Seven Safer Places to Visit in Mexico

Most Mexican tourist areas are generally safe from drug cartel violence.

ByABC News
November 5, 2010, 6:19 PM

Nov. 8, 2010— -- With drug wars escalating and daily reports of murders in Mexican border towns, many American tourists have been wary to visit the warm beaches to the south.

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.

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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.