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Is Cancun Safe to Travel in 2024: Understanding the Latest Crime Statistics

Is Cancun safe to travel in 2024? Most travelers prefer to visit Cancun because of the vibrant nightlife, magical cenotes, encounters with whale sharks, beautiful beaches, and memorable scuba diving experiences.

But is Cancun dangerous? Can we say it is safe to travel to Cancun? Are there secure precautions you should be aware of? All these concerns are reasonable and will be addressed in this article. Continue reading and learn the safe areas to visit during your trip here. Let us begin!

Is it Safe to Tour Cancun, Mexico in 2024 – Key Takeaways

  1. Cartel Violence Risk – HIGH
  2. Kidnappings Risk – MEDIUM
  3. Fraud Risk – MEDIUM
  4. Petty Theft Risk – MEDIUM
  5. Level of Danger When Driving – MEDIUM
  6. Level of Danger in Buses – LOW
  7. Level of Danger in Taxi – LOW
  8. Level of Danger at Night – MEDIUM
  9. Areas Requiring Caution – Colonia Tres Reyes, Bonfil, Valle Verde, Santa Cecilia
  10. Safe Places – Cancun Centro, Cancun hotel zone, Mayan ruins
  11. Crime in Cancun compared to other cities in Mexico – Rating based on real reviews from travelers and locals according to Numbeo. Crime index meaning: 0-20 is very low, 20-40 is low, 40-60 is moderate, 60-80 is high, and 80-100 is very high.

CITY

STATE

CRIME INDEX

Guerrero

28.92

Quintana Roo

34.21

Jalisco

35.70

Quintana Roo

36.94

Queretaro

37.55

Sinaloa

39.43

Oaxaca

43.19

 Baja California Sur

43.24

Sonora

45.39

Nuevo León

48.25

Veracruz

49.20

Guanajuato

50.54

Guanajuato

50.94

Сhihuahua

55.49

Cancun

Quintana Roo

55.73

Michoacan

56.90

Puebla

58.23

Chihuahua

68.71

Baja California

71.99

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Quintana Roo state. However, personnel are advised to exercise increased situational awareness after dark in downtown areas of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, and to remain in well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones.US Department of State

How Safe Is Cancun? 2024 Latest Crime Rates

Cancun is located in the municipality of Benito Jurez in the Quintana Roo state. According to an official Mexican government report, there were 54,327 crimes in the state in 2023. In January 2024 alone the value was 4,530.

How Safe Is Cancun
Credit: www.gob.mx

As for the municipality of Benito Jurez, regarding Elcri.men there were 342 crimes from February 2023 to January 2024. It has a crime rating of 38.4 which has a population of 890,985.

How Safe Is Cancun
Credit: www.elcri.men

No city or state is ever too safe, and this is the case with Cancun. According to Numbeo, the crime index of Cancun is 55.73%, while the safety index is 44.27%. But do not be alarmed by the crime index because it is in a much better position when we compare Cancun to other dangerous cities like Tijuana. Let us explore more!

1. Risk of Cartel Violence – High

Is Cancun safe, or will you be a victim of cartel violence? According to Numbeo, the number of people using or dealing drugs is high (62.50%). There are four main cartels which compete for business in the area. That includes El Chapo’s old cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel; the Gulf Cartel; the Jalisco New Generation Cartel; and the Grupo Regional, a “smaller” cartel created by former Zetas, brutally violent cartel enforcers.

Risk of Cartel Violence in Cancun
Credit: www.globalguardian.com

Lately, there has been an increase in cases involving Mexican drug cartels. The victims, in most cases, are the innocent bystanders.

  1. In 2023, there were four killings near the beach in Cancun that were linked to a drug gang leader known as “The Panther.”
  2. Authorities later found eight bodies in Cancun resort as drug cartel violence rages.
  3. The latest incident was in February 2024, where cartel members dismembered rival gang members with machetes in a tourist hot spot in Cancun. A California woman was killed in the crossfire near the famous Tulum beach, and an abducted New York man was left in a secluded jungle with his eyes taped shut.

It is important to note that this issue with drug cartel violence rarely affects tourists. Most wars here and in other cities like Playa del Carmen are between competing cartels, so this should not discourage you from visiting this stunning city.

Caution: PLEASE stay away from drug dealing and usage. Be on the lookout, and if you spot any drug-related activity, just walk away as fast as you can. Drug-related violence does not occur in tourist zones, so try your best not to leave the areas.

2. Risk of Being Kidnapped – Moderate

Is Cancun safe, or should you worry about someone kidnapping you as you stroll this city? According to Statista, the abduction of people is a recurring security problem in Mexico. In 2022, a total of 506 cases of kidnapping were registered in the country, down from 625 cases reported a year earlier.

There have been cases of reported kidnappings in Cancun. In 2023, Seven Mexican immigration agents were kidnapped at gunpoint in Cancun by suspected cartel members. The State Department doesn’t prohibit travel to Cancun, but it’s rated a level 2 – exercise increased caution.

Risk of Being Kidnapped in Cancun
Credit: www.travelmaps.state.gov

Is Cancun safe from fraud? Well, there are several scams in Cancun, and if you are vigilant enough, you can avoid most of them. It goes without saying, but applying common sense will go a long way. Here are the common frauds and how to avoid them.

Scams to Watch Out for in Cancun
  1. Taxi scams: Taxi drivers take advantage of tourists and overcharge them. Ensure you board registered taxis in places like Cancun International Airport and agree on the fare before commencing the trip.
  2. Scam of the bird poop: This is a three or more-people scam. One individual will apply a white paste on your shoulder. Person 2 comes and pretends to be concerned and offers a “helping hand.” Person 3 and 4 will pick your pockets as you will be too distracted to notice. Always be vigilant and avoid getting distracted while out in the city.
  3. Airport fraud: Sometimes, when tourists arrive late at the Cancun airport due to delayed flights, they will find ‘helpers’ who convince them to hitch a ride. Avoid this at all costs. Instead, opt for the Cancun airport shuttle.
Note: Please note that scammers are cheeky and always find new techniques for scamming innocent travelers, so be vigilant.

4. Petty Crime Risk – Moderate (Common in Hotel Zone)

Is Cancun safe in terms of petty thefts? I mean, should you be worried about getting mugged? The risk of such crimes, according to Numbeo, is moderate (58.95%). This means you have to exercise increased caution while strolling the town. Petty crimes include:

  1. Pickpocketing: Tourists carry their valuables, so many pickpocketers target them. Most travelers are also not attentive to their surroundings, making it almost too easy for pickpocketers.
  2. Bag snatching: This especially happens in isolated streets and dark alleys. It could also happen in overcrowded locations. Ensure you invest in an antitheft bag and keep an eye on your belongings at all times.
Bag snatching
  1. Common theft: These are the other kinds of thefts. You could, for example, leave your bags unattended at the beach only to return and find your wallet and phone are missing. Avoid leaving your bags unattended. Also, refrain from wearing flirty jewelry and accessories.
Note: Tourists are more susceptible to petty thefts than victims of drug cartels. So watch out!

Specific Locations in Cancun to Avoid

We have said that Cancun is safe, but not all areas are secure. Visitors love roaming around the city, exploring hidden gems. Sometimes, they end up in dangerous places. These are the locations to avoid to stay safe during your travels.

Specific Locations in Cancun to Avoid
  1. Colonia Tres Reyes: It is situated on the Cancun-Merida highway, just 11 kilometers from downtown Cancun. Though it is a small area, homicide crime rates have increased significantly.
  2. Bonfil: It is situated between the city and Cancun airport and was supposed to serve as an agricultural area. It is around seven kilometers from downtown. Many people live here (20,000), and among the residents, most of them are cartel members. Violent crime is common here.
  3. Valle Verde: Just a few kilometers from downtown Cancun is this region with high levels of drug-related crimes and violent crimes. In September 2023, police arrested many people and confiscated many cars, weapons, and enormous quantities of illegal drugs.
  4. Santa Cecilia: This area is known for cartel violence. Thus, violent crime and homicides have significantly increased.

Most of these areas are famous for drugs and high rates of violent crimes, so try as much as possible to avoid these locations.

Is Cancun Safe for Americans to Travel in 2024?

Is Cancun safe for Americans? What do the travel advisories and state department say? All these are valid safety concerns. As was mentioned before, the U.S. Department of State falls under Level 2, meaning that people traveling here must exercise increased caution.

Is Cancun Safe for Americans to Travel
Credit: www.travel.state.gov

Though crime has increased in the last three years, according to Numbeo (72.87), it remains safer than other cities such as Mexico City. Petty crimes are the most common type of crime here. But if you follow the safety tips (I will highlight them later in this article), you will minimize the risks of such crimes.

Travel advisories that the US embassy and consulates in Mexico have issued include:

  1. US citizens should exercise increased caution after sunset in the downtown areas of popular spring break locations, including Cancun.
  2. Citizens of the US should stay away from unregulated alcohol because many have lost consciousness or suffer from injuries.
  3. US citizens should refrain from drug use and possession because many succumb or become seriously ill after using such drugs.
  4. Citizens of the US should stay alert to avoid being drugged and later sexually abused.

So, is Cancun, Mexico, safe for US citizens? US citizens are fairly safe, but they should exercise caution and follow the travel advisories given by the US embassy and consulates in Mexico and the US State Department.

Safety of Cancun’s Transport System

What is next after you land at Cancun airport? How will you move around in Cancun, Mexico? In this section, we shall look at the safety levels of three ways you can use to travel while visiting Cancun.

Risk of Driving in Cancun – Moderate

Driving in Cancun by yourself is not safe. Poor road conditions, traffic, and cartel violence make driving in Cancun dangerous. This region is situated near significant routes used for drug trafficking. It renders it vulnerable to theft, kidnapping, and cartel activity. According to Numbeo, your car’s total criminal risk score in Cancun is between 49 and 56.

Risk of Driving in Cancun

There are no restrictions on travel for government employees in Cancun, Quintana Roo state. However, personnel are advised to exert increased situational awareness after dark in downtown Cancun. Safe roads include:

  1. Highway 307
  2. Highway 180

Safety tips while driving in Cancun include the following:

  1. Avoid driving after sunset
  2. Drive defensively
  3. Obey the road signs and traffic lights
  4. Do not drive while under the influence
  5. Do not overspeed
  6. Get familiar with the traffic laws in Mexico.

Risk of Using a Bus in Cancun – Low

Bus is another good mode of transportation. Most visitors visiting Cancun, Mexico, concur that using the bus is the most convenient method of transportation. This is because you will not be traveling alone but with a group.

Risk of Using a Bus in Cancun

Safe buses are ADO buses. Bus routes connect the Boulevard Kukulcán (downtown), Hotel Zone, and Avenida Tulum, allowing you to visit almost all of the places on the itinerary easily. The bus routes that are most in demand and run every five minutes are:

  1. R1
  2. R2

Risk of Boarding Taxis in Cancun- Low

Are taxis in Cancún safe? Taxis are generally safer, especially when you are traveling at night. They may be more expensive than buses, but the extra cost is worth it since the risk of violent crime is moderate.

Taxis are much better than buses because:

  1. There is no overcrowding in taxis, which reduces the risk of pickpocketing.
  2. Taxi fares are fixed, thus minimizing the risk of fare scams.
  3. Taxis are convenient and readily available at any time of the day.

Safety tips before boarding include:

  1. Do not share a taxi with a stranger.
  2. Agree on the fare before starting the journey.
  3. Board-only registered taxis.

So, taxis are safe in Cancun, but you should follow the provided safety recommendations and use reliable options. Some of them are:

Safe taxi options in Cancun
  1. Cabify;
  2. Uber;
  3. Didi.

How Safe Is Cancun at Night – Moderate in Hotel Zone

Did you know that Cancun is a suitable tourist destination for solo female travelers, budget travelers, and solo travelers overall? Well, it is true. Cancun collects a lot of revenue from its home country; thus, the Mexican government has invested a lot in security and safety around the Cancun Hotel zone.

However, according to Numbeo, the safety level of walking at night is 41.32%, which means moderate. So travelers (especially solo female travelers) should exercise extra precautions during the dark time.

Safe Cancun Locations to Visit

I have already mentioned the dangerous locations, so let us look at the safe destinations.

Safe Cancun Locations to Visit
  1. Cancun Centro: This is the perfect place to visit if you are traveling on a budget. You can find cheap hotels and affordable street food is easily accessible. Crime rates are also low, thus making it the best place to visit.
  2. Cancun hotel zone: You can choose from many hotels and convenience stores in the region. Since it is a tourist area, gang violence is not present, making it safe for travelers.
  3. Mayan ruins: They are smaller compared to Chichen Itza. This location is, however, safe, and it is recommended that you visit while in Cancun.

Tips to Make Your Trip to Cancún Safe: Cancun Mexico Travel Warnings

For your trip to be memorable, safety is important. There are precautions you should adhere to:

1. Carry cash

It would be best if you carried enough cash when going out, especially at night. Going to the ATM at night is risky as thieves may easily target you. Also, do not carry excess cash.

2. Board registered taxis

This is especially true when you are at the airport after a delayed flight. To ensure Cancun airport safety, avoid going with “taxi drivers” who claim to take you to your hotel. Instead, wait for the airport shuttle. Safe taxis in Cancun include:

  1. Kalido Travel
  2. Happy Shuttle Cancun
  3. Top Cancun Shuttles
  4. Cancun Airport Transportation
  5. Bekare Transfers

3. Ensure you have travel insurance

Travel insurance is essential when traveling to a foreign country. Travel insurance will insure you if you get in an accident or catch mosquito-borne illnesses. So make sure you have travel insurance when you travel.

4. Learn some Spanish

Spanish is the main language here, and you must learn the common phrases. This is because most public transport make their announcement in Spanish. Most locals also do not understand English; thus, asking for directions from them will be hard if you get lost.

5. Drink bottled water and not tap water

Tap water in Cancun is not safe to drink. It could have parasites and bacteria, which can cause gut issues for travelers. Instead, you should drink bottled water and always stay hydrated, especially when out strolling.

6. Do not leave your drink unattended

Leaving your drink unattended is very dangerous. Someone might put drugs in your drink, cause you to lose consciousness, and then sexually assault you. To be on the safe side, ensure you always keep an eye on your drink and do not accept drinks from strangers.

7. Do not be flashy

What I mean by this is you should not flaunt your valuables in public. You do not know who the thieves are; it might even be someone sitting beside you on a bus. Do not draw too much attention due to personal safety. Instead, just blend in with the locals.

8. Beware of local laws

Knowing the Mexican local laws is crucial as it will prevent you from getting into much trouble. If you plan to drive while in Cancun, you must know the laws that regulate driving in Mexico. Some of the local laws you should be aware of include:

  1. Driving under the influence is prohibited.
  2. You must have Mexican auto insurance issued by a Mexican insurance company.
  3. Driving while talking on a mobile phone without using hands-free is prohibited.
  4. It is unlawful to be drunk in public.
  5. It is illegal to carry unauthorized firearms or ammunition.
  6. You should not possess drugs. If found with drugs, you will be sentenced to up to 25 years imprisonment.

9. Have an emergency contact

When in Cancun, ensure you have contacts for emergency services. Some important contacts to have include:

  1. Federal Highway Police: 884 11 07 / 884 15 42
  2. Blood bank: 887 26 95
  3. Firefighters: 884
  4. Tourist Police: 885 22 77
  5. Mexican Red Cross: 884 16 16
  6. State Judicial Police: 884 11 71 / 881 71 50
  7. Civil protection: 887 34 35.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Safe Is Cancun for Tourists?

The safety of Cancun for tourists in 2024 is moderate. According to Numbeo, the crime index for this city is 55.73%.

Is Cancun Safer Than Cabo?

Cancun is safer than Cabo. Statistics by Numbeo show the crime index of Cancun is 55.73% while that of Loc Cabo is (89.22%).

Is It Safe to Walk Around Cancun at Night?

According to Numbeo, the safety level of walking alone at night in Cancun is 41.32%. This means it is not safe to walk alone at night as you might be mugged, assaulted, or kidnapped.

What Is the Safest Part of Cancun to Stay?

The hotel zone, a manmade strip of land outside the coast of Cancun city, is the safest part of Cancun to stay. Most hotels and resorts are located here, and there are a lot of police patrols in the area. The best part is that the streets are not dark; they are well-lit.

Conclusion

Is Cancun safe for travel in 2024? The answer is that the safety level in this beautiful city is moderate but better than in other areas such as Playa del Carmen. According to Numbeo, the safety level is 44.27%.

Drug cartels (El Chapo’s old cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel) and drug use rates are high in Cancun. Kidnappings are common, but not frequent. However, cartel raids and kidnappings are not directed at tourists, but at people involved in criminal groups. Despite this, innocent bystanders can unfortunately become the victims of these squabbles.

Because of this, travel advisories advise tourists to exercise increased situational awareness after dark in downtown Cancun. Avoid dangerous areas of Colonia Tres Reyes, Valle Verde, Bonfil, and Santa Cecilia. Instead, stay in the tourist areas like Cancun Centro and Cancun Hotel zone.