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Travel Safety in Mexico

edited November 2010 in - Mexico
How safe is it to travel in mexico? The news is full of information about drug violence and drug gangs and drug wars in Mexico. I've heard that it's a beautiful place to visit, but realistically is it safe to travel to Mexico? Should I rather not go to Mexico because of the safety issues or is it a case of violence being something that affects the locals but tourists are shielded from it? Can anyone reliable tell me what travel safety in Mexico is like?


  • edited 10:03PM
    Hi Sarah,

    You're right about the news being preoccupied with the drug violence in Mexico. But it is still a wonderful place to travel to. The tourist areas tend to remain unaffected by the violence (which seems to be concentrated along the US/Mexico border). A lot of the resorts in Mexico tend to be gated communities which means that they are incredibly secure and safe for people travelling to Mexico. Tourism is a big business in Mexico and the touristy places and resorts have employed private security to ensure the safety of those on holiday in Mexico.

    The towns in the northern and western parts of Mexico are unsafe and should be avoided, these include places like Reynosa, Ciudad de Juarez, Baja, Chihuahua, Durango and Tijuana. Resorts and resort areas such as Cancun, the entire Yucatan and Chiapas are safe and great value for money if you're choosing to travel to Mexico.

    The violence, while a realistic concern, is between cartels and law enforcement personal, tourists remain unaffected. Take the necessary precautions - don't walk around with flashy jewelry or talk about the multi-million dollar salary you earn, don't attract unnecessary attention to yourself. Don't drive outside of the resort areas at night and try to book your flight so that you arrive during the day as this will be better when travelling from the airport to your destination.

    But also go with an open mind, violence happens every day in all parts of the world. Support the Mexicans that are trying to make an honest living, talk to them and find out their opinion on what's going on. And most of all, have fun.
  • edited 10:03PM
    My husband and I are planning to travel to San Luis Potosi, MX this December. We have our plane tickets arriving to Leon, we are very worried due to the media talking about all of the violence. Has anyone been to San Luis lately or driven on the roads to let us know how the roads are from Leon to San Luis. We are still unsure if to cancell our tickets or not. If anyone has input on this please let us know.
  • edited 10:03PM
    My boyfriend and I are traveling to tulum/playa del Carmen in January. I'm nervous to travel since I've had 6 people within the past week tell me it's a horrible idea. Should I cancel my trip? I'll be at an all inclusive resort. There's a security entrance, but it's not really guarded and there's no fence around the resort. We will be landing in cancuns airport and we have a agency picking us up and driving us to the resort. It's a little over an hour drive down south from the airport. How safe are the agencies who drive people from the airport to their resorts? Thanks in advance for the answers.
  • edited 10:03PM

    A quick internet search on San Luis Potosi suggests that while it has been affected by the drug violence between mexican Law Enforcement personnel and Drug Trafficking Organisations (DTOs), it is one of the states (and towns) that has been less affected than others. Tourists travelling to Mexico are advised not to drive at night and to remain aware at all times. But on the whole it seems that most of the drug-related violence is between Law enforcement and DTOs and tourists remain relatively unaffected. The LA Times has a helpful visual representation of the number of people killed in different parts of Mexico from 2006 until 2009. Keep in mind that the violence did escalate this year and so this map may be slightly out of date.
    The Travel.State.Gov website also has a great outline of the areas most affected by the violence. Hopefully someone who has been to San Luis Potosi recently will be able to give you a personal account of the situation on the ground, but from internet research it seems that it is one of the more unaffected areas in Mexico.
  • edited 10:03PM

    Most reports of the violence state that the resort areas are generally unaffected. Tourism is a big business in Mexico and as such it seems that people with businesses in resort areas have clubbed together and paid private security guards to make sure that the entire resort area, including all smaller accommodation resorts, bars, clubs, restaurants etc, are safe.
    As stated in the previous post, most of the violence is centred between Drug traffickers and law enforcement agencies. And geographically this violence takes place along the US-Mexican border and along major drug trafficking routes. Playa del Carmen is not along the US-Mexico border (in fact it's about 1500 miles from the border towns) and it is not along a major drug trafficking route. This makes it pretty much unaffected by the drug violence.
    Have a look at the LA Times Map showing the areas where violence has resulted in deaths and you will see that the Cancun and Playa del Carmen areas seem quite clear and least affected.
    Take a look at the Travel.State.Gov site for the US government's assessment of the situation.

    As for companies transporting passengers to and from the airport, as long as you're using a reputable agency then you ought to be okay. Check with your hotel to see if they do pick up services as sometimes this is cheaper and more reliable. But if the agency you have booked with is reputable then you shouldn't have any problems.

    Remember to always be aware of your surroundings and don't take your most prized possessions with you. Also don't flash money around or expensive jewelry. Most of all, have fun. Mexico is a wonderful place and there are a lot of great Mexicans who get a bad rep from the general news when all they're trying to do is make an honest living from tourism.

    Also, when you get back from your on a forum like this one, or on your blog or somewhere on the internet telling people what your trip was like, what the safety situation felt like to you and if you had any hassles.
  • edited 10:03PM
    Thanks for all the help.
    I think I'll definitely go to Mexico and just keep clear of the border towns etc...

    I did some research as well and these sites might be helpful to other people travelling to Mexico:
    The British Government's site gives a run down on travel safety in Mexico and how to keep safe while you're there. It's general common sense stuff like dressing down and all that. But there is also an overview of the types of crime that tourists tend to experience - it seems a lot of it is linked to petty theft and scams etc... There is also a useful section about road travel in Mexico and how safe it is/where to travel and where not to drive.
    Also there's a page on the Brit site that allows you to register with the embassy in Mexico for the duration of your stay in the country ... So that if there is an emergency of some sort at least the embassy knows you're in the country and has your details. I think the American government has a similar service where you call the embassy once you've arrived.

    Right, so I'm off to book my ticket and start getting ready for those Margaritas in the Mexican sun. :)
  • edited 10:03PM
    Mexico is so unsafe right now. people should avoid traveling; especially by car. On wed 11/17/2010 a family that was going to michoacan through sonora, sinalo nayarit and guadalajara was robbed. it happened i Guaymas sonora. a fake police car pulled them over and since they did not stop do to safety concerns they were shot several times.
    avoid mexico, at least for a few years. i have a family member who got his new SUV taken away a few dats ago by cops. they pulled him over because they saw the plates from california. cops are pigs and they do not have any respect at all. i have been going to mexico for the past 6 yrs and last year was the last one. i got robbed in guadalajara. i got my 2009 GMC Yukon taken away by some fake cops. they took my luggage and my families luggage. i love mexico. especially during december, but im not risking my life or my family's life. i know there is a lot of people that will still go regardless of the violence. if you go, go by plane.
  • edited 10:03PM
    I have been to Mexico a dozen times and have never had a problem. Despite the drug violence along the border, it's still a fantastic place to visit. As many have written, take standard precautions as you would anywhere. Don't be an Ugly (or clueless) American. Use common sense, and avoid driving through the border towns right now. As for Cancun and the Yucatan, it's about as dangerous as Disneyland. Playa del Carmen is a wonderful town, and in fact we are headed there next week for the holidays. My biggest worry in this area is getting sunburned. My advice to the Nervous Nellies out there: Learn some Spanish, be aware of your surroundings, adapt to the local pace of life and enjoy yourself! And on your way to Playa del Carmen, stop in Los Pelicanos for some great seafood on the beach. That's where you'll find me.
  • edited 10:03PM
    I have lived in Cancun for more than 10 years, and I can tell that crimes happening in Cancun are related with drug criminal groups only. None tourist have been affected in tourist areas. Just avoid going to risky places like bars or men-nightclubs at downtown and enjoy your hotel, tours, restaurants, shopping centers and discos at tourist areas. Cancun has a lot of fun and beauty to give for your vacations.. do not miss it because of inexact information.
  • edited 10:03PM
    mexico city? safe area? i have been to mexico a dozen of times for pleasure with my family, friends, etc. my parents told me last week theyd be traveling through mexico city (landing in an airport in mexico and driving through mexico city) this is concerning me very much. dont get me wrong - i think that many people previous to this blog were taking the mexico security thing a little far ( can we travel through the airport?) come on. of course you can we arent in east bumble f*ck. but this is differnt. do i have to be worried about them driving through these mountains, "mexico city" etc. they havent givin me much information but if they should look out for anything in particular, please let me so i can let they know ( they obviously have no clue im writing this, ha) thank you for your help, if givin?
  • edited 10:03PM
    Hi. I am a teacher in NYC. I teach in Spanish Harlem. I wanted to do a Spanish Immersion program for a month this summer through a school in Mexico. I want to learn the language but also the history (Maya, Aztec) plus I love the art of Mexico and want to bring this to my classes.
    The school are in:
    Cuernavaca, Playa Del Carmen, Oaxaca, Mexico City, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and Guanajuato.

    Can anyone suggest an area that offers culture/arts, history and is also SAFE.
  • edited 10:03PM
    My sister told me a story about three young women that recently went to Mexico City. When they arrived at the hotel in M.C one got a cell phone call from her father. The reception was poor so she went outside to talk and never came back. Her friends tried to find her but it seemed that she vanished into thin air. They made friends with some American young men that they decided to drive back to the US with. When crossing the border, their car was in traffic as they neared the customs/immigration/border near San Diego. One of the girls saw her friend sleeping in a car. She told the American customs agent that she saw her friend that they lost in Mexico City. He took her aside, and she noticed that he was visibly upset. They were informed that her friend had been murdered and made up to look as if she was alive, but sleeping. Needless to say, they used her to smuggle drugs across the border, but the border patrol caught the smuggler. But, they young friend was dead and mutilated. Now I ask you, how safe is it to travel to Mexico???????????????????
  • edited 10:03PM
    I heard the same story as Angie about the girl who was taken, killed and her body was stuffed with drugs and put in a taxi in hopes of getting the drugs across the border since she looked white and they thought she wouldn't be stopped.

    I didn't know what city she was taken from but now hearing that it was Mexico City, it's not surprising to me that it happened there. I have heard for years that Mexico City is not good from many people i know who are from Mexico. Now that the crime rate has increased just about everywhere in Mexico i would hope people are aware that Mexico City IS one of the more dangerous places to go.

    I myself want to go to Mexico as well but just as everyone else i am wondering if it will be safe. I want to go with a family i know who has relatives in Guadalajara and we would be staying with them. I used to hear that Guadalajara is a much safer city but now i don't really know which ones are safe and which aren't. Has anyone been to Guadalajara, live there, or know anything about the current safety there? I will be asking the family more about their thoughts on the city's safety, one of them who lives there said its fine and there's nothing to really worry about but u never know because people like to think of their home town as perfectly fine especially if they are already used to the level of crime it may seem normal to them but extreme to us.

    Any thoughts on Guadalajara would be appreciated! :)
  • edited 10:03PM
    I live in Mexico (Guadalajara to be exactly) for 10 years now. Sure safety has dropped in some parts of Mexico. But it is still possible to travel arround safely. Most problems are still drugsrelated. If you stay out of that you can travel through pretty much of any part of Mexico without problems. I still visit de state of Michoacan frequently without any problems although it is one of the hotstates. Ofcourse there are places in Mexico you must try to avoid like Cd Juarez and some colonias of the biggest cities. But overall it is still good to visit. The last 2 years i visited big parts of the states of Michoacan, Veracruz, San Luis Potosi, Colima, Nuevo Leon without any problems. Even driving on dusty roads didn't stop me until some river showed up because of the heavy rain some days earlier. But about safety, i didn't encounter any problems so far, neither did friends or family of us do.
  • edited 10:03PM
  • edited 10:03PM
    Ok, Angie and Amy, have you heard of, a site for urban legends. If I hear any weird stories I check it out and find out whether it is fact or urban legend. The story you heard is Urban Legend. It is not true!!
  • edited 10:03PM
    Ok I am really getting freaked out by all of these comments My husband is a mexican citizen and 6 yrs ago we went to mexico for 4 mos to get all of his immigration issues take care of and he hadnt been there in ten yrs and even he was scared we were constantly being pulled over by police because of our us plates and all they wanted was a little money we got pulled over in poza rica where the police confiscated my brother in laws 4 wheeler they just took it and there was nothing we could do about it and later we were stopped by what looked like a very scary army in the middle of the road they searched everything in our car but later we were released with all of that said we really didnt have any dangerous or life threatening situations but now we are planning to go this may and we plan on visiting his family in different states and will end up in veracruz mex we are just going because it has been a long time since he has seen them and we are taking our 3 children annd we cant afford to take a plane I dont know what I would do if my children were harmed we have a 2008 dodge caliber and it is pretty flashy bright blue color and now i am afraid we would get hurt just for the car should we sell it or just forget going all together I am really scared help
  • edited 10:03PM
    Hi KJ and Everyone...
    I'm Mexican and I recently moved to the States because I just Got my U.S. Permanent Residency...I can tell you that the violence in Mexico is increasing but in certain places. Like:

    - Ciudad Juarez (Is not safe, and most of the people that used to live there moved out) I went there for my Interview to get my Residency and it was like a Ghost Town, a lot of police officers, nothing happened to me or my husband.

    - Veracruz (North Area), Tamaulipas, even Monterrey...There is a new Gang or Organized crime that is very dangerous, they are not drug dealers, they are just evil people, they are calle "Zetas"...they are ex-mercenaries...My brother in law (he is an american) was a misSionary with his family in a small town 3 hours south of Tampico Tamaulipas in Veracruz, and the "Zetas" stopped them when they were driving North and asked for $120 dollars like a fee to cross a bridge and if they didnt give them that money I dont know what they would done to them..thankfully they had that much cash with them and the "Zetas"gave them a code to give to the next gang area...Yes, Scary...I really dont recommend to drive over that area and more if you are blond and have U.S. plates...My brother in law and his family moved back to the States in their car and nothing happened in their way back to the States but you never know.

    - i ALSO heard that in Acapulco and Morelos the violence is increasing due to drug dealers trying to fight for their market in that area...usually drug dealers fight against each other and leave the other civilians alone...But in the other hand the "Zetas" have really cold blood and they just want money from everyone (poor or rich)they are very greedy and their operation area is Monterrey, Tamaulipas and veracruz...

    -Cancun, Quintana Roo is a beautiful place to travel, not dangerous... I went there for my honeymoon and it was awesome!

    Hope this helps!
  • edited 10:03PM
    My parents are going to Michocan and Gerrero and City of Mexico at the end of the month. I tried to convince them not to go but they wont listen. I am very scared. Should I be? They are driving to Laredo and taking a bus from there. Please advise!
  • edited 10:03PM
    hey iam going to peubla city have anyone information about violence and drug , gangs and drug wars ?i want to stay in mexico,anyway iam not too scared bcz iam from iraq (:
  • edited 10:03PM
    I have heard a lot of stories now days its not even safe to travel by bus...... recently buses have been highjacked an all the passengers including women and children have been viciously murdered....... people are saying it is safer to travel during the day..... n never travel during the night!
  • edited 10:03PM
    The stuffed body story is true. The girl was a friend of mine's friend. Don't tell people Mexico is safe when it's not. Their tourism industry can go to heck. The American military is not even allowed to travel there for leisure. Let that be a lesson.
  • edited 10:03PM
    I am a 21 year old, white, blonde, blue eyed, American girl from Alabama; my fiance and the father of my child has gotten deported and is now residing in REYNOSA, TAMPS. I have my passport card and all the information needed to travel there for a week. I plan on letting the U.S Ambessy know that I have arrived there and when I depart. I'm wondering if this is a good idea. Just want some good and bad feedback! You can live in fear, the only one your suppose to fear is God, and only him. I am a christian and I believe that God will be with me there. Please give me some feedback!
    - Amber.
  • edited 10:03PM
    I am going to Mazatlan next week ,anyone hear of problems there?
  • edited 10:03PM
    We are looking into renting a car this December and will be traveling with our baby in Tulum staying at a resort there. Does anyone know if it is save to rent a car at the Cancun airport and then drive it to our resort in Tulum? Also, is it safe to drive to Chichen Itza. I studied Anthropology in college and would love to see many of the Mayan ruins in this area. However, it would cost us a bundle to take tours to each of these places. Also, the tours all depart during the time our toddler naps. So we're thinking that renting a car would be the simplest solution. My husband is a bit hesitant. He's thinking that a rental car will attract unwanted attention... Does anyone know if it safe to rent a car in Cancun now? Since we're traveling with our baby we want to be extra careful. Thanks!
  • edited 10:03PM
    Im an Aussie from Perth, flying to Guadalajara via LA on Oct 25 for 3 weeks. Been online and have read of dangers of Narco bockades and kidnapping. I understand that any big city has obvious dangers but any advice on the safety levels mentioned in Guadalajara would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks !
  • edited 10:03PM
    my husband and i plus our two kids want to go to veracurz during christmas to visit family . we plane to drive and havent been in two years. is it safe to go me and my kids are american citizens and my husband is a resident of the us . please give me any advice i would love to visit our family but i want to come back to the states safe and alive with my husband and kids. please any suggestions would be greattly appreciated.
  • edited 10:03PM
    I am planning a trip to Baja with my husband and two kids, and my parents. We went twice before we have kids. When we went we drove as quickly as possible through the border towns and didn't stop until we got past Encenada. After that everything was just small towns and very low key. We didn't go into the southern state at all. My husband does speak Spanish. Is this safe to do now?
  • edited December 2011
    Hi Leecy,
    I was in Baja (La Paz) in August and it was totally fine. La Paz was a very quiet laid back place, I walk alone on the streets without any hassles.
    Have fun!
  • edited 10:03PM
    Hello everybody,

    I am from M
  • edited 10:03PM
    Ok so all of this is freakin me out. I was planning on taking a trip to oaxaca, mexico but i dont know about that now. I had planned on visiting my husbands family and bringing them a few things from america. I am american but my husband is not nor is he a us citizen so therefor he cannot go with me. I was going to drive there but I see thats not such a good idea. Should I reconsider this whole trip?? I can't fly there because I will not have anyway to get around while I am there. Any advice???
  • This thread is so ridiculous. Crimes happen EVERYWHERE. Examples of crimes in Mexico don't mean it's unsafe. Bad things could happen in Florida, London, wherever.

    But, as ever, always best to speak of personal experience:

    I've been to Mexico four times. Hitch-hiked up and down Baja California several times, and across the mainland from Los Mochis to Texas via Zacatecas. Last time I went was 2009 and I hitched from near Cancun to Mexico City via Belize and Guatemala. That took about two months. I never had any problems and I was camping out, being alone in dark places at night. Mexico is CHILL. The people are awesome and I certainly feel safer there than in some parts of the UK. I even found Mexico City lovely and safe - had always planned to avoid it but fate took me there and while planning on staying only one or two nights I ended up staying two months thanks to awesome Mexican hospitality. Great place.

    Mostly I've been in Baja. That's incredibly awesome. Sure, they have soldiers who sometimes check your vehicles but I've never known a problem with it. Most foreigners are down there having a great time. Such a shame that fearmongers and scaredy cats - not to mention spreaders of urban legends - have to tarnish its good name. I love Mexico and I love its people. In over twelve months there, and many thousands of miles hitched, I've never had a single problem. The police have always been great. I'd very happily go back tomorrow and not think twice about "safety concerns." That's just my experience.
  • Pontef is quite right about crimes happening everywhere and travellers should take safety precautions in any city these days. It is important, however, to do some research into the kind of dangers you may risk before visiting a country so that you can plan accordingly. Mexico is an incredible travel destination, but there is no denying that it can be a dangerous one - particularly as a number of tourists have been the victims of violent crimes at popular beach resorts recently. Ideally, check the travel alerts and advice on reputable websites like the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the US Department of State. Safety threads like this can be alarmist, but when visiting a country which can be dangerous it is definitely best to know the realities.
  • No doubt that Mexico is safe but not all many uncertain issue is occurring in daily basis but I go many times in Mexico I did not face that type of problem..
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