Buenos Aires Travel Guide

Health & Safety

Emergency numbers
General Emergencies Line - Toll free call 911
Emergency - Ambulance emergency service SAME (Immediate Health Emergency Service), Toll free call. 107
Tourist Ombudsman - Communicate with the Tourist Ombudsman, phone number: +54 (11) 4302 7816. To contact personally, can go to Ave. Pedro de Mendoza 1835 ("Benito Quinquela Martin" Museum) in the neighborhood of La Boca. From Monday to Sunday, from 10AM-6PM.
Tourist Police Station - Corrientes 436. 0800 999 5000 (toll free)/4346 5748 (turista@policiafederal.gov.ar). Provides information in English, Italian, French, Portuguese, and Ukrainian.
Crime

Many people travel in Buenos Aires without incident, but as with any large city crime is an issue for tourists and residents alike. Conduct yourself intelligently as you would in any large city.

The most frequent incidents of crime involve distraction theft, bag snatching, and armed robberies in the street, in taxis and in restaurants. Distraction thefts commonly occur in public areas such as internet cafes, train stations, and bus stations. You should keep a close eye on your personal possessions and bags at all times. In some public spaces you will find that chairs with webbing and clips to clip to your bag or purse to the chair. An aid in avoiding problems is, dress to blend in and avoid carrying lots of items. It safer to travel just the bare necessities in your front pocket.

While using public transportation or walking around common sense should be used (as in every big city).

In a common scam one person sprays something on the victim like hand cream mustard or the like. Another person tries to help the victim. There can be several people at once working in coordination. The object is to distract you from your belongings and, in the chaos, steal from you. Avoiding confrontation is their object so do the same. Ignore their 'help', just focus on your belongings and extracting yourself from the scene.

Another common occurrence is the slitting of handbags in crowded places. Be particularly attentive in popular tourist areas, such as San Telmo. You should avoid carrying large amounts of cash or wearing ostentatious jewelery.

For kidnappings (very rare with tourists), victims are grabbed off the street based on their appearance and vulnerability. They are made to withdraw as much money as possible from ATM machines, the victim is usually quickly released unharmed.

The dangers of hailing a taxi has received lots of press but is not common. Petty crime continues (like taking indirect routes or incorrect changes during payment). Taxicabs that loiter in front of popular tourist destinations like the National Museum are looking for tourists, and some of these drivers are less honest than others. Do things like the locals would be a good choice, like stopping a cab a block or two away on a typical city street.

If a woman (or even a man) apparently normally calls you on the street to see an "apresentación" and earn massage girls for free, without commitment, the first time, do not pay attention and leave! In fact, they are agents of brothels. Once taken "inside", they do not let you out, physically preventing you, until they disburse a large sum of money. This type of scam is relatively common in the center, especially in Corrientes Avenue, Florida Street, and Lavalle Avenue.

Money

Counterfeit money is frequent, especially from a regular exchanger of currencies from people of various lifestyles (like taxi drivers), so be on the lookout for counterfeit bank notes being given with your change. Some counterfeit notes are very well done and may even have what appears to be a watermark. Get to know the notes and exactly what they look and feel like, also identify the water marks and serial numbers. When exiting a taxi, hold up your notes to the light to check them before final exit, or better yet, use exact change in taxis.

Be careful of counterfeit money. There have been occasions where genuine bills have been exchanged for counterfeit ones. Counterfeit bills are mostly fifties, given as changes. Hundreds are frequently given back to tourists by deceiving exchangers claiming that counterfeit bills were given to them, after they have switched the bill given to them with a fake one. Using exact or almost exact changes will pretty much solve most of this kind of problems.

Don't accept torn or damaged bills, as they are difficult to use.

Characteristics of good currency can be found at the Argentine Central Bank web site .

Ezeiza International Airport

As any large airports in many countries, there are records of airport staff stealing from the passengers.

In July 2007, Argentina's TV network "Canal 13" conducted an investigation revealing that several security operators at the airport are stealing valuable objects such as iPods, digital cameras, cellular phones, sun glasses, jewelry, laptops, and other valuables while scanning the luggage of passengers.

According to the special report, security operators at the airport are supposed to check each luggage before putting it into the plane; however, some operators take advantage of the scanner machine to detect valuable objects and steal them. The report states that this event occurs every day. The stolen items include anything from electronic devices to perfumes and works of art or even expensive clothes (such as football jerseys or leather coats).

Travelers and residents are strongly encouraged to place high-value items in your carry-on luggage to prevent any incidents. However, since these carry-on luggages will be scanned too before being carried into the plane, their insides are also at risk of being stolen. With the staff or accomplice distracting the passengers (usually when the staff is searching for any metal or other item on the passenger), while another staff or accomplice steal the items. Another extra accomplice from outside the airport will usually pick up the items later.

Wrapping your baggage and carry-on luggage when leaving and arriving is an idea, since for only around US $16,50. you can discourage robbers from opening (and probably breaking) it. However for checked-in baggage, it can not be used for passengers exiting and entering the U.S.A., since the T.S.A. demanded that all checked-in baggage to be easily accessible. While wrapping a carry-on luggage will pretty much also denied you of quick access to the carry-on luggage.

Before and after check-in, It would be better to carry only 1 carry-on item and place all of your items (including tickets, wallets, handphones, any metal such like a beltbuckle, and so on) securely inside and not easily accessiblle, requiring the entire carry-on item to be stolen and only 1 item to be watched upon. Travelling in groups will also allow you to divide the task of minding your belongings, one person or more can guard the belongings, while another one is being scanned by the metal detector.

Stay healthy

The plumbing water in Buenos Aires, unlike in many Latin American cities, is drinkable straight from the tap.

Public hospitals are available for tourists, with 24 hr emergency service, without charge.

There are many stray animals in the city. They usually do not cause harm, but be careful not to touch them as they may harbor diseases and you may not be aware of their temperament.

source: Wikivoyage

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