Trip to Colombia - Safe to travel in Bogota?

I'm planning to have a trip in Bogota Colombia as backpackers is it safe to travel in Bogota?

I had some very serious problems in Bogota this last trip. Within a two week span, I was robbed once and woke up in the hospital, and two more times taxis almost got me but I figured out what was happening and I got out of it.

Three times in two weeks.

There are things to see and do in Bogota. But nothing worth dying for or worth the amount of anguish that I suffered after being robbed.

But I don't know your circumstances. I'm a very white looking guy. I look like a professional man, and it makes me a juicy target.

Perhaps you won't have any trouble. I didn't think I'd have any trouble either. I've been to some horrible places in the world and never got robbed. But Bogota got me. And it wasn't nice.

Send me a PM or even post here. I'll tell you where to go. There are very safe places in Colombia. But Bogota ain't one.

BrandonBP :

Bogota this last trip. Within a two week span, I was robbed once and woke up in the hospital, and two more times taxis almost got me but I figured out what was happening and I got out of it.

I’m glad you made it through that robbery/hospital episode, Brandon.

You have mentioned the taxi problems on another recent post.  What did happen, and how did you get out of it those two times?

cccmedia from Medellín [/b]


If you decide to reduce your time in Bogotá, consider as an alternative the Coffee Axis, which includes the cities of Armenia and Manizales .. and the pueblos of Salento and Filandia.

None of the places I mention above has the crime problems that plague areas of the capital.  And the Cafetero area has some of the most beautiful countryside you’ll find in South America.

cccmedia from Medellín

cccmedia :

You have mentioned the taxi problems on another recent post.  What did happen, and how did you get out of it those two times?

I was at a hostel in Chapinero. If you're unfamiliar, Chapinero is a very nice area of Bogota full of great shops and restaurants. It's very clean and feels very safe. But that's how they get you. When I went for my replacement passport after getting robbed, the case officer at the US Embassy told me that most gringos get robbed in Chapinero because it's where the rich people hang out. So that's where the robbers go.

So, at this hostel I had met some Europeans in Canadians and the whole group was going out for beers. And ironically I told them, "Hey the scopolamine druggings here are very real. I've heard too many personal stories about getting drugged, and I hung out with a Canadian guy last week that told me it had happened to him twice in Medellin. And he was an honest guy and I believed him, so watch your beers. It's a real threat."

So 9 or 10 of us travelers go to a bar with three floors. We get beers and go to the third floor. People are dancing and having a huge time, but it's very hot and the air is thick. So I tell my traveler companions I'm going downstairs to get some fresh air and have a smoke (I realize the irony in that statement).

I go downstairs outside on the street and meet some Colombian guys hanging out on the street drinking and smoking. I'm used to Colombians being hospitable, and these people were welcoming. They said have a seat and hang out. So I did. We're outside a bar in a major street, so I'm safe. Right?

I was watching my drink like I always do. The only thing I can figure is that one time I set my beer down. The guy on my left introduced me to a man, and I set my beer down to shake his hand. The guy on my right must have swapped our beers. It only takes a second.

The next few minutes, they're trying to talk me into going to a party. And I know better, and I politely decline. They were like, "Man, my sister and her friends are at this party and let's go have some drinks and a good time and meet some chicas." And I still know better and say, "Thanks, but I'm here with friends from my hotel."

But then the roofy takes effect. They're trying to talk me into leaving still, and suddenly I said, "Yeah, let's go!" And the last thing I remember is getting into a cab with them. And I NEVER would have done that, not even drunk out of my mind. I would NEVER EVER get into a car with some guys in Bogota! I was scopolamined and had no self control. I'm surprised I even remember getting into the cab. But there was a taxi involved. They weren't robbing me in the back of a taxi without the driver being in on it.

I awoke the next day in a hospital bed with a catheter setting my d+ck on fire. I still had on all my clothes and even was still wearing my boots. But I immediately realized what had happened to me. The nurses said I was lying in the street unconscious and someone called an ambulance. I had a black eye and road rash on my cheek. I wasn't beaten up, but they had shoved me out of the car onto the sidewalk onto my face, I think.

They took everything. To wake up in a foreign country without any money or credit cards or a phone or a passport is not fun. It didn't ruin my 3 month vacation, but it was a lot of stress. If I hadn't known a Bogota girl that took me in, then I would have been homeless in Colombia sleeping in the streets without anything to eat.

Many Bogotenos after that al told me stories about being drugged or of friends being drugged. It's not a wive's tale. … -will.html
"The Most Dangerous Drug in the World"

I'll tell you about the other two almost robberies later. I'm going to go watch some more Netflix. :)

Great post, Brandon. :top:   That is the ultimate cautionary tale for Latin America travelers.

Reminds me of my visit to San José, Costa Rica, years ago when I foolishly walked alone on a deserted street in a known ‘bad area’ at midnight.  Two men approached me from different directions, one from the rear.

That guy got hold of me, knocked me out -- scopolamine?, maybe, or another drug, I don’t know -- and I woke up lying in the street, woozy, almost half an hour later.  My watch and $55 in cash were gone.  I reported the crime but did not need to go to the hospital.

I imagine Brandon already knows the following, but it bears repeating for others....

1.  Do not carry your original passport if you’re going out at night (nor most other times).  I have been routinely stopped various times during my years visiting Latin American cities... and have never had a problem showing a copy of my passport -- not the original -- to policía.

2.  Do not carry all your cash in your pockets.  Use a secret-hiding-device or keep some cash in the hotel such as in your guest-room security box or the reception safe.

3.  Do not carry both (or all) of your Visa / MasterCards at the same time if you can keep at least one at the hotel.

Naturally, some of these rules can’t be followed if you’re traveling between cities on a given day.  Still, divide and hide cash .. avoid drinking scenarios in unsecured areas .. and make things as hard as possible for ladrones, delincuentes y malditos.

Thanks again, Brandon, for assisting your fellow travelers, going forward.


The rules above that CCC give are golden and I almost always follow them. But I had just checked into a new hostel and there were other bags in my room. So I knew someone else was staying in my room, I hadn't met them, and there were no places to put my lock on my locker.

And I know this will sound horrible, but travelers familiar with hostels in Colombia will tell you... you're normally fine with other gringos and European, Aussies, etc. in your room. They tend to be honest. But if you have Colombians in your room, then they may go through your things. And that's a stereotype and a generalization, but I had seen some Colombian guests downstairs and didn't know if they were my roomies. So it was a crapshoot. Carry my things or leave them in an unsecured room. Else, I always carry copies of my ID and leave my cards at the hotel.

I was with 10 other gringos and usually you're safe in numbers. But I had separated myself from the group. I consider myself to be a guy that can take care of myself. And I can sniff out danger and get out of trouble. But if you get the roofy, it only takes 2 or 3 minutes, and there is NOTHING you can do for yourself.  The jerks can just tell you what to do, and you'll do it. I'm lucky they didn't take me to the ATM and have me withdraw the limit on my cash. That's what they normally do. So, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. And it's good, I guess, that I was in fact roofied and pacified, else I may have fought them and they WILL stab you if you resist.

Maybe I'm just unlucky. Some people live in Bogota for years and never have trouble. But I had three bad experiences with crime in 2 weeks.

Hi! We heard the same story as this from two locals who got drugged. They hosted us when we were in Botoga and warned us of how prolific this drug is at the moment.

Use your senses basically and dont risk getting really pissed. Colombians are incredible people BUT they know they have this reputation and tey will use it against you and make uyou feel so comfortable that you let your guard down. Please dont trust randoms you meet in bars.

We have been backpacking around colombia for a month and have one month left and we have not had any problems at all but we are cautious are not not crazy party goers. We have been offered FAR more drugs in this country than all of the other countries we have travelled through over the last 12 months, drugs are still an issue here.

Have fun, dont take risks and dont befriend strangers.

flyonthewall :

Have fun, dont take risks and dont befriend strangers.

If I didn't befriend strangers, I'd never have any friends. :)

I'm sure you catch my drift!

flyonthewall :

I'm sure you catch my drift!

Yeah, I knew what you meant. But I travel to meet people. And if I'm so scared as to not talk to anyone, then that defeats the purpose of my travels.

And the difficult thing is... when you first meet Colombians, you WILL feel like, "Man, this has to be a scam or these guys must robbers." But the Colombians are just that nice. They're that friendly and great. So, that also makes it hard to discern who's good and bad.

A good start in weeding out the criminals is just to hang out with good Colombians. They will run off a guy if they sense he's a nere-do-well. They tend to know who's bad. And the good Colombians will absolutely take care of their gringo buddy if they think someone is messing with you. I've experienced it. The Colombians are honorable. You just have to figure out which are which.


Yes and no really. I've been travelling for 18 months, I know all about wanting to meet people, but there are certain places where being a bit more on the defensive is just safer, perhaps especially for girls. Colombians are the nicest people I have met on my travels, that's for sure but they are also the people I have heard he most horror stories about and I've heard quite a few. So i guess it's just a case of using your intuition.

But don't "dar papaya". … p;oe=utf-8

Or as the saying goes, Trust but Verify.  Blind trust will get you into trouble, not with the good guys but with the bad guys.  Don't place yourself at a disadvantage any more than you have to, otherwise there are plenty of pillos who will take advantage.

It's OK to open up with people.  But don't go overboard and let them start pouring your drinks and taking you for a ride...

Maybe another explanation is, don't leave yourself open to where people have a choice between doing the right thing to you and for you, and doing the wrong thing.  Too many will take advantage and do the wrong thing, especially if they think they can get away with it.

OsageArcher :

It's OK to open up with people.  But don't ... let them start pouring your drinks and taking you for a ride...

There are some things I typically won’t “open up” about, especially if a desconocido is asking me about these subjects....

-- I won’t tell them how long I’ll be in town.

-- I won’t tell them where I’m staying.

-- I won’t tell them if I own my own home.

-- I won’t tell them if I own a car.

-- I won’t tell them about my source(s) of income.

-- I won’t tell them my last name.

You can find plenty to talk about without giving out these details, which IMO they don’t need to know.

If they get too nosy, I might ask: ¿Estás conectado con la fiscalía? (Are you connected with the DA’s office?)

That usually gets a smile, and they instantly shape up.


That's scary🙈

If that’s your take, Shiue -- “That’s scary” -- I don’t think you should be spending time in Bogotá.  If the idea of concealing your financial information from strangers scares you, you might be better off in a more tranquil place.

Colombia has plenty of them.  In alphabetical order, here are a few... Armenia, Manizales, the Poblado section of Medellín, Popayán and Salento.

All of the places I mention are at lower altitudes than Bogotá -- meaning more oxygen in the air you would breathe.  Except possibly for Poblado, air pollution is less at these places.  Those would be additional advantages for you in avoiding the capital as more than a connection point.


I was in college in the 90's and I took a class on international terrorism as a law class credit. My professor always warned us, "Bogota, Colombia is the most dangerous place in the world for an American."

So I'm walking around the streets of Bogota enjoying it. I'm in Chapinero and just ate fish and chips at a nice pub. And I'm thinking, "Dr. Quarles would be happy to know that Bogota is better now."

Then a few hours later I woke up in the hospital with all my s++t missing. Hehe.

Yeah guys, just stay out of that city. I won't say I didn't have any fun there. I did. But the rest of the country is so great that there's no reason to stay in Bogota. There's trash and graffiti all over. It's just a massive, dirty, dangerous city.

Just remember these three words: Salento.

When was this experience?


It's frustrating because this country is sooooo awesome but this kind of thing does put me on living in Bogota... As an blonde blue eyed British girl, I stick out quick a lot. But I loved the week I spent there a few weeks ago. However I didn't use public transport once and only walked in daylight... Which perhaps isn't realistic when you're living somewhere.

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