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While planning my trip to the Amazon Rainforest, I knew I would be initially flying into Quito and wanted to spend a few days exploring the city. I did lots of research into the must-see places in Quito and was disappointed to find that the majority of travel blogs I visited described some pretty major safety concerns when it came to exploring Quito. My trip was already set in stone and I wasn’t going to change my plans, but was definitely left wondering: is Ecuador safe to visit?
Disclaimer: This post is based on my personal experience traveling in Quito, Ecuador as a white, female, solo traveler. My experience is not universal, and you should use your best judgment when deciding to visit a destination.
Ecuador is a country full of adventure, beauty, and culture. A large portion of the Amazon Rainforest is there, and Quito is often a starting point for excursions to the Galapagos Islands. It’s a truly beautiful place — there are beaches lining the sparkling Pacific Ocean, lush rainforests, snow-capped volcanoes, and towering mountain peaks.
While researching if Ecuador is safe to visit, I learned that the US Department of State currently ranks Ecuador at a level 2 travel advisory, meaning that you should exercise increased caution. This advisory is mainly due to high crime rates in Ecuador’s northernmost provinces, along the Colombian border. This border is often used by drug traffickers and as you can imagine, crime is abundant there. However, there is no reason a tourist would be visiting that area anyway, and it’s hundreds of miles from Quito, Banos, and other tourist destinations.
The number one way to keep yourself safe is to remain aware of your surroundings when in public places. Petty theft is the number one type of crime in Ecuador, and the only crime you really need to worry about. But keep in mind – I would tell you the same thing if you were traveling to any European city, too. Crime has no address and poorer countries aren’t necessarily more dangerous.
How to Stay Safe When Traveling in Ecuador
- Don’t flash your expensive stuff. This should be a no-brainer, and applies to basically anywhere you might ever visit. Don’t leave your wallet or iPhone sitting on the table while you’re eating. Don’t hang your purse on the back of a chair, or put it under your seat on a bus. Just hang on to your stuff!
- Only carry what cash you need. There are ATMs all over the city if you need more.
- Don’t walk up El Panecillo – the large hill in the center of Quito with a statue at the top is beautiful, but take a taxi to the top. The road to the top goes through some sketchy neighborhoods and crime has been known to happen. Once you’re at the top you’re good to go.
- Keep your purse zipped, and keep your wallet/other items in your front pockets. I tend to also keep my hand over the zipper on my purse while I’m walking around so that I know no one is trying to grab something out of it.
- Speak Spanish whenever possible — the locals will appreciate your effort.
Ecuador is a beautiful country that any adventurous traveler should visit. I spent four days in Quito by myself and felt safe throughout my entire trip. I found the locals to be kind and helpful, the food to be unique and delicious, and the scenery to be outstanding. If you’re still wondering if Ecuador is safe to visit, I encourage you to go — you’ll see for yourself that it’s an underrated destination among American tourists.