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4 New Things Americans Should Know About Traveling To South America In 2024

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Home to an abundant nature, a vibrant culture, and warm, welcoming people, South America has been one of the top destinations for Americans this year.

Throughout 2023, several countries on the continent registered a record increase in bookings as a result of loosened entry rules, attractive prices, and improved flight connectivity following the end of the health crisis.

Young Female Tourist Admiring A View Of Rio de Janeiro From A Viewpoint, Brazil, South America

Though the ongoing spike in arrival figures is unlikely to slow down anytime soon, there are four very important updates U.S. travelers heading South early next year should be aware of: some spell great news, others not so much.

We will start with the cheery stuff, but you want to make sure you read until the very end, or you may be in for an unpleasant surprise in the future.

Buenos Aires Is The Cheapest And Safest Capital Of South America

If you are planning a trip to Buenos Aires, the charming capital of Argentina and South America’s most prominent foodie hotspot, you are in for a treat.

Traditional Architecture Of Buenos Aires, Argentina, South America

Famous for its European-inspired architecture, wide boulevards, grand parks, and award-winning restaurants, BA (in the short form) has already been a source of fascination for decades, but it’s truly surged in popularity this year for two reasons.

It is one of the cheapest city breaks for Americans going abroad due to both the ‘tourist dollar’ scheme, which effectively doubles the value of your money when buying pesos in Argentina, compared to the official rate applicable to overseas purchases, and the low consumer prices.

According to BudgetYourTrip, a two-week trip to Buenos Aires can cost as cheap as $354 if you’re going on a budget.

Modern Skyscrapers In Central Buenos Aires, Argentina, South America

Then, there is the citywide lower risks for robbing, scamming, and urban violence in general: other than being mesmerized by tango street performers and finding out empanadas are their new favorite snack, visitors feel very safe walking the streets in downtown BA.

The same cannot be said of a majority of South American capitals, especially when Argentina has the distinction of being only one of a handful of countries in the region to currently enjoy Level 1 status, as defined by the U.S. State Department.

This means it can be on par with the likes of Iceland, Finland, and Norway in terms of safety, and this brings us to point number two.

Tourists Riding Bikes Across A Public Park With The Floralis Generica For Background, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Colombia Is Getting More Dangerous To Visit… Again

Contrastingly, Colombia has been slapped with yet another Level 3 warning by the same entity, meaning it is not a low-risk destination, and Americans should even ‘reconsider’ travel.

Since the nineties, the South American gem has made great strides in increasing safety in its cities and tackling its gang-related problems, but it is still miles behind other states in the region in terms of safety.

This year, numerous tourists have reported being victims of violence when traveling in Colombia, and Medellin is once again on track to become the crime capital of the continent.

And U.S. nationals are particularly concerned as they are perceived to have money and make for easy targets.

Aerial View Of Medellin, The Capital City Of Antioquia, A Department In Colombia, South America

If you are visiting Colombia in 2024, you should ensure you maintain a high level of situational awareness, avoid walking alone late at night, including in touristy neighborhoods, and leave valuable items at your hotel, preferably in a safe.

Learn more about common crimes affecting tourists in Colombia and how you can reduce your risks of being affected here.

Machu Picchu Will Allow More Tourists To Visit Every Day

On a happier note, more tourists will now be allowed to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site and Wonder of the World that is Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu, Incan Heritage Site Near Cusco, Peru, South America

One of the most popular tourist attractions for country-hoppers in South America, it offers an iconic postcard-ready view, with well-preserved terraces and ruined yet impressive pre-Columbian dwellings resting high on a mountain in the Peruvian highlands.

If you’re lucky enough, you may get to feed an alpaca and try the local pisco drink, which is supposed to help you with altitude sickness, and the best thing is you will no longer have to fight as hard for a spot on a guided tour or plan your visit far in advance.

In the past, Machu Picchu hosted a maximum of 3,800 visitors per day, and not all were fortunate enough to get tickets on time.

A view of Machu Picchu through a stone entryway in Peru

From January 1, however, the Ministry of Culture, responsible for overseeing visits to Machu Picchu, will be allowing as many as 4,500 guests daily, and as high as 5,600 on busier days, helping accommodate more tourists and ensuring no one misses out on this World Wonder.

Visas For Brazil. For Americans.

Perhaps the most serious update on this list, Brazil’s latest reshuffle of entry rules is something you don’t want to read inattentively – if you are American.

As we reported a few months ago, the largest country in South America is bringing back visa restrictions for U.S. passport holders in a tit-for-tat move that’s been interpreted as a response to America’s own harsh visa policies applied to Brazilians.

view of christ the redeemer statue in rio de janeiro brazil

As promised, the visa will be digital, but something we did not know at the time was that the application process very much resembles a typical visa procedure, which is burdensome as you are about to learn.

No, you will not have to travel to the nearest Brazilian Consulate to apply for an entry permit and an interview, you can submit your information from the comfort of your home right here.

You will, however, be expected to upload an exhaustive list of documents:

  • The completed application form itself
  • The relevant data on your passport
  • A colored digital passport-style photo*
  • Confirmation of outbound and return flights
  • Bank statements for the last 30 days showing a balance of at least $2,000 for travel
Traveler Holding USA Passport At Airport
*Passport photos are typically taken on a white background, and the face of the individual must be fully visible. When wearing glasses, they must ensure there is no light reflection. More information can be found in the application form.

Application will cost $80.90, and the application platform is run by VFS Global.

It is live now, and you can already make your application if you are due to arrive to Brazil after January 10 and you hold a U.S., Canada, or Australian passport.

European, British, New Zealand, Japanese, and most foreign nationals do not need visas for Brazil, as Brazilians can travel to those countries and territories visa-free.

Having obtained a visa, Americans will be allowed to travel to Brazil on a single visa for 10 years.

Ipanema Beach, An Upscale Sandy Stretch Bounded By High-Rise Luxurious Apartment Buildings In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South America

This means you can enter Brazil for up to 90 days on different trips within the next decade after getting a visa approval.

Meanwhile, Canadians and Australians will be granted a five-year visa upon approval.

Traveling to South America soon and not sure how to go about planning your multi-country adventure? Start by getting inspired here.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Tuesday 2nd of January 2024

I have a question, I have a Brazilian Visa from before they did away with the VISA requirement that doesn't expire till 2025 can I still use that in 2024 without applying for the new one? Thanks


Monday 1st of January 2024

What I have not seen or read is confirmation that a previous 10 year visa for Brazil is still valid.

I got my 10 year visa. Then they stopped requiring a visa. I got a new passport but still have my old one with the visa.

Not paying twice for the same product and there's almost nothing confirming or denying that the old visa will still be valid. So rather than risk some border agent applying their own interpretation I simply canceled my plans to visit Brazil in January.

Brazil is nice. But not so much nicer than it's neighbors that it isn't easier to just skip it now until they simplify the process or at least clarify that the previous visas still apply.


Sunday 31st of December 2023

I am in Colombia right now. Went to Cartagena and now in Bogota. Never once for a second have we (myself, wife and 12 y/o son) unsafe anywhere we went. Unless you are out looking for trouble, it is a safe country to visit. It's not the same country it was in the 80s and 90s. The people are very friendly, plenty of things to do and see, and it's fantastic value.


Monday 1st of January 2024

@FTS7711, I was in Colombia 🇨🇴 South America last year and it was fantastic . To be honest we didn’t feel unsafe and I think we need to know where to go, I was with my family my teenagers boys 👦 in Eje Cafetero Manizales extremely Spanish 🇪🇸 town awesome , we went to Medellin precious all the shopping’s and malls and I found the most stunning lingerie, we were in Bogota great Capital and we finished in the Atlantic coast it’s magic the Colombian Caribbean I strongly recommend this carrribbean it’s a dream and I think we had a really fantastic time food people fashion music 🎶 dancing and the Ceviche it’s the most fabulous Ceviche we ever had. Planning to come back to South America and affordable prices 😘


Sunday 31st of December 2023

Um, no with Buenos Aires. The recent devaluation of the peso has all but eliminated the blue dollar (and caused prices to 2-3x overnight). And with inflation at 40% a month expected for Jan and Feb, crime is going to surge. The time to visit Buenos Aires was last year.


Monday 1st of January 2024