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Timing and Precautions
The Casco Viejo is best explored on foot, though due to the intensity of the tropical heat, try to do your walking in the morning or late in the afternoon. Four o'clock in the afternoon is a great time to stroll around, when you can enjoy the evening light at Plaza Francia, have a drink on Plaza Bolívar, then dine at a nearby restaurant. Give yourself at least two hours to tour this neighborhood, more if you plan to shop.
Casco Viejo is predominantly poor, but it isn't as dangerous as it looks. Nevertheless, precautions should be taken: leave jewelry and passport in your hotel safe, don't bring heaps of money, and be discreet with camera or video equipment. The crime problem is not so much in Casco Viejo but in the adjacent neighborhoods, so you shouldn't stray from the areas covered in the walking tour. The area is patrolled by Tourism Police, who work out of a station behind the Teatro Nacional.
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