Visiting Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. Is it as Dangerous as they Say?

| August 23, 2012 | 30 Comments

Why would I travel to visit Ciudad Juarez you might be asking? For the past few years Mexico’s bordering city has been on the news for all the wrong reasons: since the early 1990’s thousands of women have vanished and in 2010 the durg wars made Juarez the most dangerous city in the world, dropping down in 2011 to second position according the UN Global Homicide report . And sure, that was 2011, but in 2012 homicides have dropped another 40% making Ciudad Juarez a city like most others when it comes to safety, and it is one you can visit at ease as I just learned. Best of all, there are enough cultural and natural attractions to keep you busy for at least one full day, and the people are genuinely friendly as they try to make Juarez the city it once was. So what is there to do? Read along and watch my Juarez video guide to see and learn what there is to do!

Ciudad Juarez as seen from El Paso

Ciudad Juarez as seen from El Paso

The cathedral in Ciudad Juarez

The cathedral in Ciudad Juarez

Start your day as a local by heading to EL Burrito Crisostomo Car Wash. Why? While the car wash is well know and popular, it’s the burritos that draws the crowds. There are about 12 different fillings to choose from and the tortillas are home made, probably a few minutes before you get here. Swallow it all with a glass of Jamaica (Hibiscus) tea and you’ll be off with a great start.

burrito crisostomo

Great flavors make these some of the best burritos I’ve had in Mexico

burritos juarez

This is what the place looks like. Surprising, I know.

As any border city Ciudad Juarez is rich in history just like its counterpart in the US, El Paso. For decades both metropolis enjoyed a brillinat camarederie that boasted economic and goods commerce both ways. The city played a critical role in the Mexican Revolution, and was invaded by Pancho Villa and his men between May 8- 10 of 1911. In the outskirts of the city lies what is know as the Casa de Adobe, a small adobe house were president Arturo Madero installed temporarily as the revolutionary president. The house is a reconstruction as the original was destroyed during a fire.

casa adobe juarez

The Casa de Adobe in Juarez. The border with the US is right besides it.

Inside the house

I then visited the former border control building, today a museum. It’s closed on Mondays (like most museums around the world) but I got a special tour as part of the fam trip. The building is interesting to see and there was an interesting exposition about the occupation of the city by Villa.

museum juarez station

The former border control building, today a museum.

We then made our way to the only desert in Mexico, knows as the Samalayuca Dunes. About 30 minutes south of Ciudad Juarez, this is a place where the Juarez murders will seem as distant as Mars. Expect to find young crowds enjoying sandboarding or to try it yourself visit the following website: . Unfortunatelly I had not given a heads up and there was no equipment availlable.

samalayuca desert

No sandboarding for me, but I did enjoy the views. Some of them are up to 40 m (around 120 ft) high!

I wrapped up the day by enjoying a Margarita in the bar that saw its birth. Located on Avenida Juarez Norte #629 Kentucky Bar is an old school bar that even today has visitors from across the border who come for a tranquil drink in this emblematic establishment. There are several bars in Mexico that claim to be the birthplace of the Margarita, but only Kentucky Bar has the oficial certification by the Guiness Book of world records. You’ll also see photos of the man behind it, and if for a few minutes you can imagine how famous stars like John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Jack Dempsey felt when they were here.

Kentucky Bar in Ciudad Juarez

Kentucky Bar in Ciudad Juarez

Margarita kentucky bar juarez

Oh yes, I did enjoy the Margarita

With over 2 million people the city is not easily tamed, yet its attractions are relatively easy to reach (I would next visit the ruins of the lost civilization at Paquime, but these are 4 hours away). The best way to see them all in a day is with private transportation, but taxis are cheap enough to make them my best recommendation. As for accommodation, mine was kindly provided by Hotel Lucerna on Paseo triunfo de la República #3976, and I can’t think of a better hotel in Juarez where to stay at. It’s right in front of Burritos Crisostomo, 5 minutes away from the US border and has all the amenities you might want including a gym and pool.

hotel lucerna juarez

My room at Hotel Lucerna

And now it’s your turn:

Would you visit Ciudad Juarez? Why or why not? Knowing it’s not as dangerous as you might have though, would you now? What have you heard about Juarez, if anything at all? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below, and this post too if you liked it!

My visit visit to Ciudad Juarez was part of a fam trip with the Tourism Board of Chihuahua, however the article and opinions in it are, as always, my own.

Category: Americas, Destinations, Mexico


30 responses to “Visiting Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. Is it as Dangerous as they Say?”

  1. S. Welker says:

    In March 2015, my step-daughter is going on a mission trip (with the Christian College she attends) to build homes in Juarez. My husband is a nervous wreck. Do you have any words of reassurance I could give to him? I would greatly appreciate it!

    • maitravelsite says:

      Hi there!

      You may have noticed that Ciudad Juarez is no longer in the news, nor has been in the past few years, and knowing how the press likes to blow things out of proportion this is a good indicator of how things are much calmer nowadays. I was there a good two years ago, when CJ was just beginning to calm down, and back then I already felt super safe and walked around without problems, crossing the border to El Paso back and forth very easily. For what it’s worth you show him this article from CNN (and it’s already 2 years old), and you may also want to call the local tourism board for some insight- they are super friendly and trying hard to restore the name of the city after the tough 2008-2010. Not sure how far you are from there, but if you’re close…why not drop by for a weekend? The city itself doesn’t have much to offer but you can spend a day visiting what I feature here and then heading to El Paso. Hope this helps!

    • Jason says:

      I was just there today for lunch. And I was there yesterday for lunch. I went alone on foot (28 year old male) and felt safe. Just stay clear of the cops if you do see them, as they can be a little intimidating and tend to be carrying large machine guns. Don’t be drunk in public as that will lead to problems. Stay along the busy streets (I only go during the day) and it seems perfectly safe. I enjoyed the food there so much!!

      • maitravelsite says:

        Hey Jason, glad you are enjoying your stay! Those burritos were great IMO, and glad to know you felt safe. Nowadays it’s just like any other city in Mexico, if not safer than a few!

  2. Nicholas says:

    I am planning on going to Juarez early 2015 and this post was so good to read. You pretty much just planned one whole day for me. That food looks amazing also!!!!! And the sand dune photo was awesome. I am going to stay in a hostel for a 2-3 days. Once again awesome post!!!

    • maitravelsite says:

      Hey Nicholas, thanks for dropping by and I’m glad you liked the post!I suppose you checked out the video too? Enjoy Juarez, and the good food!

  3. Really? says:

    You are an idiot. Go there enough times and you will discover your premature demise. I find it hard to believe the blatant and random murders have dompletely subsided. Perhaps a lull in activity at best, but I would never take my family there.

    • maitravelsite says:

      Who’s the idiot here? You just ramble away and offer no facts, and you haven’t even been there. I guess you’re one more of those gullible people who believe everything they see on TV.

  4. Allen says:

    I love Juarez. Even when the violence was going on here I still crossed over. Maybe not as much. I moved here from El Paso because I feel at home in this Mexican City. I’m learning how to speak Spanish so I can converse with the people here.

  5. You are a brave man! Although that burrito might just have gotten me there too.

  6. Alonso says:

    Burritos are the best!!, there are originally from Juarez 🙂 , I’m from Juarez, been there all my life, and is sad to hear all the bad perception from our city,, thanks to share the reality, that it is.

  7. Thanks for promoting our city, I am a from Juarez and we are trying to rebuild our city, next time you’re in J-town please stop by and visit our restaurant, here’s a note they did on our work in Juarez.

    • maitravelsite says:

      Hey Oscar, pity I didn’t know about your restaurant while I was there. I’ll make sure I stop by next time I’m there!

  8. Pete says:

    I mentioned your trip to my wife to see what her thoughts were and initially was shock. I am certain that this city’s reputation and tourism is surely affected by the media’s portrayal, but posts like this will surely help rebuild the city’s tourism. If I had an opportunity, I’d definitely go.

    • maitravelsite says:

      I’m not surprised your wife was in shock: Juarez has been in the press for many years for all the wrong reasons and people are not aware that the situation has changed. It might not be the nicest city in the world, but there are definitely enough things to see to spend a day visiting it.

  9. I think I would visit Juarez, not because it’s not so dangerous anymore, but because probably it hasn’t caught on much with tourists yet. And I like that part. 🙂

  10. Ayngelina says:

    Up until now I would have said I would never visit Juarez but you do make me think I should look a little more into it.

    • maitravelsite says:

      Frankly I did not feel unsafe at any moment. It is just like any other city in Mexico, perhaps not too stylish, but gone are the days of widespread violence.

  11. David says:

    And that tortilla meal looks delightful with that jamaican hibiscus tea. I am a big foodie and love to explore every possible cuisine and I am sure it will be a great start to the day. Your pictures show an amazing side of this place and I get this erge to pay a visit myself. Thanks a lot for sharing your wonderful ex[perience.

    • maitravelsite says:

      I prefer to have these kinds of meals for lunch, but I gave it a shot and had it for breakfast like the locals…

  12. Ashley says:

    Looks awesome kind of destination…Perfect for the family vacation…thanks a lot for sharing with us..

    • maitravelsite says:

      It is now, even though many people would say- without knowing first hand- that it’s too dangerous for that.

  13. Erica says:

    Those sand dunes look AWESOME!

  14. Michael Davis says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing such a wonderful experience. I have enjoyed it throughout the post.

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