I have been in Argentina for around 3 months now, and even though some of the things were mentioned during our orientation, you actually need to experience them by yourself in order to make the most beneficial choices. Here are some of my personal opinions regarding the dos and dont's in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Do: Learn how to use public transportation. Argentina, especially Buenos Aires, offers an extensive public transportation system, including buses, trams, and subways. These are generally safe and affordable ways to get around the city. Invest in a SUBE card, which allows you to use multiple modes of transport with ease. Lastly, keep track of your stops. The buses in Argentina do not indicate which stop you are in which means you might need to use your phone a bit more in the bus to check until you learn how to get around to places you go often.
Don't: Neglect safety when using public transportation. While the majority of your journeys will be trouble-free, it's essential to stay vigilant and keep an eye on your belongings, especially during rush hours. Avoid showcasing expensive items, and be cautious in crowded spaces. Also, I would recommend not taking your phone out during a stop when the doors open because that is when people will grab your phone and run. Lastly, do not sit at the seat that is next to the door because you have higher chances of someone grabbing your stuff and running away. Personally, it happened to me that I was sitting in the seat next to the doors (mistake number one) and took my phone out during the stop (mistake number two) and someone stepped in the bus and tried to grab my phone. I was lucky and I held on to it so nothing happened in the end.
Do: Carry your phone discreetly. Having a smartphone is essential for navigation, communication, and capturing memories. However, avoid using your phone openly in crowded areas and try to buy something so you can tie it to prevent theft.
Don't: Leave your phone unattended. Phone theft can be a common issue in Argentina, particularly in busy areas and tourist hotspots. Pickpocketers here are always more than one. There is always someone who distracts you and a different person who pickpockets you. Of course, do NOT become paranoid or rude to people but if someone talks to you always be aware of your stuff. Be especially cautious in concerts and festivals. I lost my phone (or got pickpocketed) during a music festival here during a mosh pit. When I went to buy a new phone the girl from the shop told me that around 50-60 people go to buy a new phone every day because they got pickpocketed/robbed. From my program until now it has been at least 5.
Safety in general:
Being aware of getting pickpocketed should not freak you out about overall safety. I feel a lot more safe in Argentina than in the U.S. (particularly as I live near L.A. ) Taking public transportation (union station) in L.A. is actually one of the scariest things late at night. I would also not feel safe walking around after a certain time. In Argentina, I feel safe walking around the areas of Recoleta, Palermo, and Retiro. This is not based on statistics but I personally feel that there are less violent crimes here compared to the U.S.
Clubs and Nightlife:
Do: Experience the vibrant nightlife. Argentina is famous for its lively and diverse nightlife scene. It's an integral part of the culture, and you should definitely immerse yourself in it. Explore clubs, bars, and live music venues to fully enjoy the Argentine spirit.
Don't: NEVER be at the club at 12 a.m. You should aim to be there after 2 a.m. People here go out until late (around 6 p.m.) so arriving at the club early would not be the move since it will probably be empty.
Do: Same goes for eating times. Dinner here is around 9 p.m. so you better be prepared for this, especially if you live in a homestay. Enjoy lots of good and affordable food while you are here. You have to try empanadas, milanesas, dulce de leche, mate, medialunas, and alfajores for sure!
Do: Bring cash from home. This is probably the best way to go. You will get the most favorable rate and you will not have any transaction fees. When you are out of cash, Western Union is probably the best way to go. Setting an account is very easy, you just need to download the app.
Don’t: Do NOOOOT exchange too much money all at once. Argentina has a serious inflation so the rate can change depending on the week. So if you were to exchange I would recommend you doing so every week or every other week (depending on the transaction fees you have too). You also probably want to limit your credit or debit card use since you don’t get a really good rate compared to Western Union.
To conclude, I would like to make a disclaimer that I do not want this dos and don’t to end up being an overgeneralization or promote thinking more stereotypically about things. Stereotypes are often incomplete and can be very harmful. These are things that are common but they do not necessarily always happen. Also just because someone talks to you it does NOT mean they want to pickpocket you. They might just be friendly and talkative, which is actually the most common case here!
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I am a travel enthusiast; originally from Greece but have lived in three different continents, including Asia, Europe, and North America. I am excited to live in Buenos Aires and love the constant movement of the city and its vibrant culture.