Are you adventurous? You’ve seen pretty much the countries you were interested in and now you think Paraguay will suit you the best? Or if you just want to know how safe Paraguay is and what are the ups and downs of a trip to this location, you came to the right place!
Paraguay isn’t a common touristic destination, but there are certain aspects that perhaps you weren’t aware of. Any country is beautiful if you discover its real beauty if you go above and beyond the stereotypes, but you need to be aware of all the risks before making a decision.
Anyhow, I believe you might have some concerns whether it is secure or not, and today I will give you some safety travel tips for Paraguay in order to make your further trip easier.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Paraguay
Overall Risks in Paraguay: MEDIUM to HIGH
You should be aware at all times of the risks that can occur in this country, because certain illegal issues have increased over the years, such as crime and violence. You shouldn’t walk by yourself at night or go to places that don’t seem safe.
According to the Government of Canada, they recommend keeping a low profile – this means that you shouldn’t show any wealth and not carry large amounts of money or even your passport.
Moreover, certain streets demonstrations might occur, especially in Asunción, the capital. If so, it is recommended to try to stay away from it, because at times it can be very dangerous.
Furthermore, you should be aware of the fact that there are outbreaks of dengue fever pretty regularly – so you should take safety measures not to be bitten by mosquitos. Also, the Zika virus is another possible threat because it is widespread in Paraguay.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Paraguay: MEDIUM
Street crime is starting to become predominant in this country, especially in the cities, where there are a lot of foreign people. At all times, you should be aware of your surroundings. In the capital, populated and unpopulated areas can be risky. Chacarita and Costanera are two areas downtown you should stay away from because they can get dangerous.
Heavily crowded places should be avoided because these are the places preferred by pickpocketers. You should be really cautious with your belongings, especially your wallet and passport – you could leave the important ones at home, and only take what you need on a day out.
Also, don’t take a big bag with no zippers and try to have one that is always in your sight. Areas that you should avoid are, as I stated before, downtown Asunción, Ciudad del Este, and Pedro Juan Caballero because these are the places where you can be at high risk of getting robbed.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Paraguay?
It is important to realize that, in some cases, you can't really avoid theft, especially pickpocketing. This is because you may come across some really skilled pickpockets that will steal your belongings in the blink of an eye.
This is why you should prepare for being robbed rather than try to prevent it - naturally, you should do both! In this respect, you should carry a copy of your identification with you, instead of the originals. Your wallet, ID, cash, and any other valuable items should not be kept in your pockets but in your backpack or in special bags with enhanced security features.
Speaking of money and valuables, you should have only your valuables and essentials with you. Of course, it is recommended that you have money for emergencies with you, but don't exaggerate and have too much with you.
In terms of jewelry, you shouldn't wear any, if possible. Be as casual as you can and don't over-display your camera or smartphone. Also, as an extra safety measure, you can try wearing your backpack in front of you, rather than on your back or side.
If you do so, you'll always have it in your sight, making it almost impossible for pickpockets to succeed in robbing you!
Scam Risk in Paraguay: MEDIUM
In terms of scams, you might be exposed to the following: unauthorized ticket vendors and card game scams. You can come across the first type, so to say, in the Asuncion bus terminal, where vendors will sometimes badger travelers into purchasing tickets for non-existent or substandard bus services. The latter involves you winning a lot of money - in the beginning!
Card game scammers make it so that the game seems lucrative for you and for the rest of the participants. In fact, everyone on the table but you knows each other and you will run out of money soon enough while the scammers take it all!
On top of the above, you are exposed to the usual stuff - counterfeit products sold on the street, souvenir vendors overcharging for items, or people offering you their services and taxing you for them later.
These common scams can be avoided if you keep an eye out on your surroundings at all times and if you pay attention when interacting with the locals. Now, let's see more tips and tricks on how to avoid all scams!
- How to avoid getting scammed in Paraguay?
As mentioned above, paying attention when interacting with the locals can really save you! If you pay attention to their behavior, manner of speech, and such, you can really figure out who is trying to scam you or not.
For example, a local talking in perfect English and trying to make you buy something is most likely trying to scam you. However, that's not always the case - it is you who will determine whether they are trying to scam you or not, on the spot.
When it comes to unauthorized ticket vendors, make sure to buy tickets only from accredited ticket booths. For the card games, we have completely different advice - if it is not in a casino, then don't play; moreover, if you don't want to lose money, don't gamble! Long story short, make sure that you rely on trustworthy and reputable services - both for bus tickets and for card games!
You can avoid almost any type of scam if you limit or avoid contact with locals and/ or strangers. Simply refuse their help or request, be on your way, and don't look back! You will come off as rude, but at least they won't have the chance to try to scam you! After all, it is better to be a bit rude than tricked.
Kidnapping Risks in Paraguay: MEDIUM
As I mentioned, crime is prone to happen in Paraguay, and kidnapping is also. In the past years, there was a reduced number of kidnappings, especially for the tourists, because they usually do not target them.
On the other hand, it really depends on the area, because according to the website gov.uk, there is a group that is called EPP, which stands for Ejercito del Pueblo Paraguayo and operates in the south of the Department of Concepción and north of the Department of San Pedro. Even though they usually target police or large landowners, they kidnap for ransom, in attacks that can get violent.
There are certain areas that you should avoid at all costs, because not all Paraguay is prone to kidnapping risks, only some regions.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Paraguay?
Just as with any other location, you avoid kidnapping by sticking to the areas that are recommended for tourists and the general public, so to say.
This means that you should not explore or discover any shady neighborhoods, the city outskirts or slums, as well as any other areas that don't inspire trust. For all you know, the street behind a large commercial center might be infested with pickpockets and criminals, especially if it is not as clean as the front of the shopping center.
Therefore, in order to avoid getting kidnapped, you just have to do what a tourist does - explore historical places, be accompanied by a tour guide, avoid shady alleys and everything but the city center, and so on.
If you stay within the areas that are not prone to danger, you won't come across any criminals. On top of that, such areas are also usually trafficked by police officers or another type of authorities, meaning that there's nothing that could happen to you and go unseen.
Basically, stick to your tourist duties and don't play the daring explorer while you visit any foreign country!
Terrorism Risk in Paraguay: LOW
You must be wondering, is Paraguay safe, when it comes to terrorism? In this area, the chances are pretty low, but they exist so you would need to be careful.
Try avoiding large gatherings, where you don’t know what event takes place because sometimes it can be an ambush for a possible act of terrorism.
As we stated beforehand, the risk is low, because the attacks over the past few years are minor. Over the past 5 years, there has been a record of 60 terrorist attacks, where 20 individuals were injured and 32 murdered.
The most affected regions are Conception, with 28 attacks, from which 6 people died and 10 were injured, and San Pedro, with 25 attacks, where 21 people died and 8 were injured.
To sum up, comparing this country with other ones, the risk is to be considered insignificant, because there weren’t a lot of attacks. Anyhow, you need to consider them and try to stay safe.
- How to avoid terrorism in Paraguay?
Since the risk of terrorism is rather low in Paraguay, you don't have to take too many safety measures in order to avoid such scenarios, so to say. The best thing that you can do is to keep an eye on your surroundings and pay attention to any suspicious people or packages on the ground.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary, simply leave the area and go to a safe place - or alert the police as soon as possible so that they can come and investigate.
If you want to completely prevent being caught in a terrorist attack, then you should avoid shipping centers, markets, places that get very crowded, places of prayer, and official buildings - as these places are usually targeted by terrorists.
However, since you will most likely visit all of them, we recommend you limit the time you spend in them and keep an eye on anything that might be suspicious so that you know when to flee!
Terrorist attacks are hard to avoid once they are set up, so to say. Because of this, you should also know what to do in case one actually happens. Obviously, you must remain calm and comply with everything you are told to do. Do not play the hero card or do anything that might get you killed! This is the best - and most - that you can do during a terrorist attack!
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Paraguay: LOW to MEDIUM
Yes, Paraguay is safe for solo women travelers, but just like in any other country, they should be cautious. This means that they should try to avoid everything that seems risky to them.
Additionally, you should bear in mind that certain people might stare, because the appearance is different from a woman from Paraguay. Therefore, men can have the tendency to make certain comments, but it is better to avoid conversations at all costs, with individuals that seem suspicious.
Furthermore, if you go out, only drink from your beverage and do not accept anything from the locals, because there have been reports of putting drugs in girls' drinks. Also, only use a taxi that is licensed.
To conclude this topic, Paraguay is not risky as any other place. If you are cautious and pay attention to the things that are happening around you, nothing bad can really happen. All you have to do is avoid walking alone on the streets, especially at the night, and also avoid poorly illuminated areas.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Paraguay?
There are no local laws or customs that you should be worried about when visiting Paraguay. However, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't dress in a decent manner - appropriate clothing, so to say, can make you avoid a lot of issues, especially as a solo woman traveler.
On top of that, you should wear as little jewelry as possible so that you don't attract any pickpockets or thieves.
Naturally, traveling during the night is not recommended at all, no matter the country you visit. If you are an alone traveler, you should stick to the places meant for tourists and avoid anything that involves exploration and remote places.
Do not travel to the city slums or outskirts, stay away from any shady or poorly lit alleys, and do not plan trips outside of the city on your own. With caution and preparation, you can easily avoid crime as a solo woman traveler - this implies keeping your eyes on your surroundings and not interacting with any strangers!
Rape Risk in Paraguay: MEDIUM
Even though a substantial decrease has been recorded, there is still considered a danger. Reports say that in 2015 there were 17.1 cases per 100,000 population.
Another issue is that in Paraguay the Age of Consent is 14 years old, which causes a lot of issues. Also, abortion is banned (the only exception is when it can cause real health issues) and a lot of underage teenagers are subjected to rape due to the law against abortion, most of them die due to their young age and inability to give birth. Recently, a 14-year-old girl was raped and died due to these circumstances.
Even though these are isolated occurrences, that are unlikely to happen to travelers and foreigners, it is good to be aware of this and always be careful. I think women should be more cautious if they’re thinking of a trip to Paraguay.
- How to avoid getting raped in Paraguay?
As mentioned above, you should approach a decent dress code and avoid visiting any clubs or bars alone. If you travel with a group, then you may not be targeted by criminals - however, this is not guaranteed, especially if you tend to get separated from your group after a couple of drinks.
Speaking of drinks, it is better if you don't drink anything while in a foreign country. First of all, the alcohol may be much stronger than the one you are used to and, second of all, individuals may rely on "date rape" drugs in order to sexually assault or rob you.
If you still want to have a drink, then make sure to order it yourself and to not leave it unattended - and to, naturally, drink only as much as you can take! We highly recommend all travelers to drink responsibly and never go over their limit when traveling through a foreign country!
It is well known that drunk travelers will most likely wake up on the other side of the town, while others don't wake up at all. Be extremely careful with alcohol!
Risks for Pregnant Women Traveling in Paraguay: HIGH
There is a high risk of tourists getting contaminated by the Zika virus, which is at high risk in Paraguay. If a woman is pregnant and gets infected by the Zika virus, it can cause grave issues for the fetus - such as birth defects called microcephaly and other severe brain defects.
It is important to know that you can get this disease from infected mosquitoes and from sexual intercourse and that there isn’t any vaccine for it, so that is why pregnant women should be really cautious and avoid traveling to Paraguay.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Paraguay: LOW to MEDIUM
Naturally, there's not much that could happen while traveling with your children in Paraguay - or at least that's what most of you think.
Keep in mind that traveling with children can be very difficult and much more demanding than when traveling on your own. Since they cannot properly take care of themselves, you will have to sacrifice most of your journey for their well-being.
In this respect, you will have to keep an eye on them at all times and make sure that they don't get lost or run too far away from your or your group. Then, you have to pay attention to what they eat or drink and, in case they get sick, to the medication that you give them.
This implies that you'll have to bring much more medicine and treatment with you than usual - pills fit for babies, children's syrups, and so on. A first-aid kit for children is also recommended. Basically, you have to make sure that there's nothing threatening their health and safety!
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
Almost any type of unwanted scenario can be avoided if you just keep an eye on the little ones and make sure that they are not doing something they shouldn't do. On top of that, it is highly recommended that you do not travel alone and have an extra pair of hands that can take care of your children - friends or family, for example. Do not trust your children with strangers or locals willing to keep an eye on them, never!
Last but not least, if you travel through crowded places/ areas, make sure that they stick by your side and don't get lost - the last thing you'd want to do while on holiday is to frantically search for your children in a crowded market!
Natural Disaster Risks in Paraguay: MEDIUM
Paraguay is prone to certain natural hazards, especially floods, specific to seasonal change and droughts. Additionally, certain regions have been affected by the widespread flooding from the rainfalls. Residents have been evacuated and remained displaced because they could not save their homes.
If you’re considering visiting Paraguay, be careful of the weather and news reports and do a little bit of research before traveling. Also, make sure you are aware of the safety procedures you would need to follow in case of flooding or massive rainfall.
Transportation Risks in Paraguay: MEDIUM
There are issues regarding transportation in this country. So, how safe is Paraguay for tourists that get transportation here, one might wonder. Well, you must know that it is relatively easy to obtain a driver’s license and there are a lot of accidents.
There have been reports of tourists that were injured and killed in traffic, according to the Bureau of Consulate Affairs, US. Also, the traffic laws aren’t usually followed and most drivers don’t have insurance. With all this being stated, you need to pay attention, as a driver or as a pedestrian, since being safe should be a priority.
When it comes to public transportation, buses are the main way of getting from point A to point B, are pretty cheap, but a little risky, because pickpocketing is common and that is why you need to pay attention throughout the entire ride.
On the other hand, keep in mind that Paraguay comes with a limited network of surfaced main roads - most of them are in variable condition, unpaved, and prone to causing accidents.
It is well-known that most minor and rural roads are not yet surfaced and usually become impossible to pass during the rainy season. Moreover, major paved roads come with such flaws that they are prone to flooding in case of heavy rain.
In short, you will have to properly plan a long-distance trip that implies either you driving or using public transportation. Potholes are present almost everywhere throughout the country, making buses and larger vehicles unreliable and susceptible to serious accidents.
Check the local weather before traveling so that you know how to prepare properly or if you should cancel your trip for the day. If you drive, keep in mind that traffic signs are either ignored or lacking in a lot of areas. On top of that, road signs are poor and sometimes confusing, even for the local drivers - this makes the road in Paraguay a very dangerous area, so to say!
Keep your head up and always pay attention to where you are going! Drive responsibly, within the speed limits, and do not think that your vehicle can handle a road in poor condition, even though you may be a good driver!
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Paraguay: MEDIUM
Night clubs, pubs, and bars are usually safe, especially those in major towns or in reputable areas, so to speak. However, a number of incidents have been reported in downtown Asuncion, Pedro Juan Caballero, and Ciudad del Este, with most of them taking place during the night.
This means that tourists were assaulted or robbed during the night, as they were leaving or going back to their accommodation.
Therefore, if you plan to visit a nightclub or bar, you should rely on a reputable taxi company and never hail a taxi down the street. For this, you can ask your hotel/ accommodation for recommendations - in some cases, they may be able to provide you with safe transportation.
When inside a nightclub or bar, you should not interact with locals, especially if they come offering you drinks. Given that date rape drugs are used all over the world, it is better not to risk and drink from a glass that is not yours. In this respect, make sure that, when you order your drink, you can see it being prepared and you don't leave it unattended once you get back to your table.
If you notice something wrong with the taste of your drink or start feeling unwell, ask the bar's security/ staff to help you, call the police, or have a taxi get you back to your accommodation.
On the other hand, you should also consume alcohol responsibly. If you are traveling with a group, then you may allow yourself, so to say, to get a bit dizzy, but you should never get drunk while in a foreign country.
If you do so, everyone else does so - as a result, you may wake up in an unknown location, with no ID, no money, and so on. Make sure that the best you get from a drink is dizzy and nothing more! Naturally, you should not visit a nightclub all alone - if you do, stick to the casual soda or tonic water, nothing too fancy!
Health Risks in Paraguay
Make sure you have medical insurance before leaving for Paraguay, to make sure it will be safe to visit. If you are taking any medicine, make sure to bring them with you and a letter from your doctor which states that you have to take the given medication.
Another disease that often occurs while traveling to Paraguay is the traveler’s diarrhea that is caused by contaminated food or water. Pay attention to what you eat or drink and try to cook your food as well as possible, or buy it from accredited places.
Make sure to hydrate yourself and try to prevent sunburn as well as possible, by applying sunscreen and staying away from the sun from 12 PM-16 PM.
If you need immediate medical service, you can call an ambulance by dialing 141. Keep in mind that if you are taken to a hospital or any other medical service, either you have to contact your insurance, or make sure you have enough money on you because certain medical facilities expect immediate payment.
Before deciding to make this trip, look over all the medical issues you might have and over your insurance, to make sure that it will be a safe trip for you.
List of Vaccines You Need in Paraguay
Before your trip, we recommend you go to your medic and have a conversation regarding whether you would need vaccines.
Firstly, make sure you are up to date with your vaccines, regardless of the destination. Each country has some rules regarding vaccines, so you should take them into consideration. If you are looking for vaccines to consider, making your trip to Paraguay safer, there are some that prevent possible diseases in the country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a risk of yellow fever in the country so it is recommended to get a vaccine to prevent it - yellow fever it’s a disease that is caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Some other vaccines you could consider are the following: Hepatitis A because Paraguay has certain issues with infected water and food, and this vaccine would prevent it. Another vaccine is for Hepatitis B, Malaria, and Rabies.
In order to make sure your trip will be as you wish, make sure
- to get vaccinated, if your doctor says so,
- to prevent bug bites
- avoid sharing body fluids
- eat safely
Most Dangerous Areas in Paraguay
- Paraguay's eastern border with Brazil
- Ciudad del Este
- Pedro Juan Caballero
Concluding Remarks: Is Paraguay safe to visit?
You might be wondering, after all these Paraguay safety tips, if it is really worth the trip. Do we recommend you visit it? Well, it really depends on many factors, and you are the only one that can decide.
This country can give you a genuine South American experience, but only if you are aware of every risk and opportunity that can be found there.
Yes, there are certain crimes and natural disasters risks, but also it depends on the area. As I said before, places like downtown Asunción are prone to thefts and crimes. Other dangerous areas are Concepción, Canindeyu and Amambay.
Make sure that you are well prepared for everything, stay away from crowded places, and don’t take a lot of money with you, or even your ID and Passport. Make a copy to identify yourself in case you will need to and leave the originals at the hotel, just in case.
To sum up, we can consider Paraguay to be a low to medium risk with regards to traveling. You need to pay attention to your surroundings and belongings, so you may enjoy your time spent there.