Is Mexico safe??

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Is Mexico safe??

Postby blues_traveler » Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:39 pm

I was thinking about taking the Mexico Monarch Butterfly Trail tour. But I'm concerned about safety issues in Mexico, with all the news about tourists being kidnapped or even killed. Has anyone been on this tour? Or has anyone been to Mexico (specifically, places more inland - not Cancun) recently? Can somebody provide more insight into the safety of the country for tourists?
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby JaliscoJudy » Sun Jan 03, 2010 7:28 pm

I lived in Mexico for five years and traveled around a lot. In that time, I never found myself in a situation where I felt unsafe. I was extorted by the police a couple of times, but that's not uncommon in many places in the world where police are seriously underpaid. Since you won't be driving, you won't have a problem. I've been to see the butterflies and it was an unforgettable experience.

<rant on> I feel terrible for Mexico with all the bad press it's gotten over the past couple of years. Between the H1N1 scare and the drug violence in the border towns, a lot of tourists have been scared off. After H1N1, tourism was down 70 percent! Can you imagine? People are literally starving because of the over-zealous reporting of every single bad thing that happens in Mexico. If other countries got the same negative coverage that Mexico's been getting, I think people might think twice about visiting a lot of countries, which would be equally as tragic as what has happened in Mexico.</rant off>

I just looked at the itinerary for your trip. It's a WONDERFUL trip. Morelia is a lovely colonial city and very traditional. Patzcuaro is the center for many types of hand crafts. There are also some ruins there and a lovely lake where the fishermen use butterfly nets. The national park in Uruapan is worth a visit and you'll love the trip to the volcano (haven't been to the other options). The town of Paracho, not too far from the volcano, is famous for its hand-made guitars. They are beautiful. Even if you don't make it to Paracho, you'll find them available in Uruapan. You'll see a side of Mexico that you didn't know existed. (Cancun and Puerto Vallarta are NOT Mexico, IMO.) And, of course, the butterflies. What could be more fun that hiking with millions of butterflies? They'll be on your fellow travelers, on your arm, on your head, on your camera, everywhere. It's pure happiness. Really.

Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world with many world-class attractions. There have been kidnappings there (not just tourists) and you have to use the same caution you would in any large city. I have friends that liked Mexico City so much that they rented a place there for four months. They told me that taking the underground was great. I wouldn't hesitate to visit again as long as I don't have to drive there. (If you have time, take an extra day and visit the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, just outside the city -- it's unique site and well worth the time.) In places like Mexico City, I stay in the tourist areas (they have lots of tourist police in the Zona Rosa) and out of the bars. I turn in pretty early too. Works for me.

I really hope you go on the trip. You will love it.
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby AdamfromCanada » Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:02 pm

blues_traveler wrote:I was thinking about taking the Mexico Monarch Butterfly Trail tour. But I'm concerned about safety issues in Mexico, with all the news about tourists being kidnapped or even killed. Has anyone been on this tour? Or has anyone been to Mexico (specifically, places more inland - not Cancun) recently? Can somebody provide more insight into the safety of the country for tourists?


Like everywhere else in the world, you have to use common sense. Most tourists that get in to real trouble do something stupid to put themselves there. It's probably best if you're wandering around foreign cities not to get smashed out of your mind, and not to use mind-altering substances that affect your ability to think and act rationally.

You can really get mugged anywhere in the world, but the best precautions against that sort of thing are don't wander around in places you don't know. Take cabs, stick together in groups, stick to well-populated areas. There's possible danger in a trip anywhere on the planet, but if you're smart, and sensible, your chances of finding that danger are relatively low. And on a tour, you're odds are even lower, as you have a group with you.
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby JaliscoJudy » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:04 pm

Most tourists that get in to real trouble do something stupid to put themselves there.


Good advice, AdamfromCanada.

Most stories I have heard from people who had problems in Mexico begin like this: "We were drinking in this bar when..."

Some people seem to leave their good sense at home when they travel, even to the point of doing things and taking risks that they would never do and take in their own country.
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby AdamfromCanada » Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:54 pm

JaliscoJudy wrote:
Most tourists that get in to real trouble do something stupid to put themselves there.


Good advice, AdamfromCanada.

Most stories I have heard from people who had problems in Mexico begin like this: "We were drinking in this bar when..."

Some people seem to leave their good sense at home when they travel, even to the point of doing things and taking risks that they would never do and take in their own country.


Absolutely. I remember hearing about the one Canadian killed in Mexico a couple years ago after falling/getting thrown off a balcony. And as the story unfolded, he was coked up, drunk to the point where he was thrown out of a Mexican bar and had been antagonistic throughout the evening. You feel bad for his family, but you can't pin the blame for that kind of incident on the country he was travelling in.

That's not to say you can't enjoy a few beverages when abroad, but either know your limits and drink very responsibly, or if you are getting drunk, make sure that you are somewhere relatively safe, such as in a resort, at the campground where you're staying, etc. And then even so, try to be conscientious and mindful of others, and at all costs, avoid confrontation.
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby eric » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:19 am

Hi,

I have just completed trip CAM. I think the most dangerous thing was walking on wet limestone steps!

Regards

Eric / London / England
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby sabbatical1 » Sun Feb 21, 2010 3:23 am

I personally know a friend who was kidnapped by a taxi (that was not called from the Hotel) and thought it was an isolated incident.... It apparently is NOT an isolated incident as it's on our government site warning us about crimes in mexico city. Check out for yourself. I am contemplating the Great Central American Journey: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala Tour, but still really worried about the Mexico safety.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_t ... s_970.html

Crime in Mexico City: In Mexico City, the most frequently reported crimes involving tourists are taxi robbery (see below), armed robbery, pick-pocketing, and purse-snatching. In several cases, tourists have reported that men in uniform perpetrated the crimes, stopping vehicles and seeking money, or assaulting and robbing tourists walking late at night. As in any large city, individuals should exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings, especially while walking.

Business travelers should be aware that theft can occur even in apparently secure locations. Theft of items such as briefcases and laptops occur frequently at the Benito Juarez International Airport and at business-class hotels. Arriving travelers who need to obtain pesos at the airport should use the exchange counters or ATMs in the arrival/departure gate area, where access is restricted, rather than changing money after passing through Customs, where they can be observed by criminals.
Exercise caution when utilizing credit or debit cards in ATM machines or dubious locales. There have been reports of instances in which U.S. citizens in Mexico have had their card numbers “skimmed” and the money in their debit accounts stolen or their credit cards fraudulently charged. (“Skimming” is the theft of credit card information by an employee of a legitimate merchant or bank, manually copying down numbers or using a magnetic stripe reader.) In addition to skimming, the risk of physical theft of credit or debit cards also exists. To prevent such theft, the Embassy recommends that travelers keep close track of their personal belongings when out and about and that they only carry what they need. If travelers choose to use credit cards, they should regularly check their account status to ensure its integrity.
Metro (subway) robberies are frequent in Mexico City. If riding the metro or the city bus system, U.S. citizens should take extreme care with valuables and belongings. Avoid using metro during busy commuting hours in the morning or afternoon. Tourists and residents alike should avoid driving alone at night anywhere in Mexico City.

Robberies and assaults on passengers in taxis are frequent and violent in Mexico City, with passengers subjected to beating, shooting, and sexual assault. U.S. citizens visiting Mexico City should avoid taking any taxi not summoned by telephone or contacted in advance. When in need of a taxi, telephone a radio taxi or "sitio" (regulated taxi stand – pronounced "C-T-O"), and ask the dispatcher for the driver's name and the cab's license plate number. Ask the hotel concierge or other responsible individual to write down the license plate number of the cab that you entered. Avoid “libre” taxis and the Volkswagen beetle taxis altogether. Although “libre” taxis are more convenient and less expensive, these are not as well regulated, may be unregistered, and are potentially more dangerous.

Passengers arriving at Mexico City's Benito Juarez International Airport should take only authorized airport taxis after pre-paying the fare at one of the special booths inside the airport. There are now several companies operating authorized “sitio” booths inside the airport.

Crime in Cancun, Acapulco, and Other Resort Areas: There have been a significant number of rapes reported in Cancun and other resort areas. Many of these have occurred at night or in the early morning. Attacks have also occurred on deserted beaches and in hotel rooms. Acquaintance rape is a serious problem. Hotel workers, taxi drivers, and security personnel have been implicated in other cases.

Drug-related violence, including shootings and kidnappings, has increased in Acapulco. Although this violence is not targeted at foreign residents or tourists, U.S. citizens in these areas should be vigilant in their personal safety.
See the below information regarding Spring Break in Mexico if you are considering visiting Mexican resort areas during February through April, when thousands of U.S. college students traditionally arrive in those areas. Additional information designed specifically for traveling students is also available on our Students Abroad website.

See the below information regarding Spring Break in Mexico if you are considering visiting Mexican resort areas during February through April, when thousands of U.S. college students traditionally arrive in those areas. Additional information designed specifically for traveling students is also available on our Students Abroad website.
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby Zuleika » Sun Feb 21, 2010 7:33 am

Whilst I would agree with the above poster, and its good to be aware of all the possible dangers as much as possible, but I feel if you read any Govt website warnings on ANY country you would never travel anywhere! Yes the Govt does have the responsibilty to warn you/scare you of every single little thing that may or may not happen, but I would never let it stop me travelling. (I just read our Govt website info about the USA - what a scary place you all live in!!! LOL)
I went to Mexico with GAP a couple of years ago and loved it, never once did I not feel safe. But I kept with the group, really heeded all the advice of the (very experienced) tour leader about personal safety, used the lock deposit boxes at every hotel, etc etc
Take the usual precautions you would in any city or new country, dont flash the cash or jewellery and I would wager that you will be simply fine.
From what Judy was saying the butterflies sound simply awesome!
Enjoy.
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby JaliscoJudy » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:37 am

Zuleika wrote:...if you read any Govt website warnings on ANY country you would never travel anywhere! ...


That's for sure! Especially when you're talking about big cities, and Mexico City is the 8th largest in the world.

I'd be careful as a tourist visiting any large city of the world. Check out the travel warnings for the other top 15. Mexico City is no worse that any of these places and safer than many.

1. TOKYO, Japan (pop. 34,400,000)
2. JAKARTA, Indonesia (pop. 21,800,000)
3. New York (NY), United States (pop. 20,090,000)
4. SEOUL, South Korea (pop. 20,010,000)
5. MANILA, Philippines (pop. 19,550,000)
6. Mumbai (Bombay), India (pop. 19,530,000)
7. Sao Paulo, Brazil (pop. 19,140,000)
8. MEXICO CITY, Mexico (pop. 18,430,000)
9. Delhi, India (pop. 8,000,000 )
10. Osaka, Japan (pop. 17,270,000)
11. CAIRO, Egypt (pop. 16,750,000)
12. Kolkata (Calcutta), India (pop. 15,010,000)
13. Los Angeles (CA), United States (pop. 14,730,000)
14. Shanghai, China (pop. 14,460,000)
15. MOSCOW, Russia (pop. 13,260,000)
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby Macha » Sun Feb 21, 2010 4:05 pm

I think that this article http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/travel/resourceful_traveler/mexico-dangers-travel-safety-reputations-die-hard.shtml
does a really good job of putting the "dangers" to travelers in Mexico City in perspective. The author breaks down some statistics about crime and traveler deaths in Mexico, and looks at how conventional wisdom lines up with reality, basically concluding that the city is as safe, or safer than, many popular tourist destinations around the world. I suspect that with the change of a few place names and numbers, this article could apply to hundreds of cities/countries.

I agree that it is really frustrating to get reliable information about travel safety. Government travel advisories tend to cast the net too broadly, and make almost every place seem dangerous, advice online (except this thread, of course :wink: ) often tends to the extremes (no one robbed me, so no one will rob you, you wimp! or, stay home! they're gonna kidnap you and steal your organs!) and, as this article shows, even advice from locals isn't always well-informed.

I haven't been to Mexico City myself (yet!), but people I know who have been there were pleasantly surprised and would gladly return.
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby sabbatical1 » Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:40 pm

@Mancha - Well, if you did not go to Mexico City, then i don't think you are qualified to state anything about the place... i find your comment of "no one robbed me, so no one will rob you, you wimp! or, stay home! they're gonna kidnap you and steal your organs!" very insulting. My friend was beaten up, robbed, and thrown off on the street. So, I don't think it's such an impossibility. I would very much appreciate you staying home, if you cannot relate to people trying to be vigilant about the place they are traveling.
Last edited by sabbatical1 on Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby Macha » Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:48 pm

@sabbatical1
Please re-read my post. (This is good advice anytime you are tempted to launch such a nasty, hurtful attack on someone.)

All my post was meant to do was provide a link to an article that others might find useful. The two quotes I gave were not my opinion, but sarcastic examples of the types of bad advice I have seen on other travel sites. My second paragraph was simply an expression of sympathy for those who are trying to find good travel safety information- it's not easy.

I mentioned at the end that I myself have never been to Mexico City, so no one would think that I was providing anything other than secondhand opinions- that of friends who have visited, and of an interesting article that I still think will be very useful to others.

(If anyone else read my original post the way this person did, I certainly apologize. I intended it as described here. I certainly didn't mean to make light of the real dangers than can face a traveler anywhere or of anyone's particular misfortune.)
Last edited by Macha on Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby sabbatical1 » Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:05 pm

@Mancha - I did read your post, your link (which I thought was quite informative as I read a lot about Juarez), and your comments. Hands down, your sarcastic remark of (again) "no one robbed me, so no one will rob you, you wimp! or, stay home! they're gonna kidnap you and steal your organs!" very "nasty", ironic, and "hurtful" . I posted that warning because it's evidently frequent to have taxi kidnapping (please re-read my post about my friend who actually experienced it!) One of the post says to take "taxi" to get around. I simply wanted others to know that they should summon the taxi from their hotel/motel/inn, not just hail it on the street. You should take your sarcasm somewhere else!
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby jimshu » Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:12 pm

This thread seems to be degenerating into a slanging match.Topic locked ,sorry guys.
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Re: Is Mexico safe??

Postby Reditor » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:09 pm

Hey all, I've opened up this topic again as there has been ample useful and helpful information shared. Let's stay on topic and keep posting advice and tips that ensure a safe trip for fellow travellers, whether it be taking a certain type of taxi or avoiding certain areas. Common sense always prevails, especially for solo travel.

It is worth noting that there is no travel warning against travel issued to Mexico issued by the US, UK or Canada (and other nations). It is also worth noting here that sometimes safety in numbers is one of the overlooked benefits of group travel.
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