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Is Guanajuato Safe for Travelers in 2024: Understanding Guanajuato Crime Rates

Is Guanajuato safe? Guanajuato is a charming city that entices visitors from near and far with its colorful colonial architecture, thriving culture, and natural beauty. From the magnificent Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato to the winding alleys of the UNESCO-listed historic center, Guanajuato charms travelers with its beauty.

But how you can make the most of its beauty safely? Coming up, I’ll cover key details on safety precautions to take when visiting a foreign country like Mexico, the most secure areas to visit, what to avoid, and tips to travel smartly in Guanajuato.

Is Guanajuato Safe to Visit in 2024 –  Key Takeaways

  1. Cartel Violence Risk – HIGH
  2. Kidnappings Risk – MEDIUM
  3. Fraud Risk – MEDIUM
  4. Petty Theft Risk – HIGH
  5. Level of Danger When Driving – MEDIUM
  6. Level of Danger in Buses – LOW
  7. Level of Danger in Taxi – LOW
  8. Level of Danger at Night – MEDIUM
  9. Bad Areas – Celaya, Irapuato, Salamanca
  10. Safe Places – San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato City
  11. Crime in Guanajuato compared to other cities in Mexico – Rating based on real reviews from travelers and locals according to Numbeo. Crime index meaning: 0-20 is very low, 20-40 is low, 40-60 is moderate, 60-80 is high, and 80-100 is very high.

CITY

STATE

CRIME INDEX

Guerrero

28.92

Quintana Roo

34.21

Jalisco

35.70

Quintana Roo

36.94

Queretaro

37.55

Sinaloa

39.43

Oaxaca

43.19

 Baja California Sur

43.24

Nogales

Sonora

45.39

Nuevo León

48.25

Veracruz

49.20

Guanajuato

Guanajuato

50.54

San Miguel de Allende

Guanajuato

50.94

Сhihuahua

55.49

Quintana Roo

55.73

Morelia

Michoacan

56.90

Puebla

58.23

Chihuahua

68.71

Baja California

71.99

  1. Number of crimes in the Guanajuato state compared to other states in Mexico:
Gang violence, often associated with the theft of petroleum and natural gas from the state oil company and other suppliers, occurs in Guanajuato, primarily in the south and central areas of the state.  Of particular concern is the high number of murders in the southern region of the state associated with cartel-related violence. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping. US Department of State

Is Guanajuato Mexico Safe: Crime in Guanajuato

Guanajuato dazzles visitors with its rich history, unique architecture, and lively culture. Yet, an unseen threat lurks behind its beauty. According to the Mexican National Crime Incidence report, 147,311 total crime cases were logged in Guanajuato state last year. In December 2023 alone, 11,214 incidents were reported, and in January 2024 it was 12,572

Crime in Guanajuato
Credit: www.gob.mx

Another monitoring group, Elcri, uses data from the justice system reporting 30 homicides in the city of Guanajuato, the state capital, in 2023. Let’s examine the types of crime challenging Guanajuato before uncovering how to visit safely.

Cartel Violence – High

With 3,640 homicides in 2023, Guanajuato remains one of Mexico’s most violent states, linked to cartel presence and crimes like drug dealing (19,876 cases). The 2023 homicide count shows a 3.6% increase over the 3,513 homicides in 2022, keeping risk high.

The concerning homicide rate mainly affects southern Guanajuato, attributed to turf wars between CJNG and local cartels. In 2023 2,185 homicides involved firearms, characteristic of cartel-style killings. Monthly figures stayed consistent, though the annual increase suggests continued high cartel activity.

Cartel Violence in Guanajuato
Credit: www.globalguardian.com

Kidnappings Risk – Moderate

Based on the 2023 criminal incidence statistics for Guanajuato, the risk of kidnappings is medium. There were only 6 reported kidnappings out of over 147,000 total crimes. All 6 were classified as “with violence,” suggesting they were serious offenses. In January 2024, there was only 1 kidnapping.

However, the US State Department still gives warning this figure is relatively minor compared to crimes like homicide (3,640) and drugs (19,876). While solo travelers should exercise reasonable caution, the number of kidnappings does not indicate Guanajuato is a high-risk area.

Frauds Risk – Moderate

In 2023, Guanajuato reported 5,166 fraud cases, making it a moderately risky crime in the state. Common frauds include:

Scams to Watch Out for in Guanajuato
  1. Counterfeit goods sold by street vendors and informal markets.
  2. Overcharging or short-changing by merchants.
  3. Fake tour guides/services.
  4. Pickpocketing schemes.
  5. Rental/accommodation scams.

Though not spiking like other major crimes, the prevalence of fraud targeting visitors poses a relatively high risk in Guanajuato. Exercising vigilance with purchases and transactions is advised.

Petty Theft Risk – High

Petty theft poses a high risk in Guanajuato, with 30,424 total thefts reported in 2023. These include 3,255 non-violent home robberies and 104 non-violent street robberies. Theft mainly targets crowded tourist sites, markets, and public transport.

Petty Theft Risk in Guanajuato

Given the high volume of reported petty crimes, visitors should remain vigilant in monitoring belongings and avoiding leaving bags unattended. Nearly 14,000 non-violent thefts indicate thieves capitalize on opportunities like distracted shoppers or rushed commuters. Exercising basic precautions can mitigate the high risk of petty thefts across Guanajuato.

Avoiding Bad Areas

If you are planning to visit Guanajuato, Mexico, it is essential to acknowledge the current safety status in the area. As per the U.S. Department of State, Guanajuato’s overall safety and security conditions currently stand at level 3, indicating that travelers should reconsider travel. This also shows that some parts should be avoided by all means. These regions include:

Bad Areas to Avoid In Guanajuato

Celaya

Located in eastern Guanajuato, Celaya sees vehicle thefts and robberies surge. However, regarding ABC News of March 7, 2024, the local police enforcement doesn’t negotiate with the cartels and hasn’t given up on the town. This reassures the locals who hope to have peace. As for stats, in 2023 alone, Celaya logged an alarming murder rate of 109.39 per 100,000 inhabitants based on official statistics. These disturbing figures cement Celaya’s status as a treacherous locale in Guanajuato.

Further fueling the bloodshed, the cartel continues vying for dominance through multiple attacks and violence to the point of killing police officers. With rival groups equally bent on control, clashes frequently claim innocent lives while terrifying residents struggling to survive amid the chaos. Though security forces attempt to restrain the havoc, Celaya remains gripped by the cartel mayhem.

Celaya murder rate
Credit: www.statista.com
Important! Given the climate of cartel turmoil and daily dangers, tourists risk getting caught in the crossfire. With assaults, killings, and disappearances an ever-present threat, Celaya isn’t safe for visitors.

Irapuato

Southern Guanajuato houses this high-risk city, with a 2023 murder rate of 94.99 per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the Aljazeera report, turf wars between the ruthless Jalisco and Santa Rosa cartels continue escalating the bloodshed through shootouts, executions, and bombings targeting both locals and tourists alike.

As the violent groups vie ruthlessly for dominance, residents endure constant distress from retaliation killings and daytime attacks in shops and restaurants. With the cartels locked in a bitter power struggle, the body count climbs daily. Tourists risk being caught in the crossfire or intentionally targeted for kidnappings.

Irapuato murder rate
Credit: www.statista.com

Salamanca

Though mesmerizing sights dot Salamanca’s landscape, grave dangers dim the shine for wary visitors. Haunting the collective memory is the 2022 execution of five high school students and an adult. Such attacks dragged safety ratings downward as nights bring more prolific threats from robbery haunting darkened streets.

With cartels battling for dominance, Salamanca suffers from brazen killings and attacks, keeping residents on edge. For minorities and outsiders, facing intolerance from locals creates added risks in an already hazardous environment.

The Complete Guide to Reputable Transportation Services

The public transportation system in Guanajuato is typically dependable and secure. Nonetheless, it may become crowded, particularly during rush hours. Remaining vigilant on personal belongings and being aware of your surroundings can deter petty theft. Scroll down to uncover some common guides for safely navigating Guanajuato City.

Is it Safe to Drive in Guanajuato, Mexico? – Medium Risk

Driving safety risk in Guanajuato is medium. In 2023, 758 culpable homicides occurred in traffic accidents and 582 negligent injuries, indicating dangers on roads. Risk primarily stems from hazardous mountain routes and heavy traffic between major cities.

However, cartel-related road dangers appear localized, and the US travel advisory warns its citizens against the dangers. If travelers exercise caution on winding roads, remain alert to traffic, and avoid border regions, especially at night, driving within Guanajuato can still provide a moderately safe experience.

Is it Safe to Drive in Guanajuato

Dangerous Highways to Avoid:

  1. Federal Highway 45D (Do not travel the southern area between Celaya, Salamanca, and Irapuato due to cartel activity)
  2. Federal Highway 43D near Yuriria

Safer Routes:

  1. State highways around the capital city of Guanajuato itself are considered relatively safe
  2. Federal Highway 57D from Mexico City to Guanajuato capital

You can avoid all these uncertainties by booking a flight from your place of origin to Guanajuato International Airport. As for the state capital Guanajuato City, according to Numbeo, locals and tourists expressed concern about car theft with an index of 46.36, and theft of items from a car with an index of 55.19. Which is considered a moderate level.

Safety in Buses in Guanajuato – Low Risk

Buses are generally a comfortable and safe option for travel around Guanajuato state, though they can sometimes be prone to overcrowding. One challenge is the restricted schedules, often requiring multiple bus transfers to reach your final destination. When commuting around the state, these reputable bus companies are recommended:

  1. Enlaces Terrestres
  2. Transportes Urbanos de Guanajuato (TUG)
  3. Unión de Transportistas de Guanajuato (UTG)
Safety in Buses in Guanajuato
Credit: www.maxibuses.blogspot.com

The main precaution is to remain mindful of your belongings on the buses due to the constrained space, which necessitates placing suitcases and large bags in the undercarriage storage areas. In the state capital city of Guanajuato, the bus system is considered safe overall. The compact city layout allows for easy navigation by public transit.

Is Guanajuato Safe for Terms Taxis in Guanajuato – Low Risk

Taxis represent another prevalent mode of transportation in Guanajuato. Still, opting for licensed, registered taxi providers or utilizing well-known ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Didi is crucial. Taxis are generally safe, although certain drivers may attempt to overcharge visitors or take them on longer routes.

When booking a taxi, it is important to agree on the fare beforehand and ensure the meter is operational. Furthermore, refrain from hailing cabs off the street, particularly during late hours and also for solo travelers.

Is Guanajuato Safe at Night? – Medium Risk

The levels of violent crime and homicide in Guanajuato indicate extra precautions are advisable at night With 2,185 homicides involving firearms reported across Guanajuato in 2023. Gun violence poses a risk after dark, even in the capital. However, the most dangerous areas tend to be away from the well-trafficked tourist zones.

Is Guanajuato Safe at Night

As for the capital of the state, regarding Numbeo data safety walking alone during the night is 49.54, which is moderate. To mitigate risks in the state capital, visitors should stick to properly lit main attractions and plazas at night, especially those who prefer solo travel.

Safe Places to Visit in Guanajuato

According to specialists, you are statistically secure while visiting Guanajuato as long as you confine yourself to popular areas such as San Miguel de Allende. The other city to consider is Guanajuato City, the capital of the state. For now, let’s look at some of these cities in detail, including their crime index:

1. San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is widely regarded as a relatively safe destination for visitors in Guanajuato, including solo female travelers. This popular tourist destination is renowned for its well-preserved colonial architecture. Areas to explore include:

  1. The historic city center is around the central jardín plaza;
  2. The tree-lined Ancha de San Antonio street for shopping;
  3. The lively arts/food districts of Colonia Guadiana and Atolonilco.
San Miguel de Allende

However, standard precautions and avoiding isolated areas are still advisable. According to Numbeo, San Miguel de Allende has a safety index of 49.06, indicating moderate safety concerns. Regarding safety walking alone during daylight 83.54 which is a very high safety value.

2. Guanajuato City

Guanajuato City, the state capital, is commonly regarded as one of the safer urban areas to visit in Guanajuato. Here are some of the places to visit safely in this beautiful city:

  1. El Pípila Monument & Jardín de la Unión;
  2. Callejón del Beso;
  3. Juárez Theater.
Juárez Theater

Thanks to a visible police presence, particularly in the main tourist zones, violence, and organized crime activities appear more limited here compared to other parts of the state. The responsible security measures help contribute to a reduced perception of danger.

Plus, there are fewer poorly lit areas than in other cities. According to Numbeo, Guanajuato City has a safety index of 49.47 which is moderate, and safety walking alone during daylight is 74.55 which means high safety.

Safety Tips for Guanajuato, Mexico

Despite Guanajuato, experiencing higher crime rates compared to other parts of central Mexico, taking sensible precautions allows visitors to relish the city’s dynamic culture more securely. Here are some safety concerns to consider while visiting Guanajuato:

  1. Get comprehensive travel insurance: Comprehensive travel insurance usually covers reimbursements for cancellations, delays, medical costs, evacuation, and lost or damaged luggage. It’s important to get insurance coverage from reputable providers like Mexico Travel Insurance and INF Insurance.
  2. Ask to see a citation if a police officer stops you while driving: If you get stopped by a police officer while driving in Guanajuato, keep calm and present your insurance documentation. Ask for the officer’s name, badge, and patrol vehicle identification number. In addition to this, request for a citation, which is payable at a later date.
  3. Don’t drive at night: Take note that certain areas, such as Celaya, exhibit high crime rates, so do not under any circumstances drive solo at night, especially in remote locales. It’s also essential to exercise vigilance regarding car theft and ensure to park in safe, well-lit areas.
  4. Stay informed about local news and safety advisories: It is important to consult the U.S. State Department’s travel advisories or the equivalent agency in your country for the latest news and information. This will help you stay informed about the most dangerous parts of crime to avoid getting involved in any form of crime.
  5. Use reputable transportation services and avoid hitchhiking: When using public transportation such as buses, avoid late-night travels and remain vigilant of your surroundings and possessions. Moreover, opt for authorized transportation services or apps like Uber when taking a taxi, and avoid hitchhiking to reduce the potential risk of kidnappings.
  6. Stay in well-known tourist areas and avoid walking into unfamiliar neighborhoods: Popular tourist destinations are typically well-patrolled. In Guanajuato City, stick to the compact historic center area around sights like the Jardín de la Unión, Callejón del Beso, Juárez Theater, and Basílica. These lively zones centered on plazas tend to have a high police presence.
  7. Keep emergency contact information handy and inform someone of your travel itinerary: It’s always crucial to keep a list of emergency contacts. Make sure that you have the following numbers in handy when traveling to Guanajuato: General Emergency 911; Local Police +52 (473) 732 0058; and Tourist Assistance +52 800 006 8839. Also, it would be best if you learn to speak Spanish, even the basics.
  8. Be cautious with street food and vendors: While trying street food can be a highlight, exercise caution as there is a risk of food poisoning or fraud from dishonest vendors. Stick to well-established, busy stalls with high turnover and drink bottled water to reduce the chances of being drugged. Avoid vendors selling counterfeit goods like purses or DVDs, as purchasing fakes is illegal, and they may work with criminal elements.

FAQ

Is Guanajuato safe to travel to?

No, it is not safe to travel to Guanajuato currently. The state had an extremely high 3,640 homicides in 2023, along with over 30,000 thefts. The situation appears to be deteriorating further, with January 2024 alone recording 12,572 crime incidents and 377 homicide cases, according to the Criminal Incidence of Common Jurisdiction report.

What is the crime rate in Guanajuato?

With a population of approximately 6.27 million, Guanajuato reported an extremely high 147,311 crimes in 2023. This equates to a staggering crime rate of over 2,347 incidents per 100,000 residents for the year. The situation shows no signs of improving, with January 2024 alone seeing 12,572 crimes, according to recent data.

Is Guanajuato safe at night?

No, Guanajuato cannot be considered safe at night overall according to its moderate crime index of 50.53 on Numbeo. While some well-lit tourist zones may seem safer when crowded, it’s best to avoid being out after dark as much as possible and stick only to the most populous areas if unavoidable, using maximum caution.

Conclusion

Let’s revise: is Guanajuato Safe? According to official reports, Guanajuato recorded 147,311 alleged crimes in 2023 alone, with January 2024 already seeing 12,572 incidents. These numbers highlight the rampant insecurity plaguing the region, driven by drug trade, theft, and soaring homicide rates far exceeding global averages.

While popular tourist destinations like Guanajuato City (Safety Index 49.47) and San Miguel de Allende (49.06) are relatively safer, venturing into less crowded areas should be cautiously done. The U.S. Government has issued a Level 3 “Reconsider Travel” advisory for Guanajuato, specifically citing the high number of murders in the southern region associated with cartel violence, where U.S. citizens have been victims of kidnapping.

When visiting, hire professional guides and drivers, avoid isolated roads and public transit, and never resist robbery attempts, which can turn deadly. Be hyper-vigilant at all times, as violent crime can occur even in tourist zones. Consider postponing travel if safety is a major concern.

Guanajuato’s beauty is undeniable, but its current security crisis demands the utmost precautions to navigate the state’s dangers. Only those willing to follow strict security protocols should undertake travel to this high-risk region until the situation stabilizes.