Belize City, Belize
Oh oh oh, the typical comfort zone luxury cruise type of tourists found their way to these internet forums. Don't go along with the panicking, you'll be fine. I am a solo travelling woman, bright skin, blue eyes... I HITCH-HIKED my way through Belize and went everywhere and more. I had amazing experiences, it's the safest country in Central America I experiences so far. I've been travelling in Latin America for 1,5 year now, if you wonder.
Of course, take into account the obvious: Don't flash around valuables like jewelry, mobile phones and ipods... Don't walk around at night all alone and lock your passport and credit card up in a safe (preferably with your own lock) in you hotel/house... stay clear from drugs... don't take drinks (or food) from strangers... Keep an eye on your luggage, at any time... Everything you should do everywhere else in the world, basically.
Relax and be confident. If you pretend to be scared you're the easiest victim.
Belize City is having a terrible problem with crime. There was a recent election in issue that sort of blew up in the face of the politicians after the national elections which had just occured days before I arrive in Belize. In the span of one week there were ten murders in Belize City. This, in a city of 75,000, is frightful.
It is very risky to walk around in central Belize City on your own. I took a cab everywhere after dark at the recommendation of my hotel staff. I visited one restaurant, just one kilometer away, and I took a taxi there. On the way back, I noticed that my taxi's windshield was completely smashed. I asked the driver, a friendly man, what happened. He told me that his friend was shot and landed on his cab, smashing the window. He drove his friend to the hospital where he died. Just one of the stories of Belize City and it serves as a warning.
During the day the city seems safer but parts are not exactly inviting. I would not suggest you use discretion when wandering around the city streets on your own during the daylight hours.
We recently traveled to Belize and stayed in Hopkins. We rented a vehicle at the airport. When we first left Belize city, we noticed the filthiness. Whenever we drove anywhere, Hopkins, Belize, Placencia etc., we noticed how the people beg you for rides and curse you if you don't give them a ride. There are human trafficing signs everywhere. One Saturday evening we were driving in later than normal and everyone in this town seemed to be out. There was a group of young thugs in the rode. They were trying to get us to stop for some reason and when we didn't they reached to open the door of the car. I was so scared. We were warned not to go out after dark in Belize and now I know why. We found out that a expat lady had been murdered there recently. We never felt safe in Belize. It is a very poor country with not much to offer. It was a very scary place and I would never go back.
I have experienced the worst situation while travelling in Belize, since entering the country. I wasted 40 minutes by visa verification. They said they need to fax my visa to be approved at the embassy, then later I wasted more time in custom. I didn´t have any intention to declare falsely to the custom, but they have asked in the form whether I have brought more than 10,000 BZ $ (or 5,000 US $), and unfortunately I have brought more than that because I forgot to take this amount of money out and keep in my house, so I just wanted to avoid the problem and I filled in form ´no´, but later the custom officers asked me to open my pouch that was locked with the key, and they started counting the money, and they accused me that I committed offense by bring money more than stated, but I didn´t declare, and they wanted to fine me 2,500 US $, and I said it would be impossible because the fine is too much, I couldn't afford that, and the money I brought was for the purpose of buying air tickets for me and my wife. So they asked me whether it was the first time here in Belize, and I said yes, so they said they would fine me 250 US $, and by the time we're discussing, one of them tried to distract us (me and my wife) by checking my wife's luggage, and another one was counting my money, and another was insulting me that I was talking foolish by the way I said I didn't know the rule would be so serious until causing the fine, so by the time they distracted us, one of them has taken money from my pouch for 1,200 US $, so apart from the fine, this amount has also been stolen, and I lost in the custom 1,450 US $!!! and I just realized it again when I started counting in my hotel's room with my wife, I found money has been stolen, so it was worthless to trust them, and this country is very dangerous and uninteresting. Even the custom stole us money, so I want you to consider well and take a very good care if you want to travel to Belize.
There are many many beautiful safe places to visit in Belize. Why anyone would want to make Belize City their tourist destination is beyond me. Go out to the cayes, to the rainforest, the mountains, or ruins!!!! Belize has so much to offer.
In Belize city when getting out from a taxi at the bus station u will be most likely approached by some fella who's gonna introduce himself as a bus station employee and actually flash some kind of handmade badge:)), all he'll do is take u inside the station and show u the bus schedule then ask u for few bucks. If one is capable to fly to Belize surely one is able to find the schedule on the wall of the bus station. This sort of "service" is not worth a single penny.
there is nothing really dangerous about belize city, personally I think that these people are exaggerating. I took a trip to Belize for spring break along with my roommate and we enjoyed it..Of course there might be some areas that's dangerous but which city doesn't have that? and for 2 females walking around, nothing happened.
Well, for hitch-hikers we suggest to stop traveling before sun sets. Ask locals for a place to camp, insofar you have got a tent.
We heard some warnings for the region around Belize city, where robberies or more might apear. We did not travel through this area, thus could not find out if it is true or not.
If you have reserved tours on the web before hand (e.g., cave tubing, zip line, foot tours), beware that upon arrival, there will be other tour companies that will try to tell you that your company has left without you, won't show up, or is unreliable. instead, they try to divert you on the spot to go with them. Also look out for guys who claim to be YOUR tour guide and will get you to go with them.
Your prearranged tour should have a confirmation number associated with it and should be able to identify you by name when presented with the confirmation number. Don't be fooled.
Get things in writing or by E-MAIL before you leave for Belize. Most of the reputable tour companies have US toll free numbers too.
Just the drive to our accommodations in Belize City on a Sunday morning gave me the feeling that the neighbourhood had a few problems. However, it was late morning after we had settled in, so we decided to take a stroll toward the city centre, near the swing bridge, to see if we could spot a restaurant of some sort for lunch. As we headed north along Regent Street, we could see many derelect buildings, others outfitted with walls and massive steel doors and gates, and even Security guards here and there on a dead Sunday. There was absolutely no traffic or even other pedestrians as we strolled along in the now hot sunshine, past doorways smelling of urine and with crackheads still sleeping it off. Oh well, we thought, it will get better once we get to the swing bridge - and it did. Problem was, all the shops were shut-up on a Sunday and we were not having much luck. We continued onward from the bridge, dealing with the odd panhandler or two begging for money, as the sweat was now turning my T-shirt sodden. It was not long before the surroundings began to deteriorate again and we gradually became aware that we were the only tourists walking on the street as groups of locals just sat in their doorways staring at us. Beginning to get that uneasy feeling that I had walking around downtown Newark, New Jersey not long after the American race riots in the mid-1970s, we made a very slow turn and retraced our steps back to the swing bridge!! Not very often that I get that feeling in broad daylight!
Deciding to cut our losses, we grabbed a taxi by the water terminal and told the driver to take us to the Radisson Hotel, on the waterfront. We were going to get ourselves a restaurant one way or another, even if it was not what we had in mind when we started out! In the end, we never had any problems in Belize City and most people were very friendly. It just did not exude a good atmosphere - and I hate to think about what happens when darkness falls!
You probably already know what I am going to say, so I will sum it up in 3 words....DON'T DO IT. I had locals who had been there all their lives tell me they would not dare go out at night because it is so dangerous.
There is no reason to stay in Belize City. The shopping is not any better there and only marginally cheaper. The hotels are awful and you are likely to encounter cockroaches. Also, it's not safe to be out and about after sunset.
Went on RCL cruise line's outing that cost $49 per person and it was terrible - included a bus tour of Belize City which is a total ghetto type city - ramshackle houses, minimal sights, that lasted about 10 minutes before they drove 30 minutes to the Belize Zoo. We knew we were in trouble when the tour guide said we could use the restroom on the bus or the outhouses at the drop off point before entering the zoo! What a choice. The zoo, if you can call it that, was 29 acres of swampy land with maybe 20 animals TOTAL and maybe 10 bird species TOTAL -- and I paid how much for this! It was terribly hot and humid which I expected and they gave us one bottle of drinking water for a 1 hour walking tour. When half of us stopped to look at some of the animals, those with sandals on their feet were attacked by fire ants that began biting terribly. The guide herself had the same problem and just recommended we keep moving at all times to avoid the ants infestations on the walking paths (which aren't paved). A hot 30-40 minute bus ride back to the Belize Tourism Shopping Village before getting back on our tender out to our ship. Limited number of approved shops where the tourism council evidently monitors the crime, protections and pricing. BIG warning sign that said it you ventured outside of that approved area you did so at your own risk. Needless to say, we exited quickly from the Belize City shore and plan never to return. Lessons: Only good for snorkeling and scuba divers -- all others need not trouble themselves getting off the ship! Even the cruise ship staff said they didn't know why ships were coming to Belize because so many people were disappointed over and over again if they weren't scuba or snorkelers. Last tip - take bug spray and cover yourself liberally all over - I did this as soon as I got off the bus and I think it is what saved me from the fire ants.
Be careful not to use your ATM card on a Sunday, as we witnessed some poor guy have the machine suck in his card and since you can't get it back until Monday when the bank opens, he was hooped as he was leaving the country that afternoon. Yikes!
Belize City is a very dirty, dangerous place day or night. I had friends who were mugged in broad daylight three blocks from the central police station. Even when outside the cities always guard your belongings carefully every minute, theft seems to be a national sport. Unfortunately the situation is almost as bad on the outer Cayes. I know because I spent six months in Belize before I'd had enough of being ripped off at every turn. It is the only country out of 36 I've visited to which I would never return.