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Is Quito Safe? A Complete Guide to Traveling Safely in Ecuador

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Is Quito safe? This is a common question that arises when considering traveling to Ecuador.

Safety concerns may also come to mind while the country is often associated with the Galapagos, the equator line, its rich culture, and friendly people.

From natural disasters and political upheaval to altitude sickness and traveler disease, various factors can contribute to potential risks if you visit Ecuador.

Ecuador is one of the safest countries in South America and is known as one of the most popular destinations in the region for its breathtaking landscapes, incredible tourist destinations, and kind people.

So, it is unfair for such a magnificent place to be judged before you meet it.

Ecuador is safer, even compared with some places in the United States.

Let’s turn our attention to crime statistics to address the safety concerns. According to recent data, Quito, like many cities globally, faces challenges related to crime.

However, it’s crucial to delve into the specifics to gain a nuanced understanding. The overall crime rate in Quito has experienced fluctuations in recent years, with efforts from local authorities to implement measures aimed at curbing criminal activities.

I will explore the question, “Is Quito safe?” and provide essential information on safety concerns, crime rates, potential scams, and safety tips for travelers.

The links in this post may be affiliate links.  That means that if you click them and make a purchase, this site makes a commission.  It will have no impact on the price you pay or the experience of your purchase.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Quito or anywhere in Ecuador, read on to learn everything you need to know about staying safe while exploring this beautiful country.

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Safety Concerns and Risks in Quito: Crime Rates, Natural Disasters, and Political Instability

Since the end of March 2023, there has been a series of small explosions and false bomb threats in Quito and Guayaquil linked to serious organized crime.

The explosions have resulted in some property damage but, as yet, no injuries or deaths, so my group had police officers with us on our day tour around Quito.

Security forces have detonated some threats in controlled explosions. Should an incident occur near you, follow the instructions of police and local authorities.

On 9 August, a Presidential candidate was shot dead following a campaign rally in Quito. I advise avoiding demonstrations, large gatherings, and political rallies.

The second round of presidential elections took place peacefully on 15 October 2023, and Daniel Noboa was elected the new President.

You should also be aware of the potential for increased police and military presence in the streets due to the 60-day state of emergency declared by the President on 10 August.

Expect a heightened police and military presence and potential travel disruptions due to extra security checks.

While Quito, like any other city, is not immune to crime or political instability, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the situation before embarking on your trip.

The U.S. Department of State issues an Ecuador travel warning, and it is advisable to check for any updated information or a Quito travel advisory before your departure.

In terms of crime rates, Quito does have some areas with higher crime rates, particularly in the southern part of the city.

It is important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings, especially when walking alone at night.

As for natural disasters, Quito is in an area prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity. While the risk may be low, preparing and familiarizing yourself with emergency procedures is always a good idea.

Political instability can also be a concern in Quito, as protests and demonstrations can occur from time to time.

It is wise to stay informed about the current political climate and avoid any areas where demonstrations occur.

Altitude Sickness and Traveler Diseases: How to Stay Healthy in Quito

Altitude sickness and traveler diseases are common concerns for visitors to Quito, Ecuador.

With its high elevation of around 9,350 feet above sea level, Quito is located in the Andes Mountains, which can have an impact on you if you are not acclimated to the altitude.

Altitude sickness can cause symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath.

If you suffer from a cardiovascular disease or any other autoimmune condition, then you may be at a greater risk of suffering from altitude sickness.

International health advisors recommend that you do not attempt to take part in active sports above 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) without acclimatization.

To avoid altitude sickness, it is recommended to gradually acclimate to the elevation by spending a few days in a lower-altitude city like Guayaquil or Cuenca before traveling to Quito.

In addition to altitude sickness, you should also be aware of certain diseases that are prevalent in the area, like dengue fever, malaria, and the Zika virus.

To protect yourself, taking precautions such as using mosquito repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, a hat, and staying in accommodations with air conditioning or screens on windows is vital.

The equatorial sun is intense at these altitudes, and the thinner atmosphere makes it easier to burn your skin.

Drinking lots of water can also help. You should avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these can worsen the effects of altitude sickness. Using a hat and sunblock will be helpful as well.

Before traveling to Quito or anywhere in Ecuador, you should check for any updated information or a Quito travel advisory from the U.S. Department of State.

Crime Rate of Ecuador and Comparisons to U.S. Cities

If this is your first time traveling to Ecuador, I am sure you are also. Wondering about the crime rate in both Quito and Ecuador as a whole.

You may have heard some unfortunate news about Ecuador’s security issues, but according to statistics, the Ecuadorian territory is safe to visit as a tourist and to live as a citizen.

Regarding security, petty crimes like pickpocketing or bag theft are the most common risks. These unfortunate events happen in a tiny minority.

Criminals may use drugs to subdue victims. Homemade versions of the drug scopolamine leave victims in a subdued, compliant state and cause amnesia.

Be wary if you’re approached by a stranger offering you something (food, drinks, leaflets, perfume sample etc), no matter how friendly or well-dressed they appear.

While Quito has areas with higher crime rates, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind.

Crime rates can vary within neighborhoods. By researching the specific areas you plan to visit, you can make more informed decisions and reduce risk.

Additionally, using common sense measures such as avoiding displaying valuable items and staying alert can go a long way in ensuring your safety.

While the crime rate in Ecuador may be higher than in some U.S. cities, it’s important to remember that millions of visitors travel to Ecuador each year without incident.

Common Scams Targeting Travelers in Quito


As a traveler in Quito, it is essential to be aware of the common scams that can target unsuspecting tourists.

While Quito is generally a safe city, there are still a few scams to watch out for. One of the most common scams involves fake police officers.

These individuals will approach you, claiming to be police officers, and ask to see your identification or search your belongings.

They may even accuse you of a crime and demand a bribe to let you go. It’s important to remember that legitimate police officers never ask for money or personal information on the street.

If you encounter someone claiming to be a police officer, ask for identification and, if in doubt, call the local police station to confirm their identity.

Another common scam involves taxi drivers. Some dishonest drivers may try to overcharge tourists or take longer routes to increase the fare.

To avoid this, always use official taxis or the Uber Rideshare app marked with a taxi or Uber sign and have a meter. It’s also good to ask your hotel or restaurant to call a reputable taxi.

Clothes stain Distraction Scams.

A scammer will walk past or between you and your traveling companion and pretend to bump into you accidentally.

They spray or spread mustard or salsa onto the back of your shirt. Then, they apologize profusely.

Next, they will get your attention by pointing out something is on your back shirt. They then offer to clean the stain off of you.

You’re distracted by the stain, and you accept help from others to clean it up. They use this as a way to steal from you.

If someone approaches you and says you’ve spilled something on the backside of your shorts or shirt, grab your bag quickly and walk away.

Do not allow anyone to touch you or accept any help. This will prevent your wallet and money from being lifted. It is important not to carry large sums of money on your person.

While many people in Quito are friendly and helpful, a few individuals may try to take advantage of you.

Trust your instincts and be wary of anyone who seems overly friendly or insists on guiding you.

By being aware of these common scams and taking precautions, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to scammers. Remember to trust your gut instinct.

Proactive Safety Measures: Important Tips for Travelers

When traveling to Quito, it’s essential to take proactive measures to ensure your safety. Here are some important tips to keep in mind.

  1. Research and plan ahead: Before your trip, familiarize yourself with the areas you plan to visit. Identify safe neighborhoods and areas to avoid. It’s also a good idea to have a backup plan in case of any unexpected events.
  2. Stay informed: Keep up-to-date with the current situation in Quito and Ecuador. Check the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisory for any updated information on safety risks or potential scams. Sign up for alerts and register with the local embassy or consulate.
  3. Blend in with the locals: Avoid standing out as a tourist by dressing modestly and not displaying expensive jewelry or electronic devices. Use discreet bags and be mindful of your surroundings.
  4. Use official transportation: Stick to reputable taxi companies or use ride-sharing apps. Avoid unmarked taxis or individuals offering transportation on the street.
  5. Be cautious with your belongings: Keep your valuables secure and be aware of your surroundings. Be cautious of pickpockets in crowded areas; never leave your belongings unattended.
  6. Stay connected: Have a reliable communication method, such as a local SIM card or an international data plan. Share your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member and check in regularly.
  7. Trust your instincts: If a situation feels uncomfortable or unsafe, trust your gut instinct and remove yourself. It’s better to be cautious than to put yourself at risk.

Use of traditional hallucinogens

Traditional hallucinogens, often referred to as Ayahuasca or San Pedro, are found in Ecuador. These substances are often marketed to tourists as ‘spiritual cleansing’, and typically contain dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a strong hallucinogen.

There are many risks involved in taking these substances, and consumption is not regulated. Intoxicated travelers have been assaulted and robbed in the past.

On occasions, people have suffered severe illnesses and, in some cases, deaths. Medical help is not always located close by.

Also, finding a reputable local medicine woman could offer a unique and culturally rich perspective if you are interested in alternative or traditional healing practices.

Engage with local communities, inquire at local markets, or seek recommendations from trustworthy sources to connect with a respected medicine woman who can provide traditional remedies and healing practices.

Always prioritize your health and well-being by making informed choices regarding medical care in a new environment.

The Safest Neighborhoods in Quito: Where Should You Stay?

Safety should be a top priority when choosing where to stay in Quito. Luckily, several neighborhoods in the city are known for their safety and security.

If you’re looking for a safe and pleasant experience in Quito, consider staying in one of the following neighborhoods.

La Mariscal

One of the safest neighborhoods in Quito is La Mariscal. This area is popular among tourists and expats due to its vibrant nightlife, great restaurants, and proximity to many attractions.

La Mariscal is well-policed and generally safe, making it a great choice for travelers.

La Floresta

Another safe neighborhood is La Floresta. Known for its bohemian vibe, this neighborhood is filled with cafes, art galleries, and beautiful parks.

La Floresta has a reputation for being safe, with a strong police presence and a close-knit community.

La Carolina

If you prefer a more upscale neighborhood, consider staying in the La Carolina area.

This neighborhood is home to the beautiful Parque La Carolina, where you can enjoy outdoor activities and events.

La Carolina is known for its safety and cleanliness, making it an excellent choice for families and solo travelers.
Other safe neighborhoods in Quito include Cumbaya, Tumbaco, and Nayon.

These suburban areas are known for their tranquility and security, offering a peaceful retreat from the bustling city center.

By choosing to stay in one of these safe neighborhoods, you can enjoy your time in Quito without worrying about your safety.

Areas to Avoid for Ensured Safety in Quito

While Quito offers plenty of safe and beautiful neighborhoods to explore, some areas are best avoided for ensured safety.

These areas are known for higher crime rates and may pose risks to visitors.

One area to be cautious of is the Old Town or Centro Histórico. While this neighborhood is rich in history and charm, it also has a higher rate of petty theft and pickpocketing.

It’s important to be vigilant and keep your belongings secure when visiting this area.

Another neighborhood to approach with caution is the southern part of Quito, including the neighborhoods of Solanda and Quitumbe.

These areas have higher crime rates, and it is recommended that you avoid them, especially at night.
The areas surrounding the bus terminals and the city’s public transportation hubs should also be approached with caution.

These areas can be crowded and attract pickpockets and petty thieves. It’s important to closely monitor your belongings and be aware of your surroundings when navigating these areas.

Navigating Solo Travel: Is Quito Safe for Female Travelers

Traveling solo can be an exhilarating and empowering experience, but safety is always a top priority.

So, is Quito safe for lone adventurers? The answer is yes, with proper precautions. While any city can have its risks, Quito offers plenty of opportunities for solo travelers to explore and enjoy their trip.

First and foremost, it’s important to stay informed about the current safety situation in Quito.

Check for any travel advisories or warnings from the U.S. Department of State, and register with the local embassy or consulate.

By staying up-to-date, you can make informed decisions about where to go and what areas to avoid.
Additionally, it’s essential to take proactive measures to ensure your safety as a solo traveler.

This includes researching the neighborhoods you plan to visit, blending in with the locals, and using official transportation options like reputable taxi companies or ride-sharing apps.

Trust your instincts and be cautious of anyone offering unsolicited help or advice, especially in crowded areas. By being aware of common scams and staying alert, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to them.

Overall, Quito can be a safe destination for solo travelers. By being prepared, staying informed, and using common sense, you can have a rewarding and secure experience exploring the beautiful city of Quito.

Transportation Safety in Quito

Overall, transportation in Quito can be safe if you take the necessary precautions. Be mindful of your surroundings, use reputable taxis or ride-sharing services, and trust your instincts.

Doing so allows you to navigate the city safely and enjoy your time in Quito.

Transportation is an important aspect to consider regarding safety in Quito. While the city has a reliable public transportation system, it is essential to exercise caution, especially regarding taxis and Uber.

When using taxis in Quito, it is recommended to use official taxis marked with a taxi sign and have a working meter.

Be wary of unmarked taxis, as they may not be licensed and could pose a safety risk. It’s also a good idea to have the address of your destination written down in Spanish to show to the driver.

Uber is available in Quito and can be a convenient and safe option for transportation. However, it’s important to exercise caution still.

Before getting into an Uber, verify that the license plate number, driver name, and car model match the information on your app.

Additionally, consider sharing your trip details with friends or family for added security.

How Does Quito Compare to other cities in Ecuador

Aspect of SafetyQuitoGuayaquilCuencaAmbato
Overall Safety PerceptionModerateModerate to HighHighModerate to High
Tourist SafetyRequires VigilanceExercise CautionGenerally SafeRequires Vigilance
Violent Crime RateModerateModerate to HighLowModerate
Property Crime RateModerateModerate to HighLow to ModerateModerate to Low
Pickpocketing RiskModerateModerate to HighLowModerate to Low
Safety at NightBe CautiousExercise CautionGenerally SafeBe Cautious
Transportation SafetyUse Registered TaxisExercise CautionGenerally SafeUse Registered Taxis

Is Ecuador Safer Than Mexico

Comparing the safety of Ecuador to Mexico is complex and depends on various factors, such as specific regions within each country and individual experiences.

Both countries have diverse landscapes and cultures, contributing to variations in safety.

Ecuador is safer than Mexico for travelers because of the welcoming atmosphere and warm hospitality.

As a larger country, Mexico exhibits varying safety levels across its regions. Popular tourist destinations like Cancun and Playa del Carmen are generally safe, but areas near the border with the United States may face higher crime rates.

Ultimately, the key to a safe experience in either country lies in using common sense precautions such as avoiding poorly lit areas at night and securing valuables.

Additional Information

Let’s get the basics straight. For most travelers, Ecuador welcomes you with open arms, and you won’t need a visa if you plan a stay of fewer than 90 days.

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure.

Now, onto currency – the official currency is the United States Dollar, so no need for fancy currency exchanges, but I still use my American Express so I can rack up those points.

As for the weather, Ecuador’s diverse landscapes mean varied climates. The coastal areas are warm year-round, while the highlands experience cooler temperatures.

The Amazon basin enjoys a tropical climate. The best time to visit? Well, it depends on where you’re headed. Generally, June to September is considered the dry season, making it ideal for exploring most regions.

MonthAverage High (°C/°F)Average Low (°C/°F)
January18/649/48
February18/649/48
March18/649/48
April18/649/48
May18/649/48
June18/649/48
July18/649/48
August18/649/48
September18/649/48
October18/649/48
November18/649/48
December18/649/48

Flights to Ecuador? Most international flights land at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito or José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil.

Both are well-connected and equipped to ease you into your Ecuadorian adventure.

And last but not least – travel insurance. It’s not just a safety net; it’s a smart move.

From unexpected flight changes to unforeseen medical issues, having that extra layer of protection ensures you can focus on soaking in Ecuador’s wonders worry-free.

So, pack your bags, grab your passport, and prepare for an unforgettable journey in this South American gem!

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FREQUENT TRAVEL RECOMMENDATIONS

Below are my favorite travel booking sites to help save you a few coins! Get ready to explore Quito and book your flight and hotel. Please don’t forget your travel insurance.

So, without further ado, here are the booking sites I highly recommend to save you money.

  • Travelex — Travel Insurance for general travelers with great rates, including annual plans
  • Viator — Book Tours, Tickets & Attractions
  • Expedia Flights — Large selection of flights.
  • Expedia Hotels — Large selection of hotels.
  • Hotwire.com — The most extensive selection of hotels.
  • Click on the links above to get the best deals!
  • Thanks for the support! – Tomiko

Conclusion: Is Quito Safe for Travel

In conclusion, Quito is a captivating destination with a rich culture and breathtaking landscapes.

While, like any city, it has its share of challenges, visitors can have a safe and enjoyable experience by staying vigilant and taking basic precautions.

The city’s warm hospitality and vibrant atmosphere make exploring it a rewarding place.

To ensure a worry-free visit, familiarize yourself with the local customs, use registered transportation services, and stay aware of your surroundings.

So, whether you’re strolling through historic neighborhoods or admiring the views from the Panecillo, Quito has much to offer the discerning traveler.

Pack your curiosity, embrace the adventure, and immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of this South American gem. Ready for your Quito adventure? Let’s make it happen!

Ready to plan your trip, grab my FREE  Vacation Planner to help you plan your trip in the time it takes to watch your favorite TV show!

Travel Guide

ADDITIONAL ARTICLES

Galapagos Packing List

Is Mexico City Safe for Tourists

Unique Things to Do in Cancun

Are you traveling to Quito in 2024? Are you worried if Ecuador is safe and the uptick in crime that Ecuador is experiencing?

I would love to hear your thoughts so leave me a comment on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram

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