Cancun is one of the most gorgeous cities in Mexico and among the most popular tourist spots. Rich with irresistible nature, serene waters, and history make this part of the country a top location for visitors worldwide. It offers various resorts with adventurous activities and calming sites to spend your vacation in peace. However, visitors have been skeptical about going to Mexico due to incidents with American tourists in the past and wonder, “Is it safe to visit Cancun?”
Yes, Cancun is generally a safe location to plan a trip with your family or partner.
We have compiled all the information regarding Cancun’s safety situation and travel advisory in this article.
Cancun is a popular Mexican tourist location located on the East Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula by the Caribbean Sea. It is known for its beautiful landscapes and beaches where tourists can tan under the sea while sipping on margaritas and enjoying gorgeous sunsets.
You can take a two-hour flight from Miami or Houston to Cancun or drive two hours from Tulum. This beautiful adventure spot offers world-class snorkeling and diving opportunities to visitors. But how safe is Cancun for solo traveling or family vacations?
How Safe is it to Visit Cancun?
Cancun is one of the safest cities in Mexico whether you plan a trip with your partner, family, or friends. It has a lower crime rate than other cities, and tourists can enjoy a short trip here throughout the year. Well-populated areas like the hotel zone and downtown Cancun are specifically safer for outsiders.
Furthermore, the Mexican government has taken measures to ensure better safety of tourists, especially those coming from the US, making Cancun a preferred tourist location.
“Is it safe to visit Cancun?” is a subjective question, as the touristy areas are usually safe from street crimes and other unlawful acts. However, many visitors have been in trouble in Cancun for buying drugs.
While most people believe it’s a must to smoke and get high when you visit Mexico, we do not suggest you do so; it’s not worth taking the risk.
Is Cancun Safe for Solo Traveling?
Yes, Cancun is absolutely safe for solo traveling, even for female travelers. You must always stay vigilant of your surroundings to avoid scams and unfavorable circumstances. Analyze and understand the situation before panicking and responding in haste. You can avoid troubles when you trust your gut and consider all the safety precautions.
Solo travelers are at a higher risk of assault, street crimes, and violence as they do not usually have anyone around to protect them. However, many people travel to Cancun solo and enjoy their trip fully. It is most important to avoid going out at night and keep all your important belongings at your hotel.
Do not mingle with “overly-friendly” locals; be nice, but do not consider them your friends. Do not get completely wasted; check your routes when stepping out of the house. Also, always keep money with you for emergencies.
Staying in Cancun
Most people visiting Cancun prefer staying in one of the hotels or resorts in the Cancun Hotel Zone due to fewer incidences of street crime and robberies. At the same time, some visitors prefer Airbnb when the hotels are fully booked or out of budget.
Whether you live in a hotel or Airbnb, always lock your doors and windows when leaving your room/Airbnb. Also, research the neighborhood thoroughly when searching for accommodation and pick reputable hosts based on their reviews and rating.
Health Concerns in Cancun for Travelers
Cancun is generally safe from any epidemic or major issues, but mosquito-borne illnesses are a critical concern. Malaria, Zika Virus, and Chikungunya are other mosquito-borne risks. CDC has added dengue fever to Traveler’s Health Notices for Mexico. You must keep a mosquito repellent spray with you, and don’t be stingy in applying the bug spray. Also, keep a mosquito net if you can to avoid mosquito bites.
Crimes in Cancun
You might learn from statistics that the crime rates in Cancun are around 60%. But did you know New Orleans has a crime rate of 81.67% while Los Angeles is 58.51%?
Thus it is important to know that the high crime rate in Cancun is not as scary as it sounds.
Most crimes are related to gang violence, drugs, and minor offenses like pickpocketing and robbery. Tourists are majorly safe from gang violence, and other such crimes but drugs are a huge threat to your safety. Mostly, tourists are trapped in drug dealings which become a nightmare for them. If you buy or take drugs in Cancun, you might end up in a mess.
A large fraction of Mexico’s population lives below the poverty line, and many resort to street crimes like pickpocketing and mugging. Being unfamiliar with the common situations in the area, tourists are more vulnerable to these crimes. It is advised not to resist as they may also subject the victims to physical violence.
While physical and sexual assault is not a common occurrence, you must keep yourself safe from it. Always keep an eye on your surroundings, and do not get involved in anyone’s personal affairs. Some gangs do not even avoid killing and injuring tourists in such instances. Similarly, always watch your drink to avoid intoxicating drugs; alcohol and drugs increase the risk of assault significantly.
Violence in Cancun
Cancun has been known for gang violence, but the matter escalated internationally when the locals killed some international tourists.
Canadian and American tourists were killed in a shootout in 2022 and 2021 when different dealers showed up to deliver results. Another similar incident occurred in a resort lobby, killing a Canadian and a German tourist.
Mexican Government’s Action
Tourism accounts for 9% of Mexico’s GDP, and the government cannot let these incidents harm the incoming revenue. Thus, the Mexican authorities installed a new security force to protect tourists and prevent regional crimes. You might see officers patrolling around beaches, maintaining peace.
Common Tourist Scams in Cancun
Being one of the most popular tourist spots in Mexico, tourists in Cancun are more susceptible to common scams in the city. While they do not directly impact “Is it safe to visit Cancun,” they can be dangerous. Frequent travelers might know that all cities in the world have scams unique to that region, and Cancun also comes with a few.
The taxi scam must be known to everyone who has traveled to a country, especially alone. Taxi drivers in most countries ask for extra fares and may take longer routes to increase the total. In Cancun, always check the route on maps online beforehand and ask the driver to turn on the meter. You will have an idea of the route and estimated fare for the journey. Using buses for traveling is another safe and budget-friendly option.
The ATM Scam
If you are visiting Ethiopia, Mexico, or any similar country, remember that your debit or credit card is never safe in the hands of another person. Locals know that tourists usually have a stronger currency and must have enough funds in their accounts while on vacation. You may see a local approaching you at the ATM to help avoid bank fees. Instead of helping you, they scan your card data through a card skimmer and use your pin to withdraw money from your card. This can lead to huge losses, and tourists often do not even have enough money to return.
The Bar Scam
Who doesn’t love a round of drinks at the local bar?
But if you are looking for something more than that, be sure about who you talk to. In some bars in Cancun, you might come across girls or guys who show interest in what you want. Furthermore, they offer drinks and ask you to come to a “better” bar they know. The bar owners are partners with these locals and charge you 4x to 5x more than usual. Sometimes these bars also have separate menu cards for tourists with high prices.
You can save yourself from this scam by suggesting a bar of your choice and checking the prices online. Also, check your bill for extra drinks; avoid talking to strangers about such things altogether.
Cancun is a picturesque location; everyone wants to bring back gorgeous photos, and tourists often need someone to take them. Understanding the problem, they usually agree to take pictures of others. Though it is good to help other tourists, make sure you do not consider a local’s request.
The picture scam is a popular one in Cancun where a local hands you their camera and asks to take their picture. When you return the camera, they intentionally drop it and claim that you broke it. Eventually, you pay them some money to get rid of the situation.
So it’s always good to avoid such requests from locals as they can always get help from other locals.
The Airport Scam
The airport scam is a dangerous one as it can dispossess you of all your baggage, including important documents and cash. These scammers live and breathe the airport waiting for tourists arriving late. They mention that the hotel transport has left due to the delay and you must go with them. Some tourists get scammed by them, losing their baggage a few miles after sitting in the car.
The Bird Poop Scam
Now you might think, what does bird poop have to do with, “Is it safe to visit Cancun?” It is another prevalent scam in Cancun where someone spills a white paste on your head or shoulder; some stranger immediately walks up to help you clean. And while they clean, they also steal from you before you know it.
The Guessing Game Scam
Apparently harmless, the guessing game scam is another opportunity for local scammers to deprive tourists of their valuable belongings. You will come across a man with three boxes, and people will try to guess which box has the ball. When someone guesses it right, he gives them a cash prize; the same play takes place three to four times, interesting tourists to try it. When you are busy guessing, someone will either steal your wallet or take away your bag.
Emergency Contacts in Cancun
911 is Mexico’s emergency number, the quickest way to get help.
You might have trouble finding an English-speaking operator, but keep asking; they will find you one, especially in tourist areas like Cancun.
If you have a medical emergency beyond your scope of managing it independently, Hospital Galenia Cancun and Hospital Amerimed Cancun are the top two in the area.
- Hospital Galenia Cancun: +52 998 891 5200
- Hospital Amerimed Cancun: +52 998 881 3400
If you need any other help from local tourism authorities, from the Tourist Assistance Office Cancun at +52 998 884-8074.
You can consult the US Consular agency for other emergency situations besides medical care or urgent need of help. They facilitate tourists in case of issues like passport loss, hospitalization, and arrest. Contact the US Consular Agency Cancun at +52 999 942 5700.
What are the Safest Areas in Cancun?
Cancun Hotel Zone
Cancun Hotel Zone is a 13-mile coastal strip with different hotels and resorts chosen by most tourists to stay during their trip. It is one of the safest parts of Cancun and has everything you would want, including restaurants, nightclubs, shops, etc.
The Cancun Downtown or El Centro is another safe tourist location. It is the perfect choice for budget travelers who do not want to stay in expensive hotels in the Cancun Hotel Zone. You can find authentic Mexican restaurants here besides affordable accommodation options.
If you want to move a little further away from the central areas, Isla/Playa Mujeres is located 8 miles off the coast of Cancun. This island offers white sand beaches, wildlife, crystal clear water, and numerous adventurous activities for a fun trip with your partner, friends, or family.
Which Areas Should You Avoid in Cancun?
As Cancun is overall safe for locals and tourists, you do not have to worry when you are in central Cancun. However, most mugging and gang violence incidents occur on the city’s outskirts. Avoid going north of Lopez Portillo to prevent such interactions. Also, do not roam outside the tourist areas at night.
Other Areas to Avoid in Mexico
- Colima state due to crime and kidnapping
- Michoacan state due to crime and kidnapping
- Guerrero state due to crime
- Tamaulipas state due to crime and kidnapping
- Sinaloa state due to crime and kidnapping
- Zacatecas state due to crime and kidnapping
Safety Precautions when Visiting Cancun
By now, you might know the answer to “Is it safe to visit Cancun” is “Yes, it is.” But that does not mean that you should not trust your gut if you observe something fishy around. Here are a few precautions you must always take when visiting Cancun or any other Mexican city:
- Always stay vigilant of your surroundings and away from anyone who seems shady.
- Always lock the windows and door of your hotel or Airbnb when heading out.
- Check the route when going out to avoid overcharging and robberies.
- Keep a spare wallet with some change and a less-valuable phone with you to hand over in case of mugging.
- Do not carry much cash, especially dollars, when walking around. Keep a minimal amount of money with you; better if converted into Pesos.
- Do not exchange your money at Cancun airport, as you will not get a good rate.
- Do not drink tap water as it might not suit your gut; always stick to bottled water.
- Do not show off your money or jewelry to invite muggers and robbers.
- Do not carry important things like gold or documents when on the road.
- Do not get crazy drunk and party with the locals; you may lose a lot of money and sometimes your life too.
- Never hand over your debit or credit card to any unknown person for transactions to avoid skimming scams.
- Never buy or consume drugs in Cancun to keep away from getting into trouble.
- Keeping a copy of your passport and Mexican visa may protect you in some situations.
Bonus: Some Spanish Phrases to Help you Blend In
Learning some basic Spanish phrases can help you get out of troublesome situations and chit-chat with the locals. Try these:
- ¡Hola! – Hi!
- ¿Cómo estás? – How are you?
- ¡Buenos días! – Good morning!
- ¡Buenas tardes! – Good afternoon!
- ¡Buenas noches! – Good evening!
- ¡Por favor! – Please!
- Gracias. – Thank you.
- Perdón. – Sorry.
- ¡Bien, gracias! – Good, thank you!
- ¿Cómo te llamas? – What’s your name?
- ¿Habla inglés? – Do you speak English?
- No hablo Español. – I don’t speak Spanish.
- ¿Entiende? – Do you understand?
- No entiendo. – I don’t understand.
- ¿Me puedes ayudar? – Can you help me?
- ¿Cuánto cuesta? – How much does it cost?
- Me gustaría – I would like
- Yo quiero/Yo no quiero – I want/I don’t want
The Bottom Line
Cancun is one of the most popular and beautiful tourist locations in Mexico, attracting a massive number of American tourists every year. However, the recent incidents in Mexico in 2022 and 2021 have forced people to think, “Is it safe to visit Cancun?” Cancun is among the safest areas in Mexico for visiting with friends, family, or your partner; it is also a preferred choice for solo traveling. The tourist areas in Cancun, especially the Cancun Hotel Zone, are absolutely safe for tourists. Avoid going out in Cancun at night, and lock your belongings properly when heading out. Keeping an eye on your surroundings and taking some preventive measures can help you stay safe in Cancun during your trip.
Is Cancun safe right now, 2023?
Considering the unfavorable incidents in 2022 and 2021, Mexican authorities installed a new security force especially to protect tourists and prevent crimes in the region. You might see officers patrolling around beaches, maintaining peace. Thus, Cancun is safe to visit in 2023 but stay away from drugs.
Is Cancun safe for female Travelers?
Cancun is safe for solo travel as well as female travelers. Consider a few precautions you practice everywhere, such as checking accommodation reviews before booking, using taxis to go around, and staying in safe areas.
When should I avoid traveling to Cancun?
Cancun is beautiful throughout the year, which is why it is filled to the brim during New Year’s, Christmas, and Spring Break. While summer is the best time to enjoy Cancun weather, it is better to avoid later months, from July to October.
How many days in Cancun is enough?
If you plan to explore multiple Mexican cities, spending three to five days in Cancun is best. Visit the best tourist locations and spend time at the beach, tanning and sipping your favorite drink.
Diana was an active fitness model in the past. She has had numerous shoots done at different locations and found out that her true interest was in exploring the world! Later on, this passion motivated her to write multiple tarvel blogs about whatever place she visited and discovered, and here it is! Enjoy reading a variety of blogs by Diana to get a lively experience of several places.