Colombia | Playa blanca No Go and book your own taxisGeorge Smith | 15 May 2023
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.
The guy was really friendly for the journey and tolk us what to look out for and stuff while we were on the beach. Upon arrival he took us to a boat lot and said he had got us a boat as it's a really long walk along the beach. We got in the boat and they took us out to sea, threatened us and stole around £500 pounds from us (3 mil pesos). They then dropped us at our hostel and said we know where you are staying so if you tell anyone we have a photo of you and we will find you - really scary.
We then got to our hostel and asked the lady if we could pay for our room by card as we had just been mugged. She wanted to know what happened and we kept it pretty short as we were really scared but she said that the boat scam is very common and that the taxi driver and likely the receptionist would have been in on it (most likely as some of our friends at the hostel did exactly the same thing with the receptionist and exactly the same thing happened when they got to playa Blanca).
After telling her what happened, she proceeded to try and add on zeros to the card machine when paying for the room (trying to charge us £1,600 instead of £160 for our hostel) which my friend spotted and stopped. They then showed us our room which had rusty barbed wire hanging down in strips and the mattresses were covered in bugs and dirt and we're super stained when we looked in another room. We didn't feel safe so we have come back to Cartagena.
So all in all: if your going to go to playa blanca, go for a day trip and leave way before daylight. Not gonna lie the beach was super crowded and there weren't any other backpackers there so would give it a hard miss. Also when you want a taxi find a yellow taxi and get their number and stuck to that taxi. DO NOT GET A TAXI BOOKED BY THE HOSTEL.
George Smith 15 May 2023
Also stick to hostel world - don't use anything else as it's most likely a scam
Charlie McGrath 22 May 2023
I was delighted to help George out, he rang me at midnight (UK) to seek advice. He was really just calling to get reassurance & confirm his decision to move hostel as his gut feeling was that it was at the hostel that the scan started.
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