Scam City: Bogota Colombia Edition


A typical tourist should be aware that Bogota, Colombia is full of scams. Throughout my four nights and five days in Bogota, I have encountered a number of scams particularly targeted at tourists.

Introduction to Bogota
American Airlines LAX Flagship Lounge
American Airlines LAX-MIA 757-200 First Class
Miami International Airport Oneworld Premium Lounge
American Airlines MIA-BOG 757-200 Business Class
Hilton Bogota Hotel Review Part 1
Hilton Bogota Hotel Review Part 2
Sheraton Bogota Hotel Review
Aloft Bogota Airport Hotel Review
The Sights and Sounds of La Candelaria in Bogota
The Sights and Sounds of Avenida Carerra 7 in Bogota
The Sights and Sounds of Chapinero in Bogota
The Sights and Sounds of Zona Rosa in Bogota
The Sights and Sounds of Zona G in Bogota
The Sights and Sounds of Avenida Carerra 15 in Bogota
The Sights and Sounds of Cerro de Monserrate in Bogota
The Sights and Sounds of La Macarena in Bogota
The Sights and Sounds of Santa Fe in Bogota
The Sights and Sounds of Usaquen in Bogota
The Sights and Sounds of El Salitre in Bogota
The Sights and Sounds of Barrio Engativa in Bogota
Is Bogota Colombia Safe for Tourists?
Scam City: Bogota Colombia Edition
The Various Restaurant Eats in Bogota Colombia
The Various Street Foods in Bogota Colombia
Bogota Airport LAN VIP Temporal Lounge
American Airlines BOG-MIA 757-200 Business Class
American Airlines LAX Flagship Arrivals Lounge

Airport Taxi Scam

The first thing you encounter when you exit to the Arrivals Hall in Bogota International Airport is the amount of taxi hawkers. I like to call them the taxi cab mafia. Basically, you need to avoid anyone soliciting a taxi ride once in the Arrivals Hall. If you want a Radio Taxi, you can get one at numerous counters for $30-$40 USD before exiting the Arrivals Hall.

If you want to save a lot of money and grab a regular taxi, exit the Arrivals Hall and head to the taxi stand outside where you will stand in line to get into a taxi. These taxis are safe, but be sure to make the driver turn on the meter. If he refuses, get out of the taxi since the negotiated fare will most likely be higher than the meter fare.

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Bogota City Taxi Scam

I needed a taxi to get from the Hilton Bogota in Chapinero to the Sheraton Bogota in El Salitre. I hailed a regular cab on the sidewalk by the Hilton Bogota and gave him the address to the Sheraton. I told the taxi driver that the Sheraton hotel was near the airport and he started to drive.


I noticed that the taxi driver was going the wrong way and was trying to head South and missed a few streets to head East. Luckily I had GPS on my iPhone and could tell where the driver was headed. I told him that it was near the airport and he kind of knew that he was long-hauling me. He said that he’s never gone out of the Chapinero zone and I definitely called BS on that. I basically had him drop me off at a residential area and hailed another cab which the driver knew exactly where the Sheraton was. This is kind of similar to “Hang Up and Call again” which is like “get off and get another driver”.

Be aware that the taxi tariffs are higher during the night and all day on Sundays. Sundays are relaxation days (off days) for local Colombians and they enjoy the closed roads for Ciclovia. There aren’t as many people taking taxis and taxi drivers need to make money to compensate for the lack of business on Sundays since it’s really slow.

In every taxi cab, there is a large plastic laminated card that explains all the tariffs. When you get into the cab, the meter will run. At the end of the journey, match up the number on the meter with the number on the laminated tariff card and locate the price. That is the price that you will have to pay. Be aware that you do not need to tip, but rounding up is okay.

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The Restaurant Bread Scam

Any time you dine inside a restaurant in Latin/South America and in Europe in particular, there is a chance that a basket of bread magically appears right in front of you after you have been seated. I dined at Oma restaurant in the Zona Rosa neighborhood of Chapinero and was brought out a basket of bread.

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If you eat the bread and/or pastries, you will be charged for it when you receive the bill. This isn’t like the United States where bread is commonly free in most restaurants. I simply ignored the basket of bread (just like I saw at numerous other tables) and the server took it away at the end of my meal.

Counterfeit Goods Scam

Be aware that anything that you buy in the street is probably counterfeit, low quality, and possibly non-working electronics. You can find all sorts of counterfeit sunglasses, DVD’s, software, and even clothing.

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Airport Departure Tax Scam

When you’re at Bogota International Airport for any flight departure, you’ll need to find the Aeronautica Civil booth located near the airport check-in counters.


This is important because you’ll need to grab an Exento Impuesto Timbre Nacional form which signifies that you paid for the airport departure tax (free if your stay in Colombia is under 60 days). If you’ve stayed over 60 days in Colombia, then you’ll have to pay $36 USD or $68,000 Colombian Pesos. Here’s how the scam works: If you don’t visit the Aeronautica Civil booth prior to the airline counter, the airline will ask you to pay $38 USD or $68,000 Colombian Pesos on the spot before issuing you a boarding pass.



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12 Comments on "Scam City: Bogota Colombia Edition"

  1. I don’t know if it’d call the airport departure tax a “scam”, but certainly a great tip to avoid paying an unnecessary fee if you can be exempt from it. The airlines are probably required to collect if you did not get an exemption from that desk.

    Great job on your whole Bogota trip report!

    • Thanks Jim… I was actually going to pay and I had to pressure the agent saying “isn’t it included in my ticket?” Then he broke down and clued me in and pointed to the booth on how to avoid it. I almost got scammed.

  2. Is the last photo of the departure certificate without having to pay?
    (Note: I think you have an error: $36 or $38 USD?)

    • last photo is departure certificate without having to pay… varies from $36 – $38 due to currency fluctuations

      • I saw on my e-ticket that the airlines took it out. Not sure why anyone would get hassled. Maybe travelers are easily flustered and don’t want to cause problems – answering my own question perhaps.

  3. We had bread scam while we were at Athen, Greece. I eat one bread and they want to charge almost 10 Europe for it 🙁 but I refused and just pay for the dinner for the group.

  4. I am glad I found your site. I typed in La Candelaria and clicked. Read street food and glad I read the scam article re airport tax. I made a note.
    Question: Will I have trouble exchanging Dollars to Pesos in airport? Is it better w/ $$ rather than travelers checks? I will fly in 9:30 at night.
    Thank you.

  5. Returned from Bogota last night. The only real scam I encountered was my card was charged 7% by hotel because I left the next day after the hotel had no hot water. I had a friend who speaks spanish who was my “mouth piece”. You were right, money exchange opened late at night. I made the mistake of exchanging in the airoport in USA. Luckily I hedged my bet and only exchanged less than half ($600). Food places, bakeries and espresso and food carts EVERYWHERE! No need for a tour book.

  6. I will be returning to Bogota in late summer. I will remember to exchange money in Bogota (better rate). The weather will be rather cool and rainy. I wrote down the name of the tax exempt window too.

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