Imagine the sun shining on your skin, a refreshing drink in hand, while you look out at the sparkling blue waters of a coastal paradise. If this is your kind of dream vacation, look no further, Playa del Carmen is the perfect place for you.
The coastal resort town positioned on the Caribbean shoreline is located in the state of Quintana Roo in sunny Mexico. Playa del Carmen was once a fishing town but has since become a major tourist attraction. The beachy region has the perfect balance of being a relaxing vacation spot by day and a buzzing party town at night.
Playa del Carmen is one of the best places to live in Mexico due to its rich history, mouthwatering culinary scene, picturesque views, and enchanting beaches. With all this in mind, you might be wondering: Is Playa del Carmen safe for tourists? Keep reading to learn more about this hot holiday hub.
Why Visit Playa del Carmen
A Mexican retreat is a timeless vacation that is guaranteed to leave you relaxed, golden, and refreshed. Major tourist destinations like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas attract the most visitors annually, but Playa del Carmen continues to grow in popularity.
The tropical savanna climate means that there is year-round sun, then there are beautiful beaches, and Mexico’s coliving and coworking culture is amazing. The coastal town is laid-back but also very lively. You can spend your days lounging on the beach, swimming in the turquoise sea, watching the sunset, and then find yourself enjoying the abundant nightlife at the hottest clubs and bars.
Playa del Carmen has a thriving arts and culture scene. Visit the Gastón Charó Gallery to admire the expertly curated exhibitions. Another great visit would be to Museo Frieda Kahlo where you can see some of her famous self-portraits and learn more about her life. There are also interactive exhibits making a trip to the museum immersive, informative, and unforgettable.
Is Playa del Carmen Dangerous?
Safety is justifiably one of the biggest factors to consider whether you’re visiting on a week-long city break or relocating for work. Playa del Carmen is not without danger, but it is generally safe for tourists. The United States Mexico Travel Advisory has issued a note for exercising increased caution when traveling to the Quintana Roo state.
Most, if not all tourist destinations have general safety risks around crime. According to Numbeo, Playa del Carmen’s Crime index score is 47.25. What this means is that it is generally more safe in the town than it is dangerous. Crimes with a high to moderate prevalence include drug trade and use, property vandalism, car and home break-ins, being mugged, and corruption and bribery.
Tourists can be the target of petty crimes in any place at any time and Playa del Carmen does unfortunately pose that threat. The best way to prevent falling victim to danger is to know which areas are safe and which puts your safety at risk.
Dangerous Areas in Playa del Carmen
The neighborhood of Colosio is located north of central Playa del Carmen. While the region is not necessarily dangerous, it is less safe than other areas. Certain parts of Colosio have higher levels of poverty which results in increased crime rates.
Colosio used to be all woods, and in 1987, locals participated in “the invasion”. Residents cleared the woods and built homes, some of which had no title deeds. This could be a problem for anyone considering moving to Colosio.
The residential subsections of Colosio are on the safer side, and there are great restaurants and stores. The neighborhood is quite affordable and has attracted more residents as the community grows and develops.
Villas del Sol
Villas del Sol is notorious for being one of the most dangerous regions in Playa del Carmen. Colosio used to be considered the more dangerous neighborhood, but Villas del Sol has since become more of a risk.
Crime and location play a huge role in how safe or dangerous a place is. Villas del Sol has a higher crime rate and is located further away from the downtown area and the beach.
The authorities have noted the potential safety risks associated with Villas del Sol, such as burglaries, robberies, and drug-related offenses. As a result, police visibility and presence were increased, especially when the tourism sector has its busiest seasons.
Is it Safe to Live in Playa del Carmen?
Playa del Carmen is not without fault or danger, but it is safe to live in this sunny seaside town. The Mexican marvel attracts many visitors as it grows more popular daily. This coastal gem is more than just a hot travel spot, though, it’s a great place to live.
Playa del Carmen has a diverse and large expat community mostly consisting of retired people and digital nomads. Security is extremely important, and you can rest easy knowing that life in Playa del Carmen will be fruitful and safe. There are various neighborhoods known for being very safe for tourists and those looking to relocate.
Safe Areas in Playa Del Carmen
One of the best areas in Playa del Carmen is Playacar. The upscale sector is known for its luxury accommodations (villas, resorts, and hotels), the lavish Hard Rock Golf Club, and breathtaking beaches.
Located in the southern part of Playa del Carmen, this gated community is the perfect place to relax and unwind. You could stay at the Playacar Palace Resort and spend your holiday lounging by the pool, looking out at the crystal clear ocean, or having fun with activities like kitesurfing and snorkeling.
Playacar is extremely safe, and residents, as well as visitors can take relaxing strolls through the neighborhood at any time of the day. It is still wise to exercise some caution, especially at night, to ensure maximum safety.
La Quinta Avenia
La Quinta Avenia, or 5th Avenue, is a famous street in the coastal town. This buzzing street is the epitome of fun, culture, and liveliness. It is also one of the safest places in Playa del Carmen.
La Quinta Avenia stretches for five miles and has a wide variety of attractions like the Frida Kahlo Museum, Aquarium Beach, and the Quinta Alegria Shopping Mall. The nightlife and culinary scene is a major magnet for tourists and locals alike. Hangout spots like Club de la Cerveza, which offer craft beers, delicious food, and a great atmosphere, are popular and very safe.
North Playa has all the perks of downtown Playa del Carmen but with added tranquility. The calm yet vibrant area is perfect for a relaxing vacation or to visit the clubs and bars in the city for a fun night out.
Part of what makes North Playa so special is that it is near downtown and can be reached within a 10-minute drive or a safe 20-minute walk. If you do not wish to go far, no problem. North Playa has some amazing places like the Mamitas Beach Club, where patrons can get tasty food and lounge at the sparkling pool.
Warnings & Dangers in Playa Del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is a dream vacation spot, but like any other tourist destination, it comes with its dangers and risks.
We found that the seaside gem is generally safe for tourists, but that does not eliminate the possibility of a threat. Travelers are always encouraged to exercise caution when on vacation. Tourists do sometimes fall victim to targeted crimes and scams.
Overall Travel Risk (4/10)
Playa del Carmen is generally safe for tourists and locals, but there are valid concerns and risks. No place is without all danger, but you want to be prepared and informed so that you can plan and make your trip as safe as possible.
We found crime to be the biggest travel risk. There are major and petty crimes, and this is a risk to everyone. Another aspect of crime that is a threat to the tourism sector in Playa del Carmen and its residents is drug use and trade.
The weather is perhaps an unexpected risk, but the sunny town can experience extreme heat, which poses a threat to your health. And while we’re on the topic of health, the water not being drinkable is another risk we found.
Crime in Playa del Carmen is moderate. There are cases of petty crimes like pickpocketing and muggings, but they are rare and can be easily avoided by being alert and aware of your surroundings.
A considerable number of residents have reported to have been confronted with corruption when asked to pay a bribe. This is a great risk for tourists, and you could protect yourself from corruption by alerting the authorities or reporting to your embassy.
It is ill-advised to drink tap water while in Playa del Carmen. Most establishments will provide guests with filtered water and warn against drinking from the tap.
Using tap water for bathing, washing hair, brushing teeth, and cleaning is perfectly okay, but consuming it could make you sick. If water is not filtered correctly, bacteria and diseases can be spread through it. You could end up in the emergency room, and that would not be fun while on your trip.
It is essential to stay hydrated while traveling. When visiting a place that has undrinkable tap water, you have to always have bottled water with you.
Weather and Natural Disasters
Playa del Carmen has roughly 300 days of sunny weather. So, it’s perfect for a summer vacation year-round. The heat can be extreme at times, and this is a risk to travelers, especially those not accustomed to severely warm weather. The best way to avoid heat-related accidents is to stay cool, hydrated, and protected from the sun’s harsh rays.
Mexico is prone to hurricanes, and that could be seen as another travel risk. Hurricane season falls between June and November. It is beneficial to plan around this time to avoid being caught in a storm and potentially get hurt.
Drug Trade and Use
One of the biggest travel risks when visiting Playa del Carmen is the use and sale of drugs. The drug trade business is global, and cartels operate out of major cities but also tourist destinations.
Playa del Carmen is used as a drug distribution center by some cartels, and this increases the crime rate with regards to drug sales, drug use, theft, and violence. Tourists are encouraged to heed warnings of dangerous zones where drugs are sold. Avoiding the drug problem while visiting is the best you can do to prioritize your safety.
Tips for Staying Safe in Playa Del Carmen
When choosing a destination for your trip, you might naturally gravitate toward the safest areas. Even if your chosen spot is low-risk, there are a few safety tips that will prove to be invaluable while on your journey.
- Be prepared for your vacation: Research the weather, what places are safest, and where you want to go.
- Invest in travel insurance: Be covered in case of emergency or accident.
- Be cautious with transport: To avoid transport scams, use the taxi service or bus recommended and arranged by your hotel/resort.
- Be aware of your surroundings: Watch your belongings, don’t flash your cash, and always be alert.
- Avoid Drugs: Steer clear of places where narcotics are being sold, and do not accept and do drugs.
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe | Frequently Asked Questions
Is Playa Del Carmen Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
Playa del Carmen is indeed safe for solo female travelers. The coastal town is generally safe for tourists but it is essential to utilize some useful travel safety tips to make sure that your visit is safe and enjoyable.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Playa Del Carmen?
Your preference for weather will dictate when you’d best enjoy a trip to Playa del Carmen. January is the coolest month, while May is the hottest, and hurricane season hits from June to September.
What Vaccinations Are Required to Visit Playa Del Carmen?
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you get routine vaccinations for Chickenpox, Influenza, MMR, Polio, and Tetanus. You should be up to date with your COVID-19 Vaccinations as well as getting vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B.
Is Playa Del Carmen Cheap or Expensive?
Certain activities and areas are more expensive than others. Playa del Carmen has a lot of luxurious resorts and rental spaces that cost a pretty penny and can be considered expensive for some travelers. If you’re traveling on a budget, you could also find more affordable options for your lodgings, food, and resources.