Places To Avoid In Mexico

Places to Avoid in Mexico: Travel Safety Tips for 2024

I want to bring into attention here the places to avoid in Mexico where you should not go, or even think about them.

Places to Avoid In Mexico – Do Not Travel To:

  • Colima state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • Guerrero state due to crime.
  • Michoacan state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • Sinaloa state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • Tamaulipas state due to crime.
  • Zacatecas state due to crime and kidnapping.

I have published already a list of the safest cities in Mexico, actually I live in Merida which is the safest. So stick to those cities and forget the ones I describe here, please.

Acapulco is now one of those places to avoid in Mexico, and I have removed all the recommendations and articles of this city, some time ago in 2024.

As you plan your travels, bear in mind that certain regions do exhibit increased risks. However, it’s important to recognize that, much like in any country, danger is not uniformly distributed. The U.S. State Department provides travel advisories which can be instrumental in planning a safe itinerary. Engaging in due diligence, such as consulting with the local U.S. embassy and adhering to safety tips from reliable sources, can minimize your risks. Remember that the likelihood of encountering serious danger in most touristic areas of Mexico is comparable to risks found in many urban areas in the United States.

Potential Hazards in Visiting Mexico

Criminal Syndicates’ Impact

Criminal organizations in Mexico are widespread, deeply involved in illicit drug trade. Given the immense demand for narcotics in the United States, these groups engage in fierce competition, which manifests in various forms of violence including territorial disputes and human trafficking.

Key factions in this power struggle include the Jalisco New Generation, Santa Rosa de Lima, Sinaloa, and Las Zetas cartels. These groups battle over control of lucrative smuggling lanes and territories. Despite government efforts to counter such activities, systemic corruption across different levels—from law enforcement to political echelons—hampers progress, entangling various cities in the country.

Aspect of CrimeDetails
Organized Crime GroupsJalisco New Generation, Santa Rosa de Lima, Sinaloa, Las Zetas
ActivitiesDrug trafficking, human trafficking, territorial violence
Government ResponseCombating organized crime with varied success due to pervasive corruption

The Safety of Tourists in Mexico

Visiting tourists, especially from the United States, Canada, Europe, and other non-Latin American countries, are generally spared from deliberate harm by drug cartels, as negative incidents involving tourists could harm these groups’ lucrative enterprises.

Nonetheless, even in tourist havens like Los Cabos, Cancun, or Puerto Vallarta, the presence of lower-tier cartel affiliates might be noticeable, often clandestinely offering illegal drugs.

While these popular destinations are not synonymous with Mexico’s most perilous regions, vigilance is always advised. Avoiding unlawful pursuits markedly reduces risks of encountering danger.

DestinationSafety ConsiderationsAdvice
Los Cabos, Cancun, Puerto VallartaLow risk of cartel violenceRefuse illicit offerings; Stay vigilant
General Tourist AreasNot typically targeted by cartelsEngage in legal activities; Maintain awareness of surroundings

Risk Analysis of Select Mexican Localities

Tijuana, the Misjudged Border City

Tijuana is adjacent to San Diego and has garnered a notorious reputation for crime and cartel activity. The truth, however, is nuanced. Statistically, it is one of the safest Mexican border towns….whaaaaat?

Cartels, while present, generally target each other rather than tourists. Petty crime like scamming and pickpocketing is a greater risk to visitors. With common sense and staying informed, your visit to Tijuana can be enjoyable, giving you access to its rich culinary and brewing scene.

Near Tijuana, is Rosarito, a safe city of Baja California, and one of the safest places to live in the region, so when we analyze the places to avoid, it is important to be more granular and go on a city-by-city basis.

Texan Frontier Urban Centers

Cities along the Texan border carry stories of violence due to high-stakes cartel activity. This region, while not constantly hazardous, can be perilous due to the drug trade crossfire. Major cities like Monterrey are relatively safe, but caution is urged, especially at night and outside tourist zones.

Acapulco’s Changing Tides

Once famed for its glamor, Acapulco faced a period of heightened criminal dominance and violence, deterring tourists. Currently, safety in popular tourist areas has significantly improved, though surrounding slums remain areas of concern. When visiting, adhere to safety measures to enjoy the resurgent beach destination.

Dichotomy of Sinaloa State

Sinaloa, notorious for the drug cartel bearing its name, is a mix of danger and safety. Mazatlan, a coastal city within Sinaloa, stands out for its relative security, offering a stark contrast to the state’s less stable areas. Prudence is advisable when considering travel to certain parts within Sinaloa, despite the alluring attractions like Copper Canyon.

Ciudad Juarez, the Rebounding Border Town

Ciudad Juarez once faced overwhelming violence but has significantly improved. Currently, the city provides a safer experience for visitors who avoid drawing attention and adhere to safety precautions. Its cultural offerings now shine past its former notoriety.

Mexico City, the Urban Giant

Mexico City, as one of the largest cities globally, contends with issues inherent to massive urban centers such as petty crime. Despite this, its cultural richness, history, and gastronomy continue to draw in travelers. Remaining alert and sticking to well-traveled areas generally ensures an enriching stay.

The Quintana Roo Coast

Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum in Quintana Roo are known for their stunning shores and are amongst the most frequented tourist hubs. Though Cancun has maintained a reputation for safety, it’s important to stay vigilant, particularly at night and in less populated areas. Remaining within tourist precincts typically assures a secure, enjoyable visit to these sought-after destinations.

Tamaulipas and Ciudad Victoria

The state of Tamaulipas and its city, Ciudad Victoria, come with a cautionary note due to a volatile safety situation. Travel here calls for thorough research and adherence to local advice to avoid potential risks.

Baja California Sur’s Dual Nature

Los Cabos, La Paz, and other regions in Baja California Sur present a paradox—a blend of safety and risk. Certain areas like La Paz and La Misión, hold a safer status and are enjoyable, while some parts of Baja California Sur, while generally safe, require caution due to sporadic episodes of crime.

Irapuato’s Urban Outline

In the Bajio region, Irapuato grapples with safety challenges. Keeping abreast of the latest advisories before planning a visit here is advisable to avoid areas underscoring the higher risk.

Below is a summary table for a snapshot of the localities discussed:

AreaNotable RisksSafety Measures
Tijuana, Border of OpportunityCartel presence, petty crimeStay informed, avoid drawing attention
Texan Border CitiesHigh-stakes cartel activityTravel by day, stay in tourist zones
Classic AcapulcoHistorical crime spikes, safe tourist areasRemain in popular tourist areas
Sinaloa’s Hidden FacetsVaried levels of safety, cartel namesakeVisit safer areas like Mazatlan
Ciudad Juarez, Resilient NeighborRecovering from past violenceTake standard urban safety precautions
Grand Mexico CityPetty crime in vast urban sprawlExplore well-traveled tourist locales
Quintana Roo’s Resort TownsNighttime risksStay within tourist precincts
Tamaulipas, Wary WanderingsInstability, cartel activityFollow local advisories, plan meticulously
Diverse Baja California SurSelected regions with heightened crimeResearching safe zones, personal alerts
Irapuato, Gambling with CautionLesser known, potential for riskUp-to-date travel advisories

Frequently Asked Queries Regarding Mexico’s High-Risk Locations

Areas with Prevalent Crime Rates in Mexico

The vicinity of the U.S.-Mexico border consistently experiences elevated crime levels, eclipsing other regions in Mexico in terms of overall danger.

Mexican States with High Risks in 2024

In 2024, specific Mexican states have been identified for their notable risks, particularly the states lining the United States border and the northern Gulf of Mexico coast.

Mexican StatesNotable Risks and Issues
Baja CaliforniaHigh overall crime rates
SonoraCartel activity
ChihuahuaHomicides, organized crime
CoahuilaDrug trafficking routes
TamaulipasKidnappings, drug cartel violence

Although some states have elevated crime stats, this doesn’t indict entire states as dangerous, similar to urban crime centers compared to their broader states in the U.S.

Cities Grappling with Cartel Influence

Certain cities in Mexico are engulfed by corruption and cartel dominance, with the most affected being:

  • Tijuana
  • Ciudad Juarez
  • Ciudad Victoria
  • Reynosa
  • Culiacan

These cities have become notorious for their struggles with drug cartels and associated crime.

Homicide Statistics in Mexico for 2024

A staggering number of 36,579 murders was recorded in Mexico, revealing a murder rate that placed the country in the fourth position globally. Men were identified as being more frequently targeted for homicide, with a risk factor 8 times higher than that of women.

Type of VictimizationNumber of MurdersGlobal RankSex Disparity
Total Murders (2024)36,5794thMen 8x more likely than women

Understand that these numbers reflect overall trends, and individual risks can vary based on location and activity. Always practice diligence and research extensively before traveling to Mexico.

I have updated my list with the safest cities in Mexico, and the safest cities in Baja California where I spent a couple of years. I can tell you now where is the cheapest and safest place to live in Mexico. Nevertheless, there are places to avoid near the border, with some of the safest Mexican border towns which are Las Piedras and La Misión.

I had to decide which are the safest resorts in Mexico, normally boutique hotels and all inclusive hotels with security access, and beach guards in an already safe city. Those selected and relatively secluded resorts are also the safest place in Mexico to vacation with the family.

Those lists have to be compared with the list of cleanest cities in Mexico.

My Favorite Things To Do In Mérida

So I have a shortlist of the best things to do in Mérida, notably the Mayan World Museum, some of them unique things off the beaten path. In particular, what to do in Merida at night, like pub crawling, dancing, and some upscale restaurants. Also, for those lazy dazs, things to do in Mérida Centro, where we can find the majority of activities, such as the several free walking tours which start downtown. I have also a list of few free things to do in Mérida.

I tell you where to stay in Mérida, which are the best hotels, in particular, fancy boutique hotels.

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