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Single Women’s Travel in Mexico – Your Essential Guide

Mexico is by far my favorite place on the planet, and I am a proponent of recommending other solo female travelers to come explore this country. One thing I love about Mexico is that every city, town and region has its own special thing that makes it unique. From the mole of Oaxaca to the mind-blowing Mayan ruins of Yucatan, every place is worth a visit.

Here’s my complete guide to make your solo trip to Mexico the best:

Mexico’s best destinations for solo female travelers:

1. Guanajuato City, Guanajuato

Guanajuato is a sprawling city that has a little bit of everything. Due to its history as one of the richest places in Mexico, its streets are filled with immaculate buildings and some of the best architecture in the country. If it weren’t for the obvious Mexican elements, you might think you’ve been transported across the ocean to Spain.

Although it’s a larger city, there are some smaller areas where travelers tend to congregate, making it easier than you’d expect to meet other people. Staying in the city center is always a good way to make sure you’ll cross paths with other travelers.

The city of Guanajuato is known for being fairly safe, but be sure to research the places you plan to visit outside of the city. The state of Guanajuato doesn’t have a great reputation for being safe, so if you have any doubts about any day trip it may be a good idea to go with a tour group.

2. Holbox, Quintana Roo

cancun things to do holbox island
What a magical island!

This little island in the Caribbean is a real dream. I was enchanted the first time I went and have been dying to go back ever since. Holbox is a great place for women traveling alone because it is small, quiet and social at the same time. There are no cars on the island and most people get around by golf cart, which makes it a great place for first time travelers because it’s super accessible and easy to get around.

You’re likely to see the same faces over and over again in Holbox, and that can be a lot of fun if you’re looking to meet new people. The relaxed atmosphere of the island also lends itself to easily strike up a conversation with a stranger and feel at ease.

Check out our post with many other things to do in Holbox and around Cancun.

3. Mérida, Yucatán

We’ve written about Merida before because it’s one of the most magical places in Mexico and also for sure. I lived there for 3 months while I was in college and found it incredibly hard to leave. It’s a lovely city with lots of things to do and a nice atmosphere.

I love the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Merida. There are many foreigners living there who have restaurants and shops around the city. You can find a French bakery next to a Mexican taqueria next to an Irish pub, literally!

Merida has been named the safest city in Mexico and the second safest city in all of North America. This is especially reassuring if you are a solo female traveler. In my experience street harassment in Mérida is significantly less frequent than in other places in Mexico and even in the United States.

4. San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

Oh, San Cristobal. I have found this city to be the best in Mexico if you want to heal and explore your spirituality. Nestled in the mountains, San Cristobal is surrounded by nature. Whether you want to go for a hike in the forest, swim in a lake or take a weekend trip to the beach, San Cris has it all.

I especially recommend St. Cris for women traveling alone for several reasons. First, it’s easy (and fun!) to meet people here. It’s a very social city without the intense party atmosphere of other places. You can find breweries, coffee shops, and bodegas to hang out and meet people without the crazy spring break atmosphere you might find at the beach.

Another thing I love about San Cristobal is how safe I feel here. Street harassment happens everywhere, but I have experienced much less than in other places. The general feeling of relaxation here is comforting and definitely makes me feel safer, which is something I hear from other women here all the time.

5. Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca

Oaxaca’s largest city is your perfect hub for Mexican culture, gastronomy and natural wonders. Because of its location within Mexico, it’s also a great base if you want to go explore other areas. For example, if you want to go to the beach of Puerto Escondido, you can easily get there from the city.

My favorite thing about Oaxaca is the markets. I’ve spent days exploring each one of them, meandering and eating my way through. Besides that, there are a lot of things to do in Oaxaca and many of them can be done on a tour. These tours can be a great way to meet people if you want to make friends.

Oaxaca is pretty safe, but I don’t recommend walking anywhere at night alone. Even taxi drivers have scared me there, so keep that in mind if there are any nighttime activities you want to do. I found that I never got hailed or harassed by taxi drivers when I was riding with a man. A sad but true moment for sure.

6. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

One of the things I love most about San Miguel de Allende is how warm and friendly the people are. Once a friend (a fellow solo traveler) told me that an older man randomly gave her a bouquet of flowers on the street, just because!

Actually, San Miguel is incredibly charming and beautiful. The colonial architecture will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time and the food is incredible. It is also a very walkable city, so you can get around easily if you are staying near the center.

If you love art, as I do, San Miguel is paradise. It has been a hub for artists for centuries and it seems like you can find art galleries on every corner. Being a relatively quiet town, it’s also a great place to get your feet on the ground and get down to your own creativity.

Getting around:

santa rita hot springs
The hot springs of Santa Rita

Cheap Airlines: The two best budget airlines here in Mexico are Aeromexico and JetBlue, both of which fly to almost every airport in the country. I have found them both to be very reliable and a great bargainBus: Most people travel from one city to another by bus here in Mexico. There are many options for buses, but I suggest sticking to the official buses if you can, like ADO. ADO is very popular and is the cleanest and most reliable company I have found.Colectivos: Also known as combis, these vans are great for short distances within a city or from one town to another. I don’t recommend taking them for longer distances because they tend to be quite full and there is a higher risk of being robbed. It is useful to have some command of Spanish if you plan to take them.Taxis: Taxis in Mexico are cheap and reliable. If you know a nice taxi driver at your destination, see if you can get his number so you can call him directly the next time you need a ride somewhere. If he can’t take you, send someone you trust who can. Uber is also available in many major cities. Car Rental: Sometimes a road trip is the best way to see parts of Mexico. I especially like the rentals in Quintana Roo and Baja California. Be aware that they will never honor the price you booked online, so it’s best to show up and haggle in person. Carpooling: Blablacar has become increasingly popular in Mexico, especially in the urban areas in and around Mexico City.Walk: Especially with the cities in Mexico, it’s fairly easy to get from one place to another by walking. Due to colonial architecture and city planning, things tend to be close together in the city centers.

How to meet other people while traveling alone in Mexico:

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You might be surprised by how many people travel Mexico solo. Especially, there are many travelers from Central and South America who travel through Latin America by bicycle (yes, it exists!), by van or by hitchhiking.

Don’t be afraid to take the first step and say “hello” to your fellow travellers. Sometimes you have to be the one to break the ice, especially if others are already traveling in a group and bringing their friends. In my experience, this has led me to make some wonderful friends that I still keep in touch with.Say “yes” to hanging out with strangers. I know this may sound a little intimidating to some, but you never know what adventure awaits on the other side of a “yes”. Always trust your gut about the vibe someone gives you and of course, if that person gives you a weird vibe it’s always best to say no. If not, go for it! Stay in a hostel for the first few days in a new place. I’m a person who likes to have my own space when I travel. However, I’ve found that booking a hostel for the first few nights in a new place has helped me meet people and socialize before finding a private room or Airbnb that I can have to myself. Using apps like Tinder and Bumble can be a great way to meet people, even platonically. It’s always important to make it very clear what you’re looking for and be honest if you really just want to make friends. In my experience, it’s been totally relaxed and a very easy way to meet locals and travellers.

How to stay safe while traveling alone in Mexico:

I’ve heard many people (especially women) express great concern about my solo travel in Mexico, and I understand. What we see in the news about Mexico doesn’t really paint a pretty picture and for that reason many people are afraid to travel alone here. My experience has been overwhelmingly positive, so I’m happy to share some tips on how to stay safe:

Always research where you want to go before you book something. I don’t recommend just hopping on a bus and seeing where it takes you here in Mexico. Some areas are definitely riskier than others to travel in, so try to avoid even busing through those places if you can.Don’t hitchhike. Obviously, if you’re an experienced hitchhiker and feel good about doing it in Mexico, do it. I’ve hitchhiked all over southern Africa, but I would never do it here, not even in my own country, the United States. It’s not at all common to hitchhike in Mexico, which makes it really unpredictable and potentially dangerous.Don’t walk home alone at night anywhere.Avoid drinking too much or being under the influence of any drugs with people you don’t know well. Even if it’s just hanging out with some people you met at your hostel, always make sure you have a plan to get home and do it with a clear head.Always keep your valuables when staying in hostels. Even if the people staying there seem amazing and trustworthy, it never hurts to keep your things safe.Always carry a copy of your passport, but DO NOT take the original copy out of the house. There is a chance that immigration officials will remove you from the bus while you are on your way to your destination. Stay calm, don’t panic and hand over your passport when asked for it. You may be asked where you are going and how long you are staying. If that happens, answer confidently and don’t move. Also, don’t bribe them if they give you a hard time.

What to pack in your suitcase:

Especially if you’re going on a longer trip through Mexico and visiting various places, make sure to bring layers. The weather here is drastically different on the beach than in the mountains, so I advise being prepared for both extremes.

Comfortable walking shoes that go with everything. The list of shoes I have while living in Mexico is short: black work boots (Dr. Martens), black leather sandals (Sorel), running shoes and huaraches (leather flats). These serve me well and I never have to worry about matching them because they all go with everything.Lightweight layered clothing that you feel comfortable in. I recommend traveling with as few clothes as possible in Mexico because of how easy it is to do laundry. It is very cheap and accessible to do laundry here, so survive most jeans, denim shorts, cotton tops, and cardigans.Beach ready items, like your favorite bathing suit, coverup, and something to lay on. I don’t recommend a big, bulky beach towel, so opt for a lighter fabric if you can find one.Chargers and adapters from the US work in Mexico, but make sure you have a backup because sometimes the ones they sell here can fry the cord if you’re not careful.

Where to find the best food:

Mexico has the best food in the world. Okay, I said it, and I really believe it! Each and every regional dish is bursting with flavors and I’m always excited to try something new when I go somewhere new. I mean, what did I eat before I came to Mexico, does it even matter? The food here is really THAT good.

The Market. I would recommend going to the market a thousand times over going to any fancy restaurant in Mexico. In most cities, you can find a whole section of food stalls inside the larger markets. I usually go for the ones with older women cooking and have yet to be disappointed. If you’re not sure what to order, ask what they recommend. I often get caught asking, “What did you have for breakfast?” (What did you have for breakfast?). Where’s the longest line. Yes, I’m telling you to find that line and get in it. Here in Mexico, the places with the longest lines of hungry people are usually where the best food is. Take a look at what everyone is ordering and make your choice from there. Pro-tip: ask when the place opens and try to arrive when it first opens to avoid the lines. In Mexico, meal times are much later than in the U.S., so lunchtime may be the best time to go.Ask an abuelita. If you’re not sure where to get the best mole or cochinita, ask a local old lady. I assure you she won’t fool you. Next time you’re browsing the textiles at a market stall, ask the shop assistant where she recommends you go to eat.

Long-term living and working remotely in Mexico:

There’s a reason so many people migrated to Mexico to telecommute during the pandemic. The cost of living here is a fraction of what it is in the US and most of Europe, the weather is amazing and the people are lovely. If you’re thinking of spending a longer period of time in Mexico, here are some facts and tips:

Visas: If you are from the United States or Canada, the typical tourist visa is 180 days and can be easily obtained at the point of entry. If you want to stay longer, it is completely legal to leave Mexico, cross into another country and come back after a couple of days. Many expats do this regularly and the risk is minimal.Housing: Rent is very cheap in most of Mexico, but you’ll need to know where to look for long-term accommodation, as Airbnbs can be unnecessarily expensive for long stays (I’m talking many months). I recommend booking an Airbnb for the first week or so, and from there look for a long-term option once you get here. You can find places on Facebook Marketplace, by asking other expats, or just walking around the area you’d like to live in and looking for “for rent” signs. These will say “casa en renta” and with be furnished (amueblada) or unfurnished (no amueblada).Work: If you want to work (legally) in Mexico for a Mexican business or company, it’s going to be difficult. Wages are quite low here, even if you have great qualifications. You will also need the entity to sponsor your work visa, which can be a long and expensive process, both for you and for them. However, if you want to teach English in Mexico, there are many options for schools that sponsor visas and can even offer you accommodation.

Regardless of how long you plan to stay, Mexico is an amazing country that might surprise you with how easy it is to get around. I have found that Mexico’s infrastructure allows for smooth and safe travel from place to place, which is a far cry from other places I have been.

Traveling alone as a woman in Mexico is totally doable and could become your favorite place to visit. Are you ready to book your flight yet?

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