“Is it safe to visit Mexico?” is one of the questions we see posted and hear a lot! So, let’s put some perspective around it.
Is it Safe to Visit Mexico?: Some Perspective
First, it seems the people, and the media headlines, talk about security in “Mexico.” Now let’s take the United States for a comparison. If there’s a shooting or a violent act in, say, Chicago. Do the headlines scream “violence in the United States”? No! So why it’s done with Mexico is a mystery.
Let’s face it, pick any country or region in the world, and there will be very safe parts and quite unsafe parts of that region, for a whole host of reasons. So, try to minimize the generalizations when you read about problems in any country or region.
To put a finer point on it, here is a recent table using 2018 crime statistics. Many Mexico locations sit in stark contrast to US locations.
Here’s a good read for perspective.
And Trish at MyTrishAdvisor has some good short videos on many subjects, including safety and security.
Is it safe to visit Mexico, and Cancun/Riviera Maya more specifically? Generally, yes! Do bad things occasionally happen? Again, generally, yes, but not as frequent as many other cities and regions. And the really bad things, most often, are very compartmentalized.
For the most serious of crime, we most often see it occurring between cartels or gang-on-gang, in a very targeted fashion. It usually takes place in areas that tourists and ex-pats should not be frequenting, unless of course, they are looking for things they probably shouldn’t be.
A humorous, but in some ways accurate, depiction of this situation is this flow chart:
All of the Riviera Maya is growing. And, while some of the life-long (and long-term expats) often scorn virtually any growth, the area around Puerto Morelos seems to be a slower, more managed growth that happens, and is necessary, for all locations.
Of course, with growth comes the opportunistic criminals. No place is immune to pickpockets, scam artists (especially with tourists), beach thefts, and other lower level criminal activity. But, practicing common sense guidelines, as you would visiting any city, will help keep you safe.
Is it Safe to Visit Mexico?: EXPLOITATION of Incidents
I don’t discount a victim’s experience or trauma, and I can understand even the most emotionally exaggerated recitation when from affected individuals. You should however, understand the source and take the commentary with a grain of salt as you do your own research.
What is more difficult to tolerate is the exaggeration and exploitation of unique and one-off events, which exacerbates the reputational mis-perceptions. The prime example comes from some of the all-inclusive resorts which will tell their guests of “dangers” leaving the property (generally not true), or that the only “safe” tour operators are the one’s sold inside the hotel (also generally not true).
So, what’s it all mean?
When looking to visit Mexico, and to answer the question Is it safe in Mexico?, I encourage you to research more granularly. Look at the specific towns or regions you wish to visit, and gain an understanding of where the problems are located. You will learn quickly that the areas you plan to stay in and visit are not in the problem areas, and that you are likely much safer here than many cities around the world.
Practice good common sense guidelines to reduce exposure to petty crime, and get out and enjoy yourself! Experience everything the area has to offer! You can get some ideas for things you might like to do, by visiting our Activities page. And, if Puerto Morelos is on your agenda (and it should be!), take a look at Las Casitas for a fantastic stay!