If you are traveling to Mexico for the first time, you might be interested in learning what the safest Mexican states are. Many people are anxious about how safe they are when traveling to Mexico which is a shame because this is a beautiful, culturally rich country.
For the most part, Mexico doesn’t deserve its ¨dangerous¨ reputation. Over 40 million international travelers venture to Mexico every single year and most visits to the county are trouble-free.
That being said, the safety situation varies substantially from one place to another. Most places of tourist interest are safe, and the Mexican government and local authorities go above and beyond to ensure that tourists feel comfortable during their visit.
Sure there are places in the country where you are less safe. But these are places that you are not likely to venture into as a tourist anyway.
This article has been written by a British Travel Writer based in Mexico. I live in the Yucatan capital of Merida and have traveled extensively around the country, mostly solo. (And I’m a female traveler!)
You’re in good hands here. In this guide, we will look at the safest Mexican states and what they have to offer.
What are the Safest Mexican States?
One useful tool you can use for determining the safety/security of each different state in Mexico is the U.S. state department travel website. It’s a little sternly worded but it’s super helpful (even if you aren’t from the US). It provides a safety overview of each individual state.
This is updated regularly to reflect the latest changes and developments in each area. States are broken down into four different categories depending on their perceived safety.
- Exercise normal precautions (A rating for the safest Mexican states of Yucatan and Campeche)
- Exercise increased precautions
- States you should reconsider travel to
- Do not travel states
It is prudent to always check your government travel advice before traveling anywhere in the world and the same rings true for visiting Mexico for the first time.
The Canadian government travel advice for Mexico can be found here and outlines places where you should avoid or reconsider traveling to. The UK government travel advice for Mexico uses a map to highlight the safest areas in the country.
Overview of the Two Safest Mexican States
The Yucatan State and Campeche State are widely recognized as being the safest Mexican states. They are the only two states in the safest category (¨exercise normal precautions¨) outlined by the US government.
As someone who has lived in the Yucatan state for close to two years now, I can attest to that.
These two states make up the wider tri-state area of the Yucatan peninsula (along with the state of Quintana Roo). The culture here is very different from in other parts of the country and the violent things that you hear about happening in other areas generally don’t happen here.
You can feel comfortable walking around in the evenings in Campeche City, Merida, and other cities in the area. Even in the most rural towns, villages, and archeological sites, you never feel like you need to look over your shoulder or worry.
People here are generally very friendly and respectful. As you walk around, locals greet you with ¨buenos dias¨ or a ¨buenos tardes¨ and crime rates are low.
Petty theft and pickpocketing in crowded mercados like San Benito and Mercado Lucas de Galvez in Merida can’t be completely ruled out. But provided you keep an eye on your personal belongings and use the same common sense as you would anywhere else, you ought to be fine.
The Yucatan state is one of the most historically and culturally rich states in Mexico. Many of the most famous Mayan ruins in the country can be found here – including Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, and Uxmal, as well as lesser-known but equally fascinating ancient cities like Ake, Mayapan, and Oxkintok.
The state’s cultural capital of Merida is not only the safest city in Mexico but one of the safest cities in the entire North American continent. You might even find that you feel safer here than you do in your hometown!
Besides ruins, the Yucatan is known for its spectacular cenotes. These are freshwater sinkholes that were formed when the Chicxulub meteor smashed into the earth 65 million years ago.
There are more than 7,000 cenotes scattered across the peninsula and they make great places to go swimming.
Just over an hour from Merida, you can visit the Homun cenotes. There are more than 20 cenotes in and around Homun, in what experts have referred to as anillo de los cenotes (ring of cenotes).
Some are outside, some are in caves with spectacular stalagmite and stalactite formations. Others have ancient handprints and were used for spiritual/religious rituals by the Ancient Maya!
Along the Ruta de Esmerelda in the Northern Yucatan, there are some gorgeous Yucatan beaches that are often overshadowed by the beaches in the Riviera Maya and Costa Maya. The charming beaches and hidden coves close to the seaside towns of Telchac Puerto, San Bruno, and San Crisanto offer glistening turquoise waters and soft powdery white sands.
Campeche state is the least-visited state in the Yucatan tri-state area which is a shame as it offers spectacular beaches, ruins, colonial cities, and Yucatan pueblo magicos. The state capital of Campeche City is safe as long as you are always aware of your surroundings.
A steady trickle of tourists has started traveling from Merida to Campeche in recent years, so Campeche is gaining popularity and attention. But for the most part, it remains authentically Mexican, ungentrified, and largely untapped.
Campeche City is a UNESCO-protected settlement that dates back to the 17th century. Its historic center feels almost frozen in time.
The beachfront Malecon is lined with bars and restaurants and is a pleasant place to walk or cycle along the Gulf of Mexico. You can catch one of the most spectacular sunsets in Southeastern Mexico from here.
Campeche City also makes a great base to travel to the seldom-visited ruins of Calakmul and Edzna. If you want a beach break with somewhere that has all the beauty of Tulum or Mahahual without the crowds, plan to spend a few days in a beach shack in Isla Aguada, Campeche.
Other Safe Mexican States
The Yucatan state and Campeche may be widely recognized as the overall safest Mexican states but they aren’t the only safe places in the country. Some other safe destinations you might want to consider for your upcoming Mexico trip are detailed below.
Chiapas is the poorest Mexican state and yet in spite of that, it is one of the places where you can experience some of the best hospitality in Mexico. The mountaintop town of San Cristobal de las Casas has become a must-see tourist destination in recent years and a lot of travelers visit Chiapas to travel to San Cristobal, the ruins of Palenque, and the majestic Sumidero Canyon.
But Chiapas offers so much more, and you will have a safe and enjoyable experience traveling off the beaten path here too. From San Cristobal, consider taking day trips out to the indigenous villages of Zinacantan and Chamula, and learning about the way of life of the Tzotzil people.
Chiapa de Corzo is one of the oldest towns in the Americas. It was founded by Spanish Conquistador Diego de Mazariegos in 1528 and was the first place that the Europeans settled in Chiapas before deciding that it was too hot and relocating to higher altitudes and San Cristobal de las Casas.
Quintana Roo state is one of the most popular coastal destinations in Mexico. Millions of people dream of relaxing by the beach in Tulum, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Isla Mujeres with a pina colada in hand, and recently, a lot of expats from the US and beyond have started relocating here.
It’s important to address that there have been a few incidents in recent years where tourists and bystanders have been caught in the crossfires of clashes between criminal groups. This is still rare and since those unfortunate occurrences, the local authorities have increased police and security presence around the region.
Tourism is incredibly important in this area and nobody wants tourists to feel afraid of visiting. Isla Mujeres, Isla Holbox, and Cozumel all offer a slice of tropical paradise and the chance to indulge in some much-needed R&R on a white-sand beach.
Its easy to get to famous ruins like Ek Balam or Chichen Itza from Cancun and the Riviera Maya. (You can reach the sites in less than 2 hours).
Quintana Roo is also home to some spectacular archeological sites such as the Tulum ruins, Coba and Chaccoben. If you want to escape the crowds, travel out of season and consider heading south towards Akumal, Bacalar, and Mahahual.
Oaxaca is having its moment lately and in 2023, it seems to be the destination on everyone’s Mexico bucket list. The state is a foodies paradise, home to unique Oaxacan cuisine that you won’t find anywhere else in the country.
Oaxaca is also famous for its mezcal production. (A liquor produced from the agave plant that could be considered the cousin of tequila.)
Traveling to Oaxaca means having the opportunity to visit a Mezcal plantation and learn how the drink is made and of course, to sample different mezcal blends! Oaxaca is also home to the majestic Hierve de Agua petrified waterfalls that you may have seen photographed on social media, and the charming coastal town of Puerto Escondido which is one of the top surfing destinations in the country.
Baja California Sur
Baja California Sur has long been a tourist favorite destination in Mexico. There are several airports that offer a gateway into this region including Los Cabos International Airport, La Paz International Airport, and Loreto International.
Here, you can enjoy the watersports, nightlife, and beautiful beaches of Los Cabos, explore the historic town of Todos Santos, or go whale watching and head out to Espiritu Santo island from La Paz. You can also tie in your trip with an adventure to the Ruta del Vino and the Valle de Guadalupe in the neighboring state of Baja California.
Baja California Sur is safe, despite its ¨exercise increased caution¨ state guidelines. It has one of the lowest homicide rates in all of the Mexican states, and most of the violence is concentrated in non-tourist areas that you are not likely to set foot in any way.
Aguascalientes is a frequently-overlooked travel destination in North-Central Mexico. The state and the capital city both share the same name and provide a wonderful alternative weekend break destination for foodies and culture lovers.
Aguascalientes is safe, and there is plenty to do in the wider region. Go for dinner or grab a coffee in the central square of Plaza de las Tres Centurias.
Visit the National Museum of Death to learn more about Mexico’s unique relationship with death, and enjoy exploring all the churches and backstreets of the city. From here, you can also take day trips out to the charming pueblo magico of Calvillo and the town of Real de Asientos.
Safety Precautions to Take in Mexico
Some useful safety tips to help make sure that your trip to Mexico is trouble-free and memorable for all the right reasons are detailed below. A lot of this is common sense, but putting it into practice can go a long way.
Useful safety tips
- If you are renting a car in Mexico, stick to driving on toll roads (carreteras de cuota) rather than free roads (carreteras libres) as they are generally safer and better maintained.
- Police officers in many parts of Mexico are corrupt, so always drive carefully and respect road rules to minimize your chance of encountering them. If you are caught driving dangerously, you might be pestered to pay a bribe.
- Only drive during daylight hours as most intercity roads and highways do not have street lights. Many animals and pedestrians often wander into the roads causing hazards
- Where you can, opt to use Uber rather than street taxis. (There is more accountability and taxi drivers have been known to scam tourists in certain areas).
- If you are traveling somewhere where Uber and other ridesharing apps don’t operate, have your Airbnb host/hotel receptionist order you a trusted cab.
- Make sure you purchase comprehensive travel insurance with at least $250,000 worth of medical coverage before your trip. Today’s health isn’t promised tomorrow and you never know what is around the corner.
- Take extreme caution if you decide to travel to areas of Mexico like Ciudad Juarez or Sinaloa. Violence in Mexico is not random and usually takes place between drug cartels but you don’t want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Always keep an eye on your belongings and consider investing in a theft-proof bag or money belt.
- Check past reviews before booking a hotel or Airbnb and always sense-check that the property is in a safe part of town.
FAQs about the Safest Mexican States
Do you have any further questions about which are the safest Mexican states or planning your trip to Mexico in general? The answers to some frequently asked questions on the topic are detailed below.
Hopefully, you will find the information you are looking for there. If not, please do not hesitate to reach out to me!
The Yucatan state has the lowest crime rates in Mexico. Along with Campeche state, the Yucatan is consistently recognized as being the safest part of the country year after year.
The Yucatan is the most peaceful state in Mexico. There are low crime rates across the state and you can feel perfectly safe even in remote areas.
The Yucatan capital of Merida is the safest city in Mexico and one of the top three safest cities in North America.
Final thoughts on the safest Mexican states
I hope that this overview of some of the safest Mexican states has helped you decide where you would like to go when planning your trip to Mexico! It is important to remember that in Mexico, the safety situation can vary significantly from city to city, state to state.
Here, we have looked at some of the safest places in the country. But just because a particular state is marked as somewhere to reconsider travel to doesn’t mean that that place isn’t safe either.
For instance, the state of Guanajuato is marked as a place to reconsider visiting due to violence in rural areas that a tourist would never visit. However, Guanajuato city is safe, as is charming San Miguel de Allende which sees thousands of American tourists every year.
Similarly, the state of Jalisco is on the ¨reconsider travel list¨ while Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. If you really want to go somewhere but you are apprehensive about its safety rating, do your research by browsing Mexico blogs and forums.
As long as you have a high level of situational awareness, you are safe in most places in Mexico.
Have any further questions about traveling to Mexico? Feel free to reach out and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can.
Safe travels! Buen Viaje! Xo