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When it comes to popular tourist destinations with tropical settings and beautiful beaches, Mexico is no stranger to topping traveler comparison lists. With fantastic resorts and many holiday activities on the cards, the “Navel of the Moon” is a worthy go-to.

But how does ear-marking a location other than major cities like Mexico City and Playa del Carmen sound? Well, the idyllic, glamor-inspired Cancun is calling.

Cancun is the pride and joy of the well-known Quintana Roo. This Mexican state is one of three in the country’s Yucatan Peninsula and a marvelous place to enjoy a Caribbean Sea escape. Cancun’s scenery is stunning, the nightlife is on another level, and the cultural experiences are unmatched.

Despite the hype, you might be wondering: Is Cancun safe? There may be countless reasons to visit Cancun, but here are the Cancun safety tips to ensure a pleasant, worry-free trip.

Kukulcan Boulevard Hotel Zone in Cancun

What to Look Out for When Traveling to Cancun, Mexico

Quintana Roo, home to Cancun, is a lengthy, narrow, but alluring stretch of coastline that makes Cancun an undeniable holiday hotspot and one of the most affordable beach destinations.

There can only be one thing sweeter than unbeatable prices, guaranteed peachy weather, and the enduring party atmosphere. That’s being certain that visiting Cancun is easy, stress-free, and safe.

Here’s the information you need to assess how risk-free Cancun, Mexico, is.

Cancun’s Crime Rates

An endearing feature of Cancun is its friendly locals. After all, they’re ranked among the happiest people in Central America (a reassuring Mexican fact). The US State Department confirms this is one of the safest Mexican cities.

Crime rates are relatively low, partly thanks to the Mexican government increasing security and police presence in the busy tourist areas over the years. Peek at the Mexico Travel Advisory, and you’ll see that Cancun doesn’t make a major splash for crime and violence.

The first step in mastering Cancun safety advice is not getting carried away with the city’s spellbinding hip and happening appeal. Instead, exercise caution at all times. Tread lightly (and respectfully) as a visitor.

Are Female and Solo Travelers Safe in Cancun, Mexico?

Cancun is indeed safe for solo female travelers discovering the city. Although Downtown Cancun is a wonder to navigate in the daytime, when night falls, it’s advisable to be on high alert.

When you’re embracing different and cash-saving ways to travel, like finding the best hostels, it should still be a top priority to secure a comfortable place with sufficient safety measures.

Solo travelers and lone female jetsetters who enjoy solo travel won’t have serious issues wandering around Cancun, sightseeing, or mingling with the locals.

They say intuition never lies, so test that common sense of yours and don’t veer away from making good gut-feel decisions like taking a taxi over walking alone. To ensure you stay safe, be wary and responsible about your independent touring.

Pro Tip: Always tell someone where you’re going. This could be a new friend you’ve made at your accommodation, the hotel reception staff, a family member, or a friend back home.

Next Read: Ever felt stuck, lost, or panicked when your flight is canceled or delayed? Here’s what to do.

Woman at the Beach in Cancun, Mexico

Is Gang Violence an Issue in Cancun?

It’s no secret that Mexico gets a bad rep for the prevalence of drug cartels, shady characters, and gang-related violence, which the movie industry only exacerbates. It’s only natural to wonder: Is Cancun dangerous?

In times gone by, reports of violence and shootings in Cancun, Mexico, have surfaced, but nothing so alarming that tourist safety is under threat. If you avoid sketchy neighborhoods and alleyways, you should be okay.

Gang violence is rare in this city, and you’ll be safeguarded if you go about your visitor’s business happily and innocently. Don’t get tempted to dabble in any underhanded or dubious behaviors that involve tourists.

Violent Crime

If the jarring images of Mexican kidnappings, carjacking, and assaults, so often part of movie narratives, make you feel a little nervous, here’s something to quell those concerns. While crime incidents do occur in Cancun, like any other appealing tourist destination, these are limited.

Violent crime cases crop up from time to time, but not to the extent that holidaymakers need to stay away. The bottom line — where there’s increased caution, responsibility, and good tourist behavior, things should go smoothly.

Aerial view of a Beach in Cancun

Petty Crime

You’ll struggle to find a buzzing tourist destination where petty crime isn’t common. Cancun has its fair share, and pickpocketing is the city’s main Achilles heel.

Luckily, there are a number of things to do to eliminate the chances of being a pickpocketing victim. These include limiting carriables, keeping a watchful eye on your valuables when in public, and never walking away to leave your goods unattended.

This is part of street food and drink safety, too, by the way. Yes, the vast majority of locals are a cheerful bunch, but continued or unwanted attention from a stranger ought to raise your suspicions.

Take note of your surroundings, even down to remembering small details like official branding, logos, and service worker names. Where there’s provision, store treasured or expensive items in your hotel room safe.

Style and fashion might enhance those aesthetics and help create swanky location snaps, but leave your glad rags at the hotel (or, better yet, at home). This way, you won’t appear too flashy and as a target.

Exercise increased caution, especially if traveling to Cancun amid the big spring break party scene when human traffic is up.

Weather

Your travel preferences and budget will ultimately determine when you travel to Mexico, but the best time to visit Cancun is between November and April, the dry season.

During this time, temperatures are mild, and humidity isn’t as bad. Remember that Cancun’s proximity to the Caribbean Sea means hurricanes are common. Hurricane season begins around June and runs all the way through to November.

Cancun’s heat is no laughing matter, so adequate sun protection is a must. High humidity and tropical weather conditions also mean mosquitoes are a bother throughout the year. Mosquito-repellent bracelets and repellent stickers are pretty nifty and effective for combating pesky bugs.

The quick snapshot below will help you make an informed decision when planning your visit:

  • February-April: Spring break season (higher youthful crowds and hiked prices)
  • April-May and October-November: Shoulder seasons
  • May-October: Quieter season (decreased tourist crowds during low season), but expect rain
  • June-November: Hurricane season
  • December-March: Cancun’s peak season (high tourist numbers)

Pro Tip: Before your trip, check updated Mexico travel warnings for the Cancun forecast. Remember that a 5-10°F difference is applicable if you want to gauge Cancun’s humidity.

Street Market in Cancun

Safest Places in Cancun

Where you travel around the city has the potential to make or break your entire Mexican holiday. Some places are perfect for staying, exploring, and memory-making, while some are best to avoid.

Below is the simple low-down on the safest places in Cancun.

Downtown Cancun

Do you know that person in the office or in your friendship circle who’s the life of the party? That’s what El Centro, the downtown area, represents in Cancun.

This is a lively, colorful location with vibrant street art, a city park (El Parque de las Palapas), local markets, and charming walkways. With easy access from Cancun Airport, Downtown Cancun is usually the first of many stops when travelers visit this part of Quintana Roo.

But is El Centro Cancun safe to travel? The answer is a resounding yes, more so during the day. You can walk around this central area and explore freely when it’s light out, but this isn’t recommended at night.

With a clear plan of where you want to go and what you want to do downtown, you’ll revel in an entertaining journey through the city’s heartbeat in and amongst its welcoming inhabitants.

Cancun Hotel Zone

Hotel Zone, or what you can call “Zona Hotelera,” to be one with the locals, is where you find the much-sought-after Cancun beach accommodations and all-inclusive resorts. Everywhere you go there, it’s tourist galore.

That’s why Hotel Zone is one of the safest areas in the city. With visitors from all around the world and as a significant part of the Cancun tourism economy, there’s high security here. Authorities go all out to ensure the Hotel Zone is clean, well-guarded, and inviting for all the area’s holidaymakers.

In one of the most prominent Cancun tourist areas, you’ll enjoy golden stretches of white sand, local bars, and even the nearby Mayan ruins. Plus, it’s safe enough to move around at night.

Hotel Zone is undoubtedly where you want to make a base to soak in all the glory of Cancun.

Evil Dolls in Mexico

Places to Avoid in Cancun

While the Hotel Zone and El Centro are the safest areas in the city, there are neighborhoods it’s wise to keep your distance from. For movements and discoveries that involve tourists, if a taxi can’t take you there, you’ve ventured way beyond a safe zone.

These upcoming neighborhoods are likely to have higher general crime rates as they are outside the highly monitored, popular tourist zones.

Bonfil

Bonfil, in southern Cancun, is administered by the troubled Benito Juárez Municipality. This isn’t the safest place to be, even though there are enticing tourist attractions, like water-based and marine activities.

When booking exciting and unique tours and group experiences, be wary of options that will take you to Cancun’s outskirts, as that’s where crime is most widespread.

Santa Cecilia

Another locality under the care of Benito Juárez Municipality is Santa Cecilia, and it shouldn’t feature high up on your list of places to see in Cancun.

Although commendable projects like Banyan Tree Mayakoba’s Kaxan Naát School are working to revive the area, tourists are better off prioritizing other locations. There are alternative spots for touring and sightseeing.

Valle Verde

Frequent reports related to all sorts of criminal activity have been reported in areas like Valle Verde, located on the periphery of Cancun. As an area plagued by poverty, poor service delivery, and desperate villagers trying to make ends meet, crime and violent incidents are rising.

Villas Otoch Paraíso

Villas Otoch Paraíso is on the outer banks of Cancun when you’re headed towards Merida. Crime is rife here as it’s an unstable neighborhood, compounded by municipality-related issues.

With increasing levels of insecurity, community dissatisfaction, and elevated tensions between the residents and the municipality, tourists should avoid wandering to these parts.

Playa Delfines in Cancun

Cancun Dos and Don’ts

Every country has its dos and don’ts. When you know the cultural differences, behavior expectations, and norms, you’re less likely to get into trouble or offend the locals while navigating different locations.

To stay safe, blend in reasonably well, and get a satisfying overall Cancun holiday, adopt a “travel like a local” kind of mindset. Use the following notes for an easy-going, problem-free Cancun visit.

Some Dos

Do: Learn a few basic Spanish phrases so that communication with service workers and vendors is easier. This will also come in handy when getting around the city and negotiating with taxi drivers.

Do: Exercise caution with rental car deals, exchanging money, and withdrawing cash from ATMs.

Do: Limit the amount of cash carried on you. On average, $50 (about 915 Mexican Pesos) should be enough to buy snacks and small souvenirs when out and about. This will also curb instances where vendors attempt to overcharge you.

Do: Offer gratuities, particularly for excellent customer service.

Some Don’ts

Dont: Accept the first price given by street vendors and market salespeople. The bartering and negotiating culture is a norm in Cancun, Mexico. This can be a fun way of liaising with the local people. It’s vital to do a bit of a back-and-forth before settling on an item’s final price tag.

Don’t: Opt for spontaneous, on-the-spot tour experiences from individual guides offering too-good-to-be-true deals. It’s safer to go for curated group adventures with a reputable company where everything is captured in writing.

Don’t: Don’t lose or misplace your resort bracelet, room access card, and any other essential identification required at your accommodation.

Beautiful Infinity Pool in Cancun

Traveling in Cancun | Life Beyond Cancun International Airport

So you’ve just landed at Cancun International Airport — what now? The main area of focus will be how comfy your hotel room is, but what about how to get around the city?

Part of incorporating local transportation methods is to get the most out of your money with economical transportation options. But, this has to be done safely so that you’re comfortable moving around Cancun.

Take a look at the available options to weigh up what’s best for you once you set foot in Cancun, Mexico.

Taxis

When you’re in the downtown area, it’s okay to walk around the neighborhood, see the sights, shop, visit the attractions, and savor Mexican culinary feasts. But you might not want to walk too far or for very long.

Taxis are a good way of getting around, especially when moving between distinct locations. The key is agreeing on the fee prior to getting into the vehicle since Cancun taxi drivers are known for trying to drive a hard bargain.

Many taxis aren’t metered, making traveling by taxi pricey. Reserve your taxi rides for specific missions and be alert to getting swindled price-wise. Always facilitate your rides from authorized taxi stands (sitios) and throw in some Spanish for some favor.

Reef in Cancun, Mexico

Buses

The buses and minibusses in Cancun are regular, run throughout the city, and are tantalizingly cheap. Be well-prepared by carrying enough Mexican pesos, as American coins and big bills aren’t accepted.

If you’re going further afield, coach travel is convenient. Perhaps you’ll get the urge to take a road trip to a neighboring tourist destination like Belize. In that case, an ADO bus from Cancun to Belize City is just what the travel doctor ordered. ADO buses are efficient and trustworthy.

Even for Cancun Airport trips to places like Chichen Itza (to see the Mayan ruins) and Playa Del Carmen, you’ll be sorted. Get tickets online, at a designated ticket booth, and at relevant ADO bus terminals.

Getting a Private Rental Car

If rental cars and independent discovery are more your style when traveling abroad, you’ll be pleased to know that driving in Cancun is alright. You’ll need a valid international driver’s license and other necessary paperwork, like proof of local third-party liability insurance.

If you’re prone to getting nervous behind the wheel or the thought of assimilating to the driving culture in a different country frazzles you, then skip this option. It’s all about your needs and preferences.

Next Read: Are you planning an adventurous road trip while in Cancun? Get tips, tricks, and reminders here.

Ferries

If the mood for tapping into experiences of Cancun beyond the resorts hits and an island-bound day trip beckons, it doesn’t get more exotic than Isla Mujeres. The island is just eight miles off Cancun’s coast.

Stellar services like those offered by Ultramar Ferries can get you there safely and quickly. It takes around 15-30 minutes to complete the crossing. You’ll board from the Gran Puerto dock in Puerto Juárez, a 15-minute ride from Cancun’s downtown district.

I recommend checking Bookaway to book your bus and ferries beforehand.

Mexican Flag on a boat in in Cancun

Safety Tips for Cancun

There are so many things that make up the list for being safe and cautious while traveling. It can get overwhelming thinking about covering each base.

You have to narrow it down for Cancun, Mexico, and direct your attention to what will make this destination feel secure and low-stakes during your time here.

Some are common sense, while others are less talked-about travel tips. Altogether, these must-knows will help you execute smooth, safe, and opportune Cancun travel endeavors.

  1. Maintain good hygiene and stick to drinking bottled water. Don’t get desperate or be coaxed to drink unfiltered tap water.
  1. Do your best to behave and abide by the law of the land. The prevailing rule is to stay where it’s busy, like in and near the populated all-inclusive resorts like Cancun’s Riviera Maya. Be aware of your surroundings, especially solo travelers.
  1. The best safety advice for visiting Cancun is to make sure you have top-notch Mexico travel insurance. You’ve done one better if it’s full coverage insurance.
  1. An updated list of medical emergency Cancun numbers is a nice extra. This will be beneficial when you can’t avoid getting sick while traveling.
  1. Have a Cancun itinerary with clear markers for where you’ll be going, especially for solo female travelers. Do a little background reading about the areas you’ll be visiting.
  1. For tours, opt for authorized and supervised curated experiences. You’ll feel safer when there are sufficient elements of security and monitoring.
  1. Practice politeness and respect when bargaining and haggling on your travels. Vendors and hawkers are relentless hustlers as it’s part of their survival. A calm but unwavering “No, gracias” goes a long way.
  1. Embrace cultural immersion. Cancun’s social vibe is electric, and you won’t want to miss out. Use the events at your hostel, themed nights at bars, and the city’s social spaces to fraternize. It’s your chance to make new friends, meet other travelers, and carve out healthy ‘people-time’ even when doing a solo travel mission.
  1. Set up a daily budget, even if funds aren’t a problem. The last thing you want is to run out of money or overspend and then find yourself in a sticky financial situation.
  1. Don’t shy away from doing your own research about your accommodation. Look up reviews, particularly for cheap hotels and bargain accommodations.
  1. Don’t overdo the alcohol intake on your nights out. It’s easier for strangers to take advantage if you’re not sober. Graciously decline free drinks from people you don’t know. The aim is to have a whale of a time without completely losing yourself.
Hotel pool from above, Cancun

Are You Ready to Visit Cancun?

With these safety tips and country-specific guidelines for how to get the most out of your Cancun vacation, you’ll feel confident about visiting this part of Mexico.

Some pieces of safety advice are straightforward, like using increased caution and common sense. Other travel tips are less obvious, like investing in comprehensive travel insurance to cover any medical emergency that arises.

From solo female travelers to couples to friend groups, your fears can be allayed now that you know the Mexican government does its part to ensure safety and security in Cancun.

If the inevitable return trip bug bites and you maintain a mission to put other Mexican cities on the back burner, check out these fantastic budget-friendly hostels in Cancun.

Is Cancun Safe? || Safety Tips And What To Know Before You Go
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