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The Bolivia's most dangerous city and other risky cities and places, full guide

The Bolivia’s Most Dangerous City, Details and Precautions to Know

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While you are in Bolivia you are not going to face too many troubles in regards to your safety. Most cities within the country are less dangerous than in other countries, e.g., in Brazil or Mexico. Anyway, there are some places and cities where you need to be quite a bit more careful about your goods and your own safety.

The most dangerous city in Bolivia is, by far, Santa Cruz, where there is present another level of crime. In many parts of the city, you can get stabbed or abducted by criminals, and they won’t bother to damage you. Despite this fact, being killed or seriously injured in this city in daylight hours is very rare.

Here we are going to talk about the most dangerous city in Bolivia, Santa Cruz De La Sierra, and also about other places and cities that are quite dangerous when you’re going to visit them. We’ll also see in detail some precautions you need to take in these cities and places to minimize the risk of facing threats to your safety and belongings.

Which one is the most dangerous city in Bolivia?

By far, Santa Cruz is the most dangerous city in Bolivia. Unlike in other cities, e.g., La Paz or Cochabamba, you’ll find that in Santa Cruz criminals actually use way more advanced strategies to threaten your safety and steal your goods.

While criminals in other places and cities of Bolivia will usually only try to grab your belongings and maybe get your phone and money, in this city you’ll find more serious types of assaults from these people:

  • Armed robberies (even at daylight hours and within the city’s downtown, but these events are quite unusual).
  • Kidnappings, sometimes criminals run people abductions and ask for some payment to get them back (although this is quite rare to see).
  • Try to stab you, this happens quite more often. Criminals who are drunk or drugged will have no hesitation in trying to stab people when they assault their victims.
  • Many but many grabbers, no matter where you are at day or night time, in commercial districts of Santa Cruz countless robbers and grabbers will try to take your money, phone, or pertinences.

The most dangerous parts of Santa Cruz 

The most dangerous parts of Santa Cruz are usually the most commercial ones, where there are a lot of people selling something over the streets (what is called ant or open markets), as well as countless average to poor income people buying from them.

Additionally, most of the neighborhoods located on the outskirts of the city are pretty dangerous for people from other countries, in these areas locals are usually very hesitant to interact with foreigners and also quite suspicious all the time.

These are the most dangerous parts of Santa Cruz: 

  • Any neighborhood beyond the city’s 5th ring (the outskirts of the city).
  • The east and south sides of the city (where most poor people live).
  • The Pirai River (this place is like a shelter for criminals).
  • All ant markets and open markets, e.g., the Abasto o 7 Calles, where countless, we mean countless burglars, are always looking for a victim.
  • The Plan 3000 neighborhood, which is very risky in both day and night hours of the day, no tourists go there, and many criminals of different types can be found. Avoid this neighborhood as much as possible.
  • Almost any place at night, in general, all commercial areas within the city’s downtown, also open street markets and ant markets, are particularly riskier after 8:00 p.m. (the safest parts of the city are still safe during night hours, we’ll talk about this later).

The historical city’s downtown is generally somewhat unsafe, mainly because many burglars will try to get your belongings, and drunk and drugged people can have unexpected reactions, all of this during even daylight hours. At night this area becomes a lot more dangerous. Get a lot of precautions at night hours in the center of the city.

The safest areas of the city

On the other side, you also can find some very safe areas and neighborhoods in Santa Cruz city, where high-income people usually live and perform their activities. You’ll find that there are many good hotels and Airbnbs available within these places.

These areas and neighborhoods are mostly residential and not commercial. Rich people and many foreigners generally live within them, or instead make their resting houses or vacation houses within these places.

The safest places in Santa Cruz are:

  • Equipetrol and Las Palmas, many hotels, and Airbnbs are located within these neighborhoods they’re also pretty near to the city’s downtown).
  • Urubo, rich people live here. There are a lot of vacation and resting houses in this neighborhood, Airbnb is available, and quite safe to be in.
  • The northeast side of the city, this area is where most wealthy folks of Santa Cruz live. Neighborhoods here are very clean, all streets are quite safe and you won’t face serious threats even at night, but they are not as safe as Equipetrol and Urubo.

In general, residential and not commercial places where high-income people live will be the safest areas in Santa Cruz city, you can find many 3 or more-star hotels and many Airbnbs within these places.

Other very unsafe places and cities within the country

Of course, Santa Cruz is, as a whole, quite more dangerous than other cities or places within Bolivia. But still, some places in the country are pretty dangerous as you’ll see next.

These places are usually the downtown areas of the main Bolivian cities, as well as their most commercial parts, where street and open markets are usually located. During the night, most urban areas of the country become pretty dangerous.

Other significantly dangerous neighborhoods cities and areas in the country are:

  • El Alto city (quite risky as a whole, really risky during the night).
  • The 16 de Julio Fair (a very large open street market within El Alto city).
  • The aroma Av. in Cochabamba city, which is an open street market where countless burglars are seeking victims.
  • The Ceja in El Alto city, quite risky during the day, and really dangerous at night, is one of the most dangerous places within the country.
  • The Buenos Aires St. and nearby places in La Paz city, countless robbers and criminals are hidden within the crowd, a lot more dangerous at night.
  • Any semi-rural or rural area, people from other countries are not welcome there. Locals will see you with a lot of suspicion, criminals will instantly notice that you are not a local and will threaten you in many ways.

Despite all of these, in most areas of the country, you are not going to be killed or seriously injured. These events are not as common in Bolivia as in other Latin American countries.

Precautions to take to avoid these dangers

To avoid many of the risks present in Santa Cruz city that we mentioned before, you should take the following precautions:

  • Stay in a hotel or Airbnb located within one of the safest of places we mentioned earlier. In some of these places, you’ll be very safe, even at night hours.
  • Don’t go to the most dangerous places unless you have the proper tourist guide and you know what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter whether it’s during the day or at night, just don’t go to these places. Anyway, almost no tourists are usually found in these areas.
  • Don’t go outside after 8:00 p.m. anywhere around the city, unless you are accompanied by a proper tourist guide, and you know what you are doing.
  • Take a lot of care of your stuff when you are within highly commercial areas in the city, burglars and criminals will instantly notice you are not a Bolivian or a local and will set you as a target in these areas.
  • Don’t talk to strangers, don’t receive anything that they may give to you. You must never forget this general precaution, burglars would try to distract you while another criminal is stealing from you, putting you to sleep, or even giving you drugs within their gifts.

Always follow the recommendations of your tourist guide in order to stay safe within Bolivia and Santa Cruz.


In this guide about which one is the most dangerous city in Bolivia, you have seen that it’s Santa Cruz De La Sierra, and it’s by far the most dangerous one. You know now that there is another level of risk within this city, but despite this, it is not as dangerous as other cities in Brazil or Mexico.

You realized that you should always avoid going further than the city’s 5th ring, the Pirai River, the Plan 3000 neighborhood, the east and south parts of the city, and also be very careful with your belongings in open markets and street markets, e.g., the Abasto or Las 7 Calles. You also should not be outside after 8:00 p.m. anywhere in the city.

You also learned that, to stay safe you should take some precautions, like staying within the safest neighborhoods of the city, e.g., Equipetrol, Las Palmas, and Urubo, and staying in places within the northeast part of the city. Also, avoid as much as possible the riskiest places and outskirts of the city, and don’t receive anything from strangers.

We hope this information has helped you, and if you want to know more about the most dangerous places of Bolivia across all its cities and territory, visit our dedicated guide in the following direction: The most dangerous places of Bolivia, a complete walkthrough. Link, information about how to live, work, invest, and travel in Bolivia.

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