Argentina

by Ucman Scher
4 comments

Everything You Need To Know Before Travelling To Argentina

Argentina is a bit of a crazy land. It is one of the biggest countries in Southern America and stretches all the way to Antarctica. I initially visited Buenos Aires and marked Argentina from my list as done on my solo trip to Argentina. My views about Buenos Aires weren’t favourable but I had to look back this year for my Patagonia trip and after my recent trip, I realised how different the south of Argentina is from the capital. I loved every day of this crazy, beautiful place and explored Patagonia both on Argentinean and Chilean sides.

A road to somewhere

Argentina is a bit of a weird place for me because Argentineans aren’t particularly very friendly or warm people and I feel are quite racist as well but the place itself makes you want to forget all that and focus on the immense beauty of this country.

Fun Fact: Argentina comes from Argentum which mean silver. It used to be the seventh richest country in the world. A lot of that glory remains in the architecture but sadly it has become another third world country robbed by its political and military rules of its wealth and glory.

Learn how to become a solo traveller.

How To Plan Your Trip To Argentina?

My first visit was part of a Brazil Argentina trip with 4 days spent in Buenos Aires. It was another city aspiring to look as European as possible. I enjoyed the eccentricities of the city but was unconvinced on the locals (Porteños).

My last visit was to Patagonia where I visited El Chalten for 3 days, El Calafate for 3 days and then to the Lake District of Patagonia for 4 days for San Carlos de Bariloche and San Martin de Los Andes.

Want to plan your perfect trip? Read this guide.

Spegazzini Glacier

Is Argentina Expensive?

Argentina is quite cheap especially for food and transport and the recent devaluation of the currency makes it cheap for foreigners to spend money. Value for money is high in Argentina.

You can learn how to manage your budget during travelling.

What Is The Public Transport Like In Argentina?

Public Transport is quite good in Argentina and it is quite easy to get around within Buenos Aires. The other cities I have been to were quite small. The transport between cities is very comfortable with amazing buses which are perfect for long-distance travel. Argentina is huge and distances are vast. Trains aren’t really an option but you can use the multiple airports within the country and if you want to save money get ready to spend many hours on buses. For example, the bus from Chalten to Bariloche is around 22 hours ride. I found CheckmyBus and Busbud to be the best sources of tickets.

Tip: A lot of companies require you to print your tickets and don’t take mobile or e-tickets. Both these sites show these details when looking for tickets.

Learn more about all the ways you can use to explore a new city.

Lake Nahuel Huapi

Is Argentina Safe?

Argentina is a very safe place and the rate of crime is low. I was advised against roaming around in some areas of Buenos Aires but honestly I felt safe everywhere. The south was particularly safe with late nights and early mornings and at times when I left my stuff around there were no issues. I met plenty of solo male and female travellers and no one had had any negative experiences. Argentina is safe.

Read more about staying safe during solo travelling.

How Is The Food In Argentina?

My experience in Buenos Aires with food was pretty disappointing, to be honest. I tried most of the famous parrillas (steakhouses or grill houses) and the steaks were almost always overcooked and overpriced. The wine was great though.

In the south, it was a different story with amazing steaks perfectly done, seasoned at the fraction of cost served with fresh grilled vegetables were a lifesaver.

The roasted lamb is another speciality of Calafate and around and it is made to sizzle your taste buds (sorry I just drooled a little bit).

Lamb being roasted on an open fire

When it comes to food, I cannot go without mentioning Dulce de Leche which is a special dessert. It is condensed milk with lots of sugar which can be had as ice cream or as a layer between milk biscuits and it is ridiculously addictive. I once ate a full small jar with cookies but it is heavy; it was a lunch and dinner free day for me. Do I regret it, NOT AT All!

Calafate berries

In the south, you must try Calafate Berries which are available in Feb and March but you can still have their jam in other months easily as well as Calafate Sour which is sort of pisco sour but it is made with Calafate berries and very delicious but dangerous too (gets me drunk pretty fast).

Calafate sour

In the south there is another speciality called Mate tea (pronounced matay). It is usual in a curious little teacup where you keep adding hot water to the team and sipping it through a metallic straw/spoon which is also used to stir the tea. Mate is also called the Red Bull of Argentina. It is particularly refreshing and amazing for hangovers.

Mate and it’s curious cup

Empanadas are a world of their own and there are so many types with so many fillings, I ate so many of these delicious bad boys during each visit,. They make an easy go-to snack and most places have them really good. I love empanadas!

Empanadassssss

In Bariloche chocolate is in abundance and the number of chocolatiers and variety is just amazing. A while streets just sells all these varieties and I couldn’t stop myself from eating a lot. Definitely recommended!

Chocolates

Should I Carry Cash Or Cards In Argentina?

Argentina uses Pesos (ARS) as its currency. Money is a tricky business in Argentina with currency devaluing very often which leads to people hoarding dollars or euros to avoid depreciation of their savings and incomes. This causes problems for foreigners because if you use dollars or euros you get charged bad exchange rates with no change given except Pesos.

The money withdrawal fees are ridiculously high and made my blood boil. I paid around 10-13 USD per withdrawal transaction in Argentina with a cap of ARS 4000 per transaction. It was ridiculous.

A lot of Argentinean business will charge a premium if you pay by cards and cards are also not readily accepted everywhere.

If you’d like to visit I’d suggest keeping a mix of USD/Euros which you will use to exchange for pesos in Argentina and cards where you can use them. ATM withdrawals are simply not a good idea here.

ATM machines aren’t available everywhere and card payments are also not frequent. I have had to carry cash at all times to avoid any issues.

Is It Safe To Drink Tap Water In Argentina?

Tap water is generally drinkable especially in Patagonia and it is very delicious. Ditch all plastic and bottled water; it is easy to refill your bottles everywhere.

Read more about eco-friendly travelling.

Piedras Blancas glacier and it’s lake

How To Get Past ID Checks In Argentina?

There are no checks generally and I only kept my passport in the accommodation on my solo trip to Argentina.

Which Sim Card To Buy in Argentina? Is Internet Good In Argentina?

This is another big headache in Argentina. I got my sim card both times on my solo trip to Argentina from the airport and hated the service. Last time I got a sim card from a company called Personal from Buenos Aires Airport. The woman at the counter was downright rude and decided to do her own thing despite me telling her otherwise. For tourists only small data bundles are available and they go very fast (I spent around 4GB in a day most days which is definitely not correct). I was constantly recharging and playing catch up. The service was also patchy at best. Most networks just don’t have coverage in the south. I definitely do not recommend Personal, you can check the site for other options here.

Are People Of Argentina Friendly?

Porteños aren’t my favourite of people, unfortunately. I find them quite rude, indifferent and generally boring and cold. Harsh words? Yes but that’s honestly I found them mostly in Buenos Aires though. People in the south are much better with smiley faces but I realised something at the end of my first trip; Argentinians have a huge European complex. The joke in South America is that Argentinians think better of themselves because they are the ‘Europeans’ of the Latin world, phhhhh!

Needless to say, not everyone is alike. I did meet some lovely people on my solo trip to Argentina, this is more of a general comment. I know my Argentinians friends will kill me for writing this (despite agreeing with this).

Argentina has had a bit of an influx of migrants from other South American countries especially Venezuela and they are the friendliest, smiliest and sweetest people ever. Absolutely loved hanging out with them.

The route of 7 lakes

Which Languages Are Spoken In Argentina?

Argentina firmly speaks Spanish and while some people might dabble into a few words of English most of the population doesn’t speak English. It was quite a problem on my solo trip to Argentina, especially for longer conversations that just can’t be had on Translator.

I also found another problem with language in Bariloche where all tours are in Spanish. If you want an English guide, you need to request it in advance and pay significantly more and even then it’s not guaranteed.

Learn more about all the ways you can use to explore a new city.

Is Argentina Racist?

Sadly yes! It is the type of racism where they’d be much nicer to white Europeans and the attitude totally changes by the time they get to you. It is not the type of racism that creates safety issues but just tinges your experience. I noticed it quite a few times in the spa, supermarket etc on my solo trip to Argentina. I decided to ignore it because I wanted to focus on nature and the beauty it offers rather than the human factor. It works pretty well in Argentina with such massive swathes of land and lots to see and explore.

Is Argentina Safe For LGBT Travellers?

It is legal to be gay in Argentina. People are quite relaxed generally but it is still a relatively conservative society. There are plenty of gay people in Argentina and some gay establishments as well. Overall it is an accepted thing and you won’t get any grief travelling in Argentina. Gay guys aren’t the friendliest in line with the general population but with more migrants coming in the scene is getting more relaxed. Argentina is safe for gay travellers.

Read more about staying safe during solo travelling.

Laguna de Los Tres

How To Deal With Stray Dogs In Argentina?

Argentina has a problem with stray dogs/ street dogs, there’s a LOT of them everywhere. They are usually not aggressive. I inquired and in most cases they are not rabies vaccinated so be careful while approaching them. A lot of people also keep guard dogs and they are mostly quite aggressive. I’d highly recommend rabies vaccination before heading to Argentina.

Chiqui and his group

Can I Smoke In Argentina?

A lot of places in the south of the country especially national parks restrict smoking because of the danger it poses to the forests. So you cannot smoke there. Pack up with some nicotine gum and patches to help you survive. Luckily I quit smoking some time ago but I saw some people struggling with this on my solo trip to Argentina.

Read more tips and tools you can use during travelling.

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4 comments

Anton Handal January 19, 2020 - 8:52 am

Very nice article indeed .. Argentina ❤️

Reply
Ucman Scher January 19, 2020 - 12:41 pm

Thank you! Stay tuned there’s a lot more coming 🙂

Reply
Regina February 5, 2020 - 5:35 pm

Hi! I have been living in Argentina for the last years and didnt have bad experiences with dog. In my opinion you can go without rabies vaccination. The people are great once you know them better.

Reply
Ucman Scher February 7, 2020 - 4:32 pm

You are right. my Argentinean friends are absolutely lovely but it is the general attitude I wrote about especially as a person of colour. 🙂

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