Is it safe to travel alone in Mexico?

Maybe you want to experience a new country without the distraction of other people getting in the way of your travel desires. Maybe you want to “find yourself” like all the influencers you see on instagram. Maybe you just need some much-needed alone time. Whatever your reason, solo travel is, almost without exception, a deeply enriching experience for anyone looking to get to know the world outside of their hometown. 

In a country like Mexico, however, where the headlines which make world news tend to veer towards the gruesome, most people will find themselves asking big questions they never thought of before. “Will I get mugged?” “What are my chances of doing this safely?” “Can I take this trip and make it back in one piece?” 

Despite alarmist headlines igniting fear in would-be travelers, you might be surprised to learn that Mexico is a relatively safe Latin American country to which one can trek. Now, that isn’t to say that it is absolutely safe, as anyone who goes (regardless of gender, race, or class) could be subject to robbery, assault etc. The important thing is knowing the risks, understanding the threats, and making a plan for how you intend to factor these into your day-to-day movements to minimize your risk of harm as much as possible. 

Mexico is a stunningly beautiful and vibrant country, and you would be remiss to allow news headlines to prevent you from venturing there to experience it for yourself, by yourself. Here are some tips to follow if you do intend to solo travel Mexico: 

  1. Study your relevant home country’s travel advisory. Your embassy, consulate, or state department will have a page dedicated to all travel warnings which are relevant to your nationality, and understanding what they are watching for can do a lot to keep you safe. For example, here is the Mexico Travel Advisory for the US State Department. 
  2. Make friends. Being isolated is the best way to find yourself a victim of a mugging, or worse. Luckily, it’s never easier to make new friends than when you’re flying solo, and chances are that the other travelers in your hostel are looking for new people as well. 
  3. Not what you had in mind? Check out. Remember that your gut instinct is your best friend while traveling alone. Even if you’ve been planning to stay there, even if that hostel had great reviews – if you get in there and you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, just leave. There are plenty of options, and your safety is not something you should be compromising. 
  4. Don’t walk around alone at night. Male or female. Nothing more to say. 
  5. Learn Spanish phrases and keep a phrasebook handy. Being alone means you really are on your own, and you may find yourself in a position where you really need the guidance of a local. However, if that local doesn’t speak your native tongue, you may find yourself in a tight spot. Knowing the key Spanish phrases you might need if you require assistance will get locals on your side and give you peace of mind. 
  6. Get a money belt or pouch. If you’re going to be alone, do yourself a favor and invest in a good under-clothes money belt in which to stow your money and important documents. It will ensure that there’s no way for them to be pickpocketed away from you. 
  7. Keep your valuables hidden. Taking out your iPhone on the street is equivalent to wearing a sign that says “rob me please.” 
  8. Watch your drinks carefully. Drink-spiking is not unheard of, and you don’t want to be taken advantage of or assaulted when it can be avoided as easily as not taking your eyes off your beverage. And obviously, never accept a drink from a stranger. 
  9. Keep a low profile. Standing out as a tourist with obvious tourism garb (shorts and sandals), loudly speaking English on the street, and waving around cash or valuables makes you visible to those looking for targets. Keep your head down while you’re moving around. 

Is Mexico safe for solo female travelers? 

You might be surprised to hear us say that with its well-established tourism industry and availability of accommodations and resources, Mexico is a pretty good option for women who decide to travel solo! Unfortunately, as with all other travel situations, women may want to abide by a different set of rules to keep them extra safe, and that’s why we’re here for you.

Even if you are traveling to Mexico City alone as a woman – a city which, more than any other in the country, tends to get recognized for violence, your level of safety is the same as anywhere else in the country as long as you do appropriate research and avoid hot spots of crime. (Quick tip for the city: ignore the cat callers. They’re not worth engaging and it could get you in trouble)

In addition to everything mentioned above, keep these guidelines in mind forsolo female travel in mexico: 

  • Plan your route meticulously. Knowing your itinerary and having a plan for how you intend to get to each destination (ideally with transportation either researched or booked ahead of time) will keep you from wandering aimlessly – and aimless wandering is the best way to attract the kind of attention you don’t want. Have your accommodations picked out in advance as well, and remember: check out if it’s not what you expected. 
  • Heavily research the neighborhoods of your destination city. It’s known to be chaotic and violent around the outskirts of the city? Great, don’t go there. Knowing where you should avoid going will be a valuable preventative measure in keeping you out of tight situations. Speaking of which-
  • Get a SIM card. It will be incredibly useful for you to be able to use the internet freely while you move around. From having a map of the city (download an offline map just in case) and knowing your location, to calling emergency numbers if you need, and using taxi apps like Uber, you want to have the internet in your pocket. 
  • Know the emergency numbers. For North Americans, you’re lucky – the general emergency number in Mexico is also 911. However, it would be wise to have the number of your accommodation written down (as well as its address for taxi drivers) and maybe also the number of the local police station. 
  • Blend in with the fashion. Unfortunately, Mexico is not the care-free beach-wear-all-day destination which the resort towns would have you believe it is. As you go more central, the culture becomes more conservative, and you will want your style of dress to match this to avoid that unwanted attention. Smiling more than usual will also go a long way towards making you look like a local and appear confident enough to evade potential scammers and muggers. 
  • In general, stay on high alert. Keeping your head on a swivel will go farther towards keeping you safe than most travel tips out there. People who would take advantage of solo travelers and solo female travelers are counting on the moment when you’re distracted or disoriented. Always be aware of your surroundings. 
  • Remember that you are in a really cool place. Many of these tips are relevant for any country you would travel to alone, not just Mexico. Mexico is more than the stories and alarming news headlines. It is a beautiful culture full of kind-hearted and loving people, and you should be able to enjoy it to its absolute fullest. 

Even though solo travel can be daunting, it really does not have to be. With preparation and experience, taking the dive to travel by yourself will be one of the best experiences of your life. Staying safe just takes awareness and research – the rest is a breeze. 

Looking for more information? Check out our other articles on staying safe in Mexico: 

Safety in Mexico

Food and Water Safety in Mexico

Scams in Mexico

Getting around in Mexico


Getting around while in Mexico

The chances are, if you are spending any length of time in Mexico of more than a few days, you’re probably going to be going between cities at some point to see all there is to (reasonably) see. Feeling a little lost on your options? Allow us to bring a bit of clarity to your intra-Mexican travel experience! 

Is it safe to travel in Mexico? 

In general, it is not more or less safe to travel in Mexico than it is to stay put. When it comes to getting from point A to point B, you’ll want to use the same cautions you normally would (watching your belongings closely, keeping a low profile, following your gut instincts and using common sense). Any specific concerns to be aware of, we’ll highlight in each section so you can be on guard and off on your next adventure!

Driving in Mexico

Driving while in Mexico is an option if you want to have control over exactly when and where you go. American citizens are especially lucky as US driver’s licenses are valid in Mexico, but be warned – there will be a host of bureaucracy and red tape to go through if you want to drive your car beyond the border. Driving your US vehicle into Mexico will require a “temporary vehicle import permit” (which of course includes a fee), to be filed with Mexican customs. You will also need Mexican car insurance, Mexican liability insurance is recommended, and you need to ensure that all of your registration is 100% up to date, lest you risk fines and having your vehicle impounded. 

Safety: Plus, taking your fancy American car into Mexico isn’t the best idea for safety reasons either. Banditry on the road is a risk all drivers face, especially when in cars which are obviously foreign. The basic tips are these: Don’t drive at night, don’t stop for people who are trying to flag you down (even if they’re indicating a problem with your vehicle. Wait until you’re in a safe and ideally, populated place to inspect the car yourself). Stay on major toll highways as best you can, even if they’re a bit more expensive, as there is more of a police presence. 

Rental Cars: If you want to avoid the stress and headaches involved with the paperwork of using your own car in Mexico, consider the rental option so that you can still see everything you want to see on your own terms without the same level of liability. Make sure the car you are renting has up-to-date insurance, that you are licensed to drive within Mexico, and that you fully understand the rules of the road in case there are major differences to your own home country. 

Needless to say, check with your relevant consulate before you attempt to drive in Mexico to ensure that you are able to drive safely, legally, and with all relevant paperwork accounted for. 

Bus Transit in Mexico

Getting around by bus is a one of the most common Mexico transportation options for both travelers and locals, and you will find no shortage of choices for both short and long-distance transfers. The bus is what you take for Mexico public transport.

Colectivos and Combis

Colectivos are a general term for a small bus, overstuffed van or taxi, or any large vehicle to transport passengers short distances. They are typically used within a large city or for transport between nearby towns. Colectivos have fixed routes but will pick up and drop off passengers anywhere along said route, as long as you get the driver’s attention. You will pay the driver based on the distance you traveled – you can find them in town squares or at central transport hubs, but don’t use them if you’re in a hurry. Colectivos make many stops and usually only leave when they’re totally full. 

Long Distance: Luxury, First Class, Second Class

Traveling for many hours will require a much more formal and established bus company, of which the options are plentiful. Buses (camiones, as they are called in Mexico) are provided by dozens of companies, and can generally be divided into three classes depending on your travel needs and desires. 

Luxury and first class buses are very similar in terms of travel style (operating between major cities and hubs), but can be very different in terms of amenities. Both will stop infrequently so that you can reach your destination faster, and they will use major toll roads as much as possible for safety. While both classes will have toilets and air conditioning, the luxury buses tend to be just that – luxury. With comfortable, spacious seats, snacks on board, and individual movie screens, they provide the most comfortable service. First class will still be a quality ride in a relatively new vehicle, but with fewer creature comforts and provisions.  

Second class buses can be quite the mixed-bag. You might get a nice, new bus similar to the first class, or an older one in questionable condition (these are much more common). They function a bit more like the aforementioned colectivos: they operate mainly for smaller towns and less popular routes, and they will stop anywhere to pick up passengers. They might have A/C, will probably not have toilets, and you might have to stand if you get picked up somewhere mid-route. 

Safety: The luxury and first class options are generally your safest bets because they operate on those major toll roads, decreasing your chances of being subject to banditry. Remember not to take night buses, and if you are carrying luggage, keep it on the seat with you or make sure it is stowed under the bus so that other travelers do not have access. 

Tickets and Reservations: For the major companies, it’s always recommended to purchase tickets online a day or two in advance to guarantee a seat. Otherwise, and especially if it is a popular route or a holiday, purchase your ticket at the bus terminal as early as you can on the day of travel. This does not typically apply to second class buses, where you can only pay to the driver upon entering. If you’re unsure where to start in the world of choosing a Mexican bus company, start with these major operators: 

Grupo Estrella Blanca:
ETN Turistar:

Grupo ADO:

Primera Plus:

Air Travel in Mexico

If you need to make an exceptionally long journey, you may want to consider going by plane as your best option. Many popular routes between major cities (Cancun to Mexico City, for example) are both insanely long bus rides (15 hours in this example) and actually cheaper to fly due to frequency of use. Mexico is full of well-serviced domestic airports for exactly this purpose. The biggest operator is AeroMexico, but Volaris, Interjet, and Viva Aerobus are all reputable budget airlines as well. In general, as long as you are flying between major hubs for reasonably long distances, flying will be a quicker, cheaper, and safer option for you. 

Taxis in Mexico

Taxies are an okay option for inner-city travel. If you do choose to use a taxi to get from A to B, remember to ensure the meter is running properly, and if it isn’t, set a price with the driver before you get in. In addition, always call a taxi ahead of time from a reputable company – never hail a cab off the street lest it be an illegal taxi looking to rob you, or worse. Your best bet might be to use Uber, which is widespread and trusted throughout Mexico. 

An inner city taxi ride will typically cost 20-25 M$ per kilometer with a 16 M$ starting rate. If you choose to use a taxi for the day to sightsee to your liking (as some people do), the cost will be comparable to renting a car for the day. 

Alternative: Private Car Transfer

It is entirely possible that public transportation is not your style, and that you don’t feel like driving in Mexico (who could blame you?). In that case, there is a newer option emerging on the transport scene which many travelers have started taking advantage of, which is private car transfers. In this concept, a local professional driver picks you up directly from your accommodation anywhere in your origin city and drives you directly to your destination hotel, rental, etc, allowing you to avoid the hassle of timetables, bus stations, and dragging your luggage to and fro. 

Companies like the transfer service Daytrip even allow you the option of stopping at popular sightseeing locations along the way. It’s an excellent choice for relaxed, comfortable, and private transport if you’re going between cities in the same region of Mexico. You can visit the website for more information or to book your next transfer! 

Looking  for more information? Check out other articles for travel in Mexico: 

Safety in Mexico

Food and Water Safety in Mexico

Solo Travel in Mexico 

Scams in Mexico


Is it safe to travel to Mexico?

When people talk about Mexico, they usually speak in colors. Vibrant hues extend from the ground beneath your feet, up the walls lacquered in reds and oranges and greens, to the very food on your plate. From the tallest cathedral in Mexico City to the smallest side street, there is not a corner of the country that doesn’t possess some element of dazzle. 

At the same time, plenty of those same corners might not be considered the most advisable to venture towards. At this moment, the US State Department’s Mexico Travel Advisory has issued some form of high warning for 16 of Mexico’s 32 states – 5 states are listed as “Level 4: Do Not Travel” and 11 listed as “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.” The country as a whole is considered as Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution. This would be because unfortunately, crime and violence are slightly heightened no matter where you go in Mexico, and it is always important to be on guard and have your best travel reflexes ready at all times.  

Certain states are considered generally much safer for tourists, and these as a result see the highest levels of tourism – states such as Quintana Roo (which houses Cancun), Yucatan, and Baja California. While the initial reaction may be to say “well, I don’t want to go where everyone else is going,” we might encourage you to ignore that reaction. The more touristic areas are safer for a reason and will have more resources available to you if you need help. 

We’ve also compiled a list of some of the best travel advice out there, both for Mexico and in general. Though it is impossible to guarantee one’s safety 100% (and that counts for anywhere in the world), following the guidelines below will seriously reduce your risk of theft, harm, etc. 

How to stay safe in Mexico: 

  1. Vigilance, vigilance, vigilance. It’s the most thrown-around term out there in the world of theft prevention. Pickpockets live for the moment you’re too distracted to know where your phone is. Keep aware of your surroundings, keep your bag close and slung around the front of your body, keep nothing in your back pockets, and bring only as much money as you need when you go out. 
  2. Don’t use ATMs in isolated places, or at night. You’re vulnerable to mugging. 
  3. Don’t go out at night alone. Just in general. After dark is when crime thrives, and you will be asking for trouble. In particular, do not go to the beach at night, alone or with people. It’s a hotbed for muggings. 
  4. Buddy system. Especially if you’re traveling alone, find a group to walk around with as much as possible to avoid being isolated. Being by yourself, especially in remote areas, is the perfect way to get mugged. 
  5. Don’t do drugs! We know, we’re not trying to parent you. But by purchasing drugs in Mexico, you contribute to a violent system which has wreaked havoc on the country’s reputation and infrastructure. It’s both unsafe and disrespectful. Don’t do it. 
  6. Purchase travel insurance. It’s not necessarily instinctual, especially if you happen to be from the States, but travel insurance will keep you financially protected from medical expenses, theft, and cancellations. Be sure to read the terms of your prospective plan carefully before purchase so that you know you’re covered from your biggest concerns. 
  7. Do the research. If you’re like me when you travel and you like to go for long walks just to see where you end up, then in a place like Mexico, that could land you in a neighborhood you didn’t know was bad until it’s too late. For each new destination, look up which neighborhoods are safe and unsafe, and either carry a paper map or download an offline map to your phone so that you can track your own location even without internet. In addition, make sure you know and have saved all necessary emergency phone numbers and contacts in advance, and know how you’re going to get from the airport to your hotel. 
  8. Don’t stand out. Traveling is not an arena where your individuality is your greatest asset. You would do best to copy the local streetwear and avoid classic tourist garb like shorts and sandals – this is the best way to trick potential muggers that you’re a bit street savvy, even if you aren’t. 
  9. Don’t be flashy. Is your phone out of your pocket? Great, thieves know you have a phone they can take. Is that a nice watch on your wrist? They’ll know they can take that, too. Keep all valuables hidden when you’re on the street, at all times, and don’t get yourself isolated. 
  10. Don’t drink the water. Sorry, this is just a straight-up no-go. You can’t even have ice cubes in your glass (that’s how a lot of people get stomach bugs, actually). Buy bottled water, bring a water bottle with a built-in filter, bring water purification tablets, etc. 
  11. Be careful with taxis. Illegal taxis are rampant, so don’t just hail a taxi off the street. Call a taxi from a reputable company, use taxis at marked taxi stands, or call an Uber (it’s safe in Mexico). 
  12. Last but not least: Register with your respective government that you are traveling. This will keep you safe in that your government will know that you are traveling and can contact you urgently if there is an emergency, such as social unrest. They can also offer professional evaluations of the crime stats in each region of the country. 

Is Cancun safe? 

Maybe you saw the phrase “Spring Break” somewhere and it’s conjuring images of white beaches and trashy college students. Or maybe you’re the more sophisticated type looking for an upscale resort and a proper getaway. Either way, Cancun is probably on your list. But does its status as a major tourism destination negate any of the usual dangers? 

For starters, everything listed above still applies, even if you’re in an area of Mexico with more foreigners than usual (it still has a decently high homicide rate, when compared with the rest of the country). You need to be on your guard. And in many ways, the presence of more tourism introduces additional challenges. 

There is more of a market in Cancun for scammers, and the high numbers of foreigners looking for cheap drugs means the drug market is more bustling in this area, leading to a greater chance of a run-in with drug-related violence.

Many people who come to Cancun are coming for all-inclusive resorts or other such isolated locations, which makes them safer (though not entirely) from the usual dangers. If resort life is your intention, you would do well to hang closeby.  In general, we would add these more Cancun-specific pointers to the list: 

  • Carry a copy of your passport, not the real thing. Police might ask for your passport, but sometimes they will keep it and extort you for money for its return. 
  • Again, DON’T DO DRUGS. Just don’t be that guy, c’mon. It’s especially unsafe in a market like this. 
  • Don’t go swimming under the influence. Self-explanatory, but necessary considering the amount of alcohol that circulates in the hotel area. 
  • The most dangerous areas of Cancun are in the outskirts and more remote areas. Stick to the crowded areas. 
  • Watch your belongings, even more closely that you normally would, and be wary of anyone walking up to you unprompted – scammers run rampant. 

Is it safe to visit Tijuana? 

We’re also going to single out this US-adjacent hub for a quick moment, because the question of “is Tijuana safe?” is on a lot of people’s minds recently.  It’s recently been labeled “the most dangerous city in the world” due to an alarmingly high homicide rate (though that title gets tossed around frequently). What’s important to remember is that Tijuana is subject to turf wars from the local cartels, and their affiliated groups are subject to most of the violence. The cartels don’t typically mind tourists, after all, tourists are their customers (do you really want to contribute to that industry?). 

That said, we would recommend to be more on your guard in a city like Tijuana, and to heavily research the neighborhoods which one should and should not visit. It’s easy to walk two blocks and find yourself having transitioned quickly from a safe area to a…not-so-safe area. The downtown of the city as well as Zona Rio and Playas de Tijuana are considered safe, and they are also heavily policed. It should go without saying at this point: do not walk around at night, especially if you are alone. 

The takeaway?

There are always ways to make oneself safer. Though the concept of being totally safe exists mainly in one’s head, there are always ways to reduce the risk of theft, scams, and worse. Remain vigilant, do your research, and you should have a lovely time in Mexico!

Looking for more information? Check out our other articles on safety in Mexico: 

Solo travel in Mexico

Getting around in Mexico

Scams in Mexico

Food and Water Safety in Mexico


Food and Water Safety in Mexico

If you’ve ever heard the term “Montezuma’s Revenge,” or experienced it yourself, you know it’s no joke. Traveler’s diarrhea is a big problem in developing countries in particular, and Mexico is infamous. There is a host of microbes, parasites, and other unsavory bugs waiting to make your fun holiday absolutely miserable. That said, there are also plenty of steps one can take to keep the gut safe and the vacation care-free, rather than being chained to the hotel bathroom. 

Before we begin, a disclaimer: there is a lot of information out there about what you can and can’t do regarding Mexico water. People advise based on their experience, and the person who did get sick is going to be much more cautionary than the person who didn’t. We’re taking the cautionary approach here, because the last thing we want is for all of you to experience a vacation-ruining stomach bug. Stay safe, folks. 

Can I drink the water in Mexico? 

The chances are good you’ve heard the answer to this one before: No, foreigners cannot and should not drink tap water in Mexico, but we’re talking about tap water specifically. Let’s break down the scenarios: 

Tap Water in Mexico

Tap water is basically the source of all of your problems, and not just glasses of tap water, but everything it comes in contact with. Water purification has improved in Mexico over the years, but much of the water is contaminated through distribution, which is not held to the same standards of cleanliness. In addition, regular water filters are typically not enough to solve the problem, as they miss many of the guilty microbes and parasites which cause sickness. All to say that you will definitely want to be leaving that refillable water bottle at home – it will do you no good here. 

We’re not looking to spark fear, however – only caution! There are still options for you so you can avoid catching harmful bugs. 

Is it safe to drink water in Cancun?

Cancun’s popularity among tourists means the water in Cancun is some of the best in the country. While that is good for locals, the water is still “different” than you’ll be used to, which can cause some issues. While you likely won’t get (too) sick if you drink water in Cancun, it’s best to play it safe and drink bottled water. If you’re at a larger hotel, you can ask about their water (same have their own purification systems), or to cut back on plastic waste, bring a water bottle with a built in filter.. 

Bottled water and other alternatives: 

In general, you will be opting for one of the following for your hydration needs: 

  1. Sealed, bottled water
  2. Sealed soft drinks, such as carbonated beverages (and beer)
  3. Water that has been boiled for 5 full minutes. 

Bottled water is readily available for purchase pretty much everywhere you go, with the exception of some long highway stretches without shops. When venturing away from your resort for the day, be sure to bring a couple bottles with you so that you can stay happy and hydrated. Also, it’s a good idea to choose local brands of bottled water so that you aren’t overcharged for recognizable, imported brands. The key phrase to remember when ordering: “Un bote de agua pura, por favor” (a bottle of pure water, please). 

Most hotels will provide some bottled water each day, but be sure to read the fine print to see how much you can consume (if any) before they start charging you extra. In addition, because hotels tend to jack prices on these needed items, you might be better off purchasing your water off-site to save some dough. Some resorts choose to purify their water on site to give their guests some sense of ease, but be sure to inquire with the hotel staff directly before indulging in a fresh glass. 

Ice Cubes in Mexico

Interestingly, ice and whether or not to use it is a divisive subject. This is because you never know whether the ice in question has been made with tap water or not. If it has, then its presence in your refreshing beverage will surely contaminate it and send you straight for the toilet.

The best rule of thumb is to avoid ice altogether while traveling in Mexico. This will guarantee it won’t be a possible source of infection. Some claim that most ice used by resorts and hotels is made with purified water and that the only real risk is at food stalls and market stands. Also, ice which is cylindrical with a hole through the middle has most likely been produced in factories and thus pure. However, you will always be taking your chances, so it’s best to stay away. 

Brushing Teeth and Personal Hygiene 

Brushing one’s teeth is somehow just as divisive as ice. Some will tell you that it’s okay to use the tap water to brush, just as long as you don’t swallow any of the water during the process. Unfortunately, that is not how contamination works, and it’s best to not take the risk altogether. Keep a bottle of purified water next to the faucet so that you can always remember to use a splash during your normal hygiene routine. By the way, it’s okay to shower with the water, but be sure to keep your mouth closed! 

Fruit and Vegetables

Consuming unwashed fruits and vegetables while traveling in developing countries is already a big no-no, but with everything we know about the sketchiness of the tap water, there are even more considerations. A salad whose leaves have been washed in unpurified tap water and still has some of that water in its nooks and crannies when it is served to you poses the same risks to you as the aforementioned notorious ice cube. You would do best to veer away from the salad altogether and go for something cooked, hot, and fresh. With fruit, don’t eat it unless you have washed it thoroughly in potable water, or you were the one to peel it. 

There is some good news in all of this though, a get-out-of-jail-free card, if you will: the highly revered “Distintivo H.” This program, created by the Mexican government in 1990 exists, in their words, “with the fundamental purpose of reducing the incidence of foodborne illness in national and foreign tourists and improving the image of Mexico worldwide with regard to food safety.” If you see any restaurant with a seal on its door with the label “Distintivo H,” this means they have passed a rigorous test of food hygiene standards and are recognized by both the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health as being a food-safe establishment, which includes the water they use. You are free to drink the water, chew the ice, eat the salad – all is good in the hood. 

Is the food safe in Mexico? 

The good news is that rules for food safety in Mexico are much less complicated than the rules for water, and that the cautions you will want to take are not much different from those in any other developing country. The bad news is that there are still cautions to take. We’ll keep it simple: the following list is taken straight from the CDC’s Mexico Traveler View: 


  • Food that is cooked and served hot
  • Hard-cooked eggs
  • Fruits and vegetables you have washed in clean water or peeled yourself
  • Pasteurized dairy products

Don’t Eat

  • Food served at room temperature
  • Food from street vendors
  • Raw or soft-cooked (runny) eggs
  • Raw or undercooked (rare) meat or fish
  • Unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables
  • Unpasteurized dairy products
  • ”Bushmeat” (monkeys, bats, or other wild game)

Practice while you’re out on the street prowling for that famous street food and ask the following questions: does the food have a high turnover? How long has it been sitting out? Is the stand/restaurant busy (indicating a good track record of quality)? Make sure the food you are eating is always, without fail, hot and fresh, and heed the above warning about fresh vegetables, as they could be washed in tap water. One way to safely wash your fruits and veggies yourself is using an iodine rinse such as Microdyn, to kill germs chemically and safely. 

And finally, remember, before eating anything, WASH. YOUR. HANDS. 

Looking for more information? Check out our other articles on staying safe in Mexico: 

Safety in Mexico

Scams in Mexico

Getting around in Mexico

Solo Travel in Mexico


Common Scams in Mexico

Tourism in Mexico continues to grow year by year, with the most recent data reporting that 41.4 million people visited the country in 2018, and the numbers are only going up. With such a huge draw, it’s only conceivable that scammers who want to take advantage of unsuspecting vacationers will get more creative. While moving around, keep these possible scams in mind, and use caution accordingly: 

Taxi Scam

Illegal and unauthorized taxis run rampant throughout the country, and it’s not uncommon for actual taxi drivers to loan their vehicles to gang members to be used in express kidnapping schemes. For this reason, never hail a random taxi off the street. Always call a taxi from a reputable company, or better yet, use trusted ridesharing apps such as Uber so that you can use the review system and GPS tracking to your advantage. 

Card Skimming and Bill Switching

Card skimming, or the process of copying or cloning the information from a credit card when it is swiped, is becoming increasingly more common. It’s always best to pay with cash whenever possible, and don’t use questionable ATMs (only ATMs within an actual bank). You can also keep yourself extra safe by using credit cards instead of debit cards – in the event your card information is taken and used, most banks are much more willing to forgive fraudulent credit transactions, but not debited cash. 

And if you do pay cash, keep in mind that some people handling your money will have exceptionally quick hands, and can easily convince you that the 500 peso note you handed them was actually a 50. The best fix: pay in small denominations so that they don’t have a chance in the first place. 

Timeshare Scams in Mexico

Common in very touristy areas: someone will approach you (never a good sign) and very excitedly offer you excellent perks (free food, discounts) or even tell you you’ve won some sort of prize. In order to collect, it is necessary to come with them to sit through a mundane presentation on an “excellent” real estate or timeshare opportunity. The meeting is real, but the offer is not – either the property they are offering is fake, or is not accurately represented by the pitch, and you would be a fool to put down a deposit which will never be returned to you. Best to ignore this person and keep walking. 

Watered-down Drinks

Common at major resorts which are doing everything they can to get their money’s worth out of the tourist crowd (and also at any regular venue), some bars will water down their house liquor or cut it with toxic components to save a dime. You can increase your chances of getting a quality drink by calling the liquor you want in the drink – a “Beefeater and Tonic” (or whatever recognizable brand gin they have on the shelf) will get you a better result than just asking for a regular old “gin and tonic.” Better yet, watch the drink being made to make sure they’re pouring as much as you actually ordered. 

Jet Ski Operators

You’re walking along the beach when an enthusiastic jet ski operator offers you to take their equipment out on the water for a good time. You take them up on it, spend the next hour having a blast on the water, only to return the jet ski and have them accuse you of causing damage, scratches, etc. They will demand compensation, and even threaten to report you to the police if you don’t oblige. The best way to avoid this scenario is, if you actually want to use a jet ski, look up a reputable company ahead of time, or ask your hotel for recommendations, so that you know you won’t be walking into such a headache. 

General Tourist Naivete

You probably aren’t going to know a lot about the local culture before you go, and that’s okay – that’s why people travel. That said, here’s a quick list of common tricks that suspicious locals will use to take advantage of tourists who don’t know better: 

  • The Sob Story: Don’t believe anyone who walks up to you asking desperately for your help because they lost their valuables/need money to get back to their home country/other likely stories. That’s what police stations and embassies are for. Also, don’t let them use your phone to make a call (this is good advice anywhere in the world) – you might not see it again. 
  • The Priceless Gem: If it seems weird that the craft stand selling obviously cheap/fake wares is also trying to sell you “genuine” crafts made of real silver, it probably is. Don’t believe the shopkeeper that suspiciously talks up the value of a particular item, and definitely don’t believe them when they say it’s an ancient relic.  
  • The Mayan Dollar: doesn’t exist. The Mayans didn’t have dollars. Some locals peddling their wares will quote you a price in Mayan dollars, and when you agree to a final price, convert it to a final amount which just so happens to be 10 times as much in local currency. Do yourself a favor and ask for a price in real currency before you start negotiating. 

The takeaway: there will always be people who want to trick those who are in the vulnerable position which tourists find themselves in every moment of their holiday. With a little know-how, you can make sure to keep your money (and yourself) safe! 

Looking for more information? Check out our other articles on staying safe in Mexico:

Safety in Mexico

Food and Water Safety in Mexico

Getting around in Mexico

Solo Travel in Mexico