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I've heard a few warnings about going to La Boca, especially at night. I'm curious how dangerous it is in the area.

I don't really know how one would rate the level of danger, but what I'd like to know is if it's a place that should be avoided at night at all costs or if I should just be a bit more cautious when I'm there.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Not sure if this should be an answer or comment, as I've only been there during daytime...

As you probably know, parts of Boca are very touristy (Caminito especially, and the stadium kind of too). Some areas of Boca, beyond Caminito, are worse security-wise: to the east and south (if I recall correctly), and especially across the water. A map in my guidebook showed them as "areas not considered safe for tourists". I'd avoid those parts even in daytime.

If you have to go there (near Caminito and the stadium) at night, at least have as few valuables on you as possible, and use caution. BA surely has worse areas (I mean, La Boca is not a villa), but then, what peter_gent wrote.

The only relevant anecdote I can share is that when I walked from Caminito to the stadium in the afternoon / evening, taking photos, a local woman warned me that it's not so safe around there, gesturing at the camera. I appreciated the advice and put it away. Didn't experience anything threatening though. (I took the bus from downtown to Boca and back, which meant a bit of walking out of the main tourist zone too.)

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As with anywhere travelling, exercise a reasonable amount of precaution. La Boca has a (deserved) reputation for being one of the more dangerous areas of BA, but that does not mean you cannot safely visit there.

  • Don't dress like a tourist, leave jewellery, big cameras at your hotel or hostel
  • Get advice from your hotel / hostel on the safe areas to go. Don't leave this area, it's perfectly safe there, and is fairly heavily policed (WITHIN the area - even one street outside this area can get dodgy)
  • Don't follow locals out of this area
  • Go during the day, and make sure you know how you are getting in and out (bus times, locations, etc).
  • As always, be aware

Having said all of that, it is worth the visit (if you are into to that kind of thing), it's a small, but interesting area, and if you are taking the proper precautions you don't need to be paranoid / alarmed.

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Pretty dangerous. I was mugged there at gunpoint after deciding to walk in a straight direction back to town... a good anecdote but not something to repeat (in short though if you go to south America you will probably be mugged at some point).

I've heard stories of youths ketteling foreigners at games outside the stadium for tickets and god knows what else.

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Could you explain what you mean by "ketteling"? –  jpatokal Feb 6 '13 at 1:26
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@jpatokal Not sure from context, but this is the meaning I know: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kettling –  therefromhere Feb 6 '13 at 5:16
    
Is South America really more dangerous than Mexico and Central America? I've been to those a whole bunch of times and was never mugged - I did finally get pickpocket one time in Managua though. –  hippietrail Feb 6 '13 at 11:31
    
@hippietrail - I'd say it depends where you go, and how you look, and to a certain degree luck. I was in South America for 6 months, I didn't stick to the tourist areas, and was never mugged... but I did go with the expectation that I might get mugged at some point. Worse then Mexico? Perhaps a little, in some areas, but it depends where you go I guess –  Chris Feb 6 '13 at 22:08
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@hippietrail: Any such blanket statement about 'South America' makes little sense. There are dangerous and safe parts in pretty much every country (and every major city) on the continent. –  Jonik Feb 7 '13 at 7:59

As others are saying, La Boca is dangerous, but at the same time that doesn't mean you have to avoid it.

Buenos Aires can be a very secure place on one block and a really scary dangerous one on the other block, you have to learn how to navigate the city.

The same is true for La Boca. There are zones of La Boca where there is almost a 100% chance that absolutely nothing will happen to you, sadly the opposite is true for other areas of the neighborhood and the city.

If you can I would suggest going to La Boca with more people, either locals or if you are going with other tourists I would suggest going with some kind of tour (I know it's not that exiting, but going with a group of tourists without knowing the area is not a good idea). Also, even with a tour there are no really good reasons to go at night.

If you are planning to go to watch Boca Juniors the same applies. There are tons of "tours" to the stadium, but the best option would be to go with locals. If you know anyone in the city try to go with them. Usually they will know better than you the "codes" of the city, how to use public transportation to get there and if taking a taxi how to make sure it's a good one.

Please take into account that literally hundreds of tourists go every day to La Boca, although it sounds dangerous it's not a war zone, just be smart, avoid looking too rich or too poor and you will be fine.

You might want to consider taking the Yellow Bus. Actually they currently have a magazine only about La Boca (I have no idea how good or bad is it though)

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As everyone has told, the least touristy parts of La Boca are quite dangerous. I think it's important to point out, however, that muggers in Buenos Aires generally don't hurt their victims if they comply. If you are mugged, just give the mugger what he asks for and you should be safe. It's not a nice experience by any measure, but your physical integrity is probably safe.

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My answer would back up what I've read here so far. Caminito is cool, on the walk to the stadium you should use caution, but beyond the stadium you should probably not venture too far.

I did with a group of people and as predicted the two who were straggling got held up at gunpoint by a drugged out guy. He took the nice camera hanging around the guys neck and took off.

La Boca is cool...just don't go to where everyone tells you...Don't Go.

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Again, it all will depend on people's level of experience and, to some extent, luck.

The areas around Caminito and the stadium, especially when a game is on, can be very crowded and so the types of crime might be more pick-pocketing type. However, even one alley off a main street and it can change quickly - a 70-yr old NZ woman in my hostel got attacked and her tango shoes stolen when she went down the wrong alley on her own.

There are always some things you can do to alleviate some of the danger. Don't walk alone. Have guys in the group. Stay around the crowds. Keep vigilant. Don't go out at night alone (I made that mistake).

My last time there, I stayed in a hostel in San Telmo. I am completely serious when I say someone was robbed every single day - and from all over the city. One was the woman in La Boca. A German guy was held up for cash (in San Telmo), and then someone tried to rip his backpack off him a couple of days later (in Recoleta). I got a drunken demand for cash from two locals when walking in San Telmo at night - I outran them, fortunately.

Always speak to the staff at your hostel, they'll tell you what's happening, what not to do, where to go, and how to stay safe.

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Wow this does make it sound worse than Mexico City, but about equal to Barcelona when I was there twelve years ago. –  hippietrail Feb 6 '13 at 11:37
    
Sad to hear so many people were robbed while you were in BA - I visited in 2004, and while things were tough, it was still only areas of La Boca that were really dangerous. Anyone with their wits about them could feel reasonably secure in San Telmo for example. I even spent time with some people I met who lived in one of the Villa miseria, and never felt threatened. Hopefully it is something that will improve again if the economy in the city improves too. –  David Hall Feb 6 '13 at 12:35
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Seriously, a downvote? It'd be great if the downvoters could explain their reasoning - it's an accurate and honest answer with details, and strategies for staying safe. –  Mark Mayo Feb 6 '13 at 15:41

protected by Mark Mayo Sep 22 '13 at 22:08

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