As we move into 2024 and people are planning their holiday and NYE travel, the question remains: is Cancun safe, and how safe will your family be if you decide Cancun will be your holiday destination?
This is the million-dollar question, as Cancun is the top destination for many U.S. travelers, but violent crime is soaring in certain areas because tourists are buying drugs from Mexican drug dealers.
While Cancun is a popular tourist destination with heavily patrolled areas and resorts, there are instances of petty crime like pickpocketing and scams, but I personally have never felt unsafe in Cancun.
For years, I wouldn’t travel to Mexico because the U.S. media painted this horrific picture of Mexico, and I always wondered if Cancun is safe to travel.
I believed Mexico was dangerous; I would be killed, kidnapped, and held for ransom by the cartel because of both the Cancun Travel Advisory and the Mexico Travel Advisory that the U.S. Government issued.
If Mexico was all that dangerous, people indeed wouldn’t keep returning year after year to a dangerous country, now would they?
Yes, Cancun is Safe. To address safety concerns, it’s crucial to start with crime statistics.
Recent data paints a nuanced picture of Cancun’s safety landscape. Like many tourist destinations, Cancun experiences crime, but understanding the specifics is key.
The overall crime rate in Cancun has shown fluctuations, with local authorities implementing measures to address safety concerns.
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Is Cancun Safe Right Now?
Cancun is located in the State of Quintana Roo, which also includes Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, Cozumel, and the Riviera Maya. It is not far from Puerto Vallarta and Isla Mujeres.
These areas bring in a lot of dollars into Mexico, which is undoubtedly one of the safer areas in Mexico, especially if you compare it to other states in the country.
According to the US State Department, Cancun is a welcoming community and stands out as one of Mexico’s safest regions, characterized by its minimal crime rates.
While many people worry about cartels or criminals preying on tourists in areas like Cancun or Mazatlan, there are much more common risks for travelers, like not using your common sense and buying drugs in a foreign country.
If you can’t spend the weekend in another country without smoking weed, you should probably be checking yourself into rehab instead of traveling to Cancun.
Most of the tourists that have been killed in Mexico are due to them buying drugs from the cartel because they were too afraid to fly with weed, so someone thought it was a good idea to buy drugs in a foreign country.
- Cancun is generally safe for travelers, but taking necessary precautions is essential.
- Consider checking government website travel alerts for updated information on safety in Cancun.
- Follow safety tips, such as avoiding walking alone at night and staying in well-known establishments.
- Familiarize yourself with local laws to ensure a smooth and trouble-free experience.
- Opt for reputable transportation services, and be cautious about your surroundings.
- Choose filtered water to stay hydrated and healthy during your travels in Cancun.
Mexico Travel Advisory
For the latest Cancun Travel Advisory and Warnings, visit the US State Department’s Website. Right now, the State Department website warns that ” Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread in Mexico.” However, when you read further, it states, “Exercise Normal Precautions When Traveling To Cancun.
As of August 23, 2023, the US State Department updated their Mexico travel warnings for Quintana Roo, which is home to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. It removed the warning about an increased risk of kidnapping but it is still under a level 2 advisory.
There’s still a high rate of violent crime in Mexico, especially after dark. Kidnapping and extortion are serious risks.
Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions
Level 2: Excercise Increased Caution
Level 3: Reconsider Travel
Level 4: Do Not Travel
Mexican Military & Police Called In To Help Protect Tourists In Cancun
The deployment of the Mexican military to safeguard tourists in Cancun has been a crucial measure to ensure the safety and enjoyment of travelers visiting this popular destination.
Cancun’s stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife make it a magnet for tourists from around the world, but it also faces security challenges.
With the Mexican military’s presence, tourists can feel reassured, knowing that dedicated personnel are committed to maintaining a safe environment.
These troops work in collaboration with local law enforcement agencies to deter criminal activity, such as drug-related violence and theft, and to provide a sense of security to visitors.
Their presence not only protects tourists but also supports the local economy by maintaining Cancun’s status as a premier vacation spot.
How is The Mexican Government Keeping Cancun Safe?
The Mexican government employs a multi-faceted approach to ensure the safety of Cancun’s residents and visitors.
Law enforcement agencies work diligently to maintain a strong presence throughout the city, regularly patrolling popular tourist areas and collaborating with local businesses to enhance security measures.
Specialized tourist police units are dedicated to assisting and safeguarding visitors, providing a reassuring presence for international travelers.
Additionally, investment in modern surveillance technologies and communication systems aids in swiftly monitoring and responding to incidents.
Community policing initiatives foster a sense of trust and cooperation within the local community, while public awareness campaigns educate tourists about safety measures.
By adopting these comprehensive strategies and continuously addressing security concerns, the Mexican government is committed to preserving Cancun as a safe and inviting destination for all.
Cancun Travel Advisory Fact vs. Fiction
There are more than 40,000 police officers stationed throughout all of Quintana Roo which means Cancun’s safety is important to the country.
If you get up and go to the grocery store every day, run at your local park, or even go to a concert, you should always take precautions no matter the destination.
Are you worried about traveling to Chattanooga, Houston, Chicago, New Orleans, or Memphis? All of these cities have a higher crime rate than Cancun.
The Mexican Tourism Authority and the government want you safe because tourism is Mexico’s number 1 revenue generator and they have pointed to the low number of victims of crime compared to the 28 million American tourists who travel to Mexico each year.
Know that Cancun is safe and keep these numbers in mind when planning your vacation for spring break and summer travels for 2024.
As I stated earlier, Cancun is safer than most of America’s biggest cities. If you are not worried about traveling within the U.S., especially with the current racial tensions, you should be asking if Cancun is safe.
You take road trips with the family to cities like St. Louis, New Orleans, and Kansas City without giving it a second thought, so do not allow the media to make you believe Mexico is unsafe.
Cancun Crime vs. United States Crime
Mexico is statistically much safer than the United States.
So why is the U.S. State Dept. sending out Travel Alerts, calling Mexico “A Failed State”, and saying that ALL parts of the country (including popular tourist resorts like Puerto Vallarta and Cancun) are now unsafe for travel?
They also fail to mention that most of that violence is drug traffic-related or that you could count the number of tourists who are affected by it on the one hand.
Did you know that, according to the FBI, an estimated 15,241 persons were murdered in the U.S. in 2009 111 U.S. citizens were killed in Mexico last year, and almost all of them were involved in illicit drug trafficking, gun-running, or smuggling people across the border to/from the U.S?
Imagine 111 people out of the nearly 8 million visitors (about 1 million of whom make Mexico their full-time home). Do you know who else had 111 murders in one year?
Well, Boston for starters. Then there was Las Vegas. And Orlando. And Indianapolis. Is the State Dept. advising tourists to stay away from those places?
Statistically speaking, U.S. travelers are safer in Cancun than they are in most U.S. cities, despite media sensationalism.
Cancun currently has a crime index of 55.82. When you look at the crime rate in Memphis, Cancun is much lower than the rating of 76.27. See the comparison here.
How to Deal with Police Extortion in Cancun
We’ve all heard the stories about the corrupt cops south of the border. With stories ranging from extortion to kidnapping, the police in Mexico and the rest of Latin America do not have the best reputation.
Police extortion of tourists detained for minor offenses is often a problem, and there have been some grotesque incidents.
However, the authorities cracked down hard and dismissed hundreds of officers, including some top officials. They claim the problem is under control.
If you are stopped for a traffic violation in Mexico, you will be asked for your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. You will also be told what you did wrong.
Of course, in the U.S., we would then be issued a ticket requiring us to pay a fine or appear in court later.
If it is a minor infraction, don’t bribe them; even so, they may ask for some money; the amount depends on the seriousness of the infraction; if you pass a red light, it is better if they only give you the traffic ticket,
If you drive without a license, the car must be impounded and the fine is higher; in that case, I suggest you offer 200 pesos (if you look Mexican) if you are blond with blue eyes, maybe about 500 pesos.
If you drink alcohol in the street, the fine is 1500 pesos or 24 hours of jail; you will probably have to pay your full fine.
Those are the most common crimes a police officer can pull you over;, if you steal or kill, the amount will be considerably higher.
The key is to remain calm and accept your mistake, and when it is inevitable that they take you to jail, then subtly offer the bribe, it is like a negotiation: start with a low amount, and they will go up to agree on an amount.
Is Cancun Safe Right Now?
Cancun’s safety has been in the spotlight lately due to a few incidents, but rest assured, the Mexican government is stepping up to keep everyone safe.
Good news—according to the US State Department, the Yucatan Peninsula (where Cancun is) is the safest spot in Mexico for Americans this year.
Remember, though, that there’s an “exercise increased caution” advisory for Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located. Stay aware and enjoy your trip!
Is the Hotel Zone Safe in Cancun
The Hotel Zone in Cancun is generally a haven for sun-seekers!
Crime rates in the Hotel Zone are lower than in many major U.S. cities. The local authorities and tourist police keep a vigilant watch, and hotels often have security measures in place.
Still, like anywhere else, it’s wise to keep an eye on your belongings, avoid wandering into dimly lit areas at night (unless you’re on a stargazing mission), and maybe limit your tequila intake to a reasonable level.
So, while Cancun’s Hotel Zone is mostly about sipping margaritas and catching waves, stay sun-kissed, not sun-missed, by staying aware and soaking up the fun responsibly.
Transportation Safety in Cancun
As I stated earlier, taxis in Cancun can generally be considered safe. Still, please understand that if you get into an unauthorized taxi and they attempt to rip you off because of a broken meter or some other nonsense, it will be tough not to become a victim.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when using taxis in Cancun:
- Use Official Taxis: Opt for official taxis from reputable companies whenever possible. These taxis are usually well-maintained and regulated by authorities, which can enhance your safety.
- Authorized Taxi Stands: Use designated taxi stands, such as those at airports, hotels, and popular tourist areas. Avoid hailing taxis from the street, as this can sometimes lead to encountering unlicensed or unregulated drivers.
- Negotiate Fare or Use Meters: If the taxi doesn’t have a meter, agree on the fare before starting the ride. In taxis with meters, ensure the meter is running and insist on its use to avoid overcharging.
- Share Your Location: Ensure someone knows your whereabouts and the taxi’s license plate number before entering. You can also share this information with a friend or family member.
Keep in mind you will need pesos to pay, and you will need the exact amount because taxi drivers will not make changes, so remember to have plenty of small bills.
Also, the standard Mexico tipping rate is 15-20%.
Taxi & Rideshare Services
Getting around in Cancun is relatively easy and convenient, with various transportation options available for both locals and tourists.
While the city has a reliable public transportation system, many travelers prefer the flexibility of ride-sharing services like Uber, which I highly recommend vs. using a taxi, so click here to download the mobile app today.
Uber rideshare offers the convenience of door-to-door transportation and often has competitive pricing compared to traditional taxis.
If you opt for traditional taxis, ensure that the taxi is authorized and uses a meter to avoid any pricing disputes because there will be hell to pay if you get in an unauthorized taxi.
But use caution as there have been reports of violence between taxi drivers and Uber drivers due to contract disputes.
Safety Tips Renting cars
Want to cruise around Cancun on your terms? Renting a car is the way to go! Check out cool rides on discovercars. com—they’ve got the hookup. Just a heads up, snag extra insurance—Third Party Liability and Public Liability Insurance are a must.
Oh, and the rule of thumb: stick to daylight driving, roads get a bit tricky after dark!
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The recent deaths of six Americans from carbon monoxide poisoning in two separate incidents are putting a spotlight on the risks of staying in an Airbnb or hotel that might not have the appropriate safety measures in place.
Three guests staying at an apartment in Mexico City booked through Airbnb are believed to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning last month, Bloomberg reported.
Families of three Americans who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in a rented residence in Mexico City ahead of Dia de Los Muertos – or Day of the Dead – celebrations identified them as two New Orleans teachers and the owner of a Virginia Beach-based candle business.
Another group of American tourists in May died of the exact cause at a Sandals Resort in the Bahamas.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, weakness, chest pain, and confusion, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 400 people die in the U.S. from accidental CO poisoning each year, and another 50,000 people visit the emergency department with carbon monoxide poisoning.
Food handlers who do not wash their hands after they use the bathroom can transmit the infection to people who consume the contaminated food.
You should never drink unfiltered tap water in Mexico. The best way to avoid traveler’s diarrhea or Montezuma’s revenge is to stick to bottled.
If you’re staying at one of the many luxury resorts in Cancun, you should be fine and will not have to worry about getting sick from the water.
The typical symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea include:
- Abrupt onset of diarrhea
- Nausea and vomiting
- Urgent need to have a bowel movement
- Malaise (weakness or discomfort)
- Explosive and painful gas
- Stomach cramps
- Loss of appetite
Safest Areas for Tourists in Cancun
If you do not go to crime-ridden areas in your city, do not go into crime-ridden areas when you travel. While the crime rate is increasing in Mexico, so is the crime rate in the United States!
The Mexican government wants to keep tourists safe by providing extra security in touristy areas to ensure travelers are safe, and you will not have to ask if the Cancun Travel Advisory is necessary.
The safest area to stay in Cancun is still the Hotel Zone, a 13-mile stretch of beautiful white-sand beaches with luxury hotels and resorts for families and couples alike.
Be aware that there has not been any violence within the Hotel Zone – Violence has occurred outside the Hotel Zone and along with other famous vacation spots, which have caused many hotels and resorts to tighten their security.
Where to be Cautious in Cancun
Now that we have discussed the safest areas in Cancun for tourists, here is a list of places you should avoid when traveling to Cancun or, at a minimum, be mindful of your surroundings:
- Downtown Cancun – Cancun is exceptionally safe, and downtown Cancun is no different, so there is no reason to be afraid but be extra diligent and precautious if you are traveling outside of Cancun at night and always notify someone of your location if you are traveling alone.
- Shopping in Cancun – If you are like me, you love shopping and exploring the local markets, but please take proper precautions. Do not flash money, wear expensive jewelry, and keep your purse closed because pickpocketers will watch and wait to make their move.
- Surrounding Towns– Plenty of surrounding neighborhoods and towns are highly safe and perfect for day trips, including Guanajuato, San Cristóbal de las Casas, and Oaxaca City.
- Renting a car in Mexico– While you should always take precautions while driving in a foreign country, there’s no need to be fearful of driving in Cancun or renting a car.
- I rented a car on my last trip and felt highly safe, so there is no need to worry, but the U.S. State Department advises using toll roads when possible and avoiding driving alone or at night.
Is Cancun Safe for a Solo Female Traveler?
The excellent news is Cancun is pretty chill and safe for female travelers. Stick to the classics—no deserted spots or late-night solo walks.
Grab a cab if you’re out and about after dark. Book a hotel in the hotel zone for that extra safety vibe. Remember, common sense is your best friend—especially when packing flashy jewelry.
Keep it low-key, roll with trusted taxis, and keep your expensive jewelry in the hotel safe.
Keeping Cash Safe in Mexico
Withdrawing cash: Use ATMs in daylight hours and choose ATMs located in areas with plenty of other people around or use ATMs inside shopping malls.
Carrying cash: Don’t carry large amounts of cash on your person. If you see something you want to buy and you don’t have the cash, a small deposit will always secure the item. Leave excess cash credit/debit cards you don’t expect to need at the hotel.
Bank-card cloning/skimming: Bank card (Debit or Credit Cards) cloning (or skimming) is an issue in Mexico. Never leave bank cards out of your sight.
If your card has a “chip and pin” ask waiters at bars and restaurants to bring the payment terminal to your table and cover your hand as you enter your PIN.
If the terminal is not portable, or your card does not have “chip and pin” technology, take your card to the cashier to pay: do not allow attendants to take it out of sight.
If you are paying for fuel at gas stations with a card, we recommend you only use a credit card (not a debit card) and be extra vigilant, as gasoline stations are rife with skimmers.
Valuable documents: Keep your valuable travel documents (especially your passport) safe; passport theft is rising worldwide, including in Mexico.
Dress down: Avoid walking around dripping jewelry, showing off expensive watches and other expensive fashion items.
ATM refills: When stand-alone ATMs are being re-filled, you might see armed guards surrounding them.
We recommend you find another ATM instead of waiting around for it to be filled: it can take up to an hour for a machine to be re-filled and tested before it becomes operational.
Book Tours through a Reputable Tour Company or Hotel
Booking excursions through resorts in Mexico removes much of the stress of vacation planning. Travelers can land in Cancun or Tulum and float directly onto a beach beside the bright blue Caribbean Sea.
Spanish Travel Phrases You Must Know
I highly suggest taking a few Spanish lessons and learning some key phrases if traveling to Cancun. Learning Spanish is not required, but learning a few critical Spanish phrases is beneficial.
It will help your trip go on without a hitch and keep you safe.
Are Mexico Resorts Safe
As I stated earlier, there have been incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning at resorts, which have left some potential visitors with questions and doubts regarding the safety of hotels in Mexico.
Staying Safe at Mexico Resorts:
- Research and Choose Reputable Resorts: Before booking your stay, research the resort’s safety record, reviews, and certifications. Look for resorts prioritizing guest safety, regularly inspecting their facilities, and maintaining proper ventilation systems.
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Pack a portable carbon monoxide detector or inquire whether the resort provides them in guest rooms. These devices will alert you to high levels of carbon monoxide and provide an early warning in case of a leak.
- Familiarize Yourself with Resort Safety Measures: Upon arrival, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the resort’s emergency procedures, including evacuation routes, fire exits, and safety guidelines. Ensure you know how to report any concerns about gas appliances or ventilation to the appropriate resort staff.
- Keep your valuables safe: For added peace of mind, consider purchasing a diversion device to keep your valuables safe like a clothes hanger, Coke can, lint roller, and even a bible that all doubles as a safe.
Safest Hotels in Cancun
The safest area to stay in Cancun is still the Hotel Zone, a 13-mile arc of beautiful white-sand beaches lined with luxury resorts.
Many hotels are all-inclusive and discourage non-guests on the property, and high-end resorts tend to have robust security.
Avoid staying or partying in downtown Cancun, where most of the recent violence has taken place.
- Best Cancun San Lucas Adults-Only (Splurge): Le Blanc Resort Cancun
- Best Cancun Hotel (Splurge): Turquoize at Hyatt Ziva Cancun – Adults Only
- Best Luxury Cancun Hotel: Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection
Best Time to Travel to Mexico
Because Mexico is a big country, deciding when and where to travel depends on the weather, which area you visit, and if you are going on a Girls’ Trip in Los Cabos or a family vacation in Cancun.
The southern part of Mexico has a rainy season, which generally starts in May and until October. Don’t worry; it only rains briefly, and the sun will return.
If you want to travel in the more fabulous season, book your trip from December to February when it is cooler.
I suggest traveling to Mexico between December and April when the temperatures are more comfortable and the humidity is not at an all-time high.
If you go to Cancun in the shoulder season or the less-popular months, you will be less likely to be a victim of pickpockets and scammers.
Mexico Travel Insurance
I think most people have questions about where to go for medical care in an emergency. First, I should note that if you’re on spring break, chances are slim that you’ll need emergency care.
Still, better safe than sorry! The good news is that some of the most beautiful cities in Mexico—like Cancun and Playa del Carmen—also happen to be home to some of the best hospitals and clinics in Latin America.
I can’t say this enough, but please get insurance when traveling to Mexico! Even if you only go on a short trip, you should always travel with insurance.
Have fun while visiting Mexico, but take it from someone who has racked up thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before; you need it.
Make sure to get your insurance before you head off on an adventure! I highly recommend Travelex Insurance.
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Top Things to Do in Cancun
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The Conclusion: Is Cancun Safe for Travel
Yes, Cancun is safe!
There is no doubt that there has been horrible violence in Mexico due to drug wars between warring factions, but that violence has, for the most part, been in isolated areas.
Of course, there are certain areas to avoid in Cancun, but it is no different than being in your hometown, where crime is restricted to certain areas.
Please DO NOT allow the U.S. media to shape your thoughts and views of Cancun because they are misleading and wrong!
So prepare for your trip by packing all you need, including sunscreen, a bathing suit, flip-flops, and sunglasses.
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Additional Articles For Exploring This Big Ole World
Have you allowed the Cancun travel warning to affect your travel decisions, and are you still wondering if it is safe to travel to Cancun?
Are you traveling to Cancun in 2024? Leave a comment and let me know!
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