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Playa del Carmen: Is it Safe??

Posted by Tony & Cheri on March 1, 2009

Read our most current blog entry about safety:
Safety & Crime in Playa del Carmen Mexico 2011: The Truth

The headlines are full of stories about Mexico guaranteed to make the blood run cold: murders, beheadings, drug lords and crooked cops. It’s scary stuff, and some people planning a trip down here to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera (Cancun-Playa Del Carmen-Tulum) are frightened. We have received several e-mails in the past couple of weeks and seen questions on various internet travel forums asking, “How dangerous is it”? In our opinion, the truthful answer is: not very dangerous at all.

Now some folks will read this and say, “They own a hotel down there, of course they will tell people it’s safe.” And that’s true, we do own a business, and we do want people to come here. But the people who come here aren’t just guests. They are our family and our friends…people we would never place in danger. And of course we wouldn’t stay in business long if our guests were the victims of crimes every time they came on vacation. Most importantly, we wouldn’t live here ourselves if we thought it was dangerous.

The truth is that there is a drug war going on in Mexico. Drug lords are battling the police and each other for the lucrative shipping routes by which drugs are taken into the US and guns are smuggled back. It is dangerous and sad and has become a cause for great concern in Mexico. However this concern must be put in perspective. If you are questioning whether or not you should visit Mexico’s beautiful Caribbean, look at the facts about what is happening here.

The “drug war” of Mexico is primarily about smuggling routes which lead into the US. It is in northern central Mexico where the US and Mexico share a common border that this crime wave is currently going on. There is also an increase in crime in some large Mexican cities where organized crime is active, i.e. Mexico City. However this criminal activity is NOT centered on the Caribbean side of Mexico.

The latest US State Department advisory warning tourists about crime specifically names those cities “near the US border,” such as the towns of Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and most especially Ciudad Juarez as being possibly dangerous. These cities are thousands of miles from the beaches of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. The ONLY reference in the State Department’s travel advisory which mentions the Yucatan, Cancun, Playa Del Carmen or the Mayan Riviera is a reference to another State Department posting warning against drinking too much and driving mopeds.

Map of MexicoThe increase in drug related crimes and organized criminal activity is very far from the shores of the Caribbean. For example, Ciudad Juarez, which is an area of major concern for crime, is approximately 2200 miles from Cancun. This is roughly the same distance as from San Francisco to New York City. Would you refuse to vacation in northern California because of a crime wave in New York City? Hopefully not.

There is no major crime wave or drug war in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera.

This is not to say that there is no crime in this part of Mexico. Cancun, being a major city, has had its problems with attacks on police officers and those involved in organized crime, much as many cities in the US have experienced in the past. But again it is important to realize that these incidents have NOT involved tourists or happened in the well-defined resort and hotel areas.

And of course any tourist zone anywhere in the world will have crime. Vacationers always will attract pickpockets, thieves and con men. And that is true of Mexico as well. However here in Playa we have a special Tourist Police force designed to help with exactly those types of crimes and to assist visitors. The tourist who uses common sense, avoids drugs, sticks to well-known tourist areas and doesn’t behave foolishly (i.e. getting extremely drunk, flashing large amounts of cash, etc.) should be as safe in Playa Del Carmen as in their own home town.

We can’t guarantee that you will not be the victim of a crime on vacation whether you are here in Playa Del Carmen or on the streets of Orlando. What we can say with certainty is that the drug war crimes which have frightened so many people are not a concern or an issue for tourists in the Yucatan. And we can guarantee that thousands upon thousands of visitors are still coming here each day to enjoy our white sand beaches and swim in our blue sea without incident. Join us.
On the ferry between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, on a typical gorgeous day

Read our most current blog entry about safety:
Safety in Playa del Carmen Mexico ~ 2012

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

56 Responses to “Playa del Carmen: Is it Safe??”

  1. barbj050 said

    nice article….the map really says it all

  2. paul said

    I was wondering when you where going to say thats ..Good !!

    PS I miss the Luna Blue !!!

  3. Well said. I have always felt safe here in Playa del Carmen. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be raising our children here!

  4. RembrantWSmith said

    Unfortunately, the only real authority in MX is the federales. The local cops (both city and state) are basically worthless (and have bought off long ago).
    So, if the federales are getting busier up near the border, where do they take the resources from. The answer: Everywhere else – including the Cancun and the Mayan Riviera.
    Even if the only real source of increased danger to tourists is from the deteriorating economy (and you can be sure that this will be the case), the fact that there will be fewer real crime-fighting resources avaialble in any/every other area in Mexico means that the negative effect from the bad economy gets doubled.
    THAT is how the drug war in the border areas of Mexico affects you in Cancun and the area nearby, even if you’re a thousand miles away.

  5. Sorry RWSmith, we believe your comments contain some of the commonly held misbeliefs about Mexico that seem to be spreading throughout the media and the internet.

    First, the Federales are not the only “real authority” in Mexico. The Federal Police do not patrol or otherwise exert authority over municipalities like Playa del Carmen. We have never seen the Federal Police active in the area of Playa other than on federal highways.

    Second, we disagree that the local police authorities are “worthless” or have been “bought off long ago.” There are many layers of police authority in a city such as Playa. There are the Tourist Police who assist visitors and police the resort areas. There are the Transit Police who handle all traffic and parking related issues. There are the local municipal police who handle general issues and problems within the city. There are the state police, the special narcotics squads and probably a couple of other divisions we have forgotten about. Our interaction with the police while living in Mexico has always been favorable. They have been polite and have assisted us with problems both at the hotel and at our home. The centuries=old tradition of the mordida (bribe or tip) to the police still does exist in Mexico and it is difficult for foreigners to understand or accept. And indeed it appears that many police officers have been bribed by the drug cartels with regard to drug enforcement. However, these facts do not indicate that all police officers are worthless or without enforcement power.

    Thus, your thought that the transfer of federales to border towns in Mexico will leave the Mayan Riviera without real police protection is simply incorrect, even if such transfer were taking place. And, it is not. The Mexican government has made clear that it is utilizing the military, not the federal police, to engage criminals in the border town area. Again, there is no lack of police protection or patrol in Playa del Carmen or the surrounding areas.

    We also have to note that your suggestion that the bad economy will lead to less protection in the Mayan Riviera is simply wrong. The economy of the Mayan Riviera has not suffered as much as the rest of the world has. Tourism is booming. We know this specifically as our own hotel is currently breaking every occupancy record we’ve ever had. Moreover, Playa del Carmen continues to show signs of economic growth. There is construction, both commercial and residential, everywhere in the area.

    Finally, we have to note that Quintana Roo, which contains the Mayan Riviera, has the highest per capita income in all of Mexico. In short, the tourist trade of this area earns Mexico and Mexicans more money than any other area in the country. Thus, if you’re going to suppose that Mexico is pouring resources into any part of the country, doesn’t it make sense that they will first and foremost protect their biggest asset?

    We appreciate your thoughts on this, but as people who are actually living here in Mexico, we think that we are in a better position than most to see what effect the drug war is having on life here. And to all appearances, the answer is: the effect is minimal.

  6. RembrantWSmith said

    No need to post this reply if you prefer not to – just wanted to recognize your efforts and substantiate a few observations.

    First – thank you for your eloquent and thoughtful response. At least you’ve taken the time to think this through.

    At the same time, I would counter that no matter how much police presence there may be, it is a fact that:

    – It was the Chief of Police of Cancun that was arrested for the torture and murder of the most recently appointed drug czar in Mexico
    – The former governor of Quintana Roo was also arrested and convicted of having accepted sizeable sums of mordito (in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) from the Mexican drug cartels
    – Mexico has one of the lowest crime prosecution rates as well as conviction rates in the world

    So depsite the police presence – the level of effectiveness at the law enforcement state and local level remains very much in question.

    Although it is surely an advantage to be there on the scene so that you “really know” what is going on – most tourists are not in that position and because of that, your level of safety you enjoy/experience (which may not be being compromised whatsoever at this point) is not directly comparable to the safety of the average tourist – who cannot necessarily distinguish the “right” areas or people from the “wrong” ones and who are not as likely to know whom to approach and how to approach them in the event of a concern or event.

    Thanks once again for your congnizant and well-considered response.

    (If we do come that way this year, it would be good to have the opportunity to at least shake hands.)

  7. Mark said

    I also live in Playa del Carmen.

    The three points you made, above, are true.

    – The chief of police was involved with the drug cartels and the recent murder of a high ranking retired military official. He was also arrested, soon after, and currently sits, with 11 other guys, in federal custody.

    – The governor you refer to, Mario Villanueva, was arrested 8 years ago. Hardly current events. About two years ago, he was released on a technicality, and then rearrested as soon as his feet touched the ground outside of his prison. He currently is either a) in the US or b) rotting away somewhere, while he awaits extradition.

    – There is a low level of conviction for crime. No argument, there. Here, in Playa and the rest of the Riviera Maya, there also happens to be a low level of crime, period. We sweat bike theft, not serial killers.

    One has to understand where the media is coming from, in their latest “cause.” Understand that media is run by interests far greater than just TV, radio and newspapers. Media conglomerates have vast holdings and many of these are in the hospitality industry. With a recession going on, their holdings are losing money. What better way is there to get more business than eliminating the competition? The media is not lying, per se. It just isn’t being too specific. MEXICO is a pretty big country. I have visited most of it. I would not go anywhere near the north, even in good times. The problem, there, is not so much Mexican as it is American. These cities are like America’s red zone. Drugs, prostitution, kiddie porn, etc., etc., all set up to serve the clientele from the North. Many of these cities have always served those purposes (ever heard of the donkey shows in Tijuana, for example?) Now, the pot of gold is much bigger, and the players are more violent.

    I would sooner be in Playa del Carmen than all the places I lived, before I moved here. It is safer, despite what 24 hour news channels tell you.

  8. Mike & Shannon said

    Hey you guys! Let the countdown begin…28 days! :)
    See you soon. We have no worries about safety. I mean
    seriously, we live in Chicago. We have a better chance
    of being the target of crime here than there.

  9. vistor said

    There is a special police tourist police force in playa??

  10. Louise said

    I feel very safe walking the streets of Playa, even later in the evening. A couple of weeks ago, mid evening, we (girls) walked back to our hotel, located on Avenida Primera. We were from 3 blocks west of Hwy. 307, and came down Avenida Juarez. I didn’t get raped, no one asked if I wanted any drugs, or if I had any spare change. :) I didn’t feel threatened, nor fearful even though there wasn’t many people in sight along the way, except for a few hungry dogs digging for food in streetside garbage bags.

    I am just an average tourist, who loves PDC and feel safe in my surroundings while there.

  11. mark said

    So all said and done, it will be safe to come there with a family and young children????

  12. We believe it is absolutely safe to come with a family and young children. Day to day life in this area for tourists has not changed at all since the drug wars have been going on in other parts of Mexico.

  13. markoel said

    I had one of the best holidays of my life in Playa, in fact the fishing charter that took us out got me a fish that still rates as one of the biggest I have caught. I never for one moment in 12 days felt threatend in any way in Playa. One of the highlights of my trip was heading over to Cozumel and tripping around the island on the scooter. Is Rasta’s Bar still there?

    I may just post an article now on fishing in Playa :)

  14. Lala said

    Thanks for the reassuring posts – we are leaving Saturday with our grandchildren and children and everyone has been very negative about going to Mexico and telling us to be careful. I was in PDC two years ago and LOVED every minute of my stay. I will be careful … just as would be careful in any city in world. Can’t wait to get there.

  15. I just saw this post now. It kind of cracks me up that we posted basically the same thing, only, as usual, you are more eloquent.

  16. Mamallama said

    Thank you for addressing these issues. We are 33 days and counting and yes, the news reports have me concerned to be bringing my 4 year old there. However, you have reassured me that our vacation we’ve been so anticipating will be nothing short of perfect. ( I am wishing we were staying at your resort!) Thank you again!

  17. [...] Luna Blue’s Playa Zone–Is it safe? [...]

  18. Sheila said

    Thank you for the information. I am travelling to Puerto Aventura in 14 days and have been feeling anxious as I am travelling with my daughter (4 yrs old) and a girl friend. Should we feel safe as 2 female and young child?

    Is it safe to visit the XCavet tourist area and of course making trips into PDC area?

    Would love some first hand responses.

    Thanks

    • We see no reason why you wouldn’t be safe traveling to Puerto Aventuras, Xcaret or Playa del Carmen. All are safe tourist locations. Come and enjoy yourselves.

  19. william said

    we are flying down to PDC,the REEF wk.4-11-09,first time for all 8, 50somethins sounds beautiful and safe. Any problems with the busride from Cancun i.e. roadside banditos ,stagecoach style

  20. Hi there,
    Can’t believe I haven’t seen your blog before, must have my head stuck in the sand. Thanks for a great post, I shared it on my blog as well as some other Mexico bloggers who have chimed in on the subject. http://www.cancuncanuck.com/2009/03/resort-towns-safe-in-mexico.html

    Glad to hear the hotel is booked, that’s great news! We’ll have to drop by and say hi next time we are in Playa. Thanks again!

    • Nice to “meet” you, CancunCanuck! We’ve heard of you but must admit haven’t read your blog. We saw the post you did on safety–great job! Having all the different links in one place really helps to emphasize that the locals in this area feel strongly on this issue. Hope to meet you one of these days..and we’re going to catch up on your blog!

  21. william said

    tony and cheri thankyou for your response.in retrospect ,my apologies for sounding a bit naive and using some bad judgement with my comments.I look forward to new experiences and friends in a beautiful piece of the planet!

  22. Lynne said

    My husband and I just returned from Cancun, YESTERDAY!! We had already bought the tickets and met up some friends of ours from another state,to stay together in Cancun, when we heard all the hype about the travel advisory in Cancun. I must admit, it really made us nervous, (reading all the negative press), but we didn’t want to cancel, and just paid close attention to what was going on around us; I didn’t take any or wear any “flashy” jewelry on the trip, and we stayed in areas where there were a lot of other people; we never wandered off exploring! We rented a car for the week, and visited the ruins in Tulum, which was GREAT! But…..I have to admit, we were a little intimidated when driving down the road, we encountered these BLACK SUVs that had FEDERALES marksman in them, randomly stopping traffic and checking for drugs!! Their whole body was covered in uniform and bullet armour, with a hood over their heads, and just one long slit for their eyes, all carrying automatic rifles!!
    When we got back into Cancun that evening, there were FEDERALES ALL OVER THE PLACE, and MILITARY MILITIA in armoured trucks, combing the streets, and some parked up in the hotel parking lots!!!
    How intimidating!! The next day, the newspaper had a big picture of the hotels swarming with federales, and there was a long article, but no one at the hotel could understand me enough to explain to me what the article said!!!
    Whew!!! All though it was BEAUTIFUL, and uneventful, (thank you LORD!) , I sure am glad to be back in Michigan!!!

  23. [...] take my word for it. Read what these people have to say. Tony & Cheri’s Luna Blue Playazone Playa del Carmen: Is it Safe?? Luna Blue’s PlayaZone Heather in Paradise Playa del Carmen is safe Heather in Paradise More articles on this topic. [...]

  24. sara said

    So…. Is it safe to go to Cancun in May?

  25. Kari and Mike said

    We just returned from our 11th trip to Playa Del Carmen. I am the biggest chicken sh*t in the world. We stay at an out of the way funky little resort just north of Playa. We have to travel through the jungle , the “real” mexicans, a few bugs and very bumpy dark road lined with barbed wire and I had the time of my life as usual. This is why we go there. It’s unique, authentic, and wonderful. We mind our own business, have fun on the beach, visit playa both day and night, carry cash, etc. Nothing happens. I feel safer there then I would in downtown Minneapolis. In short, if this 40 something middle class dorky couple feels safe, it is safe. Go, enjoy, and quit worrying. It is a beautiful place with lots to do and see. Like anywhere, pay attention to your surroundings and take normal precautions and you will be just fine.

  26. Kittie said

    We are traveling to Playa Del Carment for spring break. My daughter and I are very anxious at the report of “kidnappings” on the bus shuttle taking tourists from Cancun to the resort. Is this true? I am considering cancelling this vacation. Any news that reflects the truth would be appreciated.

  27. We see people still asking…is it safe? We can’t be clearer than we already have in our blog entry…IT IS SAFE IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN!!!!!! There is no crime wave or drug war in Playa. The headline making crime problems are centered in the border towns in central Mexico, many thousands of miles away from Playa. Yes you will see military checkpoints and police pressence…and that should make you feel safer, not more frightened. As for feeling safer in Michigan than mMxico…Tony grew up in Detroit and he thinks Mexico is a much safer environment. If you cancel your vacation because you think you won’t be safe in Playa, you will have canceled your vacation needlessly.

  28. ☆☆ Martinha ☆☆ said

    Hi..
    Nice blog..
    Congratulation..
    ☆ Martinha ☆
    =)

    http://travelandtrips.wordpress.com/

  29. Mark (PdS) said

    The biggest crime in Playa, this week, was perpetrated by my dog. She ran off with my boxers and had them half buried, before I busted her. I chose not to involve the federales, this time.

    The biggest question, this week, is why anyone would still believe the media, in this day and age. The peso is at 15 to the dollar. That means you could, feasibly, get 50% more vacation than you could have gotten, six months ago. You think that little nugget of information might be why the media conglomerates have decided to scare you about Mexico?

  30. Rich H said

    Any of you guys ever try walking the streets of Atlanta, or Memphis, or New Orleans after dark?? Talk about panhandlers, drugs, and prostitutes – – WOW! I’ve been to the Yucatan many times and had zero encounters with any of that stuff, except for being solicited one time by a prostitute, and that only happened because I was in some crazy bar where I probably should not have been. You will be as safe as you choose to be, just like anywhere else in this world. It is a wonderful experience for anyone from 8 to 80. Go and enjoy yourself!

  31. Josephina said

    Thanks for the great information Toni and Cherri!!

    I will be doing my 1st solo trip to Playa Del Carmen in the near future and I am not afraid for my safety! I have made several trip to the area in the past (as recent as Dec 2008) and I feel perfectly safe to return on my own and will not be staying in an All Inclusive.

    I am <30 and female, if I feel safe going ALONE then everyone else should realize that it is just media hype and that Playa Del Carment really IS safe :)

    Jo

  32. Well we are coming down in July/August as we are tired of the crime in St. Martin, even though we have been lucky over the years, we thought it was time for a change and where better to spend a week or so with “The other” Tony & Cheri.

    Wish it was next week as we need some sunshine!

  33. Nina Y. said

    We’re leaving for PDC in about 12 hours – so excited for the 85 degree weather! See you tomorrow, Tony & Cheri!

  34. Eva said

    I live in both Playa del Carmen and Beverly Hills, CA.

    When you are a tourist in Playa del Carmen or Cancun, or living there such as I do, you should just be careful as you would any city you are traveling to or living in. Yes I see the federales all the time in Playa and Cancun. One should remember, this is Mexico, not America. Things are done differently. There is a trickle affect down the coast due to the beheadings northern Mexico. But the federales are there to protect the tourists, so you are actually safer in the Riviera Maya than you would be in many other cities in America.

    There has been theft in our apartment building in Playa, which is in one of the best, most expensive neighborhoods in Playa. And there was a member of Los Zetas staying in our building. One night he shot down from his balcony at a taxi driver. It was scary but this can happen in Los Angeles too so I wasn’t too worried.

    The best things about living in the Riviera Maya are the beaches, inexpensive food, and great people you will meet.

    Again, Playa del Carmen is a lovely place to visit or live. You just should be careful as you would anywhere.

  35. Amy said

    I’m so glad I came across this post! I’m heading to Playa the first week of May with some friends (all females). We’re staying at a friend’s father’s place in a gated retirement community and planning to only visit resort beaches. My friend’s dad lived there for years as do other members of her family, so I figure it can’t be too bad. Another friend going with us was thinking of cancelling after reading the travel advisories, so I’m going to send her to this page. Coming from St. Louis, I’m hoping to relax and enjoy less fear of crime for a change :)

  36. Persective said

    Saying that Mexico is not safe because of drug wars going on near the border is like saying the United States is not safe because of the crime in LA. I am traveling to Playa on Monday with my husband. I have to say that listening to the media is a little unsettling, but if I think about it logically, I can see past the hype. The media has it’s own adgenda… it doesn’t report the news in an unbiased fashion. That’s the reality of it.

  37. Deba said

    We just relo’d from the US to Mexico City (we live about 15 min outside the DF) We were looking into vacaioning in PDC so I was searching for travel adivsories…and true, it is mostly Mexico City that has been listed as well as the borders..I was scared to DEATH to move here but did not want to hold my husband back from a good opportunity, and after I have been here a while, I find that day to life (even in Mexico City!) is quite normal…we are perhaps a little more cautious than in our Georgia town we came from…but feel safe sight seeing etc…media hype will be the bane of my existence here, I literally will not watch the news or pick up a paper b/c it instills fear in me that I KNOW is unreasonable…We travel almost every weekend to ruins and historic towns and the hishways are safe! We can’t wait to have some more time and get to the coast! Toni and Cheri, thanks for the reassurance to what I guess I already knew

  38. Brandy said

    Great Post ! The map helps you realize that if you live in Texas you’re even closer to the border cities than in PDC. My husband and I are traveling to PDC in Aug (first time) and came across your post and we feel so much better ! Thanks !

  39. James Terry said

    American now living in Comalcalco Mexico. Anyone know where I can submit a resume online for a job in Play Del Carmen. I have a Property Management background but would consider most positions to help suplement my income. Playa Del Carmen is a great safe place to visit, work or live.

    Thank You So Much !

    James Terry

  40. Palmer said

    First of all, I know this is an old thread…but I still hear people in disbelief that I went to Mexico for the holidays last new years. If you base your entire life’s thinking, you are a DRONE.

    Let me put Playa this way, it’s very European. There’s actually more Mexican’s here in L.A. then there is in Playa. There’s a lot of Canadians along with Americans. After the first night I was walking around barefoot (sandy feet and sandals do not go well together) in the streets at 1AM with friendly people I met from Mexico City. Hell, I only used 2 sets of clothes for the 8 days I was out there. It’s very bohemian, and relaxed atmosphere and everyone is FRIENDLY.

    I highly recommend going to Mamitas Beach, Tulum, Chitzen-Itza (if your into the whole ruins thang), and neighboring costal cities.

    I may when haul my ass down there to live, it’s super cheap and I just love it there….there is something special about that place.

    Oh, and when you do go…I HIGHLY recommend going to “Madrez!” on 10th ave near Calle 8 (I think). It is written in red on a yellow sign. They have this “condensed pork” there which, I forget the exact name for it, it is soooooo tasty…. Then go 10 ft to the right and get a “Valencia” beer….have yourself a nice cheap meal. Your gonna want to save up some money for the great restaurants on 5th ave.

    Cannot wait to visit, or possibly live in Playa….soon, very soon……

    Farewell,
    “Gringo Bandito”

  41. Good morning,

    I just arrived back from Mexico and must say, these were the best days of my life there, after a short stay in Netherlands and Spain, I am traveling back to Mexico again! Everyone is welcome here!

    Kind regards,

    Kelly

  42. JonnyT said

    This blog has been extremely helpful in helping my wife and I make an informed decision. My wife thought all along that Playa Del Carmen would be a great place but I, like many others, sometimes let fear triumph over reason. So…to make a short story long, we will be coming down to PDC in March for the first time. Gracias!

  43. Hayley H. said

    I’d agree with Tony & Cheri for the most part. I lived in Playa 5 years ago and felt very safe, even when leaving my job at a bar near the Blue Parrot in the middle of the night and walking home to an apartment near Chedraui. This walk is through areas that 90%+ of tourists will never go, but I felt very safe.

    I just came back from vacation and have to say that Playa is not as safe as it seemed in 2005, but still it is very safe when compared to the rest of Mexico and compared to other similar sized cities in countries in Europe and in the U.S.

    I did have one incident in which I needed tourist police assistance, and they were… I hate to say this… useless and unmotivated, very much unlike 5 years ago, when they would jump at the chance to help a tourist. Additionally, the tourist police on duty when I needed assistance did not speak English and my Spanish is mediocre at best.

    I would not rely on the tourist police to take care of your problems or any police for that matter; I would instead rely on yourself to keep yourself safe and your trip going smoothly. Below are my tips, most of them common sense:

    1. If you are a U.S. citizen, I would take down the location of the U.S. Consular, Samantha Mason. Her office is at 1 South (Avenue) between 15th and 20th (Street). She may not be able to solve your problem and she can’t give you legal advice, but she knows Playa and she can direct you to appropriate resources.

    2. If your hotel offers a locker or safe, use this for valuables when you are away from your room and headed to places like the beach where you may otherwise be easily distracted from keeping an eye on your belongings.

    3. Don’t keep all your identification, cash, or bank cards in one place. I’d keep a copy of your ID and a list of phone contacts separate from your wallet and phone.

    4. I’d suggest carrying minimal cash and withdrawing any extra money when needed. I’d advice against being flashy in appearance or with valuables. Not only might you attract the unwanted attention of pickpockets, but you are also letting the street vendors know they can squeeze you harder for the price of a souvenir.

    5. If you head past about 15th (Street), do so with someone else.

    6. You’ll probably get approached a lot by people trying to sell you something…. both legal and illegal. They are well versed in appearing honest and trustworthy. Many of these are honest vendors who want to make a commission, but some of these people are con artists.

    First, I’d advice against purchasing drugs or anything of the sort. If, however, they are offering you a legitimate good, I’d suggest tuning in to your feelings. If at any point your gut tells you to walk away, walk away and don’t let yourself get called back.

    The most beautiful parts of Playa are off of 5th Avenue, but if a salesperson tries to walk with you out of this area by saying they can get you a better deal at their store/stand off off of 5th, I would walk away. Ask them where the shop is and go there on your own accord at your own time. I’d never want someone to lead you into a less populated area on the spur of the moment.

    • We think those are great suggestions but totally disagree with you on #5. We assume you are talking about 15th Avenue, as there is no 15th Street. We have never felt threatened anywhere in the tourist zone, including west of 15th Avenue. In fact, 30th Avenue is one of our favorite streets in Playa, as it feels more like “real Mexico” than most other streets. And we regularly walk the length of that street, alone and together, and have never felt the least bit threatened. In fact we encourage people to explore the area west of 15th Avenue as it has some of our favorite restaurants (La Pesca, HC Monterrey, El Fogon, Los Amigos and others). We also regularly tell our guests they are perfectly safe to travel to the giant supermarkets of Mega and Walmart, which are both located on 30th Avenue. Like in any town anywhere in the world, we would not suggest people unfamiliar with the area walk down dark, empty streets by themselves late at night. But traveling the well lit main thoroughfares outside of Playa del Carmen’s immediate hotel zone is still perfectly safe.

  44. Lir said

    My wife and I are going to be staying at your hotel in February. I just read this article on the national media network of Canada about an alledged rape, theft, and abusive attack on a Canadian couple.

    http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2011/01/17/mexico-alleged-rape-assault.html

    I realize that this couple was being foolish in the beginning, but is there a possiblity of such actions by the local Playa police?

    Thank you in adavance about your comments!

    • Lir, we think you will be perfectly safe in Playa. We can’t say how much of this story is or is not true. Is it possible that there are dishonest, corrupt police in Playa? Yes, it is possible, just as it is possible that there are dishonest police officers in any urban area in North America. What we can say with certainty that in the six years we’ve lived here we have never been the victims of a major crime. We’ve never had an interaction with the police where we felt threatened or in danger. We suggest you take a look at our latest blog entry for a more detailed statement of our views on this story. And we look forward to meeting you next month!

  45. Irene and Penny said

    Traveled and visited Playa 2 times where we ate on the beach by the ferrie terminal to cozumel. Walked to fifth avenues and shopped , walked to wal mart and shopped , We were staying at the Grande sierenes riviera mayan resort and paid any where from 18 to 25 dollars to playa by taxi and the drivers were excelent .pople were friendly and courteous and we did feel safe. Hiways were all new and safe and we had know blems getting taxi from out resort.Really we did jeep tour to cozumel and it was an open jeep / suba tour, toured tulum and also all day jeep tour though the jungle all day and went snorkling with a biologist guide, Excellent and hightly recommmende. will be going a gain as as possible

  46. Muddybums bikes said

    Thank You…

    Cool Site . Cheers For Posting…

  47. There’s nothing to worry about. The road is a large, modern highway traveled by thousands of people each day. There’s no more reason to worry about this road than any road in the US.

  48. pat bagwell said

    this worries me that my son wants to get married in Playa Del Carmen. I am concerned as are others. Tell me what you know about all the beheadings in Acapulco.

  49. We don’t live in Acapulco so we can’t be of much help. What we know about crime in Acapulco is that it is about 1240 miles away from Playa del Carmen…or roughly the equivalent distance from Kansas City to New York City. We know Acapulco is in the middle of a drug war …Playa del Carmen is not. We know Acapulco sits in the middle of both land and sea drug smuggling routes north into the US…Playa del Carmen does not. We know that Acapulco has different state and local governments than Playa del Carmen, and is made up of different cultural and racial groups than Playa del Carmen is. In short we know Acapulco is not the same as Playa del Carmen any more than New york City is the same as Kansas City. And we know that crime in Acapulco has no relevance to a wedding in Playa del Carmen. We think you should stop worrying about crime in Acapulco if you aren’t going there. Please read our latest blog entry for more information about Playa del Carmen.

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