Mexico City is the capital city of Mexico and is a popular tourist attraction widely known for its historic Aztec temples. Unfortunately, with increased crime and movies that exploit stories of drug cartels and crime, it makes many people ask the question “is Mexico City safe for travel?” or even “is Mexico safe for travel?”
The answer to the question of is Mexico City safe for travel is largely dependent on the traveler. Many people have specific safety concerns. Some travelers may feel more comfortable in certain environments than others.
Many of the sketchy areas in Mexico are restricted to certain neighborhoods that most tourists tend to stay away from. For this post, I will focus on general safety tips to use in all areas in Mexico City.
Is Mexico City Safe According to the Department of the State?
According to the Department of the State, there are areas in Mexico that they do not recommend traveling to. They have issued a country summary of Mexico stating: “Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico.” They have released tracel advisories with lists of states where high crime is frequent and have classified them as do not travel to, reconsider travel to, exercise increased caution, and exercise normal precautions when traveling to.
Do NOT Travel To:
They have released a list consisting of 5 Mexican states that US citizens should not travel to due to crime and kidnapping. Those states are:
Reconsider Travel To:
- Baja California
Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling To:
- Baja California Sur
- Mexico City
- Nuevo Leon
- Quintana Roo
- San Luis Potosí
The reason mentioned for Mexico City on the list is because of crime and kidnapping.
Other warnings mentioned include that violent and non-violent petty crime happens in Mexico City and visitors should exercise extra caution, especially at night.
Exercise Normal Precautions When Traveling To:
The Department of the State has released the following tips to stay safe while traveling to Mexico City and other areas in Mexico.
Safety Tips From a Frequent Traveler
Taking precautions for your safety is the best way to prevent a tragedy from occurring while vacationing in Mexico. By taking the time to familiarize yourself with safety precautions, you should be able to have a safe and enjoyable vacation while in Mexico.
Don't Be Flashy
When traveling in high-crime areas, you want to blend in as much as possible and keep a low profile. Unfortunately, being a tourist makes blending in very hard and commonly increases unwanted attention. It is important to make sure that you do not have large amounts of cash, excess credit cards, or flashy jewelry with you.
In addition to money and jewelry, expensive designer clothes and purses will also make you stand out. Don't draw additional attention to yourself by flashing large amounts of cash or by wearing Versace from head to toe when out on the town. There are criminals who target tourists because they are unsuspecting targets.
Avoid Common Scams
When in Mexico and you are out and about, it is important that you are cautious to avoid many common scams. The most important part of a scam is to distract the person that they are scamming. While the person is distracted, their partner steals the wallet or purse without them even noticing. Common distractions are:
- The mustard scam– a person will squirt mustard on you and a “good Samaritan” will run over to help you clean it up. While yall are dealing with that, someone will sneak and steal your belongings without you even noticing it.
- The coffee scam– the coffee scam is identical to the mustard scam but they use coffee instead.
- The Bump into you scam– Similar to the other mentioned distractions, scammers will bump into you and pretend it was an accident. They will then apologize and try to help you up, thus causing a distraction.
Use Common Sense and Exercise Caution
Use common sense while in public places such as hotels, bus stations, or the streets. Don't use transportation such as taxicabs that you can wave down on the streets. Use planned or scheduled transportation such as reputable taxi drivers and companies or even transportation apps such as Uber. Many crimes have been reported by people who took transportation from a random taxi on the street.
Avoid Public Transportation At Night
You should also use caution when traveling by bus and other forms of public transportation, especially at night. It is highly suggested that you perform your sightseeing and exploring during the daylight hours. It is common for tourists to be mugged while riding on the buses in Mexico and other forms of public transportation at night. The bus is one of the most affordable options of travel in the country and it is a common mindset amongst locals that tourists have plenty of disposable money. This is what commonly leads to tourists getting mugged.
Notify Loved Ones of Your Travels
You should also make sure that you leave information regarding your travel plans with a close friend or family member. Leave a copy of your airline ticket and passport with someone that you trust. Additionally, print a copy and bring it with you in case you lose your original documents or they get stolen. This will help verify your location and identity if something should go awry. You should also designate someone as your emergency contact.
Have A Travel Companion
If it is possible, it would be best to have a travel companion. It is much harder for criminals to do something to harm two people than it is for one person. Traveling companions not only provide a safety blanket, but it is also great to have someone that you can share your travel experiences with.
Solo travel has become more popular and people, especially women, are taking life into their own hands and experiencing the world on their own. If you are a solo traveler and prefer to travel alone, there are ways to stay safe in Mexico City. The most important tip is to not go into dark areas where there are no people present. Dark, unpopulated areas increase the risk of someone taking advantage of you.
Protect Your Health
Though it is very important to make sure that you are using good judgment and common sense to protect yourself from becoming a victim of a crime, it is also important to make sure that you protect your health and physical well-being while in Mexico as well.
Drink Bottled Water
One way to prevent an illness is to watch what you are drinking. When you are traveling to Mexico, be sure to only drink bottled water and avoid local tap water. Water purification and safety standards are different in Mexico than in the United States. Another way to protect yourself and prevent any serious illnesses is to only drink bottled water.
Be careful of the Food you Eat
Along with water, you should also make sure that you use safety precautions with the food that you eat. If you are staying in a hotel, resort, or taking a cruise, your food will most likely be included in your package. These foods are normally safe to eat.
If you like to try local food when you travel, you should practice safe handling instructions and make sure the place you are getting the food from practices it as well.
Take the time to thoroughly clean fruits and vegetables before eating them. If you are going to eat dairy products from the locals, there is a good possibility that the products are non-pasteurized. Be sure that you understand exactly what it is you are putting into your body. Food poisoning is commonly contracted when visitors do not pay attention to what they eat.
Buy Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is another important factor to consider when you are visiting Mexico. If you become sick or injured, you will need to know if your insurance will cover the costs of your healthcare. Not all health insurance companies provide coverage to those vacationing in Mexico or other international destinations.
Check with your individual insurance carrier to see if you will be covered while in Mexico. If not, you should add additional coverage to your policy or purchase temporary travel health insurance specifically for your trip.
Whatever health insurance method you choose, make sure that you take care of your health insurance needs before you embark on your journey.
Know Who To Contact If You Need Help
If you need help while in Mexico you should contact the United States Embassy. There is also a twenty-four-hour hotline for the Mexican Ministry of Tourism.
For emergency situations, you can simply dial 911, which will connect you to the Mexican authorities. This will put you in contact with Mexican officials immediately. There is also a Mexican Red Cross that will help if you are injured and need medical help. The Red Cross is free of charge and will provide basic medical attention.
Stay Where It is Safe
One of the safest places in the big city of Mexico City is near your hotel room and in the touristy areas. If you are roaming around the area, use Google maps to make sure that you do not wander into dangerous places with high crime rates.
Conclusion: Is Mexico City Safe?
To answer the question “Is Mexico City safe,” there is no clear answer. One thing is clear though, there are some possible crimes that travelers should be concerned about. If you follow the tips that I have given, you should have a great time in Mexico City and not have anything to worry about.
When vacationing in Mexico, it is always important to remember that things are not the same as they may be back at your home. To stay safe, on a number of different levels, you are encouraged to keep the above-mentioned precautions in mind. For additional information on staying healthy and avoiding illness in Mexico, you may want to speak with your family physician.
The precautionary measures and important phone numbers are just a few of the many safety tips that you should know. Despite what you believe, staying safe while on vacation in Mexico should begin well before your departure flight.