Mexico City (a.k.a. CDMX or Chilangolandia), is one of the world’s biggest cities and the most populous in North America. There’s so much to see and experience in this place, from their rich culture to the city’s beautiful tourist sites.
Mexico City is safe to visit, provided you take extreme precautions. With a population exceeding 20 million, crime, murders, and petty theft are common occurrences. So, it’s only fitting that you worry about your safety when visiting.
Is Mexico City Safe to Visit?
Mexico City is safe to visit. However, there are some concerns about natural disasters, crimes, and scams in the city. CDMX is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, flooding, hurricanes, and tsunamis.
These calamities happen due to the city’s extensive coastline, complex landscape, and perhaps the climatic setting. Your biggest concern should be the earthquakes.
As a first-time visitor, you need to be very careful with your belongings since petty thieves are everywhere in the city. It’s advisable to leave your valuables in a hotel before exploring the city’s attractions.
Crime in Mexico City
Like any other highly populated city, many crimes happen in CDMX. For this reason, police officers are almost everywhere you visit, ready to take charge in case anything happens.
The most common crimes in Mexico City include carjacking, robberies, homicides, and kidnapping. These crimes are only prevalent in certain areas and not in others.
If you avoid the crime spots, nothing will prevent you from having fun exploring the city. Although CDMX experiences crime, the rates are lower than the rest of the country and some parts of the US.
Here are safety tips to avoid being a victim of crimes in Mexico City:
- Don’t wander alone at night since most crimes in the city happen during this time.
- Understand the city’s laws to avoid getting in trouble with the authorities.
- Avoid showing people you have money. Doing so will attract robbers, scammers, and petty thieves.
- Take it low on the tourist appearance. Looking so much like a tourist makes you vulnerable
- Don’t explore the city wearing your expensive jewelry or carrying other valuables to avoid being robbed.
- Avoid walking on dark or empty streets.
- Avoid hot crime spots and neighborhoods such as Tepito and Iztapalapa.
- Be aware of your surroundings
- If attacked, please don’t fight back or resist.
- Only take authorized taxis like “sitio” or “radio.”
- Learn a few Spanish phrases and common words to avoid being a crime target.
- Do your research well about a neighborhood before visiting.
- Female tourists should avoid walking alone either during the day or at night.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
As much as you want to explore Mexico City, there are some bad neighborhoods you should entirely avoid. You’re likely to experience pickpocketing, kidnapping, robbery, rape, car parts theft, and carjacking in the following places.
Tepito is the city’s black market and a haven for pickpockets and petty thieves. Leave all your valuables in a hotel or lodging before visiting this place.
The most alarming statistics of Iztapalapa are the levels of rape and violent crimes. Even homicides and drug trafficking crime rates are high here, especially in La Joya, a part of this neighborhood.
Colonia del Valle
This neighborhood has many scenic spots, but kidnappings prevent many visitors from setting foot.
The Arena Mexico, used for professional wrestling, is one of the biggest events tourists look forward to visiting Mexico City. However, the host of this great event, Doctores, isn’t all that safe. Be cautious of pickpockets and petty thieves when traveling from your hotel to the event.
This is the biggest slum in Mexico City, and like any other slum, there are crimes here. Homicide, kidnapping, pickpocketing, robbery, name it. You will encounter all these in Ciudad Neza.
Other bad neighborhoods to avoid in Mexico City are Mercado Merced and La Lagunilla. Avoid visiting these places alone or without your local tour guide since you risk being a victim of many crimes.
Common Scams in Mexico City
When planning to visit a new place, be aware of some of the eventualities that may befall you. Doing so ensures you stay vigilant at all times.
Here are some common scams in Mexico City, mainly from luggage helpers, taxi drivers, and random people in crowded areas.
One of the common scams in Mexico City happens in taxis. The driver may overcharge you if they notice you’re a tourist. A taxi driver may hold you hostage and force you to withdraw all your money from an ATM and surrender valuables in a scam known as express kidnapping.
Although express kidnapping is rare in Mexico City today, it still happens. For your safety, it’s better that you order Uber when heading out to explore the city’s beauty.
Several fake ATMs in Mexico City will steal your money if you dare insert your card into them. If you need cash urgently, it’s a lot safer that you go to the bank and, by all means, avoid unmarked ATMs. Withdrawing whatever money you need at the airport ATMs is also an excellent idea.
You’re most likely to meet scammers in public and crowded places. Someone may come asking for money or initiate a conversation when they see you alone. The best thing is to avoid them and walk away.
Natural Disasters in Mexico City
The most common natural disaster in Mexico City is an earthquake. However, other disasters like hurricanes, volcano eruptions, floods, and landslides have also happened in the past.
Mexico, located in one of the earth’s subduction zones, experiences many earthquakes and landslides. The two plates beneath, the Cocos tectonic and continental edge of the North American plates, come together and ride against each other, causing earthquakes.
You never know when a major earthquake may hit the city, so you should always be prepared for it. The last one happened on 20th May 2017 in Puebla. And, as always, get travel insurance to cover your stay in Mexico City.
Things to Consider
Below are things you should consider doing or not doing when you visit Mexico City.
Top ten fun things to do:
- Consider visiting La Ciudadela, the biggest artisanal market in Mexico City, for all your handcrafted products in different colors
- Have a 360-degree view of the beautiful Mexico City from the 65 meters high Revolution Monument
- If you love arts, you’ll have the best day of your life visiting the Palace of Fine Arts
- The floating gardens of Xochimilco are an excellent place to catch some fun
- If you’re looking for a place to exercise and relax, go to Chapultepec Forest
- Go to La Lagunilla for some great antiques
- You can also visit Cineteca Nacional to watch some exciting films
- Learn the history of Mexico from the National Anthropology Museum
- You’d want to visit Plaza del Zócalo, Mexico City’s main square, for some fun
- Book a food tour to taste some of Mexico’s cuisines, from street food to posh restaurants
Top ten things you shouldn’t do in Mexico City as a visitor:
- Don’t walk around flaunting your valuables
- Don’t use metro services during rush hour
- It’s illegal to drink or get drunk in the street, so you should avoid it
- Don’t explore the city carrying vital documents such as visas and passports
- Don’t visit restaurants near tourist attractions to avoid getting overcharged
- Don’t share personal information with strangers
- Don’t walk downtown alone at night
- Don’t go alone in bad neighborhoods
- Don’t fight back if attacked
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the areas to avoid in Mexico City as a tourist?
The places to avoid when you visit Mexico City include Iztapalapa, Tepito, Doctores, Colonia del Valle, and Ciudad Neza. These areas are famous for most of the crimes in Mexico City. If you’re a female traveler, you need to avoid Iztapalapa because rape cases and sexual assaults are at a high rate. Visiting with a local tour guide could help to some extent.
How safe is it to walk in Mexico City at night?
It’s not safe to walk in Mexico City at night, but some areas like Centro Historico and Roma are pretty secure. If you must explore CDMX’s nightlife, do so in groups to scare scammers, robbers, and thieves away.
Is Mexico City dangerous for travelers?
Mexico City can be dangerous for travelers, especially at night in some areas. Petty crimes, kidnappings, and scams are prevalent in the city’s tourist sites. Take extreme precautions and be aware of your surroundings whenever you hang out.
Is it safe to take a taxi in Mexico City?
Taking a taxi in Mexico City is safe, but not all taxis are safe. Before boarding one, ensure the driver has an official ID and watch the speedometer while inside. However, the safest way to ride from one place to another is through an Uber. Using an Uber App will also ensure you don’t get overcharged because the cost of your trip appears the moment you key in your destination.
What is the safest transport mode to reach Mexico City?
The safest transportation mode to reach Mexico City is via a direct flight to the Mexico City International Airport. Security cameras, police officers, and security guards make the airport relatively safe. From there, take an Uber to your hotel or lodging.
So, Is Mexico City Safe?
Mexico City is safe, but only if you take safety precautions to avoid risks like petty theft and scams. Whether at night or during the day, never explore unsafe neighborhoods alone.
As long as you follow the rules, remain vigilant of your surroundings, and are smart, you will enjoy your stay in CDMX.