Is Playa del Carmen safe for tourists? This is a questions I get often asked, so I thought it was about time I addressed the issue with a full post.
Like many coastal resorts along the Maya Riviera in the Yucatan Peninsula, Playa del Carmen attracts its fair share of tourists. Like many of these towns – with the Caribbean sea on one side and jungle on the other – Playa del Carmen is also safe to visit.
Millions of people visit every year and most people who travel here have a completely amazing time, and it ends up as a memorable vacation for all the right reasons. However, that isn’t to say that there are no safety issues in Playa del Carmen.
As with most coastal resorts in the world, there are a few things you should know about, including issues surrounding theft and scams. So, is Playa del Carmen safe?
Don’t let fear-mongering headlines scare you. Playa del Carmen is a safe place, and your trip to Playa del Carmen should run smoothly without any hitches. But let me go over the issue a bit more in depth, and share a few safety tips for when you finally get to visit.
For more information about Playa del Carmen, read my post The Best Things To Do In Playa Del Carmen.
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What Are The Main Safety Issues In Playa Del Carmen?
Though it is mainly a safe place to visit, as I mentioned above, there are still a few things that could cause you to worry about your trip to Playa del Carmen.
Firstly, crime is not unheard of, and petty crime can affect tourists who visit. Particularly, this occurs in the form of petty theft with belongings being stolen from beaches as well as, occasionally, robbery.
Usually, tourists are not the targets of the serious crimes that hit the headlines such as violence related to drug trafficking.
Other things to watch out for are scams. These often involve rental cars and overcharging on bills at restaurants with the notorious “tourist tax” being added on top of what you should actually be paying.
Nature also has a part to play to do with safety in Playa del Carmen. Hurricane season occurs between June and November bringing tropical storms that can cause damage and cancellation of flights and transport.
Beaches are lovely places to visit, but you should be cautious when swimming somewhere you don’t know anything about. Paying heed to warning flags, and swimming at beaches with lifeguards is a good place to start with water safety in Playa del Carmen.
Finally, let me actually address your question – is Playa del Carmen safe?
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe?
Is Playa del Carmen safe for solo travelers?
Solo travel is a super fun thing to do, and Playa del Carmen is a great place to head if you are thinking of taking a trip to the Maya Riviera by yourself. Plenty of people do travel solo in this part of Mexico, and have a great time doing it, so there’s not too much to worry about.
If you want to meet other travelers, one of the best things to do is to stay in sociable accommodation – possibly at a hostel, or spend the day at a beach club, where you can mix and mingle with other people.
Being alone sometimes does mean you’ll be more of a target for crime. In that case, it’s always a good idea to make sure you stay aware of your surroundings at all times. For example, having one too many drinks if you’re out by yourself and not being able to get home safely could put you at risk of becoming a target.
Another thing to think about is not taking all of your belongings with you when you go to the beach or out on day trips. With no one else to look after your belongings, they will be left unattended if you go swimming which could easily make them a target for thieves.
When you’re traveling solo it’s good to know emergency contact numbers. You should have them saved in your phone just in case something happens to you and you need to get in touch with someone back home quickly.
Is Playa del Carmen safe for solo female travelers?
Playa del Carmen is the perfect place for solo female travelers. It’s a beautiful destination to spend some time at the beach and explore ancient Mayan ruins and historic cities nearby. However, traveling solo as a female does come with its own challenges.
So there are a few things to note if you are planning on traveling to Playa del Carmen as a solo female traveler.
Firstly, you should make sure that you book yourself into some well-reviewed accommodation before you travel. It’s not a good idea to turn up somewhere where you don’t feel safe or the location is out of the way and hard to get to from the center of town.
A good idea is to search out other solo female travelers out there. You could join Facebook groups, or meet up with local expats to get connected. Alternatively, you could join in with tours, or hop on a bar crawl, to get to know other people.
When it comes to going out and enjoying the nightlife of Playa del Carmen, keep in mind that you will have to watch out for your surroundings. Don’t leave your food or drink unattended, as drink spiking in bars and restaurants can happen.
Also, you should make sure to know how to get back to your accommodation at night time – it’s always better to get a taxi than walk home alone in the dark along isolated streets.
Public transport in Playa del Carmen is safe for solo female travelers, but if you feel uncomfortable when you get on a colectivo or bus, try to find yourself a spot next to a family or local lady for a little more peace of mind.
Is it safe to take a taxi in Playa del Carmen?
You’ll find taxis everywhere in Playa del Carmen – that’s because they’re one of the main ways to get around. They’re easy to use, affordable, and usually safe.
If you are going on vacation to Playa del Carmen, the likelihood is that you will be taking a taxi at some point during your stay. There’s not too much to worry about – the taxis here are usually clean and well-maintained vehicles.
The main thing you’ll need to watch out for is pricing, as taxis in Playa del Carmen do not use meters. You can check the rate that you should be paying at accommodation and taxi ranks, since each route should have a predetermined fare – so you’ll know how much you should be paying.
Just make sure you don’t sit in the front seat of the taxi if you’re by yourself, and don’t get into a cab if there’s already someone else in it (besides the driver).
If you’re still not sure about taxis in Playa del Carmen, then simply ask at your accommodation to order a taxi for you.
Safety on public transportation in Playa del Carmen
You may be a little bit worried about taking public transport while in Playa del Carmen, but it’s actually pretty safe and fairly easy to navigate. Chances are that if you are traveling anywhere else in the Maya Riviera, you’ll be taking a bus.
The ADO bus company plies the main routes around this part of Mexico connecting up other tourist destinations such as Cancun. These buses are very well looked after, professionally run, and safe to use. You can book tickets online, catch the buses from well-organized bus stations, and enjoy air conditioning and other conveniences on board – there’s virtually nothing to worry about.
Other transport options include colectivos. These small shuttle buses travel between local towns and neighborhoods and are much more of a local experience for travelers. They leave from designated stops around Playa del Carmen, and will leave when they are full (you can also pick them up along routes).
Generally, they tend to be quite packed in, and can be uncomfortable, but they are very cheap. They’re not as well-regulated as something like an ADO bus, but they’re safe enough for short distances. Just make sure you have small change to give to the driver.
Food safety in Playa del Carmen
When you’re in Playa del Carmen, you’ll probably want to enjoy all the delicious food that’s on offer. I’m here to tell you now that the food in Playa del Carmen is definitely safe! But there are a few things to watch out for.
When it comes to eating street food or snacks from street vendors, it’s always a good idea to go to a busy store or stall that has a line of locals. These places are popular for a reason, and they are generally tried and tested favorites.
If you are going to buy fruit and vegetables from market stalls, it’s a good idea to make sure that you buy items that you can peel and wash yourself (you never know what the hygiene is like on market stalls).
In terms of where to eat, ask locals or at your accommodation for advice and tips on restaurant recommendations. It’s also a good idea to read reviews so that you don’t just get stuck in tourist traps.
And it’s always important to wash your hands before you eat. It’s a good idea to keep hand sanitizer in your bag – you never know when you’re going to need it!
Make sure to read my post How Not To Get Sick In Mexico.
Tips On Staying Safe In Playa Del Carmen
Here are some more tips to keep yourself safe during your vacation to Playa del Carmen.
Be careful when using cash machines
Try to take money out of ATMs situated inside, at banks, in a hotel or in a supermarket where there will be security too. There are plenty of banks that you can use, so you should never struggle to find somewhere to withdraw cash. Using an ATM on the street can put you at risk of being a target for thieves.
Try to blend in as much as possible
Although you may be on vacation, it’s always a good idea to try not to stand out too much. This means wearing clothes that aren’t too flashy, not wearing expensive jewelry, or carrying around designer handbags – these kinds of things attract the wrong sort of attention!
Take care of your valuables
You’ll probably want to take your camera out, or you may even have your tablet or laptop with you – this is fine, but just make sure you keep them close to you when you’re exploring. Particularly if you’re sitting in a terrace cafe, don’t hang your bag on the back of a chair, or leave your phone on a table unattended, as they could very easily go missing, never to be seen again.
Keep a limit on the amount of alcohol you have
Playa del Carmen is a fun place, definitely, and you will want to let your hair down and have a few drinks, but it’s always best to drink responsibly. You don’t need to avoid drinking, but just make sure you drink somewhere you feel safe – at your resort would be fine, for example, or at a beach club – but at bars, you should be careful.
There have also been reports of tainted alcohol at Playa del Carmen, so either watch your drink being made or opt for a bottle or canned drink instead. Take extra care drinking in the sunshine as this can make you pretty sick – heat and alcohol together aren’t exactly a good idea.
Check the weather
You should know what to expect if you’re heading out for a drive or hiking somewhere, as downpours or storms can severely affect travel and the safety of trails. Check local news before heading out, and ask at your accommodation for advice.
Make sure you’re prepared
Whether you’re just going to the beach, exploring ancient ruins, or taking a trip to a cenote, being prepared is a good way to keep safe. Having a dry bag for your valuables, packing mosquito repellent and sunscreen, having small change, and most importantly having enough water to keep hydrated can really make the difference between a fun day trip and not-so-fun day trip!
For more ideas on Playa del Carmen, you may want to read the following posts:
- The Best Day Trips From Playa Del Carmen
- The Best Cenotes Near Playa Del Carmen
- The Best Beaches In Playa Del Carmen
- Where To Stay In Playa Del Carmen
- How To Get From Cancun To Playa Del Carmen