Ecuador is a must-visit for anyone looking to get a huge dose of nature.

You’ll find a fair chunk of the Amazon Rainforest, the amazing Andes and – of course – the Galapagos Islands. This is truly one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth!

But it doesn’t come without its issues. South America’s reputation isn’t great in general. Plus, there’s drug trafficking, theft, the threat of seismic activity, and hell, there are even places you’re simply not allowed to go in Ecuador.

All of this may have you asking yourself “is Ecuador safe to visit?”

And that’s where this guide is here to help. We’re going to get into everything you need to know to have a safe and exciting trip to Ecuador.

So let’s dive right in!

is ecuador safe quito drone view
Is Quito safe? Yup for the most part, but you should be aware of altitude sickness and sketchy areas.

There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, and this article is no different. The question of “Is Ecuador Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on the parties involved. But this article is written for savvy travellers from the perspective of savvy travellers.

The information present in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing, however, the world is a changeable place, now more than ever. Between the pandemic, ever-worsening cultural division, and a click-hungry media, it can be hard to maintain what is truth and what is sensationalism.

Here, you will find safety knowledge and advice for travelling Ecuador. It won’t be down to the wire cutting edge info on the most current events, but it is layered in the expertise of veteran travellers. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practise common sense, you will have a safe trip to Ecuador.

If you see any outdated information in this guide, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. We strive to provide the most relevant travel information on the web and always appreciate input from our readers (nicely, please!). Otherwise, thanks for your ear and stay safe!

It’s a wild world out there. But it’s pretty damn special too. 🙂

Updated January 2023 by Samantha Shea

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    Is Ecuador Safe Right Now?

    Whether you planning to backpack the entire country or your coming on a short trip, I’d say Ecuador is generally safe as long as you’re on top of things.

    There are definitely some dangerous places in Ecuador where you should not ever go, particularly along the Colombian border. All cities have some risk of pickpocketing–even in broad daylight. But even still, thousands of tourists have a problem-free trip, just as I did as a newbie backpacker.

    The Galapagos Islands alone receive over 200,000 visitors per year, but the islands are actually in danger of being over-touristed, which results in massive inflation of prices. Luckily, there are many Galapagos Tours that offer guided excursions to the unique islands.

    Is Ecuador Safe to Visit

    So the answer to “is Ecuador dangerous” goes a little something like this–pretty much ALL of Ecuador is safe except for the 20-kilometer exclusion zone along the Colombian border, and these days, the city of Guayaquil should also be avoided. However, this zone is not open for travel anyway, so you definitely wouldn’t accidentally end up there.

    On another note, natural disasters are a constant threat. Ecuador is jam-packed with volcanoes, tsunamis have been known to hit the coast, and earthquakes can happen. Being clued up on how to deal with a disaster when it hits should be on your pre-trip to-do list.

    In rural areas particularly, there is a real risk of rabies and less hospitals to help out in case of emergency. The rabies vaccine is a good idea if you plan to get off the beaten path. Remain vigilant around street dogs as they often carry the virus.

    Safest Places in Ecuador

    Santa Cruz Galapagos

    Ecuador is one of the most diverse and beautiful travel destinations in South America. Unfortunately, its ‘dangerous’ reputation often scares visitors away. However, there are so many places you can visit while being perfectly safe, and the next three are our favorite ones.

    • Cotopaxi: This stunning mountain (and national park) was my favorite place in Ecuador. There are some fantastic secluded hostels and hostels, and you really get to be one with nature. The only thing to prepare for is the event of a volcanic eruption, as Cotopaxi is active.
    • Galapagos Island: While it’s definitely not a cheap place, staying on the Galapagos Islands is incredibly safe. There is hardly any petty crime and no countries have issued any warnings. The only thing you need to be cautious of is the sun, which can be brutal during midday.
    • Montañita: For surfers, party lovers, and night owls, visiting Montañita is a dream come true. The coastal town which was once just a small fishing village is now known for one of the best surf spots worldwide and amazing nightlife options once the sun sets. Unlike the main cities in Ecuador, Montañita is very safe and a great spot for solo travelers that want to meet new people.
    • Cuenca: Cuenca is one of the safest cities in Ecuador and part of it’s old center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The economic center of the Southern Sierra, Cuenca is known for its beautiful festivals and sweet views. Nearby Banos is filled with lush green mountain vistas and various adventure activities.

    Places to Avoid in Ecuador

    While there are many beautiful and safe places in Ecuador, unfortunately, there are areas you should definitely avoid such as:

    • The Colombian Border: Most crimes occur in this area and you really don’t want to get pulled into a drug war on your holidays. Luckily, getting into this exclusion zone is almost impossible for tourists anyway.
    • Areas in Quito: Ecuador’s capital city, Quito, is known for pickpocketing, petty theft, and taxi robberies. While most of the city definitely offers a unique charm and countless attractions, you should still need to be careful where you’re staying. Definitely avoid the neighborhoods of La Marin, La Tola, La Michelina, San Roque, Lucha de los Pobres, La Ferroviaria, Solanda, Chillogallo, and Inaquito.
    • Areas in Guayaquil: While the riverside in Guayaquil is pretty safe for tourists, there are areas in the city that you definitely want to avoid. The poorer the neighborhood, the more dangerous it is to stay there. The downtown and southern areas are known to be sketchy, as well as the El Guasmo district. Be careful when using public transport and watch your belongings, especially if you’re out after dark.
    • Sucumbios: This province, located in the northeastern part of the country, is best to avoid altogether. Part of it borders Colombia and the rest has high crime rates.
    • Esmereldas: Another northern province, Esmereldas is seeing a sharp increase in violent crime. Murders more than doubled in 2022 compared to 2021.

    You’ll also want to take particular caution ANYWHERE after dark.

    17 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Ecuador

    Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Ecuador

    Ecuador offers up a huge serving of adventure and can be an amazing country to visit, but you need to know how to travel safely.

    1. Download an earthquake app – these are usually free and will tell you when one is kicking off near you. Good to know.
    2. Don’t go around flashing your bling – you’ll just make yourself a magnet for people who want your cash.
    3. Basically, try to blend in – big ol’ backpack and an SLR around your neck just scream “TOURIST” (just being honest).
    4. Only carry around what cash you NEED – in case you get robbed, you’ll lose a whole lot less.
    5. Keep your belongings close to you – don’t put your bags down, hang it on a chair, anything like that – keep them on you! Keep your money on you with a money belt.
    6. Be careful using your phone in public – these can get snatched. If you want to use them, head to a shopping center, cafe, restaurant, etc.
    7. Keep a copy of your passport and entry stamp on you – it’s the law, actually.
    8. Don’t trek in the rainforest by yourself – just foolish. You may have no clue what’s going on, so get a (good) guide.
    9. Be careful when using drugs… – over 90% of foreign prisoners locked up in Ecuador are there for drug-related crimes.
    10. Take care of high altitudes – even the capital is 2,850m above sea level! As a rule of thumb, anything above 3,000m requires extra acclimatization.
    11. Don’t go hiking up El Panecillo by yourself – it’s not the mountain that will get you but the sketchy people that hang out around it. Go on a tour or get some good transport up.
    12. Don’t wander around after dark – mainly in certain areas of cities, because you’ll just be putting yourself at risk.
    13. Hand it over – if someone demands your things, hand them over. Your valuables are not worth your life.
    14. Turn down cigarettes and drinks from strangers – no matter how they appear, these can be laced with drugs.
    15. Don’t leave your drink unattended – people sometimes get their drink spiked, which never leads anywhere good.
    16. Get vaccinations – Yellow Fever is rife in Oriente Region. You’ll want some malaria medication, too. Check to see what else you’ll need.
    17. Speak Spanish – even just the very basic stuff. Helps you get around, order food, ask for directions, be friendly to locals, etc.

    At the end of the day, it’s all about being aware of your surroundings – and that includes how you fit in!

    Is Ecuador Safe to Travel Alone?

    Is Ecuador safe to travel alone
    Wandering into the wilderness is tempting…

    Solo travel is amazing – you get to do things your own way, at your own pace. What’s even better, you’ll get to learn stuff about yourself as well.

    But solo travel does have its drawbacks, especially in Ecuador. So with that in mind, we’ve come up with some handy safety tips to make sure your trip is the best it can be.

    • Don’t push yourself and know your limits. Trekking up in the Andes one day, exploring Oriente the next; having a non-stop itinerary planned may feel like the best way to see the country, but you need to take breaks too.
    • Hiking by yourself may be really fun, but make sure you do your research. Especially if you’re heading off the beaten track. Not only are robberies still possible, but nature can get the better of you. It’s a jungle out there on Ecuador’s hiking trails!
    • Don’t be afraid to take a tour from a reputable company or hire a guide. You can meet some cool, like-minded people on tours and, on top of that, local advice gives more depth to a place.
    • Try to travel as light as possibleHaving a load of stuff with you is going to make traveling pretty stressful. You’ll have a load to carry, which is annoying, but it also just means more stuff to keep an eye on when you’re on buses – or more stuff to worry about in your hotel room.
    • Get chatting to other travelers at your hostel, locals in a cafe, anyone that looks friendly. This is a good way to get tips on where to go next, what to see, and where to eat.
    • Don’t go partying too hard. Drinks are cheap, so are drugs, and too much of anything is going to make you senseless. This is even more of an issue if you need to walk back to wherever you’re staying at night. 
    • Don’t walk around at night – it’s really a no-brainer, whether you’re alone or in a group!
    • Traveling solo means you’ll be more at risk of getting scammed. Trust your gut and avoid situations that seem sketchy, because they probably are.
    • An offline maps app like is a good idea. It’s good for anything from finding your way on a hike to finding a historic site that’s not in your guidebook.
    • Memorizing the route to where you staying, or something you want to see, is a good shout as you won’t have to keep getting your phone out. Which is kind of a no-no in public places.
    • Keep in touch with folks back home. Traveling solo doesn’t mean having to go off-grid. It’s not ‘inauthentic’ to call your friends and family back home once a week, at least just to check in and let them know you’re alright!

    The main thing to remember is that you need to be more careful than you would be in your own country. But take the same precautions you usually do and you should be fine.

    Is Ecuador safe for solo female travelers?

    Is Ecuador safe for solo female travelers?
    The world is your oyster, and Ecuador is a great country for solo female travelers

    Traveling alone as a woman comes with a lot more risks. That goes for anywhere in the world, including Ecuador.

    However, you shouldn’t let scary stories keep you away from this stunner of a country. Yes, there are a lot of safety concerns for solo female travelers in Ecuador, but you can avoid these if you keep your wits about you.

    • Sometimes it’s good to take a tour. These help you learn about the local area, see some amazing sights, learn more about Ecuador, and meet some fellow travelers whilst you’re at it. But make sure you do your research and go on a well-reviewed tour. There have been reports of women being harassed whilst on some.
    • Don’t walk around at night. If you have to go out after sunset, walk with someone you know or ask your accommodation to order you a taxi.
    • Ecuador is a macho society. Be prepared to receive comments and catcalls. This also happens to local women. Just ignore them and move on.
    • To fit in, it’s best to dress conservatively. Shorts can actually be offensive in some places, not to mention mark you as a blatant tourist. Remember: tourists are more of a target than locals.
    • Beware of predatory men, especially in bars and clubs along the coast if you’re by yourself.  
    • If you don’t feel comfortable with a situation, speak up and let any fellow travelers around you know what’s happened. Remove yourself from the situation if needed.
    • You don’t have to tell everyone everything about you. If a taxi driver’s asking if you’re married, or anybody seems overly interested in where you’re heading next, and it feels sketchy, don’t tell them. Lie, be vague – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
    • Don’t leave your drink unattended. Date rapes have been known to occur across Ecuador. So don’t accept drinks from strangers. It’s not worth the risk.
    • Stay somewhere with good reviews and make sure that you have a look around before agreeing on anything. Are there other female backpackers staying there? Are there families staying there? Do the doors have locks? Do they work?
    • Ecuadorian people are very open and helpful and will usually help out a woman traveling by herself. Maybe even more so to a female than a male traveling by themselves. Anything from giving their seat up on the bus for you to helping you find your way if you’re lost. People will be happy to help you.

    Is Ecuador Safe for Families?

    Ecuadorians love children! You’ll be welcomed with open arms. Your little ones are going to be great icebreakers and will probably lead you to have truly local experiences that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. There are a few things we have to note:

    Probably don’t see a lot of these back home.
    • Altitudes – keep an eye on your children. If they don’t seem right or complain of headaches, get to a lower altitude. The Quito Cablecar, for example, goes 13,000 feet above sea level and children can’t ride unless they’re over 18 months old.
    • Wild animals – not just scorpions and poisonous frogs, but also stray dogs and cats. They can carry diseases.
    • Public transport – if your child can sit on your lap, then they ride free on public transport. If they take up a seat, that’s a fare. Whilst a child sitting on your lap may not seem safe, buses don’t have seatbelts at all. So you might want to just hold on to them anyway!

    Getting Around Ecuador Safely

    Are taxi safe in Ecuador
    Taxis in Ecuador look like this.
    Photo: Genaro Tapia (WikiCommons)

    Driving in Ecuador as a tourist is a bit crazy, to say the least, and is not particularly recommended. Public transportation (mostly buses) is safe, comfortable, and tourist friendly. You’ll find various degrees of luxury, from extendable coach buses to local vans at local bus stations.

    Taxi drivers will get you where you need to go in major cities, though be sure they turn the meter on before starting the ride and make sure they have a proper license.

    Cycling in Ecuador (particularly through the mountainous regions) is becoming more and more popular amongst backpackers, but I wouldn’t count on riding in cities. Adventure sports towns like Banos have mountain bikes for rent.

    Crime in Ecuador

    While Ecuador has never been the most dangerous country in Latin America, violent crime is escalating, in part due to gangs as well as the impact of the Covid crisis. Now for some up to date information!

    By August 2022, Ecuador has already recorded more homicides than in all of 2021, with 38% of them happening in Guayaquil, a city that should be avoided. Local police throughout the country may be corrupt, and corruption in general is a problem.

    Civil unrest is also somewhat common in Ecuador. In the summer of 2022, the country was rocked by protests revolving around indigenous rights and rising prices. While things have settled down, keep up on local news before your trip to make sure the situation is stable.

    Even so, many places in Ecuador can be visited safely, and the US government only recommends against travels to the dangerous areas we’ve covered. I personally visited Quito and had no issues, though the city does unfortunately have a notable risk of robbery. Avoid walking around the city with your electronics out and about, and don’t go out at night if you can avoid it, though it’s still common to do so in touristy areas.

    Laws in Ecuador

    The drinking age in Ecuador is 18, but keep in mind that while accessible, all drugs are illegal. Marijuana is decriminalized, and shouldn’t be too hard to find at hostels though.

    Getting Insured BEFORE Visiting Ecuador

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    Ecuador’s Safety FAQ

    For a travel destination like Ecuador, there are lots of different things you have to consider when it comes to safety. We’ve listed the most common question, answers, and facts to make your trip as easy as possible.

    So, How Safe is Ecuador?

    While Ecuador is safe for travel, you’ll want to be aware of your surroundings in busy areas and be aware of the no-go zones like Guayaquil and the Colombian border regions.

    Yes, Ecuador may be intimidating at times, but if you’re careful and pay attention to your surroundings, you can absolutely have a safe visit.

    More than that, you can have an awesome time – you’ll get to sink your teeth into rainforests, mountains, indigenous culture, beaches, and the famous Galapagos. 

    Ecuador was the first place I ever traveled internationally and I didn’t have a single issue. The people are friendly, the landscapes are varied and stunning, and Ecuador’s popular tourist places are in fact safe.

    Be prepared, keep your valuables low-key, and you’ll–more likely than not–have the same experience.

    Why Stay in an Eco-lodge in Ecuador
    Ecuador’s mountains are safe, but do be aware of volcanic threats.

    Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!

    And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!