This publish was written by Emily Becker, who’s a Mexico-based freelance author for BMTM.
Oaxaca is a state in southern Mexico that has a wonderful popularity for being one of the culturally vibrant locations within the nation. The state is mountainous, with a rugged shoreline that provides strategy to sandy seashores and quintessential surf cities. The capital, Oaxaca de Juárez (or Oaxaca Metropolis), is a bustling place, bursting with shade. It’s the gastronomic capital of Mexico — and for good motive.
That stated, the query in your thoughts as a traveler might be: Is Oaxaca secure? As a solo feminine traveler who has visited the town of Oaxaca a handful of occasions, I’m right here to deal with your greatest security considerations with the following tips:
1. Select Your Lodging Properly
My greatest piece of recommendation for staying secure in Oaxaca Metropolis is selecting lodging which can be within the Centro, Xochimilco, Reforma, or Jalatlaco neighborhoods. The primary time I visited, I stayed within the Centro, and though I felt secure, it’s a loud place to remain.
If you wish to keep central however in a quiet and secure neighborhood, go for Xochimilco or Jalatlaco. Each of those areas are well-known for his or her impeccable road artwork scenes, so that you’ll wish to go to them anyway. I stayed within the Xochimilco neighborhood the final time I used to be in Oaxaca and completely cherished the quaint streets, colourful murals, and household environment.
Reforma can be a secure neighborhood, nevertheless it’s a bit additional out. It takes a couple of 20-minute stroll to get to the Centro from Reforma, relying on what finish of the neighborhood you’re in.
2. Be Cautious of Taxis
The primary time I visited Oaxaca on the finish of 2019, I used to be shocked by how a lot the taxi drivers harassed my pal and me. To be trustworthy, I’d not have advisable taking an everyday taxi in Oaxaca if you happen to had requested me then.
Nevertheless, the town has cracked down big-time on harassment, and an increasing number of ladies are coming ahead to denounce their aggressors. I can’t make certain if these two issues are related, however I seen a shift this final time I visited Oaxaca. I wasn’t harassed in any respect — not on the street or in taxis. Perhaps that is distinctive to my expertise, however I’d wish to hope that issues are altering.
An effective way to make sure your security whereas taking taxis in Oaxaca is to take fast images of the license plate and taxi quantity earlier than you get in. Make this apparent — when the driving force sees your vigilance, they are going to be extra more likely to be on their finest habits.
For those who nonetheless really feel not sure about taxis in Oaxaca, take into account making an attempt DiDi. It’s like Uber and permits you to file a criticism in case your driver makes you are feeling unsafe.
3. A Little Mezcal Goes a Lengthy Method
Oaxaca is understood globally for its mezcal, and there are many locations to attempt it. Since so many individuals flock to Oaxaca to take action, it’s no shock that there’s a dense get together tradition right here. Any given day, you will discover mezcalerías, bars, and golf equipment full of individuals ingesting and partying.
For those who’ve tried mezcal, that it’s fairly robust. For those who haven’t, properly, I’ll prevent from a nasty hangover by breaking the information.
I’ve at all times had a good time in Oaxaca, dancing and socializing whereas sipping mezcal, nevertheless it’s by no means a good suggestion to binge-drink in a overseas place.
Perhaps I sound like a damaged document, however watch out how a lot you drink while you journey. Letting your guard down an excessive amount of can put you in danger — and no get together is price dropping management.
If you wish to attempt the completely different sorts of mezcal in a extra low-key surroundings, go for a daytime mezcal tasting. Many excursions supply them as part of the tour, like this one.
4. Eat Road Meals Properly
Oaxaca is road meals heaven. From tlayudas to mole and the whole lot in between, you can spend your entire journey consuming nothing however road meals and be fully glad with the range you’ll discover.
Not all road meals stands are created equally in terms of hygiene, nonetheless. Particularly in case your abdomen shouldn’t be used to the spices utilized in Mexican cooking, you would possibly end up wishing you hadn’t gone for that second splash of salsa verde in your roadside tacos.
To have one of the best probability of avoiding any tummy troubles whereas having fun with Oaxaca’s unimaginable road fare, search for the stands the place there are lengthy strains of individuals ready to order. Likelihood is, locals gained’t be lining up someplace that has a popularity for being unhygienic.
One other tip is to eat contained in the market. Mercado 20 de Noviembre is filled with small stalls, and plenty of of them are native favorites, the place you’ll discover numerous folks having fun with a meal. These stalls are normally cleaner than those on the road, because the market has a better normal of hygiene.
I like to recommend taking a lap across the market or the road meals stalls close to the Zócalo round lunchtime, say 2 or 3pm. See which place is the most well-liked, and return round 4 or 5pm, when there are fewer patrons.
5. Costume Down
Oaxaca is unquestionably not the place to flaunt any flashy jewellery or designer clothes that might make you a goal for petty crime. Contemplating that most individuals — locals and vacationers alike — costume fairly casually, something too glamorous would make you stick out like a sore thumb.
6. Study Some Fundamental Spanish
Typically I discover that folks from Mexico are shocked that I communicate Spanish fluently, which makes me chuckle somewhat bit. Talking the language has opened many doorways for me and allowed me to make pals simply, even once I was a newbie.
For some folks, it may be formidable to tackle studying a brand new language. You don’t need to be fluent to remain secure in Oaxaca, nevertheless it positive helps to know at the least somewhat little bit of Spanish.
For those who can grasp fundamental greetings and key phrases, you’re off to an amazing begin. Having the ability to ask for assist if you happen to want it, inform a taxi driver to cease, or let a waitress learn about your meals allergy are all essential issues to have the ability to specific in Spanish.
7. Persist with the Centro at Night time
Strolling round alone at evening wherever isn’t an amazing concept, but when you will do it in Oaxaca, keep on with the Centro. It’s well-lit, there are many folks, and also you’ll discover pedestrian-only streets which can be safer to stroll alongside.
I seen that a number of the streets outdoors of the Centro had been darkish, with sudden alleys and general not the most secure vibe. When doubtful, simply take a DiDi automotive, or keep away from going wherever you’re not accustomed to at evening, particularly if it’s outdoors the town heart.
8. Mo’ Cash, Mo’ Issues
It’s by no means a good suggestion to stroll round with copious quantities of money whereas touring, and Oaxaca is not any completely different. Nevertheless, ATM charges might be means too excessive to think about taking out small quantities extra often. To get round this, take out what you want within the morning at a financial institution’s ATM (keep away from ATMs within the massive markets or on the road), then take a DiDi to your lodging and lock your money in a secure. Solely maintain what you want while you go away your room.
Even if you happen to solely take small quantities of money with you while you exit, take into account dispersing it between your pockets, purse, bra, and so forth. That means, if you’re robbed or pickpocketed, the thief gained’t take the whole lot you’ve. Some vacationers advocate having a dummy pockets with a bit of money and expired playing cards at hand over.
9. “No, Gracias”
This one is much less about your security and extra concerning the security of others.
You would possibly discover lots of people within the metropolis heart asking for change. Typically you’ll see kids promoting items as properly. Even after dwelling in Mexico for over two years, I’m nonetheless not sure what my money can be supporting if I had been to purchase from these kids or give change to folks on the road. Some studies counsel that contributing to this casual market is identical as contributing to youngster trafficking, and that’s sufficient for me to keep away from it altogether.
I do know that’s is a posh problem, and I don’t declare to have all of the solutions, so use your individual judgment on this one. I at all times simply smile and say “no, gracias” to the children, after which they go on their means.
10. Vet Any Tour Corporations
As you stroll via the Zócalo in Oaxaca’s metropolis heart, you’ll see a great deal of folks selling excursions to close by websites. Numerous these are effective, however to say that they’re all completely secure or price your cash can be a stretch. Some tour firms don’t at all times observe security protocols and do a sloppy job of giving vacationers correct details about the websites.
It’s finest to simply keep away from the hawkers altogether in Oaxaca, and go for a tour from GetYourGuide or Viator as a substitute. I’ve even executed Airbnb Experiences right here and had an exquisite (and secure) time.
11. Get a Mexican SIM Card
I don’t suppose that many individuals notice how low-cost it’s to select up a SIM card and use it whereas they’re in Mexico. A SIM from Telcel (the most important supplier in Mexico) prices 150 pesos ($7.50 USD), and you may simply pay as you go, loading information onto your SIM utilizing your credit score or debit card.
Having a SIM card might be a good way to remain secure, since you’ll have the peace of thoughts of with the ability to join at any time. You’ll have the ability to entry maps if you happen to get misplaced, use a translator app to speak higher, and make a name if you happen to’re in peril.
Some US telephone firms permit their customers a specific amount of information per day whereas in Mexico, so ask yours earlier than you head to Oaxaca to see if getting a SIM card is even crucial.
12. Touring Solo as a Lady in Oaxaca
My first expertise touring in Oaxaca was very completely different from those who adopted. I don’t have a transparent rationalization as to why, however maybe I’ve simply turn out to be higher at touring alone and now know the way to keep away from scams, meals poisoning, and general hazard.
The primary time I went to Oaxaca, I used to be adopted and catcalled twice. On prime of that, a few taxi drivers made very inappropriate feedback to me that made me really feel unsafe.
To be trustworthy, I used to be hesitant to solo journey right here once more. However since I had organized to satisfy a pal in Oaxaca in January of 2022, I made a decision to face my concern and spend a number of days alone right here earlier than she joined me. This time was completely completely different. Not a single taxi driver harassed me, for which I felt an enormous sigh of aid. I additionally seen much less road harassment, though I used to be there longer and was out and about extra this time round.
Is that this to say that Oaxaca is safer now? Probably not. I acknowledge that my feeling safer this final time I went to Oaxaca is perhaps attributable to probability. Maybe two extra years of dwelling in Mexico has additionally made it simpler for me to mix in?
In any case, I nonetheless suppose Oaxaca is completely price visiting as a solo feminine traveler. But it surely’s particularly essential for us to be vigilant, to plan our journey rigorously, and keep away from risks like rip-off artists and males who prey on drunk overseas ladies in bars (sure, they exist).
Attempt to do as a lot as you possibly can throughout sunlight hours, keep away from ingesting an excessive amount of, and ensure your telephone is working order in case of emergencies. By no means have interaction with catcallers and so they’ll go away you alone.
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Total, Oaxaca takes the cake as one of the thrilling locations to go to in Mexico. For those who take note these security suggestions, you’ll be a bit sharper and capable of make safer choices while you go to Oaxaca de Juárez or the coast, permitting you to have an unimaginable expertise.
Considering of heading to Oaxaca? Take a look at our guides to Oaxaca Metropolis, Puerto Escondido, and Zipolite!