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Michoacán Safety 2024: How Safe is Michoacán for Travel?

Susan Laurent
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by Susan Laurent

Michoacán is a beautiful state situated in western Mexico. It’s a destination that has a lot to offer — colonial elegance, stunning lakes, lush woods, and awe-inspiring volcanic peaks.

But, Michoacán in 2023 is far from safe as a tourist destination. The U.S. Government warns tourists not to visit because of the increase in cartel killings and kidnapping.

To help you stay safe if you’re traveling to this destination, we’ll cover everything you need to know about safety in Michoacán. This includes crime news reports in the area, information on the weather conditions in the state, and COVID-19 safety.

Michoacán
ESSENTIAL MICHOACAN TRAVEL RESOURCES

Are you planning a last minute trip to Michoacan? We’ve put together all the resources you’ll need for a fun & safe travel:

🛌  Best & Safest Places to Stay in Michoacan:

👉 Hotel Aeropuerto Morelia – Outdoor swimming pool, Fitness centre, Free WiFi
👉 Best Western Plus Posada de Don Vasco – City view, Pets allowed, Free WiFi
👉 Hotel Boutique Casa Colorada – Airport shuttle, Family rooms, Restaurant
👉 Cantera 10 Hotel Boutique – Facilities for disabled guests, Free WiFi, Bar

⛱️ Fun Activities & Tours in Michoacan:

👉 Pátzcuaro Tour From Morelia
👉 3-Day Private Guided Tour of Monarch Butterflies in Michoacan
👉 Michoacan Archaeological Tour

🚗 Best & Safest Michoacan Transportation Services:

👉 Airport Pickup Service – Welcome Pickups
👉 Rent a Car – DiscoverCars

🙏 Stay Safe While Travelling:

👉 Safetywing (for medical insurance)
👉 VisitorsCoverage (for trip insurance)

A Comprehensive Look at Michoacán Crime Rates

In the first two months of 2022, Mexico recorded 4,854 murders, 490 of which occurred in Michoacán. According to statistics, by the end of 2022, Michoacán was the fifth-highest homicide state, with 10,119 murders.

In 2023, Michoacán was considered the eighth most dangerous city in Mexico, with a total of 2,036 homicides between June 2022 and May 2023. As of May 2023, in just four months, Michoacán recorded 178 homicides, 2 reported kidnappings, 25 extortions, and 163 car robberies.

Two of the world’s deadliest cities, Uruapan and Zamora, are also located in Michoacán. In 2023, Uruapan held the eighth-highest homicide rate globally, with 72.59  homicides per 100,000 residents. Zamora, on the other hand, ranked first in 2021, with a homicide rate of 196.63 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The high violent crime rates in Michoacán prompted the U.S. government to issue a “Do Not Travel” advisory for the state. This is the most severe warning level, and it only applies to countries with a risk of death.

Tourists shouldn’t travel to this state, and ignoring the warning puts you at serious risk, as the US government may have less influence there. If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation spot, you should look somewhere else — like the beautiful island of Cozumel.

Who Controls Michoacán’s Underbelly?

Michoacán is the epicenter of several cartels, including La Familia Michoacana, Los Zetas, The Knights Templar, and the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO). As of 2023, the two primary parties vying for control over the state are the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Los Viagras.

Michoacán is advantageous to the cartels because of its convenient geographic location — it’s located along some of Mexico’s major drug trafficking routes, and the area is a hotspot for illicit drug manufacture.

Michoacán is also a very prosperous state in general, as it has thriving mines and lime manufacture and is home to the world’s largest avocado industry. The concentration of capital from these industries has made the cartels even more determined to maintain control over Michoacán.

The effects of cartel dominance in the state are devastating. Cartel attacks take the lives of many, including Mexican citizens and tourists, making Michoacán a clandestine grave hotspot. In 2022, authorities discovered a total of 31 secret graves around the Michoacán area, containing a total of 104 body remains.

The local authorities are aware of the situation but are no match for cartel power and initiative. In the past, the Mexican armed forces have been targeted with explosive drones and faced casualties from land mine explosions set up by cartels in rural areas. Despite these acts of terror, the police and army have been facing criticism for turning a blind eye to cartel activity —  as they are resorting to simply maintaining order along the borders of gang territories in a strategy Security analyst Alejandro Hope calls “some sort of non-aggression pact”.

The strategy leaves civilians unprotected from cartel incursions, especially in rural communities, and is not adequate for managing the crisis, where armed “autodefensa” self-defense units have already started taking matters into their own hands, adding to the instability of the region.  

Even the federal government has acknowledged that the state’s security is inadequate and that Michoacán has turned into a haven for criminal activity — confirming there’s a real danger for people visiting this state.

COVID-19 Safety in Michoacán

COVID-19 Safety

COVID-19 continues to plague both Mexico and the global world. As of June 2023, Mexico has 7,633,355 positive cases and 334,336 deaths due to COVID-19. On the positive side, 6,885,378 patients have fully recovered from the virus.

Michoacán has a daily average of 98 diseased people or 2 people per 100,000 residents. While this number may seem low, Michoacán is the eighth state in Mexico with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. Mexico City takes the first place, with a daily average of 1,066 positive cases, followed by the State of Mexico (468 positive cases) and Nuevo Leon (313 positive cases daily).

Even though COVID-19 is still present, Mexico has eliminated all pandemic-related restrictions. You can enter the country without a COVID-19 test or a vaccination certificate. Additionally, Mexico does not have a curfew or a mandatory policy on wearing masks in public.

Nonetheless, citizens and tourists need to be cautious, maintain social distance in public spaces, and wash and sanitize their hands frequently. If people believe they’re experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, they need to get tested as soon as possible, get treatment, and, most importantly — refrain from traveling while infected.

Perils of Nature: The Risk of Natural Disasters in Michoacán

Nature poses a triple threat to Michoacán, as the area is affected by hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic activity.

Hurricane Information and Precautions

The official hurricane season in Michoacán runs from May 15th to November 30th each year, with peak activity from July to October.

In the past, Michoacán has suffered nine hurricanes, including:

  • Eugene (July 1987), Category 2 hurricane
  • Winifred (October 1992), Category 3 hurricane
  • Virgil (October 1992), Category 4 hurricane
  • Nora (September 1997), Category 4 hurricane
  • Olaf (October 2001), Category 1 hurricane
  • Kenna (October 2002), Category 5 hurricane
  • Willa (October) Category 5 hurricane
  • Vicente (October 2018), Tropical storm
  • Rick (October 2021), Category 2 hurricane

According to the wind hurricane scale, Category 1 hurricanes are the weakest and cause minimal damage, like downed trees or power outages. Category 2 hurricanes are more powerful and can damage roofs. Category 3 hurricanes may cause structural damage to buildings, while Category 4 hurricanes can cause them to collapse. Category 5 hurricanes are the most violent and cause serious harm, including full-building destruction, uprooted trees, and long-term power disruptions.

For more information about hurricanes in Mexico and Michoacán, go to the official site of the National Hurricane Service.

Earthquake Information and Prevention

Michoacán is situated within the Pacific Ring of Fire and has felt severe earthquakes in the past due to the interaction of tectonic plates in the region.

Earthquake monitors show that between May 2022 and June 2023 7 earthquakes have struck Michoacán:

  • 1 earthquake above magnitude 7
  • 1 earthquake between magnitude 6 and 7
  • 6 earthquakes between magnitude 5 and 6
  • 327 earthquakes between magnitude 4 and 5
  • 2615 earthquakes of magnitude 3
  • 98 earthquakes between magnitude 2 and 3
  • 44 earthquakes of magnitude 2

According to the earthquake magnitude scale, 2.5 or less are the lightest earthquakes and are not usually felt, whereas those up to 5.4 are felt but cause little damage. Earthquakes of magnitude 5.5 to 6.0 can cause minor structural damage, whereas tremors of 6.9 and higher can cause severe damage and injuries. Earthquakes measuring 7.0 to 7.9 are considered major and extremely damaging. The most catastrophic are earthquakes of over 8.0, capable of destroying entire communities.

For more information about earthquakes in Michoacán, go to the official site of the Volcano Discovery website.

Volcanic Eruption Information and Prevention

Michoacán is part of the Michoacán-Guanajuato volcanic field. The volcanic field is part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, which stretches across central Mexico in the states of Michoacán and Guanajuato.

Paricutin is the most well-known volcano in Michoacán and one of the world’s youngest volcanoes located in Uruapan. It first erupted from a cornfield in 1943 and was fully active until 1952.

The Jorullo volcano is Mexico’s most significant volcanic landmark. It sits near San Pedro Jorullo and initially erupted in 1759, creating multiple volcanic cones and a vast lava field known as the “Valley of the Cupules.”

Today, Michoacán has no active volcanoes. All volcanoes in the state are classified as dormant, meaning they aren’t erupting but may become active again in the future. Visit the National Museum of Natural History’s global vulcanism program for more information on volcanic eruptions in Michoacán.

Breathing Safely in Michoacán: Carbon Monoxide Awareness and Prevention

Did you know that carbon monoxide claims the lives of about 420 persons annually in the US? Yes, this toxic gas lurks unseen in many homes, and its colorless and odorless presence poses a serious threat to residents.

Carbon monoxide (CO) can enter the home through defective appliances such as stoves, gas water heaters, furnaces, and so on. Because it’s essentially invisible, our senses fail to notice it until we feel its symptoms.

Some less serious side effects of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, chest discomfort, or loss of consciousness. Continuous carbon monoxide exposure, on the other hand, can have major consequences such as paralysis, brain damage, and death.

Michoacán hasn’t suffered any deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning. Nonetheless, a study in Juarez found that 67% of homes with gas heaters and 60% with wood heaters had dangerous CO levels. Although there aren’t any deaths recorded in Michoacan, many homes may be unknowingly exposed to this toxic gas.

The only way to determine if this poisonous gas is present in the air you breathe is to set up a carbon monoxide detector. The device is portable, so you can easily bring your own CO detector on your travels as an added layer of protection.

Serenity by the Shore: The Safety of Michoacán Beaches

A Puerto Vallarta Beach.jpg

Michoacán covers over 124 miles (200 kilometers) of the Pacific Ocean shoreline, housing cities like Lázaro Cárdenas, and minor coastal communities like Playa Azul, Caleta de Campos, Maruata, and others.

Some of the most famous beaches in Michoacan are Playa Azul, Tortuga, Maruata, La Llorona, Pichilinguillo, Palma Sola, Eréndira, Las Brisas, Laceta de Campos, Colola, El Bejuco, Aquila, Las Peñas, El Faro de Bucerías, El Túnel, and Ixtapilla.

If you’re visiting one of Michoacan’s coastal sites despite the U.S. government’s travel warning, look for colored flags on the beaches. The flag system indicates whether the water has been contaminated by bacteria and how dangerous the conditions for swimming are.

The flag system is as follows:

  • Black — Do not swim; deadly currents
  • Red — Avoid swimming; dangerous currents
  • Yellow — Semi-safe; swim with caution
  • White — Dangerous marine life; swim with caution
  • Green — Safe to swim
  • Blue — Bacteria-free

While lying on the beach and soaking up the Michoacan sun sounds lovely, keep in mind that you’re in the heart of some of Mexico’s most dangerous areas.

To stay safe, we recommend that you consider alternative coastal places, such as Cancun and Cabo San Lucas, which are just as lovely, but much safer.

Michoacán Weather Patterns: What to Expect?

Michoacán has wet and dry seasons, impacted by its geographical location and climate.

The rainy season lasts from May through October. During this time of year, there’s more precipitation and higher humidity. The rains make nature in this state lush and lively, with an abundance of blooming vegetation and they’re vital for agricultural activities in the region.

The dry season lasts from November to April. The region experiences reduced rainfall and drier conditions during this time. The skies are clear and sunny, and temperatures can range from mild to scorching, especially around the coastal areas.

Weather Overview in Michoacán

Michoacán is a large state — Mexico’s ninth most populous state in fact. While we can’t discuss the weather in every part of the state, we can concentrate on its capital, Morelia. The city is located in the central part of the state, so let’s see what temperature this area experiences throughout the year. 

Summer (June-August)

Average temperature: 62-64°F (17-18°C)

Maximum temperature: 71-74.9°F (22-23.8°C)

Minimum temperature: 55-56.9°F (13-13.8°C)

Sunny hours: June (9.2h), July (8.4h), August (8.3h)

Rainy days: June (14), July (17), August (16)

Rainfall: up to 4 inches (139 millimeters)

Fall (September-November)

Average temperature: 59-62°F (15-16.6°C)

Maximum temperature: 70.9-71.5°F (21.6-22°C)

Minimum temperature: 49-55°F (9-13°C)

Sunny hours: September (7.4h), October (8h), November (8.7h)

Rainy days: September (14), October (8), November (4)

Rainfall: up to 4 inches (123 millimeters)

Winter (December-February)

Average temperature: 57-59.5°F (13.9-15.3°C)

Maximum temperature: 70-73.7°F (21-23.2°C)

Minimum temperature: 46.2-47.7°F (7.9-8.7°C)

Sunny hours: December (9.1h), January (9.3h), February (9.9h)

Rainy days: December (2), January (3), February (3)

Rainfall: up to 0.8 inches (20 millimeters)

Spring (March-May)

Average temperature: 62-67.4°F (17-19.6°C)

Maximum temperature: 77-81.4°F (25-27.4°C)

Minimum temperature: 50-56.2°F (10.13.5°C)

Sunny hours: March (10.5h), April (11.2h), May (10.9h)

Rainy days: March (3), April (3), May (9)

Rainfall: up to 2 inches (63 millimeters)

When Is the Best Time to Visit Michoacán?

As we illustrated, Michoacán is not a safe state to visit.

However, if you’re visiting regardless, the state has the best weather in the summer or fall. This is the time of year when the weather is pleasant while the temperatures aren’t too hot or too cold.

That being said, the beauty of Michoacan and its nature is best experienced during spring and fall. These two seasons are also when Michoacan is the least busy, so the ambiance is more relaxed and accommodations are less expensive.

Exploring Michoacán Solo or With a Family: Is It a Good Idea?

It’s advisable to wait until Michoacán gets the “safe to visit” status before you plan a trip to the state, either alone or with your family.

The US government advises visitors to steer clear of the state or to depart as soon as possible.

Still, here is some essential safety advice for tourists already in the state or planning to visit.

Essential Tips for Staying Safe While Traveling

First and foremost, master some fundamental Spanish. Understanding the native tongue will help you maneuver around town, speak with the locals, and blend in more smoothly.

Once you arrive in Michoacán, buy a Mexican SIM card so you’re able to get steady service while there. Then, pinpoint the location of the nearest police station using Google Maps and write down the emergency numbers: 911 for the police, 066 for ambulance services, and 080 for fire services. You can feel more at ease if you know where to go and which number to dial in an emergency.

To minimize the risk of getting scammed or robbed when getting from one place to another, avoid street taxis and public transportation. Instead, opt for alternatives like Uber or Didi, which are highly rated taxi services offering a more secure and reliable travel experience.

While credit cards are generally accepted in Michoacán, it’s a good idea to keep some local cash (pesos) on hand for little purchases and emergencies. If you need to draw money from a credit card, make sure you don’t do it at a public ATM, as they are common targets for robbers. Instead, opt for a bank or mall.

Book respectable, well-regarded hotels and use platforms such as Booking and Airbnb to reserve rooms.

Lastly, remember not to drink tap water, as Mexico’s tap water is contaminated.

Tips for Traveling Alone

The first rule of solo travel (especially for females) is to avoid going out after dark.

During your journey, stay in touch with somebody who you trust. Make sure you keep them up to date on your whereabouts and well-being at all times.

When out and about, stick to well-lit and busy areas. Don’t venture too far from your hotel so you’re easily able to find your way back. Make sure you always stay mindful of your surroundings. Be respectful to the locals, as a good relationship with the community can improve your overall safety, especially if you are traveling alone.

If you choose to consume alcohol in mexico, do it responsibly and in moderation, so you can maintain control of your surroundings and personal safety. And never ever accept illegal substances!

Tips for Traveling With Family

Children are inquisitive adventurers, so it’s essential that you supervise them, particularly when visiting unfamiliar places. Make sure the family stays together at all times!

Prepare for minor emergencies by carrying a well-stocked first-aid kit. To prevent the possibility of food poisoning, search for well-established and renowned eateries within a reasonable distance of your lodging in advance.

If you plan on exploring the area, consider renting a car rather than spending money on taxis. If you choose to drive, never do it under the influence of alcohol. Instead, arrange for a designated driver or consider alternative transportation options.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Michoacán is going through a rough patch in 2023.

We don’t know what the future holds for it, but we hope for less violence and criminal activity so that more tourists can experience its rich culture and natural beauty.

Until then, stay safe, cautious, and make good travel choices!


About Susan Laurent
Susan Laurent
I'm passionate about world cultures, travel, and discovering amazing new places. I've spent years traveling the globe, very often alone, so I focus on providing important information about travel safety to travelers that I've gathered from first-hand experience.
2 Comments
  1. Thank you for article updating the level of safety for Michoacán, Susan. The clear takeaway from your article is to stay clear of this Mexican state at this present time – unfortunately.

    I believe that Morelia is the capital. This place appears to be steeped in some rich Mexican culture and history. Would you recommend refraining from traveling to this location, as well, at this time given the overall safety concerns for this Mexican state? By the way, I had the chance to travel to Mexico City this past summer and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

    1. Hi Glenn, thanks for your feedback. Yes, there are safety concerns to heed, but Mexico overall remains a fantastic destination for adventurous traveler all the way to families. You just have to pay attention to the details that we strive to provide on this site. Yes, Morelia is the capital of Michoacán and it’s an outstanding location that is very much steeped in history and culture.

      I’m glad you enjoyed Mexico City, it’s such an incredible city in so many ways. A true mega-city of the world in so much of the scale of things. Michoacán travel is tricky right now, so I would only recommend to those that are experienced travelers and are especially cognizant of how to stay safe.

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