Is it safe to go to Tulum? This has to be one of the most frequently asked questions by those looking to visit this idyllic tourist destination.
With its tranquil beaches, historical ruins, and stellar foodie scene, it’s no wonder that thousands of people flock to Tulum every year for a tropical getaway. Though, whispers of Tulum being dangerous for tourists are sure to put the kibosh on your fun vacation planning.
Let’s be real – whether you’re traveling to Tulum or Paris, it’s important that you take the necessary precautions to stay safe and make your trip as magical as possible.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to put your mind at rest and give you tips for staying safe in this Mexican city.
So… Is Tulum Safe?
In general, the answer is yes. But things are never as straightforward as that are they?
As this is a particularly nuanced question, we want to cover all of the different bases in terms of safety so you can make the decision on whether to travel to Tulum for yourself…
Chances are, if you’re reading this you’re probably wondering one thing: is Tulum dangerous? Let us put your mind at rest – not more than anywhere else in the world.
Of course, it’s common knowledge that Mexico is plagued by brutal gang wars (which are surprisingly common around the world, from Japan to Italy), but Tulum is far safer than some of the other cities in the country – even Cancun.
If you’re as nosy as us, you can check out the world crime rates here and you’ll see that Mexico as a whole has similar levels of crime to places like the US and the UK.
Although this will be elevated in certain areas of the country (particularly near the US border), Tulum is no more dangerous than other places.
The main violent crimes that take place in Mexico are related to drug cartels which, generally, will not affect tourists in more remote areas of the country. Scuffles can occur in relation to territory disputes, though these gangs tend to only become violent with each other.
We’ll level with you – according to the Quintana Roo Public Security Secretariat, five criminal organizations are currently in operation in the area: the Los Pelones Cartel, the Bonfil Cartel, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, the Los Pelones La Barredora Cartel, and Zetas Vieja Escuela.
Though, as we mentioned, these groups do not target tourists – especially those who are staying in reputable resorts – and choose to stay largely under the radar to avoid authorities, so there’s no reason to panic.
No matter where you are in the world, it’s always wise to be on alert for pickpockets in busy areas – this is no different in Tulum.
In areas such as Pueblo, the main street, and on the beaches pickpocketing is a regular occurrence. Use your common sense and keep valuables either at your hotel or hidden away on you at all times.
Also, there are multiple tourist scams that will revolve around a distractor and a pickpocket (usually a child) – if someone approaches you on the street just politely decline and keep moving.
Tulum at Night
Let’s tackle one of the most asked questions: is Tulum safe at night?
As with all unfamiliar cities, when you’re hanging out in Tulum at night it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. Not getting too drunk is a great way to reduce the risk of running into danger (sorry to be the party poopers!).
The main road, Avenida Tulum, is well-lit and will be busy throughout the day and night – when it can often become quite rowdy. Although, there are plenty of smaller streets that have little to no light during the evening, so it’s best to avoid these late at night if possible.
Uber doesn’t operate in Tulum, so you’ll need to head to the main road to catch a taxi. And, as always, ensure that you’re only hopping into officially-licensed vehicles.
Look for the white cars with the red stripe on the side, and note the plate before you get in and avoid traveling alone at night.
Traveling Alone in Tulum
But what happens if you’re visiting Tulum a la solo? For most people, embarking on a solo travel adventure can be particularly rewarding, however, the very nature of it means that it comes with its own risks.
Thousands of people travel to Tulum on their own every year and manage to have an overwhelmingly positive experience, though it’s important that you use your common sense and remain cautious in order to stay safe.
Basic things such as avoiding unlit areas at night, renting your own car, and not accepting drinks from strangers are vital to ensure that you have a positive and safe experience in the city.
Practical Tips for Staying Safe in Tulum
Most of the tips we’ll share for staying safe in Tulum apply to any destination.
Stay in a Resort
First of all, if you’re worried about your safety in Tulum, staying at a resort is one of the best ways to feel as comfortable as possible.
If you’re apprehensive about being out in Tulum after dark (which, you totally do not need to be as long as you’re sensible), you can eat on-site and drink in the resort bar.
Don’t Wander at Night
If you have decided to go out at night, it’s totally fine (and safe) to head to some of Tulum’s fantastic restaurants and bars. Though, ensure that you take a taxi to and from the restaurant to your hotel.
Don’t wander around on Tulum’s back streets (especially alone) in the early hours of the morning – the main area may be busy, but it’s all too easy to find yourself on one of the smaller cobblestone streets that branch off and leave you vulnerable to criminals.
Hide Your Valuables
This tip is a given: keeping valuables locked in a safe at your hotel and not flashing your cash is the best way to prevent yourself from being mugged. Sadly, leaving your designer trainers and bags at home might be for the best.
It’s also recommended that you only withdraw cash from indoor machines that are manned by workers to avoid any unwanted sticky fingers reaching over and running off with your Pesos.
If there are any items that are imperative to keep on you – i.e if you’re traveling to or from the airport and need your passport to hand – it’s a good idea to keep these valuables in a fanny pack close to your body (under a shirt or jacket, if you can).
There we have it – our top tips on how to stay safe in Tulum. There’s no reason to be afraid of this city; data shows that Tulum is no more dangerous than many tourist hot spots and you’ll likely have zero issues on your trip.
During our time in Tulum, we have never come anywhere close to being in danger – keep your wits about you and don’t take unnecessary risks and you’ll have a wonderful time.