Sunshine, beaches, outdoor adventures, and rooftop margaritas for days, Playa is everyone’s favorite vacation spot in Mexico‘s Riviera Maya. But, just how safe is Playa del Carmen for tourists? Let’s break it down below.
Located in the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen is a popular getaway destination in Mexico for good reason.
For starters, it’s an easy city to add to your travel itinerary if you’re coming from nearby Cancun or Tulum. Playa is also a top choice for people looking to retire in Mexico, and it’s appealing to digital nomads looking to head somewhere warm and welcoming during the winter months.
Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple on a week-long beach getaway, or a traveling family enjoying the latest resort, there are some things to keep in mind in regards to safety for tourists in Playa del Carmen.
How Safe Is Playa del Carmen for Tourists?
Compared to other cities across the globe and even other cities throughout Mexico, Playa del Carmen is still relatively safe for tourists in 2022.
According to the website Numbeo, Playa del Carmen currently has an overall Safety Index of 50.55 as well as a Crime Index of 49.45, which is basically low-moderate on both counts. Numbeo gets their data from contributors who’ve all had personal experience on the topic over the past three years from posting the data.
The current ratings come up as relatively low (meaning, low feelings of unease and a higher sense of safety) when it comes to worries of being physically attacked or discriminated against for something like your gender or skin color.
It’s also low for being a target for bigger theft like getting your car stolen.
Playa del Carmen does rate higher however due to worries of increasing instances of crime and problems with corruption and bribery.
And when it comes to day-to-day life in Playa del Carmen (think wandering along 5th Avenue/Avenida Quinta all day, hitting up the beach, or chilling at your favorite Playa beach club) most tourists feel perfectly safe throughout their stay.
Best Ways To Stay Safe While Traveling in Playa del Carmen
Statistically, you are more at risk for some issues to arise if you’re consuming or around people that are consuming heavy amounts of alcohol and purchasing illegal substances.
Throughout my time in Playa del Carmen, I did hear a handful of accounts of foreigners getting their phones and/or wallet lost or stolen.
But, this almost always happened in the middle of the night at one of the popular nightclubs in town. However, these things are more likely to happen in similar situations in cities and towns across the world, so it’s not unique to Playa del Carmen.
When you take into account all of the tourists arriving daily in Cancun and traveling down to Playa del Carmen, it’s safe to say that most travelers and locals here go about their lives without any interruptions.
Is It Safe To Walk Around Playa del Carmen?
The short answer is yes, it is safe to walk around Playa del Carmen. It is especially safe during the day and if you stick to the busy areas in the evening that are typically bustling with tourists and locals.
If you’re walking around after sundown, most travelers report feeling very safe in Playa del Carmen – whether it be wandering in Centro to hit up their favorite restaurant or wine bar for dinner or heading out for a marquesita on a busy corner for dessert.
Of course, there are always exceptions and things can change. Numbeo also reports that tourists in Playa feel very safe walking around during the day (a high safety rating of 79.39), and feel a moderate amount of safety while walking around at night (55.08).
Night time is typically the time of day when you need to be more aware and have your wits about you, especially as a tourist.
I recommend sticking to streets that are lit up at night and walking in places where other people walking with you. More eyes and ears on any block usually means a heightened sense of safety.
What About 5th Avenue, Is It Safe?
5th Avenue, also called Avenida Quinta in Spanish, is arguably the busiest street in Playa del Carmen with something happening at all times of the day.
If you know Playa del Carmen, you know 5th Avenue. While I typically stick to calmer areas, I do head to 5th Avenue on occasion to hit up a bar by the beach and listen to live music, which is a great way to meet longer-term expats and mingle with the friendly locals.
When it comes to safety, busy streets like 5th and 10th Avenues in the main part of town are mostly well-lit in the evenings and I felt safe walking around. People are usually walking to a restaurant or to the next bar.
If you don’t want to be a target, just don’t flash any expensive items for everyone to see or do anything that will really make you stand out in the crowd.
The busy and trendy clubs in Playa that are filled with tourists can sometimes be the most dangerous later in the evening, and this is when it will be more likely that you’ll be a target for pickpockets or to be sold drugs, which you should refuse especially if you want to stay safe.
Looking for more travel safety tips for Mexico? Check out our guide on traveling in Mexico City!
Getting Around Playa del Carmen Safely
Being only an hour’s drive from the well-connected Cancun International Airport, Playa del Carmen is an accessible tropical destination from tons of U.S. and Canadian cities. Check for the best flight prices on Kiwi here.
Let’s start with the basics – taxis. Hailing a (licensed) cab is one of the most common ways travelers get around Playa del Carmen and they are professional and safe.
Some travelers have said that they’ve been scammed by taxis by being overcharged. I’ve always felt safe hailing a cab during the day or at night and feel comfortable negotiating the price (or just telling them to put on the meter).
The best way to avoid being taken advantage of is by being polite to the driver, speaking some Spanish, and knowing the going rates.
Typically, the rate for anywhere between Centro and the main part of Quinta Avenida and the Gonzalo Guerrero area is 30-50 pesos ($1.50-2.50 USD) per ride. If you’re a group of 3 or 4 people, you can split the fare after one person pays the driver. You should not be charged more if there’s more people in the cab.
If you’re coming in from Cancun or Tulum and need a cab from the ADO bus terminal in Centro to your accommodation in Colonia Hollywood, for instance, you shouldn’t pay more than 50 or 60 pesos ($2.50-3 USD).
Some drivers won’t budge on anything lower than 80 ($4 USD). But know that 150 pesos is definitely too high ($7.50 USD).
And on that note, coming in on the ADO bus from Cancun International Airport is definitely one of the safest ways to get to Playa del Carmen.
Bus services are frequent (at least every hour until midnight), air-conditioned, and the bus stop is located right outside the airport terminal. There are also services to Tulum if you’re heading more south. Check out our full guide to taking the bus in Mexico here.
Traveling Safely in Playa del Carmen: Quick Safety Tips
As a solo female traveler in Playa del Carmen, I learned a lot about this fascinating city and how to navigate it as safely as possible. To wrap things up, here’s a checklist on the best ways to stay safe in Playa del Carmen (whatever your gender):
- Keep to streets you recognize, especially if you’re wandering alone.
- Wander your area during the day to get a sense of the place.
- Get to know the people (even if it’s just a few words exchanged) at your local panderia/laundry mat/fruiteria.
- Get the contact number of your host in case of emergency.
- Get a local SIM card like Telcel and make sure you can contact local numbers. This may come in handy if you need to call the local police station or the Quintana Roo municipality for help.
- Don’t wander the beaches alone at night.
- Stick to the busy public beaches. If you want to explore a little off the beaten path, go with a group of friends.
- Whether you’re staying in a local apartment or a vacation rental, say hi to your neighbors! This helps cultivate a sense of safety.
- If you’re looking for a place to stay in Playa del Carmen for a month or more, I recommend posting in one of the ‘Rentals in Playa del Carmen’ groups on Facebook.
- Don’t carry fancy cameras, phones, or your wallet in full view.
- When arriving at your accommodation, gauge the neighborhood to get a sense of how you feel about the area. This is especially important if you plan on heading out for the night and will be arriving home late.
- Don’t be shy to ask your host for any tips.
- Another safety issue that isn’t always addressed is the weather. Hurricane season in Playa del Carmen is typically between August and September, so be aware of that when planning your trip. If you happen to be in Playa Avoid hurricane season during this time, don’t hang out on your hotel rooftop when a storm is coming.
Lastly, enjoy your trip! Playa is an amazing place to travel to and a bustling city with lots to discover.
It’s also a perfect place to base yourself if you want to spend some time traveling the Yucatan Peninsula. Lots of the region’s top attractions are just a quick colectivo ride away. For some inspiration, check out this list of 7 Awesome Day Trips to take while you are visiting Playa del Carmen.