Stay safe & healthy
Argentina has a traffic mortality rate of 12.6 per 100,000 inhabitants. To put that in perspective, the figures for the USA and UK are 10.4 and 2.75 respectively. Drivers in Argentina kill 20 each day (about 7,000 a year), with more than 120,000 injured people each year. These deaths have included some unfortunate tourists. Pedestrians should exercise extreme caution. Do not jaywalk if you do not feel comfortable, and always keep your eyes about you when crossing the street.
There is plenty of activity and foot traffic throughout the night. Nice areas have a very thorough police presence, perhaps one officer per 3 blocks, plus store security and auxiliary patrols. Public security in all major cities like Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Rosario is handled by the Federal Police and the National Gendarmerie or the Naval Prefecture, especially in the Puerto Madero area of Buenos Aires.
As in any large city, certain particular neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires and other cities are very dangerous. Some shady neighbourhoods include Retiro, Villa Lugano, La Boca and Villa Riachuelo. Ask trusted locals, such as hotel desk staff or police officers, for advice. Pay attention to your environment and trust your instincts. If an area seems questionable, leave.
Many people in the street and in the subway hand out small cards with horoscopes, lottery numbers, pictures of saints, or cute drawings on them. If you take the card, the person will ask for payment. You can simply return the card along with a no, gracias. or simply in silence if your Spanish is not good. Persistent panhandlers are usually not dangerous; a polite but firm no tengo nada ("I don't have anything") and/or hand gestures are usually enough.
Most robberies are not violent, if it is just give the robbers everything, because they may be on drugs, drunk, have a knife or a gun; in most cases, if your wallet is stolen, you won't even notice until hours later. In the unlikely event that you are confronted by a mugger, simply hand over your valuables - they are replaceable. Watch out for pickpockets in the subway and on crowded city streets. Never hang your purse or bag from the back of your chair in a cafe or restaurant - stealthy theft from such bags is common. Keep your purse or backpack on the floor between your legs while you eat.
Popular demonstrations are very common in Buenos Aires, and are best avoided by tourists as these demonstrations sometimes grow into violent confrontations with the police or National Gendarmerie, particularly as they approach the government buildings in the city centre.
Since 2005 the government has cracked down on illegal taxis very successfully. Petty crime continues (like taking indirect routes or, less commonly, giving counterfeits in change). Taxicabs that loiter in front of popular tourist destinations like the National Museum are looking for tourists. Stay away from them. Your chance of falling prey to a scam increases in these situations. Stopping a cab a block or two away on a typical city street where others locals would do the same is good choice. Also having small bills will help you avoid issues mentioned, as well you will often find taxis that don't have change for 100 peso bills.
Carry some ID with you, but not your original passport; a copy (easily provided by your own hotel) should be enough.
Ezeiza International Airport Security Warning
In July 2007, Argentina's TV network "Canal 13" conducted an investigation revealing that a group of security operators at the airport were stealing valuable objects such as iPods, digital cameras, cellular phones, sun glasses, jewellery and laptops while scanning the checked luggage of passengers. According to the special report, security operators at the airport should check each bag 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 and that the stolen items include anything from electronic devices to perfumes and works of art.
You're strongly encouraged to place high-value items in your carry-on luggage to prevent any incidents.
Police officers will often try to get you to bribe them during a traffic stop. The best thing to do is to give them the money (they will keep you at a stop for a long time if you don't.) However, if you do wish to take the ticket they will give it to you without any problems.
- Ambulance (Immediate Health Emergency Service, SAME in Buenos Aires): 107
- Firemen (National Firemen Corps): 100
- Police (Argentine Federal Police): 911 mostly, might be 101 in some smaller cities
- Tourist Police: +54 11 4346-5748 / 0800 999 5000
Visiting Argentina doesn't raise any major health worries. Certain vaccinations may be necessary for visitors, depending on what parts of Argentina you plan to visit. Yellow fevervaccinations are recommended for those visiting the Northern forests. Different climate conditions might take your body by surprise, so be aware of the weather before you arrive. An upset stomach is the most you're likely to have to worry about as your body adjusts to local micro-organisms in the food. It's also best to ease yourself gently into the local diet – sudden quantities of red meat, red wine, strong coffee and sweet pastries can be very unsettling for a stomach used to gentler repasts – and though tap water in Argentina is safe to drink, if sometimes heavily chlorinated, you may prefer to err on the side of caution in rural areas in the north of the country.
Although oral contraceptives are sold over the counter, without a prescription, a woman considering taking them is well advised first to consult a wise and licensed physician about their proper use, as well as possible contraindications and side effects.
Hospitals are free. They won´t charge you for any treatment, but it is customary to offer a contribution, if you have the means. In public/state run hospitals, it is now illegal for any hospital employee to receive or even ask for payment. This does not include private health care facilities, or for medicines.
Sun block is recommended in the north of the country, where the heat can be intense with 38°C (100°F) common in some areas. Heat rash, dehydration, and sunburns are common for first time visitors.
Dengue, a mosquito borne illness, is a serious and potentially fatal illness, but only a risk in the far north. Mosquito bites should be prevented at all costs in the far north, where they have many bug repellents, from lotions to sprays, as well as citronella candles, and 'espirales' (a spiral shaped incense). These are purchasable at most kiosks (kioskos) or pharmacies.