Dear GoMad Nomad,
I see you were in Mexico for the Bicentennial on Sept 15th. I was thinking about traveling to Mexico for a few weeks, but was concerned about safety since people are calling Mexico the most dangerous country in the world. Is it really that bad? Isn’t most of the danger due to drug gang violence? Is it safe for tourists? Should I go to Mexico?
Concerned in Connecticut
Dear Concerned in Connecticut,
Yes, you should go to Mexico. But you should know how to stay safe there. Much of the problem is the media blowing the violence out of proportion.
First, there are places that are more dangerous than others and situations that are riskier than others.
If you’re planning a little getaway to one of the really touristy places, like Cozumel, Cancún and Los Cabos, you shouldn’t have any problems, so don’t even think about canceling your trip.
Border towns are best to avoid: Nogales, Juárez, Nuevo Laredo, and Matamoros. I was too scared to go into Juarez, so I crossed the Rio Grande at the small town of Presidio, Texas into Ojinaga, Chihuahua.
I have also read reports that Durango, Torreón in Coahuila, Cuernavaca, and the states of Sinaloa (home to Mazatlán), Michoacán (Morélia) and Guerrero (Acapulco) could be dangerous. Even riding through Sinalona on the night bus to and from the border may even pose a threat, but the chances seem minimal. But I can’t verify this first hand, since I didn’t travel to any of these regions.
Monterrey and Chihuahua City have some trouble areas, but if you stick with locals and don’t stray into random neighborhoods late at night, you should be OK. I spent a few days in Chihuahua and didn’t feel like it was very dangerous. And it seems like Tijuana is also not quite as bad as it once was.
It’s best not to drive your own car in Mexico right now, but if you do, stick to the toll roads, even though they’re outrageously expensive. And don’t drive at night. You’re more likely to run into trouble after the sun goes down, especially on the “libre” roads.
Being in Mexico for 18 days, I got an overall feeling that the security situation isn’t too bad for travelers. The majority of problems are between drug gangs and consequently tourists are seldom targets. It is important to remain vigilant: petty theft can always be a problem. So I kept aware of my surrounding at all times without feeling paranoid.
So the bottom line is: Mexico is a fantastic place to travel, with a rich culture, incredible archaeological sites, delicious food, and great beaches. Just heed these warnings and be a smart, aware, and educated traveler.
Here are some thoughts on safety in Mexico from other bloggers at Hole in the Donut Travels.
Any thoughts from Mexicans, expats living in Mexico, or those recently in Mexico would be appreciated in the comments below.
8 thoughts on “Ask GoMad Nomad: Is Mexico Safe?”
As the guidebook I was using put it, Mexico’s bark is bigger than its bite. In other words, a lot is just hysteria in the media…
Wherever we travel, we need to be cautious, but I would certainly go to Mexico!!! The food and people are absolutely fabulous.
Sure, there are places to avoid (border towns, certain neighborhoods), but for the most part, my experience in Mexico was nothing short of positive. Me and my husband walked at night in Mexico city and the only person that approached us was a young man who was studying to be a tour guide and wanted to practice his English. We ended up getting a free tour and some insider info.
Avoid tap water, but other than that – go, try the cuisine, talk to people and you’ll have a great time.
Mexico is safe if you avoid the north. Just stay in touristic places and you’ll be fine..
A little video of my city
I have been living in Mexico off and on for 15 years. There is definitely more talk about violence in the last year even in Guadalajara which has been the “safe” city in comparison to other cities in the Republic. Life is changing here but I would still encourage people to travel to Mexico, be careful and stay away from border cities. In Michoacan I wouldn’t drive at night but I know lots of people who have always stuck to that rule especially on the coast. People who are thinking about coming to Mexico and traveling off the beat and path should do some research beforehand but again, that is what most people do anyway. Come to Mexico it is still a country full or wonder and magic!
I was born and raised in Cancun, Mexico and apart from five years i spent in the US while i was attending college, i think everywhere is the same, we always have to be careful where we area and who we are with. The biggest problem i see in Mexico is the Media, because they are blowing things way out of proportion. Some cities should be avoided, border cities mostly, but Cancun, Los Cabos and other touristic cities should not be left unseen. Come to Mexico and see it for yourself.
Hi Stephen I followed your link through the donuts site and I feel compelled to post here too. I hope you understand but you are promoting a very wrong message for American Travel. I am only trying to educate persons that could feel safe when it is not safe.
Posted at other site……
While I’m sure your travels take you to great places and you’ve experienced some wonderful times. I felt obligated to post something to this blog because it comes up in a search about safe travel to Mexico.
First of all, I live in Texas and I have family and friends who live or have been affected by the atrocities Mexico. Including being killed and kidnapped for ransoms.
While I understand you being taken, like many posters here, with the propaganda of the Mexican tourism blitz, your facts are far from the reality and your attitude towards a poster who tried to explain a kidnapping situation that happened to them was sad. Sadly, it is a daily if not hourly and very common occurrence and because someone didn’t articulate an age of the kidnapped does not make them a liar.
If you think that it is normal to drive to work at any time in the USA with decapitated humans with their genitals, hands and other body parts cut off and tortured and then hung from a highway then I am not sure where in American you live. I am glad you had a non eventful time in your travels, you are one of the very fortunate persons. To deny that a country and it’s people have not been tortured, exploited, killed, kidnapped on a daily basis because you believe it untrue or don’t read about it in the press is preposterous and very dangerous to promote as safe. If you can with a clear conscience keep up such a blog where claiming that there is some sort of smear campaign going on angered me.
Every day, there are many killed, kidnapped, tortured, mutilated. There have been over 30,000 murders (these are only the bodies found)since 2007. There have been over 10,000 alone in the northern countries since January this year! Where in the world do you read that an city in the USA has these stats??? There is a reason that the US government has a very high level you should not go to Mexico advisory. Please don’t make light of it or Mexicans who have lost all hope. Educate yourself and ask and pray they get help, the citizens are starting to cry out for help all over Mexico. Google it, make calls and quit promoting safe travel where it could potentially get someone killed.
When you wake up and tell me that Detroit found a mass grave of 79 innocent dead people and human heads on the sides of the highways then I’ll take you seriously, until then you should refrain from your comments about smear campaigns and people lying about a genocide of a beautiful and and its peoples over drugs.
I will hope you post this because it’s absolutely the truth. You will not find every day news about this because if you do your research hundreds of journalists have lost their lives for reporting on it over 600 police officials have died.
Please don’t tell me it’s safe to go to Mexico.
The American people need to get their heads out of the sand and understand this is already starting to spill over our borders and guess what, it’s starting to make the main stream media.
I am attaching blogs of Anonymous Mexicans. Read them an their comments and tell me you want to go to Mexico.
google the LA times they have been following the war in Mexico for years.
Listen to your government, it is trying to protect you.
I agree with Sybil 100%. Mexico is NOT safe. The Mexican politicians are trying to keep as much of this quiet as they can but every day there are new atrocities. I know savvy businessmen working for major US corporations who have bullet proof cars with paid drivers and guards calling home for ransom money while they plead for thir lives with a gun to their head. They are not “rich”, they are just American . Every guard, driver, hotel desk clerk can be bought off. You are never safe. White woman are open season. Rapes on a beach run. Rapes by federales. Don’t cooperate? Might not be an option OR now you are rotting in a third world jail where you are guilty by virtue of being a foreigner… More extortion coming up with calls to relatives in the US to wire large amounts of cash to your captors.
Sadly, Mexico has become a country without the protection of law. You are as likely to be robbed, kidnapped, raped or murdered by a Mexican law enforcement officer ( real or fake) than by any of the criminal gangs of which there are a multitude.
5th generation San Diegan
In September I traveled with a small group of friends on motorcycles from the US border to the tip of the peninsula at Cabo San Lucas. We crossed at Tijuana and rode 2200 miles in nine days.
You can read about our trip here:
We never felt unsafe at any time. The people we met were universally friendly and very happy that we had come to visit thier part of the world.
Statistically, one is much more likely to be injured or killed while driving on a public road in the US than while visiting Mexico. I agree with the advice to avoid the border towns, especially those on the mainland. But to say Mexico is too dangerous to visit one would also have to say the US is too dangerous a place to live.
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