How Safe Is Bucaramanga for Travel?

Updated On January 9, 2024
Bucaramanga, Colombia
Safety Index:
32
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Bucaramanga is the capital city of the Department of Santander in Colombia.

Tourists visit this Colombian “city of parks” to bathe in the year-round balmy temperatures that hover in the high 70s.

Locals enjoy a lush tropical environment featuring a host of cultural attractions where residents and visitors partake in exotic foods and a variety of entertainment venues that surprise and delight.

Although Bucaramanga offers a variety of unique tropical experiences, there are a few warnings and dangers in the area that travelers should be aware of.

The following guide provides an overview of a few risks and offers travel tips for Bucuramanga-bound explorers.

Warnings & Dangers in Bucaramanga

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: HIGH

Global safety reports like the Numbeo Crime Index scale show that crime levels are increasing in many parts of Colombia. Bucaramanga is keeping up with the trend of its regional neighbors. It has shown a steady increase in crime for the past three years. The risk of becoming a victim of a crime is medium-high as there are areas of safety within neighborhoods. Yet, the entire country is showing a drastic increase in violent crimes, including murder, kidnapping, and terrorism. People considering traveling to the area should take extreme precautions to avoid becoming a crime victim.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: MEDIUM

Travelers using public transportation and taxis in Bucaramanga are exposed to a moderate safety risk that can include incidents of petty theft, pickpocketing, bag snatching, and local scams. Stay vigilant at all times, and beware that these risks increase exponentially at night.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: HIGH

Skilled pickpocketers target unsuspecting victims with diversions that create an opportunity to steal valuables, documents, and cash. Local pickpocketers may cause a distraction by bumping into you, then reaching into your pockets or bags, stealing wallets, cell phones, and free-floating cash. Stealing wallets and phones from back pockets in crowded areas is another common technique local pickpocketers use.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

Bucaramanga's natural disaster risk is lower than some of its coastal counterparts. However, the city still sits on an active seismic zone, which makes it more prone to earthquakes and landslides. The rainy season in Colombia makes the area more susceptible to experiencing landslides, which can block roads and limit access to crucial infrastructure for indefinite periods.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM

Certain areas of Bucaramanga are safer for travelers to visit than cities like San Adresito, which is a local shopping district in the area where incidents of pickpocketing and petty theft are higher. There are also reports of opportunistic crimes that can happen in nightlife districts like Zona Rosa after dark. Travelers should avoid walking down deserted or poorly lit streets – especially at night.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: HIGH

The current political situation in Colombia and high numbers of terrorist-related activity in local cities and the neighboring South American border countries like Venezuela. Both Colombia and Venezuela are under elevated threat levels implemented by the US State Department, which recommends postponing or avoiding travel to Colombia and not traveling to neighboring Venezuela at all.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM

Taxi scams where local drivers have been accused of meter tampering, overcharging, and taking the scenic route happen regularly in cities like Bucaramanga. Travelers should also beware of fake police scams, where officers demand payment or bribes for document validation, and restaurant scams, where local eateries inflate charges for unsuspecting travelers.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: HIGH

Women traveling alone or in groups should be especially vigilant and focus on implementing common sense safety tips when traveling in Bucuramanga. Solo female travelers should avoid traveling alone at night and steer clear of poorly lit or deserted locations where local criminals may be lying in wait to commit a violent crime like kidnapping or murder or a crime of opportunity that can happen when unsuspecting victims venture off the beaten path.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: HIGH

US travelers bound for Bucaramanga should take note that the city and country likely have very different water treatment processes than the US. Visitors who drink local water may experience bouts of upset stomach, diarrhea, or other uncomfortable digestive issues that can be avoided by drinking bottled water.

Safest Places to Visit in Bucaramanga

Travelers who visit Bucaramanga can usually find solace and safety in upscale neighborhoods like Cabecera del Llano, which feature modern infrastructure, top-notch restaurants, and secure shopping.

Visitors can also find refuge in Centro Historico and the Parque Ecologico del Santisimo, which is one of the area’s many well-loved and scenic parks.

Places to Avoid in Bucaramanga

Stay safer when traveling to Bucaramanga by steering clear of crowded and high-crime neighborhoods.

Avoid visiting cities like San Andresito La Isla – especially at night when rates of petty theft and pickpocketing can soar under the cover of night.

Revelers should also beware when visiting the nightlife district in Zona Rosa, where crimes of opportunity and petty theft are regular occurrences.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Bucaramanga

Use the following safety tips to stay safer when visiting this highly volatile city. 

  1. Learn Basic Spanish: Travel experts recommend learning how to say basic phrases in Spanish to make communicating with locals easier during your trip. Learn Spanish greetings, emergency language, and conversational phrases for a better experience.
  2. Avoid Flashy Attire and Displays of Wealth: While some areas of Bucaramanga represent wealth and opulence, there is a noticeable wealth gap that can cause an increase in opportunistic crimes and petty theft. Reduce the likelihood of becoming a crime victim by blending in with the local scenery.
  3. Pack Rain Gear: Bucaramanga is among many Colombian cities that experience sudden bouts of rain and downpours during its rainy season. Be sure to add rain gear like boots, parkas, and umbrellas to stay dry should a sudden downpour interrupt your travel.
  4. Stick to the Beaten Path: It is essential for travelers to stick to their original itineraries and not go wandering off the beaten path. Avoid visiting secluded areas, abandoned buildings, dark alleyways, and requests from locals to change your itinerary.
  5. Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Avoid becoming intoxicated when traveling to foreign destinations with high rates of crime, violence, and crimes of opportunity. Intoxicated travelers make excellent victims of nefarious criminals on the hunt for distracted visitors.
  6. Stay Alert When Using Public Transportation: Although using public transportation services is safer in Bucaramanga than in other cities like Cucuta or Santa Marta. Travelers should remain alert when using crowded public transportation services or opt for pre-scheduled transportation options or international rideshare services like Uber instead.
  7. Be Prepared to Evacuate: The US State Department is keeping a watchful eye on the state of affairs in Colombia. Travelers should have an emergency evacuation plan in place should the current level three travel advisory elevate to a level four Do Not Travel advisory, like the neighboring country of Venezuela.
  8. Drink Bottled Water: While some of the water in the city is deemed safer and drinkable than most, digestive concerns and local water treatment practices suggest that US travelers can stay safer by drinking bottled water when visiting Bucaramanga.
  9. Say Away from High-Risk Neighborhoods: Some neighborhoods in Bucaramanga are known for higher rates of violent crimes including kidnapping, terrorism, and even murder. The likelihood of becoming the victim of a local property crime or violent crime is exponentially increased when visiting high-crime neighborhoods.
  10. Trust Your Instincts and Follow Them!: Avoid becoming the victim of a premeditated or opportunistic crime by following your instincts. Don’t be afraid to remove yourself and your travel companions from any situation If you start to feel uncomfortable with a specific location or place.

So... How Safe Is Bucaramanga Really?

Visiting Bucaramanga can make you feel like you’ve found your tropical paradise.

The town has a variety of entertainment venues, parks, and attractions that make it a virtual haven for travelers from around the globe.

Travelers should be aware that the current political climate in Colombia and neighboring countries is driving higher rates of crime in many of its cities.

The Numbeo Global Crime Index has assigned Bucaramanga a score of 53.88, which is an indicator of moderate to high crime. 

The Numbeo crime index is a global measure of criminal activity, including violent crimes and property crimes, based on the local population.

Their scoring system begins at 20, which represents minimal crime.

Scores above 40 indicate moderate levels of crime.

Scores above 80 represent incredibly high crime areas.

How Does Bucaramanga Compare?

CitySafety Index
Bucaramanga32
Bogotá46
Medellin52
Cartagena82
Barranquilla47
Cali52
Santa Marta33
Manama (Bahrain)54
Tianjin (China)67
Brussels (Belgium)60
Shanghai (China)66
Belize City (Belize)37
La Paz (Bolivia)52

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

Some US travelers to Bucaramang may be required to obtain a travel Visa, while others may not. It is important to contact the local state and travel departments of the country you plan to visit to learn more about their Visa application requirements for leisure travelers.

Currency

Currency

The local currency is the Colombian Peso (COP). Plan to convert USD to Colombian pesos before you arrive, or find currency exchange options at reputable hotels, banks, and ATMs throughout the city. Verify your currency exchange provider credentials ahead of time to avoid becoming a scam victim.

Weather

Weather

Annual weather reports show that the tropical climate and temperatures in the Colombian city of Bucaramanga are relatively stable and usually level out at just under 80 degrees year-round. Travelers should note that there are sometimes ongoing periods of rainfall that can cause the temperature to drop.

Airports

Airports

International travelers to Bucaramanga, Colombia, will find the closest airport is just a short distance from the city center. This modernized airport offers domestic and international flights between North America, South America, the USA, and Europe.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

If you're wondering how to protect your Colombia travel, investing in travel insurance is an absolute must. Travel insurance can safeguard your finances when visiting highly volatile areas where emergency trip cancelations or mandatory evacuations can become a reality at any time.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Bucaramanga Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 24° C
Feb 24° C
Mar 24° C
Apr 24° C
May 24° C
Jun 24° C
Jul 24° C
Aug 24° C
Sep 24° C
Oct 24° C
Nov 24° C
Dec 24° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
272727272727282828272727
Low
°C
202121212120202020202020
High
°F
818181818181828282818181
Low
°F
687070707068686868686868

Colombia - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Barranquilla47
Bogotá46
Bucaramanga32
Cali52
Cartagena82
Cucuta32
Leticia70
Manizales47
Medellin52
Popayan31
Santa Marta33

Where to Next?

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