Traveling to Colombia and wondering if Airbnb is a safe and good option here?
During my time living and traveling all over Colombia, I spent many nights in Airbnb’s and hotels across the country. Although there are some upsides to using Airbnb in Colombia, there may be more downsides that you should consider before booking your stay here.
Is Airbnb Safe In Colombia?
For the most part, Colombia is generally a safe place for tourists and using Airbnb is a safe accommodation option. Airbnb does have a vetting process so you know that the hosts have been evaluated somewhat.
You may also get to experience a more unique stay by using Airbnb in Colombia and sometimes hosts will have more local knowledge to share with you as opposed to hotels or hostels.
Is Airbnb Worth Using In Colombia?
Although Airbnb is generally a safe option in Colombia, there are certain circumstances, in my opinion, that make it not worth using here. It is also not always the cheapest option for accommodation in some cities so you should consider looking elsewhere while in Colombia.
➡️ For alternatives to Airbnb in Colombia, we recommend booking your accommodation here with Booking.com.
The Problems With Airbnb In Colombia
Despite generally being a safe option in Colombia, Airbnb does come with some possible issues in this South American country. I personally experienced some issues with Airbnb hosts in Colombia and for the most part would prefer to use alternative accommodation options here.
🚫 Airbnb Legal Problems In Colombia
In the past Airbnb was technically illegal and highly unregulated in Colombia. Luckily things have changed since then but there are still some specific rules Airbnb’s need to follow in order to be legal here.
There are rules regarding renting something in Colombia for less than a certain number of days as well as the requirement to be registered through the RNT (Registro Nacional de Truismo).
It is possible that some Airbnb’s out there could ignore these rules, leaving both them and you in danger of legal trouble.
🚫 Directions And How To Get There
Another issue with using Airbnb in Colombia, is telling your Uber or taxi driver how to get there. Although you can input or give the exact address to your driver, it is often very difficult to find exact locations in Colombia even with GPS.
If the Airbnb is in a popular area or near certain landmarks it will definitely be easier, but you could still run into the problem of trying to find your accommodation in an unknown city and possibly unknown language.
🚫 Shared vs Entire Rental
When choosing hotels, hostels or Airbnb’s, we always choose to have our own private bedroom and bathroom. Others however may prefer the cheaper and more communal options available with hostels and shared Airbnb’s.
However, a few problems that can arise with that include safety (mostly theft), cleanliness and lack of basic supplies (some Airbnb hosts may not clean communal areas or provide basic supplies) and problems with the host if they live on the premises (more on that below).
🚫 Choosing A Safe Airbnb In Colombia
Another problem you could run into when using Airbnb in Colombia is the issue of not knowing a safe or convenient area to stay. You can definitely do the research and find out which neighborhoods are the best in a specific city, but you won’t always know if just one street over is a more dangerous area or what looks close on the map is actually not that convenient for tourists.
🚫 Staying In A Residential Area
With an Airbnb, you’ll usually be staying in a residential area and with that comes two possible problems.
Walls are constructed pretty thin in Colombia so loud parties or going in and out of the home very late at night will likely not be allowed and definitely not appreciated by the neighbors.
Residential areas may also be more isolated and far from the major touristy areas, making it not as safe of an option especially for solo travelers. Hotels and hostels at least have the security of being in more populated areas and won’t leave you searching for the keys on a dark, isolated street.
🚫 Problems With The Homeowners And Hosts
When I lived in Colombia, my roommates and I found our apartment through Airbnb. Others we knew chose to rent rooms from Colombian families. None of us had very good experiences.
The ones that chose to stay with families all had nightmare situations where things went missing, the owners came into their private rooms constantly and the owners demanded more money from them. With our Airbnb, we ran into the issues of them refusing to return deposits (security, etc.) and their “property manager” snooping around whenever she felt like it.
Not all Airbnb’s will be this way, but it’s important to know that there are some out there that will try to get more money out of you.
Tips For Choosing The Best Airbnb In Colombia
If you do decide to stick with Airbnb for your trip to Colombia, use these tips below to help make your experience as easy and safe as possible.
✔️ Choose Only Airbnb’s with high ratings and lots of ratings. Don’t go for the ones that are cheaper if they don’t have a high number of reviews or a very high rating. It’s always good to look at the most recent comments and see what people are saying.
✔️ Never let an owner or host tell you to pay them outside of the Airbnb platform. This is not okay and you should consider reporting them through Airbnb. They also should not be telling you there are more fees you need to pay (more than what’s listed through Airbnb) or demanding anymore money from you.
✔️ Plan to not get back any deposits you put down that were required for your stay. Some hosts will require certain security deposits with your stay. It’s best to plan on not getting this money back, and just be happy if it is returned to you.
✔️ Get all of the details about the location of your Airbnb before you arrive. As we mentioned earlier, addresses are not always the easiest to figure out in Colombia especially if you do not speak Spanish. Try to get all the info you can from your host ahead of time like nearby landmarks or shops and restaurants.
✔️ Consider getting a private transfer from the airport to your Airbnb. Using Uber at Colombian airports is usually not the best idea and taxi’s are less safe and usually more expensive. With a private transfer, you won’t have to worry about any issues at the airport and you will often get an English speaking driver that can help you better find your Airbnb.
➡️ For those arriving to the Bogotá Airport, we recommend booking your private transfer here with Bogota Driver Guide Service.
➡️ For those arriving to the Cartagena Airport, we recommend booking your private transfer here with the Guianza Express S.A.S.
Are Hotels Better Than Airbnb’s In Colombia?
With the problems that come with Airbnb’s, choosing a hotel to stay at in Colombia is a better option in my opinion. Not only that, but hotels are often cheaper than Airbnb’s in certain cities around Colombia.
In addition to booking in advance from the link below, if you are going to be traveling a lot around Colombia, going through Booking.com and checking “reserve without a credit card” is a great option for those smaller hotels and smaller towns.
We do not recommend showing up last minute to get a room in Colombia. I knew others that were charged more doing things this way because they looked like a foreign tourist and/or they didn’t speak any Spanish.
➡️ To find hotels ahead of time in Colombia, we recommend booking your hotel here with Booking.com.
Are Hostels Better Than Airbnb’s In Colombia?
We are not big fans of hostels but if you prefer the cheaper prices and social interactions they offer, they can be a good option in Colombia.
We would recommend however, like hotels in Colombia, that you plan and book your hostels ahead of time rather than waiting until you arrive.
A lot of travelers I knew waited until they arrived in a town to get a bed at hostels and they would always get charged a much higher price. If you look like a tourist and don’t speak Spanish, this will likely happen if you wait until the last minute to get a room.
Where To Stay In Colombia?
If you are still trying to decide what cities to visit during your time in Colombia, you can check out our posts “Is Colombia Worth Visiting” and “15 Most Beautiful Places in Colombia” for some help deciding.
There is also info in the posts about the best areas to stay, but below are the best locations in the four biggest areas in Colombia.
➡️ To find hotels or hostels in Medellín, we recommend booking your stay here with Booking.com.
➡️ To find hotels or hostels in Bogotá, we recommend booking your stay here with Booking.com.
➡️ To find hotels or hostels in Cartagena, we recommend booking your stay here with Booking.com.
📍 Coffee Region ~ Pereira (Doesquebradas, Centro, Circunvalar), Salento (near center), Filandia (near center), Santa Rosa de Cabal (Termales or near center), and Manizales (near center). Cali Colombia is also not too far from the Coffee Region and a popular city destination.
➡️ To find hotels or hostels in the Coffee Region, we recommend booking your stay here with Booking.com.
Wrap Up: Should You Use Airbnb In Colombia And Is It Safe
Although Airbnb is generally considered safe and cheap in Colombia, you may find staying in a hotel to be a safer, more convenient and easier option here. However, if you do decide to stay in an Airbnb, following our simple tips will help you choose the best option for your stay.