After the violent shootout in Culiacán earlier this week, is Mazatlán safe to visit?
When we first told our friends and family we were moving to Mazatlán, Sinaloa for the winter, some of them thought we were crazy. Mexico hasn't had the best rep in 2019 as cartel violence has been widespread resulting in high murder rates. Mix in the word “Sinaloa” which is well known for having the most powerful cartel in the world, vacationers might not think about making Mazatlán their first choice for a holiday destination. The most important thing to remember is that cartel violence is rarely ever targeted at tourists.
After moving here, below is our personal experience and the top 5 things you should know before visiting Mazatlán.
Is Mazatlán Safe to Visit?
Mazatlán is SAFE for tourists to visit for a vacation, holiday, or cruise ship stop. Stick to tourist areas such as the Golden Zone, Old Town and Malecon where Tourist Police have a constant presence.
For an extra layer of safety upon arrival, we suggest using a safe and reliable airport transfer. We hired Alex for our transfers and have been using her ever since.
Current Travel Warnings and Advisories in place for Mazatlan, Mexico
Canada Travel Advisory for Mazatlán: Level 2 “Exercise a high degree of caution”
U.S.A Travel Advisory for Mazatlán: Level 4 – “Do Not Travel“
United Kingdom Travel Advisory for Mazatlán: “Take extreme care outside of tourist areas in Sinaloa“
Australia Travel Advisory for Mazatlán: Level 2 – “Exercise a high degree of caution“
The United States is the only country with a “do not travel” warning for Mazatlán but still permits it's government employees to visit the tourist areas of the city.
Top 5 Things to Know Before Visiting Mazatlán
1. Stay in Mazatlán. Venturing outside of the city can be dangerous
Venturing outside of Mazatlán to cities such as Culiacán can be dangerous at times. Gun fights have occurred between security forces and cartel members. Cartel members do not actively target civilians but innocent people can be caught in the cross fire.
2. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid arguments
Arguments and confrontations between cartel members in Mazatlán have occurred. Do not stop to watch arguments or fights. These fights can escalate quickly into shootings and violence. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid confrontations at all times. This especially goes for men that may have had one too many cocktails while partying. A little reminder you're not as tough as the cartel.
3. Don't do drugs, buy drugs or sell drugs
This one should go without saying but Mazatlán is not the place you want to start experimenting with drugs. Being involved in the drug trade in any capacity will increase the risk of violent crime against you. Avoid areas where drugs are highly used and sold.
4. Don't make yourself a target
The worse thing you can do while traveling is to make yourself a target. Wearing high end jewelry, flashing large amounts of cash or being drunk in public gets the attention of all the wrong people in Mazatlán. Robberies and kidnapping can occur. Do your best to blend in and not show signs of wealth.
5. Stay within tourist areas and know where you're going
There are many tourist areas in Mazatlán that are considered safe. Look for hotels or vacation rentals in the Old Town, Golden Zone, Marina and anywhere along the 20 km Malecon. Plan out where you're walking ahead of time so you appear confident in your journey. We also use an awesome private driver named Alex for our airport transfers and tours.
If for any reason you get off track or feel unsafe make sure you have Uber installed on your phone. They always have cars quickly available and it's very inexpensive. A reminder they do NOT do airport pickups or drop offs.
Here is a guide on how to take an Uber, Bus, Pulmonia, and Taxi in Mazatlan
Can you walk around at night in Mazatlán?
From our own personal experience we go for a walk every night after dark either in the Golden zone, Old Town or on the Malecon. We have never had any issues or been harassed. We love Mazatlán after dark as the city comes alive!
Check out our Top 30 Things To-Do on a cruise port day in Mazatlan
Our Thoughts on Safety in Mazatlán
I believe Mazatlán is just as safe as any city in America. Expats have lived here for years including many Canadians and Americans. Every day families line the beach and Malecon to spend time together and celebrate special events. I would have no problem suggesting Mazatlán to my friends and family to come visit us knowing confidently they would be safe here. The perfect time to visit Mazatlán is now before the secret gets out on just how amazing this authentic city is.
Interested in learning more about the city? Join our Mazatlán Visitors and Expats Facebook group.
Note* The content on this page is provided for informational use only. The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad.
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