Is Oaxaca Safe? The Answer May Surprise You

Oaxaca was always the number one city I wanted to visit in Mexico. It’s a vibrant city full of colour, personality, and is known for amazing food and artisan goods. When I finally got to go to Oaxaca, the number one question I got asked was is Oaxaca safe?

Mexico, especially in Canada and the US, has a bit of a reputation of being unsafe. The news used to be filled with stories about tourists being murdered and Mexico being super unsafe and somewhere you shouldn’t travel.

That, of course, is just fear mongering. Sure there are parts of Mexico that aren’t the safest place to live or travel to, but that can be said of any country.

This article is going to answer the question is Oaxaca safe, so you can decide if it’s the right destination for you in Mexico.

Spoiler, you should definitely add Oaxaca to your list of places you want to travel before you die!

Oh, before we get too deep into this post, I want to tell you that you should definitely visit the botanical garden in Oaxaca. You can only visit if you take a tour, and there is only one English tour a day. The tour begins at 11am but is often sold out before then. I suggest getting to the garden at 10:30 at the latest. The tour (at the time of writing) costs 100 pesos per person but is 100% worth it!

Santo Domingo cathedral behind agave palnts in Oaxaca,Mexico

Is Oaxaca Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

As I’m a solo female traveller, I’m going to start by answering the question is Oaxaca safe for solo female travellers?

I’m very happy to say that Oaxaca is very safe for solo female travellers. There wasn’t a single moment I didn’t feel safe in Oaxaca.

Even when walking alone at night or having a few drinks alone.

Everybody I met in Oaxaca was super kind. Nobody besides street sellers approached me, and it was all around good vibes as a solo traveller.

You’ll be spending the majority of your time in the old city of Oaxaca. It’s completely walkable, so you don’t have to worry about navigating public transportation or anything like that.

Oaxaca is one of the best introduction cities to Mexico in my opinion. It’s more laid back that Mexico City, has amazing shopping, great food, and Monte Alban is one of the best pyramids in Mexico.

So, if you want to visit Oaxaca but aren’t sure if you’ll be safe as a female traveller, you don’t have to worry about that. You can book the trip and know that you’ll have a great trip and see some fantastic sights.

Is Oaxaca Safe for LBGTQIA+ Travellers?

Oaxaca (and Mexico in general) is super safe for LBGTQIA+ travellers. Same-sex marriage is recognized and transgender people are allowed to legally change their name and gender.

Just because a country has a policy of being LBGTQIA+ friendly doesn’t always mean that it translates to being safe for members of the LBGTQIA+ community.

Mexico’s government and people are very welcoming to the LBGTQIA+ community. I saw a lot of same-sex couples walking around in public holding hands and showing affection during my two weeks in Mexico. Probably more than I’ve seen anywhere else in the world.

Nobody seemed to give them a second look or care. Whether they were locals or tourists.

There are, unfortunately, still some hate crimes that happen in Mexico towards the LBGTQIA+ community. Sadly, there are bigots everywhere in the world.

But you shouldn’t have any issues being a same-sex couple or a transgender person in Oaxaca or any large city in Mexico. Some smaller, rural areas may not be as open, but those aren’t typically the places you tend to visit as a tourist.

Oaxaca is one of the most welcoming and friendly cities I’ve visited. It may be one of the best cities in Mexico to visit if you’re new to travelling as a same-sex couple and want to go somewhere you know you won’t have any issues while still experiencing a unique culture.

Colourful statues in Oaxaca, Mexico

Is Oaxaca Safe for BIPOC Travellers?

Oaxaca (and a lot of Mexico) has a rich Indigenous population that is still connected with their pre-colonial traditions and cultures. It’s so interesting and special to see.

There is diversity of skin tones all throughout Mexico.

I was talking to the guide on the Monte Alban tour I went on. His family can actually be traced back to the people who built Monte Alban. He said that there are still some prejudices internally against Indigenous people, but that Mexicans don’t really care about Black, Asian, white tourists who visit Mexico.

I’m obviously white and can’t personally speak to how safe or unsafe it is to travel in Mexico as a BIPOC person, but I do know many fellow travel creators who aren’t white who love Mexico and feel nothing but love and safety when they visit the country.

When you visit Mexico, you very quickly realize that it’s a very welcoming and friendly place for tourists. People always want to chat with you, share their culture with you, and want to make sure you’re having a good time.

It’s hard to describe the vibe, but once you’re in Oaxaca, you’ll understand.

Is Oaxaca Safe for Family Travellers?

Next up is answering the question is Oaxaca safe for family travellers? I know parents want to make sure they’re not putting their kids in danger when choosing a vacation destination.

I would say that Oaxaca is definitely safe for family travellers for a number of reasons.

  • There is low crime
  • It’s not super crowded, so you won’t struggle keeping track of your kids
  • Drivers are super cautious and looking out for pedestrians
  • The food is delicious and not too “out there” that your picky eaters won’t want to try anything

The only part of Oaxaca that may be a little more challenging for family travellers is Monte Alban. There are steps that you need to climb up. They’re quite steep so can be dangerous for smaller children.

But, other than that, there isn’t anything that will make Oaxaca any less safe than where you live.

Plus it’s such a vibrant and colourful city that your children will love it.

Oaxaca, Mexico, Scenic old city streets and colorful colonial buildings in historic city center.

Is Oaxaca Safe for People with Disabilities?

This section is going to be a bit different than the other sections because nobody is going to harass you for being disabled, but there are things that can make a city less safe for disabled people than able bodied people.

Oaxaca has a huge walking street that covers the majority of the historic centre. It goes on for blocks and blocks and no cars are allowed on the street.

That makes getting around in a wheelchair or mobility aid easier.

That being said, the areas outside the walking street have quite narrow sidewalks that are sometimes not level. This can make mobility more difficult. Especially if you rely on a wheelchair.

There are definitely ways you can still experience Oaxaca with limited mobility though thanks to the walking street. You’ll be able to go into shops, restaurants, and some tourist attractions without any issues.

The museum does have stairs you have to go up just to get inside, which makes it difficult. I didn’t see an elevator, but I didn’t ask if they had one either.

The other issue would be getting to Monte Alban. It’s an archeological site and not very accessible at all. There is lots of uneven terrain and stairs you have to climb.

There is an accessibility ramp from the top of the site to the bottom of the site. But you have to go up and down a few steps to get to the ramp, so I’m not really sure what the point of it is.

So, is Oaxaca safe for tourists who have disabilities and mobility impairments? I’d say compared to a lot of other tourist destinations, it is fairly accessible. It’s not nearly as accessible as Japan but not nearly as unaccessible as most of Europe (especially London).

Most Common Scams in Oaxaca

Unlike other cities in Mexico, there aren’t a lot of scams you have to look out for in Oaxaca as a tourist. You would think in such a touristy city, there would be tons of scams, but there really aren’t.

Most people want to make an honest buck. There’s a strong hustle culture, but very few people are trying to scam you.

It’s really nice to be able to put down your guard and relax and enjoy Oaxaca without wondering whether or not you’re being scammed.

Oaxaca Botanic Garden with tall cactus


Most taxis in Mexico don’t have meters, and Uber doesn’t operate in Oaxaca. That doesn’t mean you’re going to be scammed by drivers though (thankfully).

There is a flat rate charged to go from Oaxaca airport to the heart of the city. You pay for your ticket at the airport before you get in a car.

You can either purchase a car all to yourself or purchase a seat in a colectivo. If you choose a colectivo, you’ll be in a car with strangers, and the driver will drop everybody off wherever they’re staying. It may take a little longer to get to your hotel if you’re one of the last people dropped off, but it’s way cheaper than getting a private car.

To get back to the airport, you need to take a private taxi. Ask your hotel to arrange for a taxi to pick you up and have them quote you a price. It should be between 250 and 300 pesos. It will depend on traffic and where your hotel is located.

Taxi drivers rely on tourist dollars and are known for not scamming people. You don’t have to worry or stress about there not being a meter in the car.

In terms of getting around the city, you can walk everywhere except for Monte Alban. You’ll likely take a guided tour of Monte Alban anyways, so your transportation will be included in the cost of your tour.

Anyways, I guess what I’m trying to say is that you won’t be scammed if you take a taxi in Oaxaca. I’m adding it in this section because most of the time you need to be cautious of taxi scams, but you don’t need to be in Oaxaca!

The Begging Parent and Child

This is a pretty common scam everywhere in the world sadly. An adult will beg for money on the street holding a baby or a young child.

They sit near popular tourist destinations and use the child to make people donate more money to them than they would if it was just an adult.

I really, really hate this scam because it prevents kids from being kids. Whether it’s going to school or playing with other kids, they’re missing out because they have to beg on the streets.

Most of the time, these adults make enough money to support their families by begging with a child and keep doing it to make more and more money at the detriment to the child.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. How are you sure that this is a scam?

Firstly, it’s a very well known scam all over the world. It’s common because it works.

Secondly, people who are scamming tend to set up near popular tourist destinations. That’s a telltale sign that the person is more likely than not setting up as a scam rather than genuinely needing help.

I’m not suggesting you never help people who are on the streets needing money. There are legitimate people who do this.

I’m just saying be cautious. I avoid giving money to people right near main tourist attractions and help people who are sitting further away or on my walk to and from wherever I’m staying.

Safety Wing Digital Nomad Insurance

Drink Scams

Okay. This one I have no hard evidence on, but I suggest you stay away from places in the zocola that zócalo that have two for the price of one or highly discounted prices on margaritas.

I went to one of those places my first day in Oaxaca, and I’m pretty sure there wasn’t any alcohol in my drink. If there was, it was such a small amount that you couldn’t taste it.

It’s well worth it to pay full price for a margarita or other mixed drink. They’ll be much stronger and better tasting.

Now, if the two for one is a beer, go ahead and enjoy that, but I’d stay away from drink specials that seem too good to be true. You’re definitely overpaying for something that doesn’t have much (or any) alcohol in it.

Panoramic view of Monte Alban

The Importance of Interest Safety

One of the least talked about travel safety tips is the need to be internet safe. I don’t know why more people don’t talk about it, but I’m going to remind you why you need to be safe online when travelling.

You rely on public wifi networks when you travel. Whether it’s at the hotel, airport, or restaurant, there will be times when you go on an unsecured wifi network.

Even if the network has a password, it isn’t secure. Anybody who knows the password can access the network and hack into your personal information if they want to.

So, whenever you travel, you’re at a much higher risk of having your personal and private online information stolen.

Trust me when I say you don’t want to go through the headache of having your bank cards stolen while you’re on vacation. It’s a nightmare I don’t wish on anybody.

The only way to stay safe online when using a public wifi network when you travel is by installing a VPN on your devices.

A VPN essentially puts an invisible forcefield around your devices that makes it impossible for prying eyes to access your personal online information. It makes using public wifi networks as safe and secure as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the password.

Installing a VPN is truly one of the easiest ways you can stay safe when travelling.


My Favourite VPN

I’ve used a lot of different VPNs over my many years of travel and hated most of them. VPNs are notorious for slowing down your internet speed, and you can really feel the slow down with most VPNs.

I used to turn off my VPN and put my online data at risk of being stolen just because my VPN was so slow and frustrating.

That all changed when I started using NordVPN.

It’s the fastest VPN on the market, and you can tell the difference between it and other VPNs. I’ve never once felt a slow down on internet speed when using NordVPN. I’ve been using NordVPN since 2019 and have no intention of ever changing to a different VPN provider.

The best part is that you can protect up to six devices with a single NordVPN subscription. You can protect all your devices with one account.

Okay. The actual best part is the price. The price of a two-year subscription is less per month than a single Starbuck’s latte! At those prices, you can’t afford not to protect your personal online information.

I always say that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your private online information.

Make Sure to Install an Esim

Esims are my favourite recent invention. They’ve completely changed the way I travel, and I’ll never go back to not using one again!

If you’re not travelling with an esim, you’re seriously missing out!

You install a virtual sim card onto your phone and then can access data in whatever country you’re travelling in. Unlike traditional sims you get when travelling, you don’t have remove your “home” sim and get to keep your “home” number.

Your phone works exactly like it does when you’re at home, but you now have access to local data that isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg like roaming fees do.

The best part about esims is that you’re able to install it on your phone before you leave on your trip, and it activates as soon as you turn on your data in the country you’re visiting.

I normally install my esim when I’m at the airport lounge, so it’s ready to go as soon as I land in a new country. That was I can aimlessly scroll while waiting in the immigration line and not get bored if it’s long.

I highly, highly recommend you check out esims before you trip to Oaxaca. You won’t regret getting one. I make everybody I know install esims before their trips. Parents, friends, even my accountant are now using esims because I won’t shut up about them!

Ancient artwork


I hope this article helped you answer the question is Oaxaca safe? It is a super safe city in my opinion. It’s laid back, chill, and has a real community vibe.

I don’t think there is a single type of traveller that wouldn’t feel safe in Oaxaca. It’s the perfect city to visit if you want an introduction to Mexico. It has some of the best food and artisans in the country, and I would suggest everybody add it to their Mexico itinerary!