Tulum is a gorgeous town on Yucatan Peninsula’s Caribbean coast. This town once was an abode to Mayan civilization and a hotbed for spiritual connection. It has become a popular destination among tourists in recent years. People looking for stunning shorelines and beaches often flock to Tulum because of its calm and less party filled environment. But Is Tulum Safe?
Increasing tourism led to the development of the town. Now, Tulum has proper amenities and infrastructure, including hotels, resorts, clubs nad incredible dining drinking spaces.
But tourists aren’t the only ones that made their way to Tulum. Criminals and criminal activities also came to the town and often made for local news. A few years back, Tulum along with Cancun, and Playa Del Carmen used to be safe and crime has just recently found it’s way into these cities and towns.
If Tulum is your next travel destination for a calm and amazing getaway, but you’re worried for your safety, don’t worry. We have created this guide-cum article for you. By following these tips and avoiding a few things, you can ensure a safe and incredible vacation.
Is Tulum Safe To Visit?
Tulum is pretty much safe if you don’t do anything reckless, be mindful of your surroundings and stay close to the touristy areas. However, you cannot ignore petty crimes and criminals, which is typical of any tourist place. You’ll find that pickpocketing, tourist scams, and thievery is also pretty common in Tulum. But that will happen only when you’re being careless.
Apart from petty crimes, bigger crimes also tend to happen: gang-related shootings, drug dealers causing trouble, and similar criminal activities cause problems in Tulum. Tourists sometimes become a victim of aggravated assault, robbery on gun points, and mugging. You’ll also find people trying to sell you illegal drugs. Other than crime, there a few more safety concerns that you must take a note of and try to avoid them.
- Bad tap water
- Extreme weather conditions
- Tourist scams
- Cartel and gang violence
Crime in Tulum
Once, Tulum was amongst the safest destinations. However, increasing tourism and tourism-led development have also led to an increase in violent crimes. This rising crime has left many travelers doubting Tulum as their vacation destination. But all can be avoided if you know what to avoid. Here are some of the crimes that take place in Tulum.
Any place flocking with tourists will have pickpockets waiting. In crowded areas, it is easier to bump into you and sneakingly take out your wallet. Sometimes, pickpockets take their game to another level by having someone converse with you or distract you while they do their job.
Tourists lost in thoughts or awe are easy targets. Do not appear lost or unattentive in public places. Be mindful of your surroundings and the people you talk to. Not necessarily all the persons you talk to are pickpockets, but it will be hard to spot a difference.
Along with pickpockets, petty thieves are also common in Tulum. They steal from wallets to mobile phones, and anything else that is easy to steal. They use distractions, either created by them or you, in general, being distracted, to steal stuff.
Some popular distraction methods among thieves are bird poop and strangers asking for help. Don’t fall for it, or you’ll end up losing your belongings. Keep your wallets and important documents inside your bag or a strapped wallet.
Gang and Cartel Violence:
Pre Covid, Tulum used to be pretty safe for gang or cartel-related violence. However, things changed drastically after the whole Covid-19 fiasco made economic conditions bad in the city. To make ends meet, many turned to wrong activities, and that, in turn, promoted cartel and gang violence.
Although drug-related violence doesn’t harm tourists in particular, they sometimes get caught in the crossfire. As a result, crime is increasing in Tulum, gaining negative headlines now and then.
But even with the increasing cartel and gang activities, Tulum remains quite safe for tourists.
However, clubs and restaurants where tourists hang out have recently seen some crime happen. One of the incidents occurred this year in March where two armed assailants entered a bar and shot two men inside, leaving one injured and another dead.
In 2022, a street war broke out between two cartel groups killing two dealers. The incident was uncertain and caught many off guard and similar incidents keep happening. So, be cautious to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.
There’s no foolproof way of avoiding the sudden onset of violence, but you can try to avoid going out at night. Eventually, and unlike other petty crimes, avoiding gang and cartel violence comes down to sheer luck.
Armed robberies or assaults are also increasing in numbers. A group of 3-4 men claiming to be armed corner tourists and rob them. They forcefully take one’s belongings, and if one refuses, they might get violent.
If, against all odds, you find yourself in such circumstances, do not fight back or run. Doing so will only increase your chances of getting hurt. The best getaway is to hand over your items without arguing and return to your hotel safely.
Call the cops to report the robbery or cancel your credit/debit cards. It is scary and a hassle, but surviving to live another day is better than risking your life.
Another way is to carry little cash but enough to get by. Keep your important documents like passport or ID cards safe at the hotel and carry a digital or physical copy. Avoid carrying your debit/credit card as well, and only carry them when you feel the need.
Avoid getting out in dark or night and especially avoid dark alleyways or streets. Stash some money at your hotel for emergencies like getting robbed. This cash will help you return to your home/city/country. Playing smart might save you from trouble.
Female travelers might be at additional risk as some tourists have reported sexual assault cases in Tulum. However, there is no published data, private or government, but some tourists did share the ordeal on TripAdvisor, which were later deleted.
If you’re a solo female traveler, avoid dark places, getting drunk, going out at night, and talking to strangers.
Be wary of anyone trying to be overtly friendly or trying to invite you to a party or hang out. Even if the person inviting you is a fellow traveler you met at the hotel lounge or Tulum in general, be alert and don’t go in blindly.
Bad Neighbourhood in Tulum
Tulum is a fairly small city, so it’s hard to pinpoint particular bad areas. Violence is spread throughout the city, targeting both locals and tourists.
You will find as much crime in tourist areas like Mayan ruins, hotels, and other tourist areas as in the comparatively less popular city center.
You can avoid taking remote accommodations, like hotels or resorts in secluded areas, going too deep in the jungle, or getting a drink or two in shady dark clubs or bars.
A Few Safety Concerns While Visiting Tulum
Apart from cartel and gang crime, robberies, and petty crimes, there are a few other concerns that you must know.
Tap water in Tulum is not suitable for drinking. Bottled water is cheap and easily available everywhere. Drinking tap water can invite bacterial infections caused by E.coli or salmonella. It can give you bad stomach problems, like diarrhea, vomiting and more.
Tampered Alcohol or Drugs
Do not buy alcohol from just anyone. It could be tainted with chemicals put intentionally to either rob you or cause you harm. Instead, buy from a good liquor store. Keep away from buying drugs or people selling drugs. First of all, drugs are illegal. Secondly, you could end up in a hospital if you bought and consumed drugs spiked with other chemicals.
Being a coastal town, Tulum often sees extreme weather conditions, one of that is hurricanes. The most observed season for hurricanes is between June to November. So, when you plan a visit to Tulum, check the weekly weather forecast as these hurricanes cause a lot of destruction.
Safety Tips When Visiting Tulum
- Stay close to touristy areas for added safety. Although crime in Tulum is spreadout and not limited, yet chances of you being safe among other tourists are higher.
- Do not wander off alone, especially at night. Mugging and armed robberies are rising in Tulum, and night time is when these incidents occur the most. Avoid dark alleys or narrow streets and, if possible, do not go out at night.
- Keep your belongings safe. Pickpockets are common and can steal your items at any moment. Keeping your belonging safe ensures your safe return and less damage to personal property. Use a strap bag for added safety.
- Do not flash expensive items or accessories like watches, rings, bracelets etc. Doing so will make you an easy target for the perpetrators. Be sublte and blend in. When in Rome, do as Romans do.
- Do not book accomodations at remote or secluded place. Residing where other tourists reside makes sure you’re safer and not a standalone target waiting to be mugged or robbed.
- Carry sunscreen. Tulum can be harsh in summers. Sunburn and extreme tan are a few of the complications you can avoid by using sun cream.
- Red Cross Tulum: (984) 802 5521
- Akumal Ambulance: 984 879 2250, 984 120 1678
- Dr Bernardo, Playadoctor house calls: 984 745 0294
- Emergencies: 060
- Tulum General Hospital: 984 871 2271
- Touristic Police: 984 849 7133
- General Emergency in all Quintana Roo State: 911
Cultural Considerations in Tulum
Tulum is home to the ancient Mayan civilization. For locals, the ruins are part of their culture and sacred, so do not disrespect them when visiting Mayan Ruins. Also, remember to dress moderately when visiting these sacred sites.
They celebrate different cultural festivities throughout the year and can be quite fun. If you find yourself amid one of them, show respect.
The Bottom Line: Is Tulum Safe To Visit?
Tulum has seen a rise in violence in the last few years and yet it is a relatively safer tourist destination. If you stay near your premise, do not go out in the dark alone and remain subtle, you’ll avoid getting in trouble or harmed. Being mindful and playing smart is the key to an amazing fun filled vacation in Tulum.
Is Tulum safe to visit in 2023?
Tulum is safe to visit. However, it is not as safe it was 6-7 years back. Post pandemic, the crime rate has gone up but it still attracts millions of tourists every year. If you follow the tips mentioned in the article, you can have a safe and enjoying vacation.
Is Tulum Safe for Solo Female Travellers?
Tulum has seen sexual violence in the last couple of years. Both locals and tourists try to take advantage of solo female travellers. However, if you keep your guards up, maintain a good distance from strangers and avoid certain things, you can have a good time in Tulum.
Is Tulum Safe For Night Walk?
It is not safe to go out at night in Tulum. You can get mugged or robbed as the numbers of armed robberis have also seen an uptick. Best is to stay near your hotel and if you fancy a drink at night, don’t go far.