Update from US State Department on Travel in Mexico

The US State Department recently updated it’s travel advisory for Mexico. While this is generally for US State Department employees, it also applies to US citizens traveling in Mexico. You can find the full advisory including specific updates for each Mexican State. Below we have included the first few lines of the General Conditions followed by an except from the specific update for the State of Guerrero where Playa Viva is located.  Your security is very important to us and we take certain security measuresUSPassports as well as ask you, our guest, to take normal precautions (many outlined by this advisory). These include traveling during the day on major highways; not displaying expensive cameras, watches and jewelry; and using common sense precautions when traveling.  Playa Viva makes sure that all transportation provided is with bonded taxis and tour guides (or well known employees and contractors).  We provide safe’s for your valuables, accept credit card on file for all payment so you do not need to carry cash and provide on site security 24×7.  We are happy to report that we have not had any incidents with guests to date and assume that part of this has to do with the great relationship we have built with the local community.  We appreciate your continued support of tourism in Mexico, to Playa Viva and support of the local community.

Below are excepts from the US State Department update on Travel to Mexico.

General Conditions: 

Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day.  The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality.  Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes. 

Nevertheless, U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter organized criminal groups that engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico.  The groups themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity.  Crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere. 

Guerrero: Acapulco, Ixtapa, Taxco and Zihuatanejo are major cities/travel destinations in Guerrero – Defer non-essential travel to the northwestern and southern portions of the state (the area west and south of the town of Arcelia on the border with Estado de Mexico in the north and west and south of the town of Tlapa near the border with Oaxaca), except for the cities of Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, and Ixtapa. In those cities, you should exercise caution and stay within tourist areas. You should also exercise caution and travel only during daylight hours on toll highway (“cuota”) 95D between Mexico City and Acapulco. Use the toll road towards the Playa Diamante area and avoid the highway running through the city of Acapulco for travel to and from Acapulco. In Acapulco, defer non-essential travel to areas further than 2 blocks inland of the Costera Miguel Aleman Boulevard, which parallels the popular beach areas. Lodging for U.S. government personnel is limited to the “Hotel Zone” of Acapulco, beginning from the Hotel Avalon Excalibur Acapulco in the north and going south through Puerto Marquez including the Playa Diamante area. Any activity outside the Hotel Zone for U.S. government personnel is limited to the coastal area from La Quebrada to the beginning of the Hotel Zone and only during daylight hours. In general, the popular tourist area of Diamante, just south of the city, has been less affected by violence. Flying into the coastal cities in southern Guerrero remains the preferred method of travel. You should defer non-essential travel by land between Acapulco and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, travel to Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa only by air, and exercise caution while in Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa. If traveling by land, use toll highway 200 between Acapulco and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa. You should also exercise caution in the northern region of Guerrero (the area north of the town of Arcelia on the border with Estado de Mexico in the north and north and east of the town of Tlapa near the border with Oaxaca). The state of Guerrero was the most violent state in Mexico in 2013, with 2,087 homicides and 207 reported cases of kidnapping, according to the Mexican Secretariado Ejecutivo Nacional de Seguridad Publica. Self-defense groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Armed members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and, although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable.


Patrimony of Humanity Site – Patzcuaro – Great Change of Scenery

When John Ayliffe and family asked me to help them plan a trip to Playa Viva and Casa Viva recently I recommended that they add 3 days in Patzcuaro, inland in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, to their trip. They started with 1 night in Casa Viva, then a 3 hour drive to Patzcuaro, 3 nights in a local residence that we arranged for them and then 3 nights warming up on the beaches of Playa Viva.  I prepared a google doc with recommendations on where to stay and these are their recommendations back to us below. Enjoy and check out the google doc for recommendations on Patzcuaro (feel free to give us your feedback and input so we can share with our guests traveling to the area):

The document that David at Playa Viva provided was full of great hints and recommendations of what to do and where to go in and around Patzcuaro. We spent 3 days soaking up the atmosphere of this heritage town and loved our morning (and evening) strolls through the town. Breakfast and coffee at La Surtidora was a firm favourite as was the market – bustling, with a great choice of hot food, fresh produce and local goods. The food at Lupita’s (near the Basilica) was also really good. The bakery on Romero (2 minutes from the main square just past the hospital) tempted us on more than occasion as our nostrils were filled with that heavenly just-baked smell. Also recommend visiting the Casa de los 11 Patios – really beautiful (http://www.patzcuaro.com/atractivos/5_once_patios.html).

Going out of town, we only managed to visit Tzintzuntzan (the potter is well worth a visit), Santa Clara del Cobre (the copper work is FANTASTIC – our favourite – visit the museum on the main street) and the quaint Bavarian restaurant near Erongaricuaro where the kids fished for trout and carp – a welcome break for them from the artisans.

We are often asked, “Is Playa Viva safe?” With all the news you hear, read and see about violence in Mexico, it’s hard not to see how some folks extrapolate the gore across all of Mexico.  So it is with great interest that this story crossed my in-box showing that murder in Ciudad Juarez has gone down and the distinguished title of Most Dangerous City in the World has been relinquished to Bogota Columbia.  Click here to read full article.

Even more surprising is to see St. Louis, Missouri on that list in the #4 spot.  That’s right, a US City as one of the most dangerous in the world.  The honor went to St. Louis beating out Camden, Detroit and New Orleans.  What is interesting to note is how come we don’t hear about this in the US media as much as we hear about the violence in Mexico.  Would everyone be rushing back to New Orleans after Katrina to help rebuild the city and support the local tourist economy if they new it was one of the top 5 most dangerous cities in the US?

I also encourage you to read this blog – Is it Safe To Travel in Mexico – for a more balanced view on this issue.

We want to hear your comments about this topic. Especially those who have traveled to Mexico in the last two years.