Is Tulum safe? (updated 2022)
Posted Date: 12/1/2022 | DECEMBER 1, 2022 Tulum, located in the southern section of Quintana Roo on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, was a laid-back beach town that attracts hippie types who prefer quiet beaches and Mayan ruins to Cancun’s wild nightlife. In the past decade or so, though, hippies have been overtaken by influencers, bohemian-chic digital nomads, and would-be yogis. So while I enjoyed seeing the ruins there, I’m not a huge fan of Tulum these days. But that’s just me. Hundreds of thousands of people visit each year and love their time there. Travel is personal, after all. Home to some of the best preserved Mayan ruins and stunning white sand beaches, Tulum is definitely a wonderful piece of Mexico. But is Tulum safe? It depends who you ask. The Overseas Security Advisory Council says Tulum is “fairly safe” — though there was at least one kidnapping of a tourist there earlier this year, and two women were killed by gang gunfire while dining at a restaurant in 2021. For Quintana Roo, Which includes the city of Tulum, information from the US State Department says you should “exercise extra caution” when traveling there (unlike six other states in Mexico, where the report said, “Don’t travel to”). Having said that, I’ve been to Tulum several times now – and meandered way around the area – and have never felt so unsafe. Sure, you have to keep your wits about you and watch out for petty thefts, but that’s what you should do anywhere you travel. To help you understand more about the city and decide if you feel comfortable visiting, here’s everything you need to know to stay safe in Tulum. Is Tulum safe for solo travelers? In general, yes. It is in the interest of local and national governments to make an effort to keep tourist-heavy destinations like Tulum safe. If tourists start getting robbed (or worse) in Tulum, visitors will stop coming, local businesses will suffer, and as a result, there will likely be more crime. It’s my turn. If you take some caution, as you should in any new destination, you could potentially avoid any serious problems. Is Tulum safe for solo travelers? Tulum is generally safe for the solo traveler. However, female travelers have additional concerns and should exercise extra caution. Don’t walk alone at night, for example, while you’re in Tulum. Never accept a drink from someone unless you see it being poured or made. And always keep an eye on your drink when you go out at the bar. Are taxis in Tulum safe? Taxi drivers have a very bad reputation no matter where you are in the world. I am pleased to report that this reputation does not extend to this port city. Just be sure to agree on the price before you leave. Taxis are plentiful in Tulum so in most cases you won’t have a problem finding one. However, if in doubt, ask your hotel or hostel to call one for you so you can be sure you get a reputable driver. Is it safe to rent a car in Tulum? There are some rental car scams that travelers should be aware of – not just in Tulum but anywhere in Mexico. It’s very common, for example, to rent a car online and then show up at the office only to be told they don’t have any cars at the moment. The other issue is about hidden fees. There are high costs for insurance that you are only told about at the last minute, so be aware when booking that you may get the deal you think you are getting. Aside from these issues, it is safe to rent a car in Tulum. To find the best car rental deals, use Discover Cars. Is there a problem with gangs and drug cartels in Tulum? Unfortunately, crime has increased in Tulum, mostly from drug-related gang activity. Since 2019, drug-related gang crime has increased by a whopping 783%. The good news is that this is mostly gang violence and is not aimed at tourists. The key here is this: do not use or buy drugs while in Mexico in general, and Tulum in particular. You are just inviting danger. Can you drink tap water in Tulum? Tap water is notorious throughout Mexico—not just in Tulum—for not being as clean as it could be. This applies to ice cubes as well. Find out first if the water in the restaurants is filtered and then ask if the ice cubes are. Tulum can be hot at times, and sipping on iced drinks can be refreshing, but it would be worse if you were stuck in your hotel room with stomach problems because you drank tap water or an iced drink contaminated with tap water. Bottled water isn’t the most environmentally friendly thing to do, but when you’re in Tulum, stick with it, just to be safe. You can also bring along a LifeStraw bottle, which has a built-in filter to ensure the water is always clean and safe to drink. Can I walk around at night in Tulum? Not recommended – especially if you are alone. Making matters more complicated, the beach hotels and town center aren’t necessarily a short walk, so you’ll have to take a taxi. The good news is that taxis are plentiful in Tulum. So, unless it’s a very short distance, don’t walk at night in Tulum. 10 Tulum Safety Tips Tulum is one of the safest places in Mexico. However, you should still exercise caution, particularly when leaving the heavily touristed areas of the city. Here are some things to keep in mind: 1. Stay alert – When walking around, especially at night, be very alert and aware of your surroundings. Do your best to fit it in. 2. Keep your phone out of reach of others – Pickpockets love to prey on careless tourists, so keep your phone out of reach of others at all times. If you’ve been walking around swinging your smartphone all over the place, you might find this item is suddenly missing. 3. Keep your valuables at home Likewise, if you have a lot of fine jewelry and/or an expensive watch, keep them at home or in the hotel room safe. You don’t want to attract the wrong kind of attention. 4. Be careful at night if you’re traveling alone – Tulum isn’t the most dangerous place at night, but in some places, it’s not as well lit as it should be. Don’t walk around alone late at night if you can avoid it – especially between the city center and the beachfront hotel area. 5. Download an offline map – If you don’t have international roaming, download an offline map to use for navigation. Just make sure you don’t take your smartphone out too often, so it won’t be stolen. 6. Learn some Spanish – It’s always good to pronounce a few words of the local language. It can open doors and help you cope (and is unlikely to be a target). It is also useful in case of emergency. The emergency number in Mexico is 911. 7. Watch your money – don’t carry every peso you have in your wallet or pocket. Spread them around (some in your wallet, some in your hotel safe, some in your backpack), so that if someone steals your wallet or robs you, you’ll still have money secured somewhere else. 8. Download the Prey app on your phone and laptop – If your phone or laptop is stolen, the Prey app allows you to track its whereabouts. You can install the app for free and then upgrade to a paid version (only $5) if you need to track your stolen device. Prey can also activate your phone’s camera and take a picture of the thief. 9. Be careful when using ATMs – Only use ATMs inside the bank. Not only can skimmers be placed on external ATMs (to steal your PIN), but thefts are much more common on them. To stay safe, use indoor ATMs only. 10. Watch out for the rolling waves – While the beaches in Tulum are stunning, the rapids can be dangerous. Never stray from the beach, just to be safe. If you are not a strong swimmer, stick to the pool. So, should you visit Tulum? In terms of security, yes. As I said above, there has been a fair share of drug and gang related crime in Tulum over the past few years, but if you’re not looking for drugs – and you really shouldn’t – you should probably avoid encountering any such problems. My most important tip is to buy travel insurance. We never think that something will go wrong on trips. But it does happen sometimes – which I learned from experience. I lost my luggage in South Africa, had my gear broken in Italy, and smashed my eardrums in Thailand. I was also stabbed in Colombia. While it’s not fun to think about, bad things can happen while traveling. This is why I never leave home without travel insurance. You shouldn’t either – especially if you’re headed to Mexico. For just a few bucks a day, you’ll get a safety net that will ensure you don’t go bankrupt if something bad and unexpected happens. Don’t spend too cheap on your health and safety. Not worth the risk. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing a comprehensive insurance plan. *** Tulum is quickly becoming the center of the so-called Mayan Riviera, attracting all kinds of people who are drawn here for its stunning white-sand beaches that hug along blue-green waters, as well as well-preserved Mayan ruins. While it is generally a safe place for tourists, you should always be alert and use caution while in Tulum. Do that, and you’ll be able to have a fun and safe visit. Book your flight: logistics tips and tricks Book your flight Find a cheap flight with Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the world so you’ll always know that no stone is left unturned. Book your accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it constantly shows the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels. Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you from illness, injury, theft and cancellation. It is comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are: Would you like to fly for free? Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation. They are what makes me travel so much for so little. Check out my guide to choosing the right card, current favorites to get started, and see the latest best deals. Are you ready to book your flight? Check out my resources page for the best companies to use when traveling. I list everything I use when I travel. It’s the best in class and you can’t go wrong with it on your trip.