Safety in Mexico: Reality vs. Sensationalist Media Hype

In the last few months, I have had the good fortune to visit Mexico a couple of times. For a single mom whose family and friends have no problem with me romping around Buenos Aires, taking my young kids to the Amazon, or climbing mountains in Africa, I cannot say that I was sufficiently prepared for the distinct reaction I got when people heard I was going to Mexico:

“You are going where? But what about the cartels?”

“Wow. I wouldn’t go there even if someone paid me”.

“Pretty irresponsible to be going there.You’ re a mother – you shouldn’t be putting yourself into situations like that…”

To which my response was:  “Have you ever been to Mexico?Oh, you haven’t… Well then, please at least tell me specifics as to what this violence is where I am going. What area is it in, and what specifically should I be on the lookout for?”

And, shocker…they have no idea. They just know it’s for sure really, really bad and I am totally going to get kidnapped/raped/shot/then probably beheaded for good measure.

Let’s work off facts here, not just blatant, misguided, baseless fear. The US government advises against visiting very specific places where drug cartels are warring over the billions of dollars made yearly trading illegal substances into the United States, and the efforts by the Mexican government to put an end to the drug traffic. Problems come in when, after hearing “warning” and “Mexico,” all too many Americans perceive the advisory for the country as a whole, which it clearly is not. Leslie Bassett, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, declared that the intention of the alert is to inform people of some violent acts that are taking place in specific states of Mexico. She clarified that in no way does this alert seek to negatively portray the tourist destinations.

I can’t exactly sense the fear in my friend Fernando here, who recently visited Mexico for the first time.

Mexico is roughly the size of Western Europe. Of Mexico’s 2,500 municipalities, only 18 have been considered to be a security problem.  Please read that sentence again. Pretty sure that leaves you with a 2482 very safe options if you want to travel to Mexico. Yes, there are places in Mexico that have had problems with drug violence. But the majority of Mexico’s organized-crime killings last year took place in a mere three of Mexico’s 31 states: Chihuahua,Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. I am not here to dispute that there has been and is drug violence in Mexico.I am here to point out that those specific places are likely nowhere near where you as a tourist or expat are planning to go.

I would hope you would find it downright silly if you heard a Mexican saying that they would never, EVER, consider going hiking in Oregon nor go golfing at Myrtle Beach because they heard reports of there being drug-related gang violence in South Side LA. Well, you know what? Where you most likely would be going in Mexico is perhaps further from the violence, distance-wise, than Oregon is from LA. The bandits are not going to travel 800 miles to come after you, American tourist drinking margaritas on the beach or taking pictures atChichen Itza. They actually don’t care about you, I am sorry to inform.

Three problem areas to be avoided (Tijuana, Juarez, and Nuevo Loredo), and how far these places actually lie from main tourist areas.

Don’t be stupid. Don’t buy or sell drugs in Mexico. Don’t flash large amounts of money or jewelry. Don’t visit the specific border towns notorious for violence. That is a given. Use common sense and you will be as fine in Mexico as you would in most other tourist destinations around the world.

Let’s look at some actual statistics from the UN Office of Drugs and Crime:  In drug offenses, Mexico recently ranked 12th in the world, and the US 4th. When it came to homocides with firearms, the US ranked 7thand Mexico 17th, (39.56 per 100,000 vs. Mexico’s 20.6). Yes, that means the US has 92% more homicides with guns than Mexico. So all of those people in the US telling you that you will get shot and killed in Mexico should be more worried about themselves.

Recent FBI statistics show the murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants in Baltimore is 43.3, Washington D.C. is 29.1 and Detroit is 47. Mexico, however, which suffered an especially violent year in 2008, recorded a murder rate of about 10 per 100,000. You do the math…

Travel writer Kyle Ellison put it perfectly when he said: “While I could rattle statistics off from a slew of different sources, the bottom line and the main point which needs to be made is that traveling to Mexico is no more dangerous than living in any major global city. Of the 60 countries I’ve wandered through and after 20+ visits to Mexico, you know where I’ve felt the most in danger (including when I thought I was kidnapped in Borneo)?  When I got lost on the south side of Chicago.”

In the last couple of months, I have personally visited Mexico City, Queretaro, Puebla, Mazatlan, Baja, and Veracruz. I have had nothing except phenomenal experiences, met some of the warmest, most welcoming people, and not for one moment did I feel unsafe in any way. I have enjoyed scuba and snorkeling, I have rafted, climbed, and hiked to hidden waterfalls and caves. I have explored archeological ruins, I have seen gorgeous art and architecture, and I have eaten some of the most memorable meals of my life. To have missed out on any one of these experiences because of what I heard from some media outlet needing the next sensational story would be sad and senseless. I would travel to Mexico alone, and I would travel with my three small kids. No second thoughts on that whatsoever.

There was a distinct lack of drug cartel activity as I recently snorkeled here on the very tranquilo Coronado Island in the Sea of Cortez…

Mexico ranks tenth as an international travel destination in the world and, regardless of the negative media hype, remains the number one international tourism destination for North Americans traveling abroad. Many tourists to the country are repeat visitors, which demonstrates that the vast majority of tourists are satisfied and leave with overwhelmingly positive impressions.

The Mexican government is expecting 2012 to be a good year for tourism. In fact, Mexico is expecting 52 million tourists to visit its five southern states – that compares to 22 million foreign visitors to all of Mexico in 2011.

If you choose to not visit Mexico in response to media hype, that is obviously your choice. But just know that there are millions of other Americans out there living life to the fullest and exploring an amazing country full of warmth, culture, natural beauty and history, right in the backyard of the US. I hate to say it, but if you sidestep Mexico due to fear, it is your loss. As Mark Twain put all so well, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Give Mexico a chance – I am willing to bet you may just end up falling in love with the country as so many other travelers and expats have.


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  1. Barry Lippman December 11, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Thank you for this well documented article. This is a message which really needs to be
    disseminated. Surely the negative media hype does a disservice to potential vacationers but
    an even greater disservice to those baby boomer retirees seeking paradise on a reasonable
    budget without having to move half way around the world to find it.

  2. December 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    This is our fifth winter exploring Mexico with our motorhome. Been telling everyone the same thing for five years! But many will choose to believe the media hype over anybody who tells them anything different.

  3. Kim December 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Couldn’t have said it better!

  4. Kim December 13, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Good article!

  5. Luz December 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Hola Cathy,

    I agree with the overall sentiment of this article – that one needs to try to understand statistics and realize that they are only one small part of the bigger picture. Mexico depends on tourism in a big way, so the tourist locations have lot’s of security – and, of course, the violence in Mexico is not aimed at tourists.

    However, I am not a big fan of articles on the Internet that simply throw numbers out without linking to their sources or otherwise giving the reader a way to take a look at them in context.

    Wikipedia has maps and charts based on UNODC’s 2012 study, and according to their numbers, Mexico’s homicide rate per 100,000, based on the most recent statistics available, is 16.9, while the number for the United States is 4.2!

    I don’t know if you can correct your articles here or not, but you really should look at your source and find out why there is such a wild discrepancy!

    For more “actual statistics”:

    What is an exaggeration here is to state that the violence in Mexico is nothing more than “media hype,” because every day, regular people get caught up in the crossfire of the drug violence or extorted by drug gangs or otherwise have their lives deeply affected. That is how poet Javier Sicilia was motivated to start el Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad – – working to end the Drug War. Join us!

    In the mean time, Mexico is totally and incredibly amazing, and the majority of the people are wonderful, as well. Is it safe at tourist locations? Well, when you are staying at luxury accommodations with lot’s of security, it is safe. Outside of the protective walls and away from the touristy locations, its like living in BsAs, or Detroit, or driving on a U.S. highway, for that matter – it’s safe… until it is you who becomes one of the crime statistics. But denying the statistics or getting them wrong doesn’t mean that they do not pose a danger.

    Finally, it is very important to pay attention to who is putting out the stats and for what purpose. I find that the travel industry downplays the violence in Mexico every chance it gets. On the other side of the coin, the press reports on violence because it is impactful news, while stories about humdrum life don’t make the news, so reality gets skewed in this way.

    • Luis P December 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      I completely agree with your reply. As a Mexican who loves his country more than anything, I have to admit with my heart in my hand that there are two very different Mexicos: the one you visit and the one you live in.

      As a tourist, it is heaven on Earth and one of the most welcoming and warmest places you can visit in your lifetime. Perhaps comparable only to the very well-reknowned South Eastern Asian service and hospitality. Landscape is breathtaking and it physically hurts when you’re far away and think of all our beautiful color and traditions.

      However, I don’t know one single Mexican who hasn’t been a victim of crime. And I’m 41 years old and lived most of my life in Mexico. There are different degrees of crime, from the petty pick pocketing or car break-in in a parking lot to kidnapping and murder, so yes, I’m putting all of that into the same bucket and generalizing it as crime. This is not violent crime, but it is still loss of your personal property in the hands of people who think they deserve what you have without working for it. And that’s what made me leave the country and search for a safer place where I can raise my kids…. in the US, where kids are senselessly murdered in their kindergarden (oh, the irony of it hurts).

      I don’t think I have a bottomline here, but if I wanted to conclude somehow I’d say that if you visit Mexico and don’t do anything stupid (the kind of things you would avoid doing also in NYC, Las Vegas, Rio or Bangkok) you will be fine and will enjoy a memoir that will last a lifetime. But the truth is that for the average Mexican, it is tough out there.

      By the way, the only time in my life that I have had a gun pointed at my head was 10 years ago while placidly walking in a nice early evening with my wife in Boston’s Beacon Hill. Yes, I know… I’m still don’t have a point here…

  6. Suzanne A. December 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    My 8+ years of experience living in Mexico confirms most of the information in your article. Although I have only lived in Mexican cities, like Guadalajara and Tijuana; I have found the people to be as friendly and as helpful as my neighbors in the small US village where I grew up (many decades ago). This is a place where drivers of 16-wheelers calmly stop and wait – as small dogs amble across the road. Drivers also routinely, and graciously, grant pedestirans the right-of-way, too. It is a place where the telephone\internet company thanks me, their “Esteemed Client”, as I pay my bill before the due date! It’s a place where local business owners really do offer “knock-your-socks-off” service to their customers. (One came to my apartment and installed a $1 part for me!)

    I cannot, however, agree with your recommendation to stay away from Tijuana, because it’s a border-city. In my 7 years of residence in Tijuana, I have neither personally seen – nor even heard my local friends and neighbors – talk about any crimes, here. Tijuana and San Diego have very close connections, like sister-cities. There are many business initiatives between San Diego and TJ\Ensenada, because both sides benefit – in the billions, according to a report I read, last year. Many Mexicans, and US citizens, ( I think I saw a number of 150,000) cross the border daily to work in San Diego. I know some US bank employees (from Tellers to Branch Managers) who make the trip ‘over the line’ to go to their jobs. I know others who are drivers for public and private transportation companies, as well. There are also many US citizens crossing, daily, who work State-side, and live in TJ. I’ve even known some computer specialists who live here, and cross to their jobs, daily. (My son did say, recently, that my internet speed ‘blew away’ the speed of his ISP’s connection!) So, maybe Tijuana is unique in its co-operative connection with San Diego. At least that has been my experience over these years. I must admit that, coming from a small town, I really do enjoy the small-town (and gracious) feeling I get while living in this very large city!

    • Adrianna H December 18, 2012 at 2:16 am

      Well said, I couldn’t agree more!

  7. Lance T. Vient December 14, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Dear Ms. Brown,

    I am writting with an overwhelming ammount of gratitude for the comments you make about my country. I was born and raised in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, and have moved back down with my three American daughters and my American wife, upon making our decision to move back, we literally had friends and relatives trying to keep us from getting in the cars, because they where affraid of what would happen here. Since I have been able to live a more fulfilled life, my children are now fluent in two languages and my 9 year old is already learning Algebra in school. It is not only safe here but it is as close to paradise as I have made it to.
    As a hotelier (Hotel Playa Mazatlan) I have worked adamantly towards changing the missperception of what life here is like, I have found it sad that more and more Americans and Canadians have stopped traveling here, but I am happy to see that more and more national and european tourists are enjoying our lovely climate, amazing food, spectacular beaches and warm people, and surprisinlgy enough are all making it back home safe and sound, with reservations for their next stay already booked. I trully appreciate your comments and efforts and I offer my assistance in any way that I can.

    Warm Wishes and Safe travels,

    Lance T. Vient
    Operations Director
    Hotel Playa Mazatlan / Playa Mazatlan Beach Hotel

  8. maggie December 15, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Thanks for this intelligent article on Mexico.
    This has been my home for 5 years and I have never felt happier.
    The constant flow of negative propaganda is not deserved.
    It is a divine place with incredible natural and diverse beauty,
    esp with the people.

  9. Emilie Vardaman December 15, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Thank you for this!
    I drive into Mexico to travel at least seven or eight times a year. Last year, a female friend and I drove throughout Baja Norte and Baja Sur and loved it all.
    I’ve traveled in Mexico for over thirty years and never, never had a problem. The people are friendly and warm. I just love it when I’m anywhere in Mexico.

  10. Susan Young December 18, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Great article. Thank you for doing the research and sharing.

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  12. kirsten jensen December 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    You are so right. we are fairly new to visiting Mexico (8 years in a brorrwse) and drive to mazatlan in our motorhome, staying in a beautiful RV park right by the ocean..We are from Canada and fell safer in Mexico than we do driving through L.A. and other states and cities.
    We love the Mexican people and as you said they are always friendly, helpful and smiling.

  13. Linda December 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm


  14. Adriana December 19, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Well, that was a beautiful article, almost tourist-pamphlet like..But let’s get this straight. I was born in the US raised in Mexico. I love Mexico, and I still believe that there is no other country where you can find all you can find in Mexico. Now, if you want to be safe and happy, you take an airplane and go to Cabo. In Mexico City, you won’t find the violence of cartels or Zetas because, well, it is the capital, Queretaro, and Puebla, in the Mexico’s state, Mazatlan, Baja, and Veracruz 100% tourist destinations, that in case that was left out of your research, many of the businesses are controlled or owned by cartels that of course will not make a scandal there as they…themselves, will lose money…But, try traveling by car, try driving by the Mexican roads…you do not want that…and no, I was not talking about Juarez, or Nuevo Laredo, etc. I am talking about almost the rest of the country, and I did not read about that on the US warnings, I know because of what has happened to friends, and family, and they were not even driving luxurious cars or showing money around. From shootings, killings, rapes, you name it…And now don’t even worry about zetas or cartels, but even copy-cats. My brother is just visiting today from Mexico and not the border, and he is telling us how the governor of a certain state has many people taking care of his house door, because he gets a grenade every other day, and it is not a border and it is not a “risk” state…That is the terrible truth about my beautiful Mexico, the one I miss and the one that my son does not know,…because I do not want him to know Cabo, or Mazatlan or Acapulco or any of those “Americanized” towns, I want him to know the real Mexico, where I have seen the “blood” no American warning told me about, and to those who say that the are so safe driving in Mexico, all I can say is that you have been very, very lucky….God bless you all….

    • Jorge A December 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      Well Adriana it seems you´re also getting the wrong idea, I don´t know in which state you grew in México but pretty much what Cathy is telling is truth. Yes there are some things happening on the last few years related to Drug Cartels but they really don´t care messing up with the tourists and they don´t have a lot of presence on tourist places, even if they do is just for “business” selling their product.
      So as long as you do your thing and don´t try to do anything stupid you should be fine, I´ve lived here in Mexico pretty much all my life and a part in the U.S. when I was a college student and I travel to most of the states there including L.A. which in my opinion is way dangerous that many of the states in México.
      If you are a U.S. or Canadian citizen and wish to visit Mexico go ahead, beaches are the most safest places here and the center part as well. I have people from my company coming very often here to Guanajuato (center part of México) and for most of them is their 1st time and they were concerned about their safety and keep telling about it but once they came and spent time here it really changes their vision and opinion about México “they say I´m amazed I was expecting something really bad and it was a nice surprise”.

    • lety December 20, 2012 at 9:06 am

      no words,20 kids died in Connecticut

  15. Harriet December 19, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Very good article with specific data. As she says ‘Don’t be stupid’. The same goes for travelling to Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans or New York City. Mexico is a wonderful destination for travel, study and business.

    • lety December 20, 2012 at 9:08 am


  16. Guillermo Gonzalez December 21, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Im from Mexico, specifically from Monterrey. I wish I could read this article and agree upon it. However reality is different: The article says…”Mexico is roughly the size of Western Europe. Of Mexico’s 2,500 municipalities, only 18 have been considered to be a security problem. Please read that sentence again. Pretty sure that leaves you with a 2482 very safe options if you want to travel to Mexico. Yes, there are places in Mexico that have had problems with drug violence”…this is Untrue…I live in Nuevo León and the whole State is in very bad shape, more than 52 municipalities. Thus is false from the begining. I know my country and I can tell you righ away that we are in trouble. Part of the country is already lost vs cartels as they dont want permit to transport drugs, they want the power now, they want to rule cities even states. Corruption at big scale, at all level in all entities, kidnapping going up in what was supposted to be the safe cities, police working for cartels, politicians involved with cartels, etc etc etc….Mexico is going through one of the most difficult times in its’ history.

    Just in my state in 2011 there were 2,000+ deaths with no responsibles. No investigation, no law, no nothing. People are moving out from Monterrey as there is no police. Not being dramatic , facts are facts.

    Seek an Article from Enrique Krauz which is one of the most re-known history professor. he states that Mexico need to accept that part of the Mexican republic is already lost. Its an article of about 2-3 months ago.

    This is a country where as I speak you dont want to call the police because they are infiltrated. Not all of them but most of them.

    Dont get me wrong, by no means I want to scare people. I love my country and if we as Mexicans dont see ourselfs in the mirror we will never accept that we have a big problem.

    Sorry for my English but is not my mother language.

    • Sugarplum December 26, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      She said Nuevo Leon wasn’t safe. Since that’s where you live, that’s the only place you can speak of.

    • Marcos Vega December 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      I know Nuevo Leon is having a hard time right now, but that doesn’t means that the rest of Mexico is having a hard time also. There are other states in problems, but beautiful states and cities such as Yucatán, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Acapulco, Cancún etc. are not in danger. I know how you feel, I am from Tijuana and a couple of years ago I was terrified of living here even though I love the city. But today, I can asure you that Tijuana is a safe place to live and visit. I really hope that all the problems in Nuevo Leon get resolved soon, I love Monterrey and I have a lot of friends that live there.

      On the other side, Cathy Brown, thanks for this article. I am really happy to see that there are people who came to Mexico and share their good experience saying is not as bad as everybody think it is.

    • Gabino Barrera January 13, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      Amigos la violencia esta entre los criminales,traficates,malandrines, yo soy mexicano y camino y viajo por todas partes y nada me pasa, miedo me daria caminar en la noche el East LA. en el Bronkx NY en Chicago, en Sacramento Ca, en Atlanta, en Dowtawnd Las Vegas… Ahi si que es peligroso y en mexico nunca he escuchado que pongan alertas para que no los visiten… Mexico ajora y siempre sera uno de los paises mas hermosos y Safest of the planet.

    • Gabino Barrera January 13, 2013 at 11:25 pm

      Mira Look, Gillermo. If you want to realy know where are the dangerous cities in USA, check the FBI WEB PAGE and you will be sorprendido….

  17. Paul. G December 22, 2012 at 10:12 am

    After living there on and off for the better part of ten years. You just let the cat out of the bag. Now the rest of the people will want to come down to soak up the sun and fun. I was hoping to have it all to my self. Ok I’ll share.

  18. carmen medina December 27, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    May I add Mexico is the country that more americans call home besides the USA. Only in Rocky Point Sonora there are 30,000 of them.

  19. April December 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    We are retiring in Tulum, Yucatan. Now living in very expensive Canada we could never have the quality of life in retirement that Mexico offers. We did a lot of research and many trips to realize that Tulum is a lot safer than our city in Canada. Yes we are investing and building a home in a huge gated community with a 5 acre jungle lot. 10 minutes to the most incredible beaches of the world. all the fruits and vegetables for 1/4 the cost back home. Wonderful weather and so many physical activities and new neighbours to extend our older years. This is paradise and if you look for trouble you will find it. So blessed to be able to do this and feel so safe and love the Mexican culture.

  20. Brett December 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    I just read yesterday on MSN that the Chicago mayor is sad because Chicago reached 500 murders for the 2012 year. I think our media spends more time bashing Mexico instead of looking at our own unsafe cities.

  21. Anthony Wells January 14, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    I am an avid supporter of travel to Mexico. I grew up in a border town, so I’m pretty familiar with Mexico, the drug trade, and things you should avoid. Still, I go there often and enjoy the many wonders of the country and its people. In fact, I will likely be moving to Mexico in the next year or so. Even so, I always use an abundance of caution.

    Having said that, this article is highly dubious and the author incredible. Either this writer is the most inept researcher on the planet, or she is outright lying in her article to further some other point. It took me only two minutes to fact check her “statistics.” Shame on you for posting erroneous information. What did you do? Research on Wikipedia instead of the actually UN and FBI websites?

    Lastly, I’m not sure if it was a Freudian slip, intentional slight, typo (who doesn’t use spell-check though?), or pure stupidity but let’s look at what she wrote with the “statistics.” “When it came to homocides with firearms…” In the English language murder falls under HOMICIDE, not homocide.

    Death by intentional homicide, count and rate by 100,000 population (2010):
    Mexico 25,757 22.7
    USA 14,748 4.8

    Number of homicides by firearm and Homicide by firearm rate per 100,000 population (2010):

    Mexico 11,309 10.0
    USA 9,960 3.2


    Murder or Non-negligent manslaughter rate per 100,000 population:
    Baltimore 10.3
    Detroit 18.2
    Washington DC 6.2


    Probably this won’t be posted on your site since this article is worth slightly less than toilet paper, but my point is made.

    • Owen Johnson January 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      It could be that the numbers quoted in this article are actually “deaths by firearm” and the majority of those are suicides. Out of 30,000+ deaths, about 18,000 are suicide. Apples to oranges, whether intentional or not.

      That being said, I believe the numbers in Mexico have gone down since 2010, but how far I can’t quote.

      The overall point of the article is accurate: over 90% of Mexico has a lower serious crime rate than a lot of the US and the vast majority of the homicides are limited to the drug trade. I live in Mexico currently, about 15 km north of Puerto Vallarta, and have not heard of any killings in this area that didn’t involve drug traders. In PV there have been a few fatal attacks in home invasions but that’s a big city and just like in the US, the bigger the city the more crime.

    • lizzy January 22, 2013 at 4:46 pm

      I travel to Mexico and various spots in the US. I take a group of youth to Mazatlan every other year. I would much rather take them to Mazatlan then to any US city of equal size. The people are friendly, they watch out for the kids, we are not stupid about where we go or where we hang out, in the four trips, I have not encountered one piece of trouble. I know its out there…but use your God given brain, stay out of seedie places, keep your eyes open, travel in a buddy system, don’t buy drugs or hang out in places likely to draw that kind. The kids love Mazatlan….going with another group this year, if we can raise the money.

    • khandro January 28, 2013 at 1:30 am

      What does this number mean? 25,757 22.7. Or this one? 14,748 4.8. They’re all nonsensical. So the argument against the argument is rendered meaningless.

  22. Nicki January 22, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    I have lived in Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico for over 4 years, and this is a constant debate for so many. I found a lot of really great support and information on a small Sayulita forum here And generally the normal rules of safety apply just like everywhere else. I actually feel safer here than when I return home for vacations. The media is very unreliable for unbiased information. I recommend forums to talk to real people about their experiences. Thank you to EFAM for putting this information out there.

  23. Derek Wood January 22, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Excellent article. My wife Teresa has a travel blog about our travels in Mexico with our 3 and a half year old, our husky/wolf, our cat and moi. Mexico is a beautiful and safe country to travel in. Derek.

  24. Martin Chang January 26, 2013 at 12:06 am

    I rent our vacation rental homes in San Felipe, Mexico – and no doubt, we are hurting from the unwarranted negative publicity, this despite San Felipe having absolutely no drug violence of any kind. My theory on the negative publicity is that U.S. businesses are encouraging the hysteria to benefit their bottom line. What do I mean? Well, last year, I heard radio Ads targeted at Spring Breakers that essentially said, don’t go to Mexico and risk your life – Comes to Vegas and be safe. I couldn’t believe my ears.

  25. Peter Eckle January 28, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I have been traveling to Mexico annually over the past 25 + years and have to say that I have never encountered an unsafe or hostile situation. However, like traveling anywhere, you need to be smart, diligent and aware of your surroundings.

    For the past 17 years, i’ve gotten to know the Los Cabos area pretty well. Like most places, there are spots where you should remain clear of, just to avoid unnecessary risks. Cabo is a relaxing, fun-loving area and the people in smaller towns like SanJose are family oriented and very friendly.

    Ironically, the only crime I have encountered in Mexico, came at the hands of 2 American companies- Raintree Vacation Club and Starwood Hotels and Resorts. These 2 companies conspired to swindle more than $30 million from hundreds of trusting and unsuspecting Americans.

    You can learn more about it at

    Efforts continue to get the justice system to hold these companies accountable, but in the meantime others should know about the actions of these companies in the hopes they can avoid a similar situation in Mexico and anywhere else for that matter.

  26. Zach February 1, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Thank so much for this article . My wife and I live in Mexico for a year in 2011. We traveled from Cancun to Oaxaca and everywhere in between. Loved it and found the warmest people along the way. We have plans to be back there in March and still get the ignorant negagtive comments from friends and family who have never been there.

  27. Rod C. February 6, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    We’re planning on driving from Arizona to San Miguel de Allende via Nogales or San Antonio in May. Would appreciate your comment. Do you have a recommendation for overnight stop from San Antonio? Thank you.

    • Pancho February 12, 2013 at 9:02 am

      Hi Rod, I´m from Mexico City I´m used to travel from Mexico City to Durango and some other northern cities by car, If you are planning to drive from Arizona, please just consider not to drive at night, always use highways even if its another expense you´ll be safe and leave the hotels at sunrise, Its the perfect time to avoid any risk of meeting bad people, try not to use your credit card at gas stations. Hope that you have a nice trip.

  28. Fillup40 February 7, 2013 at 10:07 am

    I agree, Mexico is a safe place to live in.

  29. Juan February 11, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I live in Mexico and I’m sorry to say, that it is NOT safe, not even the places you write about, just this month 6 spanish girls were raped in Acapulco, and a man from the Ukraine was found dead and his wife has gone missing in Yucatan. So don’t say it’s just the nothern part of the country, the risk is huge and I wouldn’t recommend comming here, and I am a mexican. Sorry.

    • Cristobal Ludlow February 11, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      Juan, like in all countries there are dangerous places, its like if you say Brazil its dangerous (of course if you go in to the favelas, probably you are going to have a bad experience).

      I like traveling a lot in Mexico, and have never had a bad experience, I’ve been in almost all states during the last 4 years.
      Im Mexican to, and i highly recommend to travel Mexico (always remembering to avoid known risk areas like in all countries).

      Cathy Brown I’m glad you had a nice experience in Mexico, and congratulations on your article.

    • Liz February 12, 2013 at 12:40 am

      Juan…rape, kidnappings and murders are not exclusive to Mexico. They happen everywhere and anywhere. Fact.

    • JP February 12, 2013 at 2:38 am

      Juan I agree with the Acapulco thing, Guerrero is one of the most dangerous places in the world, still your comment it’s really stupid. Mexico is really safe if you don’t do any stupid things.

    • Pancho February 12, 2013 at 9:07 am

      Nice….. you´re doing it ok… (sarcarsm) have you got any idea of how many USD Mexico depends from tourism, how many jobs tourism makes every year? How do you expect things change if you tell others look we´re not safe here so dont bother to come and visit us… burglars, kidnappers and rapist are anywhere, your just another angry mexican who cannot move one despite our problems, Sorry for yoy man, hope you find peace in your life soon.

  30. Gabriel V February 12, 2013 at 4:34 am

    Hello, first I want to say this is one of the best pieces of persuasive/research writing I have read. I am Mexican American and I too feared traveling to my parents home country of Mexico because of all the negative media of safety in Mexico. Listening to stories of extortion and human trafficing was enough to scare me not to go. I visit Tijuana Baja California often and I have no problem there beside corrupt cops haha. What I was scared of was traveling to Mexico further south. I went to Aguascalientes, Mexico and it was nice and peaceful. We asked my girlfriends uncle about the drug cartel violence in the area and he said it was fine. He mentioned that you only hear about drug cartels killing themselves never people who aren’t involved. He continued to say that what he hears about the US seems worse that what happens there. He was reffering to school shootings that he hears about and he cannot believe that we have peole who kill innocent people for no reason. That it was sad that children weren’t safe in their own classrooms. I just found it interestingto hear his opinion on the matter. Anyways I had a great time and we should always try to be safe when travelling regardless of location :)

  31. carlos camps February 12, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I am from Mexico, I really liked this article, and as many of north american people, would not step into “problematic” states… Another thing, cartels are killing each other and don’t give a damn for any tourists or foreigners, but to SELL drugs… And please, do not be hypocrites, almost all north americans which visits Mexican beaches, ie. spring breakers, to get wasted and to buy drugs…

    If I travel to the US, there are so many places I would not place a foot on… East LA, South Chicago, Bronx, pretty much all the states in the middle of the continent full of heavy-armed rednecks…

    TV/media is full of BS…. try to make up your own mind and do some research, like this very well written and intelligent article….

    As a Mexican, I thank the author for this article!

  32. Enrique February 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm


  33. Jamie Jame Mes February 12, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    “Recent FBI statistics show the murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants in Baltimore is 43.3, Washington D.C. is 29.1 and Detroit is 47. Mexico, however, which suffered an especially violent year in 2008, recorded a murder rate of about 10 per 100,000. You do the math…”

    Thanks for the outdated information, also it doesn’t contain the information of kidnapped/dissapeared/people. the metodology of both sources of information (inegi) vs FBI is not the same. also,297cb25cb0069310VgnVCM20000099cceb0aRCRD.html
    If you are one of the .3Million people dissapeared you arent in the statistics as murdered. and, of course, they are already dead.
    also consider that in mexico most crimes arent ever reported to the autorities.

    • Jr. C March 3, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      FBI isn’t the absolute authority on crimes in other countries. The International Community recognizes this and only CIA numbers are ever considered reliable outside the USA.

  34. Peter Winckers February 13, 2013 at 6:23 am

    Thanks, great article :-) I am Dutch, now living 3,5 years in Mexico City and been traveling a lot all over the country. With my wife I have a small travel agency and I must say: Mexico really IS safe to travel, if you do it with commen sense, as you are mentioning. Thanks again !

  35. Nelson R February 13, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    I’m sorry, I’m mexican and I would strongly advice against visiting our country.

    In the two months after this article was published, a gang of armed dudes raped and robbed a group of spanish tourists in Acapulco, one of the biggest tourist cities. Cancun and the Mayan Riviera also have increasingly high crime rates due to the narco takeover that’s taking place. People I know have gone missing, decapitated bodies and mass graves keep appearing every day and the information given regarding suspects or apprehended felons is shady, to say the least, and sometimes downright ridicule. This is not typical crime, it’s organized crime in a negligent regime. A very, very, negligent regime.

    In a few years, the country has become untravelable (Is that a word?) not only because of the “bad guys”, but also (and sometimes, mostly) because the “good guys” can be even worse! As citizens we live constantly harassed by cops and government employees that work for bribes! That’s what they do for a living, harass to get bribes! If something bad happens to you, not only are almost all public servants corrupt, but inefficient to the point that most of the time they make things worst and frustrating. Imagine traveling a country where police do more harm than good!

    It’s not all bad, though. There are many safe, quiet places like Isla Mujeres or Cozumel. If you want to travel, do your research and go to there, but trust me, the things that media doesn’t say are way worse than the ones generating this “hype”.

    Look, this is a beautiful country with beautiful people, but lately it has become a big pile of dump. It is important that the world knows about this.

    • VB February 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      It’s shameful you would say that.

      I’m Mexican too and I left the country for four years and just got back. Due to work I’ve been traveling around from Morelos, to Yucantan, to Sinaloa etc etc etc and I can honestly say Mexico is in much better shape than when I left it.

      I was a victim of crime nine years ago and now I feel safe around my country.

      Most recently Acapulco was declared the second most dangerous city and what the author is saying is to avoid those danger hot-spots. But by no means is the whole of the country in danger. Much less should we warn visitors to come around.

      It’s like going to Brazil and visiting a favela… there are areas where you’re just asking for trouble! But if you go to other places this can be a magnificent place to visit.

      I was recently in Cancun and it’s no more dangerous than Miami, in fact it’s probably less dangerous. I have friends living there and they commented on how tranquil the city is. Let’s no aid into destroying one of our most important industries.

      Mexico is perfectly safe if you stay away from the danger-zones. Same as any other country in the world.

  36. Hector F February 14, 2013 at 12:25 am

    I’m mexican, I’m 26 yo and none member of my family has been suffer any violence of any kind… I use to travel in my motorbike in back roads, I have left my bike unatended with saddlebags attached and not even an attepmt of steal them, not even once my wallet or my mobilephone has ever been taken. I’ve left accidentally my car unlocked in malls and even the downtown several times. Lucky? maybe, but my point is, just use common sense and you’ll be fine ;)

  37. Ender February 15, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Tell that to the six Spanish girls raped in Acapulco last week. Granted, the chance of becoming a victim is small, but you’d better choose somewhere it’s even smaller.

    • VB February 19, 2013 at 2:22 pm

      Yeah well Acapulco was recently named the second most dangerous city in the world. If they had gone to Cancun that probably wouldn’t have happened. What the writer is saying is stay out of the danger zones and you’ll be fine. Common sense ppl!

  38. Maria rosa February 22, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Hasta que hay alguien que dice la verdad…..Visiten Mexico,es increible ! VIve Mexico !
    Quien lo haya escrito…..felicidades !

  39. david February 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Hi. I am weighing in here on the- I-love-Mexico side of the argument so read at your own peril fearful people.

    I am planning a trip this Spring to Yucatan Peninsula with a 65 yr old woman friend from Rochester NY who has never been to Mexico before but really was eager to go. Well, she went to LA recently and was told by all her old friends that she will be murdered robbed and kidnapped if she goes to Mexico. They put the fear of God into her. I tried to explain that it is safer there than in the US from my experience and statistically as well, but of course she is still afraid, and on the fence whether she will go or not. I now hope she doesn’t go because I don’t want to baby sit a frightened American retiree in paradise. I want to have fun and relax and see Mayan, etc.

    The irony is, she has just announced that she wants to move to Detroit, MI to be near family. She didn’t say anything about fear there but I just read that Detroit has the highest crime rate in the US in 2012, even higher than when they were the official murder capital of the US in the 70s. 386 homicides per 100,000 people.

    By contrast the state with the lowest murder rate is Yucatán. Its murder rate of 2 per 100,000 was comparable to Wyoming and Montana.

    •Washington, D.C.’s murder rate is nearly quadruple that of the Mexican capital, Mexico City. Washington’s murder rate was 31.4 per 100,000 people in 2008; Mexico City’s rate in 2009 was 8.

    I think I would visit let alone move toYucatan over Detroit for many reasons but if one is frightened of phantom crime look at the numbers.

    I understand there are people who don’t like new experiences and are afraid of all sorts of things. They might enjoy staying home and watching COPS or that guy with the slow spooky who dissects unsolved murders on TV or Nancy Grace. Love her. She’s SO mean. (Not really. Mean people suck.)

  40. Ana February 27, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Bible!!!!! Americans stop being ignorant!!!!! Mexico is a wonderful place

  41. Nathan Segal March 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    There is no shortage of people complaining about violence in Mexico. What many of these people don’t seem to realize is that they’re being manipulated by the media. I’ve traveled all over Mexico for eight years and I’ve lived in Mexico for three of those years.

    I’ve never had a problem with violence of any kind. And for those of us who spend time in Mexico we look around and wonder what’s going on. Lots of media disinformation. I am really tired of hearing it.

  42. Nathan Segal March 16, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    It is truly refreshing to read your article. As one who has traveled to Mexico extensively for eight years I have yet to encounter any issues of violence. And of those eight years I’ve lived three of those in Mexico, mostly in La Paz, BCS, and Bucerias, Nayarit.

    There’s an enormous amount of media hype and fear-mongering. I’m really tired of well meaning but ignorant people who come up to me and tell me about the dangers of Mexico. And many of them have never been there. It’s sickening as to how many of these people let the newspapers do their thinking for them.

    Thanks again for your post.


  43. Tony January 14, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    It can be dangerous in certain parts of Mexico for some people, but these are not really the places most US tourists ever head out to. In the US, most tourists normally don’t head out to South Chicago or inner city Detroit on their vacations either.

    My wife’s family lives in some of the danger areas and we no longer travel there, not even to visit the relatives who continue to live in what is a very dangerous locale. On the other hand, my wife and our teenage daughter traveled all over the country in safer areas the last 3 summers without any problem at all. They traveled to ‘dangerous’ Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador as well. El Salvador was their favorite country they visited!

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