How Safe Is Cancun for Travel?

Cancun, Mexico
Safety Index:
71

Cancún is located on the Yucatán Peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.

Before American and British explorers arrived in 1843, it was populated by Maya Indians.

The name Cancún comes from the Mayan word, Cancúne, meaning “Vessel at the End of the Rainbow.”

Cancún remained a small fishing and gathering settlement until 1970 when the location was chosen as an ideal site for an international holiday destination giving way to a construction boom in the 1980s.

As a result, Cancún was converted into a significant tourist locale for visitors from the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world.

If you’re planning a trip to Cancún, you may be wondering just how safe the area really is.

Warnings & Dangers in Cancun

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : LOW

Price inflation, scammers, street hawkers, and petty crime are more widespread, while the party mentality and rise in tourism invariably attract more drug trafficking, leading to an increase in cartel activity. Despite this, the crime rate is significantly lower than in many other parts of Mexico. Because tourism is the area's primary source of revenue, the Mexican government makes every effort to keep Cancún a safe location for visitors. Furthermore, the popular tourist area is heavily patrolled by police, making it a not-so-ideal place for criminals. Overall, this picturesque coastal city is rated a "low" on a scale of low to high risk.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

Taking transportation in Cancún can be a reasonably safe activity. Many area hotels and resorts offer shuttle services to and from the airport. When taking a taxi, it's safe to do so within the hotel zone. Booking ahead is recommended, as there will be specific instructions, like where to meet your driver and other details.By no means hail a taxi. Also, make sure you agree on a fare ahead of time. If you don't, the drivers will demand outrageous sums when they arrive at the destination, which could result in a rather unpleasant experience.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

A large number of visitors in one location usually means many thieves. Cancún is no exception. Pickpockets can be seen throughout the area, but mainly in Downtown Cancún, where there are fewer visitors, rendering them more visible. If you present yourself as a wealthy guest, you'll almost certainly lose some of your belongings. Never carry valuables such as jewelry, watches, or expensive purses with you. Pickpockets with quick fingers can easily distract you and remove them from your person before you realize it. Furthermore, keep your personal items in a secure location. As long as you follow basic common sense and heed the warnings above, the risk is relatively low.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW

Natural disasters are a concern in many parts of the world. For example, flooding and mudslides are possible during the rainy season in Cancún, which could disrupt transportation. In addition, Cancun's hurricane season runs from June to November, with a more significant chance of storms in August and October. Hurricanes, fortunately, are uncommon in the area. Only two have occurred in the last 30 years, so the risk of being affected by a natural disaster while on holiday in Cancún is low.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : LOW

Although Mexico has one of the highest kidnapping rates globally, when it comes to kidnapping and mugging, Cancún is generally safe.Wealthy persons who travel to locations where police and security services are not present can be targets. If mugged, don't attempt to resist. Instead, comply with the offender's demands in an effort to deescalate an otherwise frightening situation.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : LOW

Tourists are not a target of violent organized crime, but they can be affected if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Terrorist threats are unlikely in Cancún, but that can't be guaranteed. Therefore, it's always a good idea to keep an eye on your surroundings.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM

Scammers are people who do magic tricks or give free massages or food samples. Remember that bit we learned as children? Never take "candy" from strangers. In addition, be prepared to be conned by police officers. Expecting to be bribed, they could falsely charge you of petty infractions or traffic violations that you did not commit.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

For female travelers, Cancún is a safe city. It's perfectly acceptable and safe to roam around during the day. Just be aware of your surroundings, and you guessed it, use common sense.There are several aspects of being a female traveler that does not apply to male counterparts, one of which is male attention. Unfortunately, it happens everywhere, and vacationing in Cancún is no exception. Avoid less crowded areas at all costs, and trust your instincts no matter where you are. If you become uneasy at any point, join the nearest group of individuals.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : MEDIUM

If you're visiting Mexico, be cautious of the type of water you consume daily. Many visitors avoid drinking any water in Cancún, even from the local hotels and resorts.Much of the water in Cancún that isn't filtered or sold contains parasites and potentially lethal bacteria that can cause illness and adverse reactions when consumed. This applies to the ice at hotels, bars, and restaurants, as well.

Safest Places to Visit in Cancun

El Centro (downtown) is the more traditional section, while Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone) is a 13-mile, coastal strip of high-rise hotels, nightclubs, shops, and restaurants.

These two areas are the most touristy, therefore safest places to visit in Cancún.

Isla Mujeres, an eight-mile offshore journey from Cancún, is also an idyllic and safe place to visit, especially if you want to escape the party culture that Cancún is known for.

Dubbed as a “real life paradise,” you can’t go wrong with a day or overnight trip to this tranquil setting.

Puerto Juarez, which is about a mile and a half north of Cancún’s city center, was not even established as a part of Cancún until 1990.

This makes the neighborhood quieter and less loaded with top-notch restaurants, shopping, and nightlife than others, but it’s also a terrific place to visit if you simply want to immerse yourself in the lives of local Cancun residents and avoid the crowds.

Placess to Avoid in Cancun

The general rule of thumb is to not venture away from touristy areas, especially at night.

Even some of the touristy areas, like downtown, should be avoided at night.

The neighborhoods to avoid are mainly located north of Lopez Portillo, near Bonfil.

The vast majority of violent crime in Cancún takes place on the city’s outskirts, far away from the tourist districts.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Cancun

While Cancún is considered generally safe, following certain precautions when traveling in the area is recommended.

You should be alright as long as you travel safely and are aware of the risks.

Many of the below tips can be applied when traveling anywhere:

  1. Don’t carry too much cash when walking around and instead go for pesos. Shops will accept U.S. dollars, albeit at a poor exchange rate (for you). The same can be said for your items – Keep them close. Having dangling bags and valuables on display will make you an easy target.
  2. Drink only bottled water. Avoid iced anything unless you’re entirely sure that the ice is filtered and sanitary.
  3. Be pleasant and kind, but not naive. If someone approaches you, trust your instincts and move away if you feel uncomfortable.
  4. Don’t walk anywhere at night. If you want to enjoy the beach at night, go to the beach directly in front of your hotel, and ensure that hotel security is present. If you must walk at night, keep to the crowded areas and remember there’s always safety in numbers.
  5. Leave your vacation plans and contact information with family and friends back home. If coming from the U.S., enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) before traveling.
  6. When taking money out of an ATM, be cautious. Do so inside shops, banks, or malls, and always be aware of who is around and behind you.
  7. Make sure you know where you’re going before you leave. Wandering or looking lost can also make you an easy target.
  8. Keep a copy of your passport, including your Mexican visa, if applicable, on you at all times, as police may request it.
  9. If someone tries to rob you, give them everything you have. It’s not worth it to fight back.
  10. Don’t become too intoxicated. Getting too drunk can jeopardize your safety, particularly when making judgment calls about specific scenarios.

So... How Safe Is Cancun Really?

Tourists are not at risk in Cancún.

On the contrary, it is one of Mexico’s most popular tourist spots, with hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Due to an upsurge in recent crime in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located, the U.S. Department of State currently advises travelers to “exercise extreme caution.”

This is what is known as a Level 3 advisory.

The following European countries are also listed as a Level 3 advisory or higher:

  • France (Level 4)
  • Italy (Level 3)
  • Germany (Level 4)
  • Spain (Level 3)
  • United Kingdom (Level 4)

Moreover, Cancún lags far behind some of the most deadly cities in the United States regarding violent crime.

For example, according to World Population Review, Detroit, Michigan, has a violent crime rate of 2,007.8 per 100,000 people annually.

In contrast, Cancún has a violent crime rate of 64.

We’d still feel safe visiting places like Detroit, St. Louis, and New Orleans if we knew we’d have to apply common sense and stay away from the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

Of course, using common sense applies in Mexico, too.

How Does Cancun Compare?

CitySafety Index
Cancun71
Guadalajara62
Mexico City45
Playa del Carmen69
Cabo San Lucas68
Sydney (Australia)80
Santiago de Chile (Chile)71
Vienna (Austria)88

Useful Information

  • Visas - The need for a visa in Mexico is determined by the country from which you are traveling. Citizens of the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, and Japan are not required to obtain a visa.However, you may need one if you visit Mexico for reasons other than tourism. You must apply for your visa on your own. The process of obtaining a visa in Mexico is relatively straightforward. It costs $44 to process and takes roughly two business days. Mexico tourist visas are valid for 180 days and can be used several times.
  • Currency - The Mexican Peso is the official currency. Credit cards and ATMs are widely available, and international cards are accepted in Cancún. Money can easily be exchanged at banks and exchange bureaus.
  • Weather - Cancún is a year-round destination due to its tropical environment. The summer months of late June and July are the hottest.I advise packing light clothing, but not only beachwear. Layers and items you don't mind getting wet during an unexpected downpour are recommended. And don't forget the sunscreen and bug spray!
  • Airports - Cancún is served by Cancún International Airport, Mexico's second busiest airport, about 10 miles from the city center. I advise arranging a shuttle pick up from the airport with your hotel before your arrival.
  • Travel Insurance - Before visiting Cancún, make sure you have travel insurance that covers medical issues as well as theft and loss of personal things. You never know what can happen while not in your nation.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Cancun Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 24° C
Feb 24° C
Mar 25° C
Apr 26° C
May 28° C
Jun 29° C
Jul 29° C
Aug 29° C
Sep 28° C
Oct 27° C
Nov 25° C
Dec 24° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
282829303232323332312928
Low
°C
191920222425252424232120
High
°F
828284869090909190888482
Low
°F
666668727577777575737068

Where to Next?

12 Reviews on Cancun

  1. Had a wonderful time there

    The first time I wanted to go to Cancun I was thinking it would be quite dangerous so seeing your review of the city would have surprised me. But, the truth is, the city is safe and well protected and me and my family had a wonderful time there.

    1. H
      Heather Henry says:

      safety

      totally agree

  2. N
    Norman P. says:

    It was very fun

    I can attest to some policemen accepting bribes as I’ve encountered this. It’s sad to see it happen but it’s not the only place I’ve traveled where I encountered it. I generally had loads of fun while in Cancun and I will be going back soon.

  3. Going again in January

    Went there in January of this year and I will be going again next year, also in January. I was with a couple of friends and everything went well. Lots of tourists, lots of attractions and lots of fun moments.

  4. Great ...

    I have been living in the middle of Cancun for the last 3 weeks ,It’s safe with great hard working , respectful and kind people . Come on down and experience it for yourself and don’t believe n propagandas ,there more crime in the USA than in Mexico .
    Anyone can recommend any language School in Cancun? Appreciate it.

    1. A
      Anonymous says:

      we just returned from Cancun. if you stay in the tourist zone there is plenty of safety in place. we left the zone by mistake on a bus and it was frightening. Mexico is full of crime,more vicious gangs than America. we don’t bribe police and in Mexico you are expected to pay when they say you did something that is not true. Cancun is beautiful but a bubble for safety to protect our money that is spent in the area. I am told many Cartels now own these areas of control and keep crime lower. Just like Vegas. the Mob keeps you safe. if someone commits a crime in Vegas against you they may be found in the desert if found ever. I notice this last visit NO police had machine guns or big guns like last time. they all had hand guns strapped to their leg.that was a big change in Cancun.

  5. Not at all…

    Violence and danger for women is really high in Cancun. There is a lot of kidnappings and sex trafficking right now, stay safe y’all

    1. Agreed. This site tries to hide the ever increasing dangers – like beach invasions .. c’mon. 2021 is not like the past.

  6. Cancan was great

    Had fun in Cancun in December 2021, It was the perfect end to a great year!
    Yes, I know some of you might not agree, but to me, it was a blast, my wife and I decided since we are working remotely we will travel together as a family the entire year and so we did! we saw so many things this year it’s just crazy!

    I came back to this website from time to time to check the safety of where we are going, I usually read the review and other people’s reviews to see some first-hand experience for wherever it is we are traveling next to.

  7. C
    Cynthia says:

    We’ve enjoyed our stay

    My review will be for my past experience though recent events like the 2021 fall shootings made me less eager to go back. Cancun is clearly not what it used to be, which is quite a shame. If a while ago clashes between gangs were not happening that close to tourist areas, now you simply don’t know what to expect. Obviously you can’t compare Cancun with Mexico as a whole, where personal safety is quite an issue.

    ATMs withdrawals should only happen inside banks or malls – if you happen to bump into any – all while being super careful, especially if there’s someone around you.

    As for wandering around, it would be a hard pass for me, regardless if I have a guide or not. I would recommend sticking to the areas around the hotel/beach.

    I would also add Isla Mujeres on your list, gorgeous blue waters paired with smooth white sand. This is one of their best destinations if you’re into watersports. I don’t know exactly how things are there now with the whole covid pandemic going around though, I would ask the travel agency you’re using if this is still on.

    Zona Hotelera is another safe place, meaning the whole touristy area, with hotels and restaurants. This makes it very safe for tourists regardless of the time of the day. At night
    Travel insurance is an absolute must! I know this is generally the rule regardless of the destination but healthcare for tourists is so expensive in Mexico.

    We traveled as a couple but I’ve seen a lot of families with toddlers so I’m guessing it’s family friendly as well. We enjoyed our stay there, had zero contact with pickpockets, the hotel staff was lovely, they even recommended we try several activities on Isla Mujeres. Loved it there but like I said, I don’t think I’m going back anytime soon.

  8. M
    Mishari says:

    Cancun is very safe enjoyed my trip

  9. have been to el dorado royale for the past 8 years. and not one single problem. best resort and food is awesome. I highly recommend it. don’t look for trouble and you’ll be ok.

Rated 4.33 / 5 based on 12 user reviews.

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