Authored by Antoine Tardif
Nestled in the heart of Central America, between Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador, Honduras is a country that not a lot of people know about. And those who do? Well, they seem to only hear the bad things.
Honduras has a long history of military rule, corruption, poverty and crime which have rendered it one of the least developed and most unstable countries in Central America. And yes, it has somewhat of a negative global image.
But, little of the Honduran violence affects tourists, and most visitors to the country are free to enjoy the national parks, small towns and ancient ruins of the Latin American country without incident. This is in fact a vibrant and fascinating country, and one of the cheapest in the region; you’ll be able to do activities for a fraction of the price you’ll pay in its neighbors.
Honduras has a notorious reputation, but with these safety tips anybody can have a safe and happy time seeing the raw beauty and fascinating culture within this Central American country.
How to Travel Safely in Honduras
Take Government Warnings with a Grain of Salt
Honduras’ second biggest city, San Pedro Sula, has the derogatory nickname ‘The Murder Capital of the World’, and the travel warnings from all western government websites advise travelers to Honduras to exercise extreme caution.
And we’re not suggesting that you completely ignore government warnings, but do know that they might not be 100% true.
The problem here is that government warnings can often be politically motivated, and many are not based on any specific intelligence, but on the general idea that certain regions are upset at nations like Britain and America and therefore citizen travelers could be at risk.
There are articles everywhere discussing the high murder rate, gun crime and drug trafficking problems in Honduras. However, what a lot of these articles fail to mention is that this crime is very specific – it generally occurs in certain areas of the big cities, and the typical targets are members of rival gangs. Not tourists.
Understand that if you travel against the advice of a Government warning, this may invalidate your travel insurance. Make sure you understand the terms of your policy.
Photo credit: Frank Mc Grath courtesy of Trocaire
Don’t Wander Around After Dark
There is a high armed robbery rate in Honduras, but the threat of being a target can be dramatically reduced by not walking around alone at night, when most of these incidents occur.
Limiting your activities to daylight hours and spending the evening relaxing at your accommodation is a great way to enjoy a safe trip to Honduras.
Invest in a Secure Backpack and Money Belt
Certain items will help keep you safe during your trip to Honduras, such as a secure, slash proof, lockable backpack and a money belt that you can wear underneath your clothes.
However, it is important to remember that if you’re threatened with a knife or gun – which does happen in Honduras – you should give them what they ask for.
Which leads into our next piece of advice …
Have a ‘Throw Down’ Wallet
If you’re using a money belt, it’s a great idea to have a ‘throw down’ wallet, with some cash and maybe even old cards in, but nothing of significant value.
If you do have the misfortune to be mugged, using this throw down wallet may deter the thieves from actual valuables underneath your clothes.
Learn Some Spanish
Learning the local lingo goes a very long way in any country, but especially when you’re trying to stay safe in Honduras.
Locals will be very appreciative of attempts to speak their language and will go the extra mile to help, and a traveler who is speaking the local language immediately gives the impression of being savvy.
A savvy traveler becomes less of a target than someone speaking in English.
Stay Out of the Big Cities
The big cities – San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa – are the most dangerous places in Honduras. But don’t think you’re missing out; there are a lot of small towns throughout Honduras which are vibrant and fascinating, and the countryside has spectacular scenery.
Points of interest in Honduras include the small towns of Gracias and Comayagua, the Maya ruins of Copán, and majestic national parks like Pico Bonito and Río Plátano. There is also a famous diving site called the Bay Islands, which is safe and incredibly beautiful for tourists.
There’s genuinely not much to see in the big cities, and it is they that give Honduras its reputation for being unsafe.
Failing That Advice …
While the cities in Honduras are best avoided, sometimes it’s essential to stay there for transit purposes. In which case, if you must stay in the cities, pay for a secure hotel that is known to be in a safe area.
For instance, if you are flying into Honduras, you’ll most likely land in Toncontín International Airport (in Tegucigalpa) or Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport (in San Pedro Sula), and it’s more dangerous to travel at night than spend a night in the city.
Also, some bus routes involve a change in either city, which sometimes includes an overnight stopover. If you do need to stay in either city, don’t worry – there are easy ways that you can keep yourself safe. One is to stay in a hotel that is recommended in tourist guides and is known to be secure and in a populated, safe area.
Tegucigalpa. Photo credit: Ian Mackenzie
Take a Taxi For City Travel
Most of the infamous bus holdups occur on city transport, so take taxis with a reliable driver or company while you’re within the cities.
Ask hotels and restaurants to call you taxis or take them from an established taxi rank, and make sure you see the driver’s ID before getting in the car.
Speak to Locals to Learn About Areas to Avoid
When you meet trusting locals, whether they are hotel staff, waiters or waitresses or just friendly people that you might get chatting to, ask them about their town or city, any staying safe tips, and which areas should be avoided.
Most Hondurans are warm, welcoming people who are the main victims of Honduras’s violent reputation. A local to a city will have knowledge of the areas to avoid ingrained into them.
FAVORITE CENTRAL AMERICA TRAVEL GUIDES! CLICK TO LOOK INSIDE ↓
SPREAD THE WORD!! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS ↓