First, if tourists visiting Mexico is a good indicator how safe Mexico is, then it certainly is as 38 million people visited Mexico in 2017, 12% more than they year before.
But we cannot ignore the fact that Mexico does have a crime and violence problem, aggravated by the drug cartels. 23,000 people were killed in Mexico last year, making it one of the most dangerous places in the world. What needs to be taken into consideration is that Mexico is a very large country and there are places where the overwhelming majority of these crimes are taking place, but many areas where crime is no where near as common. Mexico’s Minister of Tourism, Enrique de la Madrid, recently stated that eighty percent of all destinations in Mexico are safe. And Puerto Vallarta is certainly one of those safe destinations.
As a country, the US government’s travel advisory system rates Mexico at a Level 2, which is the same as for Germany. Traveling to Mexico is fine, but tourists should exercise increased caution. They recommend that visitors:
- Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving at night.
- Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos.
- Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
- Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
The U.S. government has Level 4 warnings (meaning “Do not travel there”), for the states of Guerrero, Colima, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas. The state of Jalisco (where Puerto Vallarta is located), is at a level 3 (reconsider travel), and certainly has had its share of drug cartel activity, but the areas most affected are hundreds of kilometers away from Vallarta. For Puerto Vallarta itself, there is no travel warning in effect by the U.S. government travel advisory system.
Visitors and expats to Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit should feel safe, as safe as they would back home, as long as they take the precautions recommended. Millions visit Vallarta each year and very few altercations are reported.