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 an excellent repute for being one of the vital culturally vibrant locations within the nation. The state is mountainous, with a rugged shoreline that offers strategy to sandy seashores and quintessential surf cities. The capital, Oaxaca de Juárez (or Oaxaca Metropolis), is a bustling place, bursting with coloration. It’s the gastronomic capital of Mexico — and for good motive.
That mentioned, the query in your thoughts as a traveler might be: Is Oaxaca secure? As a solo feminine traveler who has visited town of Oaxaca a handful of occasions, I’m right here to deal with your largest security issues with the following pointers:
1. Select Your Lodging Properly
My largest piece of recommendation for staying secure in Oaxaca Metropolis is selecting lodging which might 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 also be a secure neighborhood, but it surely’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 buddy and me. To be trustworthy, I’d not have beneficial taking an everyday taxi in Oaxaca in case you had requested me then.
Nonetheless, town has cracked down big-time on harassment, and an increasing number of ladies are coming ahead to denounce their aggressors. I can’t be sure if these two issues are linked, however I observed 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 pictures of the license plate and taxi quantity earlier than you get in. Make this apparent — when the motive force sees your vigilance, they are going to be extra prone to be on their greatest habits.
If you happen to nonetheless really feel not sure about taxis in Oaxaca, contemplate making an attempt DiDi. It’s like Uber and lets you file a criticism in case your driver makes you’re feeling unsafe.
3. A Little Mezcal Goes a Lengthy Manner
Oaxaca is thought globally for its mezcal, and there are many locations to strive it. Since so many individuals flock to Oaxaca to take action, it’s no shock that there’s a dense celebration tradition right here. Any given day, you’ll find mezcalerías, bars, and golf equipment full of individuals ingesting and partying.
If you happen to’ve tried mezcal, you already know that it’s fairly sturdy. If you happen to haven’t, nicely, 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, but it surely’s by no means a good suggestion to binge-drink in a international place.
Perhaps I sound like a damaged report, however watch out how a lot you drink once you journey. Letting your guard down an excessive amount of can put you in danger — and no celebration is value shedding management.
If you wish to strive the completely different sorts of mezcal in a extra low-key setting, go for a daytime mezcal tasting. Many excursions provide them as part of the tour, like this one.
4. Eat Road Meals Properly
Oaxaca is road meals heaven. From tlayudas to mole and every thing in between, you would spend your complete journey consuming nothing however road meals and be utterly glad with the variability you’ll discover.
Not all road meals stands are created equally relating to hygiene, nevertheless. Particularly in case your abdomen will not 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 the most effective likelihood of avoiding any tummy troubles whereas having fun with Oaxaca’s unbelievable road fare, search for the stands the place there are lengthy traces of individuals ready to order. Likelihood is, locals received’t be lining up someplace that has a repute for being unhygienic.
One other tip is to eat contained in the market. Mercado 20 de Noviembre is stuffed with small stalls, and lots of of them are native favorites, the place you’ll discover plenty of folks having fun with a meal. These stalls are normally cleaner than those on the road, because the market has the next 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 preferred, and return round 4 or 5pm, when there are fewer patrons.
5. Gown Down
Oaxaca is certainly 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 — gown fairly casually, something too glamorous would make you stick out like a sore thumb.
6. Be taught Some Primary Spanish
Generally I discover that folks from Mexico are shocked that I communicate Spanish fluently, which makes me chuckle a bit bit. Talking the language has opened many doorways for me and allowed me to make associates simply, even once I was a newbie.
For some folks, it may be formidable to tackle studying a brand new language. You don’t must be fluent to remain secure in Oaxaca, but it surely certain helps to know no less than a bit little bit of Spanish.
If you happen to can grasp primary greetings and key phrases, you’re off to an ideal begin. Having the ability to ask for assist in case you 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. Stick with the Centro at Night time
Strolling round alone at evening anyplace isn’t an ideal thought, but when you’ll do it in Oaxaca, follow the Centro. It’s well-lit, there are many folks, and also you’ll discover pedestrian-only streets which might be safer to stroll alongside.
I observed that among the streets exterior of the Centro had been darkish, with surprising alleys and general not the most secure vibe. When doubtful, simply take a DiDi automobile, or keep away from going anyplace you’re not aware of at evening, particularly if it’s exterior town middle.
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. Nonetheless, ATM charges could be method too excessive to contemplate taking out small quantities extra regularly. To get round this, take out what you want within the morning at a financial institution’s ATM (keep away from ATMs within the large markets or on the road), then take a DiDi to your lodging and lock your money in a secure. Solely maintain what you want once you go away your room.
Even in case you solely take small quantities of money with you once you exit, contemplate dispersing it between your pockets, purse, bra, and many others. That method, if you’re robbed or pickpocketed, the thief received’t take every thing you’ve gotten. Some vacationers suggest 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 middle asking for change. Generally you’ll see youngsters promoting items as nicely. Even after dwelling in Mexico for over two years, I’m nonetheless not sure what my money could be supporting if I had been to purchase from these youngsters or give change to folks on the road. Some studies counsel that contributing to this casual market is identical as contributing to baby 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 youngsters, after which they go on their method.
10. Vet Any Tour Corporations
As you stroll by the Zócalo in Oaxaca’s metropolis middle, you’ll see a great deal of folks selling excursions to close by websites. Plenty of these are nice, however to say that they’re all completely secure or value your cash could be a stretch. Some tour corporations don’t at all times observe security protocols and do a sloppy job of giving vacationers correct details about the websites.
It’s greatest 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 finished Airbnb Experiences right here and had an exquisite (and secure) time.
11. Get a Mexican SIM Card
I don’t assume that many individuals understand 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 could be an effective way to remain secure, since you’ll have the peace of thoughts of having the ability to join at any time. You’ll be capable of entry maps in case you get misplaced, use a translator app to speak higher, and make a name in case you’re at risk.
Some US telephone corporations enable their customers a specific amount of knowledge per day whereas in Mexico, so ask yours earlier than you head to Oaxaca to see if getting a SIM card is even vital.
12. Touring Solo as a Girl in Oaxaca
My first expertise touring in Oaxaca was very completely different from people who adopted. I don’t have a transparent clarification as to why, however maybe I’ve simply grow to be higher at touring alone and now know the best 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 buddy in Oaxaca in January of 2022, I made a decision to face my concern and spend a couple 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 observed 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 may be because of likelihood. Maybe two extra years of dwelling in Mexico has additionally made it simpler for me to mix in?
In any case, I nonetheless assume Oaxaca is completely value visiting as a solo feminine traveler. Nevertheless it’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 international ladies in bars (sure, they exist).
Attempt to do as a lot as you may throughout daylight, keep away from ingesting an excessive amount of, and ensure your telephone is working order in case of emergencies. By no means interact with catcallers and so they’ll go away you alone.
General, Oaxaca takes the cake as one of the vital thrilling locations to go to in Mexico. If you happen to have in mind these security ideas, you’ll be a bit sharper and capable of make safer selections once you go to Oaxaca de Juárez or the coast, permitting you to have an unbelievable expertise.