Sights & Attractions in Belize City
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Belize City Sights
Belize City is defined by the water around it. The main part of the city is at the end of a small peninsula, jutting out into the Caribbean Sea. Haulover Creek, an extension of the Belize River, running roughly west to east, divides the city into the North Side and the South Side. The North Side is, to generalize, more affluent than the South Side. The venerable Swing Bridge connects the two sides, although in modern times other bridges over Haulover Creek, especially the Belcan Bridge northwest of the city center, carry more traffic. At the mouth of the river, just beyond Swing Bridge, is the Belize Harbor (or Harbour as it's written locally, in the English style).
Coming from the north, follow the Northern Highway through several roundabouts (traffic circles) to Freetown Road and Barracks Road to reach the center. Alternatively, you can swing west on Princess Margaret Drive to Barracks Road, along the seafront. From the west, the Western Highway becomes Cemetery Road, which leads you to the center via the South Side and Orange Street. The city center itself is a confusing warren of narrow streets, many of them one way.
If you're staying in either the northern or western sprawling suburbs, a car is handy, as there's no municipal bus system. There are many taxis, however, with affordable rates starting at BZ$6. It's not customary to tip taxi drivers, unless they help you with luggage or perform other services. Most drivers are friendly and are happy to point out interesting sites to visitors. A few are licensed tour guides.
Safety and Precautions
Belize City earned a reputation for street crime in the early 1990s, but the government has made some progress in cleaning up the problem, despite gang activity and crack cocaine. Crimes against tourists in Belize City are relatively rare. Still, the crime rate in Belize City is comparable to that of a distressed inner-city area in the United States, and the homicide rate is among the highest in the world, according to the Economist magazine. Take the same precautions you'd take in any city—don't wear expensive jewelry or watches, avoid handling money in public, and leave valuables in a safe. Ignore offers to buy drugs. On buses and in crowded areas hold purses and backpacks close to your body. Check with the staff at your hotel before venturing into any unfamiliar areas, particularly at night. After dark, you should take a taxi rather than walk even a few blocks. Avoid leaving your rental car on the street overnight. Generally the northern suburbs are safer than downtown.
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