Health & safety
Drug trafficking and illicit northbound immigration are concerns along the border regions with Guatemala, and military checkpoints are frequent from the Carretera Fronteriza along the Guatemalan border from Palenque to the Lagos de Montebello. These checkpoints generally increase security for travelers, though it’s best to be off the Carretera Fronteriza before dark. For similar reasons the border crossings with Guatemala near Tapachula are places you should aim to get through early in the day.
Indigenous villages are often extremely close-knit, and their people can be suspicious of outsiders and particularly sensitive about having their photos taken. In some villages cameras are, at best, tolerated – and sometimes not even that. You may put yourself in physical danger by taking photos without permission. If in any doubt at all, ask first.
There have been no Zapatista-related incidents affecting travelers for some time, though occasional flare-ups occur between Zapatista communities and the army or anti-Zapatista paramilitaries. If you plan to travel off the main roads in the Chiapas highlands, the Ocosingo area and far eastern Chiapas, take local advice about where to avoid going. Unknown outsiders might also be at risk in these areas because of local political or religious conflicts. Travelers to Villahermosa and coastal Tabasco should note the region is subject to seasonal floods. In 2007, catastrophic damage occurred and some areas are still recovering.
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