Is Mexico City Safe for Travel?

ViaHero
Updated February 19, 2020

Is Mexico City safe for travel? The quick answer is—yes! Mexico City is not under any travel restrictions (other areas of Mexico do have U.S. travel advisories) and is generally a safe place to visit. Here's everything you need to know about staying safe in Mexico City: 

Get up-to-date safety advice by working with a local to plan your trip. Our trip planners are locals in Mexico City that will provide safety advice and taco tips. Learn more. 

Psst—if you're concerned about safety, feel free to reach out to one of our Mexico City travel planners to talk.

"Linelly helped us beyond anything we could've planned ourselves. Everything she suggested for us was spot-on, and I feel we got the best experience by following a local's guidance."
Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

Mexico City neighborhoods

When it comes to picking a place to stay, benefit from personal recs. Our trip planners in CDMX say that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort or security to find authentic things to do in Mexico City. The central districts are vibrant and safe.

These include the neighborhoods of Roma, Juarez, Polanco, San Rafael, and Condesa. Well-traveled and central, these spots are safe day or night. 

The safety of Mexico City’s Centro Historico (Historic Downtown) is debated. Most locals advise staying away from Centro after dark, especially alleyways and the neighborhoods of Merced and Tepito. However, this area is fantastic to visit during the day—you'll find many of Mexico City's coolest places to visit here.

When it comes to safety, no one understands the situation like the people who live there. So benefit from local advice! Our trip planners provided these safety tips: 

  • The neighborhoods of Centro and Bella Artes are welcoming of visitors and are considered safe—but be cautious here after dark. 
  • Tourist attractions like Plaza de Las Tres Culturas and the canals of Xochimilco are safe during the day but should not be explored at night.
  • A handful of neighborhoods should be avoided entirely, including Tepito, Doctores, Ciudad Neza, and Iztapalapa(If you're determined to visit one of these places—Doctores is known as a hub for Mexican wrestling—definitely get advice from a Mexico City local about how to safely do so.)

Common scams in Mexico City

Petty theft/scams

Like any city, Mexico City has its fair share of pickpockets and common scams, especially in crowded areas like the metro. Don't miss out on local advice—our trip planners tell us that these are some of the more common scams in CDMX:

  • If a stranger asks for money, your phone, or documents, give a firm no and continue on your way. Or just ignore them.
  • Withdraw money from the airport or hotel ATMs and steer clear of random, unmarked ATMs.
    • As a rule of thumb, pay with cash instead of a card to protect personal information. (You'll want to do this most places, anyway—locals tell us that street vendors selling mouthwatering tacos al pastor don't take cards!)
  • When traveling in Mexico City, always keep an eye on valuable items, which should be kept as close to your person as possible.
    • Wear bags/purses across your body instead of over your shoulder and keep an eye on your pockets and zippers. 
    • Keep high-value jewelry, watches, and other accessories at home for more peace of mind.

Kidnapping/mugging

Although rare, Mexico City sometimes experiences kidnappings. Rest assured, Mexico City takes safety seriously—the city has an incredibly high police-to-civilian ratio at 1:100, helped by 11,000 security cameras around the city itself.

  • Kidnappings in Mexico City occur based on perceived vulnerability, but foreigners are rarely targeted.
  • In a popular scam, some visitors receive calls or emails saying that their travel companion has been kidnapped. Just hang up, and report the call to local police.
    • Do not provide personal information (i.e., phone number, hotel location, email address) to anyone outside of your party, even to shopkeepers or public surveys.
  • Express kidnappings are a form of mugging when a taxi driver temporarily abducts their passenger and forces them to withdraw all their money from an ATM.
    • These unfortunate incidents can easily be avoided by ordering an Uber, which are very affordable in Mexico City.

When it comes to staying safe in Mexico City, get insider advice—ask our trip planners, locals in Mexico City, about safety in their hometown. 

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Solo travelers in Mexico City

Solo travel is a rising trend worldwide, and exploring Mexico City on your own can be a fantastic experience.

  • Research the area before you go—female travel bloggers who share their solo travel experiences are a great resource.
  • For lone travelers of any gender, it is always necessary to keep your wits about you. Protect your personal info and don't accept drinks or food from strangers. (You know, as you would back home.)
  • Get tips from a local before you explore a new destination. Our local trip planners will help you to experience their hometown like the locals do. 

Some scams are geared specifically toward solo travelers.

  • Fake police officers may approach lone tourists and tell them to provide certain documents or to come to the station. Never provide any personal info, and immediately call Mexico’s police number, #112 or #911.

Do research about specific cultural customs—blending in pays off in terms of safety.

  • Locals say that when you're deciding what to wear in Mexico City, keep these tips in mind:
    • Dress modestly, opting for longer shorts and tops with short or elbow-length sleeves. 
    • Leave your sneakers at home—generally, people in Mexico City dress more formally than in the US. Tennis shoes=tourist. 
    • Learn a few keywords and phrases in Spanish. Knowing how to say simple things like hello and thank you can go a long way. 
Work with a local to plan your trip.
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Drugs and illegal substances

For the most part, Mexico’s war on drugs is occurring far away from Mexico City.

  • Mexico City is cracking down on its cartels—many of Mexico City’s high-ranking cartel members have been arrested as recently as 2018.
  • Odds are that you will not be offered drugs or be caught in a drug deal, especially if you stay away from particular neighborhoods. (Check out our article on the 10 Best Neighborhoods in Mexico City for more—it includes places to avoid)

Drinking water and food quality

Bottled water is generally more reliable and clean than Mexico City’s tap water or soft drinks.

  • Don’t add ice to your drinks.
  • Restaurants must meet water-health codes, so the tap water in well-known restaurants (not street vendors) is likely safe to drink.

Watch your drinks being made—if you don’t feel drinking comfortable what went into your cup, go somewhere else.

  • Don’t accept drinks from anyone outside of your party.
  • Should you feel ill after drinking alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages, go to one of the three Mexico City hospitals approved by the Joint Commission International.
  • Most people in Mexico City rely on bottled water. To travel sustainably, we recommend investing in a self-purifying water bottle.

Watch how your food is made, especially with street food vendors. Food poisoning typically is not deliberate but can happen when ingredients aren’t stored properly.

  • Be open to trying new foods, but stay away from more risky meats like monkey, guinea pig, or bat.
  • Although some markets sell exotic foods (like lion or crocodile), odds are that these foods are illegal and do not meet most or any health standards.

Conclusion

Is Mexico City safe for travel in 2020? Absolutely! Just keep your wits about you, stay aware, and have a fantastic time. For extra security, get some insider info from a Mexican local for help planning your trip—they’ll make sure you don’t venture anywhere you shouldn’t, and will be available with 24/7 phone support. For more info, check out these Mexico City travel FAQs.

Emergency contact info

National Emergency Number: 411 or 911

Green Angels Tourist Assistance: 078

Public Ministry Agency: 5200-9000

U.S. Embassy in Mexico City:

Calling from Mexico: (01-55) 5080-2000

Calling from the U.S.: 011-52-55-5080-2000

After hours emergencies: 01-52-55-5080-2000, press 0 for the duty officer

Still have questions about travel to Mexico City?
Why not ask someone who lives there? ViaHero connects you with a local to help plan your trip. They’ll create a guidebook based on your personal travel style.
You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

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