Is Tulum Safe? Your 2024 Guide by a Local Resident

If you are considering planning a trip to Tulum and the Riviera Maya, you might be wondering whether the area is safe. In a word, yes! 

Tulum is currently one of the hottest tourist destinations in both Mexico, and the world, and of the millions of people that fly here every year, the vast majority of trips are trouble-free and memorable for all the right reasons. 
You are in good hands here because I live in the Yucatan and have visited Tulum countless times.

Mexico: Is Tulum safe?
Daniel Popper Tulum statue

Is Tulum Safe to Travel to in 2024?

If you are nervous about traveling to Mexico for the first time, I hear you. When I first arrived here, I had no idea what the reality of exploring Mexico was like and because I had heard so many terrifying things in the media, I wondered what kind of environment I was putting myself into. 

Fortunately, my concerns were unfounded. Yes, you need to use some common sense precautions and have an awareness of your surroundings in Tulum and Mexico as a whole, but the same could be said of traveling anywhere in the world. 

According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, more than 31.9 million people visited Mexico in 2023, making it the second most visited country in the world after France. (48.4 million visitors.) Over 13 million of these travelers visited the state of Quintana Roo (where Tulum is) and the Mexican government even built an entirely new airport in Tulum to satisfy the ever growing demand to visit the area. 

If it were dangerous, that wouldn’t be the case. Because tourists are such massive contributors to the economy, the local authorities and tourism boards go to great lengths to ensure they are safe and respected. 

A large portion of these travelers are Americans and a lot of people don’t just visit for a week or two, they spend months in Tulum escaping the harsh winters of their own towns. So, if Tulum was really dangerous, don’t you think we would hear of far more incidents and safety concerns?

Tulum real estate is also booming. The area is fast becoming one of the trendiest postcodes to have in the Americas. Thousands of international ex-pats call Tulum home.

Taking a day trip to the Coba ruins from Tulum

Where are the Best (And Safest) Places to Stay in Tulum? 

Tulum is massively catered towards international tourists and truly there is no such thing as a “dangerous” area to stay. In that regard, it is very different from other Mexican cities like Guadalajara and Mexico City. 

You want to be careful about staying in some of the quieter residential areas on the outskirts of town just because the streets are poorly lit and you cannot always see scooters whizzing around blind corners, etc but they are by no means “dangerous”. Downtown Tulum, Tulum Beach, Veleta and Aldea Zama Tulum are among the best and safest areas to stay, making them perfect choices for first time visitors. 

La Veleta 

Tulum’s La Veleta neighborhood is a swanky new area where you will find a lot of upscale condos, apartment buildings and villas. The main promenade that runs through this area is called “5th Avenue” and it is lined with excellent bars, restaurants and coworking spaces, making it a perfect choice if you are a Digital Nomad or someone who is hoping to stick around in Tulum a little longer.

Restaurant-wise, check out Ukami for amazing sushi, Raum for mouthwatering ramen, and La Pabeta for breakfast and brunch. If you hope to cowork and meet other remote workers, reserve a hot desk at Once Tulum. 

Downtown Tulum /Aldea Zama

Downtown Tulum is the main historic center of town, and the place that was first established when tourists started coming to the area. What was once nothing more than a sleepy village set along a dirt trail some 10-15 years ago is now a bustling town with a population of more than 50,000 residents, and some of the best nightlife in Southeastern Mexico. 

Downtown Tulum, also affectionately known as “the pueblo” is the area with the most “local” vibes in town. A lot of native Mexicans live here, and you will find more authentic taquerias, street food trucks and Mexican eateries throughout the pueblo. 

If you are on a budget, you can find plenty of affordable options here. The only downside is that the area is an hour away from the beach, making it a bit of a trek when you want to spend a day by the coast. 

Tulum Beach

Tulum beach and hotel zone (“Zona de Hoteles”) is where you will find most of the big resorts, exclusive beach clubs and luxury hotels in Tulum, which may be what you are looking for if you are looking to indulge in the upmost luxury. 

Opting to stay here places you right on the waterfront, where you can wake up to the views of soft, powdery white sands and translucent turquoise waters each morning. 

Azulik, Papaya Playa Project and Amansala are among the best known resorts in the area, while for beach clubs, you can check out Delek, Dos Ceibas and Kanan. This area is very safe, and there is always plenty of security around too.

If you head north of the hotel zone, close to Playa Paraiseo, things are a little more quaint and boho, and exude major Bali vibes. Think independent stores selling Tuluminati clothing, handmade cosmetics and accessories, and cute coffee shops and snack bars set in thatched palapa huts. 

Is Tulum safe for solo travelers?

Yes, Tulum is safe for solo travelers, including solo females. This is perhaps one of the very best places in the country for solo travel because there is such an established tourist trail in the Riviera Maya and the wider Yucatan peninsula that makes it very easy to get around and meet other travelers. 

Since locals are so accustomed to seeing international travelers, and because so many international expats actually live here, you will never attract attention or get weird looks for being by yourself. There are also plenty of events that are constantly going on at local hostels and bars, and with the sheer amount of Digital Nomads here, it is very easy to meet people and make friends just by going about your daily routine. 

Is Tulum safe for solo female travelers?

This entire website has been written by a solo female traveler in Mexico (me!) I am a big advocate of never letting your gender or physical appearance deter you from doing the things that you want to do and that includes traveling to Mexico by yourself as a woman. 

There are lots of solo female travelers that pass through this area every week, and many have moved in here permanently. I would not hesitate to recommend Tulum to any woman planning a trip here, and I would say it is a nice starter if you havent spent a lot of time in Latin America. 

That being said, a few violent or unpleasant things have happened here over the last few years and I think it is important to be honest about them. In 2022, two female tourists went missing in Tulum and one of them, a Romanian woman was never found. 

While violent things can happen anywhere from time to time, its important to reiterate that as a woman in Tulum you should: 

  • Never leave a bar or a party by yourself at night

  • Never leave your drink unattended, accept drinks from strangers, or walk home intoxicated

  • Keep your family and friends updated of your plans but keep your real-time location off social media. 

Are there cartels in Tulum? 

While Tulum and the wider Riviera Maya area definitely isn’t a place that is overrun with cartel violence, the cartel does have a presence in this region. In the past couple of years, criminal organizations have been fighting for territory in Cancun and while tourists are never the targets of cartel violence, there have been a few unfortunate instance where they were caught in the crossfire. 

In October 2021, a Californian woman and a German woman were shot dead in Tulum when they were caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout. There were a couple of similar instances in Quintana Roo in 2021 and following on from them, the local authorities increased the level of police and military presence in Cancun and Tulum. 

Although seeing armed officials can be a little intimidating when you are enjoying a day at the beach, remember that they are there for everyone’s safety. Since increased security procedures have been implemented in the last few years, the number of violent instances has fallen. 

Crime ratings in Tulum

According to OSAC (Overseas Security Advisory Council), Tulum has a low/moderate level of crime and a Numbeo study of local inhabitants appears to mirror that. On a scale from 0 to 100, where a “0” would equate to no crime and a “100” would point to a dangerous place, Numbeo gives Tulum a moderate crime rating of 42.97. 

We can compare that to Cancun, which has a “high” rating of 60.90, or we can look at it in comparison to US cities. For instance, Los Angeles has a crime rating of 59.93, while New York has a rating of 53.83. 

As a tourist, your main concern are opportunist, petty crimes like pickpocketing and bagsnatching. This is why you always need to have eyes on your things. 

If you spend a lot of time in Latin America, you might want to consider investing in a theft-proof backpack like those offered by Pacsafe. They are slash-proof, water-proof and come with additional security features such as TSA approved mesh locking devices. 

Review your government safety advice for Mexico 

It is prudent to always check your governments travel advice before traveling to any foreign country and that includes Mexico. The US Department of State provides a state-by-state breakdown of the safety situation in Mexico which can be a pretty good reference point. 

Quintana Roo, where Tulum is located is identified as a mostly safe place where you need to “exercise increased precautions”. The Yucatan state and Campeche state, the other two states in the Yucatan tri-state area, are the safest states in Mexico. 

The reality is that the safety situation in Mexico can often be a lot more nuanced than the government pages imply, with safety differing substantially from city to city, and even within the barrios of a city. Still, its a good starting point, and the government pages are usually updated in real time with any changes to entry requirements, additional things to be aware of, etc. 

US travelers may also want to register in the governments STEP program prior to their trip. You can find the UK government travel advisory for Mexico here, and the Canadian travel advice page here. 

Useful Tulum travel tips 

Some handy travel tips to keep in mind for your trip to Tulum are detailed below. They may seem like common sense, but they are worth reiterating here. 

  • Don’t buy drugs, do drugs, or get involved with anyone who is doing them. (You will get asked a lot, and foreigners doing drugs in Tulum and Cancun are the entire reason why more cartels are moving in on Quintana Roo)

  • Never take a random street taxi and always pre-book a transfer via a trusted company/driver or through your hotel concierge

  • Keep your eyes on your belongings at all times. Never leave them unattended on the beach, or in a coffee/coworking place

  • Puchase comprehensive travel insurance before your trip. Today’s health is not guaranteed tomorrow. A good insurance policy will offer at least $250,000 USD worth of medical coverage, and additional extras like theft/loss of goods, repatriation, etc.

  • There have been some thefts reported from the overhead bins on ADO buses through the Yucatan peninsula. Check your larger suitcase/backpack in to the storage beneath the bus and keep your hand luggage with you/under your legs when traveling between cities.

  • Dont flash expensive designer clothing, sunglasses or jewerly. Leave your ultra valuable accessories back at home.

  • Pick up a Mexican SIM card to stay connected if Mexico is not included in your cell phone plan.

  • Check The Yucatan Times, the Cancun Sun, and other local publications for the latest news

  • Use mosquito repellant – dengue fever and the zika virus have been detected in The Yucatan

Be smart with your money and bank cards 

Don’t flash your cash and be careful when it comes to managing your bank cards. It is a good idea to have a couple of bank cards.

That way, if you lose one, you can easily cancel it and access your funds elsewhere. Take photos of your cards so that you have the numbers stored safely on your phone/the cloud. 

Carry one card and some cash with you. Then, hide the other and a spare $50-$100 or so deep in your luggage. 

Is Tulum safe for families?

The sheer mention of Tulum is almost synonymous with the idea of stylish influencers and aspiring Instagram models, but that isn’t to say that it isn’t a suitable family destination either. Truthfully, you will find more family resorts with amenities like kids clubs, kids pools and activity centers in Cancun, especially in the Hotel Zone, but there are some good family-friendly accommodations in Tulum too. 

Tulum is safe for families and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone traveling with kids, whatever their ages. However, depending on what kind of amenities you are looking for in your hotel, I would add that you may find more comfort in other parts of the Riviera Maya. 

Safety wise, Mexicans are very family-oriented and you will see tons of other people with kids at the beach or in the downtown area. 

Getting around Tulum 

Whether you stay in downtown Tulum, La Veleta or Tulum beach, you can generally get around the area you are based in on foot, but will need to rely on taxis and private transfers to travel out to other parts of town and the wider region. 

Is it safe to take taxis in Tulum? 

In most parts of Mexico, locals prefer to use Uber and other ridesharing apps like Didi and Indrive rather than random street taxis because they are considered safer and offer more accountability. Unfortunately, ridesharing apps are banned in Tulum and most parts of Quintana Roo (except Cancun), thanks to a lot of controversy and noise from the local taxi companies who are not happy about their existence. 

You never want to just hop into a random street cab in Mexico. Have your hotel/Airbnb organize for a trusted taxi driver to take you where you need to go and once you find a driver that you like, take their whatsapp information. 

Taxi drivers are very likely to charge you a heavily inflated rate here because they assume you are a tourist with tons of money that has no idea how much things are supposed to cost. On the scarier, more extreme end of the spectrum, “express kidnappings” do happen in Mexico from time to time. 

This happens when a cab driver forces a tourist to hand over their valuables and often holds them at gun/knife point while forcing them to hold over their valuables. Though not ultra common, this is a terrifying risk that you do not want to entertain. 

Is it safe to rent a car in Tulum? 

It is very safe to rent a car in Tulum and in Mexico in general. As someone who lives in the Yucatan, I am a very big advocate for renting a car during your time in Mexico. 

It will make getting around much simpler and your Yucatan itinerary is not at the mercy of public transport schedules. Although links to popular points of interest like the Coba ruins, Chichen Itza, and Playa Del Carmen are pretty good, there are tons of beaches, archeological sites and Mayan ruins across the Yucatan that are off-the-beaten-path and not serviced by public transport. 

The roads in the area are in excellent condition and well-maintained and in many ways, driving in the Yucatan peninsula is not all that different from driving in the United States or Canada. I use and recommend Discover Cars in Mexico. 

Realistically, you can look at renting an economy-sized car for approximately $30-$40 a day including full coverage insurance, which generally works out cheaper than hiring a driver or buying multiple transport tickets if there are a few of you.  

Will I be stopped and scammed by the police? 

I often see travel guides to Mexico referencing the corrupt police and stating that travelers may be stopped and forced to pay a fine or a bribe. In my 2.5 years of living in the Yucatan, this has not happened to me once. 

There are police checkpoints throughout the region but travelers are usually waved on through. The police are looking for drugs, weapons and contraband and in the unlikely event that you are stopped, they will just ask to check your boot and your identification. 

The only time you are likely to get stopped is if you are breaking the law or are involved in an accident. In my experience, the Yucatan police are pretty good and they are better paid than the police in other states, which is perhaps why they take their responsibilities more seriously. 

The only bad experience I have had with the police where I got scammed was in Sinaloa, which is on the “do not travel” list anyway and is a completely different kettle of fish. 

Take tours organized by trusted local firms 

There are a lot of interesting day trips that you can do from Tulum. You can visit charming Yucatan pueblo magicos like Valladolid and Izamal, climb the sunbleached remnants of Mayan ruins at Coba, Mayapan, Chichen Itza, and Ek Balam, and visit a plethora of stunning beach towns along the Caribbean coast. 

If you want to take the stress out of managing the logistics of getting from A to B, you can visit the various sites near Tulum on organized tours. Tons of reputable local tour companies offer excursions around this region and many offer pick-up and drop-off at your hotel.

Recommended tours in and around Tulum

Some of the best tours in and around Tulum that you can do in 2024 are shortlisted below. Book your spot online in advance to avoid disappointment!

Is Tulum safe at night? 

Tulum is home to some of the best nightlife in Southern Mexico. The beachclubs here often host internationally acclaimed DJs and transform from a chic place to enjoy a few cocktails and bottles of wine by day, to all night beach parties. 

Parties and events take place virtually every night of the week here and there is even a “Tulum Festival Season” which sees an extension of Tomorrowland festival and other notable parties, such as Afterlife and Core. 

Most of the biggest parties happen in Zamna, Vagalume, Vesica Cenote and Papaya Playa project, but check what is going on during your trip by asking around when you arrive. While clubs and parties themselves are pretty safe (watch your drinks), you should never walk in Tulum at night. 

Plan how you are getting to/from each place and be mindful of what is going on around you and you will be fine. 

Can you drink the tap water in Tulum? 

You cannot drink the tap water in Tulum (or anywhere in Mexico for that matter). Although it is purified at the source, it gets contaminated en route to your tap with bacteria, parasites and germs.

Even locals do not drink it and it isnt worth the risk of getting sick. Most hotels and resorts will provide you with a couple of bottles of bottled water for each day of your stay, and then you can pick up large, multi-liter bottles from Oxxo and other convenience 

Mexican drinks like agua frescas are made with bottled water, and it is fine to have ice in your drinks because businesses will have bags of fresh ice delivered. They never make ice from tap water. 

Is Tulum safer than Cancun? 

It is tricky to give a definitive answer as to whether Tulum is safer than Cancun. The US Department of State gives both destinations the same safety rating, and both places are popular resort towns that you should not feel afraid of visiting. 

Still, as a a bigger city, Cancun is definitely home to more residential neighborhoods and run-down areas where crime happens, even if that crime does not target tourists. Personally, I felt safer in Tulum than in Cancun, but everyone has different perceptions of safety.

Is Tulum safe to travel to in 2024? Final thoughts 

I hope that this Tulum safety guide is useful in helping to alleviate some of the worries/stresses that you may have about planning your trip here. As I mentioned, I have been living in the Yucatan city of Merida for the last 2.5 years. 

I will update this article regularly with the latest information as and when things change and the area develops. In the meantime, please dont hesitate to drop me a comment below if you need something, or connect with me via email/social media.

Enjoy Mexico! Buen Viaje! Melissa xo 

Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico and the Editor-in-Chief of Mexico Travel Secrets. She has over seven years worth of experience in working in travel media and has travelled to 57 countries, mostly solo. Throughout her career, Melissa has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.

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