Dangers & Annoyances
In the center, tourist police maintain a visible presence, particularly in the Pelourinho. Crime in the Pelô increases during the high season (especially around Carnaval) and on crowded Tuesday nights, and pickpocketing is common on buses and in congested places where tourists are easily singled out. To minimize risks, dress down, keep jewelry to a minimum, carry just enough cash for your outing and only a photocopy of your passport, and try to be roughly oriented before you set out.
If you must carry a bank card, take only one – and use ATMs inside banks instead of freestanding machines that are more susceptible to hackers.
The Pelourinho shifts quickly into sketchy areas, so avoid wandering off the beaten path. Cidade Baixa is deserted and unsafe at night and on weekends, and the ladeiras (steep roads) should be used with caution. They are both off the beaten path and prone to reckless drivers, so think twice before traversing them on foot and keep aware of your surroundings.
On the beaches, keep a close eye on juvenile thieves – or capitães d’areia (captains of the sand) – who are quick to make off with unguarded possessions.
Don’t hesitate to use taxis after dark or in areas where you feel apprehensive, though taking buses in the evening is not necessarily unsafe.
There is a US Consulate located in the city should you need it.
Emergency & Important Numbers
Any crime involving a tourist must be handled by the city’s tourist police. A few speak English or French.
|Pronto Socorro (Ambulance)||192|
It's easy to get online in Salvador. Most pousadas (guesthouses) and many restaurants offer wi-fi. In the historic center you may find that the thick walls and slapdash wiring make wi-fi connections in hotels temperamental, however.
There are plenty of banks with ATMs that can be used all over Salvador. Banco do Brasil and Brandesco are typically the most reliable for use with foreign cards. You can usually count on the banks at the bus station and airport to be well stocked and safe. Most places – even many of the street vendors – accept credit and debit cards.
You can find plenty of tourist information at the many travel agencies spread throughout the city. Salvador Central , located in the Pelourinho, is a good place to start.
Bahiatursa The tourism authority is friendly if not terribly organized. The Pelourinho office, which has maps and listings of what’s happening around town, is your best bet. There are also desks at the bus station and the airport, at Shopping Barra, Mercado Modelo and a Barra office. Also see www.bahia.com.br.
Grupo Gay da Bahia A cultural center for the LGBT+ community.
Quatro Cantos Turismo This travel agency is a helpful stop for maps, tourist information and trip planning; the agents can also help you buy plane tickets.