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Playing It Safe In Mexico in 2012

26 December 2011

A recent article in The Washington Post offers a great, updated guide to traveling safe in Mexico, along with a fair compendium of facts, statistics, and quotes from official and non-official sources. An estimated 4.7 million Americans visited Mexico from January to October 2011. From the article:

Of 2,500 municipalities (what we call counties), only 80, or fewer than 5 percent, have been affected by the drug war, which accounts for only 3 percent of all crime. Mexican cities are also safer than some urban centers north of the border: Mexico City, for example, has 8.3 homicides a year per 100,000 people. That’s fewer than Miami (14.1) and Chicago (16.1). On a global scale, Mexico is safer than many of its neighbors. In 2008, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported Mexico’s homicide rate as 11.6 per 100,000, significantly lower than Honduras (60.9), Jamaica (59.5) or El Salvador (51.8). Without a solid understanding of the geography (761,606 square miles) and the nature of the drug wars (internecine fighting), many foreigners assume that all of Mexico is a war zone. But it isn’t.

Violence by and large is limited to specific areas, and unrelated to tourism.  The article suggests areas that are safe to visit, areas to visit with caution, as well as areas to avoid.

Safe to Visit
Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Campeche, Merida, Tulum, Uxmal and Chichen Itza, Leon, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Queretaro, Chiapas, San Cristobal de las Casas, Oaxaca

Go with Caution
Avoid traveling alone and at night in Tijuana, and beware of street crime in Mexico City.

Places to Avoid
Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Copper Canyon, Baja California, Guadlajara, Veracruz, Monterrey, Mazatlan, and Acapulco

Says U.S. and Hampton, VA expat Margo Lee Shetterly – who relocated to Mexico with her husband 6 years ago: in the article:

“There’s a big gap between perception and reality.  It’s a real shame for people to write off a whole country without looking at the map and at the statistics.”

To read the full travel guide, go here.

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10 Comments to “Playing It Safe In Mexico in 2012”

  1. What about Zihuatanejo, Mexico?

  2. Hi – your best bet for current safety information regarding specific cities, is the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs – their travel warnings will let you know which cities to avoid when traveling.

  3. My wife and I have been back and forth from the Riviera Maya every year for the last 9 years. We are currently looking for a retirement home to settle down into. The people at American Development Co have been working hard for us these last few months to find us our perfect home in Playa del Carmen and we know that this is where we will be happy and safe bringing our grandchildren. That says a lot! This is a great blog thank you for sharing with us.
    Mr & Mrs. Rothenburg

  4. Thanks David, always appreciate hearing from others.

  5. Hi,

    I’m planning a trip overland from the US, through Mexico to Costa Rica. I realize that most of the perceived danger of visiting Mexico is hype and that most places are safe to visit. However, I’ve also heard that it is dangerous to travel between cities on overland transport (i.e. public buses). Is there some truth to this? Can anyone direct me to more information about how to travel around Mexico safely? (I’ve heard that certain bus companies are more likely to be targeted by criminals than others, for example).

    Hope to hear from someone. Thanks.

  6. I had been planning on visiting the desert around Santa Ines in Baja California, along with Parque Natural del Desierto Central de B.C. just to the south. Does the warning against visiting the state apply mainly to the border areas and larger cities?

  7. Just wondering about San Jose Del Cabo. how is that are for tourist travel?

  8. i went to San Miguel de Allende for a month last summer and not once did i feel unsafe . everything is so calm compared to what politicians describe mexico . I didnt want to leave when it was time to leave . i loved it everyone was nice and friendly i think its actually a whole lot more safer than the U.S. other areas around San Miguel are also amazing. i dont know why the politicians are making Mexico look like such a bad place when it is a country that has so many beautiful places to go to .

  9. The most recent U.S. State Dpt Travel Advisory identified Baja California Sur, including San Jose Del Cabo, as safe to travel.

  10. Thanks so much for your comments Julia, we agree about San Miguel, and we think that many people feel the same way about Mexico as a whole – there are many safe, friendly beautiful places to go – it’s a shame that parts of the country that are experiencing violence cast a shadow on all the rest.

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