Our Americas page covers South and Central America as well as the USA and Canada. As a result,there is a huge range of issues facing travellers.
In South and Central America we would highlight the risk of crime, a number of the scams below relate to this. Too often people are being mugged at night when carrying a debit card - next trip will be to the ATM under duress so don't go out with one in high crime areas. Dengue Fever and now Chikungunya Fever is a persistent risk.
Big thanks to Sam Lebus for all his contributions.
Colombia | Tips for hostels in Colombia
Tips for hostels in Colombia - Minca, Santa Marta (Costenio Beach), Medellin (also with restruant recs). Would advise getting out of Bogota as quickly as you can as there are far more beuautiful and interesting places to go in Colombia. Cali is great for Salsa and Catagena is also really cool.
Colombia | Playa blanca No Go and book your own taxis
My friends and I had looked at beaches to go to for a couple days and heard playa Blanca was really nice. We booked a hostel on booking.com (first mistake) then asked our hostel receptionist to book us a taxi to our hostel. The guy whatsapped someone that were guessing he knew as an unlicensed taxi (non yellow taxi) turned up. We thought it was okay as the hotel booked it for us - this happened at another place we were at but we were okay as we were in a big group - just book your own taxis - YELLOW TAXIS ONLY as their registered and no one ever gets robbed in them.
Colombia - Cartegna | Extortion demand
I have had reported of 4 Gap year travellers being threatened by a gang in bar in Cartegna to hand over money. It seems some or all of them were escorted to an ATM. If this happens just comply. However this just reinforces our teaching just to take out cash when going out in bars and restaurants. Always ask the hostel owners as to where the high crime spots are.
Colombia | Bogota
Alright for a night or two. Not masses to see. Good nightlife but have to be careful. The Masaya is a nice hostel as is the Cranking Croc which is near the main plaza and is run by an Aussie.
The Gold Museum is a must which is also close to the main Plaza. Be aware of corrupt working in tandem with drug dealers.
Colombia | Medellin
Loved the city very cool lots to see. Can go to Guatape from here.
Such fun nightlife (Thursday - Sunday) - La Oculta Club, v cool place
Colombia | Tips for the North Coast
My friends & I have just finished 4 weeks exploring the north coast, here are my key points:
Colombia | Santa Marta and the Caribbean Coast
The Caribbean Coast is lovely but avoid Santa Marta.
Peru | Good Tips
Cruz Del Sur excellent night buses and BCP for ATMs.
Bolivia | General Lessons from South America
- Only pay online in advance for activities if you really need to, prices are always a rip off
- Hosteworld is excellent for checking and booking hostels, always check the reviews first
- Go to the bus station in person to check times and prices and ask to see the bus facilities
- Haggle on everything you can and aim for three quarters, especially if you're in a big group
- As a general rule, book hostels which include free breakfast, you can stock up for lunch too
Bolivia | Potosí Club Scam
In Potosí in Bolvia, we were befriended by a Bolivian lady working in our hostel who promised to take us to the best local club for the Independence Day celebrations; against my better judgement, our group agreed a price and took a taxi, which went to a very sketchy part of town where the taxi was surrounded by bouncers and we were told we couldn't have our money back when we said we didn't want to enter the club, which was empty and dangerous - in such situations, forget about the money and don't get out of the taxi.
Bolivia | Bus Overpacking Scam
Having got on an oversold local bus out of Uyuni in Bolivia, we were told that we were in the wrong seats and almost pressured into moving to the back of the bus, whilst others tried to move our bags for us - be firm, repeat that your ticket is correct and keep bags on you.
Chile | Border Receipts
When entering Chile they give you a receipt - keep this as you need it to leave the country!!
Colombia | hostel recommendations
Most hostels in colombia are super nice, make sure you book them advance - good places get booked up really really quickly.
recommendations: Bogota - Republica / Medeillin- black sheep or Happy Buddha/ Cartagena- Media Luna/ Santa Marta - La Brisa Loca/ El Rio (on the coast, you must stay here - one of the nicest hostels we were in in SA)/Minca - Finca Carpe Diem or Casa Elemento
Colombia, Argentina, Brazil | Uber
Uber - safe and easy way to get about in many of the big cities in South America
South America | Recommended bus companies
Cruz del Sur in Peru and Turbus in Chile are very good bus companies.
Use Bamba Experience. They book all your buses for you and it takes away a lot of stess!
Guatemala | Loved Guatemala
Highly recommend going to Guatemala. I was in Antigua for a month volunteering at a school and it was was on my favourite towns.
Chile | Careful with day sack on buses
We were travelling on an overnight bus from Sucre to San Pedro de Atacama and when I got on the bus I stupidly took off my money belt to sleep. Halfway through the journey we stopped at a terminal so the bus could fill up on petrol
Guatemala | Hostel recommendations
Great hostel when stayig in Antigua. I highly recommmend the Doozy Koala hostel.
Mexico | Proof of onward travel
Flight from London-Mexico City with Aeromexixo
Colombia | Bags on buses
Keep bags on laps during bus journeys as people get on and off these buses regualrly and many will attempt to pinch the bags from below your seat.
Colombia | San Blas Islands
If you have left over money would defintley advise doing the San Blas island where you start in Cartegena and finish on Panama coast. Most amazing Carribean islands where some tours sleep on island and others boated round them. I boated which was awseome 1 day of rough sea before you get there but then flat from then on. Blue Sailing is a very good company to go with.
Bolivia | Buses to Rurrenabadue
i defintley advise going to Rurrenebaque to see the jungle but try if you can to go in the high season where you will have more chance of seeing animals on Las Pampas trip. However do not take the bus there if you are strapped for cash. One of the tunnels was shut so we had to go along death road for it a bit while passsing big trucks and 90 metre drops. You don't sleep for 16 hours as the chair doesnt go back whilst scared for your life along with water dripping on your head from a whole in the roof.
Chile | Bus stops - pay attention!
Make sure when your waiting for your bus you sit up against the wall on your bags as someone in my group switched off for a second and had there whole bag stolen from behind them. This was in Santiago where also the classic bird poo trick was pulled of some friends where they looked up to sky for moment to see these imaginary birds and had their small rustsack with passport and everything stolen.
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Colombia | Credit card security & taxis
Sounds very obvious but make sure you never pay taxis in Bogata or anywhere as it goes by card as some friends of mine got 6 grand wiped of their card. They used a debit card which allowed direct access to their bank account.
Brazil | Proof of onward travel
Brazil was the only country that we needed to have proof of onward travel for.
Ecuador | Daybags
Always keep your daybags on your lap when travelling.
Colombia | San Gil - Great place to stay Hostel Macondo
Thiis hostel, owned by Australian Shaun, it superb. Its in a excellent location, is safe with CCTV and lockers. They can organise all activities.
Colombia | More expensive than Bolivia, Ecuador
Colombia is certainly a good 15 to 20% more expensive. Expect to pay up to US $8 -10 for a dorm room in Bogotá.
Colombia | Stay Mirca not Santa Marta
Whilst Santa Marta is good transport hub I wouldn't stay there. Mirca, 600m above it and about 20 mins away by local transport is much nicer. I stayed Casa Lomo - recommended.
Brazil | Bus website with timings and prices in Brazil
buscaonibus.com or just google busca onibus. Gives timings and allows you to book online
Brazil | Football matches in Rio
Be careful. Do some research prior to going as crowd violence is often an issue & have an escape plan!
Ecuador | Quito walking tour
Free walking tour done by great Irishman
Ecuador-Peru | La Balsa Border crossing
The quietest and most remote of the three borders points, really worth it though.
Colombia | Carrying passport when travelling even on day trips
Making sure it's on you when travelling for there are often random police checks as without it you will be questioned and possibly detained.
Panama | Panama and Costa Rica border.
Leave plenty of time, very slow.
Nicaragua | Only scraped the surface
Isla Ometepe, San Juan del Sur and chicken buses
Guatemala | A possible route through Guatemala
El Remate (Tikal), Flores, Semuc Champey, Antigua, Lake Atitlan. Travel
Guetemala | Difficulty of using Visa cards in many ATMs in Guatemala
Difficulty of using Visa cards in many ATMs in Guatemala and tips on those which will take them
Mexico | Tourism Tax
Unknown tax whilst leaving the country
Belize | Advice on Belize and the Cayes
Caye Caulker and San Ignacio
Mexico | Brief guide to Cancun, Tulum, Lake Bacalar and a good bus comapny
Brief guide to Cancun, Tulum, Lake Bacalar and travel. The bus company ADO is good and efficient.
Brazil | Visit Pantanal- stay Pousada EcoVerde in Cuiaba
I really recommend staying at Pousada Ecoverde in Cuiaba and then going with Eco Verde tours into the Panatanal. The hostel is close to the centre, many of the staff there speak English and its very well run.
Uruguay | Punta del Diablo, much nicer than punta del este
Argentina | Buenos Aires- hostels
Where to stay and not to stay in BA
Argentina | Retiro Bus Station Trick
A common to trick at Retiro Bus station. We were pre-warned and were able to avoid being robbed. So be aware......-
Ecuador | The Northern Jungles
A great way to experience the jungle, you end up in the middle of no where, with great guides. It is a top place to visit if you are going to Edcuador.
Argentina | Arrival at Buenos Aires International Airport
I found a relatively cheap but safe way of getting to your hostel. It was with a company called Manuel Tienda Leon. You will find them immediately on the left as you enter the public area of the airport following baggage collection. Cost Peso 55 - about US$13.
Bolivia | Rurrenbaque, 3 Day Pampus Tour.
A very different trip to do and off the beaten track.
Bolivia | Mine Tours
Take a tour into a mine in Potosi !!
Argentina | Buenos Aires
Football tickets to see Boca Juniors - read more to find good advice on getting tickets.
Peru | Robbed in taxi
Robbed from a taxi within the first hour of in Lima, Peru. Some man smashed through the window of my taxi and stole my bag.
Peru | Taxi Robbery
Taxi Robbery in LIma - Never take a taxi directly off the street at night in Lima! It's not worth the risk. We got robbed, it was a clever set - up. Read full article article so yyou are prepared.
Peru | Bottled Water
Be aware of Bottle water - Know where its coming from, and check the seal is still intact!
For Travel Safety tips relevant to you, click below;
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