Although Cancun is considered one of the safest vacation cities in Mexico, like many tourist destinations, it’s not entirely immune to occasional reports of petty crimes such as scams and pickpocketing. However, the resorts themselves are typically extremely safe, often with their own armed guards. In areas like Riviera Maya and Costa Mujeres, crime rates tend to be much lower.
To ensure a worry-free stay, it’s recommended to take the usual precautions, such as not wandering out at night and staying within the resort’s boundaries. While there have been instances of gang-related violence between drug cartels in certain parts of Mexico, this issue is not limited to Cancun and is often exaggerated in the media. Personal safety is rarely a concern for tourists, and authorities go to great lengths to ensure their safety.
If you want to avoid any chance of being a victim of petty crimes, it’s recommended to stay within the hotel zone and avoid areas outside of it. Overall, Cancun remains a safe and popular vacation destination for millions of tourists every year. As long as visitors exercise common sense and caution, they can enjoy their stay without any issues.
While the beachfront resorts in Cancun are heavily patrolled due to the influx of visitors, it’s important to note that this does not mean you should let your guard down. Crime still occurs in the city’s interior, and visitors should exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings at all times.
In addition to crime, Cancun is also located in a tropical region and is therefore susceptible to hurricanes. However, thanks to advanced warning systems and improved evacuation procedures, the risk of injury and death has been significantly reduced. It’s important to monitor local media and pay close attention to advisories issued by the National Hurricane Center to ensure your safety during hurricane season.
Despite being located in the drug cartel corridor and being one of the top global travel hotspots, Cancun’s crime rate is around 62%, with home burglaries and corruption being the most prevalent crimes. This may come as a surprise to some, as many may expect the figures to be higher given its location and reputation.
Comparatively, the crime rate in Cancun is similar to that of some popular cities in the United States. For instance, Miami and Los Angeles have crime rates of 58.56% and 59.32%, respectively. However, New Orleans leads with a staggering 81.44%, which is a cause for concern.
Mugging, assault, and drug trafficking are among the most common crimes in Cancun, with rates exceeding 59.85%. It’s important to be aware of the various types of crime in the area and take necessary precautions to stay safe during your visit.
In line with the rest of the developing world, Mexico has a significant wealth gap. This has resulted in a large proportion of the population living below the poverty line, leading some to resort to extreme measures to make ends meet.
Mugging is a prevalent crime in Cancun, with a rate of 60.71%. Tourists are particularly vulnerable due to their lack of familiarity with the area and perceived affluence. Although most of these incidents are simple robberies, victims can be subject to physical violence if they resist. The likelihood of being mugged increases significantly outside of the hotel zone, particularly at night. Fortunately, most of these crimes are non-fatal and carried out without weapons.
In case you find yourself in such a situation, it is recommended that you do not resist and hand over any valuable items you may have. Your safety should always be your top priority. Additionally, it is important to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times.
It is advisable to avoid poorly lit and isolated areas, leave expensive items such as jewelry behind, and travel in groups whenever possible. Taking these precautions can significantly reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime.
Scams are one of the most prevalent crimes in Cancun and can be quite easy to fall for. Many tourists are susceptible to these schemes, ranging from overpriced tours and transportation to fake police officers demanding bribes. Scammers take advantage of the unfamiliarity of travelers and the perceived wealth that they carry.
One of the most common scams in Cancun is timeshare traps. These scams occur when scammers disguise themselves as representatives from reputable timeshare companies and offer attractive deals to tourists. Once they sign up for the timeshare, they are charged exorbitant fees and penalties for canceling or not following through with the purchase.
Another common scam is fake taxi drivers who overcharge or take tourists to a different location than intended. Street vendors also sell counterfeit goods, and “friendly locals” may offer to show tourists around only to lead them to a shop or restaurant where they demand a commission.
To avoid being scammed in Cancun, it’s important to take precautions. Research reputable tour companies and transportation options before traveling to ensure that you are dealing with legitimate businesses. Be wary of unsolicited offers or deals that seem too good to be true. Always ask for a receipt and make sure to check prices before agreeing to any service. Don’t give in to pressure and decide on the spot. It’s also important to be aware of your surroundings and avoid dark and isolated areas. Trust your instincts and if something feels off, walk away.
If you do fall victim to a scam, it’s important to stay calm and report the incident to the authorities. Keep a record of any transactions or communications with the scammer and provide as much detail as possible to help with the investigation.
In summary, Cancun is not immune to scams, and tourists need to be vigilant and cautious to avoid falling victim. By researching reputable businesses, being aware of surroundings, and trusting instincts, visitors can stay safe and enjoy their trip without being scammed.
Last year, The New York Post reported on the abduction and machete attack of a U.S. citizen while vacationing in Cancun. Although rare, incidents like these are a serious concern for tourists visiting the city.
Assault can take many forms, including physical, verbal, and sexual, and can leave victims traumatized, injured, or even killed. Solo travelers are particularly vulnerable since they may not have anyone to turn to in case of an emergency.
However, being in a group or with a partner does not make you immune to such crimes, as they can happen to anyone at any time.
Alcohol and drugs significantly increase the risk of assault. Being under the influence can cause individuals to let their guard down and make poor decisions.
There have been reports of certain establishments in Cancun, particularly in the downtown area, spiking drinks or serving adulterated substances that can endanger unsuspecting tourists. As a traveler, you can protect yourself by remaining vigilant and aware of your surroundings.
Avoid walking alone in unfamiliar or poorly lit areas, and never accept drinks from strangers. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, seek help immediately.
Cancun’s local authorities are trained and equipped to handle such incidents and will do their best to assist you. Stay in touch with your family and friends back home and inform your hotel or resort staff of your whereabouts and expected return time.
Avoiding Bad Areas Cancun
Cancun has two sides, much like a coin. One side boasts breathtaking sights and attractions, while the other is filled with tourist traps that should be avoided.
When traveling, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. As a general rule, it’s advisable to avoid the city’s outskirts, particularly the area north of Lopez Portillo near Bonfil.
This region has a higher likelihood of encountering unscrupulous individuals who may scam or harass unsuspecting tourists. If you must travel there, do so during daylight hours and in the company of a local guide.
In addition, exercise extra caution if you venture past Plaza Dos Mil, also known as Plaza 2000. While this area is a popular hub for commerce and dining, it is also notorious for shady activity.
In certain areas of Cancun, such as the downtown area, aggressive panhandling and pickpocketing are more prevalent. Despite being a popular destination for its affordable accommodations, delicious street food, and lively nightlife, the downtown area is not immune to petty crime, especially during late hours.
Exercise caution and stay on well-lit, populated streets. It’s generally advisable to stay in touristic areas like the Hotel Zone, where there are more people around and less chance of being targeted by criminals. Additionally, the Mexican government has invested heavily in making the Hotel Zone secure and welcoming to tourists.
Safest Places to Visit and Stay in Cancun
Zona Hotelera: When you search for Cancun online, you’ll likely come across images of the stunning 13-mile coastline known as the Zona Hotelera. This area is home to some of the best hotels, restaurants, shops, and nightclubs, making it a paradise for tourists.
Isla/Playa Mujeres: If you’re looking for a more laid-back vacation, head 8 miles off the coast of Cancun to Isla/Playa Mujeres. With its crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, and diverse wildlife, it’s an ideal destination for exploration. Personally, I recommend staying at the Atelier or the Majestic Elegance, both of which are located on Playa M.
El Centro (Downtown): El Centro is a great option for budget travelers. It offers more affordable accommodation choices, authentic Mexican eateries, and a wealth of activities to enjoy.