Is Oaxaca Protected? What You Have to Know As a Solo Traveler

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This put up 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 fame for being probably the most culturally vibrant locations within the nation. The state is mountainous, with a rugged shoreline that offers option 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 purpose.

That mentioned, the query in your thoughts as a traveler might be: Is Oaxaca protected? 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 issues with the following tips:

1. Select Your Lodging Properly

Santo Domingo Church is a central level within the metropolis; there are a whole bunch of lodging close by.

My greatest piece of recommendation for staying protected 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 protected, it’s a loud place to remain.

If you wish to keep central however in a quiet and protected neighborhood, go for Xochimilco or Jalatlaco. Each of those areas are well-known for his or her impeccable avenue artwork scenes, so that you’ll need 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 protected neighborhood, but it surely’s a bit additional out. It takes a few 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 really useful taking a daily taxi in Oaxaca in case you 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 be sure if these two issues are linked, 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 prefer to hope that issues are altering.

A good 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.

For those who nonetheless really feel uncertain about taxis in Oaxaca, take into account making an attempt DiDi. It’s like Uber and permits you to file a grievance in case your driver makes you’re feeling unsafe.

3. A Little Mezcal Goes a Lengthy Method

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 get together tradition right here. Any given day, yow will discover mezcalerías, bars, and golf equipment full of individuals ingesting and partying.

For those who’ve tried mezcal, you recognize that it’s fairly sturdy. For those who 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.

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 value dropping management.

If you wish to strive the totally different sorts of mezcal in a extra low-key surroundings, go for a daytime mezcal tasting. Many excursions provide them as part of the tour, like this one.

4. Eat Avenue Meals Properly

what to do in oaxaca

Oaxaca is avenue meals heaven. From tlayudas to mole and every thing in between, you possibly can spend your complete journey consuming nothing however avenue meals and be fully happy with the variability you’ll discover.

Not all avenue meals stands are created equally in relation to 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 the most effective likelihood of avoiding any tummy troubles whereas having fun with Oaxaca’s unbelievable avenue fare, search for the stands the place there are lengthy strains 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 stuffed with small stalls, and lots of of them are native favorites, the place you’ll discover numerous individuals having fun with a meal. These stalls are normally cleaner than those on the road, because the market has the next commonplace of hygiene.

I like to recommend taking a lap across the market or the road meals stalls close to the ZĂłcalo 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. 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 — costume fairly casually, something too glamorous would make you stick out like a sore thumb.

6. Be taught Some Fundamental Spanish

Generally I discover that individuals from Mexico are shocked that I converse Spanish fluently, which makes me chuckle a bit of bit. Talking the language has opened many doorways for me and allowed me to make buddies simply, even after I was a newbie.

For some individuals, it may be formidable to tackle studying a brand new language. You don’t must be fluent to remain protected in Oaxaca, but it surely certain helps to know no less than a bit of 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 in case you want it, inform a taxi driver to cease, or let a waitress learn about your meals allergy are all vital issues to have the ability to categorical in Spanish.

7. Stick with the Centro at Night time

Strolling round alone at night time anyplace isn’t an amazing concept, but when you will do it in Oaxaca, persist with the Centro. It’s well-lit, there are many individuals, 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 doubtful, simply take a DiDi automotive, or keep away from going anyplace you’re not aware of at night time, particularly if it’s exterior 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 isn’t any totally different. Nevertheless, ATM charges could be manner too excessive to think about taking out small quantities extra continuously. 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 protected. Solely preserve what you want while you go away your room.

Even in case you 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 manner, if you’re robbed or pickpocketed, the thief received’t take every thing you’ve got. 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. Generally you’ll see kids promoting items as properly. Even after dwelling in Mexico for over two years, I’m nonetheless uncertain what my money can be supporting if I have been to purchase from these kids or give change to individuals 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 fancy problem, 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 manner.

10. Vet Any Tour Firms

Hierve El Agua (petrified waterfalls) is just about two hours away from Oaxaca de Juárez.

As you stroll by way of the Zócalo in Oaxaca’s metropolis heart, you’ll see a great deal of individuals selling excursions to close by websites. Lots of these are fantastic, however to say that they’re all completely protected or value your cash can be a stretch. Some tour corporations don’t all the time 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 an alternative. I’ve even completed Airbnb Experiences right here and had a beautiful (and protected) time.

11. Get a Mexican SIM Card

I don’t assume that many individuals notice how low-cost it’s to choose 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’ll simply pay as you go, loading knowledge onto your SIM utilizing your credit score or debit card.

Having a SIM card could be an effective way to remain protected, 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 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 crucial.

12. Touring Solo as a Girl in Oaxaca

Zipolite (a nude seaside in Oaxaca) was the place I felt most secure as a solo feminine traveler.

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 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 pal 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 totally different. Not a single taxi driver harassed me, for which I felt an enormous sigh of reduction. I additionally seen much less avenue 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? Not likely. I acknowledge that my feeling safer this final time I went to Oaxaca is perhaps on account 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. However it’s particularly vital 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 they usually’ll go away you alone.

***

Total, Oaxaca takes the cake as probably the most thrilling locations to go to in Mexico. For those who bear in mind these security ideas, you’ll be a bit sharper and capable of make safer selections while you go to Oaxaca de Juárez or the coast, permitting you to have an unbelievable expertise.

Pondering of heading to Oaxaca? Try our guides to Oaxaca Metropolis, Puerto Escondido, and Zipolite!

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