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10 Mexican States That Aren’t as Dangerous for Travelers as You Think

Mexico often makes the news for less-than-flattering circumstances. But the media can mislead travelers into believing that Mexico has become more dangerous than before the March 3rd kidnappings of four Americans. These ten Mexican states may change your mind.

Gathering the Data

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The following rankings are inspired by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). The DOS categorizes Mexico’s states into four categories, with Level 1 and Level 2 being the safest and the basis for this list.

Always recheck the DOS’ website before traveling to Mexico. They offer the most up-to-date information on the current safety of all states.

1: Yucatan State

Chichen Itza ruins.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Yucatan state enjoys the privilege of being one of only two states in Mexico with a Level 1 rating. The DOS advises travelers to “exercise normal precautions” when traveling there. Popular tourist destinations in Yucatan state include Chichen Itza, Valladolid, and Merida.

A Vital Distinction

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Before booking your trip to tourist hotspots like Cancun or Tulum, know this: Yucatan State is within the Yucatan Peninsula, but not all destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula are in Yucatan state. That means Cancun and Tulum do not share Yucatan state’s Level 1 designation.

2: Campeche State

Yellow building in Campeche.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Campeche is the only other state in Mexico that enjoys a Level 1 rating by the DOS. Campeche isn’t home to as many tourist hotspots as Yucatan state. However, travelers seeking safe Mexican areas away from massive tourist crowds may enjoy destinations like Campeche and Ciudad del Carmen.

3: Nayarit State

Sayulita coastline.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Nayarit is the first of the remaining eight states on this list that the DOS classifies as a Level 2, meaning you should exercise increased caution. Many travelers safely visit Level 2 destinations in Mexico by not flashing around expensive jewelry, never hailing taxis off the street, and sticking to well-lit tourist areas at night.

Popular tourist destinations in Nayarit include Sayulita and Punta Mita.

Where Does Puerto Vallarta Fit?

Whale tail in ocean.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

The popular beach city of Puerto Vallarta sits on the edge of Nayarit state, though it’s technically in Jalisco state. The DOS classifies Jalisco state as a Level 3 (reconsider travel).

But there’s a silver lining: Tourist areas in Puerto Vallarta are one of the exceptions to the DOS’ recommendation to reconsider travel, along with the tourist part of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area.

4: Oaxaca State

Church in Oaxaca.
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Oaxaca state is a destination that foodies and surfers in-the-know flock to. The DOS recommends exercising increased caution because of crime. But by following those guidelines, many travelers visit destinations like Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido without negative incidents.

5: Baja California Sur State

Famous arch in Cabo.
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Baja California state calls the southern part of the Baja California peninsula home. Los Cabos and La Paz are some of the most popular tourist destinations, and several American celebrities have second homes there.

California residents are often tempted to drive across the border to Baja California Sur. However, they’d have to first pass through northern Baja California state, which the DOS classifies as a Level 3 (reconsider travel).

6: Mexico City

Church in Mexico City.
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The DOS differentiates Mexico City from the other regions it designates as states on its list. Mexico City is the country’s most populated region, for it’s a mecca for art, culture, food, and architecture.

Make no mistake: Many parts of Mexico City are dangerous. However, you can expect a fun and safe trip by sticking to the tourist areas and taking the same safety precautions as in any unfamiliar city.

7: Chiapas State

Sumidero Canyon.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Chiapas is a breath of fresh air for tourists who love the outdoors, hiking, ruins, and indigenous villages. Luckily, Chiapas is still a place the DOS deems safe enough for visitors to explore as long they exercise increased caution.

8: Tabasco State

Stone head in Villahermosa, Tabasco.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Tabasco is another nature and agriculture-oriented Mexican state. It’s not super popular among tourists, but those who visit will enjoy crowd-free archeological sites, quiet beaches, and untouched rainforests. As with the past five destinations on this list, your chances of a safe trip are high if you exercise increased caution by following basic safety practices.

9: Puebla State

Church in Puebla.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Puebla is a state near Mexico City. Tourists commonly visit the city of Puebla, which is seated in the south-central Mexican highlands and has colorful Spanish architecture.

Puebla state is toward the bottom of this list because, although the DOS categorizes it as a Level 2, it indicates that crime and kidnapping can be issues in Puebla. That differs from “only” crime as an issue in the other Level 2 states covered.

10: Quintana Roo State

Beach resort in Cancun, Mexico.
Photo Credit: Jdross75 via Adobe Stock.

If you’ve been holding your breath to see if Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and the like would appear on this list, you can mostly sigh with relief. All of these destinations call Quintana Roo home.

The issue? As with Puebla, the DOS deems Quintana Roo state safe enough for travelers to visit as long as they exercise increased caution, for crime and kidnapping can happen.

The Uber Conundrum

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Rideshare apps like Uber are often among the safest ways to take a taxi in Mexico. But Quintana Roo state is one of the exceptions.

Taxi companies in Cancun and the Quintana Roo region have a history of acting violently against Uber drivers and passengers. It’s best to arrange transportation in advance with a trusted source like your hotel.

States to Avoid Like the Plague

Plane with a banned sign through it.
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The DOS has issued a Level 4 warning for six Mexican states, labeling them under their “Do not travel” category. They are as follows:

  • Colima state
  • Guerrero state
  • Michoacan state
  • Sinaloa state
  • Tamaulipas state
  • Zacatecas state

States You Should Reconsider Traveling To

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If you haven’t seen the Mexican state you want to visit on this list, it could be because the DOS considers it a Level 3 (reconsider travel). These are the regions in Mexico that it’s safest to avoid:

  • Baja California state
  • Chihuahua state
  • Durango state
  • Guanajuato state
  • Jalisco state
  • Morelos state
  • Sonora state

Is Mexico Safe for Solo Travelers?

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The author of this post spent about 1.5 years as a solo female traveler exploring Mexico. She shares her experiences and recommendations for people considering a Mexican vacation.

Is Mexico Safe? A Solo Female Traveler’s Perspective

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Famous arch in Cabo.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Cancun and Cabo are popular destinations among American vacationers. But do you know enough about them to decide which is best for you?

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Do you live in one of the most dangerous cities in the United States? Some of the cities that qualify for this title may shock you.

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ADO Buses 101: How To Explore Mexico by Bus

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Photo Credit: Yuriyzhuravov via Adobe Stock.

If you’re considering bus travel in Mexico, this is a must-read. Taking buses in Mexico isn’t as scary as you might have it pictured if you do it right.

ADO Buses 101: How To Explore Mexico by Bus

21 Travel Bucket List Ideas for Retirees

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Photo Credit: DisobeyArt via Adobe Stock.

Stay young at heart by exploring the world with these 21 must-see destinations during retirement. Options for active and low-impact travelers.

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This article was produced and syndicated by A Piece of Travel.

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