Find out how to stay safe at night in Buenos Aires, even if you’re a female traveler who loves to go out at night and you’re visiting the city on your own.Buenos Aires, like any major capital city in the world, is full of do’s and dont’s when it comes to wandering around at night, particularly if you’re a female traveler going it alone. Five days ago, when I returned to Buenos Aires from Mexico, I shared a taxi with a young guy from Barcelona who had recently arrived to BA for the first time and I had to listen to the taxi driver blow safety issues in Buenos Aires out of proportion yet again.
1. What to carry…
It’s always a good idea to carry a little cash on you when travelling around at night. If you do find yourself in a bit of trouble, it can be more dangerous not having anything in your pocket to hand over. Carry at least 50 pesos on you to hand over to someone should the worst happen and carry the rest of your money in a safer place (following the tips outlined in section two below).
You should also buy yourself the latest copy of The GuiaT (pocket-sized map of Buenos Aires, which records all the bus routes in the city too). One of the best ways of getting around and of avoiding trouble in Buenos Aires is to get on one of its buses (colectivos). Having the The GuiaT to hand is an absolute must at night.
2. How to carry it…
As mentioned above, stash about 50 pesos in an easy-to-reach pocket, or in your handbag, but store at least another 50-100 pesos more (to cover evening costs and possible emergencies) in a difficult place to search. I have a very small pouch (home-made, by the way) which lays flat in the inside of my bra! 😀 and that’s where I carry the money I need for the evening. Not only is it good for keeping money safe, but it’s also a great way of taking the money you need without having to carry and handbag or purse. This means it’s a lot easier to enjoy the dancing nightlife vibe in Buenos Aires too. You don’t have to compete with the discomfort of a madly-swinging handbag all evening.
Naturally, this is all just precaution and it may seem a little over-the-top to people who live in Buenos Aires, but…
If you live in BA and something happens to you, you can phone a friend, you can easily get your credit card sent back to you at your home address, etc. If you are a female, traveling through South America and you’re alone, it’s best to be overly-cautious when it comes to carrying cash and important documents on you when out on the town at night.
3. Foolish tourist “actions” to avoid…
Don’t stop to read a map in the middle of the street. It’s the best way of letting someone know you’re not from Buenos Aires, that you’re lost and that you’re vulnerable. Likewise, save photograph-taking for when you get to your destination or for when you happen to be out at night in a group. Never appear to be lost. That means, never start wandering aimlessly, looking around you for road signs or generally dithering around in the same area. You’re more likely to fall prey to someone that way. The best thing to do is to get off of the street. Enter a kiosk and check your map or find a bar or a MacDonalds…anything!… and do your research out of sight.
4. Neighbourhoods to avoid
I’m not one to scare easily, but there are certain areas of the city which I have dared to cross at night, but I wouldn’t really recommend it. These neighbourhoods get very quiet at night, the lighting isn’t great and there just seems to be lots of places for people to be able to jump out at you from. I would simply avoid La Boca, Liniers, Constitución and Retiro after about 11pm and before about 6am, unless you really have to go or you happen to have company, not that travelling with someone else is necessarily safer though.
I’m sure there are other areas some people would add to the list and nowhere is ever really free from danger in the world, but the neighbourhoods highlighted above are the ones which have caused me to walk a little faster than normal at night and I tend to walk around believing that I’m in my own protective bubble and that nothing will ever happen to me.
If you suddenly feel threatened or you get a bad feeling when out at night and alone, don’t hesitate in trusting in your instincts. If you find yourself walking down a dark street alone and you just don’t feel safe, DON’T continue walking down that street. Do anything BUT continue walking down that street. Your instincts are your best friend and you should listen to them carefully.
Try simply crossing the road (which gives you a natural reason to look around you too). Stop dead in the middle of the street, look around and wait. This trick is great because it’s not normal behaviour. Anyway following you or hoping to catch you off-guard will also be caught off-guard by such strange habits, so try being a little crazy and unpredictable for a while. It can really help to put you at ease.
Likewise, try changing direction suddenly or entering a kiosk which happens to be open. Get on a bus – any bus – it doesn’t matter what bus or where it’s going, because you can get off again to stops later. The important thing is to get yourself out of the immediate danger you are sensing around you, whatever it may be and whether or not the danger is really a threat.
6. Dead hours to avoid
Don’t try returning to your hostel/hotel at 3am or 4am. This is a real dead time of night in Buenos Aires. You have two safe choices to choose from in general…
return to your hostel/hotel at about 1am or 2am, when a huge band of other people are also going home having slipped out for just a quick drink at a bar with friends
stay in the nightclub (boliche) until at least 5am in the summer or 6am in the winter, when the next band of night owls will also be starting to make their way back home.
Transport is not as reliable after about 2.30am and there’s little activity on the streets. Stay safe and stay where the crowds are.
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