Tulum is a seaside resort on Mexico’s Yucután Peninsula famed for its ancient ruins, breathtaking underwater caves, and thriving party scene. In the last few years, this historically sleepy seaside town has evolved into one of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations – known around the world as a hipster paradise. But is Tulum safe?
Mexico on the whole has a bad reputation when it comes to safety. Media reports about kidnappings and shoot-outs shape negative and oftentimes false perceptions that Mexico is a highly dangerous country to visit. But while it’s true that Mexico suffers from a high crime rate, it’s also a large country. The Yucután Peninsula is one of the safest parts of Mexico to visit, and every year travelers come from around the world to enjoy its beautiful beaches and warm climate in peace.
That being said, no destination is completely without its safety risks. Visitors are definitely wise to exercise their fair share of caution to avoid becoming the victim of petty crimes such as pickpocketing and scams. Join us as we break down everything you need to know to stay safe in Tulum, one of Mexico’s leading holiday hotspots.
Is Tulum safe right now?
Tulum is generally a safe destination, but it has been rocked by rising rates of violent crime in recent years. Local authorities have struggled to keep pace with the explosion of tourist interest in the area, with the resort’s party destination status drawing gangs to the area in search of the lucrative drugs trade.
There’s been a number of violent killings as a result of warring gangs in recent years, including a shootout at a popular restaurant that killed two foreign tourists — a travel blogger from California and a German citizen — and wounded three more. Security presence has been significantly increased in the area to curb the rise of gang warfare.
While this all sounds fairly intimidating, the truth is that this type of violence remains fairly rare in Tulum. Numbeo finds that the crime level in Tulum is moderate, at 40.38. This is a full ten points lower than New York, which has a crime rate of 50.52. Tourists do occasionally get caught in the crossfire of gang violence, but this type of violence is usually contained to gang members and police – it’s not a large enough threat to warrant avoiding the region.
The largest threat posed to tourists is petty crime such as bag-snatching, non-violent muggings, and burglary. Of course, no one likes the sound of having their stuff stolen, but there are numerous ways to protect yourself from this type of crime – from wearing money belts under your clothing when out and about, to keeping all valuables locked away in a safe.
Is Tulum safe for tourists?
Crime rates in Tulum have been on the rise in recent years, which is something to bear in mind if you’re planning a trip to this part of Mexico. Numbeo finds a high level of crime increase in the last three years – at 72.22. But while increased gang activity in the area has brought about a rise in violent clashes, these occurrences are still few and far between and pose a limited threat to tourists.
The worst crime experienced by the majority of people in Tulum is having their stuff stolen. Theft is the most common crime in Tulum, so it’s really important to remain vigilant of your belongings at all times. Don’t leave your bag unattended in shops, or under tables in bars and restaurants; don’t walk around with an expensive camera around your neck, or money visibly on your person, and avoid wearing rucksacks on your back. Keeping your possessions locked away in a safe at your accommodation is a good idea, it’s especially important not to take your passport out and about with you.
Tulum has become something of a party destination in recent years, with tourists heading here for nightlife as much as beautiful hotels and beaches. While it’s perfectly safe to party in Tulum, it’s worth remembering to keep your wits about you and drink in moderation. Partying safely means going out with a group of people that you trust, keeping an eye on one another to make sure everyone gets home safe, and never leaving drinks unattended. It’s also worth noting that you should always steer clear of drugs and drug-related activities in Tulum. When violent crime happens in Tulum, it’s usually related to drugs – avoid the drug scene at all costs to stay out of trouble!
Is it safe to live in Tulum?
Tulum has become a top destination for digital nomads and ex-pats in recent years. With beautiful beaches, good digital infrastructure, a relatively low cost of living, and a strong ex-pat community, many people have decided to set up shop in this idyllic corner of Mexico.
But is it safe to live in Tulum? In short, the answer is yes. As we’ve already discussed, the town has seen an increase in violent crime, but this type of criminal activity very rarely impacts foreigners. The most common crimes are crimes of opportunity – having your wallet or bike stolen, for instance. Numbeo finds that there is a moderate (42.59) rate of property-related crimes such as theft and vandalism, and a low (24.04) chance of having your car stolen.
Is Tulum safe at night?
Tulum is relatively safe at night, but it’s less safe after dark than it is during the day. Tulum has a low rate of muggings – 27.88 according to Numbeo, but it’s still important to avoid unlit areas after dark. While it’s highly safe to walk alone at night – 77.78 according to Numbeo – we wouldn’t recommend putting yourself at risk, particularly if you don’t know what route you’re taking or are unfamiliar with the area.
As a general rule, try not to walk alone at night in non-tourist areas. If in doubt, hop in a registered taxi – they’re inexpensive and a much safer option than wandering the streets by oneself.
Is it safe to drink tap water in Tulum?
You should not drink the tap water in Tulum, it’s generally recommended to stick to bottled or filtered water. To avoid excessive levels of plastic pollution, it’s worth investing in a water filtration solution. For example, the SteriPen water purifier is a great on-the-go solution to ensure that you have access to filtered, drinkable water wherever you go. Or there’s the LifeStraw bottle, which filters out bacteria, parasites, chemicals, and microplastics as you drink.
Is public transport safe in Tulum?
Taxis are an easy and affordable way to get around in Tulum – and they’re probably one of the safest options too. It’s easy to spot a licensed taxi in Tulum: the licensed taxis are white hatchbacks with a 4-digit ID number on a yellow or orange stripe around the car. Always aim to hail cars that fit this description. Unlicensed taxis aren’t a huge problem in Tulum, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for the ID number just in case.
You can also get around Tulum and the surrounding area by ADO bus or colectivo. The former is a regular coach that ferries people up and down the Yucután Peninsula. This is a safe way to get around, but it’s worth keeping an eye on your possessions. If you’re traveling with large bags, always keep your important documents, money, and anything else that you wouldn’t like to lose on your person, preferably in a money belt.
Colectivos, on the other hand, are shared taxis that transport people from A to B. Cheap and direct, they are the preferred transport option of most local people and are perfectly safe for tourists too. However, one thing to note is that it can be harder to decipher the colectivo system without speaking Spanish.
Is it safe to walk alone in Tulum?
By day, it’s generally safe to walk alone in Tulum. Tulum’s safety when walking alone during the day has a high score on Numbeo of 89.81. This score drops to 77.78 at nighttime, which is still considered highly safe. Of course, it’s important to take these statistics with a pinch of salt. It’s much safer to walk alone at night in some parts of Tulum than in others. But as a general rule, it’s always a good idea to buddy up with a friend or take a taxi when traveling alone at night, particularly if you’re a lone woman traveler.
As in many places, women walking alone are likely to attract unwanted attention from men in the form of catcalls. And for those that are unfamiliar with Tulum, it’s not a good idea to stray from the main tourist zones after dark. Speaking to local people, such as hotel managers or hostel staff will give you the best idea of the safety of the part of Tulum that you are staying in.
Top 7 Tulum safety tips
In summary, Tulum is not without its dangers. But every year, tourists and digital nomads from around the world enjoy this thriving seaside resort without coming in harm’s way. It’s always important to use a bit of common sense and take some fairly obvious precautions. Here’s a list of seven useful tips to make sure you have a safe and worry-free trip to Tulum.
- Keep your valuables out of sight. This one is fairly obvious, but it’s so important that it’s worth repeating. Don’t draw attention to yourself by wearing flashy jewelry (even if it’s not expensive jewelry), using smartphones, tablets, or expensive-looking cameras in plain view of others, or carrying large amounts of cash. Be conscious of the way you carry your possessions, too. For example, don’t walk around with your smartphone in your back pocket, or use a bag without a secure zip.
- When hailing a taxi, ensure that it’s an authorised one: always look out for a white hatchback with a yellow or orange strip on the door and a 4 digit ID number.
- Speak to locals. People with local knowledge are always the best-placed to offer up to date and accurate safety advice. Seek advice from your hotel or hostel owner about the areas of Tulum to steer clear of and the best safety tips for your stay.
- Avoid unlit areas at night, particularly if you’re by yourself. Walking in unlit alleyways, or unfamiliar areas outside of the tourist zones could make you vulnerable to muggings.
- If you’re mugged, don’t resist. While no one wants to lose their possessions, it’s always the safer option than risking angering a potentially-armed criminal. Simply hand over what they are requesting, and try to stay calm. Once you’re safely out of the situation, head to the local police station.
- Don’t buy drugs. Gang activity is an issue in Tulum, and you don’t want to implicate yourself in corruption or violence. Tourists that seek out drugs make themselves extremely vulnerable.
- Party responsibly. Drink in moderation, always remain vigilant of your surroundings, and look out for the people you are with. As in many party destinations, drink spiking can be an issue in Tulum, so it’s really important to never leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from people you don’t know. And at the end of the night, take a registered taxi back to your accommodation.
Wondering how Tulum compares to cities in Mexico? Check out our guide to Juarez, La Paz and Puerto Escondido.