Is Oaxaca solo travel safe? I visit Oaxaca City twice a year and I love it! However, there are some safety issues to consider before traveling solo to Oaxaca. Here’s my experience plus tips on how to travel Oaxaca solo.
📬 Reader Mail: Hi Trisha! I followed you on Instagram during Oaxaca day of the dead last week. Your stories are amazing and it made me think about visiting Oaxaca!
I’ve only been to Cabo and for 2022, I am going to visit more of mainland Mexico. Do you have any tips on how to effectively navigate Oaxaca solo travel?
I am going to Puerto Escondido after so it would also be great if you can give me a sample itinerary. Thank you so much for all your tips and advice. I really appreciate it!
– Joan McLain, USA
Thank you so much for following the blog! I enjoyed day of the dead so much and I am doing it again next year! Perhaps you’d like to come join me?
Oaxaca is not usually in people’s radars but it is one of my favorite cities in Mexico. There’s a strong force of magical vibe here that I didn’t feel in any other cities!
I did travel Oaxaca solo many times and have learned a lot of insider tips, especially with regards to safety. If you decide to push through Oaxaca, I can definitely connect you with my friends there.
Just send me an e-mail (or Instagram message) and I can make an intro. Good luck and let me know if you push through – I am so excited for you!
Is Oaxaca safe for solo travelers?
I’ve had different experiences on every visit. In my first time, I didn’t feel paranoid and completely felt safe walking around the city on my own.
However, during day of the dead, there were many incidents of theft that involved guns so I became extra vigilant. Nothing happened to me but one of our friends got mugged. That’s the closest personal experience that I can share.
Day of the dead is a big event in Oaxaca. With many people on the streets (mostly partying drunk), it’s very evident that petty theft can happen.
Need more resources? Check out all my blogs about Oaxaca
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On normal days, I am always with Mexican friends. Many of them shared to me that nothing bad has happened to them through the years they are living in Oaxaca so these unfortunate events during day of the dead were a little surprising to others.
Honestly, Oaxaca has the lowest crime rate in all of Mexico because it’s such an affordable city to live in, a factor that minimizes the crime rate.
I will give more safety tips on Oaxaca solo travel later on, including some personal experiences so keep reading!
Is Oaxaca a good destination for solo travel?
ABSOLUTELY! There are many things to do in Oaxaca and even if you are not doing tourist activities, the city is super young and vibrant. I can spend hours just walking around Oaxaca on my own!
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The nightlife is very lively and it’s so easy to meet young people when you are traveling Oaxaca solo. There are also many digital nomads in Oaxaca with who you can connect with.
Other Mexico solo travel guides that you may like:
- Solo travel guide to Guadalajara, Jalisco
- Mexico City solo travel: what areas should I avoid?
- How to meet people in Sayulita as a solo traveler
- Mexico’s solo travel safety, in today’s culture of fear
- Puerto Escondido Mexico solo travel guide
- Puerto Vallarta solo travel: is it safe?
- The solo travel guide to La Paz, Baja California Sur
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Oaxaca solo travel guide: safety, where to stay, areas to avoid, and more!
Oaxaca solo travel: personal experience
I often visit Oaxaca because I have many friends there. It’s also not very hard to get to Oaxaca. I’ve been to a few impromptu Oaxaca solo travel because the flights are cheap!
I live in Cabo now so whenever I want to visit Oaxaca, I just book a ticket to Mexico City (usually less than $100 USD) and from there, take the overnight bus to Oaxaca City.
It takes 8 hours and all you have to do is sleep. This will save you on accommodations, too! The overnight bus to Oaxaca City costs $35 USD (one-way).
I don’t even need to inform my friends that I am coming. Normally, I’d show up and they’d be up for anything! Oaxaca is active all days of the week so there’s always something to do.
Knowing people at the destination you want to visit definitely affects your travel experience. If I didn’t know locals there, I probably won’t be able to share with you the local hotspots so many thanks to these people for sharing their piece of the city!
Again, you can always get in touch with me if you want to meet cool people in Oaxaca – I will definitely connect you with my friends!
While there are many reasons to visit Oaxaca, I keep coming back here because it’s a super-friendly terrain for solo travelers. Oaxaca is also the cheapest destination in Mexico so it’s always a good option for solo travelers on a budget.
Is it safe to walk in Oaxaca alone at night?
I wouldn’t encourage it, especially if you are alone. Oaxaca has a very walkable terrain so it will make you think twice about spending on taxis. But never walk by yourself at night!
There is a big difference if you are walking as a big group (or in pairs) so during our massive day of the dead group trip, we implemented a buddy system.
When I am visiting Oaxaca on my own, my local friends always walk me to my hostel and if I am alone, I always take a taxi.
I recommend you always take a taxi after 9:00 PM. It’s less than $5 USD and they are very safe. Later on, I will explain to you the difference between the colors of the taxis in Oaxaca so you’ll know which is safe to take. I can also recommend a local driver to pick you up at the airport for a cheaper price!
Oaxaca City COVID travel restrictions
My first time here was in 2020 and I wrote about traveling Oaxaca during COVID – everything was closed. Oaxaca is one of the states in Mexico that takes their COVID cases seriously so their travel warnings change frequently.
Mexico works on a color code per state: red (total lockdown), orange (limited restrictions), yellow (moderate), and green (regular activities allowed).
Before traveling to Oaxaca, you can check what color the state is in by checking this website. It’s in Spanish but you can easily see the state of Oaxaca on the color map.
Best things to do in Oaxaca for solo travelers
Visit the Jalatlaco neighborhood
Jalatlaco is one of my favorite areas in Oaxaca! This neighborhood is famous for its murals, unique cafes, specialty coffee, etc.
Normally, I’d go there at night as it is more active with street parties and live music but if you want to take good pictures, stroll Jalatlaco during the day!
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It’s just a 15-min walk from downtown Oaxaca and along the walk, you will also get to see other parts of the city. If you plan to have a meal here, Pisa Pizza is a cheap and great Italian spot!
Finding Mexican food in Jalatlaco is also not hard as there are many street food stands but they only open during the evening.
Stroll the city of Oaxaca
When I first came to Guanajuato, I thought it was the most colorful city in Mexico but Oaxaca has a different charm. You’ll never get bored strolling this city!
They make every facade of an establishment pretty. There are massive murals that tell a story. The cafes are well-designed and super cozy you can stay all day!
There is also a unique charm about the crazy loud markets and the super busy streets of Oaxaca. I swear it’s pretty everywhere you look!
The most famous area to stroll is the Andador Turistico which is the city center. This is usually full of people and is the most iconic landmark of Oaxaca.
Go on a local mezcal tasting
There are many mezcal tasting tours in Oaxaca (mostly in restaurants) but I’ve been on a tour where a local family invited me to their home.
There are many small-scale Oaxacan family producers outside of Oaxaca and Palenque Conejo in Santa Catarina was one of my best experiences!
The whole family (including their children) is involved in the business. They will take you to the fields where they grow wild agave. Here, I planted my own agave and had a nice outdoor lunch with the family after the activity.
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In their main home, they showed me how they produce mezcal. They still use the old school method and their house is set up for production!
Conejo’s mezcal is also way cheaper (and better quality) so if you are taking this tour with them, you are 100% supporting local!
They live an hour away from Oaxaca (Santa Catarina Minas) and transport will be provided if you book this tour.
Visit the artisanal makers
Oaxaca is known for its artisanal textiles and impressive handmade traditional items. Almost every product you see in different markets in Mexico is from Oaxaca!
I had the chance to visit a local family in Teotitlan del Valle, about 45 minutes away from Oaxaca. Like Conejo’s family, Josefina, her husband, and children have dedicated their lives to keeping the Oaxacan textile tradition alive.
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They welcomed me to their homes and I was able to witness (and experience) the tedious process of making rugs, bags, yoga mats, jackets, etc. It is such a meticulous process and everything is done manually including coloring!
It’s also cheaper to shop with Josefina as she is the direct provider of textiles in the Oaxacan market. I ended up buying 4 bags from here after the tour!
Go to Hierve el Agua
Hierve el Agua has been closed since March 2020 so when it opened last October 2021, I knew I had to go. It’s a 2-hour drive from Oaxaca City.
I’ve already tried to go multiple times but it was always closed so during my day of the day trip, no matter how tired I was, I took the drive!
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The village next to Hierve del Agua doesn’t allow tourists to pass through so we had to take the long and bumpy mountain road to get here.
My local friend Victor runs private tours to Hierve del Agua. If you want to do this tour with a local, let me know and I will connect you to Victor. Highly recommended!
Oaxaca solo travel accommodations
When traveling solo to Oaxaca, I really recommend you not to stay in private places. Hostels in Oaxaca are super affordable, comfortable, and clean.
There are also private rooms in hostels in Oaxaca so if you are not someone who likes to stay with other people in dorm rooms, book a private room in a hostel.
I’ve stayed in many hostels in Oaxaca and made very meaningful connections and friendships. Below are my recommendations (that I have experience in):
Hierba de Conejo: dorms from $10 USD per night
I stayed in Hierba del Conejo during my last trip to Oaxaca and I didn’t think it will be decent considering how cheap it is. They clean the dorm rooms and make the beds every day including deep sanitation.
This is a 3-minute walk to the Zocalo so thumbs up with the location. The street where it is located is also well-lit. The wifi connection was also surprisingly fast but when everyone’s in, the wifi speed tends to slow down.
Hostel Central: private rooms from $25 USD
If you want an affordable private room in a hostel, Hostel Central is the cheapest (but great in value). The room is small and has a single bed but it’s enough for solo travelers. $25 USD per night for a private room also includes breakfast.
How to meet people in Oaxaca City
Join Oaxaca Social Meet Ups on Whatsapp
Ian, a good friend of mine who is living in Oaxaca started this cool Whatsapp group called Oaxaca Social Meet Ups.
Not only that you can meet people here to hang out (or do tours with) but they announce daily happenings and events in the city.
Most of the members here are locals and are very generous with information. This group helps me a lot with just about anything!
Join Oaxaca Digital Nomads Whatsapp group
If you are a digital nomad and want to connect with other digital nomads in Oaxaca, this Whatsapp group is focused on that. Here, you will find apartment rentals and everything you need to know about being a digital nomad in Oaxaca.
Hang out at Convivio
Convivio is one of the coolest hotspots in Oaxaca City since it’s owned by digital nomads and long-term travelers. During the day, this is a co-working space but at night, it transforms into a bar that holds a lot of events!
This is usually a pre-game destination and is a good place to meet people. The bartenders Tony and Antonio are super-friendly, sit by the bar and chat with them!
Oaxaca solo travel tips and advice
Only take yellow taxis or use the Didi app
Oaxaca City does not use Uber but Didi. Simply download it on your phone as soon as you arrive and you can start ordering your ride!
During peak hours, Didi gets really busy so if you can’t find a driver, you can hail a taxi on the street but only ride with yellow taxis. These are certified and safe drivers. Don’t take the white ones!
Don’t walk alone and don’t get (uncontrollably) drunk
Sure, Oaxaca nightlife can get out of control sometimes but when you’re traveling solo, make it a habit not to get too drunk. Always make sure you know who you’re with.
Most of the theft happening around the city involve drunk (and almost unconscious) drunk people so the best way to take care of yourself is to stay sober.
If you plan to get drunk, take a taxi and make sure you are people whom you can trust. I don’t want you to get paranoid when going out in Oaxaca. You can still have a good time responsibly.
Make sure you always have Wifi
If I am with local friends, I’d usually leave my phone at the hostel so I don’t have to think about losing it. But if you are on your own, make sure you are always connected for navigating your walk around the city (Google Maps) or ordering a taxi through Didi.
You can get a portable wifi device when traveling to Mexico. I always bring mine in case of emergency and it has always been a lifesaver!
Get travel insurance that covers COVID
If you can’t afford travel insurance, it almost certainly means that you can’t afford to travel. Insurance should be the number one on your list of travel expenses!
I use SafetyWing and I only pay $40 USD per month for my travel insurance. Depending on the days of your travel, you probably pay less!
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