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Old 01-29-2012, 08:13 AM
Location: Sudcaroland
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My husband would like us to take a trip to Yucatan in a couple of months. We would probably stay in a resort in Cancun for a few days, then rent a car and go around Yucatan for a 2-3 of days, in order to visit Maya temples etc
The only thing is: I've always heard it was not that safe to rent a car and drive in Mexico, that the police could be everywhere etc etc etc... Since we have a baby, I really don't want to be in an unsafe area.
I know Cancun is mainly (if not only) a tourists' heaven, but how about the rest of the region?

Thanks for your imput and advice.
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Old 01-29-2012, 08:38 AM
Location: Victoria TX
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Perfectly safe. Your first line of defense is your child. Mexicans are extremely solicitous of children's safety, and to the extent that there is honor among thieves, no Mexican criminal would bother anyone who had a child in tow. Children fall under the aegis of community protection, like the objective of Hillary Clinton's "village".

There has been no narco-terrorism in the Yucatan/Cancun area, not even a single incident that has appeared on any general surveys of gang activity.

Having said that, there was a bit of buzz a couple years ago about thieves in Cancun being able to recognize rental cars by their license plates, and there were advisories about that, but I haven't heard about anything in quite a while, so it might have just been a little flurry of a few incidents. Always, in Mexico, keep your car locked securely, most crime in Mexico is opportunistic. Be sure to rent a car from a well-known franchise, there are a lot of cheap independent operators whose cars are not well maintained, and it can take them days to replace a car that breaks down, which happens often.

Never drive after dark in Mexico, there are too many things happening on the roads that Mexicans anticipate, but you would not. Like drunk pedestrians, vehicles parked in the roadway without lights, trucks with no lights at all, unmarked construction zones, road damage, etc. A lot of people walk in Mexico, and there is no shoulder or sidewalks. Trust me, you do not want to hit a pedestrian, and they always have the right of way. There are speed bumps everywhere ("topes") which can be unmarked and brutal. Mexicans don't want to wreck their cars any more than you do, and driving discipline there is much improved over a decade or two ago, but still, the drivng mentality will be new to you, and signposting ranging from ambiguous to non-existent.

I don't know if rental cars can be expected to have approved child restraints or not, Mexican kids just ride in the back of the pickup truck. I've never looked into that, but a major American franchise like Hertz, I suppose, would almost certainly be able to accommodate you.

As for the police, they enjoy a level of corruption that offsets their low wages. If they pull you over, a small bribe (ten bucks) is usually enough to get you a friendly wave within a few minutes, but sometime refusing to understand anything they are saying will frustrate them enough that they will just wave you on and consider you not worth the trouble. Unless there is actually a major violation, they won't pull you over with red lights and siren, but cops on foot can be troublesome at routine checkpoints or in places where you can't speed away. I've driven maybe 30 thousand miles in Mexico and Central America, and I think I've only been in a couple of police encounters, both easily defused. Like in the USA, most cops are very nice, civil, conscientious, and helpful, but some are not.

Don't be dissuaded, just be alert and forewarned.

Last edited by jtur88; 01-29-2012 at 09:02 AM..
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Old 01-30-2012, 01:17 AM
Location: Duluth, Minnesota, USA
7,653 posts, read 15,327,023 times
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Yucatan is one of the safest states in Mexico, if not the safest state in Mexico. Follow jtur88's advice above and I am sure you will have a good vacation.

I would recommend, in addition to seeing the Mayan ruins, also checking out the cenotes (many of which are located near famous ruins), or natural sinkholes, while in Yucatan, as well as possibly seeing its capital, Merida, which hosts free concerts in its central plaza, or Valladolid, which is near some cenotes and a very attractive colonial city The landscape may be very boring when viewed from the highway (it makes Eastern North Dakota look interesting!), but there are many other attractions in Yucatan too - old henequen plantations, going on a boat excursion to see flamingos, etc.

Also, a warning - not about crime or corruption, but about when you visit. The warmest time of the year in most of the U.S. is July and August; the hottest time of the year in southern Mexico is April, May, and June. Even by March the heat is going to be somewhat oppressive (with some days in the triple digits!), and you certainly do not want to go to the Yucatan in April or May, when many of the days will be 105+ degrees (in the shade). I would visit no later than mid-March, ideally before the end of February (and even than it can be very, very warm - an important consideration when you're looking at ruins, especially with a kid in tow).
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:34 AM
Location: Sudcaroland
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Thank you both for the info and advice!
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:02 PM
Location: Olympus Mons, Mars
5,677 posts, read 8,588,145 times
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Yucatan is perfectly safe, don't worry about it. I go there quite often although I go to Cozumel and Playa del Carmen so a bit south although I have been to Cancun many times.

A couple years ago I rented a car and drove around right upto Chetumal near the Belize border. It was perfectly safe and fine although some of the roads are a bit narrow in places.

Yucatan is one of my favorite places and I really think it is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world... enjoy!
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Old 02-03-2012, 04:46 PM
Location: Red Sox Nation
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Super safe. We just returned from Cancun/Isla Mujeres with our kids. We had a great time! Go, you will love it.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:28 PM
Location: Wyoming
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Another thought, most of the resorts offer day trips to the temples, etc., etc. at reasonable prices. Look into it.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:30 AM
1 posts, read 9,514 times
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Hi folks.
Happy New Year to all.
Planning on going to Akumal, Mexico to fly fish with my old college roommate. We rented a little house on the beach. She comes from Seattle and I am in Minneapolis. Akumal is about 1.5 hours south of Cancun--way down the Riv. Maya. We cannot seem to coordinate our flights and getting back up to Cancun when we depart will be a nightmare since many of the flights depart at 06. How safe is it to rent a car? I understand from my insurance agent that I would need Mexican car insurance--my own policy only extends to the US. Any ideas? Thank you. Marianne
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Old 04-09-2014, 11:45 AM
Location: Colorado
2,483 posts, read 3,533,028 times
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It's not an "unsafe area" and neither is it "perfectly safe" or "super safe". You need to stay in an accredited hotel, have proper documentation with you, and exercise good sense when traveling about. Keep your cash or other valuables secure & concealed, say 'no thank you' to timeshare pitches and other possible scams, and be respectful of the local people and culture. There are bad people everywhere, so those things are always true But its especially good to keep them in mind when traveling to a foreign country where the law and its enforcement operate differently than you're used to. Keep than in mind and you should have no reason to fret. I wouldn't take an infant down there, personally, for a variety of reasons. But the OP was 2+ years ago so that's probably a non-issue for them by now anyways.
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