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Is Colombia safe to travel to? Colombia safety

Hello, I am planning a trip to central and South America at the end of the year and we want to travel by bus, avoiding planes. Some people are saying its not safe to travel to Colombia, but I gather it is a facinating country to visit and very unspoilt. Has anyone been to the country who can advise on safety in Colombia - are there areas to avoid, is public transport safe? Any advice appreciated. Thanks, SJ


  • edited September 2009
    I live in florida, usa. I've been living here for about 10 years but am originally from medellin, colombia. I know colombia has a bad reputation but not everyone gets robbed or kidnapped. Don't skip it just because others have had bad experiences there. It truly is a great country with great food, beautiful ladies, and there are more good people than bad. All you have to do if you go is be cautious, like anywhere else. And if possible try not to drive at night.
  • edited 2:03AM
    To get a job in Colombia is as easy as to get a job in USA these days. You'll have to compete with very smart and well educated professionals, some of them with more than one master degrees. Besides, you must be completely bilingual.
    However, the salaries are extremely low if you compare them to the USA's or European countries... but life is much cheaper too.

    I guess it all depends on what type of job you are seeking.
  • edited 2:03AM
    I currently live in Colombia for almost a year and have traveled on a motocycle for three months straight. I have never felt a moment of danger and only complete peace. I lived in Honduras before here and I feel way more safe here. People are amazing, sights are incredible, clubs are unreal, and its overall paradise. With that said you must becare in big cities and be smart. As for the FARC and paramilitaries they are to busy to tend to the drug trade to bother travelors and they have been pushed way out of areas of travel.

    Note on the post above. Jobs are very hard to find here for foreigners and he is right to the fact this you're competing with very qualified Colombians. Colombians are very educated and progressive people.

    Ive found my home and Ive been looking all over the World...

    Colombia es pasion!
  • edited 2:03AM
    Hi, me(24 y.o female) and my mom really want to go to Colombia, particularly to Cartagena and Santa Marta, to stay there for about a month. How dangerous is it for 2 european women to be there by themselves. We are planning to fly straight to Cartagena and I already found an affordable place to stay in the old historic town. Are the beaches nice and safe in Cartagena? Now I've read so many warnings on american government websites(I live in Fla) about Colombia, so I feel a little bit scared.
    What would be the best way to bring money there not be robbed? I was thinking traveler's checks but I've read that not many places will cash them. Please advice.
    I don't speak any Spanish, would it be a big problem to get around?
    I fell in love with Colombia and really want to visit this great country!
  • edited May 2010
    I'm in Medellin Colombia now and is a great place to vist. My experience people are very friendly but if you looking to speak english it may be a bit tougher. The hotels and big business generally have bi-lingual staff but otherwise you pretty much have to 'wing it' . But overall have fell in love with this country and seriously considering to relocate..... I dont think safety in Colombia is as bad as reported as long as you stay in decent areas. Hope this helps.
  • edited 2:03AM
    It is very dangerous place. I did have Bradt book on Colombia and it is misled me. My wife and I have had a devastating experience in Bogota on March 19-22, 2010. We went there for 3 nights and been robbed by very sophisticated gang of criminals who posed as “secret police” in the broad daylight, right in the downtown in La Candelaria. We still have a deep emotional trauma. It is not about money, but thought that human's nature as evil. Bogota is still a very dangerous place to visit for foreign tourists. If it is happen during in broad daylight and their specialty is to follow foreign tourists and police is nowhere to see. It is unbelievable story of how these criminals using basic human values to take advantage of people trust in law and order.We stayed in 5 stars hotel Tanqendama, but hotel staff did not inform us. Likely, we have not been harmed physically. I have traveled in Europe, Asia and Africa and even in 1983 Venezuela and I have not seen such sophisticated organization of crimes where polite, well-dressed group of criminals disorient you with drugs and then rob you. You book provide an impression that Bogota as any big city have crimes. I beg you pardon to differ with you: I been in many cities and have not seen these type of scams. You misinform me and I hope you make correction and describe that Bogota in particular, but maybe other cities have also this scams. Many people tell me all South America is dangerous with crimes and robbery. We could be robbed at the very beginning at the airport, but we took hotel shuttle and then stayed with hotel private guide. As soon as ventured on our own we been robbed. Your book indeed misled me. I noticed very few tourists and I asked our guide. He told me that people yhink that Columbia is dangerous for tourists. It is TRUE, WITHOUT ANY DOUBT. Please correct you MISINFORMATION. O blame myself, but partially blame your book on Colombia. I think that writer spend all his travel with private security guide and never step one foot alone.
  • edited 2:03AM
    I have to strongly disagree with Rock's post. I am sorry he had a bad experience and it was probably the result of bad judgement and bad luck. I am a female solo traveller (small blond girl) who spent many months travelling Colombia (and over a year in South America), and can honestly say I felt very safe in Colombia, including Bogota. Obviously, you have to keep your wits about you and not go against common sense, however the majority of Colombian people are so trustworthy and helpful, they make the process easy. I always travelled alone on buses, planes, taxis, and through major Colombian city centers and never had any problems. I experienced polite and courteous service, and had a truely magnificant experience. Colombia is so beautiful and has come such a long way from where it was that it truely deserves a second chance- and most travellers will NOT be dissapointed. It's true what they say -the only risk is wanting to stay, and for this reason I've decided to leave my comfy north american home and move to this enchanting land of boundless beauty and endless hospitality.

    Sorry Rock you had such a bad experience, but rather than blaming books and hotel providers for a tragic chance occurance perhaps you should take more precautions when travelling regardless of where you are. Do not accept food or drinks from strangers, leave things unattended, or take strangers at face value, particularly in countries where coruption has known to play a role.

    If tragic events like 911 can happen, anything can happen anywhere at any time, and that does not necessarily reflect the state of safety in the entire country or even the particular place for that matter. I was in New York just this year and nothing blew up, and my flight was fine.
  • edited 2:03AM
    I'm in Medellin Colombia now and is a great place to vist. My experience people are very friendly but if you looking to speak english it may be a bit tougher. The hotels and big business generally have bi-lingual staff but otherwise you pretty much have to 'wing it' . But overall have fell in love with this country and seriously considering to relocate..... I dont think safety in Colombia is as bad as reported as long as you stay in decent areas. Hope this helps.
  • edited 2:03AM
    To all the people asking how safe is Colombia. I have made approx 35-40 trips to Colombia over the past 25 years without any problems at all. Ok most of my trips are in the capital Bogota and the beautiful walled city of Cartagena, plus nearby Santa Marta, which is a nice city but cannot be compared to Cartagena with it's history and archtecture.
    Do not advertise yourself as a Gringo with sparkling Rolex watches etc, dress down and please at least attempt to speak Spanish. You will love the beautiful country and people

    August 2010
  • edited 2:03AM
    Colombia is absolutely amazing... I didn't have a single problem. I did hear stories of people getting robbed but that was usually because they were drunk and wandering around dark streets at night.

    Bogota, Cartegena, Medellin, Cali, Santa Marta/Taganga... they are all great places and you'll be really disappointed if you miss Colombia because all of the other backpackers that you meet throughout South America will tell you what an amazing time they had there and how it's nowhere near as dangerous as people make out.

    I'm afraid the comment from Rock is an isolated event and I hope you have a great time in Colombia - todo es possible pero nada es seguro!!
  • edited 2:03AM
    I'm from the DC metro area and have lived in Medellin for more than 2 years now. I'm female, petite, light hair, green eyes, so I definitely stand out. As I'm starting a travel agency here (, I've traveled all over Colombia to see different places, very often by bus (although thanks to competition with some new budget airlines, sometimes it's not even worth the time to go by bus!). I have never felt in any danger. If you are a tourist and don't know where you going, you have to be more cautious (same thing in DC!!), however most people are very friendly and if you're staying in a hotel, the staff should be able to make good recommendations.

    Yes, I have some friends who have seen pick-pockets and even robberies (once again, same thing in DC!) but the important thing is to not draw unnecessary attention to yourself. For example, I leave my engagement ring behind when I travel - there is an expression here in Colombia which is "no dar papaya," or "don't give papaya." In this context, it means don't flamboyantly display wealth and draw unnecessary attention to yourself. It doesn't mean I think someone is going to attack me for my jewelry, it's just being a smart traveler! It's like wearing a money belt instead of leaving your wallet in your back pocket. Also, there is generally no need to be walking around on your own at night (unless you're in a place like Parque Lleras where it's safe), as taxis are really cheap. I saw 2 robberies in a week in Barcelona and am yet to see one here!

    My mom was NOT pleased when I decided to move to Colombia, and now she's anxiously awaiting her third visit! I love Colombia and live a very normal life here, and I do NOT live in fear. I've been to: Cartagena, Santa Marta, Parque Tayrona, Barranquilla, Bogot
  • edited 2:03AM
    I have only learned of how wonderful many parts of Latin America are just from reading within the last 24 hours and I am totally astonished. I am looking someday to become an expat as the USA is just going so downhill. As one post-er on another board said, I love my birth country but it doesn't love me,,only the almighty dollar and how much it can extract from its citizens. Sad but true.

    Regarding Colombia, I think it is forever etched in the memories of the negative talkers of the days of Pablo Escobar and his Medellin cartel, not to mention those numerous violent episodes of Miami Vice with all too many centering around some drug lord who was naturally assumed or it was in the storyline that he & his cohorts were from Colombia. Escobar and his cartel ended in 1993 but the negative talkers paint a picture of it still being the same. Come on,,,think positive for once!! The USA had the same problem in Chicago with Al Capone and 900+ murders during Prohibition but that didn't make it a less safe city for the average person. I definitly plan to check out Colombia some day. It is so sad that the mainstream media and the government here have places such as Mexico, Central America, Colombia, etc made out to be dangerous places to go visit, let alone live there but I'm beginning to see the light in it all. Thanks for the posts,,,,I'll keep reading on!!
  • edited 2:03AM
    Colombia is a very beautiful country I am an American and I stayed in Medellin for seven days. I didn't have a problem at all but I did notice some bad areas which is the same for any major city. Now, I am bi-racial so I do not look like an American and I speak really good Spanish so I'm sure an American who doesn't know any Spanish will have a language barrier. If you're thinking about going to Colombia go and learn as much Spanish as you can. If you go and you don't know any Spanish you're making you're vacation a lot harder than it should be.
  • edited 2:03AM
    I think not knowing Spanish is not really making your vacations that complicated, when I went there I was like barely saying Hola Como estas and I was glad I found a lot of Colombians who were English speaking. Yes I was in Medellin where they seem to be like the kindest Colombians all over the country. Still traveling the north coast and enjoy Cartagena, SantaMarta, Tayrona and Guajira was just amazing. I would recommend specially Tayrona which is like a total paradise. About safety I would say just Skip the crazy jungle in Cauca (where I have heard crazy things) and maybe the board with Venezuela. But wait a minute? why would you go there if there's anything to see/do?
    If you are like into doing organizing your trip with a Company or at least with a specialist so you can be secure about hotels, restaurants, guides and all the stuff you need I would recommend you

    One more thing it looks like about weather the best time to be there is withing January and February and between July - September. The rest of the year may get you a little wet with so much rain.
  • edited 2:03AM
    I am from France, 63 years old, don't speak Spanish...I can tell you that Colombia is an amazing country! I spent a year exploring the country, including Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, Riohacha, Bucaramanga, Leticia (in the Amazons) and everything in between. I have traveled all over South America and I can tell you that Colombia is the country with the most polite, educated and helpful people. Over the last 10 years the country's security has improved substantially and is safe to explore and discover. You can now travel by bus anywhere without being concern about terrorist. The army has pushed the guerrillas to very isolated and almost impossible to reach areas. The guerilla militants are decimated and I have never heard of anyone that has even seen them in person.

    Just be careful as when visiting any other country (by the way, I have noticed that countries like Honduras and Venezuela have more crime and are not as safe).

    Enjoy Colombia!
  • edited 2:03AM
    Despite what many people will have you think, travelers in Colombia are not targeted for kidnappings. Unless you are here working for a multinational corporation or the CIA, your chances of being kidnapped while on holiday in Colombia today are about the same as being attacked by a shark in Australia.

    What is a real threat to travelers safety in Colombia are scams, pickpockets, armed robberies and more serious forms of theft including drugging. From Bogot
  • edited 2:03AM
    is anybody can tell me the cost of living in bogota colombia
    april 14th i am travelling to bogota...

    i need some supermarket price details in pesos like Rice ,Suger and vagetables price .

    if you know please inform me asaap

  • edited 2:03AM
    How did your trip go? I am planning on going too but have the same fears as I am a petite blonde girl who speaks no Spanish at all. However, I am visiting a fried of mine who was born and raised there.
  • edited 2:03AM
    Hi, i am german from Frankfurt Am Main, i had a female friend called Ana Mar
  • edited 2:03AM
    Hungirl2, my name is Sophie Jaycock, i'm irish, you can look for me in FB, my mom loves to acommodate foreign people, don't worry i'm redhead, with freckles, i live in a city called Barranquilla, is the best city i've ever know, i lived in USA and Europe almost my whole life, but i just couldn't find something better than here, here i'm really happy, my dad and my mom just got divorced 4 years ago, i'm 19, the spanish won't be a hard language to learn, here the boys are AWESOME, you know what i'm talking about ;),(all of the got a sixpack), if you are interested i can acommodate you free, you'll just pay your food, here is really cheap, you can buy a month of food with just 50£ is really cheap, here is very safe to live, i walk every day around the city and i never got robbed or pickpocked, 2 years ago my mom was pickpocked (she thinks that) because she never could find her cellphone again jajaja probably she just forgot it somewhere else, i hope that won't be a trouble that i live in a 16 floor, the city is just indescribable, the clubs are the best ever, the people is amazing, polite, kind, funny, the music is unreal, the entire city is like when you watch a musical video and everything is perfect, it is just like that, the people here is very religious, and the streets always have people walking on them, i went to england, ireland, germany, italy, spain, entire USA, france even morocco, and anywhere is better than here, and wait until you fall in love with a colombian, you won't want to leave this place NEVER, just send me an e-mail: [email protected], don't worry my family just got 2 members, mom and me :D, we actually acommodate a German girls called Lena, she is very funny and pretty, blonde and tall, and an asian boy but he leaves in 2 days, i live in a penthouse duplex with 6 rooms, my mom is selling it because she is growing old ( she is 52 y.o) and she wants a house because she wants to be a great grandmother, (not for now xD), you can check it here:

    and we are not receivning more foreign people until it is sold but if you say you want to come it will be fine, i need a party partner jajaja, the building is this:

    I'd be really happy if you come, my father just gifted me a BMW and i wanna go to the beach with friends, and we are gonna travel all over the country, but if yo come here to study, the universities are great, the education is AAA (i'm not sure if was something like that, but is one of the best in the world), my brother is studying in Cartagena, my mom and i are gonna visit him next week, he helped my mom in selling the penthouse, because that i hate him, nah, just kidding, he is a pretty good guy, but he cannot come here, so we are visiting him, he is 29, i'm the last son of three, my sister died when i was 5, she died in NY, in a car accident, it was really sad, that was the main reason dad and mom began fighting, now he is living in Medellin, (another Colombian city), he is the british ambassador or something like that here in Colombia, he really loves me, but he and my brother do not have a good relationship, so hope you soon, bye.
  • edited 2:03AM
    Vijay, Bogota is really cheap, sugar the lb is just 17 cents, rice 1 dll 2 lbs, meat the lb is 4.50 dlls, milk is 1/2 dll the lt, bread you can buy a LOT BIG LOT of things with 5 dlls, eating outaide would be 3 dlls, if it is a GOOD retaurant would be max. 20 bucks, fruits and veggies are EXTREMELY cheap, anything costs higher than 1 dll, and they gro everywhe, you can find mango, avocado, banana,in the street because they fall from trees, a single person at month would be paying 75 dlls at month eating a LOT of thngs, and transportation aprox. 20 dlls, the bus s almost free, and metro is 10 cents, the country is very safe.
  • edited 2:03AM
    I think a lot of backpackers get robbed in colombia. They just dont report it and immediately leave the country. I was staying in medellin and went to the atm at the exito in poblado at one oclock in the afternoon. two guys on a motorcycle robbed me at gunpoint about 200 yards from exito(supermarket). i never reported this until now.

    while i was staying in poblado, a group of british med students came in to the hostel after a bus ride from santa maria to medellin. gunmen had stopped their bus and taken all of their belongings including the passports. be careful at atms. the thugs are watching. they now know that when the backpacker goes from point to point he has everything with him. they also know that the hostels are where a lot of cash is.

    my wife and i have traveled south america extensivelly. we were the targets of thugs 3 times and met many travelers who were robbed. a lot of people just leave and dont report the robberies. this is my first report and i was robbed in 2010 at gunpoint. the med students were robbed in 2011. i will still go back to south america even though it is a dangerous place. i think colombia is about as dangerous as it gets. the huge police presence in the downtown medellin is there for a reason.

    the majority of the people in colombia are wonderful. however, there are a lot of thugs.
  • edited 2:03AM
    When travelling in South America.....remember the disparity of income between North Americans, Europeans, and South Americans. Just because we may be richer, does not necessarily mean we are smarter. I keep under $100 in my wallet for spending. My wallet is in my buttoned back pocket and I wear a jacket. My credit cards, except 1 visa as well as my passport are in the safe at the hotel along with jewelry. I keep any emergency cash in this small invisible fanny pack on my waist. Leave the I-Phone in the safe and carry a bigger camera with camera back...they are not as easy to snatch.

    Most people are honest and most crimes in developing countries are crimes of opportunity. Speak the language.....or at least some case of emergency.
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