Ciudad del Este?


Oct 25, 2005
I'll probably be down in Argentina again later this year (yes, I've caught the bug). This time I shall be a bit braver and -- gulp -- take my life in my hands and step outside Recoleta.
I'm interested in making a visit to Ciudad del Este (Paraguay). My interest has been piqued by an article I found in Military Review:
Ciudad del Este, a boomtown on Paraguay's eastern border facing Brazil and Argentina, is an appropriate target for new concerns. Regional security scholars have aptly called it a nest of spies and thieves.
Local security specialists assert that Ciudad del Este is not only a den of low-technology criminality but also a haven for international money laundering, with much of the money coming from the Middle East. It is a town of a quarter million inhabitants and an international trading center where the admixture of drug runners, terrorists, and pinstriped bankers trespasses on the sovereignty and safety of democratic countries and their citizens, thereby representing a threat to the United States and the region. There are other examples of ungovernable zones in the Americas that provide cover for terrorist groups, such as the Switzerland-sized area that Colombia granted as an official safe haven to a group on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations, but in Paraguay's Ciudad del Este, all the components of transnational lawlessness seem to converge.
Is this true, or is the reputation of Ciudad del Este being unfairly besmirched? And will my pocket knife afford me sufficient protection?
I should be able to squeeze in a visit to the Iguazu Falls as well.
HiWhen I first came here to Argentina I was dead set on exploring some and especially on seeing Ciudad del Este but that idea for some reason doesn't appeal to me as much, probably cause I have too much other stuff to do but anyway I have spoken to some people regarding that place and people do travel there often to sightsee and shop and most of them don't become the victims of violent crime. The reason for that is because they know that "if we hurt them, they won't come back".

That portion of an article looks alot like another thing I read some time ago at I think that the version on Wikipedia at is better and probably gives one a better idea of that place.Do write about your experiences there once you've returned, I for one would be very interested in reading about them.
There is essentiaslly no rule of law in Paraguay. You'll likely survive Ciudad del Este - but why bother going? What's worth seeing there?
"chris" said:
There is essentiaslly no rule of law in Paraguay. You'll likely survive Ciudad del Este - but why bother going? What's worth seeing there?
Risk. Danger. Something to get the pulse going. A glance at the seamier side of South America.
No rule of law in Paraguay. Does that mean banditry? Does it mean the country is carved up into little fiefdoms over which the government has scant control?
I know that in the old days contrabandistas -- including some intrepid US pilots -- used Paraguayan landing fields.
"There is essentiaslly no rule of law in Paraguay. You'll likely survive
Ciudad del Este - but why bother going? What's worth seeing there?"
Bad things can happen to you anywhere and at any time. I don't think it really takes too much bravery to venture into Ciudad del Este unless you're planning to thouroghly explore its shantytowns and even that is far from guaranteed of being fatal.
On another note entirely , I was chatting with a guy recently a month or two ago and he told me that when in Ciudad del Este buy from stores or from big stores since the things the streetdealers will sell to you will often turn out to not work or to be faulty in some way, he also reccomended that I ask to see the things which I pay for acctually working.
The following text is taken from Wikitravel at " "
" There aren't many large cities in Paraguay, which means that if you
stay clear of them, you are unlikely to run into any trouble. The
police are known to be corrupt, and if you are pulled over for any
reason, you will almost be expected to pay a bribe. In the cities,
crime is common, though not as rampant as in other cities such as Rio. Ciudad del Este
is a money laundering capital of the world, and also a counterfeit
capital. You'll want to keep an eye on your bags and wallet here.
Generally, as long as you aren't involved in drug smuggling
(inadvertently or otherwise), and beware of pickpockets, you should be
safe most of the time. "
I realize this thread started several months ago but....I was in Ciudad del Este for a day, it was definitely an interesting place--tons of high-end electronics stores juxtaposed with food shacks and small stores of every variety lined up along chaotic and bustling streets.

We didn't see any other recognizable Americans or Europeans or tourists of any variety. We survived unscathed but there was definitely the feeling that we stood out like sore thumbs and a bit of tension in the air. If you're looking for the wild west of South America, I'd guess this is as close as you'll come... it's a crazy town and electronics are as cheap as you'll find them on this side of the Southern Hemisphere.
I was in Ciudad del Este last year whilst I was visiting Iguazu falls.
I was with another English girl, a dutch girl and an Argentine girl. We got a taxi from the Foz de Iguazu at which point the taxi driver told us to take any rings, watches off....the usual - and that it was very dangerous. The dutch girl had her camera stolen in Chile so the purpose of the trip was to buy a new one....the taxi driver then warned to be careful as you can buy it in one shop and then have it stolen as you walk away.
Strolled over the border without anyone batting an eyelid at passport control (so didnt get stamped!!) yes it had a crazy market atmosphere but no worse than other places ive been such as La Paz.
Dutch girl found a camera that she liked...but the shop said yes but you have to wait 2/3 hours for the camera??? We never knew why, left to go to another shop found another camera she liked and the camera was in the box but without charger and accessories??
Left after a couple of interesting hours, never felt particulary threatened but you do get the feeling it is a free for all. You can buy anything on the streets from Pringles, to drugs to I have no ideas why but everybody was trying to sell blood pressure kits?
Oh and there was a whole host or perfume shops - cheaper than anywhere else I have ever seen so that kept us girls occupied!!
Left Paraguay (again strolling past border control) unscathed by the experience!
Hey guys thanks for your stories about your visits to ciudad del este, I myself never did make it there but I think I one day will.
The old name was better.
If you like rowing you can prolly make some extra pocket money