Traveling to a new country always comes with a bit of anxiety regarding safety. This sentiment holds especially true for female, solo, and younger or inexperienced travelers. We hear a lot about other countries from the news and media, which often highlight their negatives.
Although updating yourself on current events is important, avoiding traveling to certain locations may mean missing out.
Mexico is a culturally diverse and historically-rich country boasting delicious food, fun festivities, and stunning historical sites. And Mexico City is at the heart of it all! However, it does have a reputation. My article will cover how safe it is to travel to Mexico City. Plus, share some insightful safety tips and tricks for your future travels!
About Mexico City
Mexico City is Mexico's and North America's most populous city, with over 22 million people living here. It's also one of the oldest settled cities in the Americas. Initially founded by indigenous peoples in 1325, it was called Tenochtitlán.
Mexico City is the jumping-off point for travelers visiting Mexico to explore. It's home to many famous historical and cultural sites. The city center, Floating Gardens, Chapultepec Castle, Metropolitan Cathedral, and National Palace are among them. The city also boasts a whopping 150+ museums to explore and a culinary scene worthy of a Netflix special.
Getting around Mexico City is pretty easy, thanks to the largest metro system in Latin America. The Sistema de Transporte Colectivo. An intricate network of trains, it and various bus routes can get you anywhere you want to go in the city!
Crime in Mexico City
Crime is a natural and common occurrence, especially in big cities. Mexico City is just as susceptible as any of them. Reports of violent and non-violent crime are common here. Mexico City's crime rate is 78.32, including all crimes from homicide to break-ins, which is regarded as high. Crimes committed in Mexico have a broad range, which factors into its high score.
That said, other cities that have similarly high crime ratings include:
- San Francisco, USA is 67.79
- Winnipeg, Canada is 71.70
- Paris, France is 61.51
- Delhi, India is 68.21
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is 90.51
Mexico City also has a Global Peace Index rating of 2.6/5, ranking 140/163 countries. This score is lower than average.
When looking at crime rates and statistics, it can be scary, but do try to look on the bright side. The reality is that visitors sticking to high-traffic areas and destinations are less likely to become victims of crime.
When considering if a city is safe, it's essential to compare the crime against tourists to the overall crime rate. Most travelers who take proper precautions report feeling safe traveling in Mexico City. Less threatening crimes, such as petty theft or scams, tend to be the most reported by tourists, as well.
How safe is Mexico City for women?
Women travelers, especially when going solo, often face many challenges. Gender-based violence or assault is prevalent in Mexico City. More than 70% of all women aged 15 and older who live here will have experienced it. Scholars cite conservative cultural roots and political changes for this increase in violence against women.
Although, travelers visiting Mexico City rarely report severe crimes like femicide or gender-based assault. Two significant factors in the city's higher crime rating. That said, some women traveling in Mexico City might experience street harassment like catcalling or unwanted advances from men.
To help prevent this type of crime, it is a good idea to avoid walking at night. Also, practice giving men a stern no, gracias, which means no thank you in English. Or take a Mexico City tour with a local guide to safely explore the city.
Is Mexico City safe for solo travelers?
Yes, it's safe to say that Mexico City is safe for solo travelers! The city is also well known for having a vibrant hostel culture and being home to many solo ex-pats. Although, solo travelers are vulnerable to petty crime or catcalling.
So, as a traveler alone in a new city like Mexico City, do make sure to take proper precautions. Avoiding traveling at night on public transit, specific neighborhoods, and keeping your belongings close, are some examples.
Is Mexico City safe for tourists?
Despite the scary statistics and how Mexico City is shown in the media, yes, it's relatively safe for tourists. When taking the necessary precautions, it can be a safe and wonderful city to visit. Mexico City is beautiful historically and culturally, making it well worth exploring!
Precautions to take in Mexico City
Here are some great precautions to take when traveling in Mexico City:
- Carry as little cash or important documents with you as possible
- Research safe Mexico City hostels, hotels, and neighborhoods to stay in
- Walking around the streets at night is a no-no
- Avoid public transit at night, too. Take an Uber or call a reputable cab instead
- Keep your purses or bags close to you when in crowded places or on public transit
- Or use a money belt to store valuables safely while exploring
- Carry bigger items in an anti-theft shoulder bag
- Use an RFID-blocking wallet to protect your cards from skimming scams
Scams in Mexico City
Before traveling anywhere, it's important to brush up on what kinds of scams are common. Here's a breakdown of the six most common cons in Mexico City and how to avoid them.
People driving fake taxis will come and try to pick you up at tourist hot spots. Once in the cab, the meter will remain untouched. Instead, the cab driver will charge you a considerable amount of money at your destination. Or, even worse, force you to empty your bank account at an ATM.
To avoid this scam, only use taxis from a taxi rank called "sites." Or call an Uber to a nearby landmark or restaurant, not a specific address.
Pickpocketing is a common scam in busy tourist areas and on crowded public transport. To avoid this happening to you, keep your belongings close in crowded places or use a money belt.
Fraudsters can install a skimmer at an ATM that reads your card as you use the ATM. Then relay this information to criminals, allowing them to empty your accounts. The best way to avoid this scam is to familiarize yourself with what a fake ATM skimmer looks like beforehand. When using an ATM in the city, poke, pull, and prod it to see if the interface comes loose. Then report it if you see it's fake, as doing so may protect other unwary travelers.
People dressed as police have been reported approaching solo travelers, using their uniforms to intimidate them. To avoid this happening to you, ask to see their ID when approached by a police officer. Or insist on going to the station with them to resolve the matter.
In busy areas, a criminal or team of people may organize something called "the spill." Essentially, someone spills something on or near you and offers to clean it up. While your guard is down, they or another person will pickpocket you. To avoid this happening to you, keep your belongings close or on you. And move away if someone does spill something near you!
Various restaurant scams are common in Mexico City. Giving tourists a more expensive menu and adding extra items or charges are common cons. To avoid these scams, try and find Mexico City restaurants that locals frequent or go on a food tour. Also, always double-check your bill.
Is it safe to walk around Mexico City?
There are many beautiful neighborhoods in Mexico City to explore, but they do vary in regard to safety. Some communities are safe to walk around in Mexico City, while others should be avoided at all costs.
The top neighborhoods to avoid in Mexico City include:
Home to a busy street market, Tepito is renowned for robberies and scams.
Ciudad Neza is a poorer neighborhood known to be a hot spot for crime.
The Iztapalapa neighborhood has the highest rate of violent crimes against women.
Though generally safe to visit, the Doctors neighborhood should be avoided at night.
What to do if I am a victim of a crime in Mexico City?
Victims of a crime in Mexico City can call the Mexico City Tourist Police at (0052) 55 5207 4155. You can also call the emergency 911 line.
If you want to report a crime to the authorities, go to a police station and speak with an officer.
Other risks to be aware of in Mexico City
Before jet-setting to Mexico City, there are a few other risks to be aware of regarding your safety.
Mexico City Weather
The weather is usually pleasant and warm in Mexico. Still, the city is known to experience hurricanes from June to November, which can severely affect the coastal regions. Earthquakes can happen anywhere in the country. And volcanoes like Popocatépetl and Colima are very active, sometimes even being closed to the public as a precaution.
As such, it's a good idea to be thoroughly prepared for a natural disaster in Mexico City.
There's no recent history of terrorism in Mexico City, but it can still happen. In the event of an attack, hide in a nearby building and leave the city when it's safe to do so.
Which cities are the safest in Mexico?
Are you wondering what other cities in Mexico are known to be safe and friendly to tourists? You're in luck, as there are plenty!
Try checking out these other safe cities in Mexico:
- Puerto Vallarta
- La Paz
And many more!
So, how safe is Mexico City, really?
If you're wondering if Mexico City is safe for tourists, the answer is yes. As most big cities do, it does have crime. And the media tends to portray it in a negative light. However, Mexico City can make a wonderful vacation for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. It's an enormous and vibrant city with a lot of history and culture to explore.
Just be safe and take extra precautions. When adventuring abroad, educating yourself on the potential dangers, cultures, and customs is important. Doing so can keep you safe on the road. If you are adequately prepared, your trip to Mexico City should be a delight!
Plan for an exciting trip with Pilot
Now that you have all the scoops about safety in Mexico City, don't fret and get planning with Pilot!