Is Playa Del Carmen Safe For Tourists?

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Is Playa del Carmen safe for tourists? This is a question 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 the 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, 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.

Quinta Avenida
@Pierdelune /

Safety Statistics In Playa Del Carmen

The U.S. Department of State currently lists the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico as a “Level 3 – Exercise Increased Caution” due to crime. The travel advisory also points out that criminal activity and violence may occur anytime in any location (including popular tourist destinations like Playa del Carmen).

The travel advisory also references instances where tourists have gotten injured, or worse, as bystanders in shootings between rival gangs.

Numbeo is an analysis tool that ranks any location’s crime and safety index. Playa del Carmen has a Crime Index of 47.32 (Moderate) and a Safety Index of 52.68 (Moderate).

The three highest crime rankings of Numbeo are Problem corruption and bribery, crime increasing in the past three years, and problem people using or dealing drugs.

That said, enjoying your time in Playa del Carmen without any negative incidents is possible. After all, according to the New World Report, more than 16 million people visit Playa del Carmen each year.

Main Safety Issues In Playa Del Carmen

If you ask me “is Playa del Carmen safe” I will tell you that 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.

Petty crime in Playa del Carmen

Petty crime is a type of crime that is not considered severe. Some examples include theft, shoplifting, and disturbing the peace. And while it isn’t as serious, petty crime concerns tourists in Playa del Carmen.

Most often, it’s something like pickpocketing while walking on the busy 5th Avenue or drinking in a crowded club. But some people have reports of being “held up” and robbed.

While this doesn’t always happen, following a few precautions can lessen the chances even more. For example, avoid wearing valuables (like jewelry or watches) and flashing your phone around while walking.

Usually, tourists are not the targets of the serious crimes that hit the headlines, such as violence related to drug trafficking.


In recent years, there have been some reports of corruption, specifically with police in Playa del Carmen. While the government is undoubtedly aware of this problem and taking measures to reduce the occurrence, it hasn’t been eradicated yet.

What usually happens is police stop you, for whatever reason, and request pesos to let you go. Regardless of whether you did something wrong, police can be a little pushy.

This has not happened to me specifically in my many visits to Playa del Carmen, but I’ve heard it happening to friends of friends.

It actually happened to me in Cancun instead: I was driving to the airport with my sister, and a police car followed us and stopped us suggesting that we were speeding. We were not, but we actually needed to go to the airport so you can figure out what happened.

It’s best to avoid breaking any obvious laws (traffic laws, open carrying alcohol drinks outside of 5th Avenue, and so on).


A vast majority of the crime and violence in Playa del Carmen is between rival cartels. This should seem obvious, but avoid cartels and cartel activities whenever possible (cartels often sell drugs on 5th Avenue or even inside some of the restaurants and bars).

As long as you stay away from them, you won’t be asking for any trouble.

Scams in Playa del Carmen

Unfortunately, scams occur in any popular tourist destination. Playa del Carmen is no exception. Here are a few semi-common cons to be on the lookout for:

  • Rental Car Scams: Some rental car companies will try to overcharge, either in the overall total or by adding costly insurance and telling you it’s mandatory.
  • Restaurant Scams: Some waiters will overcharge you at the restaurants, sometimes calling the additional fee the “tourist tax.” You can avoid this by tracking what you order and how much things should cost.
  • “Remember me, I’m your waiter”: This is one of the most entertaining scams. You’ll be walking down 5th Avenue, and a guy will walk up to you saying he was your waiter last night. He wasn’t your waiter; he’s just trying to get your attention to sell you a tour or something. You may hear different variations and forms of this one.

There are a few other common scams, but the best way to avoid them is to stay aware of your surroundings, what’s happening, and who’s interacting with you.

Playa del Carmen beaches
Photo by Miss Nephew @shutterstock

Beach safety

Beaches are lovely places to visit, but you should be cautious when swimming somewhere you don’t know anything about. You should heed warning flags and swim near lifeguards if you aren’t so confident.

Typically, the waters are pretty calm anywhere in Playa del Carmen. But bad weather or other external factors can cause the tide to get stronger.

Also, never leave your belongings at the beach.

If you’re traveling solo and want a dip, bring a dry bag to carry your valuables or make friends with a nearby tourist who can watch your stuff while you jump in.

You should also read my post The Best Beaches In Playa Del Carmen.

Playa del Carmen beaches
Photo by lastdjedai @shutterstock

Be aware of hurricane season

Nature also has a part to play in 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.

If you’re visiting during hurricane season, watch the weather. Most years, there aren’t any serious concerns. But you never know with Mother Nature.

Finally, let me fully address your question – Is Playa del Carmen safe?

I recommend getting good travel insurance for your trip to Mexico. Check out my recommended travel insurance here.

What to do in Playa del Carmen
Photo by Sergio Sala on Unsplash

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 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.

I recommend getting good travel insurance for your trip to Mexico. Check out my recommended travel insurance here.

Beach in Playa del Carmen

Is Playa del Carmen safe for solo female travelers?

Female readers often ask me “is Playa del Carmen safe for solo female travelers?”

It is! Playa del Carmen is the perfect place for solo female travelers – I have been there many times solo, too. 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.

I recommend getting good travel insurance for your trip to Mexico. Check out my recommended travel insurance here.

things to do in Playa del Carmen

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 the 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 your accommodation to order a taxi for you.

Is Playa del Carmen safe?

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 a small change to give to the driver.

It should be noted that colectivo bus drivers have a reputation for being more reckless than other private bus companies, like ADO. While I was never in a crash myself, I did see quite a few colectivo buses involved in minor bumper accidents when walking local streets around Playa del Carmen.

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 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.

I recommend getting good travel insurance for your trip to Mexico. Check out my recommended travel insurance here.

Playa 88 Playa del Carmen beaches
Photo by Arkadij Schell @shutterstock

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.

I recommend getting good travel insurance for your trip to Mexico. Check out my recommended travel insurance here.

Playa del Carmen

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.

Xpu Ha
Photo by Nicolas Beltran @shutterstock

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 a not-so-fun day trip!

I recommend getting good travel insurance for your trip to Mexico. Check out my recommended travel insurance here.

Playa Maroma
Photo by Aspects and Angles @shutterstock

Safest areas to stay in Playa del Carmen

One of the best ways to stay out of trouble and safe in Playa del Carmen is to stick to well-known areas in the city.

Here are some popular areas for tourists in Playa del Carmen:

  • Right on 5th Avenue: While it may be crowded and noisy, you’ll be right in the middle of all the action.
  • 10th Avenue: Only one block back from 5th Avenue, but much quieter and still close to all the fun.
  • Centro (near 5th Avenue): You can stay a few blocks back from 5th Avenue (on the beach side of the Federal Highway) for a more local experience while still being able to walk to the beach.
  • Playacar: A more residential, high-end neighborhood within walking distance of 5th Avenue and Centro.
  • Mayakoba: This is an exclusive area (30 minutes from downtown Playa del Carmen). You’ll mostly find luxurious all-inclusive hotels and other fancy accommodations. It’s a better area for those wanting more peace and quiet and long white sandy beaches with fewer people.

You should avoid staying past the Federal Highway (Highway 307), as those are more local neighborhoods with slightly higher crime rights. And you’ll be a bit too far from the beaches, anyway.

For more information, head over to my post Where To Stay In Playa Del Carmen.

Further Readings

For more ideas on Playa del Carmen, you may want to read the following posts:

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Discover how to stay safe in Playa del Carmen - via @clautavani

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