Is La Paz Mexico safe? Yes – provided that you use the same common sense that you would when traveling elsewhere in the world. This guide, written by a local expat will run through everything you need to know before visiting the coastal city for the first time.
La Paz Mexico is the capital and most populous city in Baja California Sur. It sits in the southeastern part of the state and attracts thousands of tourists every year.
Most people use La Paz as a jump-off point to get to the beaches of Los Cabos. But La Paz is also a worthy travel destination in itself.
The city boasts miles upon miles of pristine coastlines and beaches that are characterized by their white-sand shores and translucent blue waters. Playa Balandra is one of the most beloved and naturally beautiful beaches in the area known for its unique rock formations.
Despite the beach’s popularity among domestic Mexican travelers, it is largely overlooked by most international tourists who overlook La Paz in favor of Los Cabos.
Between November and April, La Paz is one of the best places in Mexico to go whale watching. Gray whales, blue whales, and humpback whales and their calves migrate to the warm waters here every year. If you opt to take a whale-watching boat tour here, you might also have the opportunity to see juvenile hammerheads and silky sharks from the deck.
Is La Paz Mexico Safe to Travel to in 2023?
La Paz is one of the safer destinations in Mexico. This is not somewhere that you need to worry about traveling to.
That being said, safety is a major concern for many travelers to Mexico. After all, the country is often in the media for all the wrong reasons and it hasn’t always had the best reputation safety-wise.
Since tourism makes such huge contributions to the local economy in Baja California Sur, the Mexican government and the local authorities go above and beyond to ensure the safety of travelers. The crime rates here are low, and there is a police presence throughout La Paz and the wider region.
Check your government travel advice for Baja California Sur and La Paz
It’s a good idea to check your government travel advice when traveling anywhere in the world and the same rings true for visiting Mexico for the first time. The US government travel advice can often seem intimidating and sternly worded, but it does provide a useful state-by-state breakdown of what the safety situation is like in different parts of Mexico.
Baja California Sur (the state where La Paz is located) is flagged as somewhere you need to ¨exercise increased caution¨, although this is largely due to issues in Tijuana that affect the wider region of Baja California. There are no travel restrictions in place for La Paz.
The UK government travel advice is less detailed. However, it also recognizes La Paz and Baja California Sur as perfectly safe places to travel to.
If there are any developments or situations that arise in Mexico, the government travel advisories will update their pages right away. So, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on these prior to and during your trip.
Is La Paz Safe at Night?
La Paz is generally safe at night but it’s important to take extra precautions when it gets dark. Stick to the main tourist areas and don’t venture down dimly lit backstreets. Most muggings happen in secluded and unlit areas.
La Paz has a vibrant and varied nightlife scene that offers something for everyone. The seafront malecon is lined with bars, restaurants, street food stands, and stores.
The boardwalk is 5km in length and is a popular rendezvous point among locals. Even after sunset, you will see couples, families, and friends here cycling or walking by the sea.
Rancho Viejo (General Manuel Márquez de León 228) is a laid-back Mexican restaurant and bar on the seafront that serves up traditional fare, and excellent cocktails and often plays host to live music. Cerveceria La Mexico (Paseo Álvaro Obregón 1665) serves up artisanal, locally-produced beers as well as favorites from across Mexico and the globe.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something a little more upscale, you can join a well-heeled crowd for cocktails on the roof of the chic Baja Club Hotel (Paseo Álvaro Obregón 265). When going out at night, never leave your drink unattended, and don’t walk home alone intoxicated.
Crime rates in La Paz
Crime rates in La Paz are low and violent crime is not common here. If you don’t go looking for trouble in Mexico, trouble won’t go looking for you.
The Numbeo crime index awards towns and cities around the world with a safety rating from 0-100 (with 0 being safe and 100 being very dangerous) based on the opinions of locals. La Paz has a low crime rating of 32.24.
This is significantly safer than most US cities. If you compare La Paz to Los Angeles and New York, LA has a crime rating of 59.67 and NYC has a crime rating of 53.01.
Comparing La Paz to other Mexican cities, Merida, the safest city in Mexico, has a crime rating of 25.25. Guadalajara has a crime rating of 62.14
The Numbeo index does indicate that crime has been rising in La Paz over the last three years which is a trend seen across Mexico. Police corruption and bribery, worries about things being stolen from cars, and vandalism/theft are the biggest concerns.
This is no different from any other large city. Most of these things should not affect you as a tourist as long as you exercise normal precautions.
Violent crime in La Paz
La Paz is not known for gang-related violence or kidnapping. The city is considered one of Mexico’s safer destinations, and tourists are not typically targeted.
When you hear about acts of violence or kidnapping in Mexico, these things are not random. People that are affected, as sad as it is, are usually connected with criminal groups.
Don’t dress flashy
Many people in Mexico are living below the poverty line and for the most part, even people with money don’t dress flashy with expensive handbags or designer labels. Don’t worry too much about trying to blend in as a tourist, but it is better not to draw attention to yourself or inadvertently make yourself a target for pickpockets.
Leave the brand-name goods and $500 handbags at home. By the same token, it’s best to keep your expensive items and electronics out of view – i.e. keep your DSLR camera and your Go Pro packed away safely in your bag rather than dangling around your neck or under your arm.
Watch your personal belongings
Always keep an eye on your personal belongings in La Paz and when traveling in Mexico in general. Don’t leave your phone in your back pocket where someone can easily grab it and if you go to the bathroom at a coffee place, take your computer/iPad with you rather than asking your tablemate to keep an eye on it for you.
Consider walking with your backpack in front of you in crowded marketplaces and busy streets rather than slung over your shoulder. If you travel to Latin America regularly, it might be worth investing in a theft-proof backpack like those offered by Pacsafe.
Theft-proof bags and money belts are a little more expensive than regular backpacks. But they come with additional security features like TSA-approved locks, slash-proof material, and waterproof coverings.
Plus they generally have long multi-year/lifelong warranties so it’s an investment you will get plenty of use out of.
Is La Paz Mexico safe for solo female travelers?
Solo female travelers can feel safe and comfortable in La Paz and the wider region of Baja California Sur. Plenty of travelers pass through the area daily and solo travelers are a pretty common site.
You won’t get weird looks for being by yourself or any snoopy questions about where your boyfriend/husband is. Since La Paz is a beach town, you can comfortably wear shorts, t-shirts, and summer dresses here.
In a lot of Mexican cities, local women often wear jeans even when it’s hot so that they don’t get unwanted male attention. In La Paz, most local women wear shorts and summer clothes too so you won’t stand out.
Just be wary of over-friendly strangers and don’t walk alone at night. This entire website has been written by a solo female traveler in Mexico. Mexico is actually a great (and underrated) destination for us solo females!
Can you drink the water in La Paz Mexico?
No. You cannot drink the water in La Paz or anywhere in Mexico.
It is purified at the source but often gets contaminated en route to your tap and contains harmful parasites, bacteria, chemicals and heavy metals that can make you sick. Even locals do not drink the water so you will need to stick to bottled water during your trip.
Hotels will provide you with complimentary bottles of water for each day of your stay and then you can buy larger bottles from convenience stores like Oxxo. Ice and Mexican drinks like agua frescas are prepared using bottled water so you don’t have to stress about having ice in your drinks.
Is it safe to drive from Cabo to La Paz?
It is perfectly safe to drive from Cabo to La Paz and vice versa. Hundreds of tourists and locals drive along this route every day.
Renting a car in Mexico is a good way to get around as it allows you a lot more freedom and flexibility in your schedule. The roads in Baja California are modern and well-maintained and you may find that driving here is not all that different from driving in the US or anywhere else in the world.
Dealing with the police in La Paz
The police force in La Paz is known for being helpful and responsive, and visitors can feel confident in seeking their assistance if needed. However, corruption and bribery can be issues in some parts of Mexico, so it is important to be aware of this possibility.
Scamming tourists is generally frowned upon and the only situation where you may be likely to encounter the La Paz police is if you are driving and you break some kind of road rule or you get into an accident. A few tourists have reported the police asking for a bribe and in fact, this has happened to me in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, and also in Campeche.
You can refuse to pay the bribe and ask to speak to the ¨jefe¨ (boss). However, if the policemen you deal with are particularly argumentative or shady, it might be difficult not to comply. All the more reasons to be careful and drive safely!
Purchase comprehensive travel insurance
It is prudent to purchase comprehensive travel insurance before traveling to La Paz. This will provide coverage in case of any medical emergencies, accidents, or theft.
Unfortunately, today’s health isn’t promised tomorrow and we can never be sure what is around the corner. A good insurance plan will come with at least $250,000 USD worth of medical coverage and cover you for additional things like theft/loss of luggage, repatriation, and hiking/adventure sports.
Be sure to print out the first page of your insurance plan or write your policy number down. This will be the first thing you are asked for if you need any assistance or treatment abroad.
Enjoy your trip and don’t be paranoid!
Try to focus your energy on planning and looking forward to your trip, rather than worrying about safety. La Paz is a wonderful destination that offers plenty to see and do.
If you are skittish and constantly looking over your shoulder, you won’t have a good time. La Paz is a great base for exploring the Sea of Cortez where you can scuba dive and snorkel to observe colorful marine life, flora, and fauna.
From La Paz, you can also take a day trip out to Espiritu Santo island – a UNESCO world heritage site and island situated in the middle of the Sea of Cortez. The uninhabited island is a paradise for nature lovers, filled with rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, scenic hiking trails, mangrove forests, and cactus gardens.
In La Paz center, be sure to visit the gorgeous colonial Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace and learn about the region’s indigenous cultures and history at the Museum of Anthropology. (Calle Ignacio Altamirano s/n).
Final thoughts on safety in La Paz Mexico
La Paz is a safe place to visit for families and solo travelers seeking a quiet, seaside destination in Mexico that is both safe and affordable. This is not somewhere where you will have to be constantly worrying or looking over your shoulder.
Concentrate on having a great trip and try not to stress too much about safety! Have a wonderful time in Mexico!
Feel free to reach out to me if you need any assistance with planning your trip. You might also like this post on safety in Cabo San Lucas or this collection of Mexico travel tips.
Buen Viaje! Melissa xo