Is Ciudad Juarez safe to travel to in 2023? If you are traveling to Mexico for the first time, safety is likely going to be one of your major concerns.
Mexico is often in the media for all the wrong reasons and the country doesn’t have the best reputation for safety internationally. For the most part, this bad reputation is misplaced.
Millions of tourists travel to Mexico every year and most visits are trouble-free. Mexico doesn’t deserve its overall “dangerous” image.
But by the same token, there are definitely those places that are not very safe to travel to. One such place is Ciudad Juarez.
Is Ciudad Juarez Safe to Travel to in 2023?
Ciudad Juarez is a city in the northern part of the state of Chihuahua, close to the US-Mexico border and the Texas city of El Paso. The Rio Grande river separates the two countries.
Juarez is a dangerous city. There is no denying that.
You simply cannot wrap it up any other way.
Its reputation precedes it, both internationally and within Mexico. Border towns are among the most dangerous areas in Mexico.
That should come as no surprise when you consider all of the drugs and other contraband that are taken from Mexico and Latin America and into the United States. These items have to get across the US border somewhere and Ciudad Juarez is right on the trafficking route.
So with all of that considered, is Ciudad Juarez safe to travel to? The answer is that it can be as long as you take precautions.
But it takes a certain type of traveler to visit somewhere like Juarez and it definitely won’t be for everyone. Traveling here requires a lot more assertiveness than in other destinations, including other parts of Mexico.
Visiting Ciudad Juarez in 2023
Ciudad Juarez is a bustling city home to over 1.5 million people. It is synonymous with being a trafficking route and it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing city in Mexico.
However, it does offer some cultural sites and historical points of interest. With more travelers venturing off the beaten path in Mexico and more Digital Nomads relocating to the country, it makes sense that more and more intrepid adventurers are considering exploring Juarez.
The Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is a beautiful 17th-century cathedral that sits in the central square of Juarez. (The “Zocalo”). From here, you can take a walk through the Plaza de Armas, browse the stalls in the nearby markets, and grab a steaming cup of Chiapas coffee at one of the nearby cafes along Calle 16 de Septiembre or Calle Miguel Hidalgo.
On the outskirts of town, close to the Rio Grande river and the US border crossing, you will find the “Monumento a la Mexicaneidad” (Monument to Mexicans). This giant red sculpture also known as “La X” was created by esteemed Chihuahuan artist Sebastian and stands 197 feet tall.
It is said to represent the diversity of the various people and indigenous groups that live in Mexico. There are also a couple of interesting museums to check out while in town.
The Museo de la Revolucion en La Frontera at Guadalupe Mission Square (Calle 16 de Septiembre s/n Av. Juárez) is particularly interesting. Its exhibits run through the history of the Mexican revolution and how it affected Mexico’s border regions.
It is set inside a former customs building that was used by Mexican immigration in the 19th century.
Crime Statistics in Ciudad Juarez
At some points, the homicide rates in Ciudad Juarez were higher than those experienced in Syria during the civil war. Crime rates and clashes between drug organizations have calmed down a bit in recent years.
Tourism is a crucial part of Mexico’s economy and even in Juarez, local authorities have been working hard to make everywhere safer and to turn around the negative reputation that the area has.
Still, while things are definitely moving in the right direction, you cannot really label Juarez as“safe”. Traveling in Juarez feels a lot different than traveling in places in the Yucatan and Campeche, for example.
Most of the violent crime that happens in the city only affects those in criminal organizations. Random acts of violence aren’t really a thing in Mexico and unless you go looking for trouble in Juarez, trouble won’t go looking for you.
There isn’t really a lot of potential to be in the wrong place at the wrong time here either, since the criminal activity is only really restricted to certain areas. The Numbeo Crime Index is a good source of information to help you get an idea of the safety situation in various global cities.
Its results are based on the opinions of locals who are surveyed on how they feel about their city. Juarez has a high crime rating of 78.92. However, Mexico City’s is not much lower at By 77.94.
If we are comparing Juarez with US cities, you will note that Los Angeles has a moderate crime rating of 59.57. New York is moderate at 53.15 and Atlanta’s is high at 74.65.
Tips for Staying Safe in Ciudad Juarez
Some useful tips to help you ensure that your trip to Juarez is a safe one are detailed below.
Choose accommodation in a safe area
When choosing a hotel in Juarez, you need to be mindful about which areas you stay in. The downtown area can look a little run down in parts but it is mostly safe.
The areas around Gomez Morin Boulevard, Av. Tomas Fernandes and Las Misiones are safe and clean. Anapra, La Montada, Torres del PRI, Guadalajara Izquierda, Av de los Aztecas, and the suburbs on the outskirts of town are best avoided.
When you have found a hotel that you like, check the Past reviews to see what other tourists thought of it. A good hotel will have 24/7 security and many do in Juarez.
Crossing the land border between El Paso and Juarez
Just like in Tijuana, you can cross the land border between El Paso, Texas, and Juarez on foot. There are also a lot of interesting things to see around El Paso too, so the two cities make a nice travel pairing.
There are two different bridges that you can cross to get from El Paso to Mexico. Namely, the Stanton Street Bridge and the Paso del Norte Bridge (aka the Santa Fe street bridge).
Make sure that you have your passport with you as you will be required to show it to get back into the United States. You will need to fill out an FMM immigration form and then you will need to pay a small toll to cross the bridge.
Crossing in either direction is much easier than you may expect. When you head northwards back into the United States, you will pass through airport-style security and the Immigration Officers may ask you a question or two.
This is just like you would expect when landing at an international airport. There is a lot of police presence on either side of the crossing and the area is safe to pass through as a tourist.
Check your government travel advice for Ciudad Juarez
Is it a good idea to check your government’s travel advice before traveling anywhere for the first time and the same is true for visiting Mexico. The advice on the US Department of State website can appear sternly worded.
However, it is frequently updated to reflect current entry requirements, events, and developments. The US government provides a state-by-state breakdown of the safety situation in different parts of Mexico.
Stick to central areas and don’t go out at night
As long as you stick to central areas, you’ll be fine in Ciudad Juárez. Areas of tourist interest have a high police presence.
Although the Mexican police force doesn’t always have the best reputation and is often seen as corrupt, their presence can be reassuring. Be sure to be back at your hotel when the sun sets and try and choose a centrally located hotel where you don’t have to trek back across town at the end of each day.
While Juarez is okay during daylight hours, it is best avoided at night. It is not safe to try and go out to the bars and clubs here after dark.
Is Ciudad Juarez safe for solo travelers?
Solo male travelers can safely explore Juarez. Just follow the safety advice outlined in this article and use your common sense.
Being alone will make you more of a target, particularly considering that you really didn’t see that many many tourists in the area. So, it’s important to keep your wits about you here.
Is Ciudad Juarez safe for solo female travelers?
Solo female travelers should reconsider traveling to Juarez alone or at least consider exploring with a local guide. This entire website has been written by a British female Travel Writer based in Mexico.
I have traveled all over the country extensively and visited 10 states solo. However, I did notice a marked difference in how I felt while solo vs with my partner, especially in Northern Mexico.
In Sinaloa and Chihuahua, I felt that I constantly received looks and attention, regardless of what I wore. This may have just been curiosity a lot of the time because I looked different, but I didn’t feel comfortable and personally wouldn’t recommend it.
Violence against women is a major issue in Northern Mexico, with Juarez being one of the worst places for it. The city is also a base for a lot of human trafficking activity.
You will note that a lot of Mexican women dress very conservatively even during the summer months. This is partly so that they don’t draw attention to themselves.
While women should be able to wear whatever they want wherever they want, for their own safety and comfort, it is generally a good idea to follow the example of Mexican women. Local women will usually wear jeans or fitted trousers and a t-shirt.
If you are traveling in the summer, you can easily find modest trousers and shirts made from light, cool materials.
Keep your valuables out of sight
Don’t walk around wearing expensive jewelry or designer labels and keep your camera, phone, and any other valuables stored safely in your bag. There is a lot of poverty here and your DSLR camera can be the equivalent of several months’ wage for a person.
People don’t really walk around in Mexico wearing expensive designer goods so if you do so, you will certainly draw attention to yourself. If you are going to be the victim of a crime in Juarez, it is likely to be petty theft like pickpocketing and bag-snatching.
Always walk with your bag in front of you in crowded streets and marketplaces. You might also want to consider investing in a theft-proof backpack for an additional level of security.
Pickpockets operate in Mercado Juarez, Mercado Reforma, and other enclosed areas. Don’t keep anything in your back pocket and always be aware of what is going on around you.
If you are mugged or asked to hand over your valuables, it is better to just comply. You can never be sure if someone has a weapon or what their mental state is and nothing is worth your life.
Learn a little Spanish
English is not widely spoken in Juarez. You might encounter a few people that speak it when crossing the U.S.-Mexico border or in tourist areas and businesses like hotels.
But for the most part, it will make your life a lot easier if you can at least master a handful of phrases in Spanish. Some useful words and phrases to know are detailed below.
You should also download Google Translate on your phone. That way, if you have trouble communicating with anyone, you can simply type out what you were trying to say on Translate and then show them the translation in Spanish.
Useful Spanish phrases
Some useful Spanish phrases for your trip to Sinaloa are detailed below.
- Yo tengo una reserva – I have a reservation
- Mi nombre es – My name is
- Lo siento, no entiendo – Im sorry, I don’t understand
- Disculpe – Excuse me
- Yo quiero – I want (useful for ordering food)
- La cuenta por favor – The bill please
- Quanto es – How much is it?
- Buenos dias – Good morning!
- Buenos tardes – Good afternoon!
- Buenos noches – Good night
- Hasta luego – See you later
- Una mesa para uno/dos/tres – A table for one/two/three…
- Dónde está – Where is…
- Gracias! – Thank you
- Tienes wifi? – Do you have wifi?
- Necesito ayuda – I need help
- Habla Inglés?
- Lo siento no puedo hablar español – Im sorry I cannot speak Spanish
Purchase comprehensive travel insurance before you go
It is prudent to make sure that you have comprehensive travel insurance before traveling anywhere in the world. Ensure that you are covered before traveling to Juarez.
A good plan will include at least $250,000 worth of medical insurance per person. It will also cover you for things like theft or loss of luggage and electronics, cancellation, and repatriation.
Take Uber rather than street cabs
Uber is the safest way to get around in Ciudad Juarez. It is not safe to take a random street taxi.
You will note that most Mexicans prefer to use Uber as there is more accountability via the app. Here, you have information on the driver, their vehicle, and their past reviews.
You do not have visibility on who you are getting into a car with if you jump into a random cab. Tourists have often been the victims of scams in Mexico where cab drivers have held them at gun or knife points and insisted that they hand over their valuables and withdraw money from ATMs.
Although obviously, not every cabby is a criminal, this really isn’t worth the risk to your safety, especially in Juarez. If you cannot find an Uber, have your accommodation pre-book a trusted taxi for you.
Juarez’s Abraham González International Airport (CJS) is located about 20 minutes south of the city center. Uber is also the best way to get from the airport to the city and vice versa.
Public transport and buses are run down and overwhelming to navigate as foreign tourists. Looking lost and confused on a rickety bus traveling through a random part of Juarez is a surefire way to draw attention to yourself.
Is Ciudad Juarez Safe in 2023? Final Thoughts
Ciudad Juarez has often been referred to as being one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Although things are starting to improve in 2023, it will be a long time before Juarez becomes one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
If you are set on visiting, consider hiring a local guide to show you around, only explore during the day, and stick to central areas. The security situation in the city can change quickly due to the presence of criminal groups and drug traffickers.
Do you have any further questions or concerns about visiting Juarez or other Mexican cities? I live in Mexico, in the Yucatan capital of Merida and I am happy to help if you have any worries about planning your trip.
Safe travels! Buen viaje!