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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.

Honduras

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.

Pexels Money

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.

Cancun Mexico Megan

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

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 ↓

Honduras Travel Guide

Lonely Planet Honduras

Central america travel guide

Central America on a Shoestring 

Lonely Planet Belize

Lonley Planet Belize

SPREAD THE WORD!! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS ↓

Antoine is a Canadian travel blogger who now lives in the Cayman Islands, where he works in marketing and travels as much as possible, both to local Caribbean islands and to destinations further afield.

He has visited every continent except Antarctica and has experienced climatic and cultural extremes; and now he’s on a mission to show you the less visited side to places around the globe. Follow his adventures on his blog – www.travelinglife.com – or find him on Facebook.

    19 Comments

  1. Super tips Antoine! I take virtually all travel advisories lightly LOL. Unless I head to a war zone or rough urban center – and I never do – all Western warnings are fear-mongering designed to keep Westerners in their homelands. As for speaking Spanish, what a difference experience! Wifey and I are kinda fluent so we get by, and if some areas are a wee less safe, locals alert us in the native tongue….because they can communicate with us. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Ryan

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Ryan lol yes sadly I’ve found travel advisories to be overblown at the best of times. We traveled through Istanbul at a time of high alert according to the Australian Government, but everything was fine. Social media is great these days in the sense that you can usually get advice from people who are on the ground right now, and those are the voices we listen to for opinions and advice.

      Nice that you’re fluent in Spanish! Mike is reasonably fluent in Spanish too, which really does make all the difference! I stick with him and I’m fine 😀

  2. With the current situation in Nicaragua, I’m considering spending some time there. The only thing the article is missing is a real focus on staying safe in the main tourist areas of Copan and the Bay Islands. A few tips would go a long way.

    • Thanks for the feedback Gearoid, I’ll see if Antoine has anything to add about Copan and the Bay Islands specifically 🙂 Many of his general tips can definitely be applied though. I hope you have a wonderful trip!

  3. The throw down wallet and a couple of the other tips I fully support. However the part about ignoring government warnings is problematic as often that will invalidate any travel insurance. Make sure you understand the terms of your policy.

    • Thats a very good point about invalidating your travel insurance re Government warnings. Personally I’ve found govt warnings to often be overblown, but you’re right, you do risk not being covered if you go against a current warning. I’ll make an edit to the post to state this – thanks for the feedback Tony 🙂

    • I agree completely with want you say it’s just some people don’t understand that warnings are often excessive but commonly used by insurance companies.

  4. Very good these safety tips. You really need to be very careful when you travel outside the country that you are accustomed to living in. A lot of places are dangerous. You have to be careful.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Leonardo. Yes, it’s always important to have researched safety tips when visiting foreign countries, because customs and rule of law will often be very different to what you might be used to. I’ve found that most countries are generally very safe, but you can face danger if you’re unprepared or haven’t researched how to avoid trouble.

  5. I prefer to listen to the advice of travelers and expats on the ground, or those who have just visited the country. Government advice is always so alarmist.

    • 100% Cassie, I totally agree.

  6. Good tips – we recently included Honduras on an extended period of time in Latin America, and you just need to avoid the big cities. You’re right that the most beautiful sites of the country are outside of these centers, and we didn’t experience any violence or crime, nor did we feel unsafe at any time.

    • Thanks Karan, I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed your time in Honduras and had a safe trip 🙂

  7. We loved our time in Honduras – I would also add to your tips to avoid the hurricane season which is from June to November. You could find yourself caught up in landslides, mudslides and flooding. Yes, be cautious of local crime, but natural disasters are a big one here too if you’re traveling in the wrong season.

    • So glad to hear that you enjoyed your time in Honduras Sheryl. And great tip on paying close attention to the seasons. Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

  8. Speaking to locals and learning a base level of Spanish is great advice. We’ve visited surrounding countries – Costa Rica, Belize, and Nicaragua. Would love to do a year long road trip from the bottom of South America up through Central. In researching though we’ve been warned that Honduras is one to watch out for for car jackings on roads and highways, both in urban and rural areas. Apparently carjackers often target vehicles leaving major airports, so something to keep in mind – we’ll be keeping our doors locked even when physically in the car.

    • Oh wow a cross continent road trip sounds incredible Moira! Thanks for sharing your research on car safety – good to note for anyone planning on driving through the region to be prepared, and take precautions like locking doors while driving 🙂

      Safe travels!

  9. I found some essential tips from your article and it will helps for any traveler when visit a country. But learning the basics of the local language is a great way to show respect and break down barriers. Plus a smile, a wave and a friendly attitude can break down any barrier where language isn’t understood.

    • Glad the article could be helpful for you Real 🙂 Absolutely on a smile, wave and positive attitude serving you well in any country. I’ve found that locals, even when they don’t understand you, will tend to mirror your attitude, so if you’re friendly, they’re friendly back etc 🙂

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