I am regularly asked the question: Is Belize safe, or is it a dangerous country to travel?
And my general answer is yes… Overall, Belize is one of the safest places to visit. However, it is not all fine and dandy throughout the entire country. I always advise travellers to be wary of when WALKING in certain areas of Belize City. Due to it being the old capital, it has the largest populace in Belize and high unemployment has made poverty a major issue.
Catch a cab when getting from point A to B!
To be honest, I get a lot of shit from many Belizeans for being blunt about Belize City. Still, I stand by my word. If I’m a local and I personally don’t feel safe walking in certain areas, it will be much worst for tourists. I remember as a teen I would go buy my New Era caps in sketchy areas of Belize City and in several occasions I would end up running from guys who wanted to rob me.
Friends even joke around and say stuff like, what do you call a guy on a bicycle in Belize City? – A thief.
It was a funny thing to say among friends when I was growing up but digging deeper, it is very sad. I hope things change in the future.
However, to be clear, not all of Belize City is sketchy. In fact, the country’s wealthiest people live there and the tourism police also heavily patrol some areas to ensure safety – for example, the tourism village, the various tourist attractions, and downtown Albert street.
As for elsewhere in Belize, the socioeconomic situation is much better and travellers are safe to do as they please at whatever time they want. A few petty crimes may happen but rarely anything major. Granted, one must always use precaution when in a foreign country, as the old saying goes, it is much better to be safe than sorry.
Here are few safety tips worth noting:
- If you need to carry cash, only carry small amounts with you. Restaurants, hotels and tour operators accept debit and credit cards. Save your cash for street vendors and small shops.
- Don’t go around flashing large dollar bills. This should be a no-brainer.
- Only stay at recommended hotels. TripAdvisor offers useful reviews.
- Petty theft can happen anywhere, don’t leave valuables such as phones, cameras and purses unattended.
- Try to dress modestly and leave your gold jewelry in your hotel’s safe, or better yet, at home.
- Travel with someone else or in groups. Stay away from sketchy areas!
- It is smart to catch a cab after dark.
- Don’t get too inebriated and stay out late at bars and nightclubs. If you do, make sure you’re with someone you trust.
- Ask around if the area is safe and use good judgment when considering exploring on foot.
- Unfortunately, it is common for women that are travelling alone to be catcalled. If you want to be on the safe side, wear a wedding ring and be firm when rejecting any admirers.
- Sidewalks are non-existent, be careful when crossing streets since buses and cars do not usually yield for pedestrians.
It is always wise to take a Hepatitis A and B vaccine before travelling. On average, there are a few Dengue and Malaria reports in Belize but the healthcare system is good, especially private hospitals. If you get diarrhea, over the counter medicines are easily available at pharmacies and try not to drink the tap water.
At certain times of the year, Belize gets very warm with excessive humidity and you can surely be affected if you are not used to the hot climate. Beware of dehydration and overexposure to the sun – drink lots of fresh coconut water and wear sunblock. Rainy season = hurricane season, be alert and listen to the news. (See: best time to visit)
Hire a tour guide when hiking in the jungle. A good guide can easily spot any dangerous wildlife. Belize has several poisonous snakes and frogs but they usually avoid humans. Most spiders are harmless but be wary of scorpions. When snorkelling, steer clear of corals and don’t worry about sharks, due to the reef, you’ll mostly only encounter nurse sharks.
I will try to regularly update this article. Let me know if I missed anything.