Is Mexico City Safe To Travel To?

Overall, Mexico City is a safe place to visit. It has historical monuments, trendy restaurants, and countless attractions to explore. Many people believe it is a really dangerous place but this is a big misconception.
Is Mexico City safe to visit? Photo: Carlos Aranda | Unsplash

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Are you thinking of visiting Mexico City but worried about Safety? Well, worry no more. Overall, Mexico City is a safe place to visit. It has historical monuments, trendy restaurants, and countless attractions to explore but unfortunately, it has been plagued with a bad reputation. Many people believe it is a really dangerous place but this is a big misconception.

If you take close look at the statistics, the crime rates have actually been on the decline since 2001, and the homicide rate is now lower than that of many major US cities.

Mexico City, Photo: VV Nincic I Flickr

Just like anywhere else in the world, it’s important to exercise normal caution like keeping your valuables out of sight, and staying vigilant especially when walking through crowded areas and at night time. I would say as a rule of thumb, no matter where you are in the city, just be aware of your surroundings.

Travel advisories

The Mexican States are separated into four different levels of safety by the U.S. State Department.

  1. Exercise Normal Precautions When Traveling To:
  2. Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling To:
  3. Reconsider travel to:
  4. Do not travel to:
Mexico, Photo: Ivan Hernández I Flickr

Mexico City falls under level 2 ( Excercise Increased Caution). So what does that mean exactly? It warns visitors that petty crimes happen in both tourist and non-tourist areas and that both violent and non-violent crimes can occur in the city so it’s important to be alert.

They advise being vigilant and sticking to the prominent tourist areas where security and law enforcement officers frequently patrol the streets.

To visit or to avoid?

Did you know that Mexico City is the largest city in North America by population? Yep, that’s right –  Mexico City has more people than the major cities of New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. That means there are endless amounts of neighborhoods that you can’t miss and many that you should miss.

When exploring this massive city, it’s important to know which neighborhoods are safe and which ones to steer clear of. Generally speaking, the touristy spots of the city like Roma Norte/Sur, Condesa, Centro Historico, and Zona Rosa are pretty safe for foreigners.

Ofrendas, Zona Rosa, Photo: Secretaría de Cultura de la Ciudad de México I Flickr

You should be wary of Tepito as it is known to be an extremely busy and quite frankly- sketchy- part of the city. Mostly because it’s not uncommon to get ripped off or robbed when shopping around Tepito’s local market.

Ciudad Neza is changing its reputation, but it was historically a very poor area with a lot of crime and I recommend leaving it off your itinerary.

Iztapalapa has the highest rate of violent crimes against women by a landslide, so if you are a woman traveling alone – DO NOT GO TO IZTAPLAPA. Doctores – known for its famous Lucha Libra wrestling shows- is generally okay to visit during the day, but it turns into a very dangerous place at night.

Safety tips

While going to see the sights, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind. Take a look at the list below, and try to keep these tips in mind as you wander around:  

  • The Metro can be a convenient way to get from point a to point b, but during peak commuter times, the crowds can be overwhelming. The more crowded it gets, the easier it is for pickpockets to rob you. I recommend leaving your valuables at home, carrying cash, and keeping your phone in a fanny pack that is kept in front of you and zipped up under your clothing.
  • Only use authorized taxis – do not hail a cab on the street. You can get Uber or DiDi and as an extra measure, it’s always smart to take down the cars’ plate numbers.
Mexico City Taxi, Photo: Steve Cadman I Flickr
  • It’s best to use ATMs located in nationwide banks. Avoid using ATMs on the street. These are often strategically placed to take advantage of unassuming tourists like yourself, and they can make a copy of your card details.
  • Keep a low profile. This is not the time or place to flaunt expensive jewelry, watches, or other fancy-looking items that may draw unwanted attention.
  • Before taking out your phone to snap a picture, be aware of your surroundings, and make sure you have a tight grip on it. If traveling with friends or family, you can ask them to keep a lookout while you take some photos.
  • Learn a few Spanish phrases! Not only with this helps you get to know the locals, but it can also be useful if you are in a tight spot.

In case of an emergency

911, Photo: Thomas_H_foto I Flickr

In case of an emergency, call 911. Luckily, the emergency phone hotline is the same as it is in the US so it’s easy to remember. Also, the operators are bilingual so don’t worry about language barriers.

Below are the emergency numbers you should have on hand in Mexico City:

For police, dial the national emergency number 911 
For an ambulance, call 066
For the Tourist Assistance Hotline, contact 800 008 9090

Common scams

Being aware of common scams is a good way to doge them. While there is no need to be suspicious of everyone that comes near you, just be mindful. After all, Mexicans are really friendly people and the majority of them are friendly and welcoming.

Taxi Scams – There are various levels of taxi scams that can happen around the city. Some are minor, like a driver jacking up the price if you are a tourist. Others can be more serious, like express kidnapping. Express kidnapping is when a driver holds a rider hostage and forces them to withdraw cash at an ATM.

If you ever hear your taxi driver making calls and telling someone on the line your location, immediately ask him or her to hang up the phone and get out as soon as you feel safe. While this is rarer and rarer, it’s still best to know it does happen. 

Banamex Bank, Mexico City, Photo: Sasha India I Flickr

Mustard Scam –  This scam involves a stranger squirting mustard (or some other gross liquid) onto you, and then offering to help you clean it up. While they’re “helping” you, the culprit or an accomplice will steal your wallet, phone, or anything else they can get your hands on while you are distracted. 

Change Scam – Unfortunately, some people take advantage of your lack of knowledge about the local currency, so make sure you understand how much you are spending, and count your change. They might slight you assuming you will just take the money and leave.

To sum up

Mexico City is an amazing destination with many fascinating sites to explore. As one of the largest cities in the world, of course, there is some crime and other safety concerns, but don’t let that deter you from having fun and enjoying yourself.


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