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Is Yucatan Safe in 2024? Mexican Government Crime Reports

Is Yucatan safe for travelers? Generally regarded as the safest in Mexico, the Yucatan state is home to tropical paradise, unique fauna, and historic Mayan sites. The stunning beaches in Playa del Carmen and Merida, are 2 two tourist spots in the entire Yucatan Peninsula. Safety warnings from the U.S. State Department suggest tourists on spring break only exercise normal precautions when visiting the island. But what are the safety considerations that you should be aware of being a traveler?

Keep reading and learn the level and variety of crime in Yucatan. Uncover which areas you should avoid and which ones will provide you with the best travel experience. Furthermore, this guide sheds light on which transportation mode will suit you best along with 7 safety tips to make your journey hassle-free. Let’s dive into the details!

Is Yucatan Safe to Visit in 2024 –  Key Takeaways

  1. Cartel Violence Risk – LOW
  2. Kidnappings Risk – LOW
  3. Fraud Risk – LOW
  4. Petty Theft Risk – LOW
  5. Level of Danger When Driving – LOW
  6. Level of Danger in Taxi – LOW
  7. Level of Danger in Buses – LOW
  8. Bad Areas – South Merida, Champoton
  9. Safe Places – Merida, Valladolid, Chichén Itzá
  10. Number of crimes in the Yucatan state compared to other states in Mexico:
There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Yucatan state, which include tourist areas in:Chichen Itza, Merida, Uxmal, and Valladolid..US Department of State

Is the Yucatan Peninsula Safe? Exploring the Criminal Activities in Yucatan

According to an official report published by the Mexican government, there were a total of 2,173,220 crimes committed in Mexico in 2023. Out of all those crimes, Yucatan was the second safest state out of 32 with just 4,280 crimes done. Even now in 2024, Yucatan is still the 2nd safest with just 399 crimes recorded in January.

Exploring the Criminal Activities in Yucatan
credit: www.gob.mx

Also, U.S. government personnel are free to visit Yucatan and its famous tourist destinations. However, that does not mean there is no danger at all. Let’s learn about 4 common crimes and their situation in Yucatan Mexico.

Risk of Cartel Violence – Low

Yucatan itself isn’t in the direct route of drug traffickers and has thus been safe. It also has a very low homicide rate of just 2.5/100,000 people. Moreover, the Government of Mexico also reports that the total number of reported homicide cases in the area was 10 in January 2024 and 165 in 2023.

These stats are quite low if we compare them with that of Chihuahua with 2,069 cases. This report concludes that there’s no major threat related to cartels in this region and you can enjoy your trip peacefully.

Yucatán, the southeastern state known for its Mayan ruins, has a homicide rate more than 90% lower than the national average.Bloomberg, New York Based Data Analysis and Media Company

Risk of Kidnappings – Low

The Government of Mexico released a comprehensive report of the crimes committed in each state in 2023 and their types. Incredibly, for the whole of 2023, there was not one single reported case of kidnapping in Yucatan. This extends to data for 2024, with not a single reported kidnapping in this year as of yet.

Risk of Kidnappings

To get the latest news regarding a kidnapping, we had to go back to 2022. According to Yucatan Times, On Thursday, May 5th, two guys attempted to abduct a young woman in Tixcacal Opichen but failed. The supposed victim utilized social media to report the incident and authorities tightened security even further. There has not been a kidnapping report since then which indicates that you can safely explore without the fear of being abducted.

Risk of Fraud – Low

Yucatan is one of the safest states in Mexico, however, like any other place it has its share of fraudulent activity. Luckily, it’s still considerably less than other places with just 134 reported crimes related to fraud in the whole of 2023, as per the Government of Mexico. I agree the risk is small, however, you should still be aware of the types of scams for responsible travel:

Risk of Fraud
  1. Tour guides: Make sure you only work with certified tour guides at all times. False guides don’t have the right credentials to work. Not only you’ll have a mediocre travel experience but also there will be a risk of planned kidnapping.
  2. Overcharging taxis: You have the option of hailing taxis in Yucatan. But you can end up paying too much if you’re not familiar with the region. To upsell you on more expensive routes, some taxi drivers may even take you down unneeded ones. Therefore, before you begin the ride, turn on the meter. Also, when hailing a cab, it’s a good idea to map out your route so you can estimate how long the journey will be.
  3. Time-share scams: This fraud is usually common in vacation properties, which are used for recreational purposes. Many travelers get a time-share of these properties, which makes you a temporary wonder of the establishment. Scammers may use high-pressure tactics to force you to buy such time-share properties. Thus, you end up buying a defaulted property. Therefore, always use common sense and read the contract before signing.

Risk of Petty Theft – Low

The overall risk of theft is quite low in the Yucatan Peninsula. This is supported by the 2023 Mexican Government report which documented just 484 theft-related crimes in the year. Particularly in busy places, little crimes like bag stealing or pickpocketing.

Areas that You Need to Avoid While Traveling to Yucatan

As explained earlier, Yucatan is overall safe. However, there are some areas that you specifically take care of:

1. South Merida

This is the least safe part of the city. This area is located in the south of Merida International Airport and includes neighborhoods such as Santa Cruz Palomeque and Juan Pablo II. The place has higher levels of violence and robbery.

South Merida

2. Champoton

It is a coastal region of Yucatan. Champoton is known for its natural attractions such as the Mayan ruins of Edzna and the Biosphere Reserve of Los Petenes. However, the area has been a hotspot for car theft. In February 2024, a man was caught and beaten by a mob in an attempt to steal a car, as per The Yucatan News.

Champoton

Is it Safe to Drive in Yucatan Mexico? Risk Level: Low

Yucatan Mexico is quite safe for driving. Neither kidnappings nor night driving in Yucatán should be a concern of yours. When it comes to the safety of the roads and highways, the majority of them are kept in excellent to good shape. You need not worry about your safety when driving along these roads because the signposts are good.

Safe to Drive

There is now no problem with carjackings and items from your car being stolen. This is because:

  1. The organized crime index for both in Merida ranges from just 17.8 to 25.8 out of 100, as stated by Numbeo.
  2. For the city of Valladolid, which is located in the eastern part of Yucatan, the crime index according to Numbeo ranges from 2.3 to 6.8. This is about as safe as it can get.

Is it Safe in Taxis in Yucatan? Risk Level: Low

One of the major modes of transportation in Yucatan is through taxis. Local taxi services have their official documents and markings you can use to identify them.

Safe in Taxis

Yucatan also has a massive population that uses the taxi-hailing apps Uber and Didi. These applications allow you to share your ride details, which enhances the safety of your already secure journeys. Some reputable taxi companies in Yucatan are:

  1. Yucatan Connection;
  2. Merida Elite;
  3. Transportes Tourix.

Is it Safe in Buses in Yucatan? Risk Level: Low

Since there is no metro service in Yucatan, the only major public transportation available in Yucatan is buses. They are generally considered safe as have security personnel and GPS tracking. Now let’s see what kind of buses operate in Yucatan:

  1. The ADO buses that run from the Caribbean Coast and Merida around the island are second to none. Comfy seats, Wi-Fi, safety belts, and a simple app, ADO Mobile used to book are all part of their service.
Safe in Buses
  1. In recent years, there has been a remarkable improvement in the quality of local buses. The new Va-y-Ven buses in Merida are an integral part of the growing public transportation network that connects the city to the surrounding pueblos. Wheelchair and visually impaired-friendly buses are available for purchase at any Oxxo.

The Safest Places in Yucatan

Yucatan is known as one of the safest states not just in Mexico, but in both Central and South America. Some of the most secure places in the state are its major cities, Merida and Valladolid. The famous ancient city of Chichén Itzá is another world-famous, incredibly safe spot. Let’s explore them in detail:

The Safest Places in Yucatan

1. Merida

The capital of Yucatán, Merida, is ranked the 30 safest cities in the world in 2024 by the prominent business magazine Ceoworld. Also with a crime index of just 25.3 on Numbeo, you can explore the city without any worry. A top attraction you can’t miss is Gran Museo del Mundo Maya. It is a museum that does a wonderful job of showcasing the old Mayan civilization.

2. Valladolid

Valladolid is the safest city, with gorgeous colonial architecture and an extremely relaxed vibe. Valladolid is incredibly safe, as Numbeo shows its crime index to be 8.3, which is incredibly low. One distinctive feature of Valladolid is the presence of the Cenote Zaci, which is located in the very heart of the town. Cenotes are sinkholes that contain naturally occurring underground water and are suitable for swimming. They are exclusive to the Yucatán Peninsula.

Valladolid

3. Chichén Itzá

Chichen Itza, the perfect day excursion from Merida, ought to be on every traveler’s must-see list; after all, it is one of the world’s New Seven Wonders. Just a 1.5-hour drive from Merida are these much-anticipated Mayan ruins. And just like Merida, they are kept incredibly safe by the local authorities.

Safest Practices When Eating and Drinking in Yucatan

Yucatan is one of those areas that have contaminated water. Most of the water in the area comes from cenotes. However, a study by Estudio mentions that almost 83% of these cenotes are contaminated. Most of the pollutants include fecal coliforms, sewage water, and bacterial contamination.

If you are in Yucatan, you can save yourself from these risks as per the following instructions:

1. Water

Purchase bottled water. If you spot a water purification system in public, you can be sure they will have clean drinking water. Furthermore, in restaurants and on the streets, you may get a variety of refreshing drinks, ice, and juices that are safe to consume.

Safest Practices When Drinking in Yucatan

2. Food

Food will be safe as it is often cooked with filtered water. Therefore, it will be safe. Still, to be assured, find restaurants that provide food safety certificates such as FDA-SENASICA-Cofepris Food Safety Partnership or BRC Global Standards. Taco stalls throughout Yucatan serve Panuchos Yucatecos often. Onions, chicken, lettuce, tomato sauce, avocado, and cheese are piled on top of the refried beans. You may eat them as a meal or as a snack.

General Safety Tips For Your Protection in Yucatan, Mexico

Allow me to share some standard operating procedures that will ensure your vacation to Yucatan is safe and memorable:

  1. Travel insurance: A decent policy will cover car expenses up to $300,000 and other unforeseen events like lost or stolen luggage, repatriation, and outdoor activities like trekking. When you need help in Mexico, the first thing they will ask for is your policy number, so write it down. The notable insurance company is MexInsurance.
  2. Purchasing drugs: Do not under any circumstances purchase any sort of illegal drugs. Penalties for drug offenses are strict, and convicted offenders can expect large fines and jail sentences of up to 25 years.
  3. Police officer scam: There have been many personal anecdotes regarding scams run by fake and real police officers. They stop you and hold on to your passports or any other I.D. and refuse to return them until you pay them a bribe. The key to avoiding this is to ask for their badge number and other proof of them being a real police officer.
  4. Hot climate: If you plan to go to Yucatan in the summer, be prepared for a hot and sticky climate. The temperature can soar to around 34 C. This can be quite dangerous for tourists who are from cooler climates. For that reason always keep a water bottle with you and wear a cap at all times as well.
  5. Follow local news and Mexico’s safety tips: To prevent getting in trouble with the authorities or even being arrested, familiarise yourself with the local laws and customs before you go. For more information on the regulations of Yucatan, please refer to the travel website of the State Department.
  6. Transportation services: Get on the bus by contacting the hotel ahead of time or placing an order online. A safe option is the Yucatan bus service. Uber is another safe option, as you will have access to your drivers’ details, Additionally, you can share your ride with a family member or friend so they can keep an eye on your whereabouts digitally.
  7. Emergency contacts and itinerary: Before leaving, share a copy of your itinerary with trustworthy individuals who can monitor your location. Maintain constant communication with your connections. Maintain a list of emergency contacts like 844 528 6611 or 911 for the fastest response, embassy numbers, and travel insurance information.

FAQ

Why is Yucatán safer than the rest of Mexico?

Yucatan is safer than the rest of Mexico. The reason is that Yucatán helps police with housing, health care, and university grants for their children, among other benefits that aren’t standard in Mexico. It also has no cartel violence.

Is Yucatán safe for solo female travelers?

Yes, Yucatan is safe for solo female travelers. Some random acts of harassment on the street may occur, but sticking to crowded and tourist areas may help you avoid that.

Is the Yucatan Safe at Night?

Yes, Yucatan is safe at night. Its cities like Merida and Valladolid have a high safety rating when it comes to walking at night. Merida has a safety index of 79.12 while Valladolid has a safety index of 95.5 according to Numbeo.

Is Yucatan a safe destination for travelers?

Yes, Yucatan is a safe destination for travelers. It is one of the safest states in not only Mexico but in all of South, Central, and North America. The stunning beaches in Progreso and the famous Mayan ruins are spectacular.

Conclusion

Let’s sum up, is the Yucatan peninsula safe? With just 4,280 crimes committed in all of 2023 and 399 in January 2024, it is the safest Mexican state you can visit. Cartel violence is virtually non-existent, as Yucatan is not on the drug trade route. Additionally, crimes like kidnappings, theft, and fraud are controlled very efficiently by authorities.

However, areas like Champoton and South Merida can be dangerous due to the risk of pocket-picking and shady neighborhoods respectively, so stay away from them. Meanwhile, visiting Merida and the wonderful Chichen Itza will complete your travel experience.

Yucatan is filled with many top attractions, such as visiting the ancient Mayan ruins, going for a swim at the beaches, and sampling the delicious local food. All methods of transportation, including driving, buses, and taxis are very safe in Yucatan. Also, don’t forget some vital safety tips· Staying in tourist hotspots, getting reliable travel insurance, and keeping emergency numbers close at hand will ensure you have the best travel experience.