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Is Mexico Safe | the Complete Guide by Remote Year

28. Feb. 2023

CDMX, Mexico

Key Takeaways

  • Apart from petty theft like pickpocketing and personal robberies, Mexico is widely considered safe for visitors. 

  • Merida is the safest place to stay in Mexico. However, you’ll find Mexico City and other hotspots more suited to your workation owing to the plethora of remote-friendly amenities they offer.

  • You can travel to Mexico even as a solo female traveler - tips to stay safe: exercise caution, stay away from deserted areas, avoid nighttime strolls, and drink in moderation. 

  • Though there are scams that target foreigners, knowing about them will help you avoid becoming a victim. 

  • Learning Spanish - even just a tiny bit - can significantly improve your visit to Mexico. 

Do you love delicious food, great beaches, warm weather, and Mayan, Aztec and learning more about Indigenous cultures? If these all sound good to you, then working remotely from Mexico should be in order. 

In addition, Mexico offers awe-inspiring historic architecture, many natural reserves, and spectacular world heritage sites. Thousands visit the country every year to take advantage of all Mexico offers, and you can too. 

But is Mexico safe for digital nomads?

Mexico gets a bad reputation when it comes to drug-related issues, but digital nomads, tourists and civilians are rarely involved in these matters. Read on to learn about safety tips for Mexico. 

Is Mexico a Safe Place to Visit?

Is Mexico safe to visit? Is Mexico safe to travel to?

Mexico is widely regarded as a safe place for visitors, which explains why it attracts millions of people every year. 

As with every country, some areas in Mexico are more prone to crime like petty theft or robbery than others. If you use common sense, stay updated on travel advisories, and keep your eyes and ears open, you should have a good workation in Mexico without setbacks. 

Is Mexico Safe at Night?

Like most countries, crime is more rampant at night in Mexico. When you venture out at night, exercise more caution, stick to well-lit areas where there are police present, and travel in groups to discourage criminal activity.

Crime in Mexico

Cartel-on-cartel violence is common in Mexico, but it’s worthwhile to note that it often affects people who are involved in the drug trade and rarely affects foreigners. Mexico has its fair share of crimes like assault and pickpocketing. Only 0.0002% of crimes in Mexico are tourist-related

So, if you’re mindful of the places you visit and stay away from drugs, you should be on the safe side.

Because tourism represents a large part of Mexico’s income, the government tries to be responsive to the needs of visitors. It often does so by deploying more police in big cities and attractions. 

As a result, crime rates are steadily dropping each year. 

Safest Cities in Mexico 

How safe is Mexico? Some areas in Mexico are safer than others. If you’re looking to stay in this beautiful country, here are some must-visit destinations that can offer a safe stay. 

From the gorgeous beaches at Cancun, marine life at Puerto Vallarta, Mayan ruins in Tulum, and outstanding spas at Los Cabos to scuba diving in Cozumel and more, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Mexico.  

Let’s take a peek at some of the country’s safest cities. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be raring to get a digital nomad visa by the end of this section.

Cancun

Cancun is a popular destination among digital nomads owing to its low crime rates. Most crimes in the area are drug-related and don’t affect civilians. Here, you can immerse in its rich culture, enjoy its plethora of beaches, and tantalize your taste buds with local delicacies like tamales, sopa de lima (or lime soup), and empanadas. 

It’s also filled with cenotes, where you can take a dip in refreshing waters, explore unique rock formations, and experience an otherworldly atmosphere. 

Cozumel

Cozumel, the third largest island in Mexico, has extremely low crime rates. It’s also developed enough for visitors around the globe. So, as long as you’re practicing appropriate safety measures, you should be able to enjoy diving, marine life, and its natural wonders without a hitch. 

Los Cabos 

Located on the edge of the Baja California Peninsula, the municipality of Los Cabos is home to two towns: San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. Both are regarded as safe for foreigners though there’s some crime here, like petty theft and pickpocketing. 

With normal travel precautions, you should have a safe experience while enjoying a diverse mix of activities, from watersports and vibrant outdoor bars and restaurants to quiet beaches and birdwatching opportunities. 

Merida

Merida is the safest city in Mexico. There’s minimal to zero narco-related crime here, so you can have a safe experience as a solo female traveler or digital nomad in Mexico. It is a good base for exploring charming small towns and beautiful beaches. 

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen, initially a small fishing village, is relatively safe for foreigners if they stay in the tourist district — and we have the local government to thank for that. They keep the town safe, so the only crime you might witness during your stay is petty property theft. 

As one of the best places to work remotely, you can expect sunny weather, freshwater cenotes, amazing nightlife, and delicious food at restaurants — the possibilities are endless. 

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is an LGTBQ-friendly resort town in Jalisco that attracts thousands of foreigners who celebrate love beyond boundaries. The city is prized for its romantic vibe, gorgeous beaches, and historical galleries and museums in the Zona Romantica and Old Vallarta areas.  It is generally safe, but there have been reports of crime and petty theft — most of which is curbed by its noticeable police presence.

Tulum

Tulum, a gorgeous Bohemian town, is one of the safest places to live in Mexico. There’s no discrimination on where one should live, which has made it a hotspot for digital nomads. 

Just be aware that this laid-back city and its exciting nightlife has its share of petty crime, so be ready and practice the usual precautions that you would in any big city.

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres — Spanish for Women Island — is located off the Yucatan peninsula. Its relatively small size has made it easier to keep the place under strict administration. Pair this with friendly locals and well-lit streets, and you can enjoy what the area offers without worrying about safety: beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants, and mesmerizing views. 

You should still take basic precautions for a safe, secure experience. Before you make your way to this country, however, we suggest you learn all about the best places to live in Mexico as a digital nomad. It will help you get the most out of your workation. 

Places To Avoid in Mexico

According to the Mexico Travel Advisory, it isn’t safe to travel to: 

  • Colima state 

  • Guerrero state 

  • Michoacan state 

  • Sinaloa state 

  • Tamaulipas state 

  • Zacatecas

  • Baja California (Tijuana) 

  • Chihuahua state 

  • Durango state 

  • Guanajuato state 

  • Jalisco state 

  • Morelos state 

  • Sonora state 

It may seem like you’ll be missing a lot, but foreigners don’t really frequent these places. Hence, it’s better to stick to cities that are deemed safe for travelers. 

Something to note: The advisory covers safety concerns on a state level, but some cities in these states have a better safety record. So, if you want to visit some of these places, do your diligence so you can be ready and know what to expect. 

You should also avoid going to deserted areas, places located off the beaten path, and areas with few visitors, even in locations that have been declared safe for travel.  

How Safe Is Transportation in Mexico?

Is it safe to travel in Mexico via public-access transportation?

Let’s take a look at your different transportation options in Mexico and how safe they are.

Catch a Plane

Flying is the safest way to travel in Mexico. Because there are so many international airports and aviation organizations spread throughout Mexico, they’re also a convenient option if you have the cash to spare.  

Keep in mind that taxi upcharge scams are common for foreigners at airports. Luckily, you can avoid getting overcharged by riding with official taxis.

Rent a Car

Renting a car is an excellent way to explore the country on your own. 

Mexico is a safe place to drive, although you’ll have to do some research to get the right price on the vehicle. As rental car scams are a thing, we suggest you take before and after pictures of the car to ensure you’re not held liable for damage you didn’t cause. When all is said and done, follow the basic dos and don’ts of driving and take heed of these tips:   

  • Look out for topes (speed bumps). They can damage your car. 

  • Wear a seatbelt and respect the speed limit. It’ll keep you and those around you safe. 

  • Choose routes that use toll roads. They are better constructed and well-lit at night, which makes them safer. 

  • Drive with a full tank, especially when you travel to isolated areas, so you don’t have to stop for a refill at a dodgy place. 

And remember, never drive around at night — this applies to every city in Mexico. It’s not ideal in terms of safety. Plus, there’s an added risk of not being able to see people, animals, or even potholes, which can lead to accidents and make your journey unpleasant.  

Use Public Transport

Mexico has a reliable public transportation system, making it easy to get around while maintaining a low cost of living in Mexico. The bus, for example, is a great way to travel safely. But you may want to avoid it during rush hours to reduce the chances of getting robbed. 

Alternatively, you can consider splurging on a first-class, executive class, or platinum bus ticket in ADO. The company offers exceptional comfort and safety without creating a substantial dent in your travel budget.

Is It Safe To Travel Alone in Mexico?

It depends on where you’re traveling. 

Most cities in Mexico are safe for solo travelers, but some regions can be unsafe for foreigners. Take note of the cities we mentioned and steer clear of them if you can. Be street-smart and pack right for your nomadic lifestyle to have a positive experience without unpleasant surprises.

Is It Safe in Mexico for Female Solo Travelers?

Female travelers often want to know: is it safe to visit Mexico as a female traveling alone? Mexico is generally considered a safe place for solo female travelers — particularly those with experience living the nomadic lifestyle.

As with every country, there are certain areas in Mexico that can be more unsafe for women. Hence, we recommend you do your research and practice precautionary measures during your stay in Mexico. That includes being more aware while visiting crowded tourist hotspots. 

15 Safety Tips for Traveling in Mexico

Is traveling to Mexico safe? 

Yes, it’s easy to stay safe in Mexico, especially if you:

1. Avoid Walking Around at Night 

Go out for dinner and enjoy evening walks but stay away from secluded areas, especially if you’re alone or are inebriated as criminals wander around for easy targets. 

2. Be Careful When You’re Out and About 

When traveling to Mexico, make an effort always to remain vigilant about your environment, even when you’re in a hotspot for foreigners like Puerto Vallarta. Also, keep track of your belongings and only travel with people you trust.

Also, avoid sharing too much personal information with people you’ve just met, as it can put you in harm’s way. 

3. Brush Up on Your Spanish

Before heading to this country of good food and good music, learn some basic Spanish from apps like Duolingo. It’ll help you get the respect of locals, who will appreciate your efforts at learning their local language. They may even be more than happy to give you the scoop on amazing places that not many know about.

Let’s not forget that it can help you avoid paying the gringo tax when shopping. 

4. Carry Copies of Your Travel Documents 

Is travel to Mexico safe? 

Yes, traveling to Mexico is safe. But it can’t hurt to research the places you’ll be visiting and take suitable precautions like carrying extra copies of your travel documents.

If you think there’s a possibility of losing important travel documents like the Multiple Tourist Form (FMM), make copies before you leave so you’ll always have a backup. 

5. Choose the Right Accommodation

Mexico has several affordable accommodations that are trusted and reliable. You may want to go for the cheapest option, but it pays to consider how safe and well-established it is as well. That way, you can go on tours and leave your baggage behind without worrying about having them stolen.

Here at Remote Year, we understand that this process can be a bit tiring, which is why we take care of everything, from accommodations to helpful local guides and staff. This way, you can keep your valuables in a safe space in your hotel/hostel and get on with your day instead of worrying about them getting stolen while you’re out.  

6. Don’t Leave Your Drinks Unattended 

While barhopping and enjoying Mexico’s nightlife, keep your drink within sight at all times to ensure that no one has a chance to slip anything in it. If you’re traveling solo, avoid drinking too much. Getting drunk can mess with your judgment and invite trouble.

7. Don’t Use ATMs at Night 

Keep an eye on how much cash you have. If you’re about to run out, make it a point to withdraw cash from ATMs at official banks, as there are a lot of fake ATMs in Mexico. 

Do this during the day to avoid long lines and thieves who often target people who are withdrawing money. 

If the worst should happen and you get mugged, be calm and do not resist. Your life is more important than material possessions.

8. Follow Mexico’s Laws

You’re in Mexico to loosen up and have some fun. We get it, and we’re all for it. But make sure you don’t break Mexico’s laws while doing so. 

This can get you in trouble with the local police and can lead to a situation where a corrupt officer demands a bribe. Should an officer pressure you into paying a bribe, don’t pay them. Call your embassy for assistance or ask to speak to someone higher up.

9. Invest in Travel Insurance

Do you need travel insurance to travel to Mexico? 

It isn’t required, but it’s good to have travel insurance for added security and peace of mind. Travel Insurance Master and SafetyWing offer good deals. You can also get quotes from other companies to compare and find the best insurance for your travel needs. 

10. Keep a Low Profile 

Since crime in Mexico is often opportunistic, you can easily avoid it by keeping a low profile and making sure that there isn’t anything significant to steal. 

Avoid showing off your riches — money, flashy jewelry, electronics, and other valuables — as it can make you an easy target. Dress to blend with the locals and avoid designer labels so you don’t attract unwanted attention. 

Safety is one of the reasons we suggest packing for minimalist travel

Also, carry as much money as you need to get through the day, plus some extra for emergencies. Keep your phone in your pocket, money belt, or backpack to prevent being a victim of motorcycle snatching

11. Make Sure Your Phone is Charged and Recharged Sufficiently 

Before you head out, make sure your phone is charged. It will help you stay connected with your loved ones. Plus, you can use it to get a photo of the number and license plate of the vehicle you use for transportation, just in case. 

Additionally, we recommend purchasing a local SIM card with WiFi. It will allow you to access Google Maps and translation apps, making it easier to explore places and come back home in case you get lost.  

12. Stay Away From Drugs 

The drug war in Mexico is real, so stay away from any places that deal drugs. It will help you avoid getting into trouble with the law while minimizing the risk of getting caught in the crosshairs of drug cartels.

13. Take Care of Your Health 

The healthcare system in Mexico can be complicated, so you should be extra careful of your health. 

Essentially, you should:

Avoid tap water: It’s not safe to consume, regardless of where you are in Mexico. You may suffer moderate to severe tummy issues and other related illnesses from drinking it. Drink bottled water or invest in a Water-to-Go bottle for hydration.

Use mosquito repellents: Mexico has an arid to tropical climate, which means that mosquitoes, their bites, and the diseases they carry are likely if you don’t protect yourself with insect repellant. 

Travel with sunscreen: UV rays can damage your skin and increase your risk of cancer. Apply sunscreen when you’re out to protect your skin during your outdoor adventures.

Watch what you eat: Mexico has mouthwatering gastronomic experiences that you can indulge in through its street food. Before sampling food from a roadside vendor, make sure that their hygienic practices are sufficient. Otherwise, you could put yourself at risk for stomach bugs and food poisoning

14. Trust Your Gut

Your intuition is often right. At times, it may be the only thing that keeps you safe. So, if you feel uneasy or unsafe in certain situations, do a 180 and walk away. Even if your instincts turn out to be wrong, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

Note that in Mexico, one can experience  bird poop scams. The modus operandi involves getting hit by a gross substance (like bird poop). A “helpful” passerby helps you clean it up while empathizing with you. The catch is they also pick your pockets for anything of value, so beware. 

15. Use Registered Taxis

In Mexico, taxi drivers often try to scam foreigners into paying higher prices. There have also been incidents of taxis taking passengers to the wrong location or doing express kidnappings, which is why we suggest you use Uber to get around. 

With Uber, you know how much you have to pay upfront, can track where you’re going at all times, and check the driver’s reviews and ratings, which allows you to have a significantly safer experience than flagging down a random cab on the street. 

Final Thoughts

Is it safe to travel to Mexico? 

Mexico is regarded as a safe place to travel, provided that you’re willing to do some research beforehand (we’ve included some tips in this article) and practice safety precautions. 

Whether you’re moving to Mexico for a week or a month, you can have a very enjoyable experience in Mexico, even as a solo traveler.

One of the best ways to enjoy Mexico is with our work and travel programs here at Remote Year. As a travel assistance company, we help digital nomads visit various places with minimal hassle. We take care of accommodations, workspaces, logistics, and even weekend itineraries so you can explore new countries without sacrificing your work. 

Frequently Asked Questions