One of the most common questions we get asked about traveling to Merida is, “Is Merida, Mexico safe”? It’s a valid question, considering most major broadcasting networks make Mexico seem like a death sentence.
I admit, the safety warnings are valid for some parts of Mexico (but still not as severe as mainstream media makes it seem). However, Merida, Mexico is not a city where you need to be concerned about safety. In fact, Merida, Mexico is considered the safest city in Mexico and one of the safest cities in North America.
We know some people need proof of its safety, so this article will share some reasons and statistics to ease your concerns about the question, “Is Merida, Mexico safe to visit”.
General safety in Mexico
While we know not everyone will agree, we believe Mexico is a safe country to visit. We traveled to 26 of the 32 Mexican states in an RV over a year and a half. In total, we drove over 40,000 miles across Mexico to major cities like Mexico City, to small villages, and the countless highways and roads in between.
We personally never had an unsafe experience in Mexico aside from general road safety (learn about driving in Mexico here) and a few unfortunate run-ins with corrupt policing.
Rather, the people we met across were overwhelmingly kind, open, and interested in us being there.
They helped us countless times when we were lost, were patient when our Spanish was subpar and we were struggling to communicate and recommended restaurants and unique places for us to visit.
We know just because we didn’t experience anything dangerous doesn’t mean bad things don’t happen here. Cartel crime is real and affects tens of thousands of Mexicans each year. But generally speaking, cartel crime does not impact tourists in major tourist cities like Merida, Cancun, Cabo, or Puerto Vallarta.
We stayed informed about what was happening in real time and made informed decisions about where and where not to travel based on people who were actively traveling too, and information online.
Being informed about potential safety threats and knowing what areas to visit and avoid is something every traveler should do no matter where they are visiting.
Statistics about safety in Merida, Mexico
Merida is the Capital of the Yucatan, a notoriously safe state. It also resides next to Campeche, another very safe area in Mexico. According to the U.S. State Department, which is in charge of issuing travel advisories for United States travelers, the Yucatan and Campeche states are labeled as “Normal Precautions for Travel“.
By comparison, the U.S. State Department has the U.K., Spain, and France labeled as “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution”. Yet, these countries receive millions of visitors each year and are generally considered safe places to visit by tourists.
Data from Numbeo looked at the number of crime-related incidents per 1,000 residents and compared 424 cities across the globe to determine its “safety index”. It analyzed data for serious crimes (rape, murder, gun violence, racial attacks, and domestic violence) along with more petty crimes (theft, car robberies, etc).
1 is the lowest safety index rating a city could receive indicating the area is dangerous. 100 is the highest rating, indicating it’s a safe area to visit. Merida, Mexico received a rating of 74.8 out of 100.
Toronto, Canada by comparison, received a 57 rating. Major tourist cities in the United States like New York, Miami, Orlando, Los Angeles, and Chicago, all received a safety index rating of 50 or below.
Police in Merida
Merida takes its title of being Mexico’s safest city seriously. Understandably so. It eases travelers’ concerns and helps bring millions of dollars to the state annually from tourism. It’s also made it a haven for expats from across the globe along with many of the wealthiest families in Mexico.
Since 2018, Merida’s security budget has increased by 60% according to an article published in Bloomberg.
When you’re walking around the Centro, you’ll see loads of police officers on horses, in small electric cars, and on foot. These police officers are a part of the Policia Touristica and are there to ensure safety in the most prominent tourist areas.
Outside of the city center, you’ll still see a lot of police activity from city and state police. Road blockades are common to do routine DUI checks (we passed through one on our trip in 2021), speed traps, and other general policing.
We found the police officers in Merida to be less corrupt thanks to the higher wages they earn (more than double compared to other areas in Mexico). However, corruption in the policing system is still widespread. It’s also worth noting, that many Mexicans aren’t convinced more police make it safer. Although there’s no debate by locals over Merida’s general safety.
Staying safe in Merida
Staying safe in Merida, Mexico isn’t hard. Be aware of your surroundings (like normal) and enjoy the city. Even though petty crimes aren’t a big issue in Merida (you’re much more likely to get pickpocketed or straight robbed in popular places in Europe like Paris, Madrid, or Barcelona), it’s good practice to keep your belongings close to you as you’re exploring.
When visiting Mexican cities with higher crime rates, you should avoid having expensive filming and camera equipment on you or other “flashy items” like big jewelry or Rolex watches. However, in Merida, this is not a notable concern.
Hopefully, this post has put some of your concerns at ease and allows you to plan your vacation to Merida with peace of mind. If you need help planning your trip make sure to check out these blog posts:
- The Perfect 2 Days in Merida, Mexico (Itinerary with Map) – Make the most of your short time in the city with this step-by-step itinerary!
- 17 Best Restaurants in Merida You Can’t Miss – See the best places to eat in Merida for breakfast, lunch, dinner (and botanas).
- 18 Essential Merida, Mexico Things To Do – A complete roundup of the top 18 things to do in Merida (in the city).
- Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Merida, Mexico – This complete travel guide to visiting Merida, Mexico will help you prepare and pack for your trip.
- 11 Amazing Merida Day Trips You Don’t Want To Miss – Here’s a round-up of the 11 coolest day trips you can take from Merida.
- 17 Delicious Yucatan Dishes to Try on Your Next Trip – Make the most of your time in the Yucatan trying these delicious and authentic Yucatan dishes.
- 11 Amazing Merida Day Trips You Don’t Want to Miss – Check out the top 11 Merida day trips to take just a few hour’s drive from the city.