Playa Del Carmen is a gorgeous coastal resort on the strip of Riviera Maya’s Caribbean coastline. It is known for its beautiful beaches lined up with tons of palm trees and dazzling coral reefs. This whole subset attracts thousands, if not millions, of visitors annually.
Travellers adore this place as it is usually quieter than its surrounding touristy areas with the hard parties and ear-deafening sound. If you’re looking for a quiet and calm time and a stunning view of palm trees, warm sandy beaches, and pristine water, this place is for you. However, people looking for parties wouldn’t be disappointed as all the party-heavy destinations are within reach.
However, neighbouring areas such as Cancun and Quintana Roo are infamous for crimes. It is typical of tourists to give it a second thought as they don’t want to get caught in anything threatening. So, Is Playa Del Carmen Safe? Yes, this small resort area is relatively safer and just a picture-perfect trap.
If you want to visit Playa Del Carmen but are unsure, fret not. We have created this article with research and personal experience to help you plan your trip and stay safe.
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe To Visit In 2023?
Playa Del Carmen is usually safe, but the resort area saw increased crime in 2022. Many of those crime incidents were linked to extortion. Yet it remains one of the safest tourist places in Mexico in 2023, thanks to Playa Del Carmen’s increase in police and patrolling.
Local authorities take special interest in maintaining law and order to keep the area secure and stable, preventing as much crime as possible. Since tourism is the major source of revenue, the government doesn’t want tourists to feel scared.
Just like any tourist destination, petty crimes like pickpocketing are also prevalent in Playa Del Carmen.
No matter how much security Mexico puts in place, some unsocial elements and criminals do manage to sneak under the nose into this otherwise safe and peaceful town.
Playa Del Carmen is located in Quintana Roo, which has a level 2 travel advisory issued by the US state department. Increasing cartel violence, such as kidnapping and shooting in Quintana Roo, has made it a level 2 advisory state.
Most violent incidents occur outside Playa Del Carmen, like in Tulum. Nonetheless, it would help if you were mindful of the risks. If you don’t wander off carelessly, you should have a great vacation.
Common problems plaguing Playa Del Carmen are:
- Petty crimes like pickpocketing and stealing
- Tourist Scams
- Cartel and Gang violence, including kidnapping
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe From Crime?
When visiting a tourist place, safety and well-being concern most tourists. No one wants to get into trouble in an unknown part of the world or become a victim of crime.
The reported homicide rate in Playa del Carmen stood at 11 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2014. However, the numbers are growing steadily. In 2019, the homicide rate rose sixfold. In comparison, St. Louis’s homicide rate was 67 among 100,000 inhabitants, which is way lower than Playa del Carmen.
Two Canadian tourists were killed by the cartel in 2022. They were in debt to cartels and arms traffickers. The US state department issued a level 2 advisory for tourists, asking them to exercise extra precaution, not to wander off at night or indulge in any illegal activity. And yet the crime rate is lower in Playa del Carmen. It is relatively safer since gangs or Cartel don’t target tourists. The only thing you as a tourist should worry about is petty crimes.
The resort area made some big headlines in the media, but no solid stats were provided for the increasing crime rate. Authorities are active and deploy more troops to safeguard tourists, so you can ensure to have a good time.
Most reported incidents are mainly pickpocketing, stealing, snatching and sometimes mugging. Kidnapping, aggravated assault and homicide cases target locals, and tourists are generally not harmed unless they have some involvement.
Playa del Carmen has a good rep for being a safe tourist destination; hence whenever there is a serious crime, it gets reported strongly in the media. If you stay alert and away from shady businesses, no harm will come your way.
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe from Pickpocketing?
The most common and annoying problem for any tourist destination is the pickpockets. They steal your wallet, phone, watches, or anything else they can handle without you noticing. Playa Del Carmen has its fair share of pickpocketing cases. You’ll find someone getting pickpocketed in crowded areas or spots where wealthy people hang out, like La Quinta. Public transportations are also a hub for thieves.
You can avoid being a victim by just being vigilant. Keep an eye on your surrounding areas, and don’t keep too much cash in one place, especially your wallet. Put your important documents, such as your passport, driving license, or any other document, in a safe place, and hold your bag in front when riding a bus or shared van. Leave all the important stuff in your hotel.
Tourists showing off expensive items and flashing lavish lifestyles are the easiest targets. Make sure you blend in and be subtle. Refrain from doing anything that can make you a target.
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe From Tourist Scams?
Tourist scams are another common petty crime you’ll see at tourist spots. Strangers will try to distract you with small talk or offer something while their counterparts will steal from you.
They will try to trick you into playing games like a card or find the ball game. To make this scam work, scammers usually put one of the accomplishes in the crowd, asking them to find the ball or pick a card. They make their accomplishes win to show it is a fair game, and when you play it, you lose.
Another scam is strangers coming to you and washing bird poop off you, and in the process, one of them will steal your wallet or any belongings. Strangers try to communicate with you, saying you look familiar and make an acquaintance with you, and eventually try to sell you an overpriced item. Avoid all of that and only talk when absolutely necessary.
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe From Taxi Scams
Many locals try to make quick money from tourists, and taxi drivers are one of them. They often overcharge tourists for taking from point A to B. They take advantage of tourists because they don’t know the distance, route, or rates. You can either book cabs online, through an app or negotiate with the driver. Never get into the cab before negotiating prices and coming to an agreement.
Use Google Maps to check if the driver is going correctly. They sometimes take longer routes to make a few extra bucks off the passengers.
When withdrawing money from ATM always check the card slot for skimmers or use currency exchange agencies. Con artists use skimmers in ATMs to clone your bank card and then siphon money from your account later.
The best way to be safe is by being active, alert, and thoughtful.
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe from Cartel and Gang Violence
Mexico is infamous for organized crimes involving cartels and gangs, so whenever someone thinks about traveling to any Mexican city, the fear of getting harmed concerns them.
The area surrounding Playa Del Carmen was an abode of money laundering by cartels, and most activities were hidden from the general public. You would find a couple of instances of cartels selling drugs to a few wealthy people, but that was it. But recent years have seen a growing number of crimes in Playa Del Carmen and Quintana Roo.
There’s no doubt cartel activity has risen in the area, but the significant cartel activities are still limited to Cancun or Tulum. Cartel activity in Playa del Carmen doesn’t target tourists or tourist areas. However, if you catch their attention by being flashy or inviting problems, you might get into trouble. Stay away from drugs or people selling drugs, as you don’t know who you might be dealing with.
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe: What Areas to Avoid?
Most of the cities in Mexico become dangerous as the sun sets. In bad neighborhoods, you’ll find unsocial elements lurking for tourists to prey on. Avoiding these areas is one guaranteed way to avoid getting mugged, kidnapped, or killed.
Although Playa Del Carmen has few bad neighborhoods, there are still some spots you’re better off not visiting. For example, Colosio is an area just on 46th Street that is known for notorious activity. Similarly, Villas Del Sol is another bad neighbourhood gaining popularity for bad things. It is increasingly witnessing cartel activity and petty crimes. That being said, these areas are only dangerous during the night. You can take a tour during the day without being worried. Just ensure you stay alert to your surroundings.
The tourist areas in Playa del Carmen are safe; authorities have deployed many police personnel to patrol the spots and keep tourists away from harm. The only problem you will face and see other tourists face is getting pickpocketed, and La Quinta, in particular, is infamous for petty crimes.
To steer safely, be aware of the situation and surrounding. Always take cabs or be accompanied when coming home in the dark.
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe: Emergency Contact
In case of any medical or situational emergencies, please call on the numbers below:
- Ambulances: 065
- Mexican Red Cross: 984 873 1233
- Emergencies: 066
- Bureau of Immigration: 984 873 1884
- Police Department: 060
- Hospiten Playa del Carmen: 984-803-1002
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe: What Things To Consider?
When in Playa del Carmen, there are certain things you should consider:
Tap Water: Don’t drink tap water in Playa del Carmen. It is not filtered or properly treated to be drinkable. Always use bottled water that is cheap and readily available. Hotels have some filtration systems, so you can use the tap water for showers or cleaning up.
Drink Responsibly: Don’t overdo alcohol and get tipsy, especially when alone. Getting drunk will make you an easy target for petty criminals. You might lose your money, phone, and other important belongings. Always drink responsibly. If you want to go all out, which is not recommended, have someone, a friend or a fellow tourist accompany you.
No Drugs: Drugs are illegal and harmful. Drugs are one of the reasons for crime in Playa del Carmen, so steer away from them. You never know who you might be dealing with and what kind of trouble you get into. You can be tricked into buying and get captured by the police or someone can extort you.
Respect Wildlife: You can take a day trip from Playa del Carmen to see the wildlife or cenotes (a natural pit or sinkhole). Make sure you don’t just jump in the hole if there’s no one else swimming around. Also, lookout for crocodiles, jaguars, and other dangerous mammals and animals.
Check Weather reports: Playa del Carmen doesn’t witness severe weather conditions, but summers can get too hot. It would help to drink plenty of water to regulate body temperature, stay hydrated, and avoid heatstrokes. Hurricanes are rare, but windstorms or high tides can be seen, so watch the weather before you head into the waters.
Don’t be flashy: Criminals target people who show off money in any form. You will become an easy target if you’re sporting an expensive watch, shoes, bracelets, chains, or anything else. You can get mugged, kidnapped or pickpocketed, which is an inconvenience. The best bet is to leave valuable or expensive items at home or hotel.
The Bottom Line: Is Playa Del Carmen Safe?
Playa del Carmen is a pretty safe beach resort with beautiful views and surroundings. Although petty crime is annoying, and some cartel violence is scary, with some wit, mindfulness, and smartness, you can avoid getting into trouble. If you avoid bad areas, don’t wander at night, and be subtle, you can have an amazing vacation at Playa del Carmen.
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe for Women?
Yes, Playa del Carmen is safe for women travelers. Although they should exercise caution as there are petty criminals and some cartel and gang violence. Stay near the tourist spots and there shouldn’t be any trouble.
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe for Solo Travelers?
For solo travelers, Playa del Carmen is generally safe. But it is recommended to exercise extra caution due to the presence of tourist scammers and petty criminals. By staying close to touristy areas, solo travelers can avoid trouble and have a good time at the beach resort.