Mexico is a dangerous country.
But it’s also a hot vacation destination, attracting millions of US tourists every year, according to the US Department of State.
For the most part, drug-related violence and crime is limited to the country’s border areas and trafficking routes.
The level of crime in resorts and tourist cities isn’t nearly as high.
But that doesn’t mean tourists are completely safe in Mexico.
The Department of State reported that 100 US citizens were murdered in the country in 2014 (up from 81 in 2013), and over 130 US citizens were kidnapped between January and November of last year.
So while this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan a trip to Mexico, it does mean that you should be aware and cautious in terms of where you go and what you do.
Although the Department of State has not issued advisories directly in any of Mexico’s major tourist areas (which are commonly along the coast), there are advisories in effect in some nearby areas (usually in cities and towns farther inland).
No matter where you’re travelling in Mexico, the Department of State advises keeping a low profile — don’t display any valuables such as cameras, watches, or expensive jewellery. Don’t venture far from your resort and avoid travelling at night or isolating yourself.
Below is a list of some of the most popular tourist destinations that are actually safe for travellers. Here’s the Department’s complete list of states and advisories.
Acapulco, Ixtapa, and Zihuatanejo
While Acapulco is safe to visit, it should only be reached by aeroplane or cruise ship (not by car). Acapulco is one of only three cities safe to visit in the state of Guerro; the other two are Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, which are also popular tourist destinations.
Travellers to Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo — located in the state of Baja California Sur — should know that there has been an increase in crime-related violence in La Paz (the city registered its highest crime rate since 1997 in 2013), which is the state’s capital. The Department advises travellers to use caution when visiting La Paz. However, the rest of the state, including Todos Santos, is generally considered to be safe.
There are no advisories in effect in Mexico City, which means travellers can explore all neighbourhoods of the city. Some of the best areas to visit include Colonia Centro (the heart of the city and the historic center), Chapultepec Park and Polanco (home to the largest green area in the city), and Condesa and Roma (hip bars and cafes galore).
Michoacán has experienced an increase in organised crime — mostly attacks on Mexican government officials, law enforcement, and military personnel — so the Department recommends deferring any travel to this state, except for the two cities of Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas. While these cities are generally safe, it’s safest to fly — not drive — into and out of them.
Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, and the Riviera Nayarit
Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara are also safe, but travellers should avoid any cities that border the states of Michoacán or Zacateca, which are neighbouring states of Jalisco — where Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara are located.
Travellers to Riviera Nayarit should avoid any areas that border the states of Sinaloa or Durango, as well as any rural areas or secondary highways.
Riviera Maya (Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum)
All cities in Quintana Roo (Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum) are considered to be safe. Generally, the Riviera Maya, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico, is safe.
Besides the cities listed above, there are multiple other popular tourist destinations in Mexico that are completely safe for visitors. These include Oaxaca, Puebla, San Miguel de Allende, and Yucatan.
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