Security in Nicaragua is it a safe country?
Am sure if you are organizing a trip to Nicaragua, you have already asked yourself or have ever been asked this question. Well, to put your worries aside, in general I can tell you that Nicaragua is a quiet country for tourists . Now, do not forget that you are going to one of the poorest countries in Latin America, so it does not hurt that you take into account a series of considerations that I will relate in this post.
As always, first of all, clarify that my experience in Nicaragua is limited to the days I spent in the country, about 20, and to the comments of acquaintances and locals who crossed my path. In other words, this travel guide is written by and for tourists. If you need more specific information because you are going to move to the country or for professional reasons, I encourage you to consult more sources. With that said, let’s get down to business.
Money in Nicaragua
The standard of living in Nicaragua is low and it is easy to live on little money. Nicaraguans have their own currency, the Cordoba , which at the time of writing this publication is at 1 € = 32 Cordoba. In most places they accept dollars but personally I always recommend paying with Cordoba. If you pay with your currency it is easier to avoid cheating: rounded prices on the rise, poorly made changes …
At this point, I give you a first tip: ALWAYS find out about the prices of products and services before paying. In too many occasions, the tourist is considered a walking dollar and it is not unusual that they try to deceive you with the prices. Throughout my adventure out there, more than one and more than two tried to overcharge me. The best way to avoid this is to ask a local for the exact or approximate rate of what you are about to pay. Now, I also tell you that Nicaraguan prices are generally very low, so if one day they cheat you a bit, it’s not worth getting into any trouble. To the change, surely you have been scammed a minimum amount. So money spent, money forgotten.
Another important issue to keep in mind is that it is not easy to pay with a credit card . Few locals accept it: only large stores, international brands, multinationals, franchises, and some hotels and restaurants of a certain level. It is also not easy to find ATMs, even in very touristy areas. There is usually quite a distance between one ATM and another, even in major cities. So I recommend you always carry cash with you and withdraw money before it runs out completely.
With regard to exchange houses, I personally did not have to make use of any. But here are the usual tips: avoid exchanging money at the airport and in dubious street stalls. Only go to establishments of a certain authority. And be very careful about exchanging money at land customs between Nicaragua and other countries : from what we were told, the area is full of scammers who offer you currency exchange, but the only money that comes into play is yours. For problems of this type or health issues, I personally recommend traveling with travel insurance, since it is the simplest and cheapest way to solve the mishaps typical of visits abroad. I use the IATI company for its prices and coverage and it also offers a 5% discount to our followers.
Although Nicaragua’s economic situation is obviously complicated, in general terms, it could be said that Nicaragua has a fairly decent level of roads and means of transportation . I will explain some of the most common:
Are Nicaragua buses safe?
If you really want to know the reality of this country, you cannot leave Nicaragua without making a trip on a local bus: they are quite a show! And it is that in Nicaragua the buses do not have something similar to a schedule, but basically the driver waits at the station until he considers that he has put enough millions of people inside. Yes, you heard it right, millions. No capacity limit is respected on Nicaraguan buses : if there is air to breathe, there is still room for someone else. In fact, the driver is accompanied by a reviewer who, in addition to collecting tickets, is in charge of making or undoing gaps to get people in or out when it is very full.
Although what is full for you is not so for street vendors, who despite the fact that there may not be space inside even to cough, do not hesitate to go up to offer their products. It was amazing to see her ability to move among people as if they were spread in butter.
Of course, in these buses, the luggage does not usually fit inside, so the backpacks and / or suitcases are hooked with ropes on the roof . For this reason, I strongly recommend that you take out all your electronic devices or anything that is too fragile or valuable and take it with you.
To finish, tell you that drivers tend to drive decently although it is true that they press the accelerator too much especially if we take into account the number of people standing in the aisles. With all this, you may not want to go by bus, but I recommend the experience (especially if you are sitting). And is that despite so much madness, it is fun and costs very little money.
Nicaraguan taxi security
Personally, a long time ago I declared war on all taxis in the world. And it is that there are too many taxi drivers who abuse the ignorance of the tourist to charge for the trips much more money than it really costs. In Nicaragua the issue is no different, especially if we consider that the taximeter does not exist, so the confusion is even greater. Of course, I’m not going to generalize either because I had careers with very friendly drivers, but especially in very touristy areas, try to be careful. Returning to point one of the publication, the only way to avoid disappointment is to ALWAYS ask a local what is the price they should charge for the journey. Do not forget that the rate is for everyone, travel one or four. More than once they told us a total price and then they tried to trick us by saying it was for each one.
For this reason, before getting into a taxi be sure to agree with the driver the total price. Avoid questions like: “How much does the trip cost?” but directly tell them: “Does the journey cost” X “Cordoba, right?”. I also recommend that you do not take a taxi to go from one city to another , because although it is usual that they offer it to you. I assure you that going by bus is INFINITELY cheaper. And don’t listen to the taxi drivers even if they tell you that the bus is full, or that there are no more schedules. Before taking a long distance taxi, go to the station and make sure there is no public transport available.
Rent a car in Nicaragua
Is it a good idea to rent a car in Nicaragua? As I have already mentioned, despite the delicate economic situation of the country, Nicaragua has quite decent roads and the traffic is not, today, too exaggerated. In fact, if you compare it with Costa Rica, a country in a much more comfortable economic situation, at the level of transport by car Nicaragua is much more friendly. In addition, renting a car is very cheap so it is a very good option to move around the country.
Of course, maximum attention always behind the wheel. In Central America there are many deficiencies in road education and you can find many surprises on the road. Go slowly and carefully, and never lose sight of the asphalt.
By the way, in cities it is not common to see cars parked on the street, so I deduce that it is not a completely safe practice. So whenever you are going to leave it unused for a while, look for a guarded parking lot and leave it there. The prices for parking are usually quite low and you will feel calmer.
Security in hotels and hostels
Are hotels and hostels in Nicaragua safe? It is difficult to generalize on this topic, but I will tell you there is a wide range of accommodation and you can find good options if you look a little . Obviously, in category hotels there is a greater surveillance than in a shared room in a hostel, but good hostels usually offer lockers for the tenant to store their luggage. However, whether it is a trip to Nicaragua or any other country in the world, if you cannot afford a private room or it does not give you enough confidence, it is best to take valuable things with you (cameras, mobiles, passport …) and leave your luggage in the room with only the clothes.The best way to ensure the quality of a hosting is to previously check the comments of users on the Internet , and try to go to those well valued by the community. In this sense, platforms like Booking can be of great help.
Another recommended option is AirBnb, so you can stay in local people’s houses. On this website you can also consult the opinions of other users about a certain host, so you can previously ensure the quality of a place. If you have not yet registered, here is an invitation.
Food safety is also one of the usual traveler concerns, especially when you travel to a country poorer than yours. Well, in the case of Nicaragua: can I eat anywhere? Can I drink anything?
Although when I went to the vaccination center in my city they advised me against any street food and drinks with ice, the reality is that in Nicaragua there is a certain level of hygiene in the matter of food . Let’s see, I’m not going to fool you, obviously there are clubs and it is not advisable to eat anywhere, but if you look at the surroundings a little before sitting down it is easy to find stomach-safe places. In fact, at the Central American level, Nicaragua is one of the countries with the best gastronomic fame and the reality is that there is a certain dedication in the preparation of the dishes
Of course, under no circumstances drink tap water and, whenever possible, always try to ask for purified ice. Of course, avoid uncooked food, such as salads and vegetables, unless you are in a place of a certain level or you have the possibility to disinfect it previously. The fruit, as in any tropical country, is delicious and very varied, although it is worth giving it a water before taking a bite.
And can I eat in the markets? I prefer not to comment on this, since there are stomachs for everything. In most of the markets I visited, there were stalls that offered food at a very good price. However, the hygiene conditions in these markets left much to be desired, especially with regard to meat and fish, which are exposed to their fate without any type of protection and air conditioning. But hey, if you like stir-fry fish with flies … I won’t be the one to tell you not to try it.
In short, if you are minimally careful with where you eat and what you eat, in Nicaragua you would not have to have too many stomach problems. Although I also tell you that, as in any trip, you are going to have your days of tourism in a toilet bowl.
Robberies and assaults in Nicaragua
It is difficult to talk about robberies without, luckily, having lived closely with any experience of this type. Now, unlike other Central American countries (Costa Rica aside, of course), Nicaragua is a relatively quiet place. Especially if you only move through the most touristy places (Granada, León, Ometepe …), where you will be “protected” under the bubble of foreign money .
Now, outside of that bubble, we must not forget that life in Nicaragua is much more complicated than in much of Europe, so it is not advisable to be unprepared and attract more attention than necessary.
Mother’s advice: never lose sight of your personal belongings, control your bags and pockets in crowds and public transport, do not stray too far from urban centers or tourist areas, and avoid walking alone at night.
A good recommendation is that, before going to any place that you have not visited before, ask a local. For example, the people who ran the hostel where I stayed in Managua advised me against walking around the neighborhood after certain hours, only with a door-to-door taxi. But of all that I visited it is the only place where they gave me such an indication.
As you can see, today, Nicaragua is a very comfortable country for tourists. Now, it never hurts to be cautious and all these recommendations can help you make a mental composition of what you may find on your visit. Even if you move within the tourist shield, it should not be forgotten that Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Latin America and that it has just emerged from a period of war. This in itself does not mean anything, because the country shows the visitor a much friendlier face than its data, but it is always advisable to go for a walk with common sense. If you have any questions or suggestions, the comments are at your disposal.