This submit 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 fame for being one of the crucial culturally vibrant locations within the nation. The state is mountainous, with a rugged shoreline that provides option 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 town of Oaxaca a handful of occasions, I’m right here to deal with your greatest security issues with the following pointers:
1. Select Your Lodging Correctly
My greatest 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 liked the quaint streets, colourful murals, and household ambiance.
Reforma can 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 pal and me. To be trustworthy, I might not have really useful taking an everyday taxi in Oaxaca in the event you had requested me then.
Nevertheless, town has cracked down big-time on harassment, and increasingly girls 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. Possibly that is distinctive to my expertise, however I’d prefer 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 driving force sees your vigilance, they are going to be extra prone to be on their finest habits.
In case you nonetheless really feel not sure about taxis in Oaxaca, contemplate making an attempt DiDi. It’s like Uber and means that you can file a grievance in case your driver makes you are feeling unsafe.
3. A Little Mezcal Goes a Lengthy Manner
Oaxaca is understood 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 get together tradition right here. Any given day, you will discover mezcalerías, bars, and golf equipment full of individuals ingesting and partying.
In case you’ve tried mezcal, you understand that it’s fairly sturdy. In case you haven’t, properly, I’ll prevent from a nasty hangover by breaking the information.
I’ve all the time 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 overseas place.
Possibly I sound like a damaged document, however watch out how a lot you drink whenever you journey. Letting your guard down an excessive amount of can put you in danger — and no get together is value shedding management.
If you wish to strive the totally different sorts of mezcal in a extra low-key atmosphere, go for a daytime mezcal tasting. Many excursions provide them as part of the tour, like this one.
4. Eat Road Meals Correctly
Oaxaca is road meals heaven. From tlayudas to mole and all the pieces in between, you could possibly spend your complete journey consuming nothing however road meals and be fully happy with the variability you’ll discover.
Not all road meals stands are created equally in relation to hygiene, nonetheless. Particularly in case your abdomen just isn’t 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 perfect 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. Chances are high, locals received’t be lining up someplace that has a fame for being unhygienic.
One other tip is to eat contained in the market. Mercado 20 de Noviembre is filled with small stalls, and lots of of them are native favorites, the place you’ll discover a number of folks having fun with a meal. These stalls are often 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 — 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 individuals from Mexico are shocked that I communicate Spanish fluently, which makes me chuckle just a little bit. Talking the language has opened many doorways for me and allowed me to make pals simply, even after I was a newbie.
For some folks, it may be formidable to tackle studying a brand new language. You don’t should be fluent to remain secure in Oaxaca, but it surely positive helps to know not less than just a little little bit of Spanish.
In case you can grasp fundamental greetings and key phrases, you’re off to an ideal begin. With the ability to ask for assist in the event you want it, inform a taxi driver to cease, or let a waitress find out about your meals allergy are all essential issues to have the ability to categorical in Spanish.
7. Keep on with the Centro at Evening
Strolling round alone at evening wherever isn’t an ideal concept, but when you’ll do it in Oaxaca, stick with 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 seen that among the streets exterior of the Centro have been darkish, with surprising alleys and general not the most secure vibe. When unsure, simply take a DiDi automobile, or keep away from going wherever you’re not accustomed to 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 totally different. Nevertheless, ATM charges will be approach too excessive to think about taking out small quantities extra ceaselessly. 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 preserve what you want whenever you depart your room.
Even in the event you solely take small quantities of money with you whenever you exit, contemplate dispersing it between your pockets, purse, bra, and so forth. That approach, in case you are robbed or pickpocketed, the thief received’t take all the pieces you’ve gotten. 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 in regards to the security of others.
You would possibly discover lots of people within the metropolis middle asking for change. Generally you’ll see kids promoting items as properly. Even after residing in Mexico for over two years, I’m nonetheless not sure what my money could be supporting if I have been to purchase from these kids or give change to folks on the road. Some reports recommend 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 fancy situation, and I don’t declare to have all of the solutions, so use your personal judgment on this one. I all the time simply smile and say “no, gracias” to the children, after which they go on their approach.
10. Vet Any Tour Firms
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. Lots of these are fantastic, however to say that they’re all completely secure or value your cash could be a stretch. Some tour firms don’t all the time comply with security protocols and do a sloppy job of giving vacationers correct details about the websites.
It’s finest to only keep away from the hawkers altogether in Oaxaca, and go for a tour from GetYourGuide or Viator as a substitute. I’ve even completed Airbnb Experiences right here and had a beautiful (and secure) time.
11. Get a Mexican SIM Card
I don’t assume that many individuals understand how low cost it’s to choose up a SIM card and use it whereas they’re in Mexico. A SIM from Telcel (the largest supplier in Mexico) prices 150 pesos ($7.50 USD), and you’ll simply pay as you go, loading information onto your SIM utilizing your credit score or debit card.
Having a SIM card will be a good 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 the event you get misplaced, use a translator app to speak higher, and make a name in the event you’re at risk.
Some US cellphone firms enable their customers a certain quantity 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 mandatory.
12. Touring Solo as a Girl in Oaxaca
My first expertise touring in Oaxaca was very totally different from people who adopted. I don’t have a transparent clarification as to why, however maybe I’ve simply turn into 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 worry and spend a couple of days alone right here earlier than she joined me. This time was completely totally different. Not a single taxi driver harassed me, for which I felt an enormous sigh of reduction. I additionally seen much less road harassment, although 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? Not likely. I acknowledge that my feeling safer this final time I went to Oaxaca could be as a consequence of likelihood. Maybe two extra years of residing 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 fastidiously, and keep away from risks like rip-off artists and males who prey on drunk overseas girls 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 cellphone is working order in case of emergencies. By no means have interaction with catcallers and so they’ll depart you alone.
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Total, Oaxaca takes the cake as one of the crucial thrilling locations to go to in Mexico. In case you bear in mind these security suggestions, you’ll be a bit sharper and in a position to make safer choices whenever you go to Oaxaca de Juárez or the coast, permitting you to have an unbelievable expertise.