Is Mexico travel safe? What to know about visiting Cabo, Cancun, Playa del Carmen and more

With its warm climate, beautiful beaches and proximity to the US, Mexico is a popular tourist destination for many Americans. But recent incidents may have some people wondering if they should consider their travel plans.

Over the past few months, taxi drivers have been harassing Ubers in Cancun and there was the death of three Americans in Mexico City in October. Now an updated Travel Advisory warns of crime and kidnapping.

“We get this one a lot, especially by folks who haven’t traveled as much, haven’t left the country before, or have read stories about ‘Mexico being dangerous’ but maybe don’t recognize it’s a large, diverse country, much like ours,” Jack Benoff, president of Vacationeeze, which specializes in destination weddings in Mexico, told USA TODAY. Many of Benoff’s clients plan trips to Cancun and Riviera Maya, known for their turquoise beaches and myriad resorts.

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The State Department updated the Travel Advisory for Mexico on Oct. 5, which is done regularly. Several tourist destinations, such as Mexico City, Sayulita and Cancun, now have warnings related to cartel-related crime.

“The safety and security of US citizens overseas is one of the department’s highest priorities, and we provide US citizens with relevant information so they can make well-informed decisions before they travel,” a State Department spokesperson said.

Read below to learn more about the Travel Advisory for Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations and safety tips for visiting those areas.

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What is the updated Travel Advisory for Mexico?

Women look at the sea in Playa Delfines (Dolphin Beach) in Cancun, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, on Nov.  8, 2022.

Women look at the sea in Playa Delfines (Dolphin Beach) in Cancun, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, on Nov. 8, 2022.

Rather than providing one overall assessment for the entire country, each state is assessed individually, because some areas have an increased risk of crime and kidnapping.

► The agency issued a “do not travel to” warning for the Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas states because of violent crime.

► A “reconsider travel to” warning has been issued for Baja California and Jalisco, where Puerto Vallarta is.

► Mexico City, Nayarit, Baja California Sur, Quintana Roo and Oaxaca are issued an “exercised increased caution when traveling to” warning. Baja California Sur is home to Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo and La Paz. In Nayarit, many tourists visit the surf town of Sayulita. Quintana Roo is home to Cancun, Tulum, Riviera Maya, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. Surfers also like to visit Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca.

Travelers can “exercise normal precautions” when traveling to Yucatan, which includes the popular attraction Chichén Itzá. The Yucatan state is right above Quintana Roo, where people should be more cautious because of crime and kidnapping, according to the State Department.

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What are some safety travel tips for visiting Mexico?

The State Department has several resources to help keep travelers safe. The agency encourages US travelers to read the entire Mexico Travel Advisory and its Traveler’s Checklist, which details more information about traveling abroad.

There is also the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free service for US travelers to receive safety alerts about their destination from the US Embassy in real time.

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“Generally speaking, if you’re in a resort town and at a reputable location, you’re at a much lower risk,” travel agent Benoff said.

Most resorts have security guards and gates, so staying on the property is pretty safe. “If you’re leaving the resort property, ensure you have the correct address to where you’re going and let the front desk know you’re leaving and when you plan to return,” he said.

“​Use the same safety precautions you would when traveling anywhere.”

A few of his top tips include:

  • Don’t flaunt cash.

  • Use an ATM inside a bank or resort.

  • Use the safe in your room.

  • Bring two printed copies of your passport and other important documents, such as medication or driver’s licenses.

  • Consider travel insurance to help protect stolen or lost personal property.

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter based in Hawaii. You can reach her at [email protected]

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Is it safe to travel to Mexico 2023? Cancun, Cabo, Playa del Carmen

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