians ready to kill you for your wallet or your brand new iPhone. I would not recommend Colombia for single travellers at all. Never should go out alone, always with friends you trust. The criminals operate especially in places where there are lots tourists who can't imagine how cruel the others can be especially when it comes to US$ or the last high-tech gadgets. The article refers to the French government's lift of travel ban to certain regions. I'm not sure how safe is the french ok.


  • Brent said

    So, I have been to Colombia many times over the past few years and have lived there. I am white American, 35yrs old, and learned Spanish fluently at the age of 28.

    It is Colombia, not Columbia. Anyone who writes Colombia should be ignored because people in Colombia have a pet peeve with this misspelling and so would you if you had enough knowledge on the topic! One guy on here said they stole his rolex? WTF are you doing in Colombia with a Rolex dumb ass. Then you come on here and tell people it is unsafe?

    Thousands of foreigners die every year in Colombia. Thousands of foreigners die in the USA, Canada, Germany and other places. I know someone who was raped in Canada, I know someone who was robbed in Iowa. In my hometown of 30,000 people (upper class) there have been home invasions, rapes, and people have been robbed at knife point. Guess what, it happens in Colombia too.

    So how do you know if it is safe? Read lonely planet about other travelers that are your same race and speak your language (Spanish, Chinese, English). Chinese are more of a robbery target than latinos because, if you allow me to be prejudice for only a minute, Chinese have nice cameras and money in their pockets and that's not common with latinos. If you're a woman alone, your more of a target anywhere in the world. No more in Colombia than Brazil than in Italy. So find out how other people like you do in Colombia, not just victims of stolen Rolexes and people who can't even spell the countries name correctly

    In Medellin Colombia I can attest that if you stick to the tourist areas and don't go looking for sex or drugs or anything else strange... your gonna be ok. If you like to do just a little cocaine here and there well you're prob gonna end up meeting some not so nice people while you have a pocket full of money. You like to get drunk at a bar, act wild, talk loud, brag, dance around like an idiot, draw attention, then stumble home alone... well then your gonna make love to someone you prob don't wanna make love to.


  • Joe Mancini said

    When you say use common sense would you mind being a little more specific. My lady friend (she lives in Cali) will be with me. We are staying at a place I got on AirBNB. Thanks, Joe Mancini


  • Ana said

    I go with my kids to Colombia every 2 years for the last 10 years and I have never been involved in any crime or robbery the secret to be safe traveling to Colombia is just don't show off too much and always go to a safe places, love Colombia and the people the food and I will recommend Colombia for a nice family destination


  • Laura said

    Wow, reading some of these comments on here, it really makes me wonder where some of you were and what ya'll were doing where you got robbed and drugged and what not. Colombia is not nearly as dangerous as it used to be! I've lived here (a 23 year old American female) for the past five years. I only came on a college exchange for a year and ended up falling in love. and I can swear to you I've only been robbed once during my five years here. It was a pickpocket, I naively had my phone in my pocket and didn't zip it or anything in a crowded market. You have to be careful with pickpockets mostly. But I've walked around at night alone and nothing has ever happened. I've been to multiple nightclubs around Bogota with just girl friends and nothing's ever happened to us. We've taken cabs off the street at 3, 4am and guess what.. no secuestro express! Yes, these things do happen but it's not like it happens to everybody and all the time. Like, yeah it happened to my mom, my mom's mom, my grandparents, all my cousins, all my friends. NO it's not like that!

    If you go looking for trouble - by going to areas alone or with strangers that you're not sure about or that seem sketchy - just don't. It happens in any city. My Argentine friends visited Atlanta once and they had rented a car. Left their cameras and two laptops in the car for a couple of hours. When they came back the windows were shattered and all their belongings had been stolen. I was robbed in Memphis at gunpoint once with a boyfriend!! Like come on, this happens in any big city in the world. You just have to be cautious. Don't mind all the people on here commenting about how dangerous it is, I can bet you Alexa up there hasn't even been to Colombia (Colombia is extremely dangerous??), just going by what she reads online. Colombia is about to sign a peace treaty that will make it an even safer country. So guys... don't get all paranoid reading about stuff that's happened to people that only mention the bad things about their travels. The only risk here in Colombia is wanting to stay, it's a famous saying that definitely has applied to me. In about two weeks I am going on a trip with my boyfriend to Medellin, Pereira, then Barranquilla, Cartagena and lastly Santa Marta (I've been wanting to visit Cabo de la Vela since I got here) and I can assure you we are not freaking out like some of you here. It's an amazing country, great food, incredible people from all walks of life, all races, many from different countries, and you never run out of things to do. I highly recommend coming here, but again, like in any country or city you aren't familiar with, always just be cautious with yourself and with your things. Remember, you can get robbed/raped or even killed in just about anywhere in the world. Even in my tiny hometown in Arkansas there was a lot of crime and shootings. Heck, that's where on of the first mass school shootings took place in the 90's.


  • Nazri Arshad said

    My 1st trip to Bogota was July 2014..

    in Bogota, there is ALWAYS a threat if you walk alone.. (especially after the sun set)

    try to stay close at the public area..public area full with working class people & tourist spot..

    AVOID walking around in the night even at the neighbourhood area.

    stick with local friends or travel partner if you want to go somewhere off from public area..

    I love the people, they are very helpful & friendly to tourist but they are also a groups of bad kids/youngster..
    AVOID La Bronx area... stay away from 100~200m radius to la bronx..

    just put your 'rules of thumb' to the highest level in bogota..


  • Monica. said

    I was born in Colombia and moved to America when I was still very young.
    It amazes me how much negativity Colombia gets as if its the only country with a horrible crime rate, now I live in Germany and there is so much crime going on over here in Europe. It happens EVERYWHERE!
    Every time I visit my home land I'm scared shitless because of the things I hear or read. And yet I end up having the BEST time of my life. But I do agree. Dont flash your valuables point and simple.
    Can't wait to go back to Medellin!


  • Andreas said

    Thank you Laura and Brent for setting a few things right.. For those who think Colombia is some kind of dumping ground where only thieves, rapists and murders live, I feel sorry for you. There is crime in Colombia but just as much or less as there is in NYC, Cleveland or San Francisco. if you walk alone in the middle of the night anywhere in the world, you are asking for trouble. You have to be cautious and mindful of where you are and who you are with. There are thousands of foreigners that have ultimately made Colombia their home just like Laura did, because of its beauty, it's people, it's culture, it's food, etc etc. it all comes down to where you go or stay. If you come to visit NYC and want to be cheap, you can stay in Jamaica Queens or some parts of the Bronx where you are not going to feel safe at any time of the day. But if you stay on 5th 6th Park Ave or any of the expensive areas in Manhattan, I can guarantee you will feel safer. It's the same in any city of Colombia. If you have never been there, do some research on the city you are visiting. I can tell you I have traveled my whole life, and visited areas of Colombia that I probably shouldn't have, but everywhere I went, people were amazingly friendly and cordial. Most people make an honest living but there are some who don't. So how do you avoid them? Don't be stupid, don't do drugs, don't drink til you fall, don't flash your money, don't wear expensive jewelry or Rolexes, don't take a cab off the street(they have Apps for taxis or call a taxi company) they have millions of honest taxi drivers who get a bad rep cuz a few thieves, don't do anything you wouldn't do if you were in the bad side of your home town, I don't close my windows or lock my car in front of my house, but I can assure you I hide my stuff and lock my car if I'm parking in the next town over. Colombia has an infinite amount of activities your whole family can enjoy. My sister lives in Bogota, and my 10 year old boy travels by himself every summer since he was 7. He stays for a month, goes all over the country with my sister's family and comes home 4 weeks later or my wife and I come down to meet him. My 18 year old son sometimes goes with us, sometimes he goes by himself. Yes I have a sister there, who knows what to do and not to do, but that goes for everyone else. Do your homework, ask questions, do some research. There are Colombians living all over the world, I bet if you ask around you know someone who is Colombian or that has been to Colombia who can give you some answers to where to go, stay, eat, party etc etc. Please don't just listen to the ignorant people who nothing but bad things to say about Colombia or any other place in the world.. I can tell you some horror stories of Italy, Germany, New Jersey, NYC, California, Barcelona, etc etc but I won't because my time at any of those beautiful places of the world, was so much more amazing than any bad experienced I had usually due to a lack of good judgement on my part.. Enjoy your stay in ????????Colombia????????


  • Robert Jones said

    I so want to visit there, I read a lot of comments about there has anyone seen the cocoa plant growing there?


  • Ian McAllister said

    Colombia is a dangerous country to visit.If you are desparate to be able to say you've gone there,go ahead and good luck.There are many many beautiful places to visit in the world.The need to go to a high risk destination is odd,especially if you're armed with the knowledge before hand.I guess its the cool thing for hipsters to do.


  • Jack said

    I just log in to this site to know whether its good place or not. I am planing to go there with my wife.
    If anyone can let us know which country is most beautiful and very safe in South America.
    Thank you.


  • zuza said

    We would like to visit some smaller, but safe places in Colombia. Villa de Leyva and Barichara are recommended by LP. What would be the best way to get there? Bus? Car rental?
    Any other similar places worth visiting on a short trip? We will arrive in Bogota, and will probably fly to Cartagena or Santa Marta as well.
    Thank you in advance for any advice.


  • Andrew said

    Is cartAgene safe? I am talking to a Colombian woman who wants me to fly down there. I do speak Spanish because I'm half Cuban.


  • 10minio said

    Andrew, Sounds like a scam bro


  • Richard said

    I'm planning a 10-day visit to Colombia over Xmas break, and I'm worried about intercity travel safety. I was thinking of skipping Bogata, landing in Barranquilla, and taking side trips to Providencia, Tayrona, and Cartagena. There are US State Department travel advisories about taking public transit or private cars, and I'm a bit afraid to hire a private driver if private cars are at risk. But, State Department allows their in-country staff on Route 90. How do I get between cities from Santa Marta to Cartagena? And, though it is beyond the scope of this web site, where would you stay if you were visiting these three places along the coast?


  • george said

    To the person who said there is just as much or less crime as there is in San Francisco or any other US city, I would simply say that the per capita murder rate in Colombia is 5 times that of San Francisco.
    I'm not saying you can't have a safe trip, but let's at least be honest.


  • Dave said

    Richard, et al - My wife and I had a wonderful time in Colombia last Christmas. We flew into Bogota and spent a few days there. Frankly, I would skip that next time because it is just a big, big city. Flew to Cartegena and spent New Years there. Fantastic time! Try to stay in the Old City inside the walls...they shut down a lot of the streets and have "neighborhood" parties all over. We we're invited to join in the dancing several times by very friendly people. Flew to Medellin - my favorite city on the trip. How can you beat an average annual temperature of 78 degrees with 1 degree of average variation? The City of Eternal Spring! We never once felt unsafe during our trip, and can't wait to go back. I'll just repeat what others have said matter where you travel in the world, just keep your wits about you, don't do "dumb" things, take interest in the local culture and try to give back, and you will be fine.


  • Ken Brown said

    Yes crime is "way down" from The Escobar Era
    Then Medellín had ,6500 murders per year. The most dangerous City in The World in a non war zone
    Starting from there it's down 80%!!
    To "only" 1300 per year..still far more than The total for many Major Europe, Canadá, Australia
    1300 is still Too many IMO


  • Ken Brown said

    Yes crime is "way down" from The Escobar Era
    Then Medellín had ,6500 murders per year. The most dangerous City in The World in a non war zone
    Starting from there it's down 80%!!
    To "only" 1300 per year..still far more than The total for many Major Europe, Canadá, Australia
    1300 is still Too many IMO


  • Ken Brown said

    you "felt" safe?

    you MIGHT be right..but his is not very scientific..because nothing bad happened to :you' in the week or 2 there, you conclude it`s very safe..


  • Rosita said

    I have a loving Colombian friend, and she always invite me to go to Medellín - where is she from -, but I'm, as most non-Colombians, afraid of gonna there....I wish I knew San Andres, but I'm afraid of getting sequestrated by FARCs or being killed, I'm originally from Bermudas, but I live in Brasil since I was 11 and people says brasil isn't very different from Colombia, and I heard this from many Colombian ppl, but I'm not sure.... Are Cebu, Palawan and Boracay safe for tourism? Wha' do y'all think?
    Looking forward,


  • luka said

    Was there in 2014. If you use your common sense and go to places on the tourist trail, it is quite safe. In the cities you should be careful and ask locals where not to go. At night don't walk, use taxi. But also make sure it is legal taxi. Don't just flag them on the street, it is best to call taxi service on the phone.
    Colombia is absolutely beautiful country, for me the most beautiful country I've ever visited, and the people are super nice and helpful. It's really unfair that the country has such a bad rep because of what was happening in the past.
    Medellin is amazing, Cartagena is great, Tayrona, the Amazonas, Nuqui and whalewatching,, memories. Fantastic destination for travel.


  • cis said

    That Colombia is as safe or even safer than the US (which it isn't, as someone else pointed out) is not saying much!
    The US (particularly large cities) have the highest crime rates and certainly the most guns in the world as a nation (look where that gets you...).
    All these statements do not give me a point of reference, as I live in a smaller town in Europe (thank God!).


  • Pedro Lopes said

    With all due respect to all good Colombian people, I'd rather not go there even thought it has many good things to see. It's just too dangerous, not worth the risk.


  • george said

    Colombia was voted as number 1 place to visit by Lonely planet. Travelers are the ones that voted. That should tell you something.
    If you are visiting to look for sex or drugs you will most likely end up in the wrong place and with the wrong people .
    Personally I flew Orlando- Panama -Bucaramanga then took a bus to mesa de los santos- crossed the chicamocha canyon on a cable car down to the rio zuares and up to the top of the canyon at Panachy. Great views!! Then took a bus towards Barichara (1.20 hrs) The most beautifull town in colombia!!! Every corner is worth a picture. Stayed there for 3 days and relaxed. Visited Guane town, mingled with all the foreigners living there. Safest place in the world.
    Then a bus to Villa de leiva. stayed there for other three days visiting the sorrounding towns. rhen unto Bogota


  • Antonio said

    Rosita, Cebu is great. Lovely people. But just like anywhere else you have to be street smart. They have the best lechon in the Philippines


  • Ross johnson said

    Why risk it? There are enough places to enjoy that are not high risk. So what's the point.


  • Bob Bishop said

    I have a friend who just got back from Medellin,he loved it,had a good time,stayed in the tourist areas,so he had no problems,told me he would go back anytime,that the people were very friendly
    and helpful.


  • Derek Casanares said

    I was thinking about visiting Cartagena Columbia to see if this will be a good place to retire versus Marbella, Spain.


  • Nick said

    Cartagena is not safe a US judge was kidnapped just last year and his family had to pay 33k to get him out. Anyplace where nightfall is treated like the I AM LEGEND movie is unacceptable. Comparing it to the US is also irrelevant. I'm American and never faced any crime because I don't loiter in urban ghettos nor go to waffle house at 1:00am. I would say Uruguay is the only safe place to visit.


  • manuel said

    I have solo-travelled extensively for 4 months (2016) in colombia, going to the most remote areas of the country, from the macuira in the guajira to sapzurro in the chocó, to the puracé in the south. the only serious risk that i faced was that i did not want to go back! the people are overwhelmingly friendly, and would host you, teach you to dance salsa and feed you if you are in trouble (even if you are not). of course there is day-to day criminality but that's like everywhere and don't being stupid is the only safe thing to do.. buses, solo-travelling, hitchhiking, trekking in the middle of nowhere, is all safe for what regards the country itself (yes there are snakes and spiders and poisonous frogs, but that's part of the beauty).
    in contrast with its reputation colombia is the country where I felt safer travelling! I am organising other two solo trips in colombia, because btw, there is everything to see there, from the andes to the caribbean, to the whales, to precolombian cities hidden in the jungle, and the list goes on and on..
    as a famous campaign was saying few years ago: COLOMBIA EL UNICO RIESGO ES QUE TE QUIERAS QUEDAR


  • Andrea said

    Hello. I'm an American that lives in Bogota. If you have never visited Colombia then you don't really have any idea about it's safety. It is a big city, it has crime, and there is a big divide between rich and poor. I was scared before coming here that I would be robbed constantly because of all the negative things you hear. There are parts of the city that I would avoid, but as a whole I feel very safe here. You use common sense and you will be fine. Also learn some Spanish before you come. You will need it!


  • bernie sanders said

    I went to Colombia and my wallet was pickpocketed at the airport. Alarmed, I called the us embassy and they sent a car to pick me up. Unfortunately, the car I got into was only pretending to be the embassy car, and they drove me to who knows where and beat me until I gave them a relatives number who would pay a ransom. They called the relative but she refused to pay so after a few weeks they let me go in who knows where. I found my way to a hospital and they contacted the embassy again which arranged for me to be flown back to Washington DC. I'm thinking that I might not travel to Colombia again,


  • Hugh said

    Who in their right mind would go there? There are lots of beautiful and safe places in this world to see.


  • Eduardo said

    I am a colombian 40 years man, I've been living my entire life in colombia and my last 20 years in Big cities. I have never been robbed. Ok, I am a brown, middle-class man, I am not a target, however, my advice is: avoid the wrong places, e.g, in the night close to the nightclubs, anywhere in the world, should be dangerous, that is common sense.


  • Nick G said

    Some of these stories are obviously garbage. "Bernie Sanders", obviously a Trump fan, is stupid enough to concoct a story where he gets into a wrong car sent by an embassy? Surely he's as dumb as Trump to lie in a non-believable way.

    Anyway, a guy who used to work for me and his wife - Americans - visited a year plus ago. They went to Bogota, Medeilin, Cartagena. Had the time of their lives. Won't call them sophisticated travelers by any stretch. But they are smart enough to be careful. And if they can do fine, most Americans will be ok.


  • Douglas said

    I have traveled in Colombia many times over the last 9 years and have never had anything happen directly to me. However, in 2014 I brought my then 16 year old son to visit Medellin and Cali. Our first afternoon on a Saturday, we visited a museum in centro Medellin. After we left the museum we walked a few blocks in centro. I turned to say something to my son and he was gone. I turned around and saw him fighting three men about a block behind me, I immediately ran towards him and all three men dispersed as I grabbed my son by the upper torso and pulled him towards me. Fortunately no weapons were used and my son was OK. Strange thing, they didn't even take his wallet or Iphone, they were trying to take him. Be very careful with children in Colombia, stick to the more tourist friendly areas and stay out of "centro" areas of the major cities.


  • Linda said

    I was in Colombia in July and August 1993 at the height of the cocaine drug wars and Escobar on the lose. I travelled to major cities and took buses into rural areas. Not once was my life ever in danger. Common sense, respect, understand the culture and have a good understanding/speak Spanish; you will be fine. I do agree that if you are female and alone your margin of safety does diminish. Colombia is the most beautiful country I have travelled to in South America. I would do it again. I backpacked, hiked, took buses, and integrated myself within the culture. I love Colombia!


  • Steven said

    I live in a small town in Scotland. I have visited Colombia three times since 2014. On my most recent visit last month I got married to a wonderful Colombian woman in Bucaramanga. It was a privilege for me to have my wedding there. Just a small wedding but fantastic nevertheless.

    I have always found the people in Colombia to be very friendly and helpful. On the occasions I have travelled there I have never encountered any problems. Of course I appreciate that common sense needs to be applied. Don't travel alone at night if possible. Or flash your wallet in broad daylight. But those rules apply to any country really. Especially in the UK!

    The people there are very hard working and honest. They don't have any benefit system to fall back on. Unlike other countries where many people become lazy and rely on handouts from the government. The Colombian people are very proud, often working long days for little money

    Reading the comments on the forum of course many are correct based on individual experience. But in any country there is good and bad. I believe many people judge Colombia just by its name

    I have visited USA, France, Spain and Colombia in the last 15 years. I will also throw London in as well.
    Where did I feel safest? Colombia by a country mile
    When my wife can obtain a visa for the UK we will definitely travel back there for many future holidays


  • dee said

    After canada every place in the world look unsafe


  • Tam said

    Great article! Just don't "dar un papaya" while you're here. As in don't flaunt computers, phones, etc., therefore pinpointing yourself as a foreigner. There ain't a lot of sympathy here if someone steals something :)

    Tam @


  • Zoe said

    I am a single woman in my early 70's and after three 3-month trips to Colombia, I have moved to Bogotá. Some of these stories sound ficticious, others appear to be written by people who are either inexperienced travelers, naïve, or just downright stupid.

    Bad stuff happens anywhere. If you aren't paying attention, it can happen in the most upscale spot in the world.

    I am a travel writer and travel solo all the time but, I use my brains and do not place myself in positions where I might encounter danger. And I do not always stay in fancy hotels or have taxi service. I am using AirBnb and walking on the streets.

    I have never been robbed, threatened or felt endangered. I met local people everywhere I go.

    If you don't have the good sense to take the necessary precautions to travel safely - STAY AT HOME!


  • Paul said

    I am traveling to bogota on the 9th of April.I will be there till the 14th.If no one hears from me here on the 15th you might want to send a search Just kidding.
    I live near Detroit Michigan.They don't kidnap you here for money,they just shoot you so they can brag to their friends they did.People here have been killed for the shoes they wear.Peoe have been killed here for a hamburger from McDonald's.I still go to McDonald's,I just don't order Lighten up people,the world is a dangerous place but if we live scared,they win.


  • David Russell said

    HI Folks,
    I just spent three weeks in Colombia. Santa Marta, Bogota, Cali, and Buenaventura. The kids in Buenaventura were calling me Poppa Noel, and a high school soccer team in Cali sang a version of Jingle Bells as i walked by...Yep, I have white hair and a big goatee.
    I've traveled in some sketchy places in the world but Colombia didn't even come close to places like Berbera, Djubuti, Beruit, etc. If you use some common sense, be a traveler not a tourist, odds are you'll be fine. I'll be back there in a couple of months.
    Safe Travels


  • Aine said

    Have traveled to Colombia three times to fly my paraglider. Im a woman. I dont want to give info that sounds nieve or makes light of possible dangers, but describing Colombia as 'very dangerous ' makes me just shake my head. Here in the US 14 people got shot in a nightclub just last night in Ohio.
    Paragliding brings you to more remote places than touristed. We go as a big group but once we are in the air we may 'land out' on our own, and often do. This means in a field somewhere, maybe next to a road. We flag down a bus or send our coordinates to a predesignated driver. In areas like Roldanillo where people are used to seeing paragliders, it is very common for a car or motorcycle to pull over and offer a ride. As a woman if Im alone I would not accept but the guys I traveled with always did. There was one incident of a guy being attempt robbed, but he ran and avoided this. For the most part by far people were friendly and generous. They took care of us far more than took advantage.
    Be smart. Watch your back, your wallet, dont put yourself in a compromising situation. Dont drink alone. Its all common sence stuff that you should be doing in any place you travel, or even live.


  • Nadia said

    I've been travelling a lots in my life but always used common since. I speak Spanish as well and from Canada.
    Ok if I land to Bogota airport alone as a single women and I take a cab alone at night, I shouldn't have any problem?
    Is there any company better than other. I am going there for surgery. Any recommendation for hotel in Bogota where I could feel safe and comfy during my stay?
    Thank you


  • David said

    I think this is best list us visitors.For more


  • Carlos said

    Hi All

    I read all these messages and I think I should explain several things. I never answer posts in Internet, but this message will be the exception.

    Disclaimers: I am from Colombia (Medellin) and I know the country very well because I have been a hiker and alpinist and I travelled very "unsafe" zones. And I have travelled around the world, so I can compare different countries.

    Colombia was a very dangerous country 30 years ago, but it is not so dangerous nowadays. But you should not understand that there are not risks. The key point is: Each city in the world has different risks and different crimes. For example, Barcelona is a safe and nice city. But there are many risks in the subway. I could see three robs in five days in the subway. Who were the targets? Tourists. And I almost was robbed in Buenos Aires because I did not understand the crime in that city.

    What kind of risks are more important for you? I work as statistician and I know a lot about crime statistics. So I will give you some examples, comparing several cities and countries against Medellin:

    Homicides (rate per 100000): More dangerous than Medellin are Miami, Washington DC, Baltimore, several cities in England and many cities in Latinamerica. Less dangerous than Medellin: Sidney, London, Madrid

    Rape: All the Anglosaxons countries (USA, Canada, Australia) are much more dangerous than Colombia.

    Terrorism in big cities: Europe is more dangerous than Colombia nowadays.

    Terrorism in rural zones: Colombia is more dangerous in some places, you should know where those places are.

    Theft in the streets: Colombia is more dangerous, be sure.

    Car theft: Many countries in Europe, USA and Australia are more dangerous.

    Vehicles burned: Not known in Colombia. Thousands vehicles are burned in France each year.

    Kidnapping: Not your problem nowadays. Perhaps you will be surprised by the statistics in some "very safe" countries:

    Now, each city in Colombia has different risks. In all the big cities in Colombia, poor districts are more dangerous than richer districts:

    Bogota: Theft when you find some who is walking in the same street. As Sevilla in Spain, a lot of burglary.

    Medellin: Theft after you go to ATMs ("fleteo"). Your counter strategy is simple. Go to ATMs in big supermarkets and buy something after. Your enemies wont wait for you. Not burglary here.

    I will give several advices: Dont go with expensive watches, cameras or cell phones. Ask before you go to rural zones. Many rural zones are safe, very safe I should say, but you dont know the country, please ask before. And as someone wrote here, if you are looking for sex or drugs you can have unpleasant surprises.

    I hope these advices will be useful. And enjoy Colombia.

    Best regard



  • Justin said

    I have lived in Medellin, Colombia for almost 4 years now and while reading this article and seeing some of the ridiculous comments I felt compelled to write something... those people saying things like "Colombia is too dangerous to visit", "why risk going there when there are other beautiful places to visit" etc have clearly not been to or lived in Colombia and have some sort of mental problem that forces them to write uninformed nonsense about a wonderful country for some unknown reason. At the risk of repeating the same sentiment once again, Colombia is completely safe to visit and nobody should have any fear of visiting here if you use common sense while you are here. As with basically any city or country worldwide, there is always the chance of something happening if you are careless or unlucky but if you avoid clearly dangerous neighbourhoods like some of the poorer barrios in Medellin for example, and you don't walk around at night by yourself in a dark, unpopulated area waving your expensive phone around, you will be fine. In almost 4 years in the country, and having travelled to cities like Bogota, Cali, Santa Marta, Cartagena, Bucaramanga, Cucuta and a few other small towns (Guatape, Villa de Leyva, Tunja, Zipaquira, Santa Fe de Antioquia etc) I have not once felt unsafe, threatened or had anything happen to me other than being pickpocketed on the street during a big football game in Parque Lleras (a very touristy area in Medellin) when there were crowds of people everywhere and I naively left my camera in a side pocket. If you are careful and act like you would in any city, you will have an amazing time here. Do not listen to idiots commenting here who say it is too dangerous, you will be kidnapped/robbed/raped bla bla bla. Colombia is a beautiful, welcoming and safe country to visit.


  • Benji said

    Hi! The comments here have been even more informative than the article. If I may ask a question to travelers: I'll be spending a day in Bogota in August and my only real concern is that I'll be there to shoot a model in that beautiful setting, and so I'll be using what will obviously be a nice camera. I plan to stick to La Candelaria in the afternoon and then head to Zona Rosa for dinner. Does anyone have any tips for how to hold on to my camera?


  • Frank Vitolo said

    I'm going there with my cousin and staying in Bogota. My mom thinks I'm crazy but I think because she's born in 1948, she believes Pablo and his crew are going to kidnap me. Being that she showed me this post, can anyone give me a little backing and make her feel at ease?


  • Travelman32 said

    I´ve been living in Colombia for three years, a few random tips:

    1. If you are getting a taxi, there are three things you can do to make sure it is a safe trip 1. You can download an app called Tappsi, or whatever else you prefer that is similar, and call from there. The taxi number (usually three letters followed by three numbers) will be registered in the tappsi database. 2. If you want, you can take a picture of the taxi ID (again, 3 letters, 3 numbers) and/or 3. Send a text right away to a trusted loved one with the ID and/or 4. Make a fake (it can be real even) call where you say (in Spanish is better) ¨Hey mom, I am in the taxi, WSC 716, see you in ten minutes. All of these will make it more likely that you will be safe. Once my wife made a fake call and the taxi pulled over and told her to get out. Sketchy much? But that fake call saved her life. Use your cell, make a call is my point! Another time a good friend went to the window and asked the driver if he could take her to Virrey. he said yes and before she got in, she took a pic of the 3 letter/3 number ID and he quickly drove away. Again, was he up to no good? Your viligence will allow you to avoid some odd situations, so do the little extra things to better protect yourself when taking a taxi.

    Next, don´t carry any debit cards. Just, don´t. Keep them locked away. Invest in a good lock, use it to lock your checked luggage, leave your card in that. Bring only what you will need for the day. I would say, there is no reason why you will need more than 200,000 for the day, really. You could even cut that figure in half if you are frugal like me. If you are going out for the night, stop back at your hostel or hotel and grab a little extra if you need to, it is worth the hassle. I would say you should not need more than 100 or 150,000 max. I got robbed at gunpoint in Panama, near one of those PoS beaches near the city. Because of my rule, I lost less than 50 USD.

    Next, Candelaria is fine during the day. I would recommend going with a friend if you can but it should be fine alone. During the night, a large portion of the neighborhood is NOT safe. Nothing has happened to me but I have heard stories and seen unsavory characters while walking around. I would highly recommend not staying at any hostels around this area, but go more north to Chapinero alto or Zona G/T. Heck, even chapinero is safer but you can see some sketch stuff and still need to be careful at night. It is not as bad as candalaria at night, which is right next to some of the worst areas in the city (The Bronx or whatever it is called now and Egypt. A lot of people come to this area, from the south, because they know tons of tourists frequent Candelaria.

    Transmilenio is the worst. if you can, walk. If you have to use it, try to avoid rush hours. If you want to see humans acting like freakin cattle, go during rush hour but don´t say I did not warn you. The worst of Bogota comes out during these situations and is why I think Medellin is just better, more culture, which can be seen when on the metro.

    Girls: Not sure why so many foreign men end up with such trashy girls, but they do. Keep your guard up, there are half way decent girls, you just need to look, but it is worth it. A lot of lower status girls will be exactly where the tourists go to drink (language exchange events, popular bars in zona t/g, candelaria, etc. If you want a decent girl, look for some cultural events during the day. If you need advice on if your new girl is trashy AND met her at some bar, I can bet she probably is and help you to avoid her by giving you tips. trust me it is not worth the hassle of going for just anyone. Be picky, go for the higher status girls, they are much better but harder to know at first (which means they are worth it.)

    One last thing: Medellin -------> Bogota in almost every way. My wife is from bogota and she admits, Medellin is a better city and the people are just, better.


  • Leonard said

    Brent says thousands of foreigners die in Germany every year? Might be true but are they killed or kidnapped? I am an African who lived in various cities in the south, west and center of Germany for 5 years and I can assure you it is an incredibly safe place for everyone including foreigners. Comparing it to Colombia in any way is just insane.

    I could walk just about anywhere at any time day or night without even the slightest worry that someone might try robbing or harming me.

    In fact is is so safe, I remember one time I was going on a trip with a friend and happened to meet a long lost friend just outside the train station at Bochum (a small city sandwiched between Dusseldorf and Dortmund) . He suggested to have a drink before I continue with my journey. Since my backpack was heavy I opted to just leave it on the floor outside the train station (yes it is so safe I didn't even think much about doing this). When we got back we found the police had cordoned off the area to inspect my backpack. I explained it was mine and I had left it to go have a quick drink with a friend. They asked a few questions, took my details and explained about the various terrorist threats they have to guard against. I got my bag back, bid my friend goodbye and continued with my journey up north.

    And no I'm not a careless person. I've lived in Moscow for 8 months and it was very safe too (though there are places a black person such as myself should take great care and use common sense). Despite Moscow being rather safe, I would never even think of leaving my belongings unattended.

    I've never been to Colombia but judging from the above comments, comparing its safety to Germany's is beyond hyperbole.


  • Juliette said

    Some great posts on here.. But no mention of Cali where I will be going for surgery. After healing and rest I plan to visit the museums and historical places (with my partner btw) , also maybe enjoy some shopping. I don't want to risk taking my debit card out and obviously will need enough cash to buy a few goodies. I am confused at how to juggle this now. Do I hide my card/cash in my shoes, down my pants? I don't intend to take anything like an expensive watch , apart from my mobile phone which I would be scared to take out now! Lol .. Maybe I am over thinking. Will definitely put the app on my phone re taxi . Are restaurants safe at night in tourism areas?


  • Tex said

    Went to Medellin and Cartagena the fall of last year. Never had a problem and i have taken a few risks out there, like hanging out with questionable women and walking alone at dark. However, i try to keep up a high level of situational awareness ( always looking to the sides and behind me, crossing the street if there is a large group of people ahead, etc). The same things i do in big cities in America. I am African American so i am at lower risk, I can pass easily for a colombian until i open my mouth. Going back to Cartagena this fall, the place is magical.


  • Susana said

    Hey guys,

    I have read many of your comments about your concerns. I am Colombian so I have a pretty good idea of what it is like over. My best advice is to travel with someone who is from there or really knows their way around. Someone who knows what to do and what not to do. Most Americans that go to Colombia with someone from there always tell me they have had the time of their lives. The sad truth is that tourists are often taken advantage of but if you know how to get around you should be totally fine. The number one rule is to not be flashy. If you wear your rolex... YOU ARE GOING TO GET ROBBED. Lay low.

    In big cities especially Bogota, avoid taking random taxis. Have your hotel call them for you. Don't take your cellphone out in the middle of the street, and keep your eyes and hands on your purse at all times because pickpocketing is common. As a foreigner, avoid rural roads and walking alone, especially at nights. Cartagena and coastal areas are known tourist areas so I would consider them to be more safe. However keep all the above in mind. I would say traveling with a tour or a person from that place is always a great idea when you are going somewhere that you don't know much about and that you don't know the language.

    Good luck!


  • Mark said

    The stupidity from snowflakes here is amazing. I work in Medellin and I watch these kids walking around at night at 1 am like they are in South Dakota. I know 4 people this month that have been robbed. Two at knife point. Street crime is up 300 percent, look it up. The State dept put out a new travel warning June 16th. Parents are downright ignorant. This girl above Monica says she lives there now, they are also going to be working until they are 90.

    Murder is going down because the gangs did a deal where they will look the other way on robbery. If they elect the Marxist running for President next year, watch the exodus. Venezuela thought it wouldn't not happen also. Most of the comments here are downright nuts.


  • Sara said

    Felt compelled to write after reading all the misleading comments (good and bad). I just returned from Colombia, where I've been traveling regularly for the past 20 years because my husband is from there. I can say from personal experience that the country IS much safer for tourists now than it used to be. There are a lot more foreigners around and much better resources for travelers. But even in the past I never really felt unsafe there, and I've never ever had a bad experience, even though we usually go out at night (with friends or family), take taxis in the streets, and travel in country roads. We always stay in Bogota, but have traveled all over the country from that city. There are so many wonderful places to visit, even after 20 years of going there often I still feel there's much to see. That said, I've always listened to people who live there and let them be my guide. If you know local people and they're willing to guide you (I haven't met a Colombian who wouldn't, they really are amazing people!) that's probably the best way to visit. If you don't know anyone there, you can still visit, but I do recommend reading other travelers advice. There's some good tips in this blog. A lot depends on your own attitude towards travel. If you are someone who likes to explore the world and is not uncomfortable stepping out of your comfort zone, you'll love Colombia. Feel free to ignore the comments that just try to scare you. Most likely they don't know what they're talking aboutt. It's really unfair how this wonderful country has been portrayed in the international media since the drug wars of the 1980s. Can anyone explain to me the fascination with Pablo Escobar all over the world? Colombians hate him, and they hate that their country is associated with his name. I can understand why. He was killed a long time ago, in 1993, and he doesn't represent the real Colombia at all.


  • Darya said

    Pakistan is the safest country niw in the world...


  • adam said

    Wow I really want to come on vacation to Colombia with my family, this is an aspiration I hahaha, thanks for the information you provide. For those of you who are preparing a holiday to Bali do not forget also to prepare lodging at very comfortable and best in Bali


  • Sean said

    So far this year, I have been to Medellin, Colombia twice. I absolutely LOVE that city and have nothing but great experiences. Since I know basic Spanish, I had no issues with getting around, ordering food and interacting with the locals. In terms of safety, I felt no danger and I mostly traversed the city and surrounding department of Antioquia solo. The same street smarts that used in places like New York City, Chicago and DC, I used in Medellin. No problems. I stayed out late on many nights and partied in Parque Lleras and La 70 areas of Medellin. Again, nothing but great stories.

    Just use your head, keep your head on a swivel and do not act like a dumb and lost tourist. You'll be fine.

    Oh, and I interacted with a ton of solo women travelers in Medellin. They loved it.

    If anyone need any information on Medellin, email me at


  • Kim said

    I have to respond to Zoe's rather ignorant comments and her attitude that if you are sensible, you will be safe. No Zoe, that couldn't be further from the truth. If you think that being smart...and I'm from a big city, I grew up in a rough neighborhood, and I can say I know how to handle myself ... if you think that exempts you from any possibility of being victimized then you need to get your arrogant head out of the clouds. I know how to make all the right decisions, but in no way does that make me or anyone else here exempt from being a victim of crime. Don't be so arrogant to think you won't be a victim -- there are also really smart criminals out there. You aren't invincible. What an idiotic attitude that only people who don't make the right decisions are victimized. How arrogant can you be.


  • Tim said

    I visited Bogota last year. I felt very safe traveling alone. It is an amazing city with great museums, shopping and restaurants. I stayed on the main streets and main areas. I did not go out at night after 8 or 9 pm, except one night, and that night I did get harassed by a guy telling me to give him my money, but he left me alone when I told him I was going to call the police. It seems people have the most problems who: 1) go out in the areas where there are not a lot of people at night, 2) or don't use an app to hail cabs, 3) or hang out at night clubs and act like they are in their home country or 4) are looking for drugs. It is very nice and safe in the shopping area around Andino Shopping Mall at night. Avoid Calle 9 area at night, as there are lots of muggings in that area. I stayed at an Airbnb with doorman on Calle 24 and it is great. I'm headed back again this year, and not worried. Last year I also took a bus for a day trip to Zipaquira to see the Salt Cathedral, and had no problems traveling alone.


  • Mario said

    Hello I am German-Colombian. I was born in Colombia (In Bogota), but I have German ancestors from both mother and father side. I spent my childhood and teenager times in Colombia (Bogota and Medellin), and now I live in Germany. Let me tell you, that Germany is not safest place in the world nowadays; therefore, it is difficult to claim whether Colombia is so dangerous or not. There is danger everywhere. I RECOMMEND YOU traveling to Colombia; HOWEVER, try to keep a low profile, specially in Bogota. Don't take taxis on the streets, call a taxi service or use Uber, cabyfy. Bogota is a mess in the rush hours, avoid these times. Use your instincts, like in every big city around the world (Some parts of Berlin are specially "interesting" every time). If you are in the Caribbean coast (Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta), avoid the unconventional places, San Andres and providencia are lovely. The Coffee area and their cities are safe and amazing, Cali is great but avoid going to some areas, unless you're with a local. Santander and Boyaca regions are worth visiting and they are safe. Villavicencio and el llano region are fantastic, but it is better with a local companion. The amazon region is fine AS LONG AS you're in a GOOD hotel or with an AUTHORIZED tourist guide. With respect to big city tourism, I think Medellin is the best, no doubt, Cali and Barranquilla are good, but Medellin is better. Bogota has its own beauty (You hate it or love it) but frankly speaking I wouldn't choose Bogota as a tourist destination, I go there because I have friends and love ones over there.


  • Daniel said

    I have been to Colombia many times visiting many cities and places. My wife is from Bogota. We got married in Bogota and my Family from Slovakia came over and spent a week with us. I have to say although I have always took precautions and never flashed my money or any valuables I have never ever encountered any issues at all neither did my family or my friends and I have to say we did a lot of stupid things, went out clubbing many times drove around... Colombia is beautiful country and has soo much to offer. Colombians are lovely open people and Colombian women are the best. So to summarise Colombia being on top of the list of most dangerous countries in the world is absolutely not accurate. P.S. I was robbed and threatened not once in various countries in Europe and United States of America. Takže tak.


  • Shana said

    I am a single female and I have travelled to Cartagena, Santa Marta, and Barranquilla alone on three occasions. I had a wonderful time and my biggest problem was not being able to speak the language fluently and trying to secure transportation between the cities.. Most of the people that I met were very warm and inviting. I never felt unsafe while walking the streets in Cartagena even in the evening. Everyone was out and about enjoying the food and entertainment in the Old City. I loved Cartagena so much that I thought of retiring there at one point. I plan to return in the summer of 2017.


  • Carlos Chaves Bustos said

    Hello friends, if you decided or should come to Colombia and feel insecure or want to know more about Colombia I can help you, my name is Carlos Chaves I am Colombian I know the country its cities the airline lines hotels according to the budget tourist sites restaurants land transport everything they need to help them on their trip.
    If you prefer, I can accompany you on your trip
    My contact is:
    Carlos Chaves
    cell phone.573108308371


  • Cody said

    Colombia is absolutely gorgeous for the nature, the people, not so much. I just got back from a two and a half month stint. Bogota: The people are very cold there, think of New Englanders, Bucaramanga: Friendly, my favorite town, just stay away from the Venezuelans, they like to steal, and to invite you out for breakfast only to have you pay for it when you're done, the women are not honest here, they will leave their current boyfriend to hang out with you if you make more money, I even had the owner of the hotel hitting on me, Medellin: Luarales, very nice weather, the women will play games, try to make it look like they went on a tour with you when it was a different woman, they will tell the same story with a few minor differences, the sashimi sucks, better at TodoWok #9 in Bogota, Manizales: The hotel guy will set you up to rob you, the coffee is awesome, the natural parks are beautiful, the food sucks, the monuments are cool, people are two faced, so beware.


  • de Guerrero said

    Colombia is in general a great place to start traveling if want then visit another countries in south america, you can here train the ear while learn spanish.
    About Spanish, based in experience i´ve seen from foreigners, travelers can take at least 2 weeks to then depart and practice and improve their language. Medellín is in Colombia and south america, the city with most neutral accent and different speed speech and pronunciation, except of course the popular slang "paisa".. but isn´t often to hear on a traveler´s conversation...
    Total Spanish School located in park lleras in neighborhood el Poblado, is a great qualified place to learn. usually takes 3 weeks to be able get fluent and maintain a simple conversation in present tense..that´s a start.


  • Monika said

    Love Colombia! Guys uncle Escobar is gone.Wonderful,friendly people from Colombia are waiting for new election.God bless this country.We can not judge Colombians or beautiful citys because of Escobar crime ... I’m just back from Lovely Cartagena.Im blond,blue eyes and love to take thousands of photos.I had great time,I felt pretty safe,my phone is full of colorful pictures.We have Bronx in NY,lovely sidewalks in EU when people are killing during the day by isis.If you are low key and walk for example during the day in Getsemani which is not to safe area but full of incredible murals You are fine!Stay at home or go to Disney if You are afraid to travel to Colombia. Lock of knowledge... Try to walk in Phili or NY Bronx or Jamaica after sunset .... You will meet papa Escobar sure.One more th.If You love to wear Rolex with diamonds go to Boca Raton or Marbella.Don’t buy drugs,don’t look for funky girls and use you brain and you gonna love Colombia!!!!!


  • Pedro said

    I have been there many of the times in my whole life to enjoy my holidays and always spent lovely time with my family and friends. Many travelling and fun lover visited it annually and enjoyed the beauty of this breathtaking destination. I hope you will have a joyful time there.


  • Shannon Yearwood said

    Interesting article! It is true that some years ago Colombia was considered a dangerous place to visit but now it is not true! Nowadays Colombia is a safe country with so many beautiful places to explore! Of course, as a foreigner, you have to be careful but nothing you have to worry about! I share with you an article that shows why Colombia is now a safe place to travel as a tourist:


  • Mario said

    I couldn't help to notice at first the language used meant to be a friendly cautionary tale about traveling in Colombia; amazingly, they try to sell you travel insurance right in the middle of their "friendly" advice. I am sorry, but this does not make you sound like an impartial travel (?) website. Btw, "World Nomads" makes you think of a cool website about travel reviews/experiences. Good job on choosing a catchy name! Still, I feel like I was trapped to be sold insurance :(

    Update: I checked the rest of the website and it is an insurance agency. Who would trust this 'advice'!!?? In any case, they obviously exaggerate how dangerous is Colombia.


  • Phil Sylvester said

    Hey Mario,
    if you think we've exaggerated the danger you should take a look at someone who really has - the US State Department.

    I think we've hit the right spot between acknowledging the potential dangers and recognizing that travelers are smarter than they're given credit for by many.

    I think the advice is well balanced and it adheres to our philosophy as a travel brand:
    "keeping our travelers safe on the road is more than just about providing great travel insurance.
    We’ve created language guides for your iPhones, travel blogs so you can share your stories and travel insights to keep you informed, educated and safe when traveling.
    Every year we offer travel scholarships to provide unique learning experiences for travelers looking to further their experience in travel photography, travel film, and writing.
    And we believe you too can help change the world by giving a little back when you travel."

    We have never hidden the fact we fund all of that through insurance sales. Travel insurance is front and center on our home page.

    We strive to be impartial, but we also need to be informative. We're are always open to feedback and encourage travelers to contribute. If you think something here is wildly inaccurate we're happy to hear from you and set about the process of verifying those suggestions and changing the content accordingly.

    We don't keep our content for "members only" nor put it behind a paywall, you are free to read as much as you want, take the advice, enter a scholarship, download a guide. Buying insurance is not mandatory to be part of the Nomads community.


  • Dajiu said

    I rode a motorcycle in Colombia and I loved it. You can see more about my trip at


  • Gloria said

    I'm SO glad there lots of you out there that speak in behalf of Colombia.
    It's a wonderful place to live and visit.
    As many pointed out, common sense is your best safety. In Colombia and anywhere. (By the way, why do detractors mispell Colombia? It's ColOmbia, not ColUmbia). Maybe they are mistaken and it's ColUmbia which is dangerous.


  • Scott said

    Hello from Canada! Just reading through some of these posts and I would like to share my travel/living experience in Colombia.
    I've been traveling to Colombia for over 2 years now. 3 weeks to 2 months at a time. My wife and son both live in Santa Marta so of course, I would be living with the locals and away from most tourist areas. I've worked for a bit doing automotive jobs with my wife's father, over at this corner shop 3 blocks from where we lived. I worked there mostly for the experience. So you know I was quite involved with the locals. We often travel to La Guajira for a fishing company that my wife's father was running, which is north of Colombia and very close to the Venezuelan border.
    I've learned some good and bad things about Colombia. From the beginning to now of my travels!

    If your a female! foreign or local. Some men that I've noticed will not hold back on cat calling or being upfront about wanting to be with you sexually! Even if you're with you boyfriend or family members! Especially if you're not a local. This may come off as sexual harassment coming from western countries. Just pay no attention.

    People will approach you to sell you things like fruit, food, electronics, snorkeling packages and so on. more in (tourist areas) Be cautious if your not in tourist areas. There's a higher chance of being robbed especially if you dont know the area your in. In the tourist areas there a network of people looking out for tourists and protecting them from thieves. So at night when they start to leave so should you.

    Power and internet goes out quiet frequently! Longest I've had was 2 days without.

    Rain storms happens very often causing flooding of the sewer system. If you are in the street you will be walking in waste. High chance of being sick!

    There was a shortage of fresh water being supplied to santa marta one time in 2017 and all the local stores and restaurants closed doors to ration. This caused a small riot to occur for government officials and police. Only lasted a couple of days. Just stay away.

    I've had a bad encounter with a group of people at night when I decided to go to the all night market for a midnight snack. Ive done this multiple times before. This time me and my wife was alone and after leaving the market travelling through a poor lit street. 3 guys approached us from the corner of the next street to where we were going. They were chanting "hey you come here" in spanish while laughing. My wife grabbed my hand and turned around to rush back to the market. I was nervous cause my wife was scared! As we were pacing away 2 other guys turned from the street we were on, from the market side towards us. The market was a couple blocks away, so the two men was hard to see but they were there. My wife and I turned to the next street and started running. As i came to a dark corner of another street I turned around and saw the 5 people meet in the middle of that street from where we were. Like they were running to see if they could still see us. We made it home ok. My wife told me that was a possible robbery or in some cases rape to her.
    This just happened the last time I was there a month ago.
    I've noticed crimes increasing more in 2018 now that the Venezuelan refugee crisis is happening.
    I won't even travel to La Guajira cause it's to close to the border and there's lots of refugees flooding there.
    In santa marta there lots of homeless in the streets. Sleeping or begging.

    The hospital or mini health clinics are packed with people and doctors and staff leave at random times or dont show for work. There was a time were I had to bring my son to the hospital cause he had a fever and there in the middle of the waiting room the paramedics left a deceased man on a gurnee. I had to bring my son home sick without treatment cause the risk of diseases was to great there.

    Reports of child kidnapping, was and still is occurring around the area were my wife lives in santa marta.

    Right before I went back to Colombia a motorcycle shooting happened in Santa Marta right in front of my brother-in-law and other bystanders and he's in the Colombian military (off duty) of course.

    Just be aware that there's dangers occurring and crime is rising at the moment near cities and places by the Venezuelan borders. Avoid places that are listed as dangerous for travelers.

    Other than that the country is beautiful and it's a great life experience. It's a true paradise! The culture is wonderful! The people is nice, not to aggressive like Mexico in my opinion.


  • Diego said

    Hi :)
    I think is a matter of being really cautious and wise. I lived in Colombia most of my life and never got robbed or kidnapped (although I got pickpocketed various times). I have been robbed (or attempted to) in Ecuador, Chile, Indonesia, South Africa and even Australia and the Netherlands! Most of the times because I was were I was not supposed to be, or alone or going back home after partying.
    Be cautious, ask the locals, never take a random cab and don’t flash your valuables! Wear your backpack in front on the public transport and beware of pickpocketers.

    Diego :)


  • Mia said

    El único lugar que recomiendo de Colombia es Envigado, Medellín y las islas de San Andrés y Providencia, donde es seguro caminar por las calles y el centro de las ciudades por la enorme seguridad que se ve en sus calles y hasta en el metro hay policias y a veces el ejercito en Medellin cuidando las calles. hemos ido varias veces con mi esposo y nunca ha ocurrido nada. en San Andres islas se Habla ingles y es super seguro.
    The only place I recommend in Colombia is Envigado, Medellin and the islands of San Andres and Providencia, where it is safe to walk through the streets and the center of the cities because of the enormous security seen in its streets and even in the metro there are police and sometimes the army in Medellin taking care of the streets. We have gone several times with my husband and nothing has ever happened. in San Andres islands, English is spoken and it is super safe.


  • John said

    Holy **** this is considered safe? A good portion of the article contains advise you how to deal with an "express kidnapping". Uhh, no thanks. This doesn't sound that safe to me. In my (remote rural) area any foreigner could get completely lost, the only danger being nature herself. It seems a real shame, because I imagine there are some amazing places to visit in Colombia, but at the end of some dirt road (which I suppose is where they'll bury your body).


  • Kevin said

    I’m a 38yo man and I have been to Colombia. I’ve travelled to between 40 and 50 countries in my life and lived in 4. By far the most dangerous country I have even been to is...the USA. And I lived there for 13 years.

    Turn off Fox News and CNN and visit the world. Learn that a lot of the information you have been fed is fear based to pray on your anxieties so you keep tuning in.

    Get out of your bubble. Your ignorance is dangerous.


  • pedeo said



  • Luis Varela said

    Thank you for publishing this. This side of our story never gets told. Gracias!


  • Daphne Jane Molson said

    Thank you for your honesty criminal murders were done in Medellin andanymore occur. My young son, George Paul Molson, was
    gunned in Heredia, Costa Rica and run over by a
    bus and ruptured his organs and removed his spleen.
    He wants to live in Bogota for someone offered
    him cheap money. He likes walking on streets
    at night. Do you think he should live and work in
    Bogota, is the water sewage and work pay good?
    I have advised psychiatrists to not release him of
    an institution he put himself in for fear he will
    be abused and never earn enough money to survive well.
    Thanks for persuading me to look after him.
    Daphne Molson, his 73 year old cancered mother.


  • henry b said

    i took my 17 yo daughter to Bucaramanga for a month in 2018. She volunteered at a hospital daily and i had a little fun and explored the city.

    Westayed in nice hotels attached to malls. After dark, no walking around outside. The malls were safe and i enjoyed the city immensly. I golfed, I hiked, I met nice folks and lunched with them....

    heck, i am thinking about renting an apartment next mall for a year and take a long vacation. its very cheap in Colombia!


  • KC said

    Never go to Bucaramanga. The city smells absolutely awful. In fact, the city smells so bad that it actually woke me up from a dead sleep just now. I cannot emphasize just how terrible this city smells.

    Also, the people here are the most discourteous of anywhere I have ever been in my entire life, and I have been to some pretty bad locations around the world. However, that is a secondary concern compared to the godawful, horrendous stench that often pervades the entire city.



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  • Kelvin Acevedo said

    I went to Colombia for a bachelor party. Unfortunately, the groomsmen were all hungover, so I ended up going on an excursion with only the best man and his brother. Everything went well and when it came time for us to be picked up, the car could not make it up the mountain. We were pissed and at the same time, a little scared as the guide told us there were lions in the area. We tried not go show fear cuz although we’re Hispanic, we’re not Colombians. As we were waiting there a guy on a motorcycle was riding in our direction. We were so lucky that we had money on us, that we offered him money to take us back to “civilization.” He agreed and started with my boy who is overweight, then came back for us. I really think we are lucky to be here today, but it just shows how dangerous these third world countries could be. Never again.


  • Javk said

    Colombia sounds horrible. Just say no.


  • Tom said

    Druggies deserve to lose their shit anywhere to go.


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