While there are some dangers to traveling to Mexico -- the State Department has issued a travel warning -- most resort areas have remained immune from the drug violence and make for an easy, and often affordable, vacation.
Mexico remains the top tourist destination for Americans traveling outside the United States, with the number of international tourists arriving by air increasing by 18.8 percent this year compared with last year.
"Mexico is a really large country. Just because there might be border violence in one area, it's like saying that there's crime in New York so don't go to L.A. It just doesn't make sense," said Anne Banas, executive editor of travel Web site SmarterTravel. "Most of the tourist areas are perfectly fine, perfectly safe. It's the same no matter where you go, you have to go with a little common sense."
In September, the State Department issued a detailed travel warning for Mexico saying that the Mexican government's fight with drug cartels has led to a "vicious struggle" between various trafficking organizations and that unpredictable outbreaks of violence can occur.
The government did make it clear that the vast majority of violence is occurring between drug cartels and along the border towns and encouraged Americans to stay in the well-known tourist areas.
"Although narcotics-related crime is a particular concern along Mexico's northern border, violence has occurred throughout the country, including in areas frequented by American tourists. U.S. citizens traveling in Mexico should exercise caution in unfamiliar areas and be aware of their surroundings at all times," the warning said. "Bystanders have been injured or killed in violent attacks in cities across the country, demonstrating the heightened risk of violence in public places."
There is even trouble in Acapulco, a once-popular destination with the international jet-set of the 1960s that has become mainly a domestic tourist spot. Shortly after arriving in Acapulco on Sept. 30, 20 men from elsewhere in Mexico disappeared after being hauled away by gunmen. The tourists' bodies were recently found in a mass grave.
Alfonso Sumano Lazcano of the Mexico Tourism Board said he recognizes the U.S. government's responsibility to safeguard Americans and the warning against traveling to the border towns.
"It also explicitly mentions that millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year, including tens of thousands who cross the land border daily for study, tourism or business," he said, "and nearly one million U.S. citizens who live in Mexico, and that the country's tourism destinations remain safe places to visit."
While no place is 100 percent safe, here are seven of the top spots for international tourists; locations that are generally considered safe to visit. But be advised that 31,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico in recent years. Police are widely viewed as corrupt and incompetent. No area and no group is immune from the turmoil and until the people and political leaders of Mexico exert the will to stamp out the drug gangs, tourism in this mainly fine and agreeable country will continue to suffer.