Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > Americas > South America
Reload this Page >

Safety in Cartagena for Young Women?

Safety in Cartagena for Young Women?

Old Aug 30, 16, 10:04 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 5
Safety in Cartagena for Young Women?

My 22-year-old daughter and two (same age) friends want to travel to Cartagena for a weeks vacation. I am torn between reports that it is safer now than it has been and reports that, while safer, there is still lots to watch out for (and there is still a US State Department Advisory in effect.) I'd love to hear from someone who has been there recently how likely it is that three young American girls (non-spanish speaking) can vacation safely there. Would you let your daughter go? If you would, do you have travel tips or recommendations for that area? I don't want to hold her back if it's safe but I do have significant concerns.

Thanks from a possibly over-cautious mom!
Dautravel is offline  
Old Aug 30, 16, 1:29 pm
  #2  
Ambassador: LAN LANPASS
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Bogotá
Programs: BAEC Gold, Avianca Lifemiles Diamond
Posts: 4,611
Hi possibly over-cautious mom and welcome to Flyertalk

Depends where your daughter is going to in Cartagena. If she is going to Bocagrande then she is going to have an insipid but safe time. If she is going to the old town then it's safe and busy and generally considered to be wonderful. If she is going on a backpacking type trip and staying somewhere like Media Luna Hostel in Getsemaní then she is going to have a riot of a time but in a slightly chippier area. Overall though, those three areas are well trodden areas with lots of tourists that stay safe, save for stupid behaviour that young people are prone to.

Outside of those three areas, maybe La Boquilla too, the rest of Cartagena is quite a grim city. There's no need to go there

I don't know what your US State Department says about it it but generally speaking

  • Don't buy cigars in the street, they are not dangerous but they are also not Cuban
  • Don't change USD for COP in the street, it is not real money
  • Beware of petty crime like any big city, not something I have been a victim of myself
  • Don't leave drinks unattended, you can never be certain how far away Bill Cosby is
  • Avoid las fiestas, I think they are the third week of November, locals seem to get drunk and make a nuisance of themselves. This is the most dangerous I have seen Cartagena

I do not have any daughters but I work for a tour operator and send everyone else's daughters to Cartagena

Taxis are honest and good in Cartagena, I have never had any problems with them taking me to where I want to go and charging me the right money

If you want to add more specifics such as what your daughter is thinking of doing there or where she is staying then I'll happily chip in with some views.

Cartagena is not actually a crazy party city, sometimes you can spend a good couple of hours looking for somewhere cool to have a drink. It's fairly upmarket and has wonderful food.

Last edited by JohnnyColombia; Aug 30, 16 at 1:35 pm
JohnnyColombia is offline  
Old Aug 30, 16, 1:40 pm
  #3  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Minneapolis: DL DM charter 2.3MM
Programs: A3*Gold, SPG Plat, HyattDiamond, MarriottPP, LHW exAccess, ICI, Raffles Amb, NW PE MM, TWA Gold MM
Posts: 83,718
Originally Posted by Dautravel View Post
My 22-year-old daughter and two (same age) friends want to travel to Cartagena for a weeks vacation. I am torn between reports that it is safer now than it has been and reports that, while safer, there is still lots to watch out for (and there is still a US State Department Advisory in effect.) I'd love to hear from someone who has been there recently how likely it is that three young American girls (non-spanish speaking) can vacation safely there. Would you let your daughter go? If you would, do you have travel tips or recommendations for that area? I don't want to hold her back if it's safe but I do have significant concerns.

Thanks from a possibly over-cautious mom!
If she's 22, is it a matter if your letting her go? Unless perhaps she's still an undergraduate in college or living at home, can't she do whatever she wants if she can afford it?
MSPeconomist is offline  
Old Aug 30, 16, 1:47 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Greater CDG Area
Programs: DL DM; *A-Gold
Posts: 812
Agree with JohnnyColombia. I was in Cartagena last week and I can confirm that Bocagrande and the old city are safe. I would my daughter let go there. However Cartagena is quite expensive, taxis are safe and charge what was agreed, but sometimes you have to bargain before taking them or just let them go and take another one. I don't find the beaches in the city are good, but the old town definitively is. To start feeling the city at night they could take a chiva (vallenato party bus).
MarLim is offline  
Old Aug 30, 16, 3:01 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,654
As important or more important even than discussing the city perhaps is discussing the character of the young ladies involved--how street smart, how well traveled and what type of travel, etc.
If you have to tell them not to leave a drink unattended in a club, perhaps they aren't ready to leave the house on their own, let alone go to a developing foreign country.
VidaNaPraia is offline  
Old Aug 30, 16, 3:53 pm
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 5
Thanks, JohnnyColumbia,
Your observations and suggestions are very helpful. This is exactly the type of info from someone who has been there that I was hoping for and your tips provide good information. They haven't yet decided for sure where they might stay so I'll relay your comments on the various areas of the city to them. Thanks again for your help and for your welcome to Flyertalk!

Originally Posted by JohnnyColombia View Post
Hi possibly over-cautious mom and welcome to Flyertalk

Depends where your daughter is going to in Cartagena. If she is going to Bocagrande then she is going to have an insipid but safe time. If she is going to the old town then it's safe and busy and generally considered to be wonderful. If she is going on a backpacking type trip and staying somewhere like Media Luna Hostel in Getsemaní then she is going to have a riot of a time but in a slightly chippier area. Overall though, those three areas are well trodden areas with lots of tourists that stay safe, save for stupid behaviour that young people are prone to.

Outside of those three areas, maybe La Boquilla too, the rest of Cartagena is quite a grim city. There's no need to go there

I don't know what your US State Department says about it it but generally speaking

  • Don't buy cigars in the street, they are not dangerous but they are also not Cuban
  • Don't change USD for COP in the street, it is not real money
  • Beware of petty crime like any big city, not something I have been a victim of myself
  • Don't leave drinks unattended, you can never be certain how far away Bill Cosby is
  • Avoid las fiestas, I think they are the third week of November, locals seem to get drunk and make a nuisance of themselves. This is the most dangerous I have seen Cartagena

I do not have any daughters but I work for a tour operator and send everyone else's daughters to Cartagena

Taxis are honest and good in Cartagena, I have never had any problems with them taking me to where I want to go and charging me the right money

If you want to add more specifics such as what your daughter is thinking of doing there or where she is staying then I'll happily chip in with some views.

Cartagena is not actually a crazy party city, sometimes you can spend a good couple of hours looking for somewhere cool to have a drink. It's fairly upmarket and has wonderful food.
Dautravel is offline  
Old Aug 30, 16, 3:59 pm
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 5
You're absolutely right. She is paying for it and will make the final decision. However, we are fortunate that she still asks our advice and considers our opinions if she is concerned about something like this. Just wanted to be sure that the opinions we discussed were based on solid info and not old fears.



Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
If she's 22, is it a matter if your letting her go? Unless perhaps she's still an undergraduate in college or living at home, can't she do whatever she wants if she can afford it?
Dautravel is offline  
Old Aug 30, 16, 4:02 pm
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 5
It's good to hear that you concur with JohnnyColumbia that it is safer than I may have first thought. I'll let them know your comments about the taxis, beaches and the chiva. Thanks for the help.

Originally Posted by MarLim View Post
Agree with JohnnyColombia. I was in Cartagena last week and I can confirm that Bocagrande and the old city are safe. I would my daughter let go there. However Cartagena is quite expensive, taxis are safe and charge what was agreed, but sometimes you have to bargain before taking them or just let them go and take another one. I don't find the beaches in the city are good, but the old town definitively is. To start feeling the city at night they could take a chiva (vallenato party bus).
Dautravel is offline  
Old Aug 30, 16, 4:07 pm
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 5
I agree but didn't want to make the OP too long. They aren't totally naive - would know to watch their drinks, would stay together, would not get in a random cab, have traveled to the Dominican Republic in the past - but they are still 22 year old, suburban girls, not experienced world travelers. Maybe that makes the question a little clearer?


Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia View Post
As important or more important even than discussing the city perhaps is discussing the character of the young ladies involved--how street smart, how well traveled and what type of travel, etc.
If you have to tell them not to leave a drink unattended in a club, perhaps they aren't ready to leave the house on their own, let alone go to a developing foreign country.
Dautravel is offline  
Old Aug 31, 16, 6:24 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: ORD
Programs: AA
Posts: 1,723
As a woman who's been there, I agree with those who say that the well-policed old city is safe (I was there for a conference at the same time that the President of the US and leaders of other North and South American countries were there for a conference, and Cartagena felt completely safe). But your daughter should NOT go exploring outside well-policed areas.

I've been other places in Colombia too; multiple times in Bogota and Medellin. Colombia is beautiful but it is NOT a place to be naive and go exploring. Hopefully someday it will be a safe place for that, but it is not yet.

Last edited by cubbie; Aug 31, 16 at 9:18 pm
cubbie is offline  
Old Aug 31, 16, 9:12 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: ORD
Programs: AA
Posts: 1,723
I've been giving this thread some thought this evening and reconsidering some points in the OP's thread, specifically, "My 22-year-old daughter and two (same age) friends want to travel to Cartagena for a weeks vacation" and "how likely it is that three young American girls (non-spanish speaking) can vacation safely there. Would you let your daughter go?"

I'm a woman, a fluent Spanish speaker, now more than 50 years old, who's lived and travelled all over South America and Asia and Europe for work and pleasure over the last 30 years, including multiple trips to Colombia for work, and, though I hate to rain on anyone's parade, I have to say, if it were my own daughter, I'd say no. Curiosity is not a good enough reason for three young people to go vacationing in Colombia of all places. Although Cartagena may be safer then other parts of Colombia, I would still say Colombia overall is not yet a safe place for tourists in general, much less three young non-Spanish-speaking women. There are many other much safer places in Central and South America to go if that's where their interest lies.

Some here may consider me overly negative or overly cautious in saying this, and that's fine with me. My conscience wouldn't be clear if I didn't say it.

Last edited by cubbie; Sep 1, 16 at 12:10 pm
cubbie is offline  
Old Sep 21, 16, 6:59 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 10
Hi, there! I was just in Cartagena last month, and I agree with what the others have been saying about the Old Town being relatively safe for tourists, including women, if they are careful (wear cross-body bags, aren't conspicuously loud, etc.). They do need to be prepared that the old city is full of street touts, which I find annoying.

However, I think a week in Cartagena is probably too long. There really isn't a huge amount to see. I would suggest they spend three days max in Cartagena, then go to one of the islands nearby to enjoy some beach time (I would getting farther afield than Isla Baru if possible) or head to Medellin for a couple of days. The flight to Medellin is less than an hour, and Medellin's cool weather would provide a welcome relief from the heat of Cartagena.
lisagindc is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread