5 Travel Tips for Argentina
When most people think of Argentina, the name of Eva Perón often comes to mind along with the famous play and movie, Evita. While Eva Perón and her legacy is forever etched into the national memory of Argentina for better or worse, there is far more to the country than meets the eye.
Argentina is a beautiful South American country with an extremely rich history that dates back centuries, marvelous geographic areas such as Patagonia, and a fascinating mix of cultures. Because of its diversity, there is something to appeal to all tastes and types of travelers.
Since it is the second largest country in South America only behind Brazil, it is very easy to spend a lot of time there and still not see everything that can be seen. However, like many places in the world, the best way to enjoy yourself and have as little stress as possible while in Argentina is to be prepared and educate yourself on some of its more unique aspects.
Here are 5 travel tips for Argentina that can help make a trip run smoothly.
Exchange Money Before Arrival
While it is definitely possible to exchange your currency into Argentine pesos at airports, it is a good idea to try and get the currency before your arrival in the country if it is possible since it will not only get you a better rate, but it will cut down on wait times at the exchange office.
In my own experience, I arrived at Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) in Buenos Aires expecting that I would have different choices of currency exchanges. However, that was not case. Instead, shortly after leaving the baggage claim area, there was only one place to exchange money in the airport, and it was in the Banco de la Nación Argentina office. I did not see any other exchange offices in the area. When I was in the airport, I only saw one ATM I at the Banco Nación office.
It is strongly recommended that you exchange your money for Argentine pesos beforehand. Each of the times that I used the Banco Nación office in the Buenos Aires airport, there was a long line, and it did not move quickly. In fact, the line was typically an hour or more, and I actually spent significantly more time waiting to exchange money at the bank than I did waiting for my turn at the immigration desks.
Know the Argentine Peso Denominations
Before you arrive in Argentina, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different denominations of the Argentine peso. There are different versions of bills in circulation, and this can possibly cause some confusion if you’re not expecting it.
Generally speaking, the banknotes that are shown in the picture on the left date from around 1997 to 2000. There are newer versions of the $5, $10, $50, and $100 bills that date from 2012 to 2016, and it is entirely possible to get either version in your financial transactions.
Most recently, there are even newer versions of bills that are quite different from most of the pesos in circulation. While all of the older Argentine pesos feature historic figures in Argentine history, the newest series of Argentine pesos are unique. The obverse side, which features an animal native to South America, is read vertically while the reverse side, which features geographic areas of Argentina, is still read horizontally. Admittedly, I did not see too many of the newest versions of the peso, but it is possible more are in circulation now.
Be Aware of Counterfeit Banknotes
Because of economic problems, Argentina has a problem with a large number of counterfeit banknotes that are in circulation. If you are aware of this and educate yourself on how to tell real banknotes from counterfeits, it will definitely save you from any problems and hassles. In addition, being able to tell the difference between real and counterfeit notes, it will keep you a little safer from potential scams.
One of the best ways to determine if you have a fake Argentine peso is to hold it up to the light. Every legitimate banknote will have a security thread that weaves in and out. In addition, the watermarks will appear when held up to light.
Write Down Banknote Serial Numbers
It is recommended to make note of the serial numbers of the banknotes you plan to use, especially with taxis. It is a well-known scam in Buenos Aires that some drivers will prey on tourists who are most likely not familiar with the Argentine pesos. Typically, a dishonest driver will accept a real bill, do a quick switch with a fake bill of the same denomination, and then they will claim that you gave them a fake. It is hoped that you then give more money, so not only do they pass a fake bill to you, but they also make more money off you.
During my time in Buenos Aires, I was aware of this scam, and I only used a taxi a handful of times, but each time, I got an idea of how much the fare should be. Prior to leaving, I picked out the banknotes that I would use to pay the fare in advance and wrote down the serial numbers in case an unscrupulous driver tried this scam with me. The logic behind this is that if he claimed I passed him off a counterfeit since he would have switched the pesos, I could have him show me the serial numbers. If the serial numbers did not match what I gave him, it would be clear what happened. Thankfully, the few times I used a taxi, nothing like that happened, but it always helps to be prepared in case something happens.
Be Prepared for Delays
Because of the economic issues that Argentina is facing, it has caused many problems between the government and labor unions. As a result, strikes among transportation workers and other kinds of workers are not uncommon. Therefore, it is entirely possible that traffic routes will be blocked and large-scale marches will occur.
This can cause problems and significant delays, especially if you plan to use public transportation. The best way to prepare for this is to keep up with the news for when strikes or protests will occur and plan accordingly since they are typically announced in advance, but please be aware that they might not be announced ahead of time. It also goes without saying that if you should find yourself in the middle of a protest or march, keep an eye on the situation since what can start out as a peaceful demonstration can sometimes escalate into something more.
While the chance of national strikes happening or being the victim of a taxi scam in Argentina during your visit is quite low, anything is possible. The best way to have a wonderful and stress-free holiday in an amazing country is to prepare yourself in advance.
Have you been to Argentina? What other travel tips can you suggest?