is-oaxaca-mexico-safe

Is Oaxaca Mexico Safe? Everything You Need to Know in 2024

Nestled in the heart of southern Mexico, Ciudad de Oaxaca is a cultural gem that attracts travellers from around the globe. As the capital of the state of Oaxaca, this city is renowned for its deep connection to Mexican history, colonial architecture, and a world-class food culture.

Located about 450km / 285 miles southeast of Mexico City, Oaxaca is easily accessible by plane, bus and car making it ideal for anything from a quick visit to a perfect Mexico road trip stop, or even an extended stay.

Given its popularity, it’s natural for potential visitors to wonder “Is Oaxaca Mexico safe?”

Is Oaxaca Mexico Safe?

Oaxaca is widely considered safe for tourists, with lower crime rates compared to other parts of Mexico. Like any travel destination, it’s important to remember that a little common sense goes a long way towards having a safe trip.

Making sure to avoid poorly lit areas at night, knowing if there are certain areas to avoid, and keeping an eye on your belongings are a few of the things to keep in mind.

Oaxaca street with flags covering it

Is Oaxaca Safe to Walk Around?

Oaxaca’s walkability is one of its highlights, with charming cobblestone streets, lively markets, and stunning colonial architecture all within easy reach on foot.

The central Zócalo and nearby neighbourhoods are filled with cafes, shops, and cultural landmarks, making it a wonderful city to explore at a leisurely pace.

The city centre and other popular tourist areas are well-patrolled, making them safer for visitors. Overall, Oaxaca should feel welcoming and safe.

As with any urban area, moving further away from the popular tourist areas opens up a higher risk of crime, especially at night.

Is Oaxaca Mexico Safe At Night?

Oaxaca is safe at night, particularly in popular tourist areas such as the Zocalo and Cathedral neighbourhoods. Many visitors enjoy evening strolls to experience the nightlife, including restaurants, bars, and cultural events.

busy Oaxaca street of an evening

However, as in any city, it’s important to exercise care and stick to well-lit and busy streets, avoiding secluded areas, and keeping an eye on your belongings.

Oaxaca is an exciting place to be during the evening and the Police take great care to ensure everybody’s safety in the busiest areas.

What Is the Oaxaca Mexico Crime Rate?

Oaxaca has one of the lowest crime rates in Mexico, particularly when it comes to violent crime. Petty crimes, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, can occur, especially in crowded areas and during festivals.

However, incidents involving tourists are generally minor and quite rare. The city centre and tourist areas are well-patrolled by police, contributing to making this a safer environment.

While specific crime rate statistics can vary, Oaxaca is generally considered a safe destination for travellers who take care and exercise commonsense.

Best Safety Tips for Travel to Oaxaca Mexico

You will discover that visiting Oaxaca can be a delightful and enriching experience, but as with any destination, it’s essential to take certain precautions to ensure your safety. Here are some of the best safety tips for a worry-free visit:

  1. Stay in Well-Reviewed Accommodations: Choose reputable hotels or vacation rentals with positive reviews from other travellers. Well-established places are more likely to have security measures in place and be situated in safer neighbourhoods.
  2. Be Mindful of Your Belongings: Petty theft can occur in crowded places, so keep an eye on your belongings. Use a money belt or a crossbody bag that zips up securely. Avoid displaying valuables like expensive jewelry or large amounts of cash.
  3. Stick to Well-Lit and Busy Areas at Night: While Oaxaca City is generally safe, it’s best to stick to well-lit, busy areas after dark. The city centre and popular tourist spots are usually well-patrolled by police, making them safer for evening exploration.
  4. Use Reliable Transportation: When travelling around the city, use reputable taxi services or rideshare apps like Uber, which are generally safer than hailing a cab off the street. If renting a car, ensure it’s from a trusted company and be aware of local driving conditions.
  5. Stay Informed About Local Conditions: Keep up-to-date with local news and any travel advisories from your home country. This will help you stay informed about any areas to avoid or potential safety issues.
  6. Respect Local Customs and Laws: Familiarise yourself with local customs, traditions, and laws to avoid inadvertently offending anyone or getting into trouble. Showing respect for the local culture can enhance your safety and overall experience.
  7. Emergency Contacts: Have a list of emergency contacts, including the local police, your country’s embassy, and your accommodation’s contact information. In case of any issues, knowing who to contact can be crucial.
  8. Health Precautions: Make sure you have travel insurance that covers health emergencies. Also, be cautious with food and water—stick to bottled water and eat at reputable restaurants or street food vendors that are popular with locals.
  9. Travel in Groups When Possible: There’s safety in numbers, so whenever possible, explore with a companion or in a group. This is particularly advisable when visiting less crowded or more remote areas.
  10. Trust Your Instincts: Finally, always trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, remove yourself from the situation. Your intuition is a powerful tool in ensuring your safety.

Is Oaxaca Mexico a Good Place to Visit?

Oaxaca is a fantastic place to visit, in fact we consider it one of our favourite cities in the world. Renowned for its rich history, exciting arts scene, and culinary delights, it offers a unique and immersive travel experience.

The city’s colonial architecture, historic landmarks, and colourful festivals provide a deep connection to its indigenous roots and colonial past. Oaxaca is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with attractions such as the ancient ruins of Monte Albán offering a fascinating look at pre-Columbian civilizations.

Oaxacan food including a traditional tlayuda

If you plan to eat like a Mexican the local cuisine is another highlight, with Oaxaca often hailed as the culinary capital of Mexico. Dive into traditional dishes like mole, tlayudas, and fresh, locally-produced chocolate, and explore bustling markets filled with artisanal crafts and fresh produce.

Best Oaxaca Mexico Hotels

Oaxaca, Mexico has a good variety of accommodations, from small motels to private apartments and luxury 5-star hotels where you can spoil yourself. Here are a couple of options for your trip:

✅ Hostel Option: Azul Cielo Hostal is one of the highest-rated hostels in Oaxaca that offers a central location, budget-friendly prices, and is walking distance to many restaurants and the best things to do. The hostel also has quirky common areas and includes breakfast.

✅ Budget Option: Parador San Agustin is one of the best-located hotels in Oaxaca and comes with a budget-friendly price. It is a short walk from the Zocalo, many restaurants and top attractions. The hotel is housed in a 16th-Century building.

✅ Apartment Option: Suites Parador Santo Domingo de G. is within easy walking distance of the Zocalo and all major attractions. It includes all facilities you would expect from a self-contained property including onsite parking, fast internet, kitchenette and a washing machine.

✅ Mid-Range Option: Hotel Casa Antigua is a 4-star hotel located 2 blocks from the central Zócalo Square, Hotel Casa Antigua is a restored 19th-century house with a traditional central courtyard. Breakfast is included.

✅ Luxury OptionPalacio Borghese Hotel Boutique is a 5-star colonial building in the centre of Oaxaca, less than 2 blocks from the Santo Domingo de Guzman Temple. Each luxurious room is decorated with elegant furniture. All come with satellite TV, hydromassage bathtub, soft feather pillows and a range of amenities. Slippers and a bathrobe are also provided.

Getting Around Oaxaca Mexico Safely

While the city is quite walkable, especially in the popular downtown area there are several other transportation options available for broader exploration.

For short distances within the city, walking is often the best way to take in the sights and sounds of Oaxaca. The city centre is relatively compact, and many of the main attractions, restaurants, and shops are located within close proximity to each other.

However, when your destination is a bit farther, or if you’re travelling late at night, you may decide that other options become preferable.

taxis lined up in Oaxaca

Taxis are a convenient choice and generally very safe, particularly if called through your hotel or a reputable taxi company. These taxis are metered, and you will find you pay a fair price for the distance travelled.

Additionally, ride-sharing apps may be another option in Oaxaca, and while Uber and Lyft are not active in the city, DiDi provides a similar service.

For those looking to explore areas around Oaxaca City, such as nearby villages known for their artisan crafts or the spectacular ancient ruins of Monte Albán, renting a car can be a good option.

If you are wondering if it is safe to drive in Mexico read this post for all of the answers.

Car rentals are available at the airport and within the city but we prefer to book online, providing flexibility for day trips. Always ensure you have proper insurance and be aware of local driving habits and road conditions.

Public transportation, including buses and colectivos (shared taxis), are widely used by locals and can be an economical way to travel. While generally safe, they can be less comfortable and more challenging to navigate if you’re not familiar with the routes.

However, they do give you the chance to immerse yourself deeper into the local way of life. If you choose to use public transport, keep a close eye on your belongings and try to travel during busier times.

Oaxaca Mexico FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about this unique destination:

  1. What is the best time of year to visit Oaxaca?
    • The mild climate from October to April makes it a popular time, especially during the Day of the Dead. Oaxaca is always an exciting place to be during the Independence Day celebrations in mid-September.
  2. Is Oaxaca City safe for tourists?
    • Overall, it is considered one of the safest cities in Mexico, especially in tourist areas, but standard precautions are advised.
  3. What are the must-visit attractions in Oaxaca City?
    • Key attractions include the historic centre, Santo Domingo Church, the botanical gardens, and nearby archaeological sites like Monte Albán and Mitla.
  4. What is Oaxaca famous for in terms of food?
    • Oaxaca’s culinary reputation sparks interest in its unique dishes. Inquiries often revolve around traditional foods like mole, tlayudas, mezcal, and Oaxacan cheese.
  5. Where can I buy authentic Oaxacan handicrafts?
    • While there are many shops around the town centre selling unique and colourful handicrafts, our choice for shopping is definitely the Mercado Benito Juárez. This bustling market is packed with clothing and souvenirs at great prices.
  6. Can I drink the tap water in Oaxaca?
    • It is generally advised to drink bottled or filtered water and any decent accommodation will provide you with some during your stay.
  7. What are the options for day trips from Oaxaca City?
    • Popular options include Hierve el Agua, Teotitlán del Valle, the surrounding artisan villages, archaeological sites and the mezcal distilleries.
  8. What local festivals can I experience in Oaxaca?
    • Oaxaca’s vibrant festivals are a huge draw. They host several cultural events like the Guelaguetza, Holy Week, Mexican Independence Day, Day of the Dead and Christmas celebrations.
  9. What is the local currency, and where can I exchange money?
    • The local currency is the Mexican Peso, and while USD is accepted in some parts of Mexico, we recommend arriving with some local currency on hand. You can also use ATMs, money changers, hotels, and banks to obtain more pesos.

Our Opinion: Is Oaxaca Mexico Safe?

We have been fortunate to have visited Oaxaca twice and would be very happy to return if the opportunity arises. We consider it to rank in the top 10 cities we have visited around the world.

our family at monte alban

We were so confident of Oaxaca being safe back in the day that we took our 12-year-old daughter there for the Bicentenary of Independence in 2010 and had not even the slightest safety concern during the week we were there.

Recently we returned for ten days during our epic Mexico road trip and again did not ever get the feeling that our safety was challenged.

So if you were to ask us “Is Oaxaca Mexico safe?” we would tell you that, with the increase in violent crime across Australia, USA, and other countries, Oaxaca is probably at least as safe as your home town, maybe safer!

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