Big City Living in Tegucigalpa

Heavily Armed Police in Tegucigalpa

Heavily Armed Police

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

The capital city of Honduras is dirty, dangerous, and expensive. Just the type of place most people try to avoid. So naturally I decided to go urban exploring and check it out.

When I began this little travel adventure of mine, I told myself I wanted to see everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Curiosity is part of my DNA. Happy places are only one part of the whole story.

After hearing rumors that Tegucigalpa was a dangerous city, of course I want to learn more about it first-hand. In my experience most “dangerous” rumors are exaggerated quite a bit.

But that doesn’t mean one should completely forgo basic common sense.

Welcome to Tegucigalpa

Welcome to Tegucigalpa

Urban Jungle of Honduras

Tegucigalpa is a sprawling city of about 1 million people surrounded by mountains in the heart of Honduras. There’s really no infrastructure set up for budget travelers. It’s possible to find a few cheap roach-filled motels; but good luck locating a clean, friendly, low-cost backpacking hostel.

This is probably because most travelers don’t have good reasons to linger here for any length of time.

The city came into view through the window of a chicken bus as we wound down through the mountains. A 200 yard swath of garbage was strewn over the side of a steep hill, burning away with thick black smoke.

Not exactly the most inviting first impression…

Razor Wire in Tegucigalpa

High Security Everywhere

Rich Gringo Syndrome

White skin doesn’t always help you travel cheaply in big Latin American cities. The taxi I found wanted $120 Lempiras ($6 US) which is 6 times the price of a cab ride in the nearby town of Comayagua.

The driver naturally assumed I was a millionaire like all gringos are, and adjusted his prices accordingly. Eventually I talked him down to $90 Lempiras ($4.50 US) though, and off we went. I can already tell I don’t want to visit the city for very long…

Secret Embassy Meetup

My first order of business was to rendezvous with a Dr. Juan Almendares, founder of the Honduran charity Movimiento Madre Tierra. I chose to give his anti-mining organization the donations you guys made through my site last month.

I phoned the good doctor from my razor-wire protected hotel balcony to schedule an appointment the next day. “Meet me in front of the Brazilian Embassy” he says.

The Brazilian Embassy? Isn’t that where ex-Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya, sought asylum after he was ousted by a military coupe in 2009? It all seemed a bit James Bond-ish..

Fruit Vendor in Tegucigalpa

Cheap & Delicious Fruit Stalls

Operation Don’t-Get-Robbed

After meeting with the friendly charity staff (sadly no offers to become a secret agent), there were a few hours to kill before my bus ride out of the city and across the border into Nicaragua. So I decided to “gear up” for a covert photography session in the streets.

To prepare for the mission I wore my dirtiest-looking clothes, stashed my police-strength pepper spray into an easy access pocket, and wrapped my big DSLR camera in a Keffiyah scarf. You can never be too careful! :D

Unfortunately despite my preparations, I still stood out like a sore thumb in this city. Everyone was staring at the bald-headed gringo wandering around alone through the streets on foot.

Taxi cabs began pulling over even though I hadn’t flagged them down. The drivers couldn’t possibly understand why I’d want to walk when they had a perfectly good car ready to take me anywhere.

River of Trash in Tegucigalpa

River of Trash

12 Angry Men

While I was roaming the area, a posse of young men started yelling at me from a distance. They were visibly drunk and looking to pick a fight at 11:00 in the morning.

Many poor Hondurans living in the countryside migrate to Tegucigalpa searching for work. Often there is none available for them. This is a big reason why crime is so bad – people are desperate here.

But it was easy for me to keep clear of this angry group of drunks. Guatemala City was starting to feel safer to me than this place!

Luckily I wasn’t around for much longer. My sight-seeing in Tegucigalpa consisted of automatic weapons, razor wire, out-of-work drunks, and urban sprawl.

The whole experience was eye-opening – but it was time for me to continue my journey South. ★

Details & Information:

Location/Map: Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Place to Stay: Casa del Viajero Hotel ($64 US)
Useful Notes: Exploring the city on your own is possible, just be careful and be smart. Going with a group is probably safer.

Ever visited a city that you didn’t feel very safe in?

Any Questions Or Comments?

Thanks for leaving a comment, I appreciate your feedback. However please use your real name only and treat everyone with respect. Lets have a meaningful conversation!

37 Comments

  1. I have visited Tegus like 25 times, and I’ve never experience danger or harm. There is risks and danger everywhere. I have travel to many other cities in Europe and Middle East, and believe me, I have also found dirty cities, beggers, people with weapons and rude people. And that is one thing I did not find in Tegus…the people there have been always nice to me…as for some gringos, they just go with their first sight and what they read on articles and awful media.

  2. You were most probably visiting a sketchy area. Those exist everywhere, be it a first or third world country, and focusing only on the bad doesn’t make it fair, does it? How would you feel if someone came and highlighted only the bad things about your homeland, in a public site where thousands could see it?

  3. As someone who has visited Comayagua (not Tegus) I can attest to the fact that it is much nicer than Tegucigalpa, with a much lower crime rate, due to the much lower population and low amount of population around the city.

  4. Interesting comments. Should be a very interesting trip to Honduras. Hope they like friendly Canadians. Will be there for 7 days as a solo traveler.

  5. Hey Matt!

    I had fun reading Tegucigalpa´s review, but concerned you only got to see the Ugly. As a really troubled country, there is a lot of danger and violence going on, but if you have the luck to find the right people, you might get a different impression… You van travel round the little towns around the city (Valle de Angeles, Santa Lucía and Ojojona) they are rich in culture and hace a lot of history… You might also want to take a beautiful walk through la Tigra’s national park or have a nive day at “El Picacho”, even in the city, if you walk through the central park and go eat at the market “los Dolores” or go to the oldest bar in Tegucigalpa “Tito Aguacate” and many other places that come quiet interesting for travellers :D I bet the experience would be a lot different.

    Yeah yeha, it’s dangerous and people might get violent, but good Hondurans exist (like me) and we know how to love our big little contry caos :D

    1. Natalia,

      I’m so glad that you posted this! My friend and I are here now (it’s our only stop in Honduras) and we love it! Everyone has been very friendly and we haven’t felt less safe here than anywhere else we’ve been. There’s plenty to do with day trips to La Tigra and Valle de Los Angeles, and the city itself is stunning. Of course one can find ugly sides to a city, but I agree that this post is exaggerated. It’s a real shame because Honduras is a beautiful country, and we have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Tegus. Tip for travelers: the Palmira Hostel is cheap, clean, and in a very good area. Highly recommend.

  6. Javier morales, private guards they sure use bigger weapons, for example the guards in residential areas, and those who travel with the ones,who leaves products to the stores and pulperias use machine guns. Just saying

  7. Some of the comments about Tegucigalpa are exaggerated. I have lived in this city since I was born and let me tell you that it is a beautiful place. As many other cities around the world it has it´s dangerous parts, and obviously you stay away from them. For next time I recommend to the author that before talking trash about a country do a little more research before you publish your articles.

    1. i have visited this city many times, and i like it alot. i try to avoid bad areas. I do see poverty but i also see lots of beautiful places in Honduras to visit. I like the city of Siguatepeque a little more relaxed there.

  8. My dad is from Honduras, his family lived in Tegus for as long as I can remember when I was younger (5 years old) I remember seeing a man get stabbed several times in his back and the people there weren’t afraid they walked away like nothing happened… I will never forget that, also it is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS…. unless your family is the cause of the dangers in Tegus NO ONE is safe…

  9. I lived in Tegucigalpa for 20 years and ended up leaving the Country and relocating to USA. Tegucigalpa is extremely dangerous. My Father has been kidnapped twice (Express kidnapping) a sort of kidnapping where they force at gun point to go to an ATM and withdraw as much money as you can, and they let you go. This happened to him inside Mall Multiplaza once and the other in downtown. My Stepmom was robbed in Bulevard Morazan at 3pm at gunpoint. Whoever is from Honduras and reads this post will have a friend or family member that has been mugged / kidnapped or car jacked at one point of their lives. Stay clear of this place, don’t even consider walking around the city, you will get mugged or worse.

  10. I’m so sorry to hear all the comments, which some are true and some are a little exaggerated. Me, a a Tegucigalpa resident I can say if you want to look for the nice places you will need to inform yourself where to go and definitely you need to pay. Tegucigalpa have some very keep secrets but they are not free and you should ask to go there. In Tegucigalpa you can go to downtown , you have Blvd Morazan and Blvd Juan Pablo II, many Malls you can choose form you will notice our malls are bid due to streets are no so safe for business, and if you want to enjoy a more walking experience you can head to the Tigra Park (make a reservation for excursion) and Valle de Angeles Town.

  11. It is too bad you didn’t love Tegus. It really does have it’s magic. Try doing a little more research next time ;) There’s more than a couple of things to do, see, eat, drink and enjoy!

  12. Hola, It is not easy being a gringo it another country! I am half y half but if you have family there and know where you can be safe and where it is not so friendly and spend more than a day or two… You will see it is a beautiful city with many amazing people! God bless

  13. was there in June, it’s rough… http://bit.ly/p6kSIH

    but we were only there for a couple of days before going to Roatan… they definitely think of themselves as a different country.

    you came in through the north near Omoa– did you pass through San Pedro Sula? it’s worse (dangerous$), if you can believe it.

  14. We were there for a night. The city had a really intense air. I was so tempted to walk around the neighbourhood. You know, when you don’t see anybody (or see a few) on the road, sometimes you think no danger around. Ryan really had to tie my down. Awesome photo of the hill, I only saw it through the cab’s window. Talking about cab, I don’t remember how much we paid. maybe 100 lemps. I only remember the man only had 4 fingers in his left hand.

  15. Hi Matt,
    I’ve been in Tegucigalpa back in ’99 for 2 days and, by the sound of it, it hasn’t changed a bit (not that I expected it would…)!
    Many trips went by since Honduras and I still recall Tegucigalpa like the city where I’ve seen the biggest concentration of guns on the streets in my life.
    I’ll try to go trough my photos as son as I can (not easy, I was still shooting slides back than…), but I’m curious to see if I managed to take some photos of people.
    Happy travels,
    Stefano

  16. I lived in Tegucigalpa for eight years. Yes, it is dangerous. You have to know where to go and where not to go, and how to relate to people there. But this has to be true of many, many cities all across the world, especially in the third world.

    One minor correction – the photo of the guard with the machine gun is not a private guard. He is a policeman. Private guards are not allowed to carry machine guns and you only ever see them with revolvers or shotguns.

    1. I walked up and asked him. You’d be surprised how often that works. :)

      The key is to call it a “portrait” (retrato in Spanish) rather than a “photo”. Makes it sound more professional.

  17. I start my RTW trip on March 1st and plan to spend about 4 months in Central America. One of the pieces of advice it seems every one has given me is to try to avoid the capital cities. It’s sad that that seems to be what everyone agrees with but in the end I guess safety is everyones main goal. Even with that though it will not deter me from visiting Central America. Hopefully at some point we will bump into each other down there.

  18. Wow. Clearly those of us who don’t have the opportunity to visit every Central American country will steer clear of this one. Yikes!

  19. Tegucigalpa is not one of my favourite places. I spent one day there and remember almost nothing except a dunkin donuts that stood out like a sore thumb from the mess all around.

    One thing I do recall about Honduras was the belt of forest that bordered Guatemala – as though Honduras wanted to create the impression in the mind of its neighbour that it was rich in natural beauty. But that forest ran out pretty quickly not far from the border.

    Is the forest still there?

    Honduran mahogany was once one of the most prized of woods – I wonder if there is any left.

    I also recall that there was a great swathe of forest in Panama either side of the canal. I wondered why. Who makes these decisions to keep or destroy forests – the lungs, the rain inducers, and beauty of the planet?

  20. I was in Teguc for less than 24 hours in transit to Nicaragua, and I was thrilled to get out of there. I felt the danger of the city immediately as well. I also had to talk down the taxi driver from 100 lemps to 50 lemps. But you can get some great cheap food from the comedores. The highlight of my stay in Teguc as a huge and delicious “tipico” breakfast for 40 lemps.

  21. I like that gun, I need that. Just the ticket for taking care of bambi’s, small fuzzy squirrels, cute Blue Jays and well maybe in the future when I send more newsletters out too.

    That river of trash looks like your sissy’s room when she was a teenager.

    The flowers and razor wire are a nice touch. I’ll plan that for the garden this summer. You never know when relatives will pick your flowers for table bouquets. No respect.