When planning a trip to any destination, one of the most important factors to consider is safety. And while Playa del Carmen is considered a safe destination (even for solo female travelers), there are certain protocols you should follow to lessen the risk of theft or safety issues and be able to enjoy your conference experience at Women’s Travel Fest more fully.
We’ve compiled all the safety information you should know before you embark on your beachy getaway – take a look!
General Safety in Playa Del Carmen
While many people may be hesitant to travel to Mexico due to crime or violence, most of what you might read about or see on the news occurs in very isolated pockets of the country. Playa del Carmen (and the greater Yucatán Peninsula) is usually very far away from where these incidents occur.
That said, Playa del Carmen, like many popular destinations, does have a few safety issues, with petty crime and scams being the most common.
Tourism is a major part of the economy in Playa, which means that measures are consistently taken to make sure tourists stay safe. But whether you’re a visitor or a local, as long as you keep track of your items, don’t stray too far from the main parts of town, and don’t purchase illegal substances, you’re very unlikely to encounter any problems.
Read on for some key tips on avoiding theft, scams, and other issues.
Theft in Playa del Carmen
As previously mentioned, Playa del Carmen relies heavily on tourism, which means tourists are generally left alone in terms of theft. Petty crime like mugging and pickpocketing is quite rare, but if you’re not careful, it can happen.
The important thing is to keep your belongings secure and ALWAYS in sight. We strongly recommend bringing a sling bag or crossbody purse for your outings so you can always have a close eye on it. And when you’re out and about, stay aware of your surroundings.
Another thing to be aware of is purses being grabbed. If you’re in a restaurant, never leave your purse hung over your chair and out of sight. Either keep it sitting on your lap or use a fanny pack that’ll stay around your waist. The same goes for shopping in supermarkets — never leave your bag open or unattended in a shopping cart, as this is a common way for bags or wallets to be taken.
Additionally, whether you’re staying in a hostel, short-term rental, or hotel, definitely be sure you hide your things well. A lockable suitcase is strongly recommended for storing your valuables if a safe isn’t provided. (Generally, it’s best to leave your most valuable items at home, regardless of where you’re traveling.)
Side Note: If possible, try to avoid ATM machines on 5th Avenue. It’s easier for skimmers to be installed in them, which allows criminals to steal your card information. Withdrawing money at a bank is the best option, as there’s more security.
Tip: The Compass Rose secret bra pocket wallet is a favorite travel accessory when it comes to protecting your valuables against theft.
One of the most common instances of theft that tourists might experience is actually from police stops. It’s not unusual to hear stories of police officers stopping tourists at night and either demanding money for illegitimate reasons or just taking it straight from their wallets. (If this happens to you, be sure to report it to your consulate.)
While you wouldn’t be in any danger, it’s an unfortunate situation that you can take steps to avoid. If you’re walking around late at night, stay alert and take note of your surroundings. Try to stay in a group (one or two people alone are easier targets), and if you’ve been drinking, opt for a taxi.
Police stops aside, these are always smart steps to take.
Are Taxis Safe in Playa del Carmen?
Yes, taking a taxi is generally quite safe in Playa del Carmen. Robberies have taken place from wayward taxi drivers, though it’s mostly males who are targeted. The best thing to do is always take a photo of the taxi number before getting in and send the photo to a friend.
Additionally, some taxi drivers can try to scam tourists by up-charging them for the ride. All taxi drivers in Playa run on a set tariff, so always agree on a set price before you get in!
Radio Taxi PDC is a recommended taxi service that you can use to book one in advance. They’re reachable by WhatsApp at +52 (1) 984 316 3750.
Scams in Playa del Carmen
As in other cities with a lot of tourism, scams are unfortunately prevalent in Playa del Carmen, but if you’re aware of them, they can easily be avoided.
One of the biggest scams you should steer clear of is tours or excursions being sold by people on the street at discounted rates. They most definitely won’t be offering you quality tours. Always book your excursions, day trips, or any kind of tour through reputable tour companies.
If you’re staying for a longer trip or are planning on visiting nearby cities and sites, renting a car is an awesome way to go. However, it’s quite common for car rental companies to try to add on extra charges or put large holds on your credit card, so get as clear as possible on what you’ll be charged for before renting the car. And be sure to take plenty of photos of the car as well as the gas gauge before the car leaves the lot!
Lastly, some restaurants (especially those in the more touristy areas along 5th Avenue) might try to add some extra service charges, tips, or even extra items you didn’t order onto your final bill in hopes that you won’t notice. Be sure to look over the receipt before you pay to make sure the tip or any other items haven’t been added. It’s also a good idea to do the math yourself, as the final total on the receipt might not be accurate.
Going Out in Playa del Carmen
Nightlife is a huge part of Playa, and there are so many fun things to experience! That means there are generally lots of people out and about late at night, so if you’re alone or in a small group, try to stick to the more lively areas when walking around the city. Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
Unless you’re walking a short distance and on busy streets, taking a taxi is the safest way to get around at night.
But when flagging a taxi after visiting clubs or restaurants, don’t do so off of Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), 10th Avenida, or even 15th Avenida. It’s safest to walk to 25th or 30th Avenida to flag down a taxi. The farther away you are from these mentioned streets, the better the taxi prices and the lower the chance of theft or robbery.