Is San Cristóbal safe? San Cristóbal De Las Casas is one of the most popular places to visit in Chiapas that's famous for its culture, history and proximity to waterfalls and scenic hikes.

Is San Cristobal De Las Casas safe? – Your complete guide 2023

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I might earn a small commission if you make a purchase through the links in this article. 

Planning a trip to Chiapas, and wondering whether San Cristobal De Las Casas is safe?

San Cristobal is one of my favorite cities in Mexico, and after visiting it several times, I get tons of questions about safety in San Cristobal. Just a few years ago, San Cris was mostly off the beaten path, but as more people discover it, this town in the Chiapas highlands is becoming popular.

If you want to enjoy the culture of San Cristobal and explore the many natural wonders in the area like hiking trails, waterfalls, and spectacular mountains, you are in the right place.

I decided to write this article to explain the topic of safety in San Cristobal De Las Casas and Chiapas and help you prepare for your trip. If San Cristobal sounds like a fun place and you want to enjoy the best of it, keep on reading.

Is San Cristobal De Las Casas safe to visit?

San Cristobal is generally safe to visit, as it has avoided the drug violence that has affected many parts of Mexico. However, in recent years, San Cristobal has seen an increase in crime tied to the Los Motonetos group involved in drug trafficking, robberies, and assaults.

Los Motonetos started in 2020 by recruiting youth from impoverished parts of San Cristobal populated by indigenous people. It has since grown into a criminal network that terrorized parts of the city and made headlines because of its kidnappings, attacks on police, and shootings.

How to stay safe in San Cristobal De Las Casas?

As long as you stay away from drugs and don’t engage in shady activities when visiting San Cristobal, you are not likely to get affected by organized crime in the city. Follow common sense and watch your surroundings to stay out of trouble.

What the US state department says about safety in Chiapas Mexico?

The US State Department has four classifications for Mexican states which include “exercise normal precautions,” “exercise increased caution,” “reconsider travel” and “do not travel.”

As of 2023, the U.S. State Department advises its citizens to exercise increased caution when traveling to Chiapas due to crime. Other states on the list are Tabasco, Queretaro, Puebla, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Mexico City, Mexico State, and Baja California.

My take on safety in Chiapas

I traveled through most of Chiapas and never felt unsafe. Although the state has bad roads outside Tuxtla Guttierez and San Cristobal, and many impoverished areas, you are generally not a target of crime as a tourist, unless you put yourself in a sketchy situation.

What’s been happening in San Cristobal recently?

In April 2023, armed clashes occurred in the northern part of San Cristobal De Las Casas after the killing of the leader of the Santo Domingo Artisan Market.

The event prompted the cancellation of classes in schools and many businesses have closed their doors due to safety concerns, but things have calmed down since then. Still, many residents of San Cristobal say that things have changed, as the city is less safe now than before.

I have never felt unsafe when visiting San Cristobal, but several locals that I’ve talked to expressed safety corners because of the recent spike in crime.

What’s the crime like in San Cristobal De Las Casas?

San Cristobal has organized crime just like the rest of Chiapas, but you are not likely to be affected as a tourist unless you get involved with drugs and other illegal activities.

According to Numbeo, a website that measures the safety index, the crime level in San Cristobal De Las Casas is 29.55 which is low, but crime in the city has been increasing in the past 3 years is over 68, which is very high.

What’s the most common type of crime in San Cristobal De Las Casas?

The most common type of crime in San Cristobal is corruption and bribery, followed by theft, vandalism, assault, and armed robbery. To avoid trouble, keep a low profile when visiting San Cristobal. Dress in plain clothes and don’t showcase anything expensive in public.

Let me plan your Mexico trip, so you can save time and money!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    What is the unrest in Chiapas Mexico?

    Chiapas is known for its Zapatista movement (named after its leader Emiliano Zapata) which originated in 1994, after the tension between the Mexican government and the local indigenous community escalated into a revolt, as indigenous people were protesting social and economic inequalities.

    Walk the streets of San Cristobal, and you will still find tons of wall art showing the history of San Cristobal where poor indigenous communities were pitted against a small group of rich landowners.

    In small mountain towns around San Cristobal and many other parts of Chiapas, the Zapatista movement still lives on. Many indigenous communities still oppose the government and have their police and rules, as they consider themselves autonomous.

    San Cristobal, on the contrary, has plenty of police and military and you can see them regularly on city streets. As a tourist, you are generally safe in the city, even though it has seen an increase in violence because of the rise in organized crime.

    Is Chiapas poor?

    Chiapas has the highest poverty rate of all states in Mexico, which is currently above 75 percent. A significant part of Chiapas’s population is indigenous people, which have been historically marginalized and face high rates of inequality when it comes to education and employment, among other things.

    Exploring Zocalo (or the main square) is one of the best free things to do in San Cristobal De Las Casas.

    Is San Cristobal De Las Casas safe for solo female travelers?

    I visited San Cristobal by myself several times, and as a solo female traveler, I never felt unsafe. That, however, doesn’t mean that you should wander around at night and forget about common sense.

    If you are visiting San Cristobal by yourself, stick to popular tourist attractions. You can enjoy exploring the historic part of San Cristobal, visiting museums, and taking guided tours to places like Sumidero Canon, Lagunas De Montebello National Park and indigenous villages Chamula.

    What areas of San Cristobal to avoid?

    If you are visiting San Cristobal De Las Casas for the first time, it’s best to stay in the historic part of town, from where you can enjoy the best things to do in San Cristobal De Las Casas on foot.

    So is Chiapas safe?

    Although Chiapas is the poorest state in Mexico, it’s safer than many other places in Mexico. It has a lower crime index than many popular destinations like Cancun, Tulum, or Playa Del Carmen.

    Is the road from Palenque to San Cristóbal safe?

    Palenque to San Cristobal is a rural road that connects the two most popular destinations in Chiapas. The road has garnered a bad reputation because of frequent roadblocks in Ocosingo, and other small towns along the way.

    Is it safe to travel by car from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas via Ocosingo?

    Exercise increased caution when driving from Palenque to San Cristobal De Las Casas. If you decide to drive from Palenque to San Cristobal, keep your driving to daytime, as travelers have reported being harassed along this route.

    How long does it take to get from Palenque to San Cristobal?

    The distance from San Cristobal to Palenque is 212.6 km. Driving fast is impossible because of the many speed bumps along this route, and it takes about 5 hours and 20 minutes to cover the stretch.

    What to wear in San Cristobal De Las Casas?

    San Cristobal is located at the altitude of 7,200 feet (2,200 meters), and it gets cold here! It’s often chilly in the morning and warmer in the afternoon before it gets cold again at night. Bring light clothing like t-shirts and shirts for mid-day and warm sweaters and jackets for early morning and evening.

    I also recommend dressing in plain clothes that don’t attract attention. When you walk around San Cristobal, you will notice that there are quite a few people on the streets who are asking for money. If you put on your best clothes, you will attract more attention and more people who are looking for a handout will assume that you have money.

    Is San Cristobal De Las Casas safe at night?

    San Cristobal is generally safe at night, but you should stick to tourist areas if you plan to be out late. You are unlikely to get robbed or attacked, but as a tourist, you will always get noticed, so it’s better to stay away from isolated areas where crime is more likely to occur.

    Where to stay in San Cristobal?

    The best place to stay in San Cristobal De Las Casas is the historic district where you can choose from many accommodations like resorts, hostels, and cute boutique hotels built in a colonial style.

    • Budget: Casa La Ying is one of the best budget hotels in the heart of San Cristobal that also has a Chinese restaurant on site.
    • Medium-budget: Hotel Cielo y Selva – one of the cutest boutique hotels in San Cristobal De Las Casas with friendly staff and a nice quiet atmosphere.
    • Luxury: Hotel Bo is one of the most popular places to stay in San Cristobal De Las Casas that has a great location and an on-site restaurant

    Safety Tips for Visiting San Cristobal De Las Casas

    • Don’t drive at night – Driving in Chiapas at night is not recommended for safety reasons. Many secondary and rural roads in Chiapas are in poor condition and there’s little to no lighting. It’s also not uncommon for livestock and wild animals to be on the road at night, which can make it dangerous to drive at high speeds.
    • Don’t drive by yourself – Outside of San Cristobal De Las Casas and Tuxtla Guttierez, Chiapas is a rural state. Road services and amenities are scarce, and if something happens on the road, you could spend a long time waiting for help. If you want to do a Chiapas road trip, drive with someone else.
    • Always have cash – Some small pueblos in Chiapas have “autodefensas,” groups made up of locals that act as police. Chiapas has a long history of autonomous villages that goes back to the Zapatista movement, as some municipalities don’t recognize the official government. It’s not uncommon for these groups to put up roadblocks and ask everyone who wants to pass pay money. Usually, you can get through pretty quickly after paying about 50-70 Pesos.
    • Avoid remote areas – It could be tempting to venture into the remote parts of Chiapas, but for safety reasons, it’s best to avoid it. If you want to get off the beaten path, hire a local guide or do it with someone else.
    • Be careful around Ocosingo – Ocosingo is a small town about halfway between Palenque and San Cristobal De Las Casas that’s known for its higher-than-normal crime rate. If you are driving from San Cristobal to Palenque, avoid driving through Ocosingo at night.
    • Learn some Spanish – If you plan to travel to Chiapas, learn at least some Spanish, as most people don’t speak English. Speaking Spanish will help you to have better situational awareness and have an overall better experience.
    • Always fill up your car – If you plan to take day trips from San Cristobal, keep your gas tank full. Some places in Chiapas have no gas stations as locals fill up their cars with gas from canisters brought from other places. The last thing you want is to be stuck on the road without gas.
    • Don’t leave your valuables unattended – Always keep an eye on your belongings, whether you are going out to a restaurant or staying in one of the most popular hostels in San Cristobal. Petty theft can occur at any time, and having your valuables stolen could put a damper on your experience.

    Driving in Chiapas

    Driving is the best way to discover Chiapas, as many areas of the state are remote and can’t be accessed by tours or public transport. However, driving in Chaipas comes with challenges, as many roads are in very poor condition, and there are could be wild animals and livestock on the road, especially at night.

    Read my guide to visiting Agua Azul, one of the most popular waterfalls in Chiapas.

    Additionally, many drivers tend to be aggressive and even reckless, so you should exercise caution at all times when driving in Chiapas. Speaking from my personal experience, I can tell you that road conditions here are much worse than in other popular states like Yucatan, Baja California, or even Oaxaca.

    Pot holes, speed bumps and dirt roads are all common in Chiapas, especially in rural areas around the border with Guatemala. When I drove around the state, I saw parts of the road where parts of the road have collapsed. If you are driving through remote areas of Chiapas, driving with caution is essential.

    What to know about roadblocks in Chiapas

    Roadblocks (or bloqueos) in Chiapas are common in remote mountain areas where local communities ask visitors to pay if they want to pass through the area. If you plan on driving in Chiapas, always have cash on you, as you might run into a roadblock along the way.

    When you encounter roadblocks in Chiapas, they could have a rope across the road with a stop sign, or a person who stops you and asks for money. If you encounter a roadblock, it’s best not to argue and simply give the money, so you can continue your journey.

    You could also run into people who put a rope across the road and ask you to buy something before you can proceed.

    This happened to me one time, when I was driving to Agua Azul from Palenque and had two vendors who were wouldn’t let me pass before I bought a bag of fried plantains for 20 Pesos.

    How to get to San Cristobal De Las Casas?

    You can get to San Cristobal De Las Casas by driving, taking a bus, or flying. Here’s a complete overview:

    By driving

    The best way to visit San Cristobal De Las Casas is by driving, as having your car will give you the most flexibility and allow you to visit places off the beaten track, like Chiapas waterfalls and other natural landmarks like Lagunas De Montebello National Park.

    I recommend and use DiscoverCars, a platform where you can browse dozens of vehicles and also purchase Mexico car insurance, which is mandatory for all car rentals in the country.


    By flying

    Tuxtla Guttierez, the capital of Chiapas, is home to the largest airport in the state, Angel Albino Corzo International Airport (TGZ), also known as Tuxtla Gutierrez Airport. You can fly to Tuxtla from major destinations in Mexico like Mexico City, Guadalajara, Tijuana, Merida, and Cancun, and some international connections like Guatemala City.

    If you fly to Tuxtla Guttierez, I suggest renting a car at Tuxtla Airport to have more freedom to explore San Cristobal and the surrounding areas.

    To book your car in Tuxtla, check DiscoverCars, my favorite platform for booking cars in Mexico. It doesn’t have hidden fees or surcharges, and you can also use it to buy your Mexican car insurance, which is mandatory for all car rentals in Mexico.

    By taking a bus ride

    If you are traveling on a budget, the best way to visit Chiapas is by taking a bus ride. You can catch a bus to Chiapas from Palenque, CancunBacalar, and Oaxaca. Keep in mind that it can take a while to get to San Cristobal, depending on where you are traveling from.


    So, is Chiapas Mexico safe for tourists?

    Chiapas is generally a safe destination for tourists that has a lower crime rate than many popular destinations in Mexico. However, Chiapas is the poorest state in Mexico with many bad roads, scarce amenities, and remote areas, which can present challenges if you plan on traveling independently or driving in Chiapas.

    Buying a travel insurance for your trip to Chiapas

    One of the best ways to protect yourself ahead of your trip to Chiapas is to buy travel insurance. You never know what might happen on the road, and having an insurance is the best way to protect yourself from losing time and money.

    Safety Wing is one of the best insurance plans for long-term travelers and digital nomads that covers you in the event of stolen and lost luggage, hospital visits and other unforeseen circumstances. WorldNomads is one of the most popular travel insurance options that offers option for long and short-term travel.

    Is San Cristobal De Las Casas safe: FAQ’s

    San Cristobal De Las Casas is one of the best places to visit in Chiapas if you are looking for history and culture.

    Can you drink tap water in Chiapas?

    No, you can’t drink tap water in Chiapas like anywhere else in Mexico. Studies have found that most water in San Cristobal is contaminated, and is not safe for human consumption. When visiting Chiapas, buy bottled water or bring a water bottle that you can refill in your hotel.

    How safe is San Cristobal Mexico?

    San Cristobal is an overall safe destination where you can enjoy culture, history, and proximity to outdoor opportunities. As a tourist, you should stick to popular places, and avoid remote areas of the city.

    Is San Cristobal De Las Casas expensive?

    San Cristobal De Las Casas is one of the most budget-friendly destinations in Mexico.

    Is it worth visiting San Cristobal?

    Yes, San Cristobal is worth a stop on your Chiapas itinerary. It boasts colonial charm with tile roof buildings, rich culture and history, and access to wonderful natural landmarks. Chiapas is also located in the heart of Mexico’s top-producing coffee region, which means you can take tours of local coffee plantations and farms.

    Is it safe to drive through Chiapas?

    Driving in Chiapas is generally safe, however, you should keep your driving to daytime, as road conditions are often poor and there can be roadblocks, especially in rural areas that have an autonomous form of government and demand money from travelers who want to drive through.

    Is Chiapas safe for American tourists?

    Chiapas is perfectly safe for American tourists. People in San Cristobal are generally friendly and if you show interest in the local culture and follow common sense, your chances of staying away from trouble will be much higher.

    Is San Cristobal De Las Casas safe: final word

    San Cristobal De Las Casas is a hidden gem of Mexico where you can learn the history, taste some of the best coffee in Mexico and visit stunning waterfalls. San Cristobal is relatively safe for tourists who want to enjoy everything that the city has to offer. While San Cristobal is not 100 percent safe, you can reduce your chances of getting in trouble by keeping a low profile, learning some Spanish, and showing respect to locals.

    I hope this article answered your questions about safety in Chiapas and San Cristobal, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know.