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Is Belize Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

Is Belize Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

You’ll find everything you could want in Belize, including stunning beaches, jungles and rainforests, unique culture, unlimited adventure, beautiful reefs, friendly people, excellent cuisine, and unspoiled Maya ruins.

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world’s second-largest, is also located there.

Although it has a relatively good reputation relative to other developed countries, Belize routinely ranks high due to border disputes with Guatemala and rising drug and people trafficking into Mexico through Belize.

This might make you wonder, is Belize safe to visit? Well, worry no more because we’ll cover everything you need to know to have a safe, well-planned, and responsible vacation to this gorgeous island. Read on to learn more!

Is Belize Safe to Visit?

Photo of a gorgeous beach with boats and trees for a piece on Is Belize Safe

Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock

Although travelers generally feel safe in Belize, security is always a priority. As is the case in the rest of the globe, certain regions of the nation are riskier than others.

Theft and robbery from purses and backpacks, as well as scams, are the top two safety concerns for tourists. However, tourists need not worry about these issues since they are easily preventable.

As a tourist, you should always be on the lookout for possible dangers and do your best to avoid them. If you use common sense and prudence, however, you should be able to visit Belize without issue.

The United States issued a Level Two advisory, telling visitors to exercise increased caution when visiting Belize. Due to a high rate of violent crime, Canada advises tourists to exercise a high degree of caution in Belize.

Crime in Belize

Despite its tiny size, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime consistently ranks Belize as one of the top five nations with the highest murder rates. According to the most recent statistics, the murder rate was 29 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2021.

In the same year, at least 125 persons were murdered out of a total population of 430,191. This number is actually shocking for such a small area.

With these numbers, Belize joins Mexico, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and South Africa among the most dangerous nations by murder rate. Armed robberies, home invasions, and sexual assaults are common, even in broad daylight and tourist hotspots.

Mugging

Most homicides in the nation stem from turf wars between competing gangs. More than forty different organized gangs, with 900 to 1400 members, have been documented in Belize City, although only eight seem very active.

These eight gangs are all direct descendants of the legendary US Crips and Bloods. Targeted violent crime against foreigners is uncommon. But when they do happen, they are quite unpleasant, to the point that it’s best to avoid the areas of the streets where they occur altogether.

Pickpocketing

Man in a hoodie picking the pocket of a blonde woman for a piece on Is Belize Safe

DavideAngelini/Shutterstock

Tourists visiting Belize should be aware of the risk of pickpocketing and take necessary precautions while out and about. Spring break and winter vacations are peak times for petty theft because of the influx of visitors. At such a moment, you should use heightened caution.

Scams

Be wary of scams in Belize. Always verify your loose change and never pay for anything in full. As much as possible, try to negotiate prices in advance. When near an ATM, keep your guard up and watch out for any distractions.

Children are skilled petty thieves, so be wary of them because they may attempt to distract you.

Roadway Robbery

The Belizean public transportation system is not terrible. But, be sure to only ride in legal taxis, identified by their green license plates. In Belize, be wary of road robberies.

Thefts at gunpoint on highways are very uncommon but do sometimes occur, mainly at night. However, many tourists have trouble-free trips, particularly to the Caribbean islands off Belize’s coast, where crimes are less common and often less violent.

Crimes of this kind often target out-of-town visitors or well-off locals. While visitors to Belize are seldom the target of criminal activity, there has been an uptick in crime in popular tourist spots in recent years.

The considerable gap between the wealthy and the poor is said to be to blame. The reality is that petty crime ranks high among Belize’s most serious threats.

Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods

Belize is no different from any other country, where certain regions have a more significant crime rate than others. You may find them in the neighborhoods south of Belize City and near Guatemala’s border. Tourists should steer clear of these areas as much as possible.

However, keep a group with you if you need to visit these areas. It’s advisable to hire a reliable guide or go in a group. The northern part of Belize City is the best place to stroll about for safety and comfort.

Here you can discover most of the city’s restaurants and nightlife options. Much of Belize is rural. Therefore, the country’s crime rate is much lower there. The forested parts of Belize, especially those along the border with Guatemala, are known to be home to violent criminal gangs.

However, the Belize Defense Force routinely monitors these neighborhoods, and violent crimes are infrequent. Even though the area looks secure, it is wise to proceed with care while visiting a new location.

Finally, don’t go trekking or spend time in isolated regions without telling someone where you’re going and when you expect to return. Keep a mobile phone handy in case of an unexpected event.

Worst Places in Belize

Dilapidated buildings in San Pedro pictured with men walking along the alleyway for a piece titled Is Belize Safe to Visit

San Pedro, Belize – 12/3/2019: Buildings street in central district of San Pedro/Photo Spirit/Shutterstock

Most of Belize is worth seeing since it provides excellent opportunities to learn about the local environment and culture. However, it’s not worth taking the chance in certain places because of the higher threat.

Here are some of the more dangerous areas of Belize:

  • South Side of Belize City: The southern part of Belize City has a long history of being a dangerous neighborhood. It’s best to avoid this area since gangs rule the streets.
  • Western Border of Belize: The region is used by drug and people smugglers as a passageway, so be prepared for potentially dangerous encounters. Additionally, a boundary dispute exists between Belize and Guatemala, which has persisted for some time.
  • Dark, Empty, or Remote Areas: These make it harder to get away quickly in case you’re attacked. Furthermore, deserted streets are risky since there are fewer people around to witness crimes, reducing the likelihood that you will obtain help if you are a victim.

If you ever find yourself in Belize, it’s best to steer clear of the places mentioned above since the police there aren’t prepared to deal with the country’s alarmingly high crime rate.

Safest Places in Belize

It’s essential to do some homework and be careful while picking a place to stay in Belize. You wouldn’t want your vacation ruined by getting lost in a dangerous neighborhood.

Here are some of the safest places in Belize to consider:

  • Caye Caulker: Caye Caulker is a little island in Belize’s Caribbean Sea. Those on a tighter budget also visit due to the laid-back vibe and low costs. Paradise’s luxuries are within reach, yet you won’t need a fortune to travel well here.
  • Corozal Town: Corozal Town is the most northern municipality in Belize. Due to many foreign residents, this area is often regarded as among the safest in Belize. The most tranquil and laid-back place in the nation. However, pickpocketing is still a risk.
  • San Pedro Town: Even though a high tourist population usually means a higher crime rate, San Pedro Town is far safer than the capital. Pickpocketing and other forms of minor theft are the only real dangers you face in this area. But this is easily avoided if you take care of your possessions.

Things to Consider When Visiting Belize

Tourists likely won’t encounter many problems, but taking precautions is always the best idea. Here are the things you should do when visiting Belize:

  • Exercise extra caution while using an ATM or a bank.
  • Just give the stuff to the thief if you are being robbed. Nothing you own is worth risking your life for.
  • Beware where you put your credit card. Cover the reader while entering your PIN, and check your statements often to be sure the transactions were made with your permission.
  • Watch out for pickpockets. Stash cash and credit cards in front pockets and keep clutches near the waist.
  • Put money and other valuables in a hotel safe and never leave them in plain sight in a parked vehicle. Don’t let anybody get their hands on your valuables while you’re behind the wheel.
  • Always ensure your hotel room is locked. Attend only to guests in the hotel lobby.
  • Use the utmost care while driving at night, especially on major roads. The roads are in terrible condition and might be dangerous.
  • In out-of-the-way places, keeping your gas tank full is especially important.
  • Share your planned travel plans and itinerary with a close friend or family member.
  • Pedestrians must always use extreme caution while crossing the street since cars do not stop for them.
  • If you wish to explore a forest, it’s best to do it with a guide. Hiring a guide might lessen the chances of getting lost since they know the best routes.
  • Get travel insurance. Travel insurance will cover the costs associated with these situations if you are sick or injured, your luggage is stolen, your flight is delayed, or you’re a victim of a natural disaster.

You may end up saving a lot of money by making this investment.

Things NOT to Do When Visiting Belize

Here are the things you shouldn’t do when visiting Belize:

  • Don’t appear like you need help navigating. Doing so will identify you as a tourist and a wealthy target.
  • Avoid wearing in a way that draws attention to or implies your level of affluence.
  • It’s best not to have any cash with you at all times. Carrying around large sums of money or your whole budget for the trip in cash is dangerous. You may have trouble getting home for a while if it is taken.
  • Avoid venturing out on foot in isolated parts of the city. Fewer people equal fewer potential eyewitnesses.
  • Avoid driving after dark, especially on rural roads.
  • Never get drunk. Staying sober is the best way to avoid trouble with the law.
  • In Belize, visitors are urged to stay off the public transportation buses.
  • Keep away from drugs. Avoid purchasing anything from them. Additionally, the consequences of drug possession are severe in Belize. So, be careful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Caye Caulker in Belize with a dirt road in the middle of the town for a piece titled Is Belize Safe

Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Belize:

Is Belize Safe to Visit?

For the most part, a trip to Belize is a risk-free endeavor. Crime rates in much of Belize are low, but the capital Belize City has a bad name because of gang violence. Since this is the case, most visitors avoid Belize City and explore the country’s mainland.

Is Belize safer than Mexico?

To most people, it seems like Belize is a safer option than Mexico. While the crime rate is very low in the nation, it is always vital to be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Avoid wandering about at night unless necessary, and stick to well-lit, busy places if you must.

What is Belize known for?

The jungles and rainforests of Belize are renowned for their untouched beauty. Nearly half of Belize is forested, and most of the jungle is under government protection.

Is Belize safe for solo female travelers?

If you’re a woman traveling alone for the first time, Belize is a safe destination. But still exercise caution. Keep your wits about you and carry a downloadable map to ensure you can always find your way back.

When should you visit Belize?

January through May, the dry season, is the ideal time to explore Belize. Although mild temperatures are typical throughout the nation, the weather you experience will be unique to your location. The Cayo District and the Cayes should have bright, sunny days.

Are the taxis safe in Belize?

When traveling late at night, taxis are the most secure option. Inquire at the front desk of your hotel about arranging a cab for your stay. Take only licensed taxis.

What language is spoken in Belize?

Although English is the national language, most Belizeans are fluent in a creole patois as well. In Belize, the Maya speak three languages: Mopán, Kekch, and Yucatec.

So, Is Belize Safe to Visit?

Generally, traveling to Belize is a very risk-free experience for tourists. However, some things are essential to know before you embark on your journey. Regardless of your destination, constantly checking your environment is the single most crucial safety tip anybody can give you. Happy travels!