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Mexico Travel Advisory

Travel advisory august 22, 2023, mexico - see state summaries.

Reissued after periodic review with general security updates, and the removal of obsolete COVID-19 page links.

Country Summary: Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico, as travel by U.S. government employees to certain areas is prohibited or restricted. In many states, local emergency services are limited outside the state capital or major cities.

U.S. citizens are advised to adhere to restrictions on U.S. government employee travel. State-specific restrictions are included in the individual state advisories below. U.S. government employees may not travel between cities after dark, may not hail taxis on the street, and must rely on dispatched vehicles, including app-based services like Uber, and regulated taxi stands. U.S. government employees should avoid traveling alone, especially in remote areas. U.S. government employees may not drive from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior parts of Mexico, except daytime travel within Baja California and between Nogales and Hermosillo on Mexican Federal Highway 15D, and between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey on Highway 85D.

Read the  country information page  for additional information on travel to Mexico.

Do Not Travel To:

  • Colima state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Guerrero state  due to  crime .
  • Michoacan state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Sinaloa state due to  crime  and  kidnapping
  • Tamaulipas state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping.
  • Zacatecas  state due to  crime  and  kidnapping .

Reconsider Travel To:

  • Baja California  state due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Chihuahua state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Durango state  due to  crime .
  • Guanajuato state  due to  crime and kidnapping .
  • Jalisco state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Morelos state  due to  crime .
  • Sonora state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping .

Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling To:

  • Aguascalientes  state due to  crime .
  • Baja California Sur state  due to  crime .
  • Chiapas state  due to  crime .
  • Coahuila state  due to  crime .
  • Hidalgo state  due to  crime .
  • Mexico City  due to  crime .
  • Mexico State  due to  crime .
  • Nayarit state  due to  crime.
  • Nuevo Leon  state due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Oaxaca state  due to  crime .
  • Puebla state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Queretaro state  due to  crime .
  • Quintana Roo state  due to  crime .
  • San Luis Potosi state  due to  crime and kidnapping .
  • Tabasco state  due to  crime .
  • Tlaxcala state due to  crime .
  • Veracruz state  due to  crime .

Exercise Normal Precautions When Traveling To:

  • Campeche state
  • Yucatan state

Visit our website for  Travel to High-Risk Areas .

If you decide to travel to Mexico:

  • Keep traveling companions and family back home informed of your travel plans. If separating from your travel group, send a friend your GPS location. If taking a taxi alone, take a photo of the taxi number and/or license plate and text it to a friend.
  • Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving alone or at night. In many states, police presence and emergency services are extremely limited outside the state capital or major cities.
  • Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on  Facebook  and  Twitter .
  • Follow the U.S. Embassy on Facebook and Twitter .
  • Review the  Country Security Report  for Mexico.
  • Mariners planning travel to Mexico should check for U.S. maritime  advisories  and  alerts , which include instructions on reporting suspicious activities and attacks to Mexican naval authorities.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the  Traveler’s Checklist .
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest travel health information related to your travel. 

Aguascalientes state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

Criminal activity and violence may occur throughout the state.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Aguascalientes state.

Baja California state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime and kidnapping.

Transnational criminal organizations compete in the border area to establish narco-trafficking and human smuggling routes. Violent crime and gang activity are common. Travelers should remain on main highways and avoid remote locations. Of particular concern is the high number of homicides in the non-tourist areas of Tijuana. Most homicides appeared to be targeted; however, criminal organization assassinations and territorial disputes can result in bystanders being injured or killed. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

U.S. government employees must adhere to the noted restrictions:

  • Mexicali Valley:  U.S. government employees should avoid the Mexicali Valley due to the heightened possibility of violence between rival cartel factions.  The boundaries of the restricted area are: to the east, the Baja California/Arizona and Baja California/Sonora borders; to the south, from La Ventana (on Highway 5) due east to the Colorado River; to the west, Highway 5; and to the north, Boulevard Lazaro Cardenas/Highway 92/Highway 1 to Carretera Aeropuerto, from the intersection of Highway 1 and Carretera Aeropuerto due north to the Baja California/California border, and from that point eastward along the Baja California/California border.
  • Travelers may use Highways 2 and 2D to transit between Mexicali, Los Algodones, and San Luis Rio Colorado during daylight hours. Travelers may also use Highways 1 and 8 to transit to and from the Mexicali Airport during daylight hours.  Travel on Highway 5 is permissible during daylight hours.

There are no other travel restrictions for U.S. government employees in Baja California state. These include high-traffic tourism areas of border and coastal communities, such as  Tijuana ,  Ensenada , and  Rosarito .

Baja California Sur state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Baja California Sur state.

Campeche state – Exercise Normal Precautions

Exercise normal precautions.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Campeche state.

Chiapas state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Chiapas state.

Chihuahua state – Reconsider Travel

Violent crime and gang activity are common. Most homicides are targeted assassinations against members of criminal organizations. Battles for territory between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens and U.S. government employees, including restaurants and malls during daylight hours. Bystanders have been injured or killed in shooting incidents. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

U.S. government employee travel is limited to the following areas with the noted restrictions:

  • Ciudad Juarez:  U.S. government employees may travel to the area of Ciudad Juarez bounded to the east by Bulevar Independencia; to the south by De los Montes Urales/Avenida Manuel J Clouthier/Carretera de Juárez; to the west by Via Juan Gabriel/Avenida de los Insurgentes/Calle Miguel Ahumada/Francisco Javier Mina/Melchor Ocampo; and to the north by the U.S.-Mexico border.  Direct travel to the Ciudad Juarez airport (officially called the Abraham González International Airport) and the factories located along Bulevar Independencia and Las Torres is permitted.  Travel to San Jerónimo is permitted only through the United States via the Santa Teresa U.S. Port of Entry; travel via Anapra is prohibited.

U.S. government employees may only travel from Ciudad Juarez to the city of Chihuahua during daylight hours via Federal Highway 45, with stops permitted only at the Guardia Nacional División Caminos station, the Umbral del Milenio overlook area, the border inspection station at KM 35, and the shops and restaurants on Federal Highway 45 in the city of Ahumada.

  • U.S. government employees may travel between Ciudad Juarez and Ascension via Highway 2.
  • Nuevo Casas Grandes Area (including Nuevo Casas Grandes, Casas Grandes, Mata Ortiz, Colonia Juárez, Colonia LeBaron, Paquimé and San Buenaventura):  U.S. government employees may travel to the Nuevo Casas Grandes area during daylight hours via Mexico Federal Highway 2, and subsequently Federal Highway 10, to Nuevo Casas Grandes.  Employees are permitted to stay overnight in the cities of Nuevo Casas Grandes and Casas Grandes only.
  • City of Chihuahua:  U.S. government employees may travel at any time to the area of the city of Chihuahua bounded to the north by Avenida Transformación; to the east by Avenida Tecnológico/Manuel Gómez Morín/Highway 16/Blvd.José Fuentes Mares; to the west by the city boundary; and to the south by Periférico Francisco R. Almada.
  • U.S. government employees may travel on Highways 45, 16, and 45D through the city of Chihuahua and to the Chihuahua airport (officially called the General Roberto Fierro Villalobos International Airport). 
  • U.S. government employees may travel to Santa Eulalia to the east of the city of Chihuahua, as well as to Juan Aldama via Highway 16 to the northeast.
  • U.S. government employees may travel south of the city of Chihuahua on Highway 45 to the southern boundary of Parral, including each town directly connected to Highway 45, including Lázaro Cárdenas, Pedro Meoqui, Santa Cruz de Rosales, Delicias, Camargo, Ciudad Jiménez, and Parral itself.
  • U.S. government employees may only travel on official business from the city of Chihuahua on Highway 16 to Ciudad Cuauhtémoc bounded by Highway 21 to the north and east, Highway 5 to the west, and Bulevar Jorge Castillo Cabrera to the south. 
  • Ojinaga:  U.S. government employees must travel to Ojinaga via U.S. Highway 67 and enter through the U.S. Port of Entry in Presidio, Texas.
  • Palomas:  U.S. government employees may travel to Palomas via U.S. highways through the U.S. Port of Entry in Columbus, New Mexico, or via Highway 2 in Mexico.

U.S. government employees may not travel to other areas of Chihuahua, including  Copper Canyon .

Coahuila state – Exercise Increased Caution

Violent crime and gang activity occur in parts of Coahuila state. 

U.S. government employees must adhere to the following travel restrictions:

  • Zaragoza, Morelos, Allende, Nava, Jimenez, Villa Union, Guerrero, and Hidalgo municipalities : U.S. government employees may not travel to these municipalities.
  • Piedras Negras and Ciudad Acuña:  U.S. government employees must travel directly from the United States and observe a curfew from midnight to 6:00 a.m. in both cities.

There are no other restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Coahuila state.

Colima state – Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime and kidnapping.  

Violent crime and gang activity are widespread. Most homicides are targeted assassinations against members of criminal organizations. Shooting incidents between criminal groups have injured or killed bystanders. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.  

Travel for U.S. government employees is limited to the following areas with noted restrictions: 

  • Manzanillo:   U.S. government employee travel is limited to the tourist and port areas of Manzanillo.  
  • Employees traveling to Manzanillo from Guadalajara must use Federal Toll Road 54D during daylight hours.  

U.S. government employees may not travel to other areas of Colima state. 

Durango state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime.

Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Durango state.

  • West and south of Federal Highway 45:  U.S. government employees may not travel to this region of Durango state.

There are no other restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Durango state.

Guanajuato state – Reconsider Travel

Gang violence, often associated with the theft of petroleum and natural gas from the state oil company and other suppliers, occurs in Guanajuato, primarily in the south and central areas of the state.  Of particular concern is the high number of murders in the southern region of the state associated with cartel-related violence. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

  • Areas south of Federal Highway 45D:  U.S. government employees may not travel to the area south of and including Federal Highway 45D, Celaya, Salamanca, and Irapuato.

There are no other restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Guanajuato state, which includes tourist areas in:  San Miguel de Allende ,  Guanajuato City , and  surrounding areas.

Guerrero state – Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime.

Crime and violence are widespread. Armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travelers. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping in previous years.

Travel for U.S. government employees is limited to the following area with the noted restrictions:

  • Taxco:  U.S. government employees must use Federal Highway 95D, which passes through Cuernavaca, Morelos, and stay within downtown tourist areas of Taxco. Employees may visit Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park during the day with a licensed tour operator.

U.S. government employees may not travel to other areas of the state of Guerrero, including to tourist areas in  Acapulco ,  Zihuatanejo , and  Ixtapa .

Hidalgo state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Hidalgo state.

Jalisco state – Reconsider Travel

Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Jalisco state. In Guadalajara, territorial battles between criminal groups take place in tourist areas. Shooting incidents between criminal groups have injured or killed innocent bystanders. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

  • Jalisco-Michoacan border and Federal Highway 110:  U.S. government employees may not travel to the area between Federal Highway 110 and the Jalisco-Michoacan border, nor travel on Federal Highway 110 between Tuxpan, Jalisco, and the Michoacan border.
  • Federal Highway 80:  U.S. government employees may not travel on Federal Highway 80 south of Cocula.

There are no other restrictions on travel for U.S government employees in Jalisco state which includes tourist areas in:  Guadalajara Metropolitan Area ,  Puerto Vallarta (including neighboring Riviera Nayarit) ,  Chapala , and  Ajijic .

Mexico City (Ciudad de Mexico) – Exercise Increased Caution

Both violent and non-violent crime occur throughout Mexico City. Use additional caution, particularly at night, outside of the frequented tourist areas where police and security patrol more routinely. Petty crime occurs frequently in both tourist and non-tourist areas.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Mexico City.

Mexico State (Estado de Mexico) – Exercise Increased Caution

Both violent and non-violent crime occur throughout Mexico State. Use additional caution in areas outside of the frequented tourist areas, although petty crime occurs frequently in tourist areas as well.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Mexico State.

Michoacan state – Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime and kidnapping.

Crime and violence are widespread in Michoacan state. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

Travel for U.S. government employees is limited to the following areas with the noted restrictions:

  • Federal Highway 15D:   U.S. government employees may travel on Federal Highway 15D to transit the state between Mexico City and Guadalajara.
  • Morelia:  U.S. government employees may travel by air and by land using Federal Highways 43 or 48D from Federal Highway 15D.
  • Lazaro Cardenas:  U.S. government employees must travel by air only and limit activities to the city center or port areas.

U.S. government employees may not travel to other areas of the state of Michoacan, including the portions of the  Monarch Butterfly Reserve  located in Michoacan.

Morelos state – Reconsider Travel

Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Morelos state.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Morelos state.

Nayarit state – Exercise Increased Caution

Criminal activity and violence may occur throughout Nayarit state.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S government employees in Nayarit state.

Nuevo Leon state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime and kidnapping.

Criminal activity and violence may occur throughout the state. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Nuevo Leon state.

Oaxaca state – Exercise Increased Caution

Criminal activity and violence occur throughout the state.

U.S. travelers are reminded that U.S. government employees must adhere to the following travel restrictions:

  • Isthmus region:  U.S. government employees may not travel to the area of Oaxaca bounded by Federal Highway 185D to the west, Federal Highway 190 to the north, and the Oaxaca-Chiapas border to the east.  This includes the cities of Juchitan de Zaragoza, Salina Cruz, and San Blas Atempa.  
  • Federal Highway 200 northwest of Pinotepa:  U.S. government employees may not use Federal Highway 200 between Pinotepa and the Oaxaca-Guerrero border.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees to other parts of Oaxaca state, which include tourist areas in:  Oaxaca City ,  Monte Alban ,  Puerto Escondido,  and  Huatulco .

Puebla state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Puebla state.

Queretaro state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Queretaro state.

Quintana Roo state – Exercise Increased Caution

Criminal activity and violence may occur in any location, at any time, including in popular tourist destinations.  Travelers should maintain a high level of situational awareness, avoid areas where illicit activities occur, and promptly depart from potentially dangerous situations. 

While not directed at tourists, shootings between rival gangs have injured innocent bystanders.  Additionally, U.S. citizens have been the victims of both non-violent and violent crimes in tourist and non-tourist areas.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Quintana Roo state. However, personnel are advised to exercise increased situational awareness after dark in downtown areas of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, and to remain in well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones.

San Luis Potosi state – Exercise Increased Caution

Criminal activity and violence may occur throughout the state.  U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in San Luis Potosi state.

Sinaloa state – Do Not Travel

Violent crime is widespread. Criminal organizations are based in and operating in Sinaloa. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

  • Mazatlan:  U.S. government employees may travel to Mazatlan by air or sea only, are limited to the Zona Dorada and historic town center, and must travel via direct routes between these destinations and the airport and sea terminal.
  • Los Mochis and Topolobampo:  U.S. government employees may travel to Los Mochis and Topolobampo by air or sea only, are restricted to the city and the port, and must travel via direct routes between these destinations and the airport.

U.S. government employees may not travel to other areas of Sinaloa state.

Sonora state – Reconsider Travel

Sonora is a key location used by the international drug trade and human trafficking networks. Violent crime is widespread. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping. Travelers should maintain a heightened level of awareness of their surroundings in all their travels in Sonora.  Security incidents may occur in any area of Sonora.

  • Travel between Hermosillo and Nogales:  U.S. government employees may travel between the U.S. Ports of Entry in Nogales and Hermosillo during daylight hours via Federal Highway 15 only. U.S. government employees may not use ANY taxi services, public buses, nor ride-share applications due to a lack of secure vetting and/or dispatching procedures. Travelers should exercise caution and avoid unnecessary stops as security incidents, including sporadic, armed carjackings, and shootings have been reported along this highway during daylight hours. Travelers should have a full tank of gas and inform friends or family members of their planned travel.
  • Nogales:  U.S. government employees may not travel in the triangular area north of Avenida Tecnologico, west of Bulevar Luis Donaldo Colosio (Periferico), nor east of Federal Highway 15D (Corredor Fiscal). U.S. government employees also may not travel in the residential and business areas to east of the railroad tracks along Plutarco Elias Calle (HWY 15) and Calle Ruiz Cortino, including the business area around the Morley pedestrian gate port-of-entry. U.S. government employees may not use ANY taxi services, public buses, nor ride-share applications in Nogales due to a lack of secure vetting and/or dispatching procedures and the danger of kidnapping and other violent crimes.  
  • Puerto Peñasco:  U.S. government employees may travel between Puerto Peñasco and the Lukeville-Sonoyta U.S. Port of Entry during daylight hours via Federal Highway 8 only. They may not travel on any other route to Puerto Peñasco. U.S. government employees may not use ANY taxi services, public buses, nor ride-share applications in Puerto Peñasco. due to a lack of secure vetting and/or dispatching procedures and the danger of kidnapping and other violent crimes.
  • Triangular region near Mariposa U.S. Port of Entry:  U.S. government employees may not travel into or through the triangular region west of the Mariposa U.S. Port of Entry, east of Sonoyta, and north of Altar municipality.
  • San Luis Rio Colorado, Cananea, and Agua Prieta : U.S. government employees may travel directly from the nearest U.S. Port of Entry to San Luis Rio Colorado, Cananea (via Douglas Port of Entry), and Agua Prieta, but may not go beyond the city limits. Travel is limited to daylight hours only. Travel between Nogales and Cananea via Imuris is not permitted. U.S. government employees may not use ANY taxi services, public buses, nor ride-share applications in these cities due to a lack of secure vetting and/or dispatching procedures and the danger of kidnapping and other violent crimes.
  • Eastern and southern Sonora (including San Carlos Nuevo Guaymas and Alamos):  U.S. government employees may not travel to areas of Sonora east of Federal Highway 17, the road between Moctezuma and Sahuaripa, and State Highway 20 between Sahuaripa and the intersection with Federal Highway 16. U.S. government employees may travel to San Carlos Nuevo Guaymas and Alamos; travel to Alamos is only permitted by air and within city limits.  U.S. government employees may not travel to areas of Sonora south of Federal Highway 16 and east of Federal Highway 15 (south of Hermosillo), as well as all points south of Guaymas, including Empalme, Guaymas, Obregon, and Navojoa.  U.S. government employees may not use ANY taxi services, public buses, nor ride-share applications in these areas due to a lack of secure vetting and/or dispatching procedures and the danger of kidnapping and other violent crimes.

U.S. government employees may travel to other parts of Sonora state in compliance with the above restrictions, including tourist areas in: Hermosillo , Bahia de Kino , and Puerto Penasco .

Tabasco state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Tabasco state.

Tamaulipas state – Do Not Travel

Organized crime activity – including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault – is common along the northern border and in Ciudad Victoria. Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments.

Heavily armed members of criminal groups often patrol areas of the state and operate with impunity particularly along the border region from Reynosa to Nuevo Laredo.  In these areas, local law enforcement has limited capacity to respond to incidents of crime. Law enforcement capacity is greater in the tri-city area of Tampico, Ciudad Madero, and Altamira, which has a lower rate of violent criminal activity compared to the rest of the state.

U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

  • Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo:  U.S. government employees may only travel within a limited radius around and between the U.S. Consulates in Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, their homes, the respective U.S. Ports of Entry, and limited downtown sites, subject to an overnight curfew.
  • Overland travel in Tamaulipas:  U.S. government employees may not travel between cities in Tamaulipas using interior Mexican highways. Travel between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey is limited to Federal Highway 85D during daylight hours with prior authorization.

U.S. government employees may not travel to other parts of Tamaulipas state.

Tlaxcala state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Tlaxcala state.

Veracruz state – Exercise Increased Caution

Violent crime and gang activity occur with increasing frequency in Veracruz, particularly in the center and south near Cordoba and Coatzacoalcos. While most gang-related violence is targeted, violence perpetrated by criminal organizations can affect bystanders. Impromptu roadblocks requiring payment to pass are common.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Veracruz state.

Yucatan state – Exercise Normal Precautions

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Yucatan state, which include tourist areas in:  Chichen Itza ,  Merida ,  Uxmal , and  Valladolid .

Zacatecas state – Do Not Travel

Violent crime, extortion, and gang activity are widespread in Zacatecas state. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

  • Zacatecas City : U.S. government employee travel is limited to Zacatecas City proper, and employees may not travel overland to Zacatecas City.
  • U.S. government employees may not travel to other areas of Zacatecas state.

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Everything you need to know before visiting Cancún

John Hecht

Jan 24, 2024 • 6 min read

travel to cancun safe

Prepare for your visit to Cancún with our guide to health, safety and etiquette in the Mexican hotspot © Wei Fang / Getty Images

If my frequent travels to Cancún have taught me anything, it's that paradise will throw you a curveball from time to time.

Among the setbacks, I've experienced a costly car break-in, brazen price gouging and a debilitating bout of sickness with dengue fever, an ordeal that still makes my joints ache just thinking about it. But every time I found myself in need of help, the good folks in Cancún have stepped up big-time, and that's no small thing.

While some first-time visitors never leave the touristy, high-gloss hotel zone – which I get, the stunning resort offers pillow-soft Caribbean beaches – you’ll kick yourself later if you overlook the Centro, a bustling downtown.

This is where you can mingle with locals in the neighborhood cantinas and barter at traditional markets. Visit one atmospheric taco joint and you’ll be glad you made the effort. 

With that in mind, here are nine essential tips to make your Cancún trip run as smooth as possible.

People waiting at the restaurant entrance at busy dinner time on 5th Avenue, shopping street on Playa del Carmen, Cancún

1. Stay alert but don't let the clickbait headlines spook you

Despite all the grim news about Mexico 's drug-related violence, Cancún and the wider Yucatán Peninsula are generally considered safe.

Granted, you should never treat the crime problem lightly, but drug gangs rarely target tourists, especially if you avoid illicit activities.

That said, it's important to keep a close watch on your drink in bars and nightclubs. There have been reports of some tourists getting their drinks spiked with so-called date rape drugs. You should also avoid withdrawing money from ATMs at night, and never carry large amounts of cash.

2. Monitor hurricane season and seaweed surges

Cancún's hurricane season runs from June to November, and over the years the city has seen powerful storms cause devastating damage. Always check the latest weather forecast before you board a plane.

Also, keep a close eye on sargassum seaweed surges ( sargazo in Spanish), which can turn Cancún's turquoise waters brown. These blooms leave mounds of smelly, decomposing macroalgae carpeted across otherwise white sands. An influx of seaweed makes swimming and sunbathing downright unpleasant.

If it happens when you're in Cancún, consider doing less beach time and splash around in hotel pools and cenotes (freshwater sinkholes) instead.

The invasive surges occur intermittently, usually from March to August, but they can be unpredictable. The NGO  Red de Monitoreo de Sargazo posts daily updates on beach conditions in Cancún and the nearby Riviera Maya .

3. Tip generously and haggle respectfully

Keep in mind that many Cancún service workers (namely restaurant and hotel employees) depend on tips to supplement miserable wages. In restaurants, leave a 15% gratuity if the service is not already included.

Remember to check the bill carefully, though – some unscrupulous establishments have been known to tack on a "service fee" in the hope that customers unknowingly leave an additional tip.

For airport and hotel porters, tip about M$25 a bag, while for tour guides give an extra 10–20% of the cost of the outing, or perhaps a bit more for full-day excursions. Gas station attendants typically get about M$5 to M$10.

Bartenders, baristas and taxi drivers generally do not expect tips but always welcome them. It's acceptable to haggle with the market and street vendors to a certain degree, but remember that they're just trying to make a living.

Woman swimming in freshwater in a cave

4. Don't forget to pack ID, bug spray and casual clothing

To rent a car, you'll need to show a passport, driver's license and credit card. Mexican law requires you to have liability coverage, known in Spanish as daños a terceros .

Citizens from the US, Canada and EU countries, as well as residents from dozens of other nations, do not need visas to enter Mexico as tourists.

To protect yourself from mosquitoes and the sun, pack biodegradable insect repellent, long-sleeve shirts and a pair of pants. You'll definitely need the bug spray when visiting during the muggy wet season from May through October.

Even if you have repellent or sunscreen of the biodegradable variety, do not use them while swimming or snorkeling in fragile ecosystems such as coral reefs and cenotes. Loose-fitting clothes that dry quickly will serve you well for water activities and rainy days.

The palm trees and sunsets as seen on Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico with a woman watching the sun go down

5. Explore the surrounding countryside

You can usually find plenty of things to do in the hotel zone and downtown Cancún but try to squeeze in at least one trip to see a different side of the Yucatán Peninsula. Seven to 10 days should give you ample time to tour Cancún and beyond.

Venture south to check out ancient ruins, jungle-set swimming holes and small fishing towns along the Riviera Maya, or head east on a day trip to  Valladolid , a colonial city with a rich Maya history.

Alternatively, the nearby islands of  Isla Mujeres and  Isla Holbox provide blissful nature escapes for snorkeling, diving and kayaking adventures.

6. Carry cash and bring a credit and/or debit card

Even though most places in Cancún accept major credit cards, it's always useful to carry some cash, especially in the smaller surrounding towns and islands.

Many hotels, and even some restaurants, accept US dollars, but they normally offer an unfavorable currency exchange rate.

The ubiquitous ATMs accept foreign debit cards but expect to get dinged with international transaction fees for withdrawals.

The same goes for many retail purchases as well. Some major credit cards won't charge such fees, giving you the most bang for your buck. Cancún's ATMs dispense Mexican pesos.

A plate of traditional Mexican tacos

7. All-inclusive resorts are great, but you're missing Cancún's food scene

The hotel zone is home to most of Cancún's all-inclusive hotels, though high-end resorts are also cropping up in Punta Sam and along the sublime  Isla Blanca peninsula, north of downtown.

The all-inclusive experience ranges from luxurious adults-only setups with above-and-beyond service (personal butlers and all) to slightly more affordable family-friendly accommodations.

If you're looking for a safe, self-contained environment with multiple restaurants, bottomless drinks, easy beach access, alluring outdoor pools, and kid-focused activities, book an all-inclusive.

If you prefer the resort experience without the meals and booze, some places offer room-only rates. This pushes you to get out and dive into Cancún's diverse culinary and nightlife scene. Budget travelers will find more options downtown, where hostels and mid-range digs abound.

Crowds of just arrived tourists are waiting in line for taxi outside of Cancun International Airport.

8. Rideshare services are available in Cancún

The app-based transportation service Uber operates in Cancún, but due to a long-running dispute by taxi union members, drivers and their passengers have faced harassment and, in some cases, attacks.

If you decide to use Uber, do so at your own risk. Do not order a car from the airport, bus station, ferry terminals, or other points where rival taxis may be watching.

For the most affordable transportation from the airport, look for the red ADO bus , which runs frequently from the airport terminals to downtown Cancún's first-class bus terminal. However, if you're staying in the hotel zone, you're better off taking a shuttle or cab.

9. Don't drink the water, and try street food with caution

Cancún's tap water is generally not safe to drink unless you know it's filtered (agua filtrada) . The same goes for drinks prepared with ice; when in doubt go without. Bottled or purified (purificada) water is your best bet to stay hydrated, and you'll need plenty of it to avoid heat exhaustion.

Eating street food can be somewhat dicey in Cancún, but it's a tantalizing risk that many visitors are willing to take.

This article was first published Oct 4, 2023 and updated Jan 24, 2024.

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Home » North America » Mexico » Cancun

Is Cancun Safe for Travel? – TOP Tips for Safe Travel (2024)

Introducing, the wonderful, the stunning, capital of Quintana Roo and gateway to the Riviera Maya (drum roll please)…… Cancun, ladies and gentlemen!

This is a top resort destination in Mexico. Even in 2024, people from all over the world still flock to the stunning beaches and ultra-relaxed atmosphere found in Cancun.

Along with Mexico City, it’s one of the biggest and most visited Mexican cities. There are many good reasons for that. Though Cancun does have a tarnished reputation: Spring Break, organised crime, price inflation, scammers, street hawkers, petty theft, even drug trafficking. Are the rumours true?

Well, yes. But let me ask you this: which of the world’s major cities doesn’t involve the majority of those things too? The truth is, the Mexican government are working hard to make sure Cancun stays safe for tourists – and it shows.

So when people ask me, “ Is Cancun safe to travel to ?” The answer isn’t necessarily straight forward. But you CAN have a totally safe trip to this remarkable city.

This insider’s guide to staying safe in Cancun is written for you – with the ultimate safety advice. So when you step out of Cancun Airport, you’ll all set to start your dream holiday. Vamos.

Cancun streets walking

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There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, as things change quickly. The question of “Is Cancun Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on who you ask.

The information in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practice common sense, you will probably have a wonderful and safe trip to Cancun.

If you see any outdated information, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. Otherwise, stay safe friends!

Updated December 2023

Is Cancun Safe to Visit Right Now?

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Yes! Cancun is safe to visit right now. (If you know where to go and which people to avoid). Cancun is the most visited city in Mexico with a total of 9,494,168 international visitors in 2022 as reported by Gobierno de Mexico tourism . Most of which didn’t have any problems with their visit.

Friendly surfer local on cancun beach in Cancun mexico.

Although Cancun is far from what I’d consider a completely safe city, I would answer ‘not really’ to people who ask me “Is Cancun dangerous?”

In fact, over 30 million people visited Cancun in 2022 – and the vast majority of them come and go completely unscathed. 

Many don’t come to Cancun for history. Many do come for it’s location.

Cancun is located conveniently right next to the Caribbean Sea. More than that, Cancun International Airport is one of Mexico’s top-serving airports, connecting Mexico to the rest of the world.

Horror stories told about Mexico vastly involve gang crime. There’s very little reason for gang crime to involve tourists just looking for a nice time. There are currently no travel advice warnings from the UK, USA, or other governments.

Mexican Caribbean beach with a religious altar and palapa constructions.

How dangerous is Cancun? Well, thankfully violent types of crime are extremely rare in Cancun – especially in the touristy areas. Cartel violence occurs in distant areas on the outskirts of the city and further afield where you have no reason to go anyway.

Mexico has a reputation for crime . Let me set the story straight: this city has a crime rate considerably lower than much of Mexico. Mexico relies on the income of tourism from Cancun, and they work hard to maintain your safety here. 

Another Cancun safety thing to be aware of, that isn’t human-related but more due to Mother Nature is the weather! The rainy season in Cancun goes from June to November , which can bring cloudy skies, heavy rains, and even some flooding.

Now let’s dive into some detail about the safest areas in Cancun for tourists.

Check out our detailed where to stay guide for Cancun so you can start your trip right!

While it has a bit of a bad reputation, Cancun is a top destination for traveling in Mexico . It’s important for the Mexican government to protect this tourist area which brings in a huge income.

So those places that you desperately want to see, are actually some of the safest places for your Cancun vacation. Here are the top 4 safest areas.

the Cancun hotel zone, on Cancun beach. Youll be safe here in the hotel zone.

  • Hotel Zone – (known locally as Zona Hotela ) This monster resort island is the safest area for tourists in Cancun. You’ll find all-inclusive resorts, golden sands, local bars, and it’s safe to walk around at night. Plus some Mayan ruins are close by.
  • Downtown Cancun – This lively and vibrant area is filled with top attractions in Cancun, and it’s well connected to Cancun Airport. Downtown Cancun is a great place for backpackers to drop into Quintana Roo too.
  • Playa Del Carmen – Okay, it’s not technically Cancun. But it’s just as close to Cancun Airport and has an extremely very similar vibe – just on a smaller scale. I actually recommend it more for a Cancun vacation.
  • Isla Mujeres – On a short ferry from Cancun you’ll find this dream paradise. Turquoise waters, white WHITE sands, and mind-boggling views. Make time for a trip to Isla Mujeres .

Dangerous Areas in Cancun

While the majority of Cancun is pretty safe, it’s still not the safest place to stay in Mexico . That mainly comes down to it being a big city.

Chichen Itza is a great day trip from Cancun

Like most big cities, organized crime in Cancun does occur. Although violent crime is rare (but not impossible), petty crime is common.

There are some sketchy areas that tourists should avoid. The best people to ask are your accommodation staff who know the area best. Here is a rough idea of the more dangerous areas in Cancun:

  • Anywhere at night : Keep in mind that you’re still in Mexico. Walking around at night is not recommended . The Hotel Zone is okay but you should opt for a taxi to get from A to B anywhere else.
  • Non-touristy areas: While you should experience local life in Cancun, you don’t want to walk into the wrong neighborhood. The crime rate is much higher outside of the popular tourist zones.

Keeping your money safe in Cancun

 One of the most common things to happen to you whilst travelling is losing your money. And let’s face it: the most annoying way for this to actually occur is when it’s stolen from you.

Petty crime is pretty much a problem all over the world.The best solution? Get a money belt.

Active Roots Security Belt

Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

It looks exactly like a normal belt  except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

Cancun is a place for good times and fun by the bucketload. However, it pays to know that this ain’t a theme park.

Exercise increased caution compared to normal. You’re still in Mexico, and a big city after all.

That said, thousands of people visit Mexico every year. Beyond that, Cancun is one of the safest destinations in the Mexican state.

Basically, as long as you use your usual safe travel tactics and keep aware of the dangers then you should be fine. Here are a few Cancun safety tips that will make your trip much smoother.

  • Stay aware of your surroundings  – Being mindful of what’s going on around you is a good thing.
  • Don’t drink unfiltered tap water – stick to bottled water and you’ll be good.
  • Keep your belongings close – Having dangly bags and valuables actively on show will definitely make you more of a target.
  • Always keep an emergency stash of cash – Never keep all your cards/ currency in one place. And hide it all from thieves with a hidden money belt .
  • Be careful when you’re taking money out at ATMs .
  • Learn some Spanish   – You’ll be surprised how this changes your experience.
  • Use the hotel room safe – leave your passport, some money, and any non-essentials.
  • Watch out for police officers trying to fine you – Especially for something that doesn’t seem like a crime. Take note of their ID number if you’re not sure and head to the tourist police.
  • Dress down and avoid looking flashy  – It just screams ‘I’m a tourist and I’m not paying attention to anything around me!’
  • Make sure you know where you’re going  – Have a rough Cancun itinerary with a bit of research to add an extra safety level.
  • Hand it over  – If someone tries to rob you, give ’em what you’ve got. It’s not worth it.
  • Carry a ‘dummy wallet’  – A crappy wallet that you can give to robbers. Not essential, but still.
  • Stay away from drugs  – Mexico really isn’t a place to fuck around with drugs. Police are corrupt here. Don’t give them more ammo.
  • Street hawkers can be annoying  – They’re just trying to make some money. “ No, gracias “.
  • Don’t get crazy drunk  – I know, it’s fun. But don’t lose yourself.
  • Watch for weather warnings in hurricane season – June to November. Beware.
  • Take a good medical kit with you – you never know when you might need it!
  • Sun Protection – The sun takes no mercy here. Again, beware.

Yes , Cancun is one of the popular solo travel destinations! I did it! It was brilliant!

Traveling alone anywhere in the world, let’s be honest: it’s cool. You get to do what you want to do, and when you want to do it, but more than anything you only have yourself to rely on. Solo travel is a challenge sometimes, but I’ll tell you what – it’s totally worth the effort!

The main thing when you’re traveling by yourself is to look after yourself. Knowing the right travel tips for solo travelers in Mexico might save you from one or the other sketchy situation.

hoverboarder in cancun mexico

  • Don’t get completely wasted. Losing your mind to alcohol, or whatever, has the potential to lead to dangerous, dodgy, and honestly just pretty stupid situations.
  • Do your homework about what to do in the area . There’s no point in being by yourself but being too afraid to go out and do anything and looking lost can lead to you being targeted.
  • But if you don’t fancy going it alone, that’s fine. Head on a tour and you’ll get to go to places you might not have considered visiting in Cancun alone.
  • Read accommodation reviews. Being stuck somewhere you don’t like can change the whole trip, so make sure you book yourself a nice hostel in Cancun .
  • Get clued up on social events happening in the area. These might be happening at other hostels, bars, and social spaces around town.
  • Know your limits.  Not just when it comes to drinking, but we’re talking about everything – tanning, laying on the beach, etc.
  • Don’t run out of money. Set up a daily budget and stick to it.
  • Wandering around by yourself in sketchy areas just isn’t clever. Even less so when it’s night.

solo female traveler chilling in the sea on Cancun beach in Cancun Mexico

Yes, Cancun is safe for solo female travelers. I met loads of them. They were having a great time and weren’t stressing about safety.

Visiting Cancun for solo female travelers is as safe as you make it, honestly.

There are things about being a female traveler that just doesn’t apply to our male counterparts – male attention being one of them. It happens everywhere and vacation in Cancun is no different.

To keep you extra secure we’ve got a few travel tips for women travelling to Cancun…

  • Meet other travelers . This is always tip number one. There’s safety in numbers.
  • Listen to your spidey senses. If your gut is telling you something’s not right, get out of there.
  • Explore excursions and trips. They’re also a good way to meet people and see what Cancun has to offer outside of where your feet can take you.
  • Research your accommodation. There are loads of great hostels for women . Read reviews written by fellow female travelers.
  • Do not go wandering around by yourself at night. It’s not really a clever thing to be doing many places in the world and definitely not in Mexico.
  • Let someone know where you’re going.  Whether that’s the staff at the hostel, your parents, or friends back home.
  • Push yourself  to do things outside your comfort zone. But know that if something is actually making you feel uncomfortable, and it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it.
  • Don’t feel obliged to tell the truth. If someone’s a little too interested in you then don’t feel like you have to tell the truth about who you are or what you’re doing.
  • Keep your food and drink in sight at all times. Drink and food spikings, unfortunately, do occur.

Zona Hotelera in Cancun

Zona Hotelera

As one of the most popular areas in Cancun, Zona Hotelera is also the safest.

Yes! It is safe to visit Cancun with your family . Plus the beach in Cancun makes a great playground for kids.

But, like anywhere you’re going to take your brood, you need to do your research. Of course, you have much more responsibility than just organizing yourself.

family walking down the beach

A vacation here is a fantastic opportunity to introduce your kids to a whole new country and culture. More than that though, it’ll be an amazing beach holiday that they’ll probably never forget.

Understand the map and how to get around, have a solid itinerary planned, and get at least some basic Spanish under your belt.

Snorkeling, Mayan Ruins, personal trips on pirate ships (yup). It still comes with the understood hazards, but, otherwise, a Cancun holiday for families is a guaranteed good time, safety included.

mockup of a person holding a smartphone in white background with Holafly logo

A new country, a new contract, a new piece of plastic – booooring. Instead, buy an eSIM!

An eSIM works just like an app: you buy it, you download it, and BOOM! You’re connected the minute you land. It’s that easy.

Is your phone eSIM ready? Read about how e-Sims work or click below to see one of the top eSIM providers on the market and  ditch the plastic .

Knowing how to get around is one huge aspect of how to stay safe in Cancun.

Is it safe to drive in Cancun? YES! Driving is fantastic – you’ll just need an international driver’s license, solid car rental insurance , and some confidence. You’re in a big city, and people (including huge buses) are all driving Mexican style. So go slowly and wear your seatbelt. 

Taxis are safe in Cancun. Ask your accommodation where your nearest Sitio (taxi rank) is. Don’t use anything but official taxis; using illegal taxis is just asking for trouble. 

Agree with your driver before you get in (do it in Spanish for a massive discount) to avoid any confrontation at your destination. Most taxi drivers in Cancun are dickheads. There, I said it.

Is Uber safe in Cancun? YES, ABSOLUTELY! Actually, it’s a much better option. It’s WAY cheaper, the drivers are regulated, and you can track your whole journey. 

Is public transportation in Cancun safe

The buses and minibusses are great. They run all over the city, they’re regular and super cheap. It just means you have a bit more of an adventure.

If you’re going further afield, you’ll probably use a coach. ADO is the most trustworthy company which will get you safely to places like Cancun Airport, Playa Del Carmen, and Chichen Itza. You can buy these tickets online, at the ADO bus terminal, or at several ticket booths in the city.

If you want to go to islands like Isla Mujeres , Cancun’s ferry service is fast, clean, and safe too!

Everyone’s packing list is going to look a little different, but here are a few things I would never want to travel to Cancun without…


Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Gifts for backpackers

A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must.

Yesim eSIM

Yesim stands as a premier eSIM service provider, catering specifically to the mobile internet needs of travellers.


Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Pacsafe belt

This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off.

The best safety advice for visiting Cancun is to make sure you have top-notch Mexico travel insurance . In the unlikely case that you need it, it can truly be a lifesaver.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

travel to cancun safe

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

For a travel destination like Cancun, there are lots of different things you have to consider when it comes to safety. I’ve listed the most common questions, answers, and facts to make your trip as easy as possible.

What is the safest area in Cancun?

Due to its popularity and loads of resort chains, the Hotel Zone is the safest area for tourists in Cancun. You can even walk around at night here. Downtown Cancun is also a good option.

Is Cancun safe to live in?

Yes, Cancun is a safe place to live. In fact, the whole state of Quintana Roo is a generally safe destination in Mexico. Just remember, all major cities involve some level of risk – so do your research on safe areas and security measures.

What areas should you avoid in Cancun?

Avoid all areas at night apart from the Zona Hotelera – this one is fairly safe. During the day, stay away from non-touristy areas or get a local guide to show you around.

Is the weather safe in Cancun?

Yes, the weather is generally safe in Cancun. However, the summer sun can be brutal ( use sun protection ) and the autumn months are prone to big storms. Spring and early summer is the safest time to visit.

Can you drink the Water in Cancun?

No, absolutely not. The tap water in Cancun is not safe to drink. You’ll find probably find bottled water in your accommodation. If not, every shop sells filtered water that is safe to drink.

Is Cancun safe for tourists? Yes. Is it always safe? No.

Will you be safe on a trip to Cancun if you behave like a normal person? Yes. There’s basically no reason to worry about going to Cancun if you use your common sense, stay in tourist areas, and stay up to date with Mexico travel warnings.

There are obviously ways to make yourself unsafe in Cancun such as drinking way too much or wandering down streets at night, but that’s true for many places in the world. But you’re a sensible person who does their research.

Remember: 911 is your Mexico emergency number now – so that’s an easy one. And don’t forget that Mexico travel insurance!

As long as you keep your eyes open, you’ll have the time in your life in Cancun. Step up your tanning game, chill at the beach for a whole week straight, or have the party of your life – the options are endless.

If you’ve been to Cancun before and have some extra tips, please help out your fellow travelers to have a safe trip too with some comments down before.

man jumping into a cenote.

Looking for more info on traveling to Cancun?

  • Let me help you choose where to stay in Cancun
  • Swing by one of these fabulous festivals
  • Don’t forget to add an epic national park to your itinerary
  • Check out my favorite Airbnbs in the centre of all the action
  • Plan the rest of your trip with our fantastic backpacking Mexico travel guide!

Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!

travel to cancun safe

Joe Middlehurst

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travel to cancun safe

Can this be updated given the recent killings of Americans in Mexico. The news reports that those crimes occurred near the Texas border so wondering if there is anything that Cancun travelers should be aware of. Also there is now a U.S. travel advisory. (As of March 7, 2023)

The dangers of the Mexican border have long be reported, don’t go there as tourist, don’t go there if locals warn you not too. Realise, even if you are in the company of a local things can still be fraught.

I’m always hesitant to go to new places, but I’m definitely considering going to Cancun in 2022. I’m glad to hear that it’s safe to go there!

I’m a US expat living six hours from Cancun. Been in MX 14 years. My voting and banking address is Las Vegas. When MX hear I am from Vegas, the cash register goes cha ching ching. I explain. Vegas is Cancun without the beaches. The Strip is the same as the Hotel Zone in Cancun. Three blocks off the the Strip in stats to get dicey. Las Vegas Blvd north of Freemont, the real downtown Vegas, is a no go zone after dark, unless your a knowledgeable Vegan.

The economies of Cancun and Vegas are similar. Away from the tourist areas food, restaurants, housing, and shopping are very economical. But, as the article says , you have to be knowledgable.

I’ve been a couple times to Cancun and I’m going next week and there isn’t any time I didn’t felt safe. You can walk on the streets, go to restaurants take the buses and you will feel safe. The people there is just amazing, the staff where ever you go will be super kind. If you go with the kids I’ll recommend taking the jungle tour on the speedboats, specially with covid you have almost no contact with anyone there.

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Is It Safe in Cancun?

travel to cancun safe

Cancun is quite a safe destination and most visitors enjoy their vacations without any unfortunate incidents, but it's important to maintain awareness of what's going on around you so that you can respond to any danger or untoward situation that may develop. Someone who only hears about Mexico through the news would think the entire country was filled with kidnappings and drug cartels, but that simply isn't true. While some regions of Mexico are not considered safe to visit, the country as a whole is popular with tourists and Cancun is one of the safest parts you can go to.

By taking the appropriate precautions, you can swim in the crystal clear ocean water , explore the ancient Mayan ruins , and dance the night away at one of Cancun's famous nightclubs .

Is Cancun Dangerous?

While the perception is that Mexico is a dangerous place to visit, it's a huge country with vastly different regions, and the cartel violence that makes headlines in newspapers is concentrated far away from the hotels and beaches of Cancun. However, Cancun isn't completely immune to crime, especially when you venture away from the resorts located in the Zona Hotelera neighborhood . The local economy depends heavily on tourism and the government strives to protect that image by keeping the tourist zone heavily patrolled by police and the national guard.

If you travel out of Zona Hotelera into downtown Cancun, only do so during the day and avoid wearing high-value items or flashy accessories. Touristic areas of downtown, such as Las Palapas and around Avenida Tulum , are generally safe to visit (but keep your wallet safely tucked in your front pocket). For nightlife, there are plenty of options for bars and dance clubs within the Zona Hotelera to enjoy.

If you need transportation, ask your hotel to call you a taxi so you can be sure it's from a legitimate company and ask for the price before getting in the car. Many taxi drivers don't use the meter and will overcharge unwitting tourists, so confirm how much you're expected to pay. Uber does exist in Cancun, but Uber drivers often work "under the radar" due to an ongoing feud with taxi drivers that has at times turned violent.

Is Cancun Safe for Solo Travelers?

If you're traveling alone to Cancun, the same basic safety tips apply as for all travelers including stay in the touristy areas, don't travel outside of the Zona Hotelera at night, and keep valuable items locked away safely in your hotel room. One of the most extreme crimes that happens in Mexico is kidnapping, and a foreigner traveling alone may be a target. For this reason, it's especially important for solo travelers to avoid leaving the Zona Hotelera after dark.

If you've traveled around Mexico or you speak Spanish, navigating around the city is much easier. It's often refreshing to leave the bubble of the Zona Hotelera and solo travelers aren't limited to those confines. If you head to downtown Cancun, just stay near the main thoroughfare of Avenida Tulum and avoid the outskirts of the city.

Is Cancun Safe for Female Travelers?

While Cancun is overall a safe destination for female travelers, the city is known for its wild parties and nightlife that always require extra precautions. Women traveling alone or in a group should only accept drinks from trusted sources and always keep the glass in their hand. Bartenders have even been accused of spiking drinks, so if you're ordering a cocktail, it's best to do so at a place where you can visibly see the drink being made.   If you feel ill or like you're losing control, immediately find someone you trust and let them know. If you're out and someone is making you uncomfortable—including another tourist—alert a staff member.

Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers

For LGBTQ+ travelers, there's little to worry about in Cancun. It may not live up to the gay nightlife scene in Puerto Vallarta , but Cancun is still a very gay-friendly city. Even though 2019 set a record for violence against LGBTQ+ individuals in Mexico—especially trans women and gay men—that statistic is across the entire country and Cancun is relatively safe.  

The bars that cater to LGBTQ+ travelers are located outside of the Zona Hotelera in downtown Cancun, where being out at night while drinking isn't always safe. If you do decide to go out at night, you should travel with people you trust and call a reputable taxi service when you need to move around town.

Safety Tips for BIPOC Travelers

The most common complaints of discrimination in Cancun come from the local residents themselves, as well as national travelers from other parts of Mexico. Cancun depends on foreign tourists from countries where wages are often many times higher than salaries in Mexico. For that reason, international travelers often experience preferential treatment because locals assume they have more money and are more willing to spend it, while fellow nationals are more likely to be passed over. But this discrimination doesn't just apply to people born and raised in Mexico; Latino travelers from other countries—including the U.S.—may experience the same snub due to the same assumptions.

Safety Tips for Travelers

  • Arrange for travel from the airport before you arrive. Once you step out of baggage claim you will likely be bombarded by people asking if you have a ride or where you're going. It's best to walk straight through and find your pre-arranged transit.
  • If someone is advertising free tours or water sports packages, it's likely a timeshare salesperson who is trying to hook you into a meeting.
  • If you're renting a car , never leave any valuables inside the vehicle. Rentals are often a target for potential thieves.
  • Carry only a small amount of cash when you're walking around, and make sure your wallet isn't in a vulnerable place like a purse or your back pocket.
  • Only use ATMs in crowded places and be aware of your surroundings when doing so.
  • Choose reputable companies for water sports such as parasailing or jet skiing and be skeptical if one company is significantly cheaper than others.
  • Recreational drugs are illegal in Mexico and are punishable by up to 25 years in prison. If you're offered, it's best to say no.

JSonline. "Mexico resorts and tainted alcohol: assaults, blackouts." June 27, 2018. Retrieved December 20, 2020.

Reuters. " Mexico sees deadliest year for LGBT+ people in five years. " May 15, 2020.

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travel to cancun safe

Cancun Safety 2024: How Safe is Cancun for Travel?

Susan Laurent

Cancun is a popular tourist destination in the Caribbean and Mexico, with stunning beaches, a buzzing nightlife, and a wide variety of cultural and natural activities.

But how safe is Cancun for travel? The short answer is that you should “ Exercise Increased Caution ” in Cancun — which is sensible advice to follow everywhere you go.

In this guide, we will delve into how cautious you need to be when visiting Cancun. We’ll touch upon Cancun’s crime statistics, COVID-19 precautions, potential natural disasters, carbon monoxide awareness and prevention, beach safety, Cancun’s weather, and some advice for solo or family travelers.

A Comprehensive Look at Cancun’s Crime Rates

Every year, a large number of criminal acts occur in Mexico, which has prompted the US State Department to issue a travel warning for travelers on how to stay safe  .

In this travel warning , the US State Department highlights cities that tourists should never visit, should reconsider visiting, or should exercise extreme or increased caution when visiting.

Cancun belongs in the “Exercise Increased Caution” category. This means that the US State Department gives American tourists the green light to visit Cancun , but they need to keep in mind that it’s possible to experience crime and violence there.

Cancun’s Crime Rates

The crime rating in Cancun is 56.16.

These crime rates are similar to the crime rates of some of the most popular tourist destinations worldwide. Miami, for example, has a crime rate of 53.14%. The city of love, Paris , has a crime rate of 57.23, whereas the crime rate of beautiful London is 53.85.

If you look at the statistics more closely, you can see that crime in Cancun has increased in the past 3 years, with the biggest problem being the usage and consumption of illegal substances. Problems with corruption and bribery are also high.

However, incidents like property damage, assaults, vandalism, and people being insulted in Cancun show lower rates. Physical attacks due to skin color, ethnic background, gender, or religion are even lower, which is reassuring to read.

What Is Mexico Doing to Protect Cancun?

The Mexican government sent nearly 3000 soldiers to secure Cancun in 2022 . In 2023, the force is even more powerful. The government deployed 4,724 soldiers to Cancun , with 3,800 soldiers more patrolling the country’s highways.

The Defense Minister, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, revealed that the troops are supported by helicopters, patrol cars, pickup trucks, speedboats, and all-terrain vehicles. In addition, the Armed Forces provide security at 14 airports and 42 bus stations throughout the state.

Navigating the New Normal: Ensuring COVID-19 Safety in Cancun

Cancun does not require passengers to have a negative COVID-19 test to enter.

Passengers and aircraft crew members arriving in Cancun either by land or air may be tested for body temperature, and those who exhibit suspected signs of the virus may be further examined or quarantined.

Many hospitals, clinics, and laboratories in Cancun offer COVID-19 testing. PCR tests are generally priced between 950 and 4500 MXN ($53 and $250), whereas viral antigen tests are priced between 200 and 1000 MXN ($11 and $55).

To avoid the transmission of COVID-19, the American Red Cross has compiled a list of all the steps you should take in order to stay healthy and have a safe trip to Cancun. The main ones are maintaining social distancing and frequently washing your hands .

Perils of Nature: The Risk of Natural Disasters in Cancun

Natural Disasters in Cancun

Three natural forces endanger Mexico: storms, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. While there is no significant risk of any of them in Cancun, it’s still a good idea to stay informed.

Hurricane Information and Precautions

Cancun is located in a hurricane-prone area. The hurricane season starts from June 1st to November 30th. The last two hurricanes to hit Cancun were Gilbert on September 5, 1988 , and Wilma on October 21, 2005 .

In the case of a hurricane, Cancun’s local authorities have solid procedures and evacuation plans to safeguard residents and visitors. For example, all 175 hotels in the Caribbean resort are designed to survive a category 3 hurricane. Cancun also boasts 24 hurricane-proof shelters that can accommodate 17,000 tourists and hotel guests in the event of a hurricane.

Earthquake Information and Precautions

Cancun and its surroundings, notably the Yucatan Peninsula, aren’t known for high seismic activity or earthquakes.

However, it is crucial to highlight that Mexico is in an active seismic zone, so when earthquakes hit, they may be felt in various places throughout the nation, including Cancun.

Volcanic Eruptions Information and Precautions

There are no volcanoes in Cancun. Cancun is located in the Yucatan Peninsula’s northeastern area, distinguished by its flat geography and absence of volcanic activity.

Breathing Safely in Cancun: Carbon Monoxide Awareness and Prevention

Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when someone inhales a harmful gas called carbon monoxide (CO). The poisonous gas may leak from a defective appliance, such as a water heater, stove, or furnace.

In November 2022 , three American tourists died from carbon monoxide poisoning while vacationing in an Airbnb in Mexico City.

There have been no such incidents in Cancun. Nonetheless, when planning your Cancun trip, make sure your unit has at least one CO detector and pack a backup detector with you in case one of the detector’s batteries fails.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, headache, vomiting, and shortness of breath.

Serenity by the Shore: The Safety of Cancun’s Beaches

Cancun’s Beach

Several beaches in Mexico are dangerous for tourists due to excessive levels of criminal activity, bacteria in the water, and dangerous wildlife. This also applies to Cancun’s beaches.

When it comes to dangerous wildlife, the most recent shark attack in Cancun occurred in March 2023 , when a shark bit the leg of a ten-year-old kid. To avoid being attacked by a shark , always swim with other people and don’t stray too far from shore. Also, avoid swimming at night or sunset or if you are bleeding from an open wound or menstruating.

Ending on a lighter note, the Federal Commission for the Protection of Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) assures that the water on all Quintana Roo beaches is clean and safe to swim in, including the Cancun area .

Cancun’s Weather Patterns: What to Expect?

Cancun has two seasons: the wet and the dry season.

Cancun’s wet season lasts from May until October. During this time, rain is more frequent, and thunderstorms are occasional. September and October are the rainiest months.

In May and June, temperatures are in the high 87-89°F (31-32°C), and from July to October, temperatures rise to 89-93°F (around 32-34°C).

Cancun’s dry season lasts from November to April. This time of year is distinguished by less rainfall and low humidity.

Cancun’s coolest months are December to February, with an average temperature of 68°F (20°C). The temperatures climb in March and April, reaching up to 86-89°F (about 30-32°C) or even higher.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Cancun?

The best time to visit Cancun depends on your personal traveling preferences.

The dry season is Cancun’s prime tourism season. The weather is warm, with little to no rain. December through February are especially popular since they overlap with the winter holidays.

The dry season is perfect for beach activities, snorkeling, water sports, and sightseeing. However, bear in mind that it brings more tourists, leading to bigger crowds and probably higher hotel and flight expenses.

Cancun’s wet season is hotter, with increased humidity, rainfall, and thunderstorms. However, it’s important to note that the wet season does not always imply persistent rain. Instead, showers are usually brief and are followed by sunny skies.

The wet season has various advantages, including lower hotel and airfare fares, fewer tourists, and lush, green landscapes. It may be a good opportunity to take advantage of special offers and discounts. It’s a fantastic time to visit indoor attractions, relax with spa treatments, or participate in cultural activities.

Exploring Cancun Solo or With a Family: Is It a Good Idea?

travel to cancun safe

It’s safe to travel to Cancun alone or with your family. However, according to the Mexico Travel Advisory, you should be cautious in the country. Here are some pointers on how to get around Cancun safely

Essential tips for staying safe:

  • ADO is a super reliable bus service (they accept only pesos)
  • Cancun doesn’t have Uber, so the best taxi service is Whatsapp Taxi (You can find contact information on their official Facebook page )
  • Book your stay in a reputable hostel, hotel, house share, or rental apartment
  • Learn some basic Spanish
  • Purchase a Mexican SIM card
  • Be familiar with the emergency numbers: 911 for police, 066 for ambulances, and 080 for fire services
  • Avoid using a public ATM. Instead, go to a bank or a supermarket
  • Drink only bottled water

Tips for traveling alone:

  • Always keep an eye on your drink at the bar
  • Drink responsibly
  • Put expensive belongings out of sight when you’re out and about
  • If you’re offered illegal substances, just kindly refuse them
  • Take note of your surroundings as well as who is nearby
  • Never walk alone at night
  • Establish connections with the resort’s personnel
  • Notify people close to you, such as a friend or relative back home, about your travel arrangements and your plans for the day
  • Dress appropriately, and don’t wear flashy jewelry or makeup that will cause unwanted attention, particularly if you are a female solo traveler.

Tips for traveling with your family:

  • Rent a car rather than spend money on taxis
  • Find a place to stay that offers a variety of activities for your family
  • Pack a medical kit
  • Drink responsibly so you can keep track of your children’s whereabouts
  • Never leave your children alone, especially in the water
  • Never split up while exploring

As with any vacation, take basic precautions, stay alert, follow our safety tips, and create unforgettable memories!

Cancun is a mesmerizing destination that combines natural beauty, rich culture, and exciting adventures.

This destination has plenty to offer, whether you visit it during the sunny, dry season or want to appreciate the ambiance of the rainy season.

Although there is crime and a cartel presence in Cancun, most tourists have a wonderful time, and we have read numerous articles and forum posts from people who have made long-lasting memories there.

While there are safety concerns when visiting Cancun, the local authorities and tourism sector work hard to assure visitors’ safety.

To protect yourself, always exercise caution, be aware of your surroundings, use reliable transportation, and be wary of your personal belongings, among other things.

Susan Laurent

Hey Susan, Uber is alive and well in Cancun. There are certain locations, any (air)ports for example where they won’t pick you up do to issues with taxis. ADO from the airport to the downtown terminal and Uber from there.

I’ve never felt the least bit uncomfortable walking by myself at night there and walk all over the place.

Give respect and you’ll get it back

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Mexico Travel Buddy

Safety In Cancun: Your Complete Guide For Safety

alex gomez mexico travel buddy

About the author

Alex Gomez, the founder of Mexico Travel Buddy, combines his firsthand, on-the-ground experiences in Mexico with a personal connection to the country, fostered through his Mexican wife and numerous explorations. More info

Safety when traveling abroad to Cancun is definitely something everyone should consider. Cancun is one of the safest locations to travel to in Mexico. The over all crime rate is low, with vandalism and theft being the main problem. However, corruption and bribery related issues are on the rise.

Just like any tourist destination, Cancun is full of all kinds of people from different parts of the world. Most of the people you encounter will be very pleasant. There are certain areas you will want to do your best to avoid though.

Tips To Stay Safe In Cancun

travel to cancun safe

Some simple things may be overlooked when you are visiting foreign land. The things you may be comfortable doing in your hometown, may not be such a great idea while visiting Cancun. Use common sense, and you should expect a positive experience in Cancun. When visiting Cancun avoid the following:

  • Do not wear flashy jewelry
  • Don’t carry a lot of money
  • Do not leave your drink unattended
  • Avoid walking around certain areas at night

This may all seem like common sense but you would be surprised. When you wear fancy things, people tend to notice. This doesn’t mean you can’t wear some nice threads or your favorite dress. But keep the bling bling to a minimum. If you wear a wedding ring, switch it out for a cheap silicone ring. That way if something does happen, you won’t spend your whole trip worrying how you lost your ring.

As well, it’s best to not walk around with an abundance of cash on you. You wouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket right? Instead, plan where you are going, and what you will be doing for the day so you can determine how much money you will need to bring. A good habit to adapt is to stash your cash in multiple places on your body. Tuck some pesos in your wallet, then put some in your sock, or even inside your phone case is a good spot.

travel to cancun safe

I have a basic looking silicone phone case that I slide my money into. It doesn’t stand out like the wallet phone cases you see so often. It’s quick and easy to put on and take off, but it still does a good job of protecting my phone. You can find a very simple phone case on Amazon. The more basic it looks the better.

Another genius trick my wife showed me for stashing your cash is to sew a secret pocket on the inside of your shorts. If you aren’t the best at sewing, no worries. You can buy a secret pocket that attaches using your waistband or belt. That way you can have it with you no matter what wardrobe you choose for the day. I personally use a Shacke Pak belt wallet I picked up on Amazon. I like it because it has a thicker belt loop compared to other brands I’ve seen that use flimsy string to attach it. Another added bonus is that it has multiple zippers and RFID anti theft material to protect your bank cards and passport.

See also: Things Every Tourist Must Know About Tulum Nightlife

In the unfortunate scenario were someone is demanding you give them all your money, you can simply pull out your wallet or purse, hand over “all” your money and still be okay knowing you have extra money stashed away.

Safest Areas In Cancun

There is a lot to see in and around Cancun. But the single safest area to explore is Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone). This area is filled with many people, most of them are tourists. Security is high due to all the hotels. You can feel safe exploring the Hotel Zone day or night when taking the proper precautions. If you do want to explore other areas, try to do it during the day time when crime is less likely to occur. Nearby El Centro (Downtown) is also a safe and exciting option to explore. There are more locals in this area amidst all the tourists, and thick crowds of people tend to form. You want to ensure you are being vigilant at all times. You should have no problem enjoying a walk around the city if sticking to these areas.

Cancun’s Safety At Night

If you decide you want to venture out and explore Cancun’s nightlife, there are things you can do to increase your safety. In general, it is safe to walk around Cancun at night. Stay in the tourist areas such as the Hotel Zone. If exploring downtown, make sure to remain in the tourist parts which are Avenida Tulum and Las Palapas. It is best to walk around with a group of people to increase your safety. It is a good idea to carry a flashlight as well.

My wife and I both carry around an extremely bright LED flashlight when we walk around at night. It is good to have for emergencies and when wandering the backroads. Plus, ours are water resistant which is a nice feature especially in Mexico. We got a two pack of tactical LED flashlights on Amazon for pretty inexpensive. Be warned, most flashlights will not supply the batteries to power them and must be bought separate. We had to learn this the hard way. In our experience, a flashlight is an extra layer of security for yourself.

Top Safety Tips For Cancun’s Clubs

travel to cancun safe

Clubbing in Cancun is a great experience. However, there are some very important tips to keep in mind if you are out partying. The top tip when clubbing in Cancun is always keep your drink in sight, preferably in your possession when possible. Also, keep an eye on the bartender preparing your drink to ensure that quality and reputable alcohol is being used. Do not accept any free drinks from anyone you don’t personally know.

Being a victim of pickpocket in Cancun is possible, especially in a club setting. Make sure all your belongings are tucked away and out of sight when out clubbing.

See also: How Many Days You Need To Stay In Cancun: Ultimate 7 Day Guide

It is advised to keep track of how many drinks you have consumed. Also pay attention to how you are feeling while out clubbing. You want to be able to get yourself back to wherever it is you are staying. If you feel uneasy or have any unusual symptoms such as abdominal pain, headache, or fatigue, seek medical attention immediately to ensure you don’t have methanol poisoning from consuming fake tequila. Fake tequila may not be found too often, but it has been known to appear from time to time in Cancun. The Mexican police have been cracking down hard on any fake tequila attempting to be distributed to the market.

If someone offers you anything, especially any kind of drugs, do not involve yourself with these people. This is a sure way of finding yourself in a bad situation. Only bring as much money as you plan on spending for the night. Again, do not wear flashy jewelry or anything that may attract criminals. These criminals know exactly what to look for when searching for their next victim.

Crime Rate In Cancun

Cancun’s overall safety.

Cancun is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. With 6.15 million people traveling there in 2019 alone. The amount of people visiting Cancun continue to rise annually. By 2025, more than 9 million people are expected to visit annually. There is certainly no lack of interest in visiting one of the most beautiful places in Mexico.

No doubt there is crime, but there is crime in every city, even yours! Don’t let the media frighten you out of a great experience. Use common sense and stay alert just like you would in any city. More than likely, you will be coming back to Cancun for years to come.

alex gomez mexico travel buddy

Alex Gomez, the founder of Mexico Travel Buddy, combines his firsthand, on-the-ground experiences in Mexico with a personal connection to the country, fostered through his Mexican wife and numerous explorations. As a professional writer and avid travel enthusiast, his favorite destination remains anywhere within Mexico's diverse landscapes. His extensive travels have equipped him with a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and insights, which he enthusiastically shares with his audience. Alex's stories and photos on the website not only showcase his love for Mexico but also offer readers a deeply authentic and engaging perspective.

Read more by Alex Gomez

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Is Cancún safe to visit right now? Here are 3 important advisories to know before visiting.

  • If you're planning a trip to Cancún, Mexico, be aware of COVID-19, safety, and weather advisories.
  • Keep reading for important details as you prepare to explore Cancún, Mexico.
  • Visit Insider's hub for travel guides, tips, and recommendations .

Insider Today

Cancún is a lovely place to visit any time of year, but knowing what to expect in terms of the weather, COVID-19 restrictions, and general safety will help ensure your vacation goes as seamlessly as possible.

Here are some advisories to keep in mind:

The best time to visit Cancún in terms of weather is during the winter and spring when you'll find nearly perfect weather almost every day. This is peak season, however, so expect larger crowds and higher room rates at this time.

Costs and the number of visitors dip during the summer when it's still lovely, but more hot and humid.

Autumn is the rainy season, aka "hurricane season," in Cancún. While actual hurricanes can happen, it's more likely that you'll experience some rainfall during your stay. Luckily, rainstorms in Mexico tend to be short, and clear skies usually always follow.

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Cancún also has what's called "sargassum season," when brown seaweed covers the otherwise gorgeous beaches. This happens between April to August, and it's typically worse the further south you go, like in Playa del Carmen and Tulum. To avoid sargassum during this time of year, stick to Cancún, or even better, head a bit north to Costa Mujeres, or across the way to Isla Mujeres, both of which saw some of the lowest numbers of sargassum over the past couple of years.

Currently, Mexico does not require visitors to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival . While it's possible that this rule may change given future variants of the virus, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has previously gone on the record to say that it won't.

"As for Mexico, we won't require such types of proof whatsoever. I want to be very clear about that," he said during a press conference  in August 2021.

Mask policies vary among resorts, which set their own standards. While some resorts are mask-optional, the majority require guests to wear them while indoors and/or when moving through outdoor public spaces (like on your walk from the lobby to the pool). Resorts typically have their COVID-19 health and safety policies listed on their websites, should you want to confirm yours in advance.

While Mexico does not require proof of a negative COVID test to enter, you will likely need one before your return to your home country. Foreign health insurance is not accepted as payment for any type of COVID test, so be prepared to pay out of pocket.

A rapid antigen test will likely run you between $20 to $40 and a PCR test may cost between $100 and $200. They are widely available at local pharmacies (though call or stop by in advance to make sure), and the majority of resorts will have them available on-site, often at a discounted rate or for free, depending on your reservation. It's a good idea to find out in advance whether this service is available where you're staying, so you can budget your time and finances accordingly.

General safety

I believe that anyone that tells you to "never leave the resort" for fear of danger is sadly misguided. While a few street smarts are required, I've always found the city of Cancún to be extremely friendly and welcoming to visitors, and there are scores of wonderful activities and sites on Boulevard Kukulcán and beyond that are worth discovering. Do keep in mind that while front-of-house hospitality staff is usually fluent in English, not everyone you encounter will be. Brushing up on your Spanish in advance of your visit is helpful; a simple "gracias" can go a long way.

There have been recent reports of drug-gang-related shootings in the area . This violence has been targeted at specific gang members, and not at tourists. That said, to ensure safety in wake of the incidents, the Mexican government deployed 1,500 National Guard members to patrol the beaches and prevent further conflict. Don't worry about this impacting your vacation. In my opinion, the guards are hardly noticeable, save for the occasional photo op of someone on the beach in a full uniform.

View Insider's comprehensive guide to visiting Cancún .

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Is Cancun Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Cancun, Mexico

Mexico : Safety by City

  • Aguascalientes
  • Cabo San Lucas
  • Chichen Itza
  • Guadalajara
  • Isla Holbox
  • Isla Mujeres
  • Mexico City
  • Nuevo Laredo
  • Piedras Negras
  • Playa del Carmen
  • Puerto Morelos
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Queretaro City
  • San Luis Potosi
  • San Miguel de Allende
  • Zihuatanejo

Cancún is located on the Yucatán Peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.

Before American and British explorers arrived in 1843, it was populated by Maya Indians.

The name Cancún comes from the Mayan word, Cancúne, meaning “Vessel at the End of the Rainbow.”

Cancún remained a small fishing and gathering settlement until 1970 when the location was chosen as an ideal site for an international holiday destination giving way to a construction boom in the 1980s.

As a result, Cancún was converted into a significant tourist locale for visitors from the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world.

If you’re planning a trip to Cancún, you may be wondering just how safe the area really is.

  • Warnings & Dangers in Cancun


Price inflation, scammers, street hawkers, and petty crime are more widespread, while the party mentality and rise in tourism invariably attract more drug trafficking, leading to an increase in cartel activity. Despite this, the crime rate is significantly lower than in many other parts of Mexico. Because tourism is the area's primary source of revenue, the Mexican government makes every effort to keep Cancún a safe location for visitors. Furthermore, the popular tourist area is heavily patrolled by police, making it a not-so-ideal place for criminals. Overall, this picturesque coastal city is rated a "low" on a scale of low to high risk.


Taking transportation in Cancún can be a reasonably safe activity. Many area hotels and resorts offer shuttle services to and from the airport. When taking a taxi, it's safe to do so within the hotel zone. Booking ahead is recommended, as there will be specific instructions, like where to meet your driver and other details.By no means hail a taxi. Also, make sure you agree on a fare ahead of time. If you don't, the drivers will demand outrageous sums when they arrive at the destination, which could result in a rather unpleasant experience.


A large number of visitors in one location usually means many thieves. Cancún is no exception. Pickpockets can be seen throughout the area, but mainly in Downtown Cancún, where there are fewer visitors, rendering them more visible. If you present yourself as a wealthy guest, you'll almost certainly lose some of your belongings. Never carry valuables such as jewelry, watches, or expensive purses with you. Pickpockets with quick fingers can easily distract you and remove them from your person before you realize it. Furthermore, keep your personal items in a secure location. As long as you follow basic common sense and heed the warnings above, the risk is relatively low.


Natural disasters are a concern in many parts of the world. For example, flooding and mudslides are possible during the rainy season in Cancún, which could disrupt transportation. In addition, Cancun's hurricane season runs from June to November, with a more significant chance of storms in August and October. Hurricanes, fortunately, are uncommon in the area. Only two have occurred in the last 30 years, so the risk of being affected by a natural disaster while on holiday in Cancún is low.


Although Mexico has one of the highest kidnapping rates globally, when it comes to kidnapping and mugging, Cancún is generally safe.Wealthy persons who travel to locations where police and security services are not present can be targets. If mugged, don't attempt to resist. Instead, comply with the offender's demands in an effort to deescalate an otherwise frightening situation.


Tourists are not a target of violent organized crime, but they can be affected if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Terrorist threats are unlikely in Cancún, but that can't be guaranteed. Therefore, it's always a good idea to keep an eye on your surroundings.


Scammers are people who do magic tricks or give free massages or food samples. Remember that bit we learned as children? Never take "candy" from strangers. In addition, be prepared to be conned by police officers. Expecting to be bribed, they could falsely charge you of petty infractions or traffic violations that you did not commit.


For female travelers, Cancún is a safe city. It's perfectly acceptable and safe to roam around during the day. Just be aware of your surroundings, and you guessed it, use common sense.There are several aspects of being a female traveler that does not apply to male counterparts, one of which is male attention. Unfortunately, it happens everywhere, and vacationing in Cancún is no exception. Avoid less crowded areas at all costs, and trust your instincts no matter where you are. If you become uneasy at any point, join the nearest group of individuals.


If you're visiting Mexico, be cautious of the type of water you consume daily. Many visitors avoid drinking any water in Cancún, even from the local hotels and resorts.Much of the water in Cancún that isn't filtered or sold contains parasites and potentially lethal bacteria that can cause illness and adverse reactions when consumed. This applies to the ice at hotels, bars, and restaurants, as well.

  • Safest Places to Visit in Cancun

El Centro (downtown) is the more traditional section, while Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone) is a 13-mile, coastal strip of high-rise hotels, nightclubs, shops, and restaurants.

These two areas are the most touristy, therefore safest places to visit in Cancún.

Isla Mujeres, an eight-mile offshore journey from Cancún, is also an idyllic and safe place to visit, especially if you want to escape the party culture that Cancún is known for.

Dubbed as a “real life paradise,” you can’t go wrong with a day or overnight trip to this tranquil setting.

Puerto Juarez, which is about a mile and a half north of Cancún’s city center, was not even established as a part of Cancún until 1990.

This makes the neighborhood quieter and less loaded with top-notch restaurants, shopping, and nightlife than others, but it’s also a terrific place to visit if you simply want to immerse yourself in the lives of local Cancun residents and avoid the crowds.

  • Places to Avoid in Cancun

The general rule of thumb is to not venture away from touristy areas, especially at night.

Even some of the touristy areas, like downtown, should be avoided at night.

The neighborhoods to avoid are mainly located north of Lopez Portillo, near Bonfil.

The vast majority of violent crime in Cancún takes place on the city’s outskirts, far away from the tourist districts.

  • Safety Tips for Traveling to Cancun

While Cancún is considered generally safe, following certain precautions when traveling in the area is recommended.

You should be alright as long as you travel safely and are aware of the risks.

Many of the below tips can be applied when traveling anywhere:

  • Don’t carry too much cash when walking around and instead go for pesos . Shops will accept U.S. dollars, albeit at a poor exchange rate (for you). The same can be said for your items – Keep them close. Having dangling bags and valuables on display will make you an easy target.
  • Drink  only  bottled water . Avoid iced anything unless you’re entirely sure that the ice is filtered and sanitary.
  • Be pleasant and kind, but not naive . If someone approaches you, trust your instincts and move away if you feel uncomfortable.
  • Don’t walk anywhere at night . If you want to enjoy the beach at night, go to the beach directly in front of your hotel, and ensure that hotel security is present. If you must walk at night, keep to the crowded areas and remember there’s always safety in numbers.
  • Leave your vacation plans and contact information with family and friends back home . If coming from the U.S., enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program  (STEP) before traveling.
  • When taking money out of an ATM, be cautious . Do so inside shops, banks, or malls, and always be aware of who is around and behind you.
  • Make sure you know where you’re going before you leave . Wandering or looking lost can also make you an easy target.
  • Keep a copy of your passport, including your Mexican visa , if applicable, on you at all times, as police may request it.
  • If someone tries to rob you, give them everything you have . It’s not worth it to fight back.
  • Don’t become too intoxicated . Getting too drunk can jeopardize your safety, particularly when making judgment calls about specific scenarios.
  • So... How Safe Is Cancun Really?

Tourists are not at risk in Cancún.

On the contrary, it is one of Mexico’s most popular tourist spots, with hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Due to an upsurge in recent crime in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located, the  U.S. Department of State currently advises travelers to “exercise extreme caution.”

This is what is known as a Level 3 advisory.

The following European countries are also listed as a Level 3 advisory or higher:

  • France (Level 4)
  • Italy (Level 3)
  • Germany (Level 4)
  • Spain (Level 3)
  • United Kingdom (Level 4)

Moreover, Cancún lags far behind some of the most deadly cities in the United States regarding violent crime.

For example, according to World Population Review, Detroit, Michigan, has a violent crime rate of 2,007.8 per 100,000 people annually.

In contrast, Cancún has a violent crime rate of 64.

We’d still feel safe visiting places like Detroit, St. Louis, and New Orleans if we knew we’d have to apply common sense and stay away from the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

Of course, using common sense applies in Mexico, too.

  • How Does Cancun Compare?
  • Useful Information

The need for a visa in Mexico is determined by the country from which you are traveling. Citizens of the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, and Japan are not required to obtain a visa.However, you may need one if you visit Mexico for reasons other than tourism. You must apply for your visa on your own. The process of obtaining a visa in Mexico is relatively straightforward. It costs $44 to process and takes roughly two business days. Mexico tourist visas are valid for 180 days and can be used several times.

The Mexican Peso is the official currency. Credit cards and ATMs are widely available, and international cards are accepted in Cancún. Money can easily be exchanged at banks and exchange bureaus.

Cancún is a year-round destination due to its tropical environment. The summer months of late June and July are the hottest.I advise packing light clothing, but not only beachwear. Layers and items you don't mind getting wet during an unexpected downpour are recommended. And don't forget the sunscreen and bug spray!

Cancún is served by Cancún International Airport, Mexico's second busiest airport, about 10 miles from the city center. I advise arranging a shuttle pick up from the airport with your hotel before your arrival.

Travel Insurance

Before visiting Cancún, make sure you have travel insurance that covers medical issues as well as theft and loss of personal things. You never know what can happen while not in your nation.

Cancun Weather Averages (Temperatures)

  • Average High/Low Temperature

Mexico - Safety by City

Explore cancun.

  • 11 Things to Do in Cancun With Kids
  • Where to Next?


13 Reviews on Cancun

Had a wonderful time there.

The first time I wanted to go to Cancun I was thinking it would be quite dangerous so seeing your review of the city would have surprised me. But, the truth is, the city is safe and well protected and me and my family had a wonderful time there.

totally agree

It was very fun

I can attest to some policemen accepting bribes as I’ve encountered this. It’s sad to see it happen but it’s not the only place I’ve traveled where I encountered it. I generally had loads of fun while in Cancun and I will be going back soon.

Going again in January

Went there in January of this year and I will be going again next year, also in January. I was with a couple of friends and everything went well. Lots of tourists, lots of attractions and lots of fun moments.

I have been living in the middle of Cancun for the last 3 weeks ,It’s safe with great hard working , respectful and kind people . Come on down and experience it for yourself and don’t believe n propagandas ,there more crime in the USA than in Mexico . Anyone can recommend any language School in Cancun? Appreciate it.

we just returned from Cancun. if you stay in the tourist zone there is plenty of safety in place. we left the zone by mistake on a bus and it was frightening. Mexico is full of crime,more vicious gangs than America. we don’t bribe police and in Mexico you are expected to pay when they say you did something that is not true. Cancun is beautiful but a bubble for safety to protect our money that is spent in the area. I am told many Cartels now own these areas of control and keep crime lower. Just like Vegas. the Mob keeps you safe. if someone commits a crime in Vegas against you they may be found in the desert if found ever. I notice this last visit NO police had machine guns or big guns like last time. they all had hand guns strapped to their leg.that was a big change in Cancun.

Not at all…

Violence and danger for women is really high in Cancun. There is a lot of kidnappings and sex trafficking right now, stay safe y’all

Agreed. This site tries to hide the ever increasing dangers – like beach invasions .. c’mon. 2021 is not like the past.

Cancan was great

Had fun in Cancun in December 2021, It was the perfect end to a great year! Yes, I know some of you might not agree, but to me, it was a blast, my wife and I decided since we are working remotely we will travel together as a family the entire year and so we did! we saw so many things this year it’s just crazy!

I came back to this website from time to time to check the safety of where we are going, I usually read the review and other people’s reviews to see some first-hand experience for wherever it is we are traveling next to.

We’ve enjoyed our stay

My review will be for my past experience though recent events like the 2021 fall shootings made me less eager to go back. Cancun is clearly not what it used to be, which is quite a shame. If a while ago clashes between gangs were not happening that close to tourist areas, now you simply don’t know what to expect. Obviously you can’t compare Cancun with Mexico as a whole, where personal safety is quite an issue.

ATMs withdrawals should only happen inside banks or malls – if you happen to bump into any – all while being super careful, especially if there’s someone around you.

As for wandering around, it would be a hard pass for me, regardless if I have a guide or not. I would recommend sticking to the areas around the hotel/beach.

I would also add Isla Mujeres on your list, gorgeous blue waters paired with smooth white sand. This is one of their best destinations if you’re into watersports. I don’t know exactly how things are there now with the whole covid pandemic going around though, I would ask the travel agency you’re using if this is still on.

Zona Hotelera is another safe place, meaning the whole touristy area, with hotels and restaurants. This makes it very safe for tourists regardless of the time of the day. At night Travel insurance is an absolute must! I know this is generally the rule regardless of the destination but healthcare for tourists is so expensive in Mexico.

We traveled as a couple but I’ve seen a lot of families with toddlers so I’m guessing it’s family friendly as well. We enjoyed our stay there, had zero contact with pickpockets, the hotel staff was lovely, they even recommended we try several activities on Isla Mujeres. Loved it there but like I said, I don’t think I’m going back anytime soon.

Cancun is very safe enjoyed my trip

have been to el dorado royale for the past 8 years. and not one single problem. best resort and food is awesome. I highly recommend it. don’t look for trouble and you’ll be ok.

great country just stay in your resort and only go to big landmarks

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Article Contents

  • Cancun : Safety by City
  • Overall Risk
  • Transport & Taxis Risk
  • Pickpockets Risk
  • Natural Disasters Risk
  • Mugging Risk
  • Terrorism Risk
  • Women Travelers Risk
  • Tap Water Risk
  • Weather Averages (Temperatures)
  • User Reviews
  • Share Your Experience

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Is Cancun Safe to Travel to? Your 2024 Local’s Guide

If you are planning to head to the Mexican Yucatan on your travels this year, you might be curious about safety in Cancun. The Quintana Roo capital is one of the most popular travel destinations in the country, and millions of international tourists enter Mexico through Cancun International Airport each and every year.

Most trips here are trouble free and memorable for all the right reasons, even if Cancun does get some negative press from time to time. So is Cancun safe for tourists? Yes, Cancun can be a perfectly safe place to visit as long as you take some common sense precautions. 

You are in good hands here because I live in the Yucatan and spend a fair bit of time in Cancun each year. 

Table of Contents

Is Cancun Safe to Travel to in 2024?   

For the most part, Cancun is a safe place for tourists and I have no hesitation in recommending it to you as a place to spend your vacations – whether you are traveling with friends, as a family, or completely solo as part of a wider Yucatan itinerary. 

Some parts of Cancun are a little sketchy and rough around the edges but areas that tourists frequent are kept safe by the local authorities. So when you touch down in the Mexican Caribbean, you can expect all of the wonderful things that put this area on the map in the first place – excellent food and Yucatecan delicacies, friendly locals, gorgeous beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters, and some of the best Mayan ruins in the Yucatan just a stone’s throw away. 

Cancun has an excellent tourism infrastructure 

One great thing about traveling to Cancun, particularly if this is your first time traveling to Mexico, is that the area has great tourism infrastructure in place. By that I mean, since this is such a popular travel destination, you will find that English is widely spoken and it is very easy to find different tour companies and local guides that will help you organise excursions, day trips and activities. 

Public transport-wise, Cancun is very well connected to other places in the Yucatan peninsula both by bus and the new Maya train that completed its first few journeys in December 2023. 

Where to Stay in Cancun for a Safe Experience 

There are a couple of key areas to consider basing yourself in during your time in Cancun, depending on your personal preferences. 

The Hotel Zone

The Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera) is the main tourist area that consists of luxury hotels and resorts, boutique stores, and a diverse selection of bars and restaurants serving cuisines from across the world. 

Many tourists choose to stay here and many never leave its borders. Opting to stay in a hotel or resort on this six mile strip means waking up directly on the beach every morning, enjoying some of the best sunset views in town. 

When the sun goes down, the hotel zone offers some of the most vibrant nightlife in town. Officially, this area actually consists of three different sub-sections: the North Hotel Zone, which is relatively peaceful and has a nice beach with calm, quiet waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkelling. 

The Middle Hotel Zone boasts some excellent restaurants, particularly around Nichupté lagoon. Its beaches are gorgeous but the waters here can get a little choppy and rough and are not the best for families with kids.

Finally, the South Hotel Zone and Punta Nizuc is very quiet, somewhat more exclusive, and is home to several luxurious resorts with private stretches of beaches. 

The Hotel Zone is very safe and you will mostly find tourists here. There is a police presence on the streets, and only registered hotel guests are allowed to enter the various resorts. 

You could essentially walk along the strip in its entirety but I would recommend doing so in the early morning or evening to avoid the heat and humidity. 

Punta Cancun 

Punta Cancun is the main nightlife hub of Cancun, home to many famous clubs like Coco Bongo, The City and Monkey Business Cancun, as well as more laidback and fun beach bars, countless dining options, and lots of great taquerias and comfort food spots where you can grab a late night taco or burrito after a night of partying. There are hotels here to accommodate a variety of budgets, but this is arguably not where you want to stay if you want to get an early nights sleep. 

Punta Cancun is still very safe, and is situated on the northern end of the Zona Hotalera. If you base yourself here, you are a short walk away from the stunning white sand beaches of Playa Gaviota Azul and Playa Caracol. 

Is Downtown Cancun safe? 

Downtown Cancun is mostly safe and can be a good place to base yourself if you are on a bit of a budget, or you want to be near the centro ADO bus stations so that you can visit other parts of the Yucatan. I often stay in a hotel just off Avenida Tulum when I arrive back in Cancun after an international flight, before taking the bus to where I live in Merida.  

You could consider the “center” of Tulum as extending from Parque El Crucero to the north, to Plaza Tropical in the south, heading eastwards out to Mercado 28 and Catedral de Cancún. Since there are a lot more locals here, the vibe is a lot more authentic and in particular, you can find some really amazing taco stalls and street food places offering regional fare at non tourist prices. 

Downtown Cancun can look a little ugly and rundown in places but it is pretty safe during the day. Just use your common sense about heading down any quiet, isolated looking side street. 

Is Mercado 28 safe? 

Mercado 28 is perfectly safe despite conflicting advice online, though it isnt really a “local” market selling things like fruits and vegetables anymore, and has become a bit of a tourist trap selling souvenirs. 

Areas to avoid in Cancun

Virtually every global city has its less than desirable areas and that includes Cancun. During your visit, you are best avoiding the below barrios.  

Honestly, they do not offer anything of interest to tourists anyway. 

  • Valle Verde
  • Santa Cecilia 

Arriving at Cancun International Airport (CUN) 

It is a good idea to pre-arrange your transport/airport transfer from Cancun airport to your accommodation. Some luxury properties in the hotel zone and elsewhere in the Riviera Maya may offer you complimentary airport pickup but otherwise, arrange a private transfer. 

Uber is banned at Cancun Airport and only licensed cabs are allowed to operate here. Unfortunate the prices are extortionate (often more than double what the correct rate should be) and a lot of toots wait outside Arrivals harassing tourists. 

Trust me when I say you will save yourself a decent chunk of change, and make your experience a lot more comfortable and pleasant by pre-arranging an airport transfer. That way, you also have the assurance that someone will be waiting for you when you pass through Cancun airport customs.

Crime in Cancun

Crime rates in Cancun are pretty high and the instances of violent crime here are among the highest in Mexico. While that is terrifying to read, it is important to note that most violent crimes are a result of clashes between criminal organizations and do not target tourists. 

406 homicides were reported in Cancun in 2022 , while various news sources reported a decrease in crime in 2023, largely due to the crackdowns and preventative measures being taken by the Mexican government. 

In late 2021, an army unit known as the Cancun Tourist Security Battalion was implemented in the area and crime has decreased since. More than 8.4% of Mexicos GDP comes from tourism and Cancun generates billions (yes, billions with a B) of dollars worth of tourism revenue each year. It is within everyone’s interest to keep the tourists safe so that they keep coming. 

(The final figures for 2023 havent been published publicly yet but I will share them here once they are available!) 

There have been a few instances over the last few years where innocent bystanders and tourists have been caught in the cross fire of cartel shootouts but these instances are very rare and the chances of being in the wrong place at the wrong time are miniscule. 

To put things in perspective, Numbeo awards various global cities with a safety rating based on how comfortable residents feel there with 0 being very safe and 100 being very unsafe. Cancun has a moderate rating of 55.73 while Los Angeles is not dissimilar at 52.96.

Are there cartels in Cancun?

Yes, unfortunately, there is a strong cartel presence in Cancun and in recent years, the cartels have been fighting for territory. The presence of tourists in the area has no doubt been a contributing factor to this as there is now an increased demand for drugs and contraband among those who come to party in Cancun. 

In April 2023, eight bodies were found on beaches of tourist areas in Cancun and in May 2023, Sinaloa cartel member Héctor Elías Flores Aceves was arrested in conjuction with his movement of drugs into Cancun. 

(This is exactly why you should not get involved with drugs in Mexico, as you are directly contributing to this). As discussed above, the cartels do not target tourists but it can be unnerving to hear of these things happening. 

Review your government travel advice for Cancun and Quintana Roo 

It is always a good idea to check your government travel advisory page when you travel to a foreign country and that includes Mexico. The US Department of State offer a particularly comprehensive travel advice page for Mexico that offers a state-by-state breakdown of the security situation in each of Mexico’s 32 states. 

The state of Quintana Roo (where Cancun is located) is referenced as a place where you need to “exercise increased caution” while traveling to due to crime, but this only appertains to being vigilent as mentioned here. The adjacent states in the Yucatan peninsula of Campeche and the Yucatan states are the safest states in Mexico.  

US travelers can register in the STEP program while overseas. If there are any changes to the entry requirements or the situation in Mexico, they are usually updated via this page in real-time. 

Is Cancun safe for solo female travelers? 

Cancun is safe for solo female travelers. This entire website has been written by a solo female traveller in Mexico (me!) 

I am a big advocate for not letting your gender or physical appearance deter you from traveling anywhere you want to go. Fortunately, since Cancun and the Yucatan in general are such popular travel destinations, you will see tons of solo female travelers ambling around here.

Sometimes I do feel that I experience more creepy looks, catcalls and advances from men in downtown Cancun than I do in other parts of Mexico but it is never anything sinister. It is tough, but learn to ignore catcallers and don’t give them the power/importance to ruin your day. 

Dont walk alone at night and dont worry about standing out. People are so accustomed to seeing tourists of all shapes and sizes here that nobody will bat an eyelid that you are alone. 

If you want to be social, consider staying at a hostel (I like Selina Cancun) or just going on to events and barcrawls organized in one. (You can tag along even if you are not a guest). 

Is Cancun safe for families?

Yes, Cancun is safe for families traveling with children of all ages. Many of the hotels and resorts here are family-friendly and have things like kids clubs, activities and classes for kids, and childrens pools and playgrounds. 

There are other fun things that you can do with the little ones here like booking a place on the Captain Hook’s pirate show and dinner cruise , heading to adventure parks like Ventura Park , or exploring nearby beaches, islands, and ruins. With kids, your best bet is to stay in the Hotel Zone. 

Getting around Cancun safely 

Cancun is a large, sprawling city and it really isn’t walkable. You can walk up and down the Hotel Zone strip or around the downtown area but otherwise your best bet is to take Ubers and transfers.

The local bus network can be a little overwhelming to navigate and buses can be very hot and crowded as they are mostly used as commuter buses by Mexican workers. Never, I repeat never, get into a random street cab in Cancun. Always take Ubers or have your hotel set you up with a trusted driver.

Taking cabs and Ubers in Cancun 

Uber works in Cancun although its presence is not appreciated by everyone. It is banned in other parts of Quintana Roo state but you will find it in other large Mexican cities like Merida, CDMX, Puerto Vallarta, etc. 

The local taxi companies are not happy about the existance of Uber and there have been instances in the past where they have gotten into confrontation with Uber drivers. Since taxi drivers are very very likely to rip you off to an extortionate degree (it’s almost a certainty), I always use Uber. 

Due to this aggression, Ubers are not likely to pick you up outside main taxi hubs like the ADO bus station. Instead, walk a couple of blocks away from crowded areas and if you feel comfortable doing so, sit next to your driver in the passenger seat rather than in the back.

Taking street cabs in Cancun also puts you at risk of express kidnappings. This happens when an unsuspecting tourist gets into a cab and the driver holds them at knife/gun point and forces them to hand over their valuables and make maximum withdrawals from their ATMs.

Ubers are safe, although there are less drivers on the app here so you may have to wait longer for a ride. Some handy tips to follow when ordering an Uber in Cancun are detailed below. 

Safety tips for using Uber in Cancun

  • Check that the driver has completed a healthy amount of previous trips (100+) and has been on the platform a while
  • Check that the driver has a rating of 4.5 or above
  • Cancel the ride and look for another driver if neither of the above ring true – if you do this quickly, Uber will not charge you any fee
  • When the driver arrives, make sure that their vehicle and license plate match those on the app 

Taking ADO buses to other parts of Mexico 

You might want to take day trips from Cancun to places like Bacalar, Chichen Itza, etc. Domestic Mexican buses can be a comfortable, affordable, and safe way to get around. There are multiple bus stations in Cancun but the main one is the ADO Centro found in the downtown area. 

Intercity buses are safe, as are the roads in this part of Mexico which are well-maintained. 

There have been reports of people stealing bags from the overhead bins so if you are traveling with a handbag or a backpack, try and keep it with you rather than in a bin at the other end of the bus.

Personally I have never had any bad experiences and I have taken these buses dozens of times but it is always better to be safe than sorry. 

Useful tips for staying safe in Cancun 

I have summarised some handy tips to help you stay safe in Cancun below. Some of these are good practice wherever in the world you travel but I thought it was worth reiterating here. 

  • If your cell phone plan does not include Mexico (Some American and Canadian phone plans do), purchase a Mexican SIM card to stay connected. (I recommend Telcel and you can pick up a card at any Telcel store, Oxxo convenience stores, or the airport)
  • Ensure that you purchase comprehensive travel insurance before traveling to Mexico. Todays health is not promised tomorrow and medical bills can quickly become expensive. A good policy includes at least $250,000 USD worth of medical coverage, as well as additional extras like loss/theft of luggage, repatriation, and water sports
  • Make printed copies of all of your important documents
  • Keep your families and friends updated at home but never share your real-time location on social media
  • Keep your eyes on your personal belongings at all times. Do not leave your things unattended in a coffee place, etc
  • In crowded markets, walk with your backpack in front of you and if you spend a lot of time in Latin America, consider investing in a theft proof backpack.
  • Opt to pay in Mexican pesos. This is the legal tender in Mexico and while some touristic businesses may accept US dollars, they may try and trick you on the exchange

Can you drink the water in Cancun?

No. You cannot drink the water in Cancun or anywhere else in Mexico for that matter. While it is purified at the source, it often gets contaminated en route to your tap and can make you sick. 

Even Mexicans do not drink the water here. Fortunately, virtually all hotels and resorts will provide you with several bottles of complimentary water for each day of your stay. 

Then, you can easily buy more from any Oxxo, 7/11 or other convenience store and supermarket. 

Is Cancun safe at night? 

Cancun’s nightlife is one of the main draws of traveling here. Clubs like Coco Bongo are world-famous, while The City is the largest club in Latin America. 

If clubs aren’t your thing and you want to enjoy a more understated evening of good food and drinks, and perhaps a trip to a couple of chic cocktail bars or rooftop hangouts, you will love Taboo Cancun or Chambao. 

Heading out to bars is safe enough, but you want to make sure that you get an Uber home or have your hotel organize a pick up for you, rather than walk. Watch your alcohol intake and never leave your drinks unattended. 

The main issue/annoyance with experiencing Cancun by night is that everything is quite spread out rather than in one main area. Bars are scattered between the hotel zone, the downtown, and the marina, so you essentially have to pick one area and stick to it for that night. 

Take tours with trusted companies

It is easy to travel around the Yucatan independently, but if you prefer to take some of the stress out of managing the logistics of getting from A to B, you can opt to participate in an organized tour.

Many reputable tour companies operate throughout Cancun and the Riviera Maya and offer excursions to places like Chichen Itza, Ek Balam , and the beaches of the Yucatan. 

If you are traveling solo, these can offer a good way to meet other travelers. There are some interesting ruins, cenotes, and pueblos magicos that are simply inaccessible unless you are renting a car. 

These tours can be a good way to build up confidence and get your bearings when you first arrive. A selection of reputable Cancun tours is detailed below for your consideration.  

Best tours for 2024 and beyond

Book your place online in advance to avoid disappointment!

  • Cancun/Riviera Maya: Chichen Itza, Valladolid and Cenotes tour
  • Isla Mujeres catamaran tour from Cancun with lunch and open bar
  • Cancun: Cenotes and Tulum 5-hour guided tour
  • Xplor Park: all-inclusive entrance ticket
  • Riviera Maya: Coba and Chichen Itza tour with entrance and lunch
  • Cancun: Coco Bongo nightclub experience
  • Cancun: speedboat, jet-ski, and snorkel combo tour

Is Cancun safe for tourists in 2024? Final thoughts

I hope this article has helped to quash any concerns that you may have had about safety in Cancun. While there is crime in the area, it isnt directed at tourists, and millions and millions of people pass through the city every year. 

If it were so dangerous, we would be hearing about a lot more bad things happening, right? 

More than 80% of Quintana Roo’s economic activities come from tourism , and since this industry has created a lot of work and income for locals, tourists are well taken care of and nobody wants to deter them. 

If you are visiting Mexico for the first time, you might enjoy browsing this list of Mexico travel tips to know before you go . As I mentioned, I live in the Yucatan so if you need something, please dont hesitate to reach out via the comments below, or connect with me on social media. 

Have a safe trip and enjoy Mexico!

Buen Viaje! Melissa xo

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Melissa Douglas

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Is Cozumel safe to travel to in 2024? Safety is likely to be at the forefront of your mind if you are planning a trip…

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  • Last Updated On
  • August 20, 2023

Is Cancun Safe? A Quick Insider’s Guide To Travel Safety

Abigail Lewis

Is Cancun safe?

That’s a question you might ask when planning your dream vacation to this stunning beachfront city.

I hear you, and I’m here to help you navigate the situation with accurate information and expert advice for a worry-free experience.

In this article, we’ll address your concerns about safety in Cancun.

I’ll also share valuable tips based on firsthand experience to give you the confidence to enjoy your trip.

With some guidance, you’ll be sipping margaritas on the famous white sand beaches and creating unforgettable memories in no time.

So, is Cancun safe for first-time and infrequent visitors like you?

The short answer is yes, with a few precautions.

Stick around, and I’ll show you how to make the most of your trip while staying safe and carefree.

Is Cancun Safe: An Overview

is cancun safe

Cancun’s Safety for Tourists

So, you might be wondering, is Cancun safe for tourists like you?

The Mexican government is working hard to ensure Cancun remains a safe destination for tourists.

So, yes, Cancun is generally considered to be safe for tourists.

But remember that every travel destination has potential risks, and the best thing you can do is follow safety tips and always stay vigilant.

Violent Crime and Organized Crime

You might hear stories about violent and organized crime, especially in regions like Quintana Roo, Mexico.

But it’s important to remember that these incidents are often isolated and not targeted at tourists.

In fact, most violence cases reported in Cancun stem from inter-cartel disputes, which typically don’t impact the tourist areas.

As the table above shows, Cancun has a lower risk of violent crime than Mexico, with minimal impact on tourists.

Common Safety Concerns for Tourists

Of course, in any travel destination, there are some common safety concerns you should be aware of.

Here are a few tips to keep you safe on your Cancun adventure:

  • Be mindful of your surroundings and keep your belongings secure.
  • Avoid walking alone, especially at night and in unfamiliar areas.
  • Stick to well-lit, populated areas and avoid venturing into deserted places.
  • Refrain from flashing money or expensive items and keeping valuables out of sight.
  • Only use official taxis or ride-sharing services like Uber.

Travel Advisory and US Embassy Recommendations

Us state department travel advisory.

Planning a trip to Cancun?

The first thing you should do is review the current travel advisories.

As of October 5, 2022, the US State Department advises travelers to exercise increased caution in downtown Quintana Roo due to crime and kidnapping.

Crime can happen anywhere and anytime, even in popular tourist destinations like Cancun.

While these recent cases were not directed at tourists, it urges travelers to maintain high situational awareness to avoid potentially dangerous situations.

Stay informed, and check for these advisory updates before your trip to plan accordingly.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

Moving on, let’s talk about the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

STEP is a free service offered by the US Department of State that allows US citizens traveling abroad to enroll in their trip with the closest US Embassy or Consulate.

Signing up for STEP is like having a digital travel buddy keeping you in the loop.

By joining STEP, you can:

  • Receive important information from the US Embassy about safety conditions in Mexico
  • Help the US Embassy get in touch with you in case of an emergency
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest travel advisories and alerts

It’s a gem you’ll want to add to your travel arsenal.

US Embassy in Mexico City

Lastly, let’s address our point of contact: the US Embassy in Mexico City.

It’s important to know your nation’s embassy’s exact location, just in case you need their assistance in Cancun.

Here’s the essential info on the US Embassy in Mexico City:

  • Address: Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtémoc, 06500 Mexico City, Mexico
  • Phone: +52 55 5080 2000
  • Website: https://mx.usembassy.gov

In the wise words of travel expert Rick Steves, “When you travel, just remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable. It’s designed to make its own people comfortable.”

So, stay informed, connected, and always exercise caution when traveling.

Safety Tips for Traveling in Cancun

traveling in cancun

Transportation Safety

Getting around Cancun is a breeze if you’re mindful of your transportation choices.

Be cautious when hailing taxis, as not all drivers are trustworthy.

Stick to the official taxi services or use Uber for added safety.

When riding buses, keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas.

Staying Safe at Hotels and Resorts

Cancun is known for its luxurious resorts and hotels , many of which are located in the Hotel Zone.

Choose accommodations that prioritize safety and have positive reviews to ensure a worry-free stay.

It goes without saying, but don’t share your room number or personal information with strangers.

Traveling with valuables?

Utilize the safety deposit box in your room, and always lock your doors, even when you’re inside.

Beach and Ocean Safety

The white sand beaches of Cancun are world-famous .

Still, it’s important to stay vigilant while enjoying the sun and surf.

Stick to supervised beaches, swim with a buddy, and watch for warnings or flags indicating ocean conditions.

Pay attention to weather forecasts, and avoid swimming during the rainy season, as unpredictable weather can lead to strong currents.

Avoiding Scams and Petty Crime

When it comes to safety in Cancun, being aware of potential scams and petty crime is essential.

The good news is that you can drastically reduce your chances of falling victim to these annoying occurrences.

With some handy-dandy preventative measures and a bit of common sense,

ATM Scams and Cash Handling

One thing to be cautious of is ATM scams.

These can happen anywhere, so it’s always good to be vigilant.

Choose ATMs wisely, preferably those located within banks or reputable establishments.

If something seems off or the machine looks tampered with, find another one.

When handling cash, be discreet and try not to flash large amounts publicly.

Carry a reasonable amount of money for your day, and avoid carrying your entire vacation budget in your wallet.

If you need to exchange currency, stick to authorized exchange bureaus or banks.

And when paying for goods or services, stay alert for counterfeit bills and incorrect change.

Most importantly, trust your instincts.

If something feels off, chances are it probably is.

Passport and Personal Document Safety

The Yucatan Peninsula, including Cancun, is relatively safe.

Still, it’s best to take precautions with your passport and other important documents.

Here are some tips to help protect your personal belongings:

  • Keep your passport and other important documents in a safe place, like your hotel room safe or locked luggage.
  • Carry a photocopy of your passport, leaving the original stowed away.
  • Be cautious about sharing personal information with strangers or posting it online.
  • Don’t leave your belongings unattended, even during a quick trip to the restroom or when swimming at the beach.

Solo and Female Traveler Safety

solo and female traveler safety in cancun

Safety is a top priority for a solo female traveler, especially when exploring new destinations like Cancun.

The good news is that Cancun is generally considered safe for solo female travelers and backpackers.

Nevertheless, staying aware and taking precautions is essential to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.

Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers

1. Choose accommodations wisely

When booking your stay, opt for well-reviewed hotels or hostels in safe areas.

Check online reviews from other solo female travelers for up-to-date information on safety and security.

2. Be aware of your surroundings

Always stay alert, especially in crowded areas where pickpockets might lurk.

Trust your instincts; remove yourself from the situation if something doesn’t feel right.

3. Dress modestly

Adapting your wardrobe to suit the local culture and customs may help you avoid unwanted attention.

4. Plan transportation ahead of time

Book transfers or use trusted taxis to avoid getting lost or stranded, especially at night or when traveling between cities.

5. Keep your valuables safe

Carry a secure, cross-body bag to store your passport, money, and phone.

Don’t flaunt expensive items.

If you must bring one, keep it in the safe at your accommodation.

My Little Embarrassing Story

This reminds me of the time I first visited Cancun by myself.

I was naive and a little too excited to explore, so I didn’t fully plan my transportation ahead of time.

My adventurous heart was ready to embrace you, but my map skills?

Not so much.

I aimed for Playa Delfines, but my lack of Spanish had me zipping through a labyrinth of colorful streets instead.

There I was, a wayward traveler when a fragrant tamale stand lured me.

Enter the fabulous Carmen – tamale queen and Cancun sage.

She spotted my bewildered face and mother-henned me instantly.

With her lively daughter, Sofia, as my impromptu guide, I was off on an unplanned adventure.

We chatted about dreams and passion.

Carmen even shared her secret tamale recipe.

When the ocean breeze finally caressed my face at Playa Delfines, my heart was full.

I found the beach, but more than that – I stumbled upon the rich tapestry of Cancun’s soul through the hearts of its people.

Here’s to getting lost and finding treasures untold in the smiles of strangers.

Remember, you’re not alone in your solo adventure.

Countless other solo female travelers and backpackers have enjoyed Cancun safely.

By following these tips and staying vigilant, you’re all set for a fantastic, stress-free trip to this beautiful destination.

Regional Comparisons

When deciding to visit a new place, it can be helpful to compare it to nearby areas to put our concerns into perspective.

Here’s how safety in Cancun compares to other Mexican cities and regions.

Safety in Other Mexican Cities and Regions

Cancun is part of Quintana Roo, a Mexican state generally considered to be safe for tourists.

Compared to other states, popular tourist destinations like Tulum, Riviera Maya, Cozumel, and Playa del Carmen require standard travel precautions when visiting.

Now, let’s briefly examine the safety of some other cities and states in Mexico:

  • Tamaulipas : This northern border state has a particularly high crime rate, and travelers are advised to exercise extreme caution when visiting.
  • Zacatecas : While this central state might be famous for its cultural activities, travelers should be cautious due to increased violence and crime in recent years.
  • Colima : This small state has seen a rapid rise in crime, primarily due to drug gang violence. It’s best to avoid non-essential travel here.
  • Baja California : A popular destination, the region has had increased crime and violence, with tourists being advised to reconsider travel.
  • Jalisco : This state, which includes the beautiful city of Guadalajara, has experienced increased crimes, and tourists are advised to reconsider travel.
  • Yucatan : Home to Merida and the stunning Chichen Itza, the Yucatan is considered one of the safest states in Mexico, with a relatively low crime rate.
  • Michoacan : This state has experienced a significant number of crimes due to drug cartels. It’s best to avoid traveling to most parts of Michoacan.
  • Nayarit : While some areas in this state have increased violent crime, resorts like Punta Mita and Sayulita are considered safe for tourists.

It’s important to remember that safety can vary greatly depending on the specific region within a state.

Comparing Cancun to a completely different location, like South Carolina, might not provide a true sense of its safety.

Stick to popular tourist destinations, and exercise standard precautions during your travels to get the most out of your trip.

Parting Words

cancun hotels and resorts

So, is Cancun safe for you to visit?

Like any popular tourist destination, Cancun has its share of challenges.

But with some awareness and common sense, you can confidently enjoy the beauty and excitement that Cancun has to offer

Remember, it’s essential not to let your guard down, even in paradise.

Stay aware of your surroundings, avoid high-risk areas, and keep an eye on your belongings.

Opt for reputable tour operators and transportation services, and steer clear of walking alone at night in unfamiliar areas.

But don’t let these concerns dampen your spirits.

By staying aware and making smart choices, you can have the time of your life in Cancun.

That being said, don’t forget to savor the incredible moments Cancun provides.

You won’t get enough of this Mexican jewel with its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife , and rich cultural heritage.

Most importantly, enjoy the journey and trust yourself to navigate any situation.

You’ve got this.

Related: Which Part of Cancun is Good for Families?

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the safest place in cancun.

When choosing a place to stay in Cancun, you’ll want to prioritize safety. The Hotel Zone is considered very safe for tourists, with many top-notch resorts and hotels featuring private security. Stick to well-known, reputable properties, and always trust your instincts.

Is Cancun Safe To Walk Around?

Cancun is relatively safe to walk around, especially in the Hotel Zone and other tourist-centric areas. Exercise common sense precautions like keeping your belongings secure and avoiding wearing flashy jewelry. As a rule of thumb, stick to well-lit, populated streets and avoid wandering into unfamiliar areas alone.

What’s The Status of Cancun Airport’s Safety?

Cancun International Airport is a major tourist hub, so safety measures are in place to ensure a smooth experience for visitors. Keep an eye on your bags and be cautious when hiring transportation. Opt for authorized taxis or pre-arranged car services, and avoid accepting rides from strangers.

How Is Solo Female Traveler Safety Like In Cancun?

Solo female travelers can enjoy a safe trip to Cancun by following standard safety tips. Stick to well-trafficked areas, be cautious when sharing personal information with strangers, and avoid walking alone at night. Trust your intuition, and don’t be afraid to say no to uncomfortable situations.

What Are The Current Travel Restrictions In Cancun?

Staying current on the latest travel restrictions is essential due to the ever-changing global situation. Mind that restrictions may vary based on your nationality or departing country. Before your trip, check the official government travel advisories or consult your travel agent to ensure you have the most accurate, up-to-date information.

Is It Safe To Go To Cancun At Night?

Remember to exercise caution while enjoying Cancun’s vibrant nightlife. Stick to popular areas like the Hotel Zone and avoid venturing into poorly-lit or unfamiliar neighborhoods. Keep your valuables secure, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, and never leave drinks unattended. As always, trust your instincts and opt for safer, well-regarded venues.

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Is It Safe to Travel to Mexico? Here’s What You Need to Know.

A spate of incidents, including a kidnapping and the death of two Americans near the border, have prompted travel warnings from the U.S. government.

travel to cancun safe

By Elisabeth Malkin and Isabella Kwai

Two Americans found dead after they were attacked and kidnapped near the border. Airports shuttered amid gang violence in Sinaloa. Turmoil among taxi drivers in Cancún.

A number of recent security incidents have raised concerns about the risks of traveling to Mexico, where more than 20 million tourists flew last year to visit the country’s beaches, cities and archaeological sites, or to obtain health care .

Ahead of the spring break holiday, a popular time for American tourists to visit the country, the U.S. Embassy issued a travel alert , urging visitors to exercise caution by avoiding dangerous situations and drinking responsibly, among other recommendations. “Crime, including violent crime, can occur anywhere in Mexico, including in popular tourist destinations,” the alert said. And the State Department has warned tourists to steer clear of six states, including the state of Tamaulipas, where the recent kidnapping occurred — and to exercise increased precautions in other popular destinations like Playa del Carmen, Cancún, Tulum and Mexico City.

An overwhelming majority of visitors enjoy a safe vacation in Mexico, and tourists are largely sheltered from the violence that grips local communities. But the attack and kidnapping of four Americans in the border city of Matamoros, two of whom were later found dead, along with recent disorder in Cancún and violence in early January that forced the closure of three airports in northwest Mexico, is prompting questions about whether the country’s broader unrest is spilling into other destinations.

What happened on the border?

On March 3, four Americans from South Carolina traveling in a white minivan crossed the border from Brownsville, Texas, into the city of Matamoros, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. One of the Americans was scheduled for cosmetic surgery.

Soon after the Americans crossed the border, gunmen fired on their vehicle and then abducted the group in a pickup truck. Officials later said that two of the group were found dead at a rural location alongside the other two, who had survived.

The Americans were attacked as a result of “confusion,” according to Irving Barrios, the state prosecutor in Tamaulipas. Matamoros has a long history of violence and highway shootouts, though that reputation has partially subsided in recent years. Then, in late February, one gang moved into the city to wrest control of drug sales from another, said Eduardo Guerrero, the director of Lantia Intelligence , a security consulting company in Mexico City.

“There are places in the country where the situation can change abruptly from one week to another,” he said. While the motives in the attack remain unclear, the Americans had “very bad luck,” Mr. Guerrero said, because they likely stumbled into a battle between the two gangs.

What happened earlier this year in Cancún?

Uber has been challenging the taxi unions for the right to operate in Cancún and won a court decision in its favor on Jan. 11. The ruling infuriated the powerful unions, which are believed to have links to local organized crime figures and former governors. Taxi drivers then began harassing and threatening Uber drivers.

The conflict generated widespread attention after a video of taxi drivers forcing a Russian-speaking family out of their rideshare car went viral, and after unions blocked the main road leading to Cancún’s hotel zone. That prompted the U.S. Embassy in Mexico to issue a security alert .

Mr. Guerrero said that the authorities will try to negotiate some kind of compromise, but there was a probability of more violence ahead.

Have authorities curbed violence that might affect tourists?

As a rule, criminals in Mexico are careful not to kill tourists, Mr. Guerrero explained, because doing so “can set in motion a persecution that can last years,” the consequences of which can be “very dissuasive,” he said.

But the rule doesn’t always hold. And in two popular destinations for foreign tourists — Los Cabos , at the tip of the Baja California peninsula, and the Caribbean coast — local and state officials have recently sought help from the United States to take on organized crime that threatened to drive off tourists.

A spasm of violence at the end of 2021 and early 2022 rattled the tourist industry along the Riviera Maya, the 80-mile strip of Caribbean resorts south of Cancún. Two visitors were killed in crossfire between local gangs in Tulum; a gunfight on a beach in Puerto Morelos sent tourists running for cover into a nearby hotel; a hit man gained entry to a luxury hotel in Playa del Carmen and killed two Canadian tourists believed to have links to organized crime.

The federal government sent National Guard units to patrol the beaches, and Quintana Roo state authorities asked U.S. law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, to provide intelligence, Mr. Guerrero said. Local authorities, flush with tourism revenues, invested in the police, which is typically the weakest link in Mexican law enforcement.

The joint approach led to a lull in gangland gun battles in Quintana Roo’s tourist areas, and experts say that drug sales to meet foreign demand no longer take place on the street, although they are continuing more discreetly.

The success in tamping down drug violence in Quintana Roo follows a similar improvement in Los Cabos a couple of years ago when U.S. authorities also collaborated with local officials in the state of Baja California Sur. The murder rate soared in Los Cabos in 2017 amid cartel wars, and although tourists were not targeted, that year police chased gunmen into the lobby of a luxury hotel in San José del Cabo, and a cooler containing two heads was left in a tourist area.

What about tourist areas in other states?

Even in states where crime is very high, tourist areas have generally been spared. San Miguel de Allende, a haven for U.S. retirees, is an island of relative peace in a state, Guanajuato, that has been riddled with cartel violence .

The Pacific Coast state of Jalisco, home to the resort of Puerto Vallarta, picturesque tequila country and the cultural and gastronomic attractions of the state capital, Guadalajara , is also the center of operations of the extremely violent Jalisco New Generation Cartel . The cartel’s focus of violence is in the countryside; Puerto Vallarta and the beaches to its north, including the exclusive peninsula of Punta Mita and the surfers’ hangout of Sayulita, are all booming — and, despite drug sales, the cartel’s control seems to limit open conflict.

Mexico City has become a magnet for digital nomads and shorter term visitors , and concerns about violence there have receded. The city’s police force has been successful in reducing violent crime, particularly homicides, and the number of killings has been cut almost in half over the past three years.

Are there any other safety concerns?

Street crime is still a problem almost everywhere, especially in bigger cities and crowded spaces. Kidnapping and carjacking are a risk in certain regions and many businesses that cater to tourists operate under extortion threats. While tourists may not be aware of underlying criminal forces, their power sometimes spills out into the open in spectacular shows of violence.

The attack in Matamoros is only the most recent example. Mexican border cities, which have long endured waves of violence, are not typically tourist destinations, although Americans often cross the border to visit family, seek out cheaper health care or dine at restaurants.

Three airports in the state of Sinaloa, including the beach destination Mazatlán, were closed on Jan. 5 amid gang violence after Mexican security forces arrested Ovidio Guzmán López, a son of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the crime lord known as El Chapo, who is serving a life sentence in the United States. A stray bullet fired by cartel gunmen shooting at a Mexican military plane as it landed at the airport in the state capital, Culiacán, clipped an Aeromexico plane preparing to take off for Mexico City. Nobody was hurt and the plane returned to the terminal.

In August, gunmen positioned burning cars and buses to block roads around Guadalajara in response to a military raid on a meeting of criminal bosses. In October, a local politician was shot and killed in an upscale steakhouse in suburban Guadalajara as terrified diners crawled to safety.

Pierre de Hail, the president of Janus Group Mexico, a risk management company in Monterrey, is skeptical that security has improved. “There is too much random risk,” he said. “It’s all about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

What precautions should tourists take?

Mr. de Hail recommends researching the resort and news from the area you’re visiting. The U.S. State Department provides state-by-state information about travel risks in Mexico. As of early March, the department had issued its strongest possible warning — Level 4: Do Not Travel — for six states, including Tamaulipas and Sinaloa. Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur are at Level 2, indicating that visitors should exercise increased caution. (By comparison, the same Level 2 advisory is applied to France and Spain.)

The Matamoros incident shows how violence can flare up in places that have been quiet recently. Mr. Guerrero suggests searching on the internet before traveling for news of recent outbreaks.

Mr. de Hail also suggests buying travel insurance in case of a medical emergency or theft, and recommends that tourists keep a low profile to avoid attracting attention, he said, warning that it is easy to misread situations.

As anywhere, common sense should prevail, Mr. de Hail said: Don’t wear expensive watches or jewelry, and avoid dark and deserted places. He recommends making a copy of your passport, remaining alert while walking home at night and not leaving your drinks unattended. “I have had numerous cases of people asking for help because they were extorted coming back from bars,” he said.

He added: “If you’re staying in a place that has a report of strikes or demonstrations, don’t go there. You’re a fish out of water.”

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram , Twitter and Facebook . And sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to receive expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2023 .

Isabella Kwai is a breaking news reporter in the London bureau. She joined The Times in 2017 as part of the Australia bureau. More about Isabella Kwai

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Iceland:  The country markets itself as a destination to see the northern lights. But they can be elusive, as one writer recently found .

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Should travelers worry about being kidnapped in Mexico? Travel experts discuss safety in Mexico.

travel to cancun safe

The high-profile case of four U.S. citizens being kidnapped in Mexico sent shock waves through the nation. Two were killed last week after getting caught in the crossfire of cartel violence in the border city of Matamoros. 

Many are wondering what's next for the popular tourist destination, and whether Mexico is safe for travel. 

The four Americans – one woman and two men from South Carolina – crossed the southern border for cosmetic surgery last Friday when a cartel shootout erupted.

Social media videos show the gunmen pulling the Americans from their car and driving away, all during daylight. Mexican officials announced Tuesday that they had found two dead. the other The two survivors were escorted back to the U.S.

Is it safe to take a taxi in Cancun?: Here are the safest ways to get around, per travel agents.

Learn more: Best travel insurance

With 2 Americans dead in Matamoros: A cartel-scarred Mexican border town wonders what's next

Violence around border cities is not unusual and can involve Mexicans or migrants with little public attention, but it typically doesn't involve Americans. Officials said the abduction was probably a case of mistaken identity , but the FBI is investigating further.

Meanwhile, questions arose on how the Mexican and U.S. governments will respond, which could affect regular travel to Mexico. A heavy-handed response could likely mean "a wave of violence where it gets worse before it gets better," said Michael Ballard, director of intelligence at Global Guardian , a firm that specializes in travel security. 

Currently, the travel advisory for Mexico warns Americans of crime and kidnapping. On Tuesday, White House press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the State Department takes it "seriously" when it comes to providing "clear, timely, and reliable information about every country in the world ... so they can make informed travel decisions." 

Is Mexico safe to travel to?

In 2021, nearly 29 million American travelers  headed down to Mexico. That same year, about 75 American citizens died by homicide in Mexico, according to the most recent U.S. State Department statistics. 

Mexico is "a tricky place" when it comes to travel and safety because "the security landscape and the security dynamic is so different state to state and city to city," according to Ballard. 

Unlike some other countries, Mexico's travel advisory assesses each state individually. 

The agency issued a "do not travel to" warning for the Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas state because of violent crime.

"You probably don't want to go to one of these border cities" because cartels "contest these ports of entry pretty heavily and fight for their economic control," Ballard said.

When it comes to the "do not travel to warning," Jean-Pierre said, "We've been very clear about that. The State Department, again, has put that out. We urge Americans to read these alerts before traveling."

Popular tourist spots like Quintana Roo, Nayarit and Mexico City have warnings of "exercised increased caution when traveling to" and Jalisco, where Puerto Vallarta is, has a "reconsider travel to." Travelers can "exercise normal precautions" when traveling to Yucatan, which includes the popular attraction Chichén Itzá.

How likely is it to encounter cartel violence? 

"I don’t think anyone can ensure 100% clearance on (avoiding cartel violence), unfortunately. We know that Mexico has been plagued by drug violence, and cartels are in many parts of the country, just as in other nations," said Vanessa Karel, a Latinx entrepreneur who founded Greether , a travel startup that helps women travel with fewer risks. 

"However, it is well documented that some areas have a higher presence of violence. Please do your due diligence on which areas these are," she said. Steer clear of these areas and avoid taking part in anything drug-related, Karel advised. 

Ballard agreed and offered this analogy: "Getting struck by lightning is a really rare occurrence, but if you are standing on top of a tree in a thunderstorm, those odds go up. That's how I view being in and around some of these higher-risk cities in Mexico, the border cities."

Getting caught in cartel activity is less common somewhere like Cancun than it is in Colima.

Because Mexico's economy heavily depends on tourism dollars, cartels "tend to stay away from harming or hurting Americans because they know the response would be pretty severe," Ballard said.

The Mexican government has also implemented several initiatives to maintain safety in high-tourist areas, like deploying tourist police forces to high-traffic visitor areas. These officers are easy to spot and usually speak English.

"Travelers will have fewer risks by staying at highly rated hotels, areas and booking tour guides to show them around," Karel said. 

Should people be worried about being kidnapped in Mexico?

Being "in the wrong place at the wrong time" is the main risk for Americans and cartel activity, Ballard said. It's rare for Americans to be kidnapped by cartels for ransom.

He does warn of occasional "express kidnappings," which happen not just in Mexico but in other countries too. In this situation, a tourist who is likely drunk and wandering around downtown gets kidnapped, driven around to ATMs and forced to withdraw money. Usually, they end up being let go. 

As long as you stay in resort areas and use common sense, it should be relatively easy to keep safe. 

Check out USA TODAY's 17 travel safety tips from the CIA .

What should you do if you witness or encounter cartel crime? 

If you do witness or encounter cartel crime such as an express kidnapping or carjacking, Ballard said, you should report the case to the U.S. Embassy or to the local equivalent of 911. "You definitely want to have a record of something like that out there." Unfortunately, response times can be slow depending on where you are, he said. 

According to the State Department , if something happens, you'll probably be relying on local resources. 

Global Guardian clients, he pointed out, have a 24/7 panic button on the Global Guardian app, which will connect users to a safe haven, like a hospital. 

In some cases, he said, your response depends on the situation, and it may be best to cooperate. 

Top safety tips

Karel's top rule for traveling to Mexico is "to plan on going to places that are designed for you to go. If you are trying to visit an area that not even locals feel comfortable going to, don't attempt it, and please, simply avoid it," she said. 

She also advised people to have situational awareness. "We are concerned that travelers going to Mexico think they can go just about anywhere, especially when they don’t blend as a local," she said. Visitors "should be aware of how much they stand out and how little or how much they know about the area they are going to."

Here are some other safety tips when traveling in Mexico:

  • Travel during daylight hours and avoid walking around unknown areas, especially at night.
  • Don't walk around with jewelry or your head down looking at your phone because that makes you an easy target to get robbed, Ballard said. 
  • "Please ask trustworthy travel businesses and, most importantly, check travel advisories and what the tourism boards say. T they are there for a reason, and a lot of us are fighting to make cities safer and more sustainable," Karel said.
  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program , a free service for U.S. travelers to receive safety alerts about their destination from the U.S. Embassy in real time.
  • Before departing on your trip to a high-risk area, the State Department recommended you share important documents and points of contact with someone at home, and create a communication plan if something were to happen. 
  • Share your location via your smartphone with someone at home while you are abroad. 
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance for kidnapping or ransom. Depending on the plan, it can cover ransom payments, emergency evacuation costs, and payment for any negotiations needed. 

Contributing: Michael Collins, USA TODAY

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at [email protected]

The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

Is Cancun Safe to Visit in 2024? Travel Warnings And Safety Tips

Written By: ThePlanetD Team

Updated On: April 8, 2024

We have been to Cancun many times over the years, and one of the main questions that we always get is, “Is Cancun safe?” Truthfully, the situation has always been fluid, and while we have personally felt safe in Cancun, it is important to check your government website warnings, follow basic safety precautions, and be aware of your surroundings. Mexico takes its tourism seriously and they want international visitors to continue to spend their dollars, so they are working hard to keep Cancun safe, especially in the tourist zones and the tourist hotspots.

Table of Contents

Is Cancun Safe to Visit?

As of March 2024, the US State Department updated its 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 the country is still under a level 2 advisory.

As of March 2024, the Government of Canada notes that the region of Cancun has high rates of violent crime, such as homicides, kidnappings, carjacking, and assaults.

Cancun’s Current Safety Situation

Is cancun safe in 2024?

Cancun is located in the State of Quintana Roo, including Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, Cozumel, and the Riviera Maya. These areas bring in a lot of dollars into Mexico, and this is certainly one of the safer areas in the country, especially compared to other states. If you follow these tips and do your own research, you will find that you will feel a lot safer on your next trip should you choose to travel to Cancun.

Short Summary

Cancun’s security has been under a microscope due to incidents of criminal activity involving tourists. The Mexican government has taken great action to ensure the safety of visitors and citizens in Cancun. According to the US State Department, the Yucatan Peninsula is the safest region in Mexico for Americans in 2024. However, the State Department does have a travel advisory of “ exercise increased caution ” in the state of Quintana Roo.

  • Cancun is generally safe for travelers but take necessary precautions and take government website travel alerts into consideration.
  • Follow safety tips like avoiding walking alone at night and sticking to well-known establishments.
  • When traveling in Cancun, familiarize yourself with local laws, use reputable transportation services, and opt for filtered water!

Mexico Travel Advisories

Is Cancun safe to visit Cancuns current safety situation

For the latest advisory warnings, visit th e US State Department’s Website . Right now, the State Department website warns that ” Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico.” However, when you read further, it states, “Exercise Normal Precautions When Traveling To the Yucatan State.

**Update**: On February 27, 2024, the U.S. Embassy & Consulates In Mexico Department issued a warning for all U.S. travelers visiting Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean for Spring Break Travel in 2024. Only Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum were mentioned in the warning. You can check out the full message here and what they suggest.

Canada currently has a warning of “High rates of violent crime, such as homicides, kidnappings, carjacking, and assaults, including in popular tourist destinations such as the Mayan Riviera (Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos and Tulum), and Acapulco.” It states that drug cartels have a presence in tourist areas. There has been intergang fighting at establishments frequented by tourists where innocent bystanders have been killed or injured.

Incidents like this can happen in any large city or tourist destination. To put things into perspective, Cancun currently has a crime index of 56.33. When you look at the crime rate in New Orleans, Cancun is much lower than the rating of 67.92. See the comparison here.

Crime Rates in Cancun

Cancun has a crime rate that is similar to many major cities in the United States, most of which revolve around drug-trafficking turf wars and gang-related violence. Tourists are rarely the target, and if you keep yourself out of trouble. Avoid buying drugs, don’t stay out until the wee hours of the morning, and limit your alcohol consumption off the resort. By following common sense safety measures, you can lower your chances of any incident.

Compared to other Mexican cities, Cancun’s crime rate remains relatively low, meaning vacationers shouldn’t be too concerned about any crimes during their visit. However, they should still exercise a degree of caution.

Mexican Government’s Efforts

The Mexican government has increased security around Cancun International Airport by dispatching extra police forces and protection systems, in order to put a stop to petty crime that mainly targets travelers.

The Mexican government has taken extra security steps to protect Cancun’s standing as a favored tourist spot. These include a greater police presence at popular tourist areas such as resorts within the Hotel Zone , surveillance cameras, and gated entrances for visitors.

Initiatives were also undertaken to reduce corruption among law enforcement in this area, which resulted in the removal of numerous police officers from their posts and several top-level personnel from office due to misconduct. You can read about it here .

Collaboration between local companies and tourism workers also supports a safer atmosphere. Extra tourist police, state police, the National Guard, and even the Navy patrol the beaches.

The Hotel Zone

Is Cancun safe in the Hotel Zone

Staying within the Hotel Zone Cancun is one of the safest areas to stay in Cancun. Police patrols, surveillance cameras, and gated resorts all provide an extra layer of security for guests staying at the numerous high-end accommodations in this area. That doesn’t mean you should let your guard down, but we still recommend that you avoid walking alone at night or in secluded areas.

Cancun is a popular destination for Spring Break, and the kids love to party the nights away in the clubs of Playa del Carmen or Downtown Cancun. Our advice is to party responsibly. If you decide to go downtown Cancun to party for the night, exercise increased caution if you are going to local bars, stay in groups, don’t overdrink, and make sure to use an authorized taxi. It is when you drink too much and let your guard down that you become a target.

Best Practices for Staying Safe in Cancun

Best Practices for staying safe in Cancun

When vacationing in Cancun, it is important to remember that even though you are enjoying a vacation in popular tourist destinations, that doesn’t mean you let all common sense go out the window. A lot of people tend to think they are invincible on vacation, but this is when things can go wrong. Visitors to Cancun can have a great experience if they use common sense and exercise safety precautions. When visiting Quintana Roo or any other Mexican State, keep a few things in mind.

Cancun Airport Safety

Landing at the airport can be one of your most vulnerable times. The arrivals area is crowded and confusing, which makes it easy to fall victim to a travel scam. We recommend that you exercise caution and think before you accept any rides, offers, or help from a “good Samaritan.” Despite its relatively low rate of violent offenses, visitors entering through Cancun airport can still fall victim to potential scams such as fake taxi drivers and pickpocketing in crowded locations.

Our safety advice for landing at the airport is to a private transfer in advanc e to your hotel, keep an eye on your valuables, and don’t leave anything unattended. If you need cash, go directly to the ATM, but we suggest bringing American dollars and small bills with you.

Transportation Safety

Transportation Safety in Cancun

There are many different ways to get around Cancun. If you want more freedom, we recommend renting a car. We have also taken local transportation without incident. However, if you want to have added safety, booking an organized tour is a good option. You can book a night out bar hopping with a local guide, city tours with a guide, and excursions with a guide, making it safer to travel.

Taxis and Ridesharing Services

Travelers in Cancun can enjoy secure and reliable transportation options by utilizing authorized taxis or reliable apps like Uber. When getting into a cab, make sure to ask them to put on the meter. Also, plan your route beforehand, and be aware of the approximate costs before setting off so as not to be scammed.

Ridesharing services such as Uber are available in Cancun. But use caution as there have been reports of violence between taxi drivers and Uber drivers due to contract disputes. . If you are staying in a resort, we recommend using the taxi drivers with whom they have a contract; otherwise, you will have to go off the resort to book an Uber.

Buses and Public Transportation

Cancun’s buses and public transportation are typically reliable, inexpensive, and easy to access for anyone looking to discover the city. Public transportation is generally safe, but it is better not to ride it alone or late at night.

Rental Cars and Driving Tips

Using a rental car in Cancun can be an ideal way to enjoy the sights and attractions at your own pace. Make sure to book with trusted car hire agencies; we use RentalCars.com. You will have to get additional insurance Third Party Liability and Public Liability Insurance are mandatory. And make sure you avoid being on the roads after dark.

By observing these tips, people will reap all the benefits associated with renting cars while feeling safe traveling through Cancun’s streets and reveling in views of its glorious bright blue Caribbean Sea.

Food and Drink Safety in Cancun

Food and Drink Safety in Cancun

Food is generally safe to eat in Mexico, especially in popular destinations. We generally avoid eating raw foods unless they are cooked or can be peeled. When eating at restaurants, we always look for places packed with locals. This is how you know it will be fresh. Think about raw foods that would be washed in tap water. We don’t eat fruits and vegetables unless they are cooked or can be peeled.

Tap Water Safety

Visitors to Cancun should not drink unfiltered tap water, and it is recommended that they stick to bottled water. We like to use a SteriPen so that we don’t contribute to plastic and avoid ice.

Although tests may show local tap water as safe enough for drinking according to regulations, microorganisms can still be present, which could lead to health problems.

Street Food and Restaurant Precautions

We have eaten street food in Mexico, and it is delicious, but tourists should still be cautious when choosing where to eat. Don’t eat salad or vegetables that aren’t cooked, and make sure the meat is freshly cooked in front of you. You don’t want to eat something that has been sitting in the heat for hours. Select freshly prepared meals, steer clear of uncovered dishes, and go for a well-known, busy place to eat.

Health and Medical Safety in Cancun

Is Cancun Safe Health and Medical Safety in Cancun

When visiting Mexico in general we highly recommend having travel insurance. Medical emergencies can happen, and it is a small price to pay for peace of mind. You may also want to look into what medications and vaccines you need. Make sure that your routine vaccines are up to date, and you may consider additional vaccines. Hepatitis A and B are good to get, and you may want to update your tetanus. For up-to-date travel health notices in Mexico, visit the CDC website.

Mosquito-borne illnesses can also be an issue, so pack bug spray and wear lightweight long sleeves if going into the jungle. In case of a medical emergency, there are healthcare services available that tourists can access if required – adding another layer of protection on top of their Mexico travel insurance policy.

Is Cancun Dangerous for Solo Travelers?

Is Cancun Safe for Solo Travelers

Many people travel to Cancun as solo travelers, and it is considered generally safe to visit alone. Before traveling, solo travelers should research the area and let people know where they will be. Check-in with family and friends back home frequently by providing them with information about where you’ll be going during each part of your journey so they know your whereabouts. By adhering to these basic guidelines for security, an unforgettable trip awaits any adventurous solo traveler who decides to explore this picturesque Mexican destination.

Many of our recommendations, regardless of the destination, are to not walk alone at night or in secluded areas, so if you are traveling alone, stay in lit areas, don’t stay out too late, and stick with the crowds.

Make sure to choose a safe hotel in a good area, use trustworthy transportation services, and avoid any illegal drugs or areas with high crime. Signing up for local tours can provide additional safety as you’ll be able to go sightseeing in a group with an expert guide. Plus you’ll make friends with some other tourists.

Is Cancun Safe for a Solo Female Traveler?

Solo Female Travelers Safety in Cancun

Cancun is largely considered secure for solo female travelers as well. The same recommendations can be made to avoid deserted areas and walking alone at night, and take taxis. Choose safe accommodation, preferably in the hotel zone, and use common sense and take extra precautions.

Women are more vulnerable than male travelers, and a woman can catch unwanted attention. Don’t go out alone late at night, use trustworthy taxis, don’t wear expensive jewelry, and the hotel room safe for your valuables.

Hurricane Season

Hurricane season in Cancun typically runs from June through November, with the peak period occurring between August and October. Travelers considering Cancun as a destination often wonder about safety during these months. It’s important to note that while the risk of hurricanes exists, Cancun is well-prepared with robust infrastructure and comprehensive emergency plans in place to ensure visitor safety

Here’s the lowdown: yes, hurricanes can whip through, especially from August to October when things tend to peak. But, Cancun is pretty savvy when it comes to dealing with these big storms. The hotels and local officials have got it down to a science with solid buildings and tried-and-true safety plans that kick into gear when needed.

Plus, with all the advanced weather tech these days, everyone gets a heads-up well before a storm hits. So, while it’s smart to keep an eye on the weather, Cancun remains a fab spot for a beach vacation, even during the stormy months. Chill vibes and safety can totally go hand in hand here!

The Mexican Peso is the official currency of Cancun and Mexico, but establishments readily accept US dollar. Hotel ATMs often dispense US dollar currency over Mexican Pesos.

When withdrawing cash, try to use ATMs in secure locations like inside a bank or a busy mall, rather than those on the street, to keep things extra safe. And hey, while it’s tempting to carry a wad of cash to avoid transaction fees, it’s smarter to keep just enough cash for the day and use your credit card when you can. Credit cards are widely accepted and give you that extra layer of fraud protection. By keeping these practical tips in mind, you’ll make sure your financial dealings in Cancun are as smooth as the local tequila.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Cancun Safe to Travel FAQ

Is Cancun safe right now 2024?

The US State Department notes that Cancun has friendly locals and is one of the safest areas in Mexico, with a low crime rate. So you can have an amazing experience by planning your getaway to this destination come 2024! Relax, knowing you will be safe during your stay here. Making it absolutely unforgettable.

How safe is Cancun for American tourists?

The US State Department has assessed Cancun as one of the safest places to visit in Mexico, and thus, it is Safe for tourists making a trip there in 2024. To ensure you enjoy your time while still staying secure, practice caution with regard to where you go and who you talk to, and always be aware of your surroundings.

Is Cancun safe to walk around?

When visiting Cancun, travelers should always take precautions to remain safe. The Hotel Zone, in particular, offers a secure atmosphere with numerous all-inclusive resorts, international hotels, and beaches for visitors to enjoy without fear of crime rates that are low outside the hotel zone.

Overall it is possible to have an unforgettable trip when exercising caution and keeping safety measures at hand during your time here, which will result in a rewarding experience.

Is Cancun safe at an all-inclusive?

When it comes to booking an all-inclusive holiday in Cancun, you can be confident that the resort is secure. Most properties have measures such as security guards with firearms to make sure visitors feel safe during their stay.

With some planning and investigation beforehand, travelers will be able to enjoy a stress-free break away from home in one of Mexico’s picturesque cities.

Is it still safe to travel to Cancun right now?

With care and knowledge of local customs, Cancun is an excellent, relatively secure destination for travelers. Hence, caution and respect should be exercised to make sure a safe journey is had while visiting the area.

Stick to the Most Popular Tourist Destinations

When you’re planning a trip to Mexico and wondering about safety, it’s handy to know which spots are a bit spicier when it comes to risk. Some areas, particularly along certain parts of the northern border and specific regions like parts of Guerrero, have a bit more heat due to higher crime rates and travel advisories. Cities like Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez often make headlines, urging travelers to stay street-smart and keep up with travel advisories.

Some regions, like Colima, Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Michoacán, and Sinaloa, tend to be hotter on the risk radar due to higher crime rates and consistent travel advisories. While these areas can have their share of challenges, don’t let that put a damper on your whole itinerary.

Mexico is a vast country with safe and serene destinations in the most popular tourist destinations and off the beaten path far from the troubled spots. By staying sharp and keeping up with the latest travel advisories, you can navigate your way to a smooth and secure Mexican adventure. Remember, a little prep and awareness go a long way in making sure your vacation vibes remain as calm as a seaside sunset!

Our Safety Recommendations For Cancun

Is Cancun Safe to travel to Today

Cancun is an attractive tourist destination to visit, offering a secure holiday when the appropriate steps and precautions are taken. Staying up-to-date on safety updates, bearing in mind some basic security tips, staying up to date on current Mexico travel warnings, and keeping any dangers that may arise at bay will enable travelers to enjoy Cancun fully without worry.

So get ready for your trip by packing all you need (including sunscreen) for what promises to be an unforgettable experience – complete with sand, sunshine, and of course memories galore!

Plan Your Next Trip to Cancun with These Resources

  • Mexico City: Best Things to Do in Mexico City for an Epic Trip
  • Cancun: 21 Amazing Things To Do In Cancun
  • Cancun: Where To Stay In Cancun: Best Hotels And Areas For Every Budget
  • Playa Del Carmen: 29 of Best Things to do in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
  • Yucatan Peninsula: 23 Amazing Things To Do In Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula
  • Tulum: 23 Best Things To Do In Tulum
  • Puerto Vallarta:
  • 23 Best Beaches In Mexico
  • Best Mexican Dishes: 27 Most Popular Mexican Foods

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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About ThePlanetD Team

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1 thought on “Is Cancun Safe to Visit in 2024? Travel Warnings And Safety Tips”

We just got back and Cancun is extremely safe. We didn’t stay in resorts but three different locations and took local buses and walked around at night and at no time did we feel even the slightest concern about our safety or security. Using common sense travel, having a reasonable control of your faculties and not engaging in extremely risky behavior with strangers keeps any risk low. Mexican people are hard working, friendly and helpful.

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I've Been Visiting Cancun for Nearly 15 Years — Here's My Guide to the Mexican City

Beautiful all-inclusive resorts, white-sand beaches, and an underwater museum await in Cancun.

travel to cancun safe

  • Best Hotels & Resorts

Best Things to Do

Best shopping, best nightlife, best restaurants, best time to visit, how to get there, cities, neighborhoods, and islands to visit, how to get around.

Ben Girardi / Aurora Photos/Getty Images

Most of us know Mexico is one of the top travel destinations in the world. But do you know why? The answer is Cancun. Arguably one of the most iconic beach destinations in the world, Cancun as a city is what put Mexico on the radar for international tourism 50 years ago.

Before the 1970s, Cancun was little more than a stretch of sun-bleached beaches, thick mangrove jungles, lagoons, and tiny, remote fishing villages. The region we now know as Cancun's Hotel Zone was developed in the 1970s specifically for tourism. Today, the area is one of the most-visited beach destinations in the world.

I have been visiting Cancun regularly for nearly 15 years, which is baby steps in its lifespan, and yet I have seen the destination transform tremendously. Not only does it have the most photogenic beaches in Mexico , but it also has world-class entertainment, dining, natural attractions, and fabulous food. I also love that visitors are now venturing beyond the confines of their all-inclusive resorts to discover the more local side of Cancun, whether that's in its thriving Downtown or off the beaten path in the smaller surrounding beach villages.

And I'm not alone in my appreciation for Cancun. "The connectivity, entertainment and culinary options, and most of all, the Caribbean Sea and ultra-fine white-sand beaches are what I love about Cancun," said Zach Rabinor, founder and CEO of Journey Mexico and a Travel + Leisure A-List Advisor. 

He added, "My clients pick Cancun for the same reasons: easy accessibility from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Central and South America, Russia — just about everywhere in the world — and, of course, the Caribbean Sea and beaches, as well as the Mexican hospitality, food, culture, and history."

While travelers these days are branching out of their comfort zones and seeking far-flung, more remote destinations around the world, it is always nice to return to a place like Cancun that consistently delivers year after year.

"Cancun is the perfect destination to relax by the Caribbean Sea, be in touch with nature, learn history by connecting with Mayan culture, experience the best spa treatments you can find around the world, and delight your senses with incredible culinary options. Cancun really has it all," said Jimena Fernández, cluster director of marketing at Waldorf Astoria Cancun.

Dive deeper into this Mexico beach hot spot with our Cancun destination guide.

Top 5 Can’t Miss

  • Indulge in the quiet, impeccably chic luxury at Nizuc Resort & Spa, one of the finest hotels in Cancun.
  • Cruise in style aboard a private boat to Isla Mujeres for an afternoon of snorkeling or relaxing at one of the many laid-back beach clubs.
  • Dance until the early morning hours at Coco Bongo.
  • Stroll Huayacán Avenue for local-approved restaurants and bars like El Doctorcito Cancun.
  • Dip down to the quiet village of Puerto Morelos for some local shopping or a beautiful alfresco meal complete with live music.

Meet the Expert

  • Zach Rabinor is the founder and CEO of Journey Mexico and a Travel + Leisure A-List Advisor.
  • Jimena Fernández is the cluster director of marketing at Waldorf Astoria Cancun.

Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Cancun

Best Hotels & Resorts

Nizuc resort & spa.

Close enough to the airport, while still feeling a world away, Nizuc Resort & Spa is all about quiet, low-key luxury and stunning design. "This is a great five-star property on the southern end of Cancun, close to the airport, but not to the overcrowded Hotel Zone. It features multiple restaurants and excellent service," said Rabinor.

Waldorf Astoria Cancun

When the Waldorf Astoria Cancun opened in 2022, it turned quite a few heads. So much so that it was listed on T+L's 2023 It List . Perched on 100 acres of powdery soft beachfront, the 173-key hotel evokes that classic art deco Waldorf Astoria elegance, with a decidedly Caribbean coastal energy. The spa, as well as Malpeque, the property's restaurant, are two signature standouts. 

InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort, an IHG Hotel

Travelers looking for an exceptional hotel option should consider the InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort . Rabinor recommends it for its spectacular beachfront access. The King Signature Suite Ocean Front rooms are an absolute dream, with stunning terraces overlooking the sugary white sand.

Live Aqua Cancun

Cancun is practically overflowing with fabulous all-inclusive resorts . But my personal favorite is Live Aqua Cancun. This oceanfront, adults-only all-inclusive overlooks one of the best beaches in Cancun, with a wide selection of excellent restaurants, sparkling pools, and gorgeous ocean-view rooms. Select accommodations on the higher floors for upgraded perks like access to the Aqua Club Lounge. Tip: Be sure to book a table at Sea Corner for its toes-in-the-sand tacos and ceviches.

Excellence Riviera Cancun

What I love about Excellence Riviera Cancun is that it hits every note just right: gorgeous suites, meandering pools, a prime Caribbean beachfront location, and a sprawling spa. Be sure to experience one of the best hydrotherapy circuits in the region, and book a table at the chic, alfresco Lobster House for a memorable romantic dinner.

Grant Ordelheide / Aurora Photos/Getty Images

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

With a location at the northern end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Cancun is one of the best places in the world for snorkeling and scuba diving. Not only are the waters surrounding Cancun home to a brilliant array of beautiful coral and marine life, they are also home to MUSA, the Underwater Museum of Art, featuring 500 submerged sculptures used to promote the growth of coral life. If you’re visiting in the summer months, you may have the opportunity to swim alongside majestic whale sharks.

Archaeological Sites

Within driving distance from Cancun are some of the most impressive archaeological ruins in Mexico . Chichén Itzá is a three-hour drive away, while Tulum and Coba are approximately two hours by car. You can also explore Ek Balam, a lesser-visited Mayan archaeological site just outside of Valladolid.

Isla Mujeres

A quick 20-minute ferry ride from the mainland will put you on the sun-bleached beaches of Isla Mujeres . This gorgeous, laid-back island is known for its shimmery, translucent water, some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, and a low-key energy that is completely different from Cancun's frenetic Hotel Zone. Pick a beach club and lounge for the day on Playa Norte, or rent a golf cart to circumnavigate the island and discover its breathtaking vistas.

Downtown Cancun

While most tourists stick to the Hotel Zone, locals will tell you that Downtown Cancun is where the real treasures are unearthed. Hop on a bus or take an authorized taxi from your hotel to discover the brilliant street art, the food trucks at Parque Las Palapas, or the Hotel Zone skyline views from Malecón Tajamar.

Unique to the Yucatan Peninsula is the network of underground rivers and caves. These natural sinkholes, known as cenotes , are sacred spots in the Mayan world, believed to be entrances to the underworld. Today, they continue to be protected sites, and visitors can swim, snorkel, and explore these subterranean secrets. 

Elliot Jonch Garcia/Travel + Leisure

Luxury Avenue

Cancun is a paradise for luxury labels and internationally recognized brands. Luxury Avenue is one of the higher-end shopping malls within the Hotel Zone, home to shops like Cartier, Hermes, Patek Philippe, and Carolina Herrera.

Another affluent shopping center, La Isla is a hot spot for international brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Armani Exchange, Sephora, and Pull & Bear. La Isla is also an entertainment hub with the Sky Wheel, the third-largest panoramic Ferris wheel in Latin America, and an outpost of Ripley's Believe It or Not!

For local Mexican handicrafts and handmade souvenirs that are of a higher quality than what you might find in the Hotel Zone, Mercado 28 is one of the oldest flea markets in Cancun. Discover everything from T-shirts and tequila to food stalls and colorful gifts.

Jonathan Ross/Getty Images

There’s a reason Coco Bongo has been around for nearly 30 years. The legendary nightclub is by far the most famous in Cancun's Hotel Zone and the one that brings the most energy with nightly acrobatics, large-scale video projections, and nonstop music. Rabinor said, "Coco Bongo is a must-visit, but be forewarned — serious nightlife enthusiasts only."

Every night of the week is an epic party at Mandala, a nightclub with over-the-top, themed nights like Carnival Mondays and Gone Wild Saturdays. Brace yourself for neon lights, strong cocktails, and nonstop pulsing music from open until close. 

Recreate the energy and colorful kaleidoscope of the Xochimilco canals in Mexico City. The Xoximilco Cruise Cultural Mexican Fiesta is a tour package party that takes visitors aboard a traditional trajinera boat with all the trimmings: live music, folk dancers, and, of course, unlimited food, tequila, and beer. It's one of the most fun theme parks in the Cancun area, and a party you won't forget.

The City Nightclub

One of the most famous nightclubs in Cancun, The City has a reputation for a stellar set list and dazzling light show to match. It features multiple floors, including an open-air terrace, an indoor dance floor, and a live music stage.

One of the most popular LGBTQ+ bars in Cancun, 11:11 is a staple in the nightlife scene. Here, cocktails are strong, performances are elaborate, and DJs spin everything from hip hop and Latin tunes to EDM.

Sarah8000/Getty Images

Puerto Santo

Rabinor recommends Puerto Santo for its laid-back, open-air seafood dining directly on the beach. Fresh fish, oysters, strong cocktails, and a toes-in-the-sand setting make this one of the standouts for a relaxed and scenic dining experience in the heart of Cancun.

El Doctorcito

Along Cancun's Huayacán Avenue, El Doctorcito serves up exceedingly fresh Sonoran-style seafood. Crunchy tostadas topped with shrimp and local catch of the day, aguachiles , fish tacos, and even sashimi — you cannot order incorrectly at this local seafood joint. "Avenida Huayacán is the new area that most tourists do not know," said Fernández. "It's residential and very trendy, where many restaurants and bars are opening. It's definitely the place to be."

Siete Cielos Pizzeria by Frontoni

It's never a bad time for a classic Neapolitan pizza. So, if you're (understandably) craving one in Cancun, Rabinor recommends heading to Siete Cielos Pizzeria by Frontoni. Located near Puerto Cancun, the funky alfresco joint serves wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, calzones, and sweet treats.

If you still haven't quite satisfied that Italian craving, Rabinor says Cenacolo serves the best Italian food in the city. The elegant restaurant has an impeccable wine list, gorgeous cocktails, and a menu of handmade pasta that may have you Googling the next flight deal to Rome. 

Marbella Fish Market & Raw Bar

A personal favorite of mine in Cancun, Marbella Fish Market & Raw Bar is much more than a fresh seafood restaurant; it's also an experience. Make your way through the aisles of a small grocery store to be rewarded with a gorgeous restaurant terrace. Choose your own freshly caught seafood from the display case and the chef will whip it up to perfection.

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The best time to visit Cancun is from November to March. Expect hot days and cool evenings, with minimal rainfall. Rabinor recommends November, in particular, for the slightly cooler, drier weather and absence of winter cold fronts.

That said, you'll find the best deals in Cancun over the rainy season, which begins in June. Hurricanes and tropical storms most likely occur from September to October, but this is when hotel and flight prices are at their lowest. 

The summer months are best for diving and snorkeling, particularly if you want the chance to swim beside the elusive whale sharks. Keep in mind summer will mean much hotter temperatures coupled with high humidity. 

Cancun is one of the easiest destinations to reach in Mexico. The Cancun International Airport is the second busiest in the country, with direct international flights from more than 30 cities in the U.S.

Once on the ground in Cancun, most hotels offer transportation services for a fee. You can also book taxis, shuttles, and private transfers ahead of time. One thing you cannot take in Cancun is Uber. It exists, but because of tensions between the taxi companies and Uber, it is not recommended to use the ride-share app. Uber is also not permitted to pick up at the airport.

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Hotel Zone : By far the most popular neighborhood for tourists in Cancun, the Hotel Zone is the skinny, Caribbean Sea-facing stretch of beach that is lined with the majority of resorts in the city. Here, you'll find restaurants, nightclubs, beach clubs, and most of the city's tourist attractions.

Downtown : If you're looking for a neighborhood where the locals hang out, Downtown Cancun (El Centro) is it. Packed with restaurants, bars, food trucks, public art, and shopping, this area is just as full of life as the Hotel Zone, except you'll be hanging out with locals rather than other tourists.

Isla Mujeres : Just a quick ferry ride away, Isla Mujeres is the laid-back sibling to the pulsing Cancun scene. Chill beach bars, open-air restaurants, and spectacular beaches make this one of the prettiest and low-key areas to explore in Cancun.

Puerto Morelos : For something low-key on the mainland, Puerto Morelos is a small village just 20 minutes south of Cancun International Airport. Today, it's seeing an increase in hotels opening around it, but the beachfront town itself is known for its sleepy vibe, small boutiques, charming restaurants, and sliver of shockingly white sand.

Taxi : This is the easiest way to get around in Cancun, albeit one of the most expensive. Companies like Uber are difficult to use in Cancun, due to hostility between taxi companies and the apps. It is much more acceptable to take a cab from a licensed taxi stand. Taxi rates are high in Cancun, but they're based on distance, so you can easily confirm the price before accepting the ride.

Bus : Cancun has a reliable and safe public bus system that travels up and down the Hotel Zone and throughout Downtown. The most popular routes are the R1 and R2. Buses run every five minutes and a one-way ride is roughly 10 pesos. 

Car Rental: Cancun has almost every car rental company you can think of, whether at the airport, in the Hotel Zone, or Downtown. If you'd rather have your own car, there are many opportunities to rent one. Parking facilities are widely available, though they usually come at a cost.

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Is Cancun Safe for Travel in 2024? What Every Traveler Should Know

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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.

The links in this post may be affiliate links.  That means that if you click them and make a purchase, this site makes a commission.  It will have no impact on the price you pay or the experience of your purchase.

View my Google Webstory on Cancun Safety.

travel to cancun safe

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.

Short Summary:

  • 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.

Latest update

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.

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.

travel to cancun safe

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 d ied 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. 

Travelers Diarrhea

Travelers’ diarrhea or Montezuma’s revenge , is an intestinal infection that occurs from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

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 c ramps
  • 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 To wns– 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.

If you rent a car in Cancun don’t forget to  buy your Mexico car insurance!

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 valuab le travel documents (especially your passport) safe; passport theft is rising worldwide, including in Mexico.

Store cash and other valuables in your hotel room’s safe , the hotel’s safety deposit box or purchase your safety diversion tool.

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.

travel to cancun safe

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.

No need to worry about things to do in Puerto Vallarta; just wait to be swept into the ocean on a catamaran or jet ski, or go swimming with the sharks.

This is all possible with proper excursion planning . However, book the wrong excursion , and those stress levels may double.

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 and Safest Resorts in Cancun

Cancun is known for both mega resorts and luxury boutique hotels with multiple restaurants, bars, and nightlife activity. So if you're looking for a getaway I have visited Cancun's best hotels so you will know where to stay for your ultimate vacation to Cancun!

travel to cancun safe

Canopy by Hilton Cancun La Isla, Mexico Hotel

The Canopy by Hilton hotel overlooks the Nichupté Lagoon and the Caribbean Sea. They are a three-minute walk to La Isla Entertainment Village with premier shopping and dining options. Access to Mandala Beach Club is easy with a five-minute drive and Tulum is just 130 kilometers away. Enjoy multiple bars and unwind at our rooftop fitness center and outdoor pool. WiFi’s on us.

travel to cancun safe

The luxurious, 260-room Le Blanc Spa is the best (and priciest) adult-only all-inclusive in town. It stands out for its gorgeous white-sand beach in the heart of the Hotel Zone, decadent spa (guests get free access to the hydrotherapy area), stunning pools (two with swim-up bars), and especially its pampering service, from the butlers who will unpack your clothes to the pool attendants who will provide cool towels for your eyes. It has a hip, gorgeous aesthetic throughout the entire pristine white property, and the modern, bright rooms have two-person whirlpool tubs; most have either ocean or lagoon views.

travel to cancun safe

Excellence Playa Mujeres

This adult-only luxury resort offers a nice all-inclusive experience with tons of variety -- multiple dining options, several beautiful pools, a gorgeous spa, and dozens of wonderful activities. The rooms here are large and contemporary, with large modern bathrooms, Jacuzzis, and high-end amenities such as big flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and iPod docks. Some have a large rooftop terrace with a private plunge pool with ocean views.

travel to cancun safe

Be Tulum Lifestyle Luxury Hotel, Private Villas & Spa.

Be Tulum – a luxury lifestyle Hotel Spa & Private Villas inspired by the rustic charm and raw natural beauty of the Mayan Riviera.

Uniquely built by the sea-cliffs, Tulum is located in the Yucatán Península in the state of Quintana Roo, southeastern México, on the northern border of the biosphere reserve of Sian Ka’an.

travel to cancun safe

Kin Sol Soleil

Kin Sol Soleil is a charming home in the tradition of the Mexican haciendas where handmade hospitality, personal service and privacy are unsurpassed. The elegant simplicity of the beautiful natural setting is enhanced with native thatched roofs, glowing mahogany, bamboo-filtered light, colorful fabrics, original art, voluptuous gardens, gourmet cuisine and warm smiles.

travel to cancun safe

Renaissance Cancun Resort & Marina

Situated in an exclusive area in Zona Hotelera, the all-new Renaissance Cancun Resort & Marina is a scenic haven in a lively travel destination. Find respite in your waterfront accommodations with refined design elements, contemporary essentials, luxury amenities and inspiring views of the city and shimmering bay. Stay within steps of the beach in the Cancun entertainment zone near Marina Town Center Mall, Isla Mujeres and popular shops, restaurants and pubs in downtown.

  • 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.

✈️ Get Travel Insurance NOW! Travelex Is my preferred Insurance

Top things to do in cancun.

Ruins in Cancun

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.

Ready to plan your trip? Grab my  FREE  Vacation Planner to help you plan your trip in the time it takes to watch your favorite TV show!

If you would like to donate to  Passports and Grub click here!  

Travel Guide

Additional Articles For Exploring This Big Ole World

Best Things To Do In Cancun

Is Puerto Vallarta Safe?

How Safe is Cabo San Lucas 

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?

I would love to hear your thoughts on whether is it safe to travel to Cancun and how you feel about the Mexico travel warning so leave me a comment on Facebook ,  Twitter , or  Instagram.

Are you traveling to Cancun in 2024? Leave a comment and let me know!

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These are some great tips for traveling to Cancun. I’ve never been there, but it’s on my bucket list. I have been to Cozumel and didn’t have any problems.

I haven’t been to Cancun but I’d still visit. I don’t drink so I would stay away from that since I’ve heard about people get sick and dying after drinking.

I haven’t been to Cancun and I can’t say its high on my list right now but this is great information. I think with everything going on in the world, everyone is a little skeptical on traveling outside of the country

Mexico is still on my list of places to experience. I have seen beautiful pictures and I want to go see it for myself.

Los Cabos and Cancun are my favorite and its expensive to get there.

Ironcially I am in Mexico right now in Playa Del Carmen so not too far from Cancun. Great info because there was a travel advisory by Trump but glad it isnt on high alert.

We have been to Cancun 14 times …Never an Issue ,we will be back there in march… can’t wait… Just like Anywhere else,if you are looking for trouble,you can find it.

Although I haven’t been to Cancun;however, I do want to visit Tulum, – I’ve learned to take heed with the travel advisories. You have a lot of helpful pointers too.

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I am from Norway and LOVED our stay in Cancun summer 2019. We met only lovely people and beautiful destinations! I would recommend everyone seeing cancun, it is really breathtaking!

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My Wife and I have traveled to Cancun with our teenage son and have never had any issues. We have been to Hotel Row, Playa del Carmen, Playcar, Tulum and Puerto Morelos. We always rent a car and have even driven 2 1/2 hours from Cancun to Valladolid Yucatan Mexico. “Great Cenotes in this area” We are going back this April 2021, but we are going to Island hop! Isla Holbox, Isla Mujeres, Isla Cozumel and we will be taking a4 hour day trip to Bacalar, Quintana Roo! We Were in Puerto Morelos for 4th of July week 2020 and were in Huatulco, Oaxaca September 2020 for our 20th Anniversary! We rented a car as always. One thing I can tell you is that in Cancun they are taking this pandemic seriously! The hotels, the tours, the restaurants, the stores and the malls are temperature checking, mandating the use of the mask, making you disinfect your shoes and handing out sanitizer before they allow you in. They are also taking the safe distancing seriously, unlike here in the US where we have these conspiracy theorists that claim the virus is a hoax. We not only feel safe in the Riviera Maya, but we also appreciate that the people there are keeping us visitors and themselves safe!!! Thanks for this page to help fellow travelers to discover the truth about Mexican travel. By the way, if in your Naivety, you like to get drunk, search for illegal substances and women? If the bad guys don’t get you first, the undercover Mexican drug enforcement officers will take you down…

Wonderful advice! What company do you recommend for car rentals? I am trying to book a trip to Cancun with my family for the holidays. Any tips for booking affordable stays or Air BNB’s would also be gladly appreciated!

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Great Information You Shared.

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My just-graduated-college son and several of his friends are literally flying to Cancun this morning on a trip planned months back by one of the kids’ uncle who is a professional travel agent. I panicked at the State Dept update but felt much better after reading beautifully researched and well written and informative website : THANK YOU!!! I am worried post trump that people in Mexico who are rightly upset with America (since we elected — did we? really? — a racist reality tv show guy to run our country and at least he got us all talking about how things need to change) might look at my son who is a large white male and make inaccurate assumptions about him and his views based on his large white maleness. I am aware that my Black-mom friends/colleagues/patients have been dealing with people making inaccurate assumptions based on appearance for lifetimes longer than I have, and I have a whole new appreciation of that experience and how unsettling it is. We raised our son to be antiracist, not really knowing that word yet, 22 years ago, but aware because we could see what has needed to change in this country since America began with a massive blind spot as the the difference between our words “liberty and justice all” and our actions, and my hope and expectation is that my large white male son bears the responsibility to help create that Love-Thy-Neighbor world we all want for ourselves and one another, or so I choose to believe and so I believe God wants us all to have. I don’t know why I’m oversharing like this except I’ve been up since 4 and maybe had too much coffee? My son texted to say they’re off to Mexico, I looked on the State Dept website again, saw the update, freaked out, googled feverishly, found this page, and feel much better, and appreciate this information so much, and now want to quit worrying and jump on a plane and have fun and Be The Change. thank you and sorry for oversharing and God Bless!

No worries whatsoever! Mexico is extremely safe and I just purchased my ticket for Cabo yesterday. I have never encountered any issues while traveling to Mexico. I’m sure your son will be safe and please keep me posted

Umm no. Let’s not bring politics into this, My wife is Mexican. From Cancun I’m a gringo. I’m from Missouri. . We live back and forth. Is this Cancun safe? Don’t ever say politics ever…. It has nothing to do with politics.

I just returned from Cabo and Cancun within the last 3 months. I have been traveling Mexico for years with both my friends, husband, daughter and solo. I have never once encountered criminal activity. Not once have I felt threatened, not once have I been robbed, Not once have my credit cards been stolen but guess where all of the things have happened? Right here in Tennessee!

I took my daughter to Cancun when she graduated college. The hotel was rated 5 star. I was aware of my surroundings at all times. Having lived in Tijuana for over 6 months in the late 70’s. What can I say, it was my rebellious years. Anyway, my daughter had the best time of her life. When she heard me speak Spanish, she hugged me and said “Mom, you amaze me.” I have been to Cancun and Playa del Carmen several times since then. With someone and mostly by myself. I even had a medical procedure done in Cancun. My advice is be able to understand Spanish. At least the basics. Be respectful of the people waiting on you. Remember to tip those waiting on you. A dollar tip will get you better service.

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I loved this guide, it was the first I read and helped me get over all the negative news about mexico. I kept coming back to your great advice throughout my visit of this amazing country, so a huge thank you for inspiration!

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Thank you! I was reading this article and I found very useful information above there.

Thank You! It’s actually a cool and useful piece of information. I’m satisfied that you simply shared this helpful information with us.

This blog was a lot more beneficial for me than I could have thought. It is informative and enlightening, as it gives exact and explanatory guidance and direction.

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It was the first guide I read and helped me overcome all the negative news about Mexico. As I toured this incredible country, I kept returning to your great advice, so thank you for inspiring me!

Thank you ! very very helpful … but do you know anything about what recently occurred may 7th, 2022 ?

Wow I will share this article to my friends, I seem to know more things after reading it, it was very helpful, I hope you will make more good articles like this.

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This is really nice. I would like to thank you for the information that you gave to us.

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My advice is only go to safe areas for tourism. https://sites.google.com/view/metroidfusionrom

While it’s important to stay informed about safety when traveling, it’s worth noting that millions of tourists visit Cancun and the Riviera Maya each year without any issues. While there have been reports of increased crime, it’s crucial to exercise caution, stick to well-traveled areas, and stay aware of your surroundings. Consulting official advisories, using common sense, and following basic safety guidelines can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. It’s always a good idea to stay informed and make decisions based on your own comfort level. Happy travels!

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While it’s important to stay informed about safety when traveling, it’s worth noting that millions of tourists visit Cancun and the Riviera Maya each year without any issues.

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In my personal experience, 99 out of 100 times, such a holiday goes without much trouble. But that one time that it doesn’t go as it should be, you want to be as prepared as possible. I think everyone who’s planning to visit Cancun should read this. Great job!

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travel to cancun safe

  • Passports, travel and living abroad
  • Travel abroad
  • Foreign travel advice

Safety and security

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and regional risks advice .

There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad .

Terrorism in Mexico

Terrorist attacks in Mexico cannot be ruled out.

Political situation

Political demonstrations are common in Mexico City and can happen across the country. These can be tense and confrontational and could potentially turn violent. Onlookers can be quickly drawn in. Monitor local media and avoid all demonstrations.

It is illegal for foreigners to participate in political activities in Mexico. Participation in demonstrations may result in detention and deportation.

Politically motivated violence can happen across the country. Onlookers can be quickly drawn in. You should monitor local media and avoid all demonstrations. If you come across protests, move away from the area.

Crime in Mexico can pose a risk for foreigners, particularly in major cities and tourist resort areas where street crime is a serious issue.

Many Mexican and foreign businesses choose to hire private security. You should:

  • research your destination thoroughly
  • only travel during daylight hours when possible
  • monitor local media
  • inform trusted contacts of your travel plans

If you’re the victim of a crime and want to report the incident, do so immediately to the nearest branch of the state prosecutor’s office (‘Agencia del Ministerio Público’). A criminal investigation is not possible without a formal complaint to Mexican authorities. Complaints must be made in person before leaving Mexico.

The Mexico City Command and Control Centre (‘Centro de Atención a Emergencias y Proteción Ciudadana de la Ciudad de México’) has information and advice in Spanish on safety in Mexico City.

Take care when withdrawing money from ATMs or exchanging money at an exchange shop (bureau de change). It’s generally safer to use ATMs during daylight hours and inside shops or malls. People withdrawing money from airport money exchange shops and ATMs in various locations have later been targeted by criminals.  Avoid withdrawing large amounts of money and be careful of your surroundings and who is around you while you are using the ATM.

Protecting your belongings

Pickpocketing and theft are common, including on public transport. Avoid wearing expensive clothing, jewellery or watches. Limit the amount of cash or credit/debit cards you carry with you. Watch your briefcases and luggage, even in apparently secure places like the lobby of your hotel.

Be wary of people presenting themselves as police officers trying to fine or arrest you for no reason, travellers driving rental cars have been targeted. Some police officers have extorted money from tourists, for alleged minor offences or traffic violations. If this happens:

  • do not hand over money or your passport
  • ask for a copy of the written fine, which is payable later.
  • ask for identification
  • try to take note of the officer’s name, badge number, and patrol car number

Criminals may attempt to contact your friends or relatives to transfer money to Mexico, this can occur following cases of phone theft or hacking, arrange with relatives and friends how you will contact them or how you would arrange to transfer money in advance.

A common scam involves criminals phoning, acting as a distressed member of family, or an employee, claiming to be kidnapped and demanding money for their release. Thieves may also claim that a relative is being detained. If you are threatened over the phone, hang up and check on the safety of your family member or employee.

Drink and food spiking

Do not leave food and drinks unattended in bars and restaurants. Travellers have been robbed or assaulted after being drugged. Tainted alcohol has caused illness or blackouts. If you have any concerns, get advice from your tour operator or the local authorities.

Sexual assault

Sexual offences have been reported in tourist areas. Take care even in areas close to hotels, and especially after dark.

Short-term opportunistic kidnapping (called ‘express kidnapping’) can happen, particularly in urban areas. Victims are forced to withdraw money from credit or debit cards at a cash point to secure their release.

Longer-term kidnapping for financial gain also happens, and there have been allegations of police officers being involved. Be discreet about discussing your financial or business affairs in places where you may be overheard by others.

Do not become involved with drugs of any kind. Drug-related violence in Mexico has increased over recent years. Penalties for drug offences are severe, convictions carry sentences of up to 25 years.

Some areas of Mexico have a high crime rate due to the fighting between rival organised crime gangs. In these areas, there is a risk of being caught in the crossfire or of being mistaken for a member of a rival gang. Whilst risks are lower in tourist areas, you should:

  • take advice from local authorities or your hotel
  • be aware of your surroundings at all times
  • use reputable tourism or transport companies
  • travel during the daytime where possible

Vehicle crime

Stay away from isolated roads and use toll roads (‘cuotas’) whenever possible. Keep car doors locked and windows closed, especially at traffic lights.

Violent car-jackings and robberies happen along the Pacific Highway, if you suspect you’re being followed or watched, drive to a police station or other safe place. Targets have included large camper vans or sports utility vehicles (SUVs).

There have been incidents of criminals deliberately causing traffic accidents in order to make insurance claims or request cash from the other party. They are sometimes accompanied by threats of violence or intimidation. Contact the authorities for support where necessary.

Public transport

Be alert on public transport, at airports and in bus stations. Theft on buses is common, so always keep your belongings safe.

Buses have also been hijacked. Try to travel on first-class buses using toll roads, which have a lower rate of incidents than second and third-class buses travelling on the less secure free (‘libre’) roads. Most first-class bus companies perform security checks when passengers board the bus.

Women travelling alone on public transport have been targeted with harassment, robbery and sexual assault.

Laws and cultural differences

If you require information on procedures, local laws, development of current events or social services you can contact Mexico City’s public telephone service LOCATEL on 5658 1111. They have English-speaking staff available.

Personal ID

If requested by Mexican authorities, you will need to provide your passport and stamp to prove your entrance and stay, copies and photos are not accepted. To demonstrate your visa status, you can get a digital registry of your entry documents from the Portal de Servicios INM . If you are unable to produce these documents, you may be questioned by Immigration officers and held in a detention centre while the authorities check your immigration status. Depending on the outcome, you can be deported.

Legal status

The Mexican Police have the authority to ask for proof of legal status in Mexico at any time. Several British people have been detained for not having the relevant documentation on them. If you are a resident, you may be asked to provide your residency card issued by the Mexican government.

Smoking and e-cigarette bans

It is illegal to bring electronic cigarettes, vaping devices and solutions into Mexico or to buy and sell them. If found in your belongings by customs officials, these will be confiscated; resulting in being fined or being detained.

You can be fined up to £150 for smoking or vaping in public places.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Do not become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for drug offences are severe and convictions carry sentences of up to 25 years.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex relations in Mexico are generally tolerated, rather than accepted. Civil unions between same-sex partners are legal in Mexico. Public displays of affection between same-sex couples may be frowned upon. Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Assisted human reproduction, including surrogacy, is only legally recognised in some Mexican states. If you’re considering a surrogacy arrangement in Mexico, familiarise yourself with the relevant laws and regulations and make sure you meet all legal requirements to take the child out of Mexico before you start the process. Seek independent legal advice before entering into any surrogacy arrangement. For more information see our guidance on surrogacy overseas .

Main tourist destinations

The Mexican government makes efforts to protect major tourist destinations like:

  • Nuevo Vallarta
  • Playa del Carmen
  • Puerto Vallarta

British travellers have been physically and sexually assaulted. In some cases, hotel employees, taxi drivers and security personnel at popular tourist destinations were involved. On occasion, hotel staff have not been helpful and tried to dissuade victims from pursuing the incident with police.

Cancun and Tulum

There have been several clashes between rival criminal gangs in popular tourist destinations in Cancun and surrounding areas.

While tourists have not been the target, anyone in the vicinity of an incident could be affected. Since 2021, there have been several cases of tourists being affected by shootings.

Exercise increased caution after dark in downtown areas of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen. Remain in well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones. If you are visiting any of these areas, monitor local advice, remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local authorities and your tour operator.

Hotel safety

In some hotels, balcony balustrades may not be as high as you expect and there could be a risk of falling.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

If you take part in adventurous sports (including paragliding, skydiving, scuba diving and jet-skiing), make sure safety precautions are in place. Equipment may not meet UK safety and insurance standards. British nationals have been injured and, in some cases, killed participating in extreme sports.

You should make sure:

  • you only use reputable operators
  • the company is using the most up-to-date equipment and safety features
  • the company are fully licensed and insured
  • you’re covered by your travel insurance for all the activities you want to undertake

Swimming safety

Sea conditions can be unpredictable, and some beaches are unpatrolled. Follow the guidance of the coastguard or other local authorities on whether it is safe to swim.

Shark attacks are rare in Mexico, but you should take care particularly when surfing, research the local area and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Crocodiles are present in Mexico, most commonly in lagoons and coastal areas. Sightings have been reported near tourist areas, including Cancun and resorts on the Pacific coast. There are signs warning about crocodiles around many lagoons in these areas. Respect the warnings and do not walk too close to the water. Tourists have been seriously injured in crocodile attacks in the past.

Transport risks

Road travel.

Driving standards are very different from the UK. Roads can be pot-holed, and driving conditions can be unpredictable. Be prepared to stop unexpectedly and beware of vehicles moving slowly, changing lane without indicating and going through red lights. Many local drivers do not have any form of car insurance.

Licences and permits

You can drive in Mexico using a UK license or an International Driving Permit . If you are planning to drive in Mexico, see information on driving abroad .

Driving restrictions

To reduce air pollution, Mexico City and some other parts of the country have driving restrictions. Cars may be banned from entering certain areas on particular days, based on their number plates, Check the Hoy no Circula programme for further details.

These regulations are strictly enforced and offenders face heavy fines and temporary confiscation of their vehicle. Check if this applies with your car hire company.

There is an additional driving restriction in Mexico City, where vehicles without registration plates from the State of Mexico (‘Estado de Mexico’) or Mexico City are not allowed to enter Mexico City from:

  • Monday to Friday between 5am and 11am
  • Saturday between 5am and 10pm

If air pollution is high, generally between February and June, further driving restrictions may apply.

In remote areas, you may come across unofficial roadblocks, including on main roads. They are manned by local groups seeking money for an unofficial local toll, they can become violent and deny entry.

Passengers have been robbed and assaulted by unlicensed taxi drivers including in Mexico City. Use the better regulated ‘sitio’ taxis from authorised taxi ranks or ask your hotel to order you a taxi. At airports, use only authorised pre-paid airport taxi services.

Licensed taxi drivers have been blocking roads and targeting Uber taxis in Cancun’s Hotel zone, in protest against Uber. Tourists have been affected, including being pulled from Uber taxis and experiencing long delays because of roadblocks, sometimes leading to missed flights. Protests can happen without notice. Listen to local announcements and follow the advice of your hotel on how best to avoid any protests.

Extreme weather and natural disasters

Monitor local and international weather updates from the  US National Hurricane Center  and follow the advice of local authorities and your tour operator including any evacuation orders.

In the aftermath of a hurricane, there can be flooding, high winds and continued rainfall. See the  extreme weather and natural hazards  for further advice about how to prepare for travel during hurricane season, what to do ahead of a storm and what to expect in the aftermath of a hurricane.

The hurricane season in Mexico normally runs from June to November and can affect both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. The effects of tropical storms and hurricanes causes flooding, landslides and disruption to local services, including transport networks.

On 25 October 2023, Hurricane Otis hit the south coast of Mexico around Acapulco. as a Category 5 hurricane. It caused significant damage to infrastructure in Acapulco and along Mexico’s southern coast between Zihuatenejo and Punta Maldonado. There continues to be disruption to tourism while reconstruction efforts are ongoing, and the security situation is unpredictable. The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office advises against all but essential travel to the city of Acapulco.


Earthquakes can occasionally happen in most parts of Mexico. Tremors happen regularly, particularly in the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero.

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake or tsunami as does the Mexican Ministry of Civil Protection (in Spanish).

If you’re travelling in Mexico City you can download the 911 CDMX app (accessible only by local phone numbers: Download on iOS or Android ), which warns you an earthquake will happen 60 seconds before the movement starts. Although these alarms are useful, they cannot detect every kind of earthquake there can be.

Volcanic eruptions

The Popocatepetl and Colima volcanoes are active and closed to the public. There are danger zones around both volcanoes, the size of which can change depending on the current level of activity. A 12km exclusion zone is currently in place around Popocatépetl volcano, which is 92km from Mexico City centre and 64km from Puebla. The alert level at Popocatépetl is Level 2 of the Amber tier. Check with your tour or flight operator or follow Benito Juárez international airport on twitter . Information about the alert level and other Government advice can be found at @SGIRPC_CDMX on Twitter .

Ash fall from Popocatépetl has previously caused flight disruption, including cancellations at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. If you are travelling, you should check your flight status directly with your airline.

Exposure to falling ash and toxic fumes from active volcanoes can affect your health, especially if you suffer from a respiratory condition.

For more updates on both the Popocatepetl and Colima volcanoes and the tier system, visit the website of the Mexican Disaster Prevention Centre .

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Home » Blog » Is Cancun Safe to Travel to in 2024? Stats, Warnings, & Advice

Is Cancun Safe to Travel to in 2024? Stats, Warnings, & Advice

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our Disclosure Policy  for details.

The City of Cancun

As world travelers, it’s important to be safe when we visit locations we’re not familiar with. That core concept holds true whether you’re going camping in a national forest where bears live, flying out to somewhere in Southeast Asia where cultural norms, laws, and even law enforcement are dramatically different, or just stepping across the border to visit a local “exotic” destination.

There’s a kind of hierarchy to exotic and tropical destinations. The USA itself doesn’t have much beyond something like the Florida Keys, so many of our stereotypical destinations are places like Cancun. It’s barely more than a single step removed from American soil in that it’s such a popular destination you’re as likely to find Americans there on spring break as you are Mexico natives.

At the same time, the news constantly inundates us with how dangerous Mexico is, with roving gangs of criminals, kidnappings and ransoms of tourists, corrupt officials, and so much more. Cancun is in Mexico; is it just as dangerous?

How to Check Cancun Safety

One of the most important resources you can have as a world traveler is the State Department’s website. The State Department advises citizens on the relative safety and advisories that may be in effect for other locations around the world. So, what does it say about Cancun?

Let’s start with Mexico as a whole . According to the State Department, things aren’t looking good:

“Country Summary: Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico, as travel by U.S. government employees to certain areas is prohibited or restricted. In many states, local emergency services are limited outside the state capital or major cities.”

Since U.S. officials can’t visit many areas of Mexico, the State Department also recommends that travelers avoid those areas as well. They have a whole set of recommendations, including using taxi services like Uber and not hailing street taxis, not traveling at night, and not traveling alone.

Checking Cancun Safety Levels

Each Mexican state is assigned a category. The State Department has four categories:

  • Exercise Normal Precautions
  • Exercise Increased Caution
  • Reconsider Travel
  • Do Not Travel

These broadly correspond to safety. Normal Precautions are for areas that are broadly as safe as the safer areas of the USA. Increased Caution is for places where crime is higher but not so bad as to be exceedingly dangerous to most people. Reconsider Travel is the category for areas where crime is much higher, and you may even be targeted specifically because you’re American and could be exploited, scammed, or held for ransom. The Do Not Travel advisory is for areas with extreme threats, whether it’s a complete breakdown of law enforcement or total gang control, extreme levels of targeting against Americans, places where there’s an active war happening, or areas where a disease outbreak makes it very dangerous.

Now, two caveats here. First, this is by state or region, not by city. Cancun is just one city in a larger Mexican state, so even if the state as a whole is dangerous, that doesn’t mean Cancun is. Second, the State Department typically errs on the side of caution because they would rather that you take excessive precautions and not need them than fail to take precautions and fall victim to a crime.

So, where does Cancun fall on this scale? Cancun is part of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, which is labeled as Exercise Increased Caution. So, it’s not the safest place, but it’s not bad enough to reconsider traveling there at all.

Further down, the State Department also has some more specific information about Quintana Roo:

“Exercise increased caution due to crime. Criminal activity and violence may occur in any location at any time, including in popular tourist destinations. Travelers should maintain a high level of situational awareness, avoid areas where illicit activities occur, and promptly depart from potentially dangerous situations. While not directed at tourists, shootings between rival gangs have injured innocent bystanders. Additionally, U.S. citizens have been the victims of both non-violent and violent crimes in tourist and non-tourist areas. There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Quintana Roo state. However, personnel are advised to exercise increased situational awareness after dark in downtown areas of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, and to remain in well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones.”

Since Cancun is a popular tourist destination specifically for U.S. Spring Break vacations, the State Department also issued a dedicated statement about travel to Mexico in general, which you can read here . We’re not going to post the whole thing here, of course, but summarizing their tips is pretty easy.

Most of it is general warnings. Crime can happen anywhere, drugs you might have legally in the U.S. are illegal in Mexico (most notably medical marijuana), alcohol can be tainted, beach currents can be strong and dangerous, and lots of violations result in lengthy jail sentences.

As for advice, the State Department has fairly standard tips as well. 911 still works in an emergency but may be Spanish, so either know Spanish or have a Spanish speaker make the call. Get travel insurance coverage for healthcare and emergencies. Limit the cash you carry and check credit statements for unauthorized transactions. It’s all fairly typical for international travel.

Finally, it’s worth putting things into perspective. State-level statistics don’t tell the full story. Cancun has a crime index of 55 from this site . Los Angeles has a 53, Las Vegas has a 55, and Chicago has a 66. Any big city is going to have some level of crime, whether or not it’s likely to affect tourists. Cancun is arguably one of the safest places in Mexico for Americans to travel to.

Mexico gets a lot of income from American tourists coming to destinations like Cancun, and they don’t want to jeopardize that. They’ve taken some significant steps in the last few years to improve safety and security in Cancun, because they want tourists to feel safe enough to keep coming through.

Tips and Advice for Staying Safe in Cancun

Now, at this point, if you were already considering a trip to Cancun, there’s a pretty good chance you were going to go anyway. It’s one of the easiest tropical getaways you can make, and the flights from most major US international airports are not terribly long compared to something like the Maldives or Tahiti .

And hey, we wouldn’t recommend that you go somewhere we wouldn’t. Our honeymoon trip to the Yucatan was an incredible adventure (thanks, Stephen!), and you can read all about it here .

When to Visit Cancun

Always check for immediate travel advisories, but in general, we find that the best time to visit Cancun is during the dry season, which for us is the winter, between November and April.

Tourist Crowds in Cancun

Spring Break falls at the latter end of this span, so if you want to avoid the biggest crowds of American tourists, head down in November or December. Or, if you’d rather blend in with the crowds as a smokescreen to make yourself less likely to be targeted by criminals, go during spring break. It’s really up to you.

Be Aware of Scams

Any tourist destination is going to have people who want to scam you, either out of your time, your money, or something more.

Beaches in Cancun

You might not ever encounter these depending on what you do when you’re there, but some to watch out for include:

  • Timeshares . There are plenty of people trying to sell timeshares, offering all sorts of gifts worth thousands of dollars if you just attend a high-pressure sales presentation. Usually, the gifts are legit, but they rely on being able to browbeat you into buying a timeshare, and those are scammy enough to have a whole page about them from the FTC . If you’re at all susceptible to sales pressure, stay away from these.
  • Card skimming . This one is familiar even on our home turf, whether it’s at a gas pump, a retail checkout, or an ATM; someone puts a card skimmer over the top of the interface, records your info and pin, and can use your card for fraudulent purchases. Worse, it likely triggers a freeze from your bank and leaves you in a lurch during your trip. Stick to well-lit ATMs, cover your PIN, and use cash when you can (but don’t carry too much; flashing bills around makes you a target, too.)
  • Rental car damage scams . These are also common pretty much anywhere disreputable car rental businesses operate. All they do is tell you that the vehicle had some kind of damage when you return it, and charge you for it, even if you didn’t damage it. You can forestall a lot of this by taking photos when you rent the car and return it, so you can prove you didn’t damage it.
  • Fake Police . A relatively common scam in Mexico is a fake police officer trying to detain you and accuse you of some crime or another, but they’ll let you go if you just hand over some cash. With stories of police corruption all over the internet, it’s easy to believe it’s real. Generally, it’s a good idea to demand identification and call the local police to verify the identity of an officer before doing anything.

And, of course, there are a variety of typical tourism scams, like cheap trash being marked up to high prices, unexplained fees on bills, and more.

Consider a Resort

One of the biggest choices you have to make on a trip to Cancun is whether you want to stay in an all-inclusive resort or would rather take things piecemeal with a more typical hotel or Airbnb and activities.

A Resort in Cancun

An all-inclusive resort will handle everything for you, including rooms, meals, drinks, and even activities, usually picked a la carte from their offerings. They’re generally safer than the surrounding area because they have their own security, and they’re usually quite luxurious.

On the other hand, if you’re cloistering yourself up in a resort, are you really getting the most out of what Cancun has to offer? They’re expensive, limited, and sometimes crowded, and you don’t get any of the local culture, hidden gems, or other adventures you can get. It’s a safe bet, and that’s fine if it’s what you want, but for seasoned adventurers like us, we want something more.

Learn Basic Spanish

You don’t need to be fluent in Mexican Spanish to get around Cancun. As a tourist stop for college kids, you’ll be saturated in English as much as Spanish in the area. If you want to travel between towns, go to more rural areas, or step off the beaten path, though, you can benefit from knowing at least the basics of Spanish.

Learning Basic Spanish

The Google Translate and Google Lens apps can help a lot with translating signs and other media, as well.

Pack and Prepare

Cancun is a tropical getaway, and even if you’re going during the winter dry season, it’s still going to be pretty warm. Packing for the trip is very important.

  • Make sure you have lightweight clothing . Being drenched in sweat or having some polyester blend stuck to your skin is never a pleasant experience.
  • Don’t forget the swimwear . You’re in one of the world’s foremost tropical vacation spots, you have to spend time on the beach and in the water!
  • Ward off the sun . Sunscreen is an absolute must, and it’s a great idea to have sunglasses, a sunhat, and whatever else helps you deal with it.
  • Light rain protection . Even during the dry season, brief rain showers can spring up out of nowhere, and the rainy season is a lot worse about it. Don’t forget waterproof containers for things like your phone, camera gear, and other electronics.
  • A towel . Never go anywhere without a good towel .

Don’t forget to pack for the activities you want to do, too. Maybe that means camera gear or even a drone (though be sure to ask about local laws regarding drone usage; some areas restrict it.) Maybe that means a good day pack or backpack and some good footwear for a hike. Maybe it means snorkeling gear. Whatever the case is, while you can certainly find local options to buy it if you need it, it’ll probably be expensive.

Packed for a Cancun Getaway

Hopefully, this helps both with planning your Cancun getaway and assuaging your fears about how dangerous it is. American media spends a lot of time hyping up how dangerous Mexico is, and while they aren’t exactly lying about many areas, Cancun is one of the safest places you can possibly go in Mexico, so if you’re a seasoned traveler or you’re looking to go somewhere exotic without flying halfway around the world, it’s a great option. Go, have fun, and tell us all about it when you’re back!

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NBC 7 San Diego

Safety tips from the US government for Americans traveling to Mexico

A travel advisory for the country has been in effect since late august 2023, by dana williams • published may 4, 2024 • updated on may 4, 2024 at 5:24 pm.

The U.S. Department of State has been cautioning Americans to reconsider travel to Baja California, the region of Mexico, where four bodies were recently found .

The warning is part of a travel advisory for the country that has been in effect since late August 2023. According to the department’s website, “violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico.”

It also adds that because U.S. government employees are restricted or prohibited from going to certain areas in Mexico, it makes it difficult for them to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens who might need it.

However, they shared tips for Americans who travel to the region against their warning:

Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
  • Keep friends and family informed of your travel plans. 
  • If separating from a group, share your GPS location with a friend. 
  • If taking a taxi alone, take a photo of the taxi’s number and/or plate and send it to a friend. 
  • Use toll roads when you can and do not drive alone or at night. 
  • Be extra cautious when visiting local bars, nightclubs or casinos. 
  • Do not show any signs of wealth (i.e. jewelry, etc.)
  • Be vigilant around banks and ATMs.

The department also suggests enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program .

For more information on the travel advisory, click here .

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