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Costa Rica vs Mexico: Which is the Safer Vacation Destination?

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If you are considering taking a vacation to either Costa Rica or Mexico, you may be wondering: Is Costa Rica safer than Mexico? It is a valid question, as both countries have their own unique risks and dangers that you should be aware of before planning your trip.

In this blog post, we will take a look at the safety concerns for both countries and compare them so that you can make an informed decision about where to go on your next vacation.

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If you have decided to travel to Central America for your next vacation, but can’t decide if you should explore Mexico or Costa Rica I am here to provide you with the pros and cons of visiting each country along with which country is my favorite and why.

Are you wondering is it safe to travel to Mexico right now or is Costa Rica safe? 

Both Mexico and Costa Rica have a lot to offer in terms of authentic cuisine, attractions, beaches, and a ton of upscale boutique hotels. 

Mexico is a hop, skip, and jump from any major U.S. city with more than 30 million Americans visiting  Mexico last year.

Mexico is known for its beautiful beaches, rowdy spring breakers, luxury resorts, fluctuating currency, and even the long-running drug war with the cartel.  

Costa Rica, on the other hand, is a bit farther away from the United States but all the major airlines offer low-cost flights to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica might be smaller than Mexico, but Costa Rica is just as diverse and includes gorgeous beaches, volcanos, rain forests, jungles, bird watching, insects, plants, and animals not seen anywhere else in the world. 

While the Mexican resort towns of Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, and Tulum are filled with Spring Breakers, Costa Rica on the other hand offers a more relaxed, family-friendly environment and is great for couples and solo travel.

When deciding whether to visit Costa Rica or Mexico you first have to decide what it is you love to do, who you are traveling with, and do you want a party scene or more of an adult and laid-back atmosphere.

Mexico - Costa Rica Travel Guide

Violence in Mexico

The levels of violence in Mexico have been a growing concern for travelers. The country has seen a dramatic increase in violence related to drug cartels, and there have been reports of kidnappings and murders.

The state of Guerrero has seen some of the highest levels of violence in Mexico, prompting many travelers to steer clear of this state altogether.

Mexico vs Costa Rica, in terms of violence, is an issue that needs to be considered when deciding which country to vacation in.

Drug cartel activity in Mexico

Drug cartels have become an unfortunate reality in Mexico, and the violence and crime associated with them is a major concern for tourists.

According to the US Department of State, some areas of Mexico are experiencing levels of drug-related violence that are “unprecedented” compared to previous years.

The same report also mentions that the Mexican government has taken some measures to combat the problem, including increasing the number of law enforcement personnel. 

The reality is that in certain areas, drug cartel activity is still rampant, and tourists should take the necessary precautions to stay safe while in Mexico.

It’s important to note that most of the violence associated with the drug cartels occurs in the northwestern states of Mexico, whereas Costa Rica is located in Central America and is not affected by the same type of conflict.

By comparing Mexico vs Costa Rica, it’s clear that there is much less risk of encountering drug cartel activity in Costa Rica than in Mexico.

Crime rates in Costa Rica

When it comes to Mexico vs Costa Rica debate, one of the most important factors to consider is crime rates. Costa Rica is generally regarded as a relatively safe destination for tourists and locals alike.

According to Numbers Crime Index for 2020, Costa Rica has a score of 47.20, whereas Mexico has a score of 57.73. This indicates that Costa Rica is the safer choice when it comes to crime rates.

The Costa Rican government has taken steps to reduce crime, with initiatives such as increasing the number of police officers on the streets and encouraging citizen involvement in crime prevention.

Additionally, while Costa Rica does have a significant amount of gang activity, most of this is contained to certain areas and not considered a large threat to tourists visiting the country.

As a result, travelers can feel relatively safe exploring Costa Rica’s cities and rural areas.

Corruption in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is considered to be much less corrupt than Mexico, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.

In 2016, Costa Rica was ranked 53 out of 176 countries, while Mexico was ranked 107. This means that there is much less bribery and misuse of public funds in Costa Rica than there is in Mexico.

Additionally, the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators report that Costa Rica scored higher than Mexico in the categories of Control of Corruption and Government Effectiveness in 2016.

It’s important to note that there are still some issues with corruption in Costa Rica. In July 2018, Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís requested the resignation of five of his cabinet members due to accusations of corruption.

This has caused some instability in the government, and could potentially lead to more corruption. Despite this, Costa Rica is still considered to be a much safer option than Mexico when it comes to avoiding corruption.

Is Costa Rica safe for tourists?

When comparing Mexico vs Costa Rica for a safe vacation destination, it’s important to consider the crime rates in each country. In Costa Rica, the overall rate of violent crime is significantly lower than in Mexico.

The homicide rate in Costa Rica is 5.2 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in Mexico it is 24.1 per 100,000 inhabitants. Additionally, drug-related crime and gang activity are not as prevalent in Costa Rica.

In terms of corruption, Costa Rica ranks relatively low in Latin America with a score of 48 out of 100 on the 2018 Corruption Perception Index.

Overall, Costa Rica is seen as much safer than Mexico, making it an ideal destination for tourists looking to enjoy its tropical climate and beautiful beaches without feeling too unsafe.

Nevertheless, visitors to Costa Rica should be aware of their surroundings and take precautions to avoid any potential risks. Be sure to stay in well-lit areas at night and don’t wander off alone in unfamiliar places.

Additionally, it’s advisable to research your destination before traveling and stay up to date on local news and alerts.

Is Mexico safe for tourists?

When it comes to Mexico vs Costa Rica in terms of safety for tourists, Mexico is often seen as a less safe destination due to the prevalence of violence related to drug cartels.

The US State Department has issued warnings about areas where there is drug cartel activity, particularly in the northern states of Mexico.

However, the majority of tourist destinations are located in the more central and southern states and are generally considered safe.

That being said, it’s important to exercise caution when visiting Mexico. Research the area you plan to visit before you go and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Avoid traveling alone and don’t go out after dark. While Mexico can be a safe destination, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

Mexico vs Costa Rica – (Costa Rica)

Costa Rica ranges from tiny surf towns on the Pacific to the busy capital of San Jose while Mexico is the party capital of Latin America. 

I prefer Costa Rica over Mexico because the water is safe to drink, and the country has some of the best healthcare facilities in the world so I don’t worry about what will happen if I get sick while traveling.

Costa Rica is famously located in the “blue zone” where people live longer and they are healthier than most people anywhere else in the world.

I love Mexico and I travel there annually because there is so much natural beauty.  If you prefer to layout on the beach, hike a waterfall, or kayak down a river you will find yourself surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

For me, it really comes down to my mood and what I am looking to get out of my vacation when deciding whether I am traveling to Costa Rica or Mexico.

When considering which country is the best fit for your next vacation consider the cost of flights hotels and the language barrier. 

Let’s take a look at the two countries and compare Mexico vs Costa Rica to see what each country has to offer.

Why Vacation In Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known as the “happiest country on earth”. Costa Ricans live a peaceful and nearly conflict-free lifestyle embodied in the local phrase “Pura Vida!” meaning Pure Life!

Costa Rica also has one great advantage that you just can’t find in Mexico – world-class surfing!

The Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is home to some of the best surf sites in the world with huge swells and long breaks that are ideal for surfers of all abilities and experience levels.

When To Go To Costa Rica

The green season months are typically better for surfing but be prepared for rain, mosquitos, and muddy roads.

The dry season months are prime beach weather but also be prepared to spend an arm and a leg on hotel accommodations.

For experienced surfers, there are definitely world-class waves to be had at several different breaks in the area during the swell season, which is May through December.

Where To Stay in Costa Rica

Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has made a name for itself as the adventure capital of Central America thanks to its rainforest hikes, volcanoes, zip-lining, and ATV-ing but let’s not forget about the stunning beaches in Costa Rica. 

I’ve rounded up seven of Costa Rica’s best beaches. With sun-kissed sands and turquoise waves, these not-to-be-missed beaches effortlessly embrace the Pura Vida lifestyle.

  1. Playa Conchal
  2. Playa Manzanillo
  3. Nosara
  4. Playa Montezuma
  5. Costa Ballena
  6. Tamarindo
  7. Manuel Antonio

What to do if you’re worried about safety while vacationing in either country

When vacationing in either Mexico or Costa Rica, it is important to take some basic safety precautions. Staying informed about the current situation in both countries is essential.

In Mexico, travelers should be aware of drug cartel activity, as well as ongoing violence. In Costa Rica, travelers should be mindful of corruption and crime rates.

It is important to research the areas where you are staying and plan activities accordingly. Avoiding dangerous neighborhoods and places known for high crime rates is key to a safe vacation in either country.

Exercise caution when driving, especially at night. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t carry large amounts of cash with you.

Travelers should also familiarize themselves with the local laws and customs. Follow local guidelines for clothing and behavior, and be respectful of local cultures.

Additionally, it is recommended to purchase travel insurance before leaving for your trip to provide protection for yourself and your belongings. 

By following these safety measures, travelers can have an enjoyable and safe experience in either Mexico or Costa Rica.

Country Summary: While petty crime is the predominant threat to tourists in Costa Rica, violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, and sexual assault, occurs in Costa Rica.

The Costa Rican government provides additional security resources in areas frequented by tourists.

If you decide to travel to Costa Rica:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • U.S. citizens should always exercise caution when traveling abroad.
  • Follow the Department of State on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Costa Rica.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy San José
Calle 98, Via 104
San José, Costa Rica
+(506) 2519-2000
+(506) 2220-3127
+(506) 2220-2455

Stay Secure in Style: Top Safe Hotels in Costa Rica and Cancun

Are you looking for the safest hotels in Costa Rica or Cancun? From luxurious resorts to cozy boutique hotels, both Costa Rica and Mexico have something for everyone.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family-friendly adventure, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that your hotel is secure.

Read on to learn more about our top picks for safe hotels.

Location, Location, Location

When it comes to safety, one of the most important things to consider when choosing a hotel is its location. Opting for a hotel in a well-lit and populated area can go a long way in ensuring your safety.

Avoiding hotels located in remote or sketchy areas is always a wise choice. When you’re in a popular spot with a lot of people around, there’s less likelihood of encountering any kind of danger.

Plus, it makes it easier to get help in case of an emergency. So, be sure to research the area and location of the hotel before making a booking.

The Right Room

When choosing a safe hotel the room you book is just as important as the location.

Consider requesting a room on an upper floor as it is less accessible to outside intruders. It’s also important to check the room’s entry points.

Do the windows have locks? Are there security bars? Does the door have a peephole? Make sure to inquire about the safety features of the room before booking.

If you are traveling alone or with children, it may be best to opt for a room near the front desk or elevator for added security and ease of access. Always choose a hotel that prioritizes the safety of its guests and invests in the right security measures.

Do Your Research

Before booking any hotel it’s important to do your research. Make sure you know what to expect from the area, what kind of amenities and facilities are available, and most importantly, which hotels have the best safety features.

One great way to start your research is by looking at reviews and ratings online. Many popular travel sites offer unbiased reviews from previous guests, which can help you get an idea of what to expect.

Take note of any comments or concerns that other travelers may have had regarding safety or security.

It’s also a good idea to research the specific neighborhood or area where your hotel is located. Some areas may have higher crime rates than others, and it’s important to be aware of any potential risks or hazards.

Look for hotels in areas that are well-lit, well-traveled, and that have a visible presence of security personnel.

Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to the hotel directly with any questions or concerns you may have about safety or security.

Ask about their policies regarding keycard access, security cameras, and on-site security personnel. A good hotel will be happy to address any concerns you may have and will prioritize your safety and security during your stay.

Check the Reviews

Find a Hotel with Good Security

One of the most important aspects of staying in a hotel is feeling secure and safe. Before booking your stay it’s crucial to look for a hotel that offers excellent security measures.

One of the key security features to look for in a hotel is 24-hour surveillance, both inside and outside of the property. Make sure that the hotel has security cameras installed in all common areas and parking lots.

This will ensure that any suspicious activity is captured and monitored in real time.

Another crucial aspect of good hotel security is access control. Hotels should have a reliable and efficient key card system to ensure that only guests have access to their rooms.

Moreover, they should also have staff members posted at the entrances to ensure that only authorized personnel are allowed to enter the premises.

Additionally, consider looking for hotels that have in-room safes to keep your valuable belongings secure while you’re away. 

Ultimately, it’s important to prioritize your safety when choosing a hotel. Before booking your stay, do thorough research to ensure that the hotel you’re considering has a strong security infrastructure in place.

By taking these measures, you can relax and enjoy your stay with peace of mind.

Click the Map for the Best Luxury Hotels in Costa Rica

Click the Map for the Best Luxury Hotels in Cancun

Costa Rica or Mexico – (Mexico)

Mexico is the third-largest country in Latin America behind Brazil and Argentina and has a population of 106 million people so you must be asking yourself is it safe to travel to Mexico right now.

The people of Mexico are warm and friendly, and I have always felt welcomed there while vacationing. Mexico is a country rich in cultural history, ancient traditions, and customs as they are of progressing in the world.

The legacy of the Olmecs, Maya, and Aztecs can be seen in over 60 surviving languages spoken today. Furthermore, the architecture and art found in most major cities will help you to see Mexico in a whole new light.

While Mexico is a great country, it comes with major issues including feuding drug cartels, rising crime rates, and growing unemployment.

I am not sure if the crime rates are overblown by the U.S. government because I have not once encountered any kind of crime while exploring Mexico.

Each region in Mexico has its own distinct flavors and techniques that make its cuisine one of the most varied in the world.

Mexican cuisine is distinctive and one of a kind and in fact, it’s so delicious that it is the first cuisine to receive World Heritage status from UNESCO.

Why Vacation in Mexico

Mexico is one of the top 5 most biologically diverse countries in the world, boasting around 1,500 mammals, amphibian and reptile species, 1,000 bird species, and 30,000 different plant species.

You will also find whale sharks, grey whales, and monarch butterflies all of which end their yearly journey in Mexico.

If you decide to vacation in Mexico there will be plenty of opportunities to see some of the most beautiful animals including whale watching and swimming with dolphins.

When To Go To Mexico

The best time to visit Mexico is from December to April during the peak season. Even though the crowds are heavier, you’ll experience near-perfect weather and find some of the cheapest flight and room rates for a winter getaway at the beach.

Just try to avoid traveling from mid-March to early April – that’s when spring breakers descend on the Yucatán’s shores.

There are also significant discounts in late spring, summer, and fall, but Mexico’s summers are sweltering and the fall months are prone to storms so you really need to take weather into consideration when planning your vacation to Mexico.

Where To Stay in Mexico

Some of Mexico’s beach destinations have gained popularity once college students begin to descend upon the resort towns for spring annually.

These popular vacation spots in Mexico offer powdery sand and crystalline water along with an abundance of tourist amenities and attractions.

A few places worth checking out for your next trip to Mexico are the following: Rosewood Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, and Secrets Vallarta Bay, Puerto Vallarta

What Do To In Mexico

  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Jet skiing
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Cooking Classes

Best Beaches in Mexico

With its 6,000 miles of coastline, Mexico is one of the most popular beach destinations for both families and couples alike.

If you look beyond Cabo and Cancún, there are tons of less crowded and beautiful stretches of beaches that have not been spoiled by spring breakers. 

Here, are my seven favorite beaches south of the border.

  1. Isla Holbox, Quintana Roo
  2. Playa San Agustin, Oaxaca
  3. Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco
  4. La Paz, Baja California Sur
  5. Troncones, Guerrero
  6. Playa de Akumal, Quintana Roo
  7. Xcalak, Costa Maya

Is It Safe To Travel To Mexico Right Now?

When my readers ask me if Mexico is safe, my response is a resounding yes!

Safety is something you should be concerned about no matter the destination.  Despite what the media is reporting, thousands of people travel to Mexico without anything bad happening to them. 

While Mexico does suffer from high crime and homicide rates which are linked to the drug trade — most areas of Mexico are safe to visit, even for women traveling solo throughout the country. 

While these are isolated incidents I believe for the most part Mexico is safe but you must use common sense when traveling to any foreign country. 

I can’t guarantee that nothing will happen but I also can’t guarantee you won’t get robbed as you are leaving your home but it doesn’t stop you from running errands, going to work, shopping, or just hanging out.  

My experience with Mexico has been nothing but pleasant.  The people are friendly, family-oriented, very religious, and completely willing to help and answer questions therefore I believe Mexico is safe.

For detailed information on all states in Mexico, please see below.

If you decide to travel to Mexico:

  • Keep your traveling companions and family back home informed of your travel plans. If separating from your travel group, send a friend your GPS location. If taking a taxi alone, take a photo of the taxi number and/or license plate and text to a friend.
  • Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving alone or at night. In many states, police presence and emergency services are extremely limited outside the state capital or major cities.
  • Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Reports for Mexico.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Mexico City
Paseo de la Reforma 305
Colonia Cuauhtemoc
06500 Ciudad de Mexico
U.S. Citizen Services: (From Mexico) 1-800-681-9374 (From the United States) 1-844-528-6611

Useful Resources to Help You Explore Costa Rica or Mexico

  • Expedia: the best website for finding cheap flight deals and hotels to and from Costa Rica.
  • Booking.com: my favorite hotel booking website, as it consistently has the best selection and prices.
  • Hotels.com: another excellent hotel booking website for finding fabulous Athens accommodation.
  • Tripadvisor: this famous review website now allows you to book accommodation and tours direct as well.
  • Get Your Guide: my favorite resource for finding tours and activities in Costa Rica and elsewhere.
  • Viator: another great option for finding fun things to do, skip-the-line tickets, and fabulous tours in Mexico.


Conclusion of Mexico vs Costa Rica

Mexico is known for its all-inclusive resorts with private beaches, unlimited drinks and food, and a ton of activities, but you can find the same sort of vacation in Costa Rica.

Whether you decide on Mexico or Costa Rica is really dependent upon who you are traveling with, your budget, and the type of vacation you want to have.

For me, Costa Rica is a great alternative to a Mexican vacation because of its lush rainforests, the country is a great place if you’re looking to include zip-lining in your vacation plans.

Pretty much anyone between the ages of five and 85 who visit the country can find a zip-lining adventure that suits them, whether it involves soaring through the canopies, rappelling down waterfalls, hanging off bridges, or all of the above.

No matter where you stay, a zip-line adventure will be none too far away, and the stunning views should not be missed.

On top of that, there are several active volcanoes and many rivers and streams that attract kayakers and canoers from around the world.

There are beaches to lounge on, trails to hike and ride horses on, and reefs for diving and exploring, making Costa Rica a great spot for your next trip.


YES! Travel Insurance is important no matter where you are traveling because accidents happen and you should always travel with insurance.

I got extremely sick in the Czech Republic and that was the one time I decided to forego travel insurance I racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills and they wanted their money before I would even be seen by the ER Doctors. 

Ready to plan your trip, grab my FREE  Vacation Planner to help you plan your trip in the time it takes to watch your favorite TV show!

Travel Guide


7-Day Costa Rica Travel Guide & Itinerary

Riviera Maya Travel Guide Including Excursions

Is Mexico City Safe

Do you have your own reasons for choosing  Mexico vs Costa Rica or vice versa?  Add your comments and tell us why you love Mexico.

I would love to hear your thoughts so leave me a comment on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram


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  1. LOL, you certainly did a terrible job comparing Mexico and Costa Rica.
    1) Mexico is EXACTLY 40 Costa Rica countries,
    2) Mexico has HUGE surf towns, check Oaxaca Puerto Escondido and the likes, Sayulita in Nayarit
    3) Mexico is not in Central America, Mexico is in North America
    4) Mexico has 4 time zones, all climates, from jungles as the Amazon to deserts as the Sahara
    5) Food in Mexico is amazing, UNESCO heritage of Mankind awarded, only France and Japan have the same award
    6) Don´t drink water from your home, buy bottled water
    7 ) Mexico received 42 million tourists in 2019, to 3 million in Costa Rica for a reason
    8) If you are to travel Mexico from point to point is the equivalent of going from Portugal to Siberia
    9) Mexico is megadiverse, Costa Rica is not
    10) Mexico has 37 UNESCO sites, the most in the Americas, compare it to 22 the USA has, and Costa RIca has 5
    11) Mexico has a huge hotel, hostel, tourist infrastructure, internet, etc
    12) Hospitals are better in Mexico, you can check medical tourism statistics
    13) There are dozens of flights a day to the USA
    14) Prices in Mexico are amazing value

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