Sandy white beach, emerald blue water, cultural sites and pleasant weather are what draw people to this wonderful destination in the Caribbean Sea. A Yucatan Peninsula Cancun vacation sounds appealing, but can you enjoy it without a care in the world?
Is it safe to travel to Cancun is the most asked question among travellers who want to discover Mexico. The resort area is one of Mexico’s most visited, and there are probably thousands of others who wonder the same thing.
You will find all the answers you need in this article. We also provide advice on the do’s and don'ts to ensure you will have the time of your life in this part of the world. Read more, and you will be an informed traveller!
Is It Safe To Travel To Cancun Right Now?
Can you stress-free explore the various facets of Cancun, Mexico? Photo by Mikolaj Niemczewski - stock.adobe.com
The short answer is yes. Compared to other destinations in Mexico, the city is generally safer. It’s no wonder about one million visitors are travelling to Cancun monthly in 2022 (most of them are Americans). Having said that, you must stay cautious and aware of a few things to be safe.
Are There Any Travel Warnings For Cancun, Mexico?
According to the UK government’s travel advisory, Cancun is classified as “see travel advice before travelling”. Similarly, the US government travel state website also rates the Quintana Roo as “Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling To”. The tiers are below the “advise against all travel (unless essential)” and “Reconsider to travel” levels.
For safety, remember that the emergency number in Mexico is 911. You should also download Guest Assist App for Quintana, which is available in Roo Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
According to the CANCUN International Airport webpage, travellers now no longer have to submit an FMM card upon arrival. British citizens don’t have to apply for a tourist visa. Instead, a stamp on your visa, issued by an immigration official, will show the number of days you are allowed in Mexico.
However, these requirements may change depending on the newest development. Therefore, it’s a good idea to research or check with the travel agency before you depart.
Are Gangs And Drug Cartels A Problem In Cancun?
We’ll be honest, they are. Mexico got a bad rep for all the drugs and cartels-related incidents, and clashes and gun fights between gangs do occur. However, they are not aimed at tourists.
While cases where tourists are hurt in the crossfire are not unheard of, they are rare. As Cancun is a tourism-oriented area, the government make an effort to ensure the safety of visitors. They have been increasing police presence here.
Safest Places To Visit In Cancun, Mexico
Yes, with the right caution, even solo female travellers can enjoy Cancun. Photo by Guajillo studio - stock.adobe.com
How safe is it to travel to Cancun? Compared to the safest countries in the world, Cancun and Mexico as a whole may seem less of a good choice. But you can have a safe trip on the Caribbean coast, too. There are good neighbourhoods to go to and bad ones to avoid.
The safer zones are heavily guarded by police patrols and surveillance cameras. However, nowhere is perfect. Be on guard as you are still prone to small-time crimes such as scams and pickpockets.
Largely developed with tourism in mind, the hotel zone (Zona Hotelera) is the safest place in Cancun. Stretching along the beach is a collection of dotted all-inclusive resorts, where most tourists gather.
With numerous beaches, hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, and entertainment, vacationers can spend days here without taking a step outside. In fact, there are about 70 hotels in the area. Above all, the hotel zone is safe for both families and solo female travellers!
The whole area consists of several sub-neighbourhoods with distinct features. Playa Tortugas is best known for its beaches while Punta Cancun is renowned for nightlife activities. Punta Nizuc is considered to be the most peaceful place. It is near Cancun International Airport and Boulevard Kukulcan.
Things To Do
Photo by Kiyoshi on Unsplash
Zona Hotelera is a tourist hotspot, and hence it is in the Mexican government’s best interest to keep it safe.
- Tour Kukulcan Boulevard street for high-end shopping or dining
- Snorkel and view amazing sculptures in Cancun underwater museum (MUSA)
- Explore Maya culture through ancient ruins such as El Rey archaeological site
- Take a photo with the CANCUN sign
- Enjoy all the public beaches.
Where To Stay
If money is no concern, you can’t go wrong with the dynamic, all-inclusive Moon Palace Cancun. It has three sections: Sunrise, Nizuc and The Grand, each of which has its own vibe and fun aspects. The gigantic complex is also a very family-friendly destination.
Among the all-inclusive hotels, there are affordable and mid-tie options among the all-inclusive hotels, such as La Villa du Golf à Cancun Hotel Boutique, Selina Cancun Laguna Hotel Zone & Cowork or Mayan Monkey Cancun.
Along Zona Hotelera, Downtown Cancun is often mentioned as the safest choice for every wanderlust. The place is easily accessible from the hotel zone via buses or taxis. It’s a 20-minute trip, and you could take in the vibe while riding there.
Contrary to the hustle and bustle of Cancun Hotel Zone, the Downtown area offers a glimpse into the traditional daily life of the Mexicans. Local, authentic and affordable are what people describe this “El Centro” as local, authentic and affordable.
However, note that the closest beach is about 7 km (about 4.5 miles) away. Thus, Downtown is not an ideal destination for a beach holiday. The place more than makes up for it with inviting attractions and adventurous opportunities that attract both locals and tourists.
It’s a central hub for everything Mexican, from fun communities to local restaurants and markets. There’s no better place to try out some street food. The accommodations and activities are more affordable than in the hotel zone.
Things To Do
Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash
With its own authenticity, the Cancun Downtown is another area worth exploring.
- Visit the local flea markets: Market 28 and Market 23
- Take a stroll around the main central square Parque De Las Palapas
- Admire the street arts
- Explore Avenida Tulum boulevard
- Try out the great Taquerias for an authentic Mexican food experience.
Where To Stay
There are many great choices for accommodations in Downtown Cancun, and they are far more budget-friendly than the hotel zone. Oh! Cancun - The Urban Oasis and Villa Sofía are among the most popular.
If you want something different, try The Yellow Capsule Experience. It’s a great place to nap and freshen yourself or work. Most hotels are within walking distance of the shopping mall, markets and the airport.
Here’s another secure and beautiful attraction for your Cancun travel bucket list. All it takes is a 15-minute boat ride to reach this quiet and idyllic retreat. The beaches and colourful houses on this small tropical are just too beautiful to be true.
For many years, the Yucatán state (where Isla Mujeres is located) has been the most peaceful state in Mexico, with recorded low crime rates. You don’t have to worry about any robbery or police corruption. If violence or serious crime occurs, there’s the Tourist Security Battalion to keep things under control.
Things To Do
Photo by jdross75 - stock.adobe.com
Isla Mujeres has consistently been rated the best island destination in Mexico, and it’s not hard to see why.
- Swim with Whale Sharks
- Do a road trip with a rented golf cart
- Snap pictures of wild beaches
- Explore Punta Sur
- Spend a chill day at Playa Norte
- Learn about the turtle at a turtle sanctuary
- Do a tour on your own catamaran
- Go on a shopping spree.
Where To Stay
Whether you are in Isla Mujeres for a day trip or a few nights, there’s always something for you. One of the best value accommodations is Nomads Hotel & Beachclub and Mia Reef. If you don’t want to break the bank, we got your back. Consider staying at Rocamar Hotel, Ixchel Beach Hotel or Bahia Tolok.
Playa del Carmen
Is it safe to travel to Cancun and Playa del Carmen? The answer is yes. Although they are about a one-hour drive away from each other, you should add Playa del Carmen to your Cancun itinerary. They are both in Yucatan Peninsula, so people frequently visit this destination after spending time in Cancun.
The beautiful city along Riveria Maya appeals to digital nomads and retiring people. Tourists will feel safe in daily activities such as trekking or hitting up the beach clubs.
Almost all of the neighbourhoods in Playa del Carmen are trouble-free, provided you follow the common travel tips (some of which can be found in the next section below). However, you should avoid going into Colosio or Villas del Sol, where poverty and crime are a problem.
Things To Do
Photo by Filippo Carlot - stock.adobe.com
It would be a shame not to have fun at the beaches in Playa del Carmen once.
- Visit the Mayan ruins such as Chichen Itza
- Explore the breathtaking cenotes
- Wander around 5th Avenue
- Have one of the best snorkelling experiences at Xcaret or Xel-Ha
- Party at the beach clubs or Coco Bongo.
Where To Stay
The best all-inclusive resorts in Playa del Carmen are Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Hotel Xcaret Mexico and Palmaia - The House of AiA. If you want to stay in North Riviera Maya, we recommend booking El Dorado Maroma or El Dorado Royale.
Safety tips for Cancun Tourists
Good planning can save the whole trip, as one wrong turn is all it takes for things to go haywire. Getting the basics down is a good way to lower the chance of encountering trouble aboard. Here are the tips and tricks everyone should know when they land in Cancun.
Travel Insurance Is A Must
No one wants to think of the bad things that could happen, but it never hurts to be careful. Photo by Cultura Creative - stock.adobe.com
Melissa Douglas, who wrote for high-profile travel publications such as Forbes Travel Guide, Rough Guides and Huffington post, advised travellers to purchase comprehensive travel insurance. This is because of one simple reason: things rarely, If ever, go according to plan.
According to the British travel writer, a plan that offers relatively high medical coverage is preferable - around one million dollars.
Don’t Go Off The Beaten Path
Whether is it safe to travel to Cancun right now, you should never travel far into the unknown. Generally, the violence won’t reach the resort grounds where most tourists are. It mostly happens in the wider city of Cancun.
Therefore, it’s a good idea not to traverse too far away from the resorts. Even if you are accompanied by a tour guide or local, you should always err on the side of caution.
Avoid Travelling At Nighttime
Even if you are on the safest itinerary; things may take a turn for the worse when travelling at night. Cancun is not the most dangerous place in Mexico, but you never know what’s around the corner, especially when you can’t see it coming.
If you really have to go somewhere when it’s dark, hop into an Uber or public transport. Even then, you should let someone know where you are going and the ride’s registration number or bus route.
It’s a good idea to send your friends or family the driver’s identity information, such as name, license number, or physical description. In addition, you may ask the hotel staff to call a taxi for you instead of doing it yourself.
Don’t Make Yourself An Easy Target
Like anywhere else; you shouldn’t flash your jewellery or other expensive items as they could draw unwanted attention. Keep your bags and purses close to yourself, and keep an eye on them at all times.
Dressing down to blend in is another strategy you should employ. For further security, make several copies of your important documents and store the originals in a safe place (such as a safe in the hotel room). Is it safe to travel to Cancun? Yes, but everything is largely dependent on you.
Plan And Book Everything In Advance
Research, research and more research. It will help you immensely before and during the trip. Photo by Tiko - stock.adobe.com
Planning is half the journey. This essential step lets you have a boarder picture of what to expect at the destination. Learning as much as you can about what to do and where to avoid in Cancun, or any place for that matter, is never enough.
CancunCare and CancunSun are some good resources to keep yourself up to date. They provide news and guides about the latest developments in the seaside resort.
Watch How You Use Cash And Cards
Using multiple bank cards is a good strategy. That way, your hands won’t be tied should something happen to your cards (lost, stolen, or swallowed by the cash machine).
While drawing your money from an ATM, ensure that no one is close or following you. Experience travellers say that you should use the machines inside a bank or a building to avoid being mugged or getting your identity stolen.
When exploring the destinations, it’s wise to carry only the amount of cash you will use. If you are robbed or stolen, you won’t lose all of your money.
Don’t Do Anything You Wouldn’t Do At Home
We get it. Sometimes it’s good to let loose and has a little bit of fun. But remember to drink and party responsibly. Once you become intoxicated out of control, you are more likely to land yourself in a bad situation. A bad decision when you are not sober can affect how safe is it to travel to Cancun.
Please don’t get involved with drugs, the source of organised crimes and the violence they breed. That means no ask, tell, purchase or share anything related to such matter. Stay away from them if you don’t want to get involved with the cartels.
Trust Your Gut Instinct
Trusting and listening to your intuition on the road can be a lifesaver. Photo by blackday - stock.adobe.com
Don't be afraid to leave if you feel uncomfortable or something just seems wrong. Mexicans are well-known for being friendly and chatty but don’t take it for granted that they are with good intentions.
It’s better to be taken as rude than the alternative possible. This is especially true with women. You shouldn’t let anyone know you are travelling alone, and avoid following strangers to dark and isolated places.
Things To Know Before Visiting Cancun
Cancun is the destination of choice for many travellers. Photo by Aman on Unsplash
Now you may have a general idea of what to expect from the island resort area. But that’s not all; there’s more to it than you think. Please read on to prepare for your upcoming trip to the Mexican Caribbean.
Another thing people often ask about is it safe to travel to Cancun right now is public transportation. The good news is that using a taxi or bus in Cancun is overall safe.
If you wonder whether to travel by bus or taxi, choose the former. The thing about taxis in Cancun is that they are not metered. So you have to negotiate the price with the driver before hopping on. The ones around the hotel zone are costly.
Likewise, you should arrange an airport pick-up beforehand. The prices of taxis you catch at the airport will be pricey since they are private transportation companies that pay to be desk there.
Buses, on the other hand, are a steal. A single ticket between hotel zone and downtown costs 8.5 Pesos, about 0.35 Pound sterling or 0.5 cents. Not only are they safe, but some buses are also comfortable, with Wi-fi and air conditioners equipped.
Collectivo is another popular choice. Do you see those white mini-vans? They are a shared transport that runs between Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum all day. The prices are reasonable, from 20-40 pesos (about 1-1.5 pounds) per trip.
Don’t Drink Tap Water
Tap water in Cancun is not safe to consume. They do have a good public water system, but only in some places. Therefore, you should stick to bottled water or carry a water filter for safe measures.
Meanwhile, street food is safe to eat. Some people say that they are even better than those served in fancy restaurants. This is because vendors and stalls tend to cook with fresh ingredients. If you are still unsure, bring some diarrhoea pills.
Pay And Tip In Pesos
Whether big or small purchases, you’ll get a better deal paying things in pesos. Photo by johan10 - stock.adobe.com
Tipping culture is a thing in Mexico, just like in America. You should tip at least 10% of the bill. Cancun accepts US dollars or pesos. Most people would agree that paying in the local currency is preferable.
That way, you don’t have to deal with the exchange rate. Plus, you don’t have to juggle with a currency you’re unfamiliar with. Here’s another tip: exchange your money at the money exchange offices or in town. If you do it at the airport, the rate will be higher!
The Lurking Danger In Nature
When speaking about how safe is it to travel to Cancun, people often focus on crime and violence. But there are also natural phenomena to consider.
September to November is the cheapest time to visit Cancun. This is hurricane season so the weather won’t be ideal. It’s important to know the five alert levels system in place and act accordingly. However, this is a rare occurrence rather than an occasional thing.
While immersing yourself in the beautiful beaches, don’t forget to watch out for rip currents. If you see a red flag or double red flag, stay away from that body of water. Although there are lifeguards, you shouldn’t swim too deep into the dangerous areas, risking getting dragged into the sea.
“No man is an island” - if you plan to work in Cancun, we recommend seeking out other like-mind individuals for support and advice. Photo by F8 \ Suport Ukraine - stock.adobe.com
Cancun is popular among the digital nomad group; it’s no wonder when you consider its dynamic lifestyle, affordable living costs and outstanding hotels.
Most of them connect and get in touch via handy Facebook groups. So be sure to reach them and build a network of friendly expats to watch each other’s back.
Making friends with the locals is to be expected, but building long-lasting trust and bonds with other expatriates will help you adapt more easily. Plus, it’s nice to have someone from a similar background as you to talk to.
Now it’s time to embark on that journey to treat yourself to a relaxing holiday. Photo by jdross75 - stock.adobe.com
Is it safe to travel to Cancun? As long as you follow common travel sense and don’t stray away too far from the tourist and hotel zones. Whether you go to another country with a bad rep like Israel or Mexico, be sensible, and you will be fine.
Don’t go out of your way to do something crazy, and stick to the hotel areas. The world’s capital of spring break has much more to offer. With basic measures, you can enjoy the night of your life in a fun resort city with basic measures.