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Belize has a lot to offer travelers, from jungle interiors to islands and beaches — and of course, the world’s second largest coral reef. That makes it a popular place to relax, soak up some sun, dive and snorkel. However, you may well be wondering: is Belize safe to visit? This guide covers all you need to know.
We’ll take a look at Belize travel restrictions and how to make sure your trip is as safe as possible.
|📑 Table of Contents
We’ll also touch on how the Wise Multi-currency Account can help you save on currency exchange and keep your travel money safe when you’re on the move.
We’ll run through the details of how to stay safe in Belize in just a moment. Let’s start with an overview.
Belize is a fairly safe place, but it’s important to note a few key risks. The crime rate in Belize — including violent crime — is high. Tourists are less likely to be deliberately targeted for violent crime but can be victims of opportunistic thefts, pickpocketing and scams.
You’ll be able to minimize the risks of travel to Belize by planning your itinerary carefully to avoid more dangerous areas, and remaining aware of your surroundings.
|Transport & Taxi
With some smart and sensible precautions, travel in Belize can be perfectly safe. Tourism is on the rise in the country, and it really is a beautiful destination to visit.
Safety concerns in Belize tend to lie around a few key points:
- High violent crime rate in some regions
- Tourist scams and petty crime
- Road and transportation safety
It’s true that there are some areas of Belize where safety can become a concern. We’ll look at that in more detail later, but it’s easy enough to simply avoid these regions on your trip.
Transport safety is an issue but taking licensed taxis and sticking to the major highways will help. And you’ll be able to significantly lower the chances of being a victim of petty crime by taking sensible precautions like these:
Most of the scams you may encounter in Belize are similar to the tactics used elsewhere — and can be avoided with a little common sense. One commonly reported scam is where a tourist agrees to have someone braid their hair, at a price agreed in advance. Half way through the service the seller increases the costs, leaving you stuck between paying more or having a half head of braids.
Other common scams are taxis and drivers who take you to locations where they earn a commission — and of course pickpockets which can work in groups seeking to distract and rob tourists.
Bank card skimming can be an issue in Belize — as in many other places. One smart way to avoid this becoming a problem is to keep your travel money separate from your regular bank account using a specific international account like the Wise Multi-currency Account.
With a Wise account you’ll save on currency conversion costs, and you’ll have a linked debit card to use to spend in stores and restaurants, and make ATM withdrawals. You’ll never have to carry large amounts of cash, and can manage your card from the Wise app — turn it on when you’re using it, and lock it for security after. Simple.
Most trips to Belize are completely trouble free — including solo travelers, backpackers and people looking for an adventure.
There are some safety issues in Belize you’ll want to be aware of — but keeping your wits about you when you travel, and taking simple precautions to stay safe should mean you have a perfect vacation in Belize.
Belize is generally safe for women, but any female solo travelers will want to take sensible precautions. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) recommends women stay in groups where possible.
It’s worth noting that police resources in Belize are severely stretched which can result in official support in the event of a crime being limited.
Let’s take a look at some of the safest destinations in Belize. We’ll also cover where not to visit in Belize in just a moment.
You can get lots of Belize travel information and inspiration on the Visit Belize website, too².
Placencia — which is a peninsula but has the look and feel of an island — is a popular tourist destination on the Caribbean coast. There are fabulous beaches and reef dive sites to explore and nature lovers can spot manatees and crocodiles in the Placencia lagoon.
If you’re looking for the Belize island experience, you can also consider Ambergris Caye — the largest of the Belize islands. It’s a perfect place to base yourself if you love to dive, with a great range of dive sites accessible. And because it is a popular tourist destination you’ll be able to find more or less anything you need to make your trip memorable.
Corozal is the most northerly town in Belize, and considered a safe place to visit or live. In fact, lots of expats live there already, while tourists who choose Corozal tend to be looking for an ecotourism experience. There’s a population of under 10,000 people making this somewhat sleepy town a great place to relax — and you can still find lovely beaches, luxury hotels, jungle experiences and pristine nature nearby.
Avoid Belize City, and especially the southside of the city, due to gang related crimes. These don’t tend to target tourists, but you can still get unwittingly caught up in problems if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In 2020, the Belize government brought in a state of emergency in some areas of the city which means police can stop and search people without a warrant.
It’s also worth staying away from the border areas with Guatemala. Although there are some tourist sites in this region, travel may require a military patrol due to security concerns.
Advance planning is the best way to make sure your trip to Belize — or anywhere else for that matter — is a relaxing break without any issues. Here are some key things to bear in mind — and some ideas on where to find more information to help you prepare.
The emergency number in Belize is 911. However, it’s worth knowing that police resources are limited, and reporting a crime and getting help may prove time consuming. Contact the US embassy if you need help to speak to the police in Belize.
US Embassy address:
U.S. Embassy Belmopan
4 Floral Park Road
US Embassy telephone:
Emergency Embassy support:
You can also enrol in the US government’s Smart Traveler program to get updates and safety information when you travel³.
You might be wondering whether it is safe to travel to Belize right now — at the time of writing, there’s a government issued level 4 travel advisory in place for Belize due to Covid. That means US citizens are advised not to travel to Belize.
Prior to the pandemic, the government advised increased caution due to crime in Belize, and notes that some areas are more dangerous than others.
The travel situation is changing all the time, so before you book your tickets you’ll want to check out the most up to date information. Try the Belize country pages on the State department website, and the US Embassy in Belize for reliable, live information.
Still got questions about Belize travel? We’ve got answers. Read on for some common FAQs about travel safety in Belize.
According to the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), road transportation in Belize can be challenging due to poor road conditions⁴. This is especially so in wet weather. OSAC recommends that driving at night is avoided entirely. Here are some
|💡 Key points about transport in Belize to consider when planning your trip
Driving in Belize can be a challenge because of road quality. This is especially so after dark or when it rains. Parts of the coastal road in particular can be problematic because they’re unpaved and can be dangerous due to flooding.
Hitchhiking is inherently risky and best avoided if possible.
Whether the tap water is safe to drink will depend on where you are in the country. In most cities the water is safe — but hotels and resorts tend to offer bottled water instead.
Trying out the food in Belize is likely to be a big part of your trip. Food is safe as long as normal health and hygiene precautions are taken. Use common sense when deciding what and where to eat — choosing popular venues should mean you have a great experience.
You do not need any special vaccinations to travel to Belize.
Belize is not experiencing a Zika outbreak at the time of writing. However, there have been cases there in the past, so you’ll want to get up to date information before you travel. Check out the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information⁵.
|Tip: the best way to stay clear of Zika — and other mosquito borne diseases — is to avoid mosquito bites where possible. Remember to use a good quality mosquito repellant, cover up, and use a mosquito net at night.
You can find some stunning places to stay in Belize through Airbnb. Choose well rated hosts and take normal safety steps when you travel, as you would anywhere else.
Although Belize is a popular destination for LGBTQ+ travelers, OSAC does warn about some hostile sentiment towards the community which can at times flare into violence. As with anywhere, be aware of your surroundings and seek help if you feel threatened.
Planning your trip to Belize should be a lot of fun — and getting there for your vacation will be even better. Use this guide to make sure you’re safe throughout your travels and don’t forget to open a Wise Multi-currency Account to help cut the costs of currency exchange and keep your travel money safe.
|Read more: the cost of living in Belize
Sources checked on 11.11.2021
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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