Every time you need to exchange money goto the banks. Do never trust the men who stand in the street calling out "Cambio!" (Change!).
On the one hand they charge more than banks, and on the other hand they might give you fake or old money.
If you have a choice do not go to Florida Street. It has become so touristy and so many panhandlers and people who like you part with your dollars operate here. Do not buy anything on this street since they are overpriced and the same items even in ricoleta or san telmo is about half the price.
Unique Suggestions: Do not pay attention to panhandlers, ladies with children on their hips persistently begging. One lady changed a fifty peso note when a merchant did not have change. dont stay very long. and if you have been there once just avoid it the second time.
I avoid going there but if someone new is in town i might go with them grudgingly to calle florida but leave as soon as possible or become nauseated by the scene whichever comes first
Fun Alternatives: If you want good quality items, go to a shopping mall, however depressing you might get about it. I recommend Patio Bulrich and there you would get excellent quality leather goods among other things. For antiques or other souveniers go to Plaza Dorrego on a weekend. if you want cheap goods there is no place like Once the highly jewish owned but no longer operated stores. but the place is dirty and full of street operators
La Boca is also a must see for every tourist. Knowing this many businesses are set up to try to squeeze as many pesos from them as possible.
All along the streets that make up the main tourist section are cafes with outdoor seating, many into and on the street. They have small tango shows and they have individuals employed who's sole purpose is to lure tourists to sit down at one of these cafes.
When you sit down and look at the menu you will notice that the prices are grossly inflated. Consider that the area you are in is one of the poorest areas in Buenos Aires.
Unique Suggestions: Bring a bottled refreshment with you so when you get thirsty you don't have to sit at one of the cafes. If you see a tango show on the street, watch from a distance and when invariably a street hawker tries to get you to sit down, just walk away.
Fun Alternatives: I would suggest seeing tango somewhere else than La Boca. I saw a show at Cafe Tortoni, which was very good. The shows I saw in La Boca were nowhere near as good.
This isn't completely negative...I took a day tour to an estancia (Santa Susana) that was arranged by my hotel. It cost $100 pesos and included transportation from my hotel. However, I saw the tour guide charge another guy $150 pesos! So make sure you're very clear about the cost before you go. The estancia was about an hour outside of B.A. We had mate on the way prepared and shared by the tour guide. The horseback riding was a joke. They saddled us all up...about 30 of us, for a 15 minute walk around a nearby field. The food was excellent...parrilla - chicken, steak, sausage, wine and entertainment.
Unique Suggestions: If you want a better estancia experience with real horseback riding, my guess is that you'd want to go out to a working estancia and stay a day or two (if you have the time)...don't just do the day tour.
Fun Alternatives: Stay at a working estancia as a guest. Or pick a smaller group tour. There were a total of 400 people at the one I went to!
Dont hurry up and change your money at the airport. Just change a 50 dollar note and that will get you to the city, you dont need more.
If you wait and change outside the airport you ll see you ll get a higher rate.
Beware "arbolitos" on busy streets like Florida, who are those guys on the street offering you change of dollars, its usually a lower rate than you ll get at an exchange house.
If you go to San Telmo, be prepared to be asked constantly for money. Kids usually work in the weekends around the park and the cafes.
Unique Suggestions: If you really have to go to San Telmo try to go in a weekday. The cafes are empty and lovely. There's always a gentelman singing tangos in the middle of the square and you might get to see somebody dancing!
Fun Alternatives: As I said before try to go in a week day and have a coffee in the main square.
Dont arrange a remis (taxi) from the stands immediately in front of you as you enter the Arrivals hall - they are $5 - $10 U.S dollars more expensive than the others that are situated in the main Arrivals hall on the other side.....just pass through a little further.
Unique Suggestions: There are also authorised taxi stands just outside the airport doors which are a little cheaper. Expect to pay around 35 pesos (10 U.S).
Fun Alternatives: If you can pre-arrange an offically licensed "Radio Taxi" from the hundreds of companies in the city - they will charge around 25 pesos.
All you do is travel up and down a murky river. There really is not much to see around the place either.
They sell snacks on board.
Unique Suggestions: Do it without a tour guide. Just take the taxi there and walk around yourself
Fun Alternatives: Skip this all together or do the Humberto M boat tour. At least you will see some of the sites.
As I said in my must see activity tip, La Boca has a bit of a tourist trap feel with all of the street performers and vendors vying for your money. I went into one store where there were individual sellers all trying to compete with each other, verbally pulling me all around the store hoping that I would buy one of their trinkets. The tango dancers don't do a lot of dancing, instead they just stand there until a tourist gives them some money to pose for a photo. San Telmo is a better bet if you're hoping to see some free tango.
Nonetheless, La Boca is a charming place and probably the most photogenic neighborhood in all of Buenos Aires, so it's still worth a look.
The plan for the day (24 December) was to change my traveler's cheques. Surely I wouldn't have the problems I had in Petrópolis because this is an international city. Then, I would do some shopping for family, friends, and myself.
I discovered on leaving the building that the money exchanges were closed because it was a bank holiday. I will bet that in most other countries, banks were opened for at least half the day. Just to make sure we're all singing from the same hymnal, picture this: I arrived in Argentina on Saturday. All banks are rightly closed on Sunday and Tuesday (Christmas). So, basically, the folks at the bank leave work early on Saturday afternoon and don't see their desks until first thing the following Wednesday morning: nice work if you can get it. The previous week, folks were rioting in the streets for jobs. On the calle Florida, bums were begging for jobs, and these folks take off a goodly part of a week of holiday. BEAM ME UP! I wouldn't be surprised if New Year's Eve was a bank holiday too! Therefore, my traveler's cheques might has well have been Confederate money. I thought I was sunk until this old man at a cafe offered to change my traveler's cheques. I didn't know whether to trust him, so I only had him change one of the cheques, so I wouldn't be out everything if the guy wasn't on the level. The commission was 10%, but I don't begrudge the gentleman of a profit. That was the same rate I was charged in Petrópolis. I got my mama an Argentine cookbook at Cuspide Libros. I was so hungry I could have eaten a manhole cover, but I settled for some sandwiches and grenadine at a cafe down on the corner.
Começamos o passeio a La Boca indo de taxi até a Bombonera (estádio do Boca Juniors). Lá existe um museu e diversos passeios. Como nenhum brasileiro torce por time argentino, só entrei para ver o estádio (P$ 3), as outras opções são caras e inúteis, como o museu dos troféus.
Do estádio até o Caminito pode-se ir a pé, pareceu bastante seguro.
Depois do Caminito chega-se à beira do Riachuelo, uma bela paisagem, dá vontade de ficar curtindo um pouco aquilo lá. É aí que mora o perigo: somos assediados para sentar num agradável bar, com música ao vivo e animação. Tudo bem, pede-se umas cervejas, sem pensar. Na hora da conta, o assalto: P$8 por cada garrafinha!
Mas, ATENÇÃO: o lugar é realmente agradável, e esse tipo de problema NÃO é a regra em BsAs.
Unique Suggestions: Antes de pedir qualquer coisa nesses bares (no plural porque soube de outro caso) peça o menú e verifique os preços, e pergunte também sobre os extras (manteiga, pão, cobertura).
Aliás, quando o garçon trouxer a conta "de boca", pode desconfiar que ele já incrementou alguma coisa: em geral se apresenta um ticket discriminando.
Fun Alternatives: Coma sempre em lugares frequentados pelos locais. Na Boca existe um bom restaurante mais para o interior, na Av Almirante Brown, esquina com Suárez.
In the past the pedestrian Florida street was the paradise of shopping tourists. Meanwhile Corrientes avenue, the backbone of the theater district, was famous for its nightlife and restaurants. Avoid them both!!! They are dirty, unsafe and have nothing to offer nowadays. Stay in other areas like Puerto Madero, Recoleta and Barrio Norte.
Unique Suggestions: If you decided to go to the theatre, use a cab and don't walk around. There are much better places to have dinner afterwards.
Some taxi cabs may try to bill you a higher rate specially during long trips such as in-out from the airport. Sometimes you can be stolen inside the taxi by the driver and a partner jumping in at any traffic light.
Unique Suggestions: Use only taxi cabs that you previously call by phone. Avoid taking taxis at both BA airports and use the official private cars service provided by Tienda Leon.
Avoid the restaurants in San Telmo that host indoor tango shows. I witnessed a group of Americans getting ripped off by the most prominent of the places (sorry, I can't rememember the name but it's a two-story joint on the corner of the square). They had just ordered drinks without asking for the price and were outraged to find out they had been charged hundreds of dollars for drinks only. They were also charged $90 for a tango show that they had only seen a few minutes of. They argued for a while with the waiters and a hostile manager and then threw some bills in his face and fled the scene. I snuck out shortly thereafter without ordering anything. Lesson - check the menu first for drink prices before ordering!
Taxis in Buenos Aires are a lucrative business for the unknowing tourist. It is best to organise a 'Remise Taxi' once you arrive at the airport. And be sure to take one of their cards so you can use that company throughout your stay. If you hail taxis from the street, it can be both very dangerous and a total rip-off. Especially for female and non Spanish-speaking travellers. And now with Argentinas financial crisis, people are even more desperate. So remember, always order a Remise Taxi.