Is Tulum Safe? Here’s What You Need to Know
Planning a trip to Mexico’s Riviera Maya and wondering … is Tulum safe? If you’ve been keeping up with the news surrounding Tulum, then you might have some concerns as to whether this once-paradisiacal coastal town is currently safe for tourists.
Tulum is largely safe for travel, but has recently seen an increase in high profile safety incidents and unrest. Much of the safety issues are connected to cartels, corruption, and the clash of rapid development with local residents. The situation has changed drastically from even a few years ago, so it best to educate yourself to assess your own risk tolerance with respect to travel to Tulum.
I’ve visited Tulum a couple of times now, and I have to admit that both experiences were met without incident.
I found it to be one of the most beautiful places to visit in the world and had a very relaxing, adventurous, trip. However, my experience is obviously anecdotal and I used a reasonable amount of caution in certain areas.
To equip you with the best knowledge, this article is full of the latest research and statistics, my own experiences and tips, and the accounts of other trusted travelers.
Is Tulum Safe in 2022?
Tulum’s tourism has exploded in recent years due to its world-class beaches, seaside Mayan ruins, great parties, luxurious boho-chic hotels, and laid-back hippie vibe. Tourism is big business in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Though this is great for the many people who rely on visitors for income, the influx has brought an increased amount of corruption and cartel activity as well.
In general, cartels do not target tourists and the authorities have a huge incentive to keep visitors as safe as possible so that they keep coming back to the area. However, when it comes to steering clear of crime, your safety in Tulum will largely depend on what you do and where you go. Tourism-related petty crime and robberies are likely your biggest threat in Tulum.
Of course, bad things can happen regardless of your own behavior, but sticking to a few key safety tips will go a long way in having a great experience.
Another thing to consider is whether or not Mexico travel insurance is right for you. You can easily compare quotes from dozens of providers in minutes through a site like VisitorsCoverage.
Things to Know About Safety in Tulum
Tulum Travel Advisories
According to OSAC (Overseas Security Advisory Council), Tulum is moderately safe to visit and travelers should exercise increased caution in the area. Their advisories include concerns such as cartel activity, Covid-19, contaminated water, and natural disasters.
While the U.S. State Department does not have a Tulum-specific advisory, the advisory for Quintana Roo encourages travelers to “exercise increased caution due to crime.” You should also review the agency’s general country-wide advisory for the latest recommendations before booking your trip to Mexico.
Covid-19 Safety in Tulum
As of early 2023, like many other places in the world, Covid 19 restrictions have been drastically reduced and eliminated in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Of course, Covid still exists and it’s something to be cognizant of, but cases are relatively low.
Still, it’s a good idea to check Mexico’s Covid-19 vaccination and infection rates for the most up-to-date information at the time of your visit.
In Mexico, the pandemic has been managed via a four-tiered stoplight system that is updated by the government every two weeks. Red is essentially lockdown, orange and yellow equal various restrictions, and green is a more relaxed state of restrictions.
You can find Tulum’s latest stoplight color on the Quintana Roo municipal site. It’s in Spanish, but the colors are obvious. Note that Tulum is in the north region (“Region Norte”).
If you plan to travel around Mexico beyond Tulum, just know that different Mexican states have very different approaches to enforcing covid restrictions. In general, other parts of Mexico are much more strict in terms of compliance with covid restrictions than Tulum.
Common Scams in Tulum
Though scams and crime exist all over the world, the number of incidents has been rising in Tulum as of late. In particular, you should be aware of the following common scams in Tulum:
- 💰 ATMs – As a general rule of thumb in Quintana Roo, don’t use unsupervised ATMs on the street. Always find a legitimate bank, where there should be an entrance for an ATM. Not only will this keep your credit card safe, but it could also safeguard you from any opportunistic cash grabs. Side note: always decline the conversion to USD, as you will almost certainly get a better conversion rate from your bank.
- ⚠️ Corruption – If you look through Facebook groups for expats and digital nomads, it’s interesting to note that there has been a noticeable uptick in complaints about corruption as of late. Though it’s hard to predict when and where this will happen, corrupt authorities generally look for bribery opportunities where tourists aren’t going by the book — when they’re under the influence, have drugs on them, are speeding, etc. Never be under any influence in public, especially alone, and stick to the laws at all times.
- 🚗 Car and Motorcycle Rentals – Renting a car in Quintana Roo can feel a little risky when rental companies have been known to charge astronomical insurance rates and ding visitors for damage they didn’t create. I always recommend that you use Discover Cars when booking a car rental abroad as it clearly displays customer reviews of all the agencies.
- 💳 Petty Theft & Robbery – As in many places, petty theft and robbery have been known to occur in Tulum. To keep yourself safe, only carry a small amount of cash on you, don’t flash valuable items, and always be aware of your belongings.
- 🍷 Alcohol – Known to affect tourists of all genders, be vigilant about protecting yourself against drink spiking. Always purchase alcohol from a reputable source (straight from a bartender or liquor store), and keep an eye on your drink at all times.
Tulum Crime, Drugs, & Cartels
For some, Tulum is seen as one of the world’s premier party destinations — a place with great festivals and ever-flowing substances. Unfortunately, the latter indulgence has contributed to a growing cartel presence, violent crime, and ever-increasing turf wars between gangs.
Be aware that consuming illegal drugs may leave you vulnerable to corruption and robberies and it also supports the system that has been increasing Tulum’s crime rate.
In fact, data shows that drug-related crime in Tulum soared by 783% between 2019 and 2021, with the same studies reporting that ‘party drugs’ provided to visitors are the direct cause for this increase. In other words, the Tulum crime rate is directly tied to the tourists who come to party there. And look, I can’t tell you how to live your life, but when it comes to buying drugs on vacation, keep in mind that your purchases lead to real consequences for both the locals and other visitors alike.
Is the Water in Tulum Safe to Drink?
As a general rule of thumb, you should not drink Tulum’s tap water. Although Tulum’s water supply goes through a filtration process at the plant, the pipes used to carry the water to homes and establishments have been known to pollute the water with harmful bacteria.
To safely drink the water, I recommend using a Grayl Geopress water filtration device — I recently reviewed the Grayl and think it’s awesome and worth the relatively hefty price tag.
That said, if you’ll be staying at a major hotel then chances are the water will be fine to drink, and the same goes for restaurants. Some hotels in the Yucatan have their own filtration systems (all the upscale places certainly will), but definitely ask the front desk about this before chugging any tap water. If all else fails, large jugs of bottled water are available for purchase at OXXO convenience stores all around Tulum.
FAQ About Safety in Tulum, Mexico
Is Tulum Safe Right Now?
Tulum is generally safe to travel right now. That said, travelers should check the latest travel advisories, exercise increased caution with respect to petty crime, and update themselves on the latest public health situation.
Is Tulum Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
Tulum is generally safe for solo female travelers, though I recommend not walking around alone at night. It is always best to keep an eye on your drinks and to book trusted and reviewed accommodation. See our guide to solo travel for women for more.
What is the crime rate in Tulum Mexico?
The crime rate in Tulum is ranked as moderate. According to Numbeo.com, crime rates have increased over the past 3 years, but most visitors can still expect a safe and fun trip.
What state is Tulum in?
Tulum is located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Quintana Roo is a state along the Carribean coast. Quintana Roo is famous for the Riviera Maya, a stretch of popular beach vacation destinations including Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.
Is the Riviera Maya safe?
The Riviera Maya is a generally safe travel destination, although the safety situation does vary depending upon the specific destination. Crime rates are generally higher in the larger cities of Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Cancun than in smaller and quieter Mayan Riviera beach towns like Puerto Aventuras, Puerto Morelos, or Akumal.