guadalajara solo travel

How Narcos Mexico on Netflix made us rethink Guadalajara solo travel safety

Reader Mail: Hey Trisha! Love your blog and all your Mexico content! My boss will be sending me to a 3-day conference in Guadalajara in December. Though I think this is a good opportunity for my career and I really want to go, is Guadalajara safe? I want to stay a few more days as my work allowed me to do so but I don’t know if I am brave enough for it. Please encourage me with your convincing powers! Your thoughts are always very motivating and empowering. I’m really torn right now!
– Andra McIntire, New York

Dear Andra,

Thanks a lot for your words. I really appreciate it! To be honest, I was a little freaked when I first went to Mexico but solo female travel in Guadalajara is absolutely safe. The city is super female-friendly and is very modern. I’ll provide more details below but I hope you won’t miss this opportunity, especially if your work will pay for the trip. You should check it out and stay a bit!

I stayed in Guadalajara for 30 days and loved it. It’s not a place where I will choose to live though – but for a visit, it is worth it! I still come to Guadalajara a lot since I just moved 4 hours away from the city. I have a car so I can always drive back.

Good luck and I hope you’ll push through!

Xx,
Trisha

Guadalajara Solo Travel Guide

Is Guadalajara safe for solo travelers?

I bet YES is a hard answer to believe due to buzz of Narcos Mexico on Netflix. I didn’t follow the Cali Cartel season but when the Mexican version was added, I suddenly got intrigued. We’ve all followed Pablo Escobar’s life and the journey of Medellin Cartel on the show but how is the Mexican Cartel different? If you’ve seen it and watched all the seasons, you probably wouldn’t think about visiting Mexico anymore, or at least the places that were highlighted there such as Sinaloa and Guadalajara.

If you haven’t seen it, well, let’s start with an introduction to Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, the man behind the Guadalajara Cartel formed in the 1980s. He controlled all the drug trafficking not only within Mexico but in the USA borders as well. Miguel is from Sinaloa, and the show highlighted his life growing up in that state. But most of the series is set in Guadalajara, where he formed the strongest Mexican cartel in the ’80s. The show is violent and sometimes very graphic so by the time you finish the show, you will really feel like Mexico is a brutal country that shoots people on the street for no reason.

is guadalajara safe

But we are missing the keyword ‘1980s’ here.

The day I checked-in Guadalajara, my mom immediately freaked out and didn’t even give me the chance to tell her I was safe and was staying at a friend’s house. My friend is French and lives in Guadalajara. She was visiting family and friends in France when I visited so I had her house to myself. She wasn’t there to tell me what to do or where to go. But she did warn me not to walk at night and that I should always take the Uber.

Uber in Guadalajara is very cheap. Most of my 15-minute rides are about $50 MXN ($2.50 USD approx). The only time I paid $200+ MXN ($10 USD) was when I went to Tlaquepaque, about 30 minutes from Guadalajara. The Uber app is widely used in Guadalajara so for your safety, do not go with normal/regular taxis. I am sure lots of regular taxis are good guys but whenever I am traveling, I am more comfortable in using taxi apps as they are more secure and it’s very easy to identify the humanity of the driver. You can even forward your current location to friends and families which is something you cannot do when riding a normal taxi.

Guadalajara Solo Travel Guide

Walking alone in Guadalajara at night: is it an issue?

I’ve been told that it is though I never really pushed my luck. I’ve walked a lot of times by myself at night and did not find it scary. However, I only did this once or twice when I already have a grasp of the place. When I already have this fixed route I was comfortable with, I did walk at night but I need to clarify that what I meant with ‘night’ is from 18:00 – 21:00 max. Beyond those hours, I always took the Uber because it’s really cheap!

solo travel in guadalajara

My friend also lent me her bike and while I was riding to go work at a cafe in Guadalajara, one of the guys there told me that I shouldn’t also bike at night because there are many instances that bike riders were robbed (and probably hurt). These are stories that I heard from locals while I was there. It didn’t happen to me so I really have no proof. But still, it’s great to be vigilant.

On another note, I walked a lot with friends at night (even up to 2:00 in the morning). Guadalajara is a very walkable city and the weather is great so when you are with a group, walk!

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Guadalajara Solo Travel Guide

Have fun in Guadalajara without worrying!

I hope you won’t come to Guadalajara and spend your vacation worrying about safety. There is really nothing to worry about! Guadalajara is a fun city, especially for young travelers so do your best to enjoy it. The nightlife is very vibrant and there are always interesting people everywhere!

I particularly love the cafe culture of Guadalajara and the decent Internet speed. Most of my days there, I go to cafes and sit there all day! These cafes are made for digital nomads so the office setting is very comfortable. I even challenged myself to go to different cafes every day because there are lots of them!

solo travel in guadalajara

When my friend visited me from Vancouver, I had to show her the Guadalajara nightlife! P.S. I don’t remember taking taxis with her, seriously.

It’s also nice to walk at night at the Chapultepec (city center) because it’s a good way of seeing the Guadalajara lifestyle. Street food vendors, stalls selling Mexican souvenirs, lots and lots of street performers, etc. I even had a chance to join a dancing class which they are literally doing in the middle of the plaza! Now that I remember, that was really fun!

Of course, I’ve had my share of late-nights in Guadalajara which I did a lot with friends. Having local friends really makes a difference when you travel. I came here without knowing anyone but when I put myself out there, I was able to meet people whom I now call my friends.

Guadalajara Solo Travel Guide

Where to stay in Guadalajara

Guadalajara is a big city. But since Uber is really cheap, I never thoughtfully planned where to stay. Wherever I am staying in Guadalajara, the taxi was never more than $100 MXN ($5 USD). Often, I am staying with friends who live in the city center. They told me that the Chapultepec area is the best area in Guadalajara since it’s very centric.

Whenever I am on a work trip, I always stay at Barrio Mexico, a serviced apartment in the Americas area. What I love about Barrio Mexico is the self-check-in/check-out. When you book a stay with them, they will send you all the door codes (including a garage manual if you’re traveling by car). Everything was smooth and I never had to deal with someone in person. In my opinion, this is how hotels or Airbnbs should re-invent their properties, especially now that we are living in very strange times.

solo travel guadalajara

I also had a chance to stay in hostels during my short trips where I didn’t want to bother my friends. Below are the three hostels that I have stayed in and truly recommend because of their location and value for money:

  1. Hostal Bohostel Chapultepec is just 2km away from the center. A bed in a dorm starts at $200 MXN ($10 USD).
  2. La Casa de Garces is a way cheaper option. They only charge $120 MXN ($5 USD) per night on a shared dorm. Their common areas are really cute and I’ve stayed twice in this hostel.

If you are really a crazy planner and want a thorough explanation on the neighborhoods of Guadalajara, get in touch with me and we’ll plan your trip together! I do a lot of Mexico travel consultations where I will give you the most local tips around the cities you want to visit in Mexico. All you have to do is send an email to trisha[at]psimonmyway[dot]com.

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Solo travel in Guadalajara

Guadalajara travel and safety tips for solo travelers

While I believe that no city in the world is 100% safe (you know, there are many petty crimes all over), I really feel like you can have a good time in Guadalajara if you know how to take safety precautions. Just the let you know, the crime rate in Guadalajara is labeled ‘medium risk’ and is definitely has lower crime rates than Mexico City.

According to my research, there are still a lot of cartel wars in Guadalajara but while I was there for a whole month, I didn’t really feel it. I’m sure you’ll only feel it when you are directly involved with it but if not, relax and follow these solo travel in Guadalajara safety tips.

RELATED POST: A DRUNK DAY TRIP TO TEQUILA FROM GUADALAJARA
solo travel in guadalajara
Take the Uber all the time

Again, if you are completely alone, Uber is your best way to go around Guadalajara. If you are with a group, I find walking a great way to explore this city. Transport wise, Guadalajara is in low-risk. Uber drivers were reported very honest. I even had a time when I forgot my tripod and the driver returned it!

Do not leave your stuff unattended

Petty theft or pickpocket is ‘medium-risk’ in Guadalajara. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry (thank God I don’t do this) or anything that will attract thieves. Personally, I’ve walked around Guadalajara carrying all my camera gears but I was never robbed. It’s just a matter of organizing yourself. It doesn’t mean that you can never go out without carrying your camera in public. Just be vigilant!

Get in touch with your country’s embassy/consulate in Guadalajara

I always do this, especially when in doubt in the countries I visit. I send an email to the embassy or consulate of my country to see the situation. When I planned to go to Pakistan, I wrote to the Embassy of the Philippines there and asked if it’s safe for a Filipina woman to travel to Pakistan. The consulate staff, which was also a Filipina responded and told me it’s okay. She gave me a go signal and wished me well in my travels to Pakistan.

Consider your source

Guadalajara has a lot of bad press but think about it: how did you find this post? Why are you researching solo travel in Guadalajara? Something interests you about this city, correct? If you try to follow your gut and read thoroughly about Guadalajara, you will see how many people had been here without problems. For me, I always connect with locals or the embassy to get valuable information. Otherwise, the people around me will just always say Guadalajara is not safe – and I refuse to believe that. I need to see it for myself! Make sure that your source is a local or someone who has been to Guadalajara.

Solo travel in Guadalajara

How to meet locals in Guadalajara

This is going to be funny and strange but during my very first trip to Guadalajara (the 30-day one), I was 100% dependent on the Bumble app. My intention wasn’t to date (though I was with 1 or 2 interesting romantic dates; more on that later) but to meet people. Using Bumble in a different way made me realize that I can also connect and make meaningful friendships without the idea of hooking up or getting laid. Believe it or not, most of my friends in Guadalajara are from Bumble! I still see them up to this day whenever I visit.

solo travel guadalajara mexico

My super local and crazy Guadalajara tribe.

Another interesting way of meeting people in Guadalajara is to just simply sit down at a bar and chat with bartenders. Guadalajara is full of young people so most of them are very approachable. I even got a lot of free drinks just by sitting alone!

Finally, if you visit the Chapultepec area on weekends, there is a free dance lesson (by donation) that is happening and there’s a lot of them. As you’ve already seen on Instagram, I love dancing so one Saturday, while I was walking alone at the center, I saw this group dancing on the streets and without asking, I joined in! I didn’t even know it was a formal class as they were just casually dancing on the street but it really was a class!

If you’re visiting Guadalajara, I can definitely connect you to my friends. I’ve introduced blog readers to my local friends a lot and they were always willing to accommodate. Just get in touch via e-mail or send a DM via Instagram, @psimonmyway.

I also live four hours away from Guadalajara so if you ever are in the city, you can never miss my beach town. You have to come here!

Ready to book your trip to Guadalajara, Mexico?

Most readers of this blog can easily plan their trips on their own and if it’s too stressful for you (especially because of COVID), you can always call or e-mail me – I do a lot of customized trip planning that guarantees your most authentic trip experience. Below are the main things I use (and trust) when booking all my trips.

  • Vrbo: In 2021, I am officially supporting VRBO instead of Airbnb. VRBO has a “Book with Confidence Guarantee Program” that is very beneficial especially at this time when our travel plans are always changing.
  • Hostelworld: I backpacked a lot for most of my formative years and always used Hostelworld. This is best for people who travel solo and want to meet friends on their trips!
  • Agoda: This platform has lots of deals and no other booking platform shows the best accommodation discounts!
  • Booking.com: Since I am always traveling indefinitely, I do not always have fixed travel dates. I use Booking because they don’t need a credit card to secure your accommodation. Most of it is on a ‘pay at the property’ set up so you don’t need to pay for a cancellation fee in case your travel plans change.
  • Kiwi.com: You can find the cheapest flights here with the best airlines. What Kiwi does is analyze your route and give you the best prices for your itinerary. Try it and see the difference with other flight booking platforms!
  • E-dreams: I use this platform when booking flights to and from Europe. All the flights here are guaranteed cheap. I once booked a Mexico-Madrid flight for only $300 USD!
  • Get Your Guide: I must admit – sometimes, I am super lazy to do things on my own so I always book the tours here! They are really cheap compared to other tour booking platforms and most of the tours here are not super guided. They give you a lot of free time!
  • TripAdvisor: I book tours here whenever I want to see real-time reviews. The reviews here are from real people so you can always compare their experiences! Tours are super cheap, too!
  • Travelwifi: take the internet with you! As a digital nomad, this is very important to me. If you decide to rent a portable wifi device, use my code PSIMONMYWAY to get a 10% discount.
  • Transferwise: As a digital nomad, handling money in different currencies have always been hard for me. Read my experience with Transferwise here – the best bank for long-term travelers!
Guadalajara solo travel on Pinterest: save it for later!

is guadalajara safe

Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.

Comments

  • Ben
    October 30, 2020

    I had no idea that Guadalajara was so safe. It’s amazing how a reputation about a place can get stuck in your mind from things you’ve heard in the past. It sounds like a fantastic getaway.

    reply
  • October 30, 2020

    I love Mexico. I’ve never been to Guadalajara, but it sounds wonderful. I love the little tidbit about your mom. Moms worry!

    reply
  • October 30, 2020

    Those are all wonderful photos, it looks like you had an amazing time. I have only been to Mexico twice, Cancun, and Rocky Point. Such a fun country to visit.

    reply
  • October 30, 2020

    Traveling is the best and I would definitely do it more if I could. I would love to visit Guadalajara one day.

    reply
  • October 30, 2020

    You were right–I would be afraid to travel there with all of the bad news surrounding the area. But it looks so beautiful. I hope the world finds some peace sooner than later.

    reply
  • Mow
    October 30, 2020

    You have mentioned some really important points there on travel and safety tips for solo travellers. I want to visit Mexico one day but I need to brush up on my Spanish first to avoid any hassle! Thank you for sharing your unique insight.

    reply
  • Gervin Khan
    October 30, 2020

    Thanks for sharing your awesome trip on this amazing place. You’ve given us some valuable and detail information about this place. I hope to travel on this place in the near future.

    reply
  • October 30, 2020

    Sometimes the media is very excessive in my opinion. When I came to India for the first time, many people said India was not safe for a woman, but so far I ‘m ok till now. The people here are also friendly to tourists. So, actually Guadajalara is safe for tourists and as long as we are also careful. It’s great to read the story of a traveler Like “You” who has visited this country and opens up our perspective to see the realities.

    reply
  • October 30, 2020

    Guadalajara is on top of my list! So much to see and do when visiting this place. These are great tips for those who plan to travel solo there. The property you stayed in looks fantastic, making a note of this accommodation.

    reply
  • October 31, 2020

    these two places are on my wish list to visit , and like you after watching Narcos i did wonder how safe are these places

    reply
  • Blair villanueva
    October 31, 2020

    I had a colleague who also told us that it is safe to travel in Guadalajara. I like how you explained well the current situation and how safe to travel solo.

    reply
  • Monidipa
    November 3, 2020

    The place looks so great. Such great captures I must say that and your description is lovely also It indeed looks like a lovely place to explore

    reply

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