How Safe Is Playa del Carmen for Travel?

Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Safety Index:
69

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

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

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

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

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

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

TERRORISM RISK : LOW

The possibility of a terrorist attack in Playa del Carmen is low since there is no immediate terrorism threat.

Scams Risk

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

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

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:

Beach Clubs

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.

Rooftop Pools

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

Placess 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

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?

CitySafety Index
Playa del Carmen69
Cabo San Lucas68
Acapulco63
Cancun71
Guadalajara62
Brussels (Belgium)60
Shanghai (China)66
Belize City (Belize)37

Useful Information

  • Visas - 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.
  • Currency - 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.
  • Weather - 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.
  • Airports - 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).
  • Travel Insurance - 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.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Playa del Carmen Weather Averages (Temperatures)

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

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
272829303132323231302928
Low
°C
202121232525252524242321
High
°F
818284868890909088868482
Low
°F
687070737777777775757370

Where to Next?

29 Reviews on Playa del Carmen

  1. If you are all-inclusive and go into playa del Carmen for the day you will be plagued by men pretending to be a staff member of your hotel on his day off. They try to get you to go with them to their relatives’ shop. They know all the wrist bands for each hotel.

    1. Same here but they did sell me nice jewelry! Did not feel in danger at any time!

    2. A
      Anonymous says:

      This is true but I always ask them what I ordered if they remember me.

  2. A
    Anonymous says:

    years ago this happened to me wasn’t aggressive or anything but almost made me feel like we had met at the resort I was staying at .

    1. Dangerous

      I was robbed of my money in my jewelry. It is no longer safe. The police robbed me! Very dangerous! Do not go there!

      1. A
        Anonymous says:

        how recent was your visit, Sandra?

      2. Sandra I just read your message, When was this? we are long time visitors and have never had an incident?

      3. Beware - Family Safety

        On July 27, 2021 at approx. 8pm my 17 year old son was arrested at gun point by 6-7 police officers, between the Grand Hyatt and Hilton Hotels. The police accused him on potential theft. They asked about his whereabouts on July 22nd. My daughter had the entire day and night memorized on her iphone which was shown to the police. The police then acknowledged he may not have taken part in a theft but he was being arrested anyway. Police corruption!!

        Did I mention my departure date was July 28th. I wonder if the corrupt police knew that information. I may never know. Better than 50/50 they did know in my opinion.

        Hilton and Grand Hyatt security were present. I was pulled aside and told by hotel security that it would be ok. I just need to go to the police station, where they have an ATM, and pay the police between 5,000 – 10,000 pesos and my son would be released. That was exactly what happened. The hotel security seemed like this was just a daily event and not to worry.

        While at the police station, my son was processed as a criminal and I was led with 2 minutes to an ATM machine which was either in the station or 2 steps outside the station. I made the payment and my son was released within an hour. The scam was not over yet.

        3 police officers said they would give us a ride back to the hotel. During the ride back to the hotel, via a translation app, the police men said ‘the judge thanks you for the quick payment, but now you need to help us’. The police then proceeded to take most (not all) of the money in my wallet. They did bring us back to the Grand Hyatt (sort of). They dropped us off 2 blocks north of the hotel down a dimly lit street. They noted that they are not supposed to drop people back in front of the hotel.

        Upon arriving back at the Grand Hyatt (Playa del Carmen), a security official from the hotel asked me one question …..how much did you pay?

        As I told the Mr Ortiz (Director of Hotel Operation), I don’t blame the hotel for police corruption, but I do blame them for not warning guests about what can happen once you leave the front gate. They tell you all about the wonderful things in the area, but zero about the risks. This means I put my family in more risk than I would have otherwise.

        1. J
          Jennifer says:

          Don't Believe Photos or Hype!

          I believe every word of your report because in 2005 I was the victim of police corruption. This was before Hurricane Wilma in 2005. The beaches were magnificent back then. Due to the unprecedented ferocity of the hurricane and the advent of the Sargasso plague, consider the place desperate and worthless as a safe destination.

          It was unsafe before but is now on red alert warning advisory. I am extremely familiar with the Maya Riviera and 15 years ago, planned to emigrate and even held a work visa from immigration.

          Don’t fall for the photo-shopped beach photos…the beaches are ruined now. The place is full of varmints and people are being harmed in broad daylight. Do your homework in this area!

      4. Police corruption in playa del carmen

        Robbed my the police twice. Once for a fake arrest which required a ATM withdrawal at the police station. And then again when the police drove me back to the hotel and told me I needed to help them now

  3. A
    Anonymous says:

    Do not go to Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. The police are corrupt and will rob you you are not safe. My money and my jewelry was stolen by the police.

  4. CANCUN SAFE

    I’ve been to Cancun 6 times now. Never had a problem with safety. I feel safer there than some places where I live in the U.S. People treat you like royalty and thank you for coming because you keep them employed. Mexicans are very humble people and they come to the U.S. to do the work that Americans will never do. I hate to see how people treat them here.

  5. S
    Sandyeos says:

    Definitely safe

    I’ve been to Playa del Carmen twice. I was just there in Oct. 2020. Never had any issues. Always felt safe. Obviously you don’t want to bring any attention, if you’re going out of your resort.
    I really appreciate the fact that people were wearing face mask at our resort and tourist guide.
    Planning of going back in Feb. Love all of the Xcaret parks

  6. 25+ times over almost 20 years and no problems

    You have to pay attention and don’t do anything to bring attention to yourself. Don’t wear hats or shirts with sports teams or anything that will make them call out to you. Don’t under any circumstance flash your money. Smile and say no thank you while making a stop motion with your hand. My wife and I have been coming here for almost 20 years and have never had an issue the 25+ times we have visited. We are headed down there tomorrow, 12/14/2020 and will be there for awhile relaxing at Riu Palace.

    1. Y
      Yvonne W says:

      Go and relax. People are great

      Agreed….such a beautiful people and place. We go all the time and only the first few times stayed at an all inclusive. After that we have always stayed in the local community of Playa with the local people renting a unit from vrbo. Live with the locals. Feel the full experience. Safety and kindness of the people there. I will always LOVE it in Playa Del Carmen

  7. Playa Del Carmen is Horrible

    I had a terrible experience in Playa Del Carmen. First night there I was robbed by 5 taxi drivers. They came up to me and acted like the cops and told me to put my hands up and they frisked me and picked my pockets of all cash I had on me. While walking down the streets I didn’t go more than 5 minutes at without someone trying to sell me weed or cocaine or hookers. Most of the bars were ok, but don’t go to Las Miches unless you want to get over charged or double charged, they said they were charging me in peso’s and when I checked my statements later I found out they charged me in US dollars, so for a couple of beers and some food I was charged $200. This was my first time here and I will not ever return! There are many more places in the world to visit that will not try to rob you any chance they get.

    1. safety

      Sandra I just read your message, When was this? we are long time visitors and have never had an incident?

      1. Just because your a long time visitor doesn’t mean mean that his bad experience didn’t happen. Playa del Carmen is “safe” to an extent.

  8. Playa police have bad apples.

    On a sunday night in december 2020 I was walking my nightly stroll from my rented condo near calle 88 beach. Aftwr walking to the oxxo nesr CTM, i remembered i needed to withdraw pesos for the morning. I used the ATM in the oxxo store, pulled put 4000, and walked out to continue my walk to the condo. 20 feet outside teo policica municipal officers stopped me and said in fair english that someone with my description had been reported for trying to buy drugs (im a firefighter/paramedic in Canada). I told him it wasnt me and feel free to search me. Id been respectful and gave them the benefit of the doubt. As he did a 360 around me emptying my back pockets (i had a small flashlight in my rear right pocket) he pulled it out and put me in cuffs. I didnt resist. He showed me a dmall blue paraphenalia bag with a white powder and said it was in my pocket. Total BS. He said i could pay now and walk away. I refused, amd explained i want to dispute this incident with his supervisor. I was sat in the back of the police truck, and driven to the public safety compound. Once there, he again said i could pay and leave. They wanted 3000 pesos. I refused and asked for his supervisor. Instead i was tsken to a cell with teo other foreigners. I was kept for 8 hours until they csme again and took me to a “phone call” at the small broken window, the “prosecutor” said i could leave for 3000 pesos, and it would be thrown out. I paid it. When my belongings were returned, my cell phone, credit card, and flashlight were missing. I asked and she daid the police didnt bring me with any of those items. They did return my debit card, and drivers licence. Once released, i walked to the front of the police station, re enetered, and was directed to internal affairs where i requested my phone and credit cars back. I was told they would speak to the officer, and to return next week. They didnt ask for my contact info or address. Police corruption is definetly a problem in PDC. They tried to take 4000 dollars put of my credit cars but capital one declined it all thankfully because it easnt done with my pin. Im aure they took my phone to ensure i couldnt cancel it, and im sure they left my bankcard so i could pay the 3000pesos to get out. My cab driver from the police station said im not the first or last that will get robbed by heavily armed anonymous police, that it was a problem hes ashamed of because his livelyhood depends on tourism.

  9. B
    Brian McMahon says:

    beware of the police

    I have been robbed by the police on a few occasions and have friends that have been robbed too.
    This is becoming more common every year. The police are not treatening, they just say that they are ” checking you for drugs”, even though we are over 60 and don’t use drugs. They have you remove everything from your pockets and then keep the cash or your cards.
    Most of these cops are probably Cartel so there is no use making a complaint, if they know you made a complaint about them you may wind up in a dumpster!
    It’s a shame that the city has become so corrupt! You use to feel same when you seen the police, now you feel scared when you see them!
    The govement is so corrupt they just turn a blind eye to it and say there is no problem with crime!

  10. P
    Playa del carmen is BAD says:

    Just got robbed at Playa del Carmen, came in with the car from Tulum towards Cancun.

    They demanded a stop and search and stole the cash money I had on me. After they emptied my wallet and said I could leave and have a nice day… AGHHHH! If you resist – they pull out the handcuffs.

  11. Lots of thieves hanging out at the beaches and bars, they all communicate on whatsapp. I had chain stolen at a bar.

  12. A
    Anonymous says:

    Be careful with the police they extort tourists .I was walking back to my airbnb on 5th Avenue, it wasn’t even late at night it was around 7 pm, I was stopped by two police officers and demanded a search for no reason. I refused , I was pushed around and they took my back pack . I didn’t have anything just a towel no money nothing because I heard the rumors so I don’t carry stuff, when they couldn’t find anything of value they let me go. This is horrible you can’t even go chill on the beach what is the point of coming here to get harassed. Never coming again, there are other places safer to visit stay away.

  13. S
    Staysafe says:

    Mexican Police scum bags. They are the criminals. You are not safe there. Go to a better place

  14. IT’S NOT SAFE,

    the police in Playa are a gang… they would throw you in jail unless you give them a lot of money… they would lock you in shitty place – I am not joking at all

    It’s crazy dangerous – avoid that place

  15. Police can attack you for no reason

    Terrible, the police tried to beat me up and rob me, this happened on September 9th of 2021. I was taking my financé to the doctor and told her that I am going to get you some water. I left not even a half block away the police stop and four men get out of the car. All I said was “que” which is what in Spanish then the processed to push me against the car, took a punch and grazed me as I ran back to my financé and more people waiting for the doctor. They claimed I called them stupid when I did not, never travel alone in playa del Carmen under any circumstances. It’s a shame I really love this place besides the corruption.

  16. Credit card

    I just left PDC. I was shopping with my sisters at one of the gestores to buy some gifts. We paid for all the things we got, which was a lot , with some pesos we had and then credit card. Maybe it was the amount , idk, but he asked to see some ID and then he took a picture of the ID. After he took it I asked why he did that and he said something about how because of the amount the banks need to make sure it was the correct person that paid that amount. I just felt really sick after that and felt I count do anything because even if he deleted it in front of me with phones you can still retrieve deleted pics. Has this happened to anyone ?

  17. Love Playa del Carmen

    Just left Playa del Carmen. Had a great time with no issues. This is my 5th time visiting PDC and I have never had an issue. Only a great time.

  18. C
    Cece blair says:

    Iffy

    Was recently there Feb 2022.

    I will not be going back there again with my family there were times that I felt uncomfortable as the sun was setting. I also got tired of haggling over money when I was at the Hilton the concierge negotiated a price for my father’s scooter for medical reasons when their team from this private company showed up they tried to charge me $140 more and then we had to argue for one hour.

    I agree with a lot of the other reviews there are way safer places to go to. And definitely don’t go there if you have anybody that’s handicapped the streets are all torn up there are no handrails there are not even handrails by the pool, too much of a hassle.

Rated 2.9 / 5 based on 29 user reviews.

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