Belize is one of my favorite destinations to date. It’s a small little country tucked away between Mexico and Guatemala on the Caribbean coast. It has a carefree Caribbean vibe, lush jungles, and coral reefs that are perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling.
So is it safe? The overall answer is yes! Belize is safe, but like most places in the world, some parts of the country are more dangerous than others.
Belize is a relatively safe place for tourists, but there are always safety concerns to consider when traveling there.
First of all, avoid the more dangerous parts of the country and always be aware of your belongings and surroundings. The most common safety concern among tourists is petty theft and scams.
That just means that you should stay aware of what’s going on around you and avoid walking down any dark allies by yourself at night. With a bit of caution and a dash of common sense, you can enjoy Belize without having any incidents.
Pickpocketing and scams are easily avoided and travelers can take steps to keep themselves safe.
As I mentioned before, the biggest safety concern in Belize is theft. To prevent yourself from being a victim, make sure your purse is zipped and in front of you, and if you’re wearing a backpack, don’t keep anything valuable in your pockets. If someone seems to be getting a little too close for comfort and invading your personal bubble, stop walking and go into a crowded store or restaurant.
There are higher violent crime rates in some areas of the country in comparison to others. Like most big cities, The capital city of Belmopan and Belize City on the coast have the highest rates of violent crime.
When visiting Belize, be wary when using any old ATM, as skimming devices are often installed in privately owned machines. To avoid this, only get cash out from ATMs that are connected to banks and stay away from the ones that are in convenience stores or local shops.
It’s important to be aware of scams so that you can recognize them and hopefully prevent them. Below are two common ones you could encounter in Belize.
One popular scam in Belize City, Belize is referred to as the “picture scam”. What happens is that a local asks you to take their picture, then they hand you their camera. Upon returning the camera, they purposely drop it and blame you for breaking their camera. Then, they will kick up a fuss and demand that you pay them for breaking the phone. If you feel like someone could be up to no good, kindly refuse to take photos.
Taxis and ferries have a common practice of overcharging tourists. Unfortunately Uber is not available, so using local taxis is the only option.
That means that they can just tell you any price, and if you don’t know the correct price range, you might get scammed.
Ask your driver to turn on the meter ( if they have one) or ask someone at a hotel or restaurant how much you should be charged to get to where you are going.
If you know the distance or route, then you can agree on a price with taxi drivers before getting in.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Belize City is the biggest city in Belize, and, unfortunately, its crime rate is also the highest. Certain areas are best avoided, especially at night.
The good news is that these areas are well-known and easy to avoid if you do your research before coming to Belize City. Southside Belize City is the most dangerous area in the city.
The north side of Belize City is much safer and more pleasant to walk around. This is where you will find the best tourist attractions and the best restaurants and bars.
Belize City at night is basically gang territory. It’s just plain unsafe after dark. At one point the government was forced to declare a state of emergency because it got so bad. So go back to your hotel before dark and travel in groups if you plan on checking out Belize City’s nightlife.
Crime in Belize
The vast majority of Belize is rural, and crime rates tend to be very low in those areas. Close to the border of Belize and Guatemala, however, there are known armed criminal gangs that reside in the forest areas. That being said, the government and Belize Defence force patrol these areas and do what they can to make sure tourists are safe.
If you’re planning on hiking or spending time in remote areas, let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back and as always, carry a cell phone in case of emergencies.
Tips for being safer in Belize
- Try to travel with a buddy and avoid carrying any valuables on your person. Leaving your valuables in a secure location, such as a hotel safe, is a good idea
- Never leave your valuables in a public space, and be sure to always lock your hotel room or Air Bnb when you leave.
- You should carry a copy of your passport rather than your original passport.
- Always be aware of common local scams like the ones I mentioned before and others like fake tour operators, overpriced taxis, and “free” gifts with a high price tag. If you think something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Stick to bottled water and avoid any food that doesn’t look or taste right. It’s also a good idea to avoid ice cubes. You don’t want to eat ice made with tap water.
To Sum Up
Overall, Belize is a safe country to visit. However, exercising caution and being aware of your surroundings is always important. By following the above safety tips, you can help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip to Belize.