How to Stay Safe in Cancun, Mexico

Cancun is quite a safe destination and most visitors enjoy their vacations without any unfortunate incidents, but it's important to maintain awareness of what's going on around you so that you can respond to any danger or untoward situation that may develop. This is the same no matter where you go, but here are a few of the scams and dangers that you may face in Cancun. By taking the appropriate precautions, you can avoid becoming a victim of a crime, accident or other unpleasant situation.

  • 01 of 06

    Beware of Time Share Presentations

    Outdoor patio on Caribbean Sea, Cancun
    ••• Wildroze / Getty Images

    In many different places in Cancun, you may be approached by very friendly people who offer you a free excursion or a nice meal in exchange for attending a hotel tour or presentation. Sometimes they're set up at tourist information booths offering free info about tours, but they're really trying to pull people in to their sales scheme. They may call it a vacation club, premium membership or VIP package, but it's basically the same thing. It's often not obvious that this is going to be a hard sell for a time share, but in most cases, that's what it is, and things can become very aggressive once you're cornered. If you're interested in buying a time share, it's better to do your research online ahead of time. Don't go just because you're interested in the freebie they're offering: your precious vacation time is worth more than that. 

  • 02 of 06

    Take Care at the Airport

    Cancun Airport
    ••• The Cancun International Airport. © Suzanne Barbezat

    You would like to feel safe at the Cancun airport, but unfortunately, you have to be on your guard pretty much the moment you get off the plane. After going through customs and collecting your luggage, and before going through the exit gate, you'll pass through an area that is full of stalls offering tourist information for different services around Cancun. They may seem very friendly and ask "where are you staying?" and "do you have a driver?" but they are mainly trying to sell you something or pull you into a time share presentation. The best plan is to brace yourself and walk through this area without speaking or responding to anyone — it feels like running the gauntlet, but once you're through it, you'll be fine! — and go straight through to the exit where your previously arranged transportation will be waiting for you. Or, if you're a budget traveler, go straight to the ADO bus booth to buy a bus ticket to downtown Cancun or Playa del Carmen (buses...MORE leave every hour or half hour throughout the day). The ADO buses are parked to the right as you exit.

  • 03 of 06

    Don't Leave Valuables in Your Car

    Parked cars in Mexico
    ••• Parked cars in Mexico. Mitch Diamond / Getty Images

    This is true the world over, but especially in important tourist destinations: never leave anything of value in your parked car. Even on a busy street, even in the middle of the day. If you absolutely must leave your luggage or anything of value unattended in your car, park it in a parking lot, not on the street. Rental cars are particularly vulnerable — even if you think it blends in, there is usually some giveaway that it is a rental, which makes it a target for thieves.

  • 04 of 06

    Watch Your Drink

    Night Club
    ••• luoman / Getty Images

    Cancun has many fun bars and nightclubs, but if you decide to experience some of Cancun's notorious nightlife, you should be careful about leaving your drink unattended. This goes for men as well as for women. If you get up to dance, leave your drink in the care of a trusted friend, or get a fresh one later. It's not a common occurrence, but there have been instances where drugs have been slipped into a tourist's drink and they've been robbed or abducted. Don't let it happen to you or your travel companions.

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  • 05 of 06

    Don't Fall for a Sob Story

    You may naturally treat advances from locals with a heightened sense of skepticism, but you'd likely let your guard down when approached by someone who appears to be of the same nationality as you, or at least speaks English without an accent. Unfortunately, there are many foreigners who have developed elaborate stories in order to convince strangers to give them money. They play into your sympathies and it's understandable that you would want to help, but be aware that many of these sob stories are complete inventions, told with the sole purpose of separating kind people from their money.

  • 06 of 06

    Be Careful on the Balcony

    Scenic View Of Beach Against Sky
    ••• Kevin Darza / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Safety standards and building codes in Mexico (and through most of the world) are not as rigorous as in the United States. The railings on balconies may be quite a bit lower than you would expect, or may not be able to support the weight of a leaning body. Unfortunately, there have been several incidents of people falling from balconies, often when they've been drinking. Be aware of this. Don't lean over the edge of a balcony, or be extremely careful if you do.