Mexico : Safety by City
- Cabo San Lucas
- Chichen Itza
- Isla Holbox
- Isla Mujeres
- Los Cabos
- Mexico City
- Nuevo Laredo
- Piedras Negras
- Playa del Carmen
- Puerto Morelos
- Puerto Vallarta
- Queretaro City
- San Luis Potosi
- San Miguel de Allende
Located along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula’s Riviera Maya in the state of Quintana Roo, Playa del Carmen is well-known for its coral reefs and palm tree-lined beaches.
The Quinta Avenida is a pedestrian walkway that runs parallel to the beach and features blocks of nighttime activities ranging from dance clubs to relaxed bars, restaurants, and shops.
With all this activity, it is difficult to imagine that only two decades ago, Playa del Carmen was a sleepy fishing village!
With long, sunny days and an average temperature of 83 degrees, Playa del Carmen is the ideal location for sailing, rafting, sunbathing, shopping, eating, or just hanging out year-round.
May is the hottest month and features the longest days and in August, the water reaches its maximum temperature of 85 degrees.
June through October have the most precipitation with the temperature soaring into the nineties.
If you are interested in visiting Playa del Carmen, it is important to understand warnings and dangers, the safest places to visit, places to avoid, and other useful information before traveling to this destination.
Keep reading to learn more!
Warnings & Dangers in Playa del Carmen
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
Tourists typically feel protected since tourism is the primary source of economy in the area. However, it is important to understand that tourists can become victims of kidnappings, or pickpockets, especially when utilizing public transportation. Like in any location, never flash money or expensive items in public. Therefore, the overall risk is medium.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Since Playa del Carmen is not a large city, you can walk to the most visited destinations. However, there are occasions where you need to use a taxi or public transportation to get around. Most taxis do not have a meter so the prices can greatly vary. If you decide to rent a car and drive, be on alert that traffic signs are not followed like in the U.S. After dark, crime levels risk on public transportation and highways. The rest of the time, it is fairly safe, so the transport and taxis risk is low.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
When it comes to less serious crimes, pickpocketing is the most common. The only way to protect yourself is to watch for your belongings and be aware of your surroundings since thieves often work in cooperation with taxi drivers. Travelers should never use taxis hailed from the street.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
The hurricane season lasts from June until November with Playa del Carmen being susceptible to flooding and high winds. Also, the area is prone to earthquakes. Furthermore, being that the city is located on a coastline, tsunamis and severe weather are also possible. Additionally, there are several active volcanoes in the area which could erupt at any time. Therefore, the risk of natural disasters is medium.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
While the pickpocketing of tourists is possible, mugging and kidnapping are incredibly rare. In situations where express kidnappings occurred, the victims were forced to withdraw from ATMs and then released. Tourists are the least attacked targets since they are protected by the police, but you should always be careful. The overall mugging risk is low.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
The possibility of a terrorist attack in Playa del Carmen is low since there is no immediate terrorism threat.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
In bars and nightclubs, an elevated risk of drink spiking exists, so never leave your drink or food unattended. Also, never reveal personal information to anyone except required information for your hotel. Credit card fraud is frequent, so be aware of your surroundings when withdrawing money from ATMs. The safest way to withdraw money is at the airport then inside bank ATMs when necessary. Therefore, the risk of scams is medium.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Although women traveling alone on public transportation should be vigilant, overall, Playa del Carmen is not dangerous for solo women travelers. There have been reports of sexual harassment occurring in nightclubs and bars, but this is uncommon, especially in touristy areas. The women travelers' risk is low.
TAP WATER RISK: HIGH
The risk of drinking tap water in Playa del Carmen and Mexico is high. It is advisable to not drink tap water and purchase inexpensive bottled water instead. There is a high level of water pollution in the drinking water with a low-quality level due to Mexico’s infrastructure. Also, when showering, try not to get the water in your mouth and use bottled water when brushing your teeth.
Safest Places to Visit in Playa del Carmen
Simply put, Playa del Carmen is paradise, a jewel of the Mexican Caribbean that is one of the most vibrant, colorful, energetic, and beautiful destinations in the country.
Unlike many other beach destinations, where the single activity is soaking up the rays, Playa del Carmen offers a variety of entertainment for every taste.
While there are many safe and interesting places to visit in the city, which could fill an entire itinerary, some of the safest include:
All beaches in Mexico are public, which has some pros and cons.
Positively, there is never an off-limit beach for locals and tourists.
Negatively, some beaches can be absolutely swarming with visitors.
With so much chaos, petty theft can also become a concern.
One way to overcome this is by purchasing a day pass to a beach club, which gets you a day bed or lounge chair and food credit.
This is a much safer option than heading to the public beach where your belongings could be at risk, especially when left unattended.
The safest beach clubs include Kool Beach Club, Mamita’s Beach Club, and Lido Beach Club.
Frida Kahlo Museum
If you want to add some art to your visit, you don’t need to travel to Mexico City to enjoy the enigmatic history and beautiful colors of Frida Kahlo.
As a native of Mexico, her image is iconic across the globe as being a brilliant artist and national treasure.
A few years ago, Playa del Carmen opened a museum devoted to her but offering a 21st-century experience with interactive and digital displays.
Her museum is an excellent way to get away from the sun for a few hours in a very safe location.
La Quinta Avenia
You didn’t really go to Playa del Carmen if you skip La Quinta Avenida, which is the main artery in town.
The name is translated to Fifth Avenue, which runs one avenue away from the beach.
This pedestrian thoroughfare boasts countless restaurant and shopping options and is buzzing with nightlife once the sun goes down.
It is easy to get lost in the shops along this cobblestone street during the day, whether you are eating at one of the many healthy cafes or watching the street performers after dark.
While this is a very safe place to visit in Playa del Carmen, always be on the lookout for pickpockets during the day.
Keep your purse on the front of your body across your chest and your wallet in your front pocket.
With so many people moving around, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Never wander alone late at night, especially after many of the bars and restaurants shut down.
The beach is not for everyone as many prefer the pool scene.
Fortunately, Playa del Carmen offers some of the most stunning rooftop hotel pools in Mexico.
You don’t need to have a room at the hotel to enjoy the pool, just purchase a day pass.
The pool day passes are like beach clubs in that you are guaranteed admission, a credit for food, and a chair.
While pools are perfectly safe, since they mostly contain tourists, it is never advisable to leave your belonging unattended for lengthy periods.
This is just asking for trouble anywhere in the world.
Some of the best and safest rooftop pools include:
- Be Playa
- Ikonik The Carmen Hotel
- Live Aqua Boutique Resort Playa del Carmen
- The Fives Downtown Hotel & Residences
- Thompson Playa del Carmen
Places to Avoid in Playa del Carmen
Like with any city, Playa del Carmen is not all beach and fun.
There are some bad neighborhoods in the area that should be avoided.
Luckily, there is no reason for a tourist to visit these sections of town, but you should be aware of their existence before traveling.
Areas to avoid include:
Colosio is a neighborhood notoriously known for crime.
This area is anything north of 46th street, which begins to get messy the further you go.
This doesn’t mean the entire area is bad but the further north you go (around 70th street), there’s garbage in the street, homes without windows, and extreme poverty.
Villas del Sol
This neighborhood is far away from downtown and the beach, so there is really no opportunity to venture into this area.
It has recently earned the title, “the neighborhood more dangerous than Colosio” and has the largest number of police calls in the city.
Like with Colosio, the area is incredibly poor and underprivileged.
So... How Safe Is Playa del Carmen Really?
Playa del Carmen is a beautiful and amazing destination with so many offerings to visitors ranging from water sports to soaking up the sun, museums, shopping, nightlife, and excellent restaurants.
However, while traveling anywhere, it is important to be aware of the potential for crime and safety, which Playa del Carmen has not avoided.
The bottom line is if you follow the above travel tips, stick to the main tourist areas, and don’t wander into places where you shouldn’t then you will have an amazing and safe visit!
How Does Playa del Carmen Compare?
|Playa del Carmen||69|
|Cabo San Lucas||68|
|Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)||43|
|Siem Reap (Cambodia)||63|
|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)||61|
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
Visas are not required for U.S. citizens if visiting Mexico for under 180-days. However, you must ensure your passport is stamped by Mexican officials upon arrival. Also, you may need to complete an online FMM form in advance or upon arrival since every visitor is given a traveler’s permit.
The official currency of the country is the Mexican Peso and overall, Mexico is inexpensive, unless staying at a luxury resort. The U.S. dollar is widely accepted, and ATMs are available everywhere. As mentioned, always use ATMs inside a bank or at official buildings like the airport.
With an average temperature of 83, shorts and t-shirts or tank tops can be worn year-round. However, during the rainy season, you want to pack a raincoat and umbrella to be safe. Also, if you plan to do a lot of walking, pack a comfortable pair of sneakers, and remember the risk of hurricanes from August to October.
If visiting Playa del Carmen by the airport, which is the most used mode of transportation, the nearest airport is Cancun International Airport, which also features the cheapest flights from the U.S. From Cancun, you can take the bus ($10 each way), a taxi (up to $75 each way), or rent a car (up to $30 per day).
With the uncertainty of the world now, especially due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, travel insurance is always advisable. This is important to protect your family and belongings, but also if renting an automobile.
Playa del Carmen Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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