brown dried leaf in tilt shift lens
a man in a wet suit and goggles swimming under water
black electric wires under blue sky

Is Matamoros Safe?

Matamoros has seen a surge in violent crime, with turf wars between rival cartels posing a significant risk to travelers. The U.S. government advises against non-essential travel due to high rates of kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery. Travelers should avoid isolated areas, remain vigilant, and follow guidance from local authorities. Medical facilities are limited, so obtaining comprehensive travel insurance is highly recommended.

Download Vigilios

Your Pocket-Sized Travel Safety Guide

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store

Safety & Security

Matamoros, located in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, has experienced a surge in violence and criminal activities in recent years, posing significant risks for travelers.

  • Violent Crime: The city has been plagued by turf wars between rival drug cartels, resulting in frequent shootouts, kidnappings, and murders. Travelers should exercise extreme caution and avoid areas known for criminal activities.

  • Petty Crime: Pickpocketing, bag snatching, and other petty crimes are common, especially in crowded areas and tourist hotspots. Remain vigilant and keep valuables secure.

  • Scams: Tourists may encounter various scams, such as overcharging for services or goods, fake police officers demanding bribes, or fraudulent tour operators. Exercise caution and research reputable service providers.

  • Civil Unrest: Protests and demonstrations can occur without warning and may turn violent. Monitor local news and avoid areas where protests are taking place.

  • Cartel Activity: The presence of powerful drug cartels in the region poses a significant risk. Travelers should avoid any involvement with illegal activities and exercise extreme caution, especially when traveling outside of major cities.

While the risks in Matamoros are substantial, some precautions can help mitigate potential dangers. Travelers are advised to consult government travel advisories, register with their embassy or consulate, and consider hiring a reputable local guide or security service for added safety.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Matamoros in Mexico should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. While the city has medical facilities, their quality and availability may vary.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, including those for hepatitis A, typhoid, and influenza. Some travelers may also need vaccinations for hepatitis B, rabies, and others depending on their activities.

  • Insect-Borne Diseases: Diseases like Zika, dengue, and chikungunya are present in Mexico. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in air-conditioned or well-screened areas.

  • Water and Food Safety: Drink only bottled or purified water and avoid raw or undercooked food to prevent traveler's diarrhea and other foodborne illnesses.

  • Air Pollution: Matamoros can experience high levels of air pollution, which may exacerbate respiratory conditions. Those with asthma or other respiratory issues should take precautions.

  • Medical Facilities: While Matamoros has hospitals and clinics, the quality of care may not meet Western standards. Travelers should consider purchasing comprehensive travel health insurance before their trip.

Natural Disasters

Matamoros, located in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, is prone to certain natural disasters that travelers should be aware of. The city's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico exposes it to the risk of hurricanes and tropical storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, which typically runs from June to November.

  • Hurricanes and Tropical Storms: These weather events can bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and potential flooding, which can disrupt transportation and damage infrastructure. It's advisable to monitor weather forecasts and follow official advisories during this period.

  • Flooding: Due to its coastal location and flat terrain, Matamoros is susceptible to flooding, particularly during heavy rainfall events. Travelers should exercise caution and avoid areas prone to flooding.

  • Extreme Heat: The region experiences hot and humid summers, with temperatures often exceeding 35°C (95°F). Travelers should take precautions to stay hydrated and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.

While natural disasters are a concern in Matamoros, the city has emergency response plans in place to mitigate their impact. Travelers are advised to familiarize themselves with local emergency procedures and follow the guidance of local authorities in case of any natural disaster event.


Transportation in Matamoros can be a concern for travelers. While public transportation options like buses and taxis are available, their safety and reliability can vary. Road safety is a significant issue, with poorly maintained roads, reckless driving, and a lack of traffic enforcement contributing to a high risk of accidents.

  • Taxis are generally considered safer than public buses, but it's advisable to use official taxi services or have your hotel call a reputable company.
  • Rental cars provide more control, but driving can be challenging due to the road conditions and driving habits of locals.
  • Walking or cycling is not recommended, especially at night, due to the risk of crime and poorly lit streets.

Travelers are advised to exercise caution when using transportation in Matamoros and to prioritize safety over convenience. Arranging private transportation or joining guided tours can be a safer option for getting around the city.

Cultural Norms

Matamoros is a city rich in cultural heritage, blending Mexican and American influences. As a traveler, it's essential to respect local customs and traditions. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Religious Festivals: Matamoros celebrates various religious festivals, such as the Feast of Our Lady of Refuge in September. Visitors should be mindful of religious processions and events, and dress modestly when attending.

  • Día de los Muertos: This traditional Mexican holiday, celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, honors deceased loved ones. Visitors may witness vibrant altars, parades, and festivities during this time.

  • Greetings and Etiquette: Greet locals with a friendly "Buenos días" or "Buenas tardes." Handshakes are common, and it's polite to address elders with "Don" or "Doña" before their names.

  • Dress Code: While casual attire is generally acceptable, it's advisable to dress conservatively, especially when visiting religious sites or attending cultural events.

  • Language: While English is spoken in tourist areas, learning a few basic Spanish phrases can go a long way in showing respect and facilitating communication.

  • Local Cuisine: Matamoros is known for its delicious Mexican cuisine. Trying local dishes like tacos al pastor or cabrito (roasted goat) is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture.

By respecting local customs and traditions, travelers can have a more enriching and authentic experience while visiting Matamoros.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Matamoros are limited and may not meet the standards expected by many international travelers. While police and fire departments exist, their response times can be slow, and resources are often strained. Private ambulance services are available but can be costly. Travelers should exercise caution and take necessary precautions.

  • Medical Facilities: The quality of medical facilities varies greatly, with some private hospitals offering decent care but often at high costs. Public hospitals tend to be overcrowded and lack resources.

  • Tourist Police: A dedicated tourist police force exists, but their presence is limited, and language barriers can be an issue. They may not be as responsive or effective as expected.

  • Emergency Assistance: Some resorts and hotels offer emergency assistance services for guests, but these are not widely available. Travelers should inquire about such services before booking accommodations.

  • Self-Reliance: Due to the potential limitations of emergency services, travelers are advised to exercise caution, be self-reliant, and have contingency plans in place for emergencies.

Frequently Asked Questions

A colorful illustration with three people and the letters "FAQ" representing a Frequently Asked Questions section

Is Matamoros safe for tourists?

Matamoros is considered a high-risk area for tourists due to drug cartel violence and crime. The U.S. government advises against non-essential travel. Tourists should exercise extreme caution, avoid isolated areas, and remain vigilant at all times.

Is Matamoros safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers are advised to avoid Matamoros due to the high risk of violent crime, including kidnapping and sexual assault. The U.S. government warns that female travelers are particularly vulnerable and should not travel alone.

Is Matamoros safe for families?

Matamoros is not recommended for family travel due to the high risk of violent crime and drug cartel activity. The U.S. government advises against travel with children, as the safety situation is unpredictable and dangerous.

Is Matamoros LGBTQ+ friendly?

While same-sex relationships are legal in Mexico, LGBTQ+ travelers should exercise caution in Matamoros due to the conservative culture and potential for discrimination or harassment. Public displays of affection should be avoided.

Do you need a visa to go to Matamoros?

No visa is required for short tourist stays in Mexico for citizens of the United States, Canada, and most European countries. However, a valid passport is mandatory, and visitors must obtain a tourist card upon entry.

Can you drink tap water in Matamoros?

It is not safe to drink tap water in Matamoros. Travelers should drink bottled or purified water and avoid ice cubes made from tap water. Contaminated water can lead to illnesses like traveler's diarrhea.

What is the currency in Matamoros?

The official currency in Matamoros is the Mexican Peso (MXN). U.S. dollars are widely accepted in tourist areas, but it's recommended to have pesos for smaller transactions and remote areas.

Related Content

Download the App

Map, Insights & Support - Vigilios is your Personal Safety Companion

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store QR LinkApp Store
Google Play QR Link
Coming soon to Android
Google Play