Is León Safe? Mexico Travel Safety Advice

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León is part of the Guanajuato region in central Mexico and is relatively unknown to the average tourist. Most travelers simply pass through Leon while changing buses as they move in between other cities and destinations. Take a step off that bus for a few hours, or even a night, and discover the Zona Piel (Leather Zone) and an authentic Mexican history in this city. But of course, there is the question is León safe?

Mexico’s safety is often called to question as the country has a rich history of violence and crime. Guanajuato (Mexico) has often been associated with gang and drug-related crime over the years. However, this tends to take place further south, leaving the center of León relatively unafflicted of dangerous crime.

If you do choose to visit Leon and get off the well-known tourist tracks, be sure to check out the vibrant and bustling night markets filled with street vendors and buskers. Dive into the local history in Palacio Municipal and Cathedral Basilica to see incredible murals, religious paintings and sculptures for the complete culture trip.

Is León Safe Right Now?

Authentic Mexican city center
Image by Filip Gielda from Unsplash

Leon (Mexico) is considered a safe city to visit right now: the area escapes the typical Mexican violent gang-crime. Petty crime is low and rare here due to León’s affluent setting within the region of Guanajuato. However, while it is safer than the Riviera Maya area, for example, caution should always be maintained by visitors to the area.

It is advised to avoid the industrial outskirts of the area and exploring the streets alone at night, as in most cities. Data shows the overall crime rate in the center of Leon is low.

Before you begin to travel to Guanajuato and Mexico, you must research the various places you will be visiting. Learning some Spanish and street names will help you blend in and not get lost along the way.

How to keep up to date

It is important to stay in the loop with travel safety guidance while you are abroad. For a continued Mexico travel advisory, keep up to date with the official U.S State Department website for any developments. Here you will get real-time data and information on high alert levels for natural disasters, health risks, and terrorism in specific areas including Guanajuato and Leon.

Country travel advice can change in a flash. It is sensible to keep checking this along your travels as you may have to change plans mid-visit.

Is León safe for solo female travelers?

Cathedral architecture Mexico
Image by Timo Wielink from Unsplash

Considering the low crime rate across all areas, León is a safe destination in Mexico for solo female travelers. It is important to always have a sense of caution when walking through the city at night or when visiting cantinas after busy hours. The best safety advice is to avoid unnecessary risky situations and just use your common sense to the best of your ability.

Don’t leave your valuables unattended or out in the open as this is inviting trouble. Likewise, be conscious of flaunting expensive jewelry, shoes, or clothing – you may bring unwanted attention to yourself. Be conservative and respectful in how you choose to dress as Mexico is a highly religious country.

When traveling solo, it is always good practice to let friends and family know your rough plans, especially where you are going to stay. Make copies of your travel documents and keep a small amount of cash in a separate wallet in case of emergencies. Never share your hotel or itinerary details with a stranger. Protect your money from pickpockets!

Keeping your money safe from theft and pickpockets is essential when traveling on the road.

A Travel Safety Belt is an effective and affordable way of protecting your notes, cards, and cash.

Prepare your trip

It always pays off to have proper preparation for any trip. Be sure you get to know the street names so you can find your way around the place and back to your hotel. Check for the latest travel safety warnings for Guanajuato, Mexico, throughout your stay. 911 is the emergency number across the whole of Mexico.

Learning some Spanish will pay off. A typical greeting is good morning, good afternoon, or good evening (depending on the time of day) – “buenos días“, “buenas tardes” or “buenas noches“. Even though tourists don’t often travel here, the locals will still be able to point you in the right direction using English if you don’t know any Spanish.

Also Read  Is Cozumel, Mexico Worth Visiting? Top 7 Reasons to Visit

Group activities and attractions in Leon

Hot air balloon festival in León
Image by Carlos Aranda from Unsplash

If you are concerned about your safety as a solo female traveler, then why not visit one of the main attractions in town. Leon doesn’t have much to offer, but there is enough to fill a day or two. Group activities and walking tours are a great way to meet new people and see beautiful places safely.

Planning to visit León towards the end of the year in December? Join the unique Magic Christmas Tour at Catedral Basilica De Nuestra Madre Santisima De La Luz for must see authentic Mexican architecture in the festive spirit. Perhaps being outside and soaking up the Mexican weather is more your thing. In November, Leon hosts an annual hot-air balloon festival that paints the sky with color – this is really worth hopping off the bus to see!

If you are here for an extended period and want to search and explore further afield, take a drive down to Guanajuato City. It’s about a 45-minute drive south of León and is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico.

Is León safe to live?

Historical streets of León, Guanajuato
Image by Alfonso Navarro from Unsplash

Living in León is deemed to be reasonably safe. The center of the city does not have a high crime rate, however, you should still be vigilant in certain residential areas and at night. Most expats feel welcomed to live here by the friendly and welcoming local residents.

Life in Leon could pose a lack of interesting things to keep you entertained for a long stretch of time. You may find yourself craving a few day’s to getaway to some of Mexico’s best beach resorts on the beautiful coastline.

The weather in León is consistent and pleasant. Being here all year round will have no additional risk of sun exposure or natural disasters. June may present a drought but this will not be long lasting.

Useful Spanish words and phrases for Mexico

If you want to live in León then learning some new words and phrases will be helpful. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Buenos días, buenas tardes, buenas noches – Good morning, good afternoon, good evening
  • Gracias – Thank you
  • Estoy perdido/a – I am lost
  • Busco una farmacia – I’m looking for a pharmacy
  • Voy a pedir una chela – I am going to order a beer
  • La cuenta, por favor – The check, please

Is León safe at night?

Lions fountain in León at night
Image by Uriel Soberanes from Unsplash

While Leon does have a low crime risk for Mexico, it is recommended you are extra cautious at night and maintain a high alert for your own safety while you travel. There are not a lot of tourists around in the evenings due to most only changing their bus, so don’t expect a pumping nightlife like in Cozumel. However, will still be able to find some bars and restaurants in the center.

The locals in Leon are friendly enough and will be welcoming to anyone who chooses to visit the city. Try to stick to the busier bars and main restaurants to avoid any risk of violence. Drink in moderation and don’t bring unwanted attention to yourself.

Use your common sense when you choose to stay and travel in Leon overnight. Try your best to not walk around alone in the dark. Take a taxi back to travel back to your hotel or the bus terminal if you are worried.

Is the tap water in León safe to drink?

Traditional tap with water
Image by svklimkin from Unsplash

You cannot drink the tap water across the whole of Mexico and the Guanajuato State. There is not a comprehensive filtration system in place meaning that the water may be contaminated and a very high risk of getting sick.

There are some things you can do to stay safe and healthy while you travel to Mexico. Drink bottled water with a sealed top to be sure it hasn’t been refilled. You can also brush your teeth with bottled water as an extra precaution.

Most restaurants will wash salads and fruit with tap water. Keep that in mind when eating out. Some tourist stomachs can handle it, while others certainly cannot. Want to save the planet?

Plastic pollution is covering the planet and is a tremendous threat to marine life. Do your part to help by traveling with a filter water bottle.

Also Read  Tulum or Cancun: Which Mexico City is Better to Visit?

A filter water bottle is an effective way of purifying water to remove any impurities or contaminants.

Are taxis in León safe?

Ariel shot of a taxi
Image by Dil from Unsplash

Public transport and the taxi services in Leon are low risks and a safe way to get around the city. Uber is also available. For general travel within the city center, no trip should leave you short changed as everything is within easy reach.

As with most travel destinations, it is best to negotiate a price with the driver before hopping into a taxi. Choosing taxis with a meter is the best place to start with until you learn the standard rates for routes. Make sure you always choose an official taxi that is verified. If you have any doubts just ask at the hotel front desk or the bus terminal information desk to help call one.

If you are arriving at Guanajuato Airport and want to travel to León, you will be able to easily find a certified taxi service. Be aware that it is about a 25-minute drive into the center of León, so negotiating a rate before taking a taxi is highly advisable here.

León Travel Insurance

Always make sure to get travel insurance! Even if you’re only going for a short holiday, you should always take out travel insurance. Take our word, travel insurance can save you thousands of pounds – so make sure to get it before you leave.

We highly recommend using Safety Wing, but there are many insurance companies to choose from so make sure to shop around to find the best deal.

Top 11 León Safety Tips

Busker on local street
Image by Uriel Soberanes from Unsplash

It is safe to say that Leon is viewed as a safe city to travel to in Mexico. While you are on your visit here, keep in mind some basic advice along the way. Here are our top safety tips that will serve you well, from the airport to the city, and everywhere in between:

  1. Always be aware of your surroundings when walking around the city alone or in the dark. Avoid going down alleyways and stick to the main areas of the town. Just using your general common sense will keep you safe and make your trip a great experience.
  2. Only ever use verified taxi’s from the airport and within the city district. Negotiate a rate with the driver before getting in the car. This will help avoid any surprises that you may encounter when you reach your destination on the other end.
  3. Be wary of what you eat and drink. Stick to bottled water and try to avoid salads or unpeeled fruit in restaurants. This will reduce most health risks, like food poisoning, due to many establishments using tap water for washing in the kitchens. And remember to drink alcohol in moderation and know your own limit, especially if you are traveling alone.
  4. Research the area and keep up to date with U.S State Department travel guidance and advice for new data and read the information based on their website. Country risk levels can change suddenly due to political unrest and other conditions.
  5. Don’t draw attention to yourself as a tourist with flashy clothes, fancy purses, and expensive cameras around your neck. This is like a flashing beacon for a petty crime that could turn violent.
  6. Be friendly and don’t appear to be frightened. The locals will say hello to strangers with a smile, eye contact, and a simple “buenos días“, “buenas tardes” or “buenas noches” depending on the time of day.
  7. Learn some of the language. Leon and Guanajuato are not top tourist areas so the English may be patchy. Learning and having use of some basic Spanish will go a long way for your interaction with people for your travel and stay.
  8. Watch out for the local wildlife. It would be a good idea to research the different dangerous animals in Mexico before you travel.
  9. Don’t leave your valuable items unattended or on show. Petty car theft is about as violent as León gets, which can be avoided by keeping your laptop and wallets out of sight.
  10. Try to blend in and look local. Thieves are opportunists and may pick on travelers if they look like easy targets, so try not to draw attention to yourself.
  11. Use a well-known bank ATM to withdraw cash and always have a small amount tucked away in a money belt or separate wallet just in case.

James Ardimento has spent the last 12 years journeying around the globe ! With its precious experiences and tips he gained around Asia, South America, Europe and the US he is a precious asset for this blog and for its readers