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Safety in Cali

Safety in Cali

I'm wondering if anyone has travelled to Cali lately? I've been invited to Cali to meet a friend there, but as a twenty-something girl travelling alone I am a little apprehensive. I am going to be alone at some point, and at the moment I'm not comfortable with that prospect.

Research I've done has given me mixed, but mostly negative impressions of personal security in the city. However, a lot of the articles I have read are also a number of years old.

Can anyone offer me any advice? Thanks in advance :)

Edited: 29 December 2014, 13:18
26 replies to this topic
Bogota, Colombia
Destination Expert
for Colombia
Level Contributor
2,091 posts
33 reviews
1. Re: Safety in Cali


Being a twenty-something girl should not be taken into account. Being a foreigner, yes, this is a very valid factor.

My thoughts about Cali:

- The city itself doesn't have much to offer from a touristic point of view. But the Caleños (the inhabitants of Cali), yes, they definitely worth a visit. There are really great people there, and they looooove to dance :-) Cali is the salsa capital (so they say).

- As any Colombian city, there are areas to avoid, and other nicer/safer areas. Visiting a friend, who already knows the place, is definitely a big help for staying safe.

- From a statistics point of view, Cali has a higher criminality rate than Bogota or Medellin. And the rural areas surrounding Cali are exposed to drug trade and FARC presence. Here again, it is advisable to get information from locals. Still, the risk of being affected by these activities is minimal.

The real danger of Colombia is petty criminality. Pick pockets, bag snatchers... Yes. Keeping low profile helps. No flashing of jewelry, expensive hi tech items (iphone, ipad, big camera...), or expensive clothes/accesories.

At night, it is a good idea to go out in group, and to order a cab. Your friend in Cali already knows these aspects.

Willemstad, Curacao
Destination Expert
for Curacao
Level Contributor
2,698 posts
175 reviews
2. Re: Safety in Cali

If your friend is a good friend I am sure he will give you tips and wont let you walk alone in the bad parts of the city.

For the Rest, Stephane has giving you here good advice

1 post
3. Re: Safety in Cali

Dear traveller, im from cali, and i currently live here.

it is true, that this city doesnt have the best reputation in colombia. Cali its known for its insecurity and violence.

But i gotta tell you, there are two sides of every story, and if you know what you are doing, visiting cali is going to be an amazing experience to you.

Just remember to stay away from the bad/dangerous areas and you will be fantastically fine, becuase cali is a beautiful city that has a lot to offer, if you know where to look.

My best wishes to you, and enjoy cali!

Stuttgart, Germany
Level Contributor
1 post
7 reviews
4. Re: Safety in Cali

I'm a blond, gringo-looking German who doesn't speak a lot spanish. I've been to Cali twice in the last years. I keep reading about the "dangerous areas" and I just want to say:

Don't worry about the "bad/dangerous areas" as you will never get there by coincidence. There is nothing to do or see there so these areas won't affect you at all. There is no such thing like getting lost in Ciudad Jardin and end up in Siloe.

Bogota, Colombia
Level Contributor
179 posts
4 reviews
5. Re: Safety in Cali

I spent 5 months there last year and it was definitely more 'edgy' than where I live in Bogota. In fact the very dangerous areas (ie Siloe) are physically close to 'nice' areas and after dark you need to take care. But the main tourist areas (i.e San Fernando, San Antonio) seem fine and the city has an exciting vibe, I would recommend to visit. I walked and cycled a lot around the city and used the CaliMio buses with no problem, but never late at night. Be aware of football match days when some thugs, hidden among the crowds of fans, unfortunately harass and rob people on the street (I saw it happen several times). if you spend time there then there are good sports facilities (amazing swimming pool at the Piscina Alberto Galindo, but you need to join the club, worth it if you are there a few months) and the sunday Ciclovia is great for jogging and biking, socialising, good way to meet people. Check our nearby Lago Calima too, a dam lake with kite surfing, horse riding, restuarants nice scenery. Also might be worth to head to Buenaventura (4 hrs by bus) for whalewatching (after August), but take care as BVA is dodgy.

I wrote something on my blog on my experiences in Cali's Siloe barrio, and the violence there. Dont take this as a picture of all of Cali!!!, but you might be interested for background


Helsinki, Finland
3 posts
6. Re: Safety in Cali

Hi ! I travel each now and then to Colombia, spent three months in Cali last year and I'm planning to go back there during christmas. Needless to say that I absolutely love it ! I believe the security issues have improved greatly in the last 4-5 years, specially after the gun control laws were substantially strengthened. As any other big city, you have of course to have normal precautions, and if you can have advice from a local to avoid certain neighbourhoods at night, you will be absolutely fine.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
46 posts
104 reviews
7. Re: Safety in Cali

Hi, I note you saying something about Ciudad Jardin. I am planning to visit someone in Cali later this month and he has suggested I stay in a hotel in ciudad Jardin.....I have read that San Antonio and San Fernando is safer. I am a solo, female traveller in my mid-20's and obviously concerned about my safety. I want to be able to walk around during the day without being scared. So, do you know what the neighbourhood is like around Ciudad Jardin in Cali?

Thanks and regards


Birmingham, United...
Level Contributor
4 posts
5 reviews
8. Re: Safety in Cali

I'm 25, female and look about as un-colombian as humanly possible (ginger hair, very pale etc.) and I just spent a few nights in Cali with no problems. Big cities everywhere have their not-so-nice/ dangerous parts but my best advice is to be wary but not afraid. Also agree with StevieH61 that there are some great places to see around Valle de Cauca; Lake Calima is a must and Buga is also a nice city to spend a night in if you want a little break from Cali.

Cali, Colombia
Level Contributor
161 posts
29 reviews
9. Re: Safety in Cali

Hey CC, I would recommend staying in San Antonio or San Fernando over ciudad Jardin if you are looking for more nightlife and more to do. All three barrios are safe! Ciudad Jardin is in the south of the city, has a few malls but if you're looking to go out and explore the city, you'll find yourself in San Antonio or San Fernando anyways. I have been living in Cali for a few months and very clearly stick out as a young white blonde girl. I rarely feel unsafe, and you should feel safe as long as you are being smart. Don't walk around at night, order taxis at night, etc. A good taxi app is called Easy Taxi. From talking to others who have been here longer, Cali has become a lot safer in the last few years! Although I've never stayed at it, I've heard good things about el viajero hostel in San Antonio. Have fun :)

1 post
10. Re: Safety in Cali

I am going to Cali Columbia for a surgery in July and I am super scared I do not speak Spanish and I can't really find to much info about the doctors ... I am scared I am going to get my kidney harvest or something ;(

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