How safe is Mexico

7 February, 2017 by admin No Comment

Mexico Travel Warning

The U.S. State Department has issued detailed warnings about travel to Mexico. Fortunately there is a carefully worded prelude that serves as a kind of disclaimer to keep some of the graphic warnings in perspective:

“Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality. 

Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes.”

The travel warning contradicts itself by listing all kinds of frightening crimes and then announcing that a large part of most warning areas (specifically tourism areas) is not part of the advisory described. Some of the content is constructive, but most of what we need to know is in the disclaimer above: 1) U.S. visitors are not targets and 2) Tourism areas are relatively safe.

Dangerous possibilities are presented in graphic detail despite a high level of improbability for any vacationing U.S. national not involved in drug trafficking. There are even warnings about kidnapping, even though the rate of kidnapping is dramatically higher in Canada than it is in Mexico and no such warning exists for Canada.

There are constructive comments that could apply to apply to travelers anywhere: A logical way to reduce your chances of being victimized is to “lower your profile and avoid displaying any evidence of wealth that might draw attention.” And like everywhere else in the world where there is violence to protect drug interests – including the United States– stay away from areas with drug and gang violence.

The most recent State Department advisory on Mexico is available here:

U.S. State Department Advisory

  • For emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Mexico, contact The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc
  • Phone from the U.S.: 011-52-55-5080-2000; Within Mexico City: 5080-2000
  • Long distance within Mexico 01-55-5080-2000.
  • You may also contact the Embassy by e-mail at:
  • The Embassy’s internet address is

While the media often portrays Mexico as the most dangerous place on earth, it is statistically quite safe. According to which uses U.N.-based data, Mexico doesn’t even make the list of the 36 nations with the highest murder rates. Mild-mannered nations like Sweden and Switzerland top Mexico for murders on  The assault rate in the U.S. is nearly 5 times greater than that of Mexico in the independent Prominix report adjusted for under-reported crime.

Even when we add on independent estimates for unreported homicides, Mexico ranks 21st behind many popular vacation destinations. Places we think of as idyllic Caribbean retreats have double, triple, even quadruple the murder rates of Mexico. Mexico’s famous vacation areas are even safer than the averaged statistics, and even safer still for tourists.

Which Mexican States & Regions are safe?

The U.S. State Department’s warning recognizes that Mexico’s tourism areas do not experience the safety issues seen along the Texas border. In fact, 27 States and the Mexico City Federal District have no advisories or limited advisories outside of their tourism areas. Travel to only 4 States is advised postponed or avoided.

Safe Mexican States with no travel advisories:

  • Baja California Sur
  • Campeche
  • Chiapas
  • Estado de Mexico
  • Guanajuato
  • Hidalgo
  • Mexico City DF
  • Oaxaca
  • Puebla
  • Queretaro
  • Quintana Roo
  • Tabasco
  • Tlaxcala
  • Yucatan

Mexican States where some caution is advised:
These are States where vactationing is enjoyable, but travel outside of the touristic areas may place you at higher risk. Cartel violence does not target tourists or touristic areas, but it can be present in other parts of these States so some caution is advised.
  • Aguascalientes  Avoid the Zacatecas border. 
  • Baja California
  • Colima  Avoid the Michoacán border.
  • Guerrero  Keep to Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, and Ixtapa. 
  • Jalisco   Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta are warm, welcoming areas. Avoid the Michoacán and Zacatecas borders. 
  • Michoacán   Keep to Morelia & Lázaro Cardenas. 
  • Morelos
  • Nayarit  Limited advisory*.
  • Nuevo Leon  Keep to the area of Monterrey. 
  • San Luis Potosi  Keep to San Luis Potosi city. 
  • Sinaloa  Keep to tourism areas of Mazatlan. 
  • Sonora  Keep to the area of Puerto Peñasco. 
  • Veracruz
  • Zacatecas  Keep to Zacatecas city. 
The entire southern region of Nayarit has no advisories as shown in the map above. This region extends well beyond the famous Riviera Nayarit resort areas on Banderas Bay. Some caution is advised in the region to the north of the historic capital, Tepic. 

Which States should be avoided by travelers with safety concerns?

The U.S. State Department recommends against travel to 3 states along the Texas border and the state of Durango because of cartel violence. Visitors should exercise extreme caution. While the entire nation of Mexico is showcased as dangerous. These are the States where cartel violence has been focused.
  • Chihuahua
  • Coahuila
  • Durango
  • Tamaulipas
It is irresponsible to suggest that every inch of any country or state is completely safe or unsafe. So it is important to note that the violence in the 4 states above seldom targets tourists, making it statistically less likely that tourists will become victims. Yet, the crime rate in those areas is significantly above the national average. Those wishing to avoid the 4 states identified by the U.S. State Department have 28 other states to explore that are statistically safer and at least as beautiful. Travel safely.
Information on this page is based on the advisory on the U.S. State Department website. It is a controversial site worth reviewing as part of a complete snapshot of the safety issues of one of the world’s most fascinating destinations.

Mexico is safer than other popular destinations.

Mexico, one of the world’s great travel destinations, is often singled out for violent crime without telling the whole story. While there is sporadic violence along parts of the U.S. border, the majority of Mexico’s key tourism areas are not only safe, but safer than many other popular tourism areas.  COMPARE POPULAR TRAVEL DESTINATIONS >

The Yucatan is as safe as rural U.S. states.

The magnificent beaches and ancient ruins of the Mexican State of Yucatan are among the safest and most spectacular resort beaches in the world. Yucatan’s low homicide rate is lower than the rural U.S. States of Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and North Dakota, West Virginia and several others.  COMPARE U.S. CITIES TO MEXICO >

Mexico City is 4 times safer than Washington D.C.

The U.S. State Department in Washington issues warnings about Mexico, yet Washington D.C. is four times more deadly than Mexico City. Washington’s murder rate has been cut almost in half in the last 10 years, but it still averages 24 per 100,000 vs. only 8-9 per 100,000 in Mexico City. How do you suppose the U.S. State department would feel if the Mexican government posted travel warnings for the U.S. capital? Mexico City is a cultural treasure that is larger than New York, London or Paris. In fact, it is about the same size as London and Paris combined.   LEARN WHICH AREAS OF MEXICO ARE SAFEST >

Understanding the size and scope of Mexico.

Mexico is the 14th largest country on the planet. Its famous beaches and cultural treasures are hundreds of miles away from isolated border violence. In fact, the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory recommends avoiding only 4 of the country’s 31 states. Take a 60-second crash course in Mexican geography and you’ll feel smarter and safer.  LEARN WHY SIZE MATTERS >

“Mexico’s violence not as widespread as it seems.”  

After months of sensationalized stories about Mexico’s border violence, USA Today finally published a story about the media hype. While the story itself became an excuse to re-tell some of the sensational tales, it did set the record straight by comparing U.S. and Mexican homicide figures.  COMPARE VIOLENCE STATISTICS >

Politics & Profits drive sensational media.

Why is Mexico shown in a negative light? There is money to be made by sensationalizing violence. Drug cartels launch graphic attacks to secure and protect their turf. Media firms hype stories to sell more ads or magazines. And powerful politicians have an interest in slowing the growth of Latino voters in the U.S. Each group enhances perceptions with ulterior motives. The reality is simple: if you are in the drug trade looking for trouble, you can find it. If you are visiting Mexico’s touristic areas, you are safer than you are in many U.S. touristic areas.  LEARN HOW TO TRAVEL SAFELY >


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