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Belize Safety

Marshall, Texas
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7 posts
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Belize Safety

Reading the US Travel warning site...Belize is sounding not as safe as the ad's on TV sound.

We had planned on flying into Belize City and renting a car and the two of us driving to Corozal, but we have been told this could be dangerous, to only travel in a group. We also wanted to drive to some of the ruins by ourselves. What do those with a lot of experience in Belize think?

P.S. We are Sr.'s if that makes a difference. Thanks much.

Caribbean
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5,635 posts
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1. Re: Belize Safety

What absolute rubbish! I think I can say that because I live in Belize, but I'm sure others will agree.

If you land at Belize City and rent a car, you'll be as safe as your home town/city. Yes, there are some drivers who don't drive with care (you have to expect that anywhere), but there are no banditos that will hold you up on the highway. You don't need to travel in a group -- that has to the funniest thing I've heard in a long time -- actually, quite sad that it's advice given on a US travel warning website.

For Mayan sites in the north, you can drive to Altun Ha and Santa Rita (in Corozal Town). There's now a fee for Santa Rita, and I don't think the site is worth it.

It is possible to drive to Lamanai (the best site in the northern region), but with the recent rain we've had, I'd seek local advice before attempting a drive. Those back roads are not paved, and not well signposted, and the car rental company might not allow cars off the paved roads. The best way to see Lamanai is to join one of the tours that start with a boat trip along the river to get to the site.

In western Belize, you can drive to Xunantunich, or at least get pretty close, and to Cahal Pech in San Ignacio Town. For Caracol, I'd suggest going with a tour company. If you can handle a cave tour, consider the ATM cave tour -- go with a tour company.

Here's my standard blurb on driving in Belize...

All the main highways are paved, two-lane and well signposted (visitors might disagree about the signposting). A four-wheel drive vehicle is not necessary unless you plan to get way off the highways. Insurance is mandatory. Current gasoline prices are about BZ$12 per gallon.

The Philip Goldson Highway (formerly called the Northern Highway) is the main highway from Belize City to Orange Walk, Corozal and the northern border. The maximum speed limit is 50 mph (80 kph).

The George Price Highway (formerly called the Western Highway) is the highway from Belize City to Belmopan, San Ignacio, Benque and the western border. The maximum speed limit is 50 mph (80 kph).

The Burrell Boom Road is a highway that connects the Philip Goldson Highway to the George Price Highway. It’s often used as a shorter route to go from the airport to Cayo District.

The Hummingbird Highway is the main highway from Belmopan to Dangriga. The maximum speed limit is 50 mph (80 kph), but with many curves and some one-lane bridges, it’s not safe to drive the maximum speed limit on much of this highway. If driving to Dangriga, this is the best route because it’s very scenic.

The Southern Highway is the highway from the Dangriga turn-off to Punta Gorda. The maximum speed limit is 50 mph (80 kph). There has been some roadwork in recent years, but I think it’s completed now, and the highway is sometimes blocked due to flooding at the Kendall Bridge. The road to Placencia is now paved. The road to Hopkins is unpaved.

Maps will show another road, the Coastal Highway, that runs from the George Price Highway (about halfway between Belmopan & Belize City) to the Hummingbird Highway near Dangriga. It's not really a highway -- it's a gravel road through the bush, and there’s nothing to see except trees and dust, and nowhere to stop (no gas available). If travelling from Belize City to Dangriga, this is a shorter distance, but the road is not paved so you won't be able to drive as fast as on the highway. The Coastal Highway is also used by large trucks that are sometimes reluctant to give way, and the road may be impassable in very wet conditions. If you plan to use this road, try to confirm the condition first. Some rental companies will not allow vehicles on the road. I would not recommend going via that road.

Some general safety tips…

On the highways, be aware of unmarked speed bumps near towns and villages. In wet conditions, the pavement can get extremely slippery due to the type of paving material. Be aware of pedestrians and cyclists walking & riding ON THE HIGHWAY, not on the shoulder. Be careful of that especially at night because lights and reflectors are seldom used. And there are some bad drivers in Belize -- watch out for speeding buses. If driving at night, take more care because road lighting is poor (non-existent). The highways have white posts that act as mile markers.

Edited: 20 November 2013, 22:34
Placencia, Belize
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2. Re: Belize Safety

Ditto on the rubbish part~ ~ Belize is the safest country I've ever been to no worries.

San Ignacio, Belize
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240 posts
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3. Re: Belize Safety

I had to respond and second MisterB266 response. I am an American female newly relocated to Belize and drive the roads by myself all hours of the night. The most I worry about is the unseen pedestrian or the unexpected speed bump. However as anywhere, even when you are home, use common sense and exercise general caution but I love Belize and I travel and roam freely about. I have never felt unsafe.

Central America
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4. Re: Belize Safety

What general crime stats don't break out is crimes involving tourists versus the general population. Yes, crime rates have risen in Belize in recent years, but these crimes are typically gang/drug related and don't involve tourists. Yes, crime sometimes does effect tourists but it is by far the exception.

I really wish the the travel advisories would give the statistics on actual crimes involving tourists to put things in a more realistic perspective.

In general Belize is a very safe country, but don't forget to pack your common sense.

Chicago, Illinois...
1 post
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5. Re: Belize Safety

Thank you so much for all the tips offered SIRH_Manager. We'll be taking a cruise in Dec. and want to see homes/land for possible retirement in the future. Do you favor any specific realtor? We'll only have a few hours but I think we'll have enough to few a couple houses. Thanks in advance.

Edited: 24 November 2013, 16:46
Marshall, Texas
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7 posts
6 reviews
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6. Re: Belize Safety

Thank you so much....I guess it's kind of like reading the warnings on prescription drugs.

Portland, Oregon
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7. Re: Belize Safety

Thanks as well. This post was super helpful as my wife and I are getting ready to head to Belize next week - and assuring us some of the rumors we've come across on the internet are not as alarming as they sound. We're excited to see Caracol (with a tour) and spend some time on the cayes jus relaxating.

A couple of additional questions though.

1. what is the best way to get currency, use a bank machine and withdraw cash upon arrival or get currency at a bank prior to leaving, or are U.S. dollars commonly accepted?

2. is it easy to pick up a pay-as-you-go phone at the airport when we arrive in Belize City?

Caribbean
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8. Re: Belize Safety

Over the years, there have been a few incidents where tourists have been robbed, but I don't recall any in the past year or two. That's the reason for the "convoys" to Caracol.

1. Money.

Just bring US$ -- it will be accepted. Make sure the notes are in good condition and bring plenty of smaller denominations. At a rate of US$1=BZ$2, some smaller businesses might not be able to change large notes. If you need more BZ$, use a plastic card in an ATM -- they are in every city and main town. Make sure you use all your BZ money before leaving Belize because it will be difficult to convert outside Belize.

2. Phone

I haven't done it (I live here), but have heard that other travellers have. The phone company is known as BTL.

San Ignacio, Belize
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9. Re: Belize Safety

Roads are safe, although some aren't in the best shape. I would say that if you are a confident driver, then you'll do fine. At the same time, I wouldn't drive at night. I'm a very confident driver, and there's nothing that will get me on the highways at night - that's when the really bad drivers come out, haha.

An ATM card is fine since there are ATM's everywhere.

Wisconsin
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10. Re: Belize Safety

Since some obviously very knowledgable people have responded regarding safety, I hope that some of you will respond to this. We will be there for two months and wonder how necessary it is to have a four wheel drive vehicle. There is a bis difference in rental costs, but we also want to to see and explore everything. Thanks.

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