My stay in Argentina was for a short duration. Since Antarctica was my primary destination, I could only visit few places in Argentina in the time I had. The information below is based on the experiences I had during that short stay.
There are no direct flights from India to South America. You need to either have a stop at Europe or US. Flights via US are slightly cheaper but you need to have US visa. Crossing US immigration and customs can be pain many times. There are flights from Middle East to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro has very good connectivity to many cities in South America. Overall, this requires two stops and the price is not cheap. In my case, Air France worked out well as it was the cheapest and at the same time comfortable with only one stop in Paris.
Indians need a visa to enter Argentina and it is a long process. You can read about it here.
Spanish is the official language. It is good to learn little bit of Spanish as many people don’t understand English. I had learnt some Spanish which helped me a lot. It is an easy language to learn. People in airport speak English. Receptionists in hotel speak English at some places. Elsewhere, it is only Spanish. But people are very friendly and ready to help. While I could construct a sentence with some effort and make others understand, the difficulty was to understand their reply. They speak very fast!!
Peso is the currency of Argentina. As of today, 1 ARS = 1.84 INR. It is not possible to get pesos in India. The options are to use debit card to withdraw money, credit card for payments or have US dollars or Euros for conversion. Withdrawing from ATM is not very friendly as the Argentina banks charge huge amount of charge per withdrawal. It is almost 10% of the withdrawal amount. Also, the maximum amount of withdrawal is also capped to 2,000 pesos and twice per day. In my case, ATM’s in Buenos Aires airport was not working and there was a long queue for currency exchange. It was not a nice experience. I finally got money exchanged at hotel. US dollars are also accepted at few places.
Indian Banks seem to be very sensitive to the transactions made by credit cards in Argentina. My credit card stopped working after some days as the bank suspected unauthorised transactions. Luckily, I had second credit card. It is better to inform banks before travel so that they do not block the cards.
Argentina has high level of inflation and peso is continuously loosing value.
Another pain area in Argentina. It is not possible to get SIM cards in airport. I had to go to the (selected) company outlets to get the SIM card and activate. The currency top-up is not done in company outlet but in local kiosk. I landed in Buenos Aires on Sunday and the service provider outlets were closed. Monday was a public holiday. I had to wait for 2 days to get a SIM card. Passport is required to get the SIM card. Movistar and Claro were the popular service providers. SIM card is free and the data charges are very reasonable. Wi-Fi was available in all hotels.
Argentina is a meat eating country. I did not find much issue as there were vegetarian restaurants in major cities and towns. I found Indian restaurants only in Buenos Aires. Most of the hostels have kitchen which can be used to cook food.
It is better to buy drinking water from supermarkets as the ones sold in kiosk is expensive. I was not clear whether tap water was drinkable and hence did not take any risk.
Public transport in Buenos Aires was very good. The combination of bus and metro can take to most of the tourist places. Buy SUBE card at metro station or kiosks for payment as it is not possible to get tickets using cash. There is no announcement or display of stops in bus. You need to be alert in identifying the place that you want to get down. Google Maps helps.
I also found buses very crowded during peak hours. Taxi is ideal in such cases. I just used taxis plying on road and it worked well. I found taxi drivers quite decent. Nobody refused and meter was switched on always. For some routes, there is a fixed price and taxi drivers don’t use meters. But they mention it beforehand.
Public transport is very limited in towns like Ushuaia and Iguasu. I had to rely on taxis and shuttle services in those areas.
Travel between cities
I have heard that buses are very efficient between cities. Due to lack of time, I used flight for all travels between cities. Argentina is a big country and distance between cities are large. I do not know much about rental cars in Argentina. Since I was alone, it made sense to use public transport and flights. Flights are expensive as foreign nationals are charged more than locals. Aerolineas Argentina and LATAM are the main airlines in Argentina.
The best thing in Argentina airport was security controls. There was no need to separate out laptop and other electronic equipment. Just dump everything in bag and put it for screening. I did not spend more than 2-3 minutes in any of the security gates. I saw the same system today in Amsterdam. It seems to be the way in coming days.
Places to visit
Argentina is a big country and it requires few weeks to see the country. For the airline price paid to enter the country, it is worth to spend few weeks or even months. It is so beautiful. It is also best to combine with other neighbouring countries. Unfortunately, it is not easy for Indians. During my visit, I could “see” Chile, Brazil and Paraguay from the places I visited in Argentina but visa was required for Indians to enter into all those countries. Even Uruguay which was just 2 hours on ferry from Buenos Aires requires a visa.
Standard of living in Argentina is high. You will find things more expensive than India but cheaper than other developed countries in west.