Just remember: most crimes and accidents can be avoided by using common sense. Ecuador is a safe and wonderful country for travel. No matter where you travel, it’s wise to get some travel insurance.
Imbibing illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine can either land you in jail, land your money in the hands of a thief, or worse. Unless you are willing to take these risks, avoid illegal drugs.
Lonely Planet has received a couple of letters from travelers who were unwittingly drugged and robbed after accepting food from a stranger. You can see the mistake that was made here.
Be wary of false or crooked police. Plainclothes ‘policemen’ may produce official-looking documents, but always treat these with suspicion, or simply walk away with a smile and a shrug. On the other hand, a uniformed official who asks to see your passport in broad daylight in the middle of a busy street is probably just doing a job.
If travelers had to confess their top five stresses, one would surely be Backpack Separation Anxiety (BSA). It’s most commonly experienced when travelers are required to place their backpacks in a bus’s luggage compartment or overhead rack. Aside from craning your neck at every stop until it snaps, there’s little you can do to prevent it being stolen. But rest assured – for the most part, the bag-checker is on your side and knows whose bags are whose. Definitely keep your eye on it (or carry a pack small enough to bring on the bus), but don’t worry yourself silly. Bag theft occurs, but not very often. Some people buy a grain sack in the market and pack their bag in it so it will blend in with the cargo.
Armed robbery is rare in Ecuador, although parts of Quito (especially the Mariscal Sucre neighborhood) and some coastal areas are dangerous.
Sneak theft is more common, and you should always watch your back (and back pockets) in busy bus stations, on crowded city buses and in bustling markets. All of these places are worked by bag-slashers and pick pockets. But you can avoid playing victim to them by being smart.
Carrying your wallet or passport in a back pocket is advertising. But also avoid lifting your shirt and whipping out your money pouch in public. Instead carry a wallet with a small amount of spending money in your front pocket and keep the important stuff hidden in your money pouch beneath your clothes.
Leaving money in the hotel safe deposit boxes is usually reliable, but make sure that it is in a sealed, taped envelope. A few travelers have reported a loss of money from deposit boxes in the cheaper hotels. Theft from hotel rooms happens only on those rare occasions when Bad Worker and Careless Tourist (who leaves valuables in the open) cross paths.
Due to the armed conflict in neighboring Colombia, areas along the Colombian border (particularly in the northern Oriente) can be dangerous. Tours into the Oriente are almost invariably safe, but there have been a few isolated incidents of armed robbery in which no one was hurt. Lago Agrio is dodgy once you leave the main drag.