Getting ready to set off to Argentina? Here is a helpful list of tips and must-knows compiled from the recommendations of expert travelers who’ve made the trip before you, so that you may have just as incredible of a journey, or maybe one even better!
Always have change on you
- If you want to use the buses, they only accept coins, so you definitely want to hoard those.
- When you are paying for something, check your bills beforehand to make sure they’re real, in order to avoid the cashier handing you back a counterfeit and claiming that’s what you tried paying with.
- When you take a taxi, try to pay the exact amount to avoid them giving you the wrong change or saying they have no change to give you.
- Carry some money in your shoe or your bra and if you can, it’s safest to not walk around with a Debit or Credit card. While many Buenos Aires neighborhoods are safe, you do not want to risk running into trouble and being escorted to an ATM where someone might force you to take out cash.
- Bring a Visa or Mastercard on your travels for ATM withdrawals, but be aware that you need to break your 100 peso bills in banks, grocery stores, or restaurants – don’t expect to be able to pay with big bills in taxis and at small stores.
- Fun Fact: Due to the extreme fluctuations of the Argentine Peso, U.S. Dollars are a precious commodity, and in some places you can negotiate a discount if you are paying with this currency. Try to steer clear of dodgy situations though. It’s safer to use local currency because you might be overcharged otherwise.
Remember to forget about all the safety stuff for a minute and go see an tango show, check out this excellent tantalising tango experience here.
Don’t walk alone at night, and avoid empty streets
- Again, while many Buenos Aires neighborhoods are safe, they border significantly less safe neighborhoods that you can easily stumble upon unknowingly. Even if you are two or three people, it is better to take a taxi than to wander the streets at night.
The Spanish is nothing like the stuff you learnt in school
- Prepare yourself for a completely new linguistic experience:
- Instead of “tú”, the Argentinians use “vos”
- Instead of pronouncing the double-L sound as the ‘y’ of “you”, it is pronounced as a “sh” sound. For example, ‘la calle’ is pronounced ‘ca-shay’ instead of ‘ca-ye’. Even ‘yoga’ turns into ‘sho-ga’.
- As if that wasn’t confusing enough, you might encounter some ‘Vesre’. This is when the syllables of certain words gets switched around, similar to the French ‘verlan’, in a form of Pig Latin. ‘Vesre’ is ‘revés’ originally. For example ‘Telo’ is ‘hotel’ in Vesre. You are embarking upon a linguistic adventure – enjoy it!
Be safe and stick to bottled water
- Some parts of Argentina might have drinkable water and others less so. Avoid attacking your tender non-native digestive system with water that it can’t handle, and keep away from ice and refills unless you’re feeling quite daring.
Know your route when you take a taxi, or you might be taking the scenic route
- While your taxi driver may be a lovely person to talk to, you should keep track of where you are being taken. If you have a map on your phone, it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on your progress.
- Check the next point about getting cellphone coverage in Argentina so that you have access to data and Google Maps.
- When you are coming from the airport, negotiate a flat-rate fee with your driver ahead of time if your Spanish permits it.
A non-contract SIM card is very affordable, and having phone Data access is a huge help
- If you go to a big mall when you arrive in Buenos Aires, you can get a pretty cheap SIM card with Claro or another major provider and be covered for around 20 USD a month. Look out for the plan with minimum call minutes and text messages and opt for more Gigs of data instead, which you can use to text and call via Whatsapp if need be.
- Having data on your phone is not only helpful with maps, but you could also get yourself out of an awkward communication barrier using online translation!
Asados and Mate are crucial bonding opportunities not to be missed
- Every Asado (BBQ) that you go to will be a great place to meet people and enjoy absolutely delicious meat. Additionally, if you accept the blood sausage that many Argentines love to guzzle down with Fernet, you will be praised as an adventurous and open-minded foreigner – definitely worth it. Also be warned that an asado lasts at least 4 hours, so mentally prepare accordingly.
- Mate is a drink and near-sacred ritual of the Argentine social scene, so partake in it if it’s offered to you. Yerba Mate is a green herb blend over which hot water is poured, and then the bitter-green-tea-like concoction is consumed through a kind of pipe called a bombilla. Everyone passes it around, so don’t insult anyone by worrying about germs. Basically, always say yes to Mate.
- If you are a vegetarian, the food options will definitely be limited unfortunately, particularly at the asados. However, pizzas are a must (especially in Buenos Aires)
- If you are a vegan, good luck. Cheese is heaped onto pretty much anything that doesn’t already have meat in or on it, so you are definitely facing a challenge. Then again, where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Prepare for cheek kisses and avoid being branded a rude foreigner
- It’s not so much a kiss as cheek-to-cheek contact, but it’s important to say hello and goodbye in this way, unless you are partaking in a business transaction. Failure to do so might give those around you the impression that you are rude and cold, which is less than ideal. It can take a while to make the rounds to greet everyone individually at a gathering, but it’s worth it!
When in doubt, dress up
- While some may imagine South American countries to be lumped in a large paradise for shorts and flip flops, the Argentinians are definitely not sloppy in this respect. There are many clubs that will reject you if you are not sufficiently dressed up, especially in Buenos Aires – plan accordingly and bring a pair of pants and real shoes!
- You definitely want to have some nicer clothes with you for when you spontaneously join a milonga and try your hand at some tango!
If you are traveling long distances, overnight buses are your best budget option
- This way, you avoid paying for accommodation overnight!
- Don’t forget to bring a pair of ear plugs and crucial eye-mask to help you get some Z’s.
Leave enough space in your bag to bring home some of the amazing wine you will taste
- Argentina has incredible wines, especially if you are making your way to Mendoza, home to absolutely incredible wineries. The best part is that you can pick up the cheapest bottle in the store and it will still be great.
Last but not least, if you are looking for help locating fun events in Buenos Aires or wondering what exactly to do in order to best explore Argentina, download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.